The Magic of Scheherazade was released in 1989 by Culture Brain. In this extremely underrated game, based loosely on the tale of Scheherazade and the 1,001 Arabian Nights, you play a time-travelling magician who Vince McMahon Power-struts his way through four sections of Arabia to rescue his sweetheart Scheherazade from the evil magician Sabaron. The game combines overhead Zeldaesque exploration with turn-based RPG battles, an innovation rarely seen to that point or since.
Best time: Single-segment 1:20:00 by Marc J. 'Emptyeye' Dziezynski on 2006-05-06.
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This game carries a lot of fond childhood memories for me. My family, both immediate and extended, loved this game, even though we only got as far as Chapter 3, thanks mainly to not making maps. This was when I was, oh, 7 or 8 (For some context, I'm 23 now). A few years later, I finally picked the game back up and finished it.
In early 2006, I was looking for games to speedrun, and interestingly, this was NOT initially on the short list of candidates. Rather, I began tentatively working on a run for Flying Dragon, another stylemashing Culture Brain game. Frustrated with my early efforts, I looked back through my potential game list, and realized that Magic of Scheherazade fit the bill quite nicely, for a couple reasons:
-It's an adventure/RPG, which does, apparently, have an audience here at SDA. -Despite that, the game forces certain minimum levels on you once you beat a Chapter. When you beat a Chapter, regardless of your level, the game will auto-level you up to level 5X, where X is the number of the Chapter you just beat. This effectively eliminates a large portion of the experimentation I would have had to do with a more traditional RPG, and I like easy stuff(Says the guy who ran Battletoads...). -From a personal standpoint, I knew this would be my longest run to date, and thus a nice challenge for me. When I first started the planning for this run, I was honestly prepared to ask Radix (Yes, it was that long ago) "What if a run takes over two hours but VHS is my ONLY option?". Suffice to say that I'm thrilled with this time, mistakes and all.
Onto the run itself!
-Hooray for how badly I botch my name entry. Fortunately, my time hasn't actually started yet. Incidentally, if we want to get into TAS-level optimization, I could probably save a second or two through the course of the run by simply entering "A" or a similar one-character name. Don't worry, it does get better from here.
-My apologies for the visual quality of the run in some spots. It's most noticeable in the overworld of Chapter 1. This IS the original tape, so there's not much I could do in this regard.
-I start, and spend most of, the game as a Magician. They have the best Rod abilities, and the Rod is what you use on all the bosses, so it just makes a lot of sense. Any class changes I make are required to progress in the story.
-The weird overworld routes I take are to avoid "Use the magic of Oprin!" squares.
-I attend the University to get the Flame upgrade for the Rod. A Magician with the Flame can one-hit the dogs in the Maze later on. Additionally, at Level 4, besides acquiring Defenee (A spell which temporarily doubles your defense), I can one-hit the eyes in the first phase of the Gilga battle.
-If I don't escape from the turn-based battles on the first attempt, I elect to fight alone. This is because in the rare event that I do completely fail to run (I actually get three attempts before the enemies finally start attacking me), it's still quicker to simply die to get out of the battle that way (I get three lives before a Game Over) than to actually fight the battles.
-400 Rupias is the max amount I can borrow from the stores. You can ask for a discount on items from the storekeeper, but usually what happens is the keeper makes a super angry face (Seriously, the thing scared me as a kid) and tosses you out of the store, taking 10 Rupias for good measure. I borrow as much as I can, which makes me set for money for awhile.
-Note that Bread and Mashroobs are recovery items which are used automatically when you run out of HP or MP, respectively.
-No, I will NOT use the magic of Oprin! Crazy wench...
-Something I didn't find out until after this run is that it's apparently random which statue/s will allow you to pass if you Horn them. In other words, I got pretty lucky in this run. Sometimes, even if you use the Horn, you'll get an "ARRRGH!" and have to fight them anyway. Not much fun.
-I was mashing A to get out of the "All right!" message, and I guess I hit it one too many times.
-As mentioned above, you get automatic level ups after beating bosses, to a max of 5X where X is the chapter number. Note that this Max is also the maximum levels you can obtain in a chapter. In other words, had I leveled to 5 before beating Gilga, I would not have been able to gain any more experience. This never factors into this particular run.
-Note the random Key that appears in my inventory after the end of Chapter 1.
-The start of this chapter constitutes the one sequence break in the run. Pretty much everything else has some type of check to make sure you don't do things out of order. (Either you'll die without the appropriate character, as with jumping into the Capes in Chapters 1 and 4, or you'll get some type of "You can't do that!" message) If for some reason you've never played the game, when I go left at the start, encountering the screens with the rocks marks the start of the Maze Desert. What's supposed to happen in the chapter is you go through a long sequence that ends with you getting a character who shows you the way through the desert. Through experimentation, I noticed that the sequence through the desert was always the same, and further experimentation revealed that there no checks in place to prevent me from getting through the Maze Desert without this character and finishing the Chapter. It should be noted that RockMFR's FAQ on GameFAQs also noted the Maze Desert sequence is always the same (Though I discovered this independently of the FAQ), but I don't think he realized the implications of this as it pertains to getting through the game quickly.
-I need Flamol to hurt Curly's first form, which requires me to build up to Level 7. I use the Sword on the bandits because it's easier to control than Flame shots, and it allows me to beat back fireballs. Note that from Chapter 3 on, any leveling I do is to get one "the offensive power of the Rod has increased" upgrade, making life easier on enemies and bosses.
-Sometimes Curly's first form take 7 Flamols before Epin plays his Whistle, sometimes 8. This is why I hesitate a bit after the seventh Flamol.
-The lag in the second part of the Curly battle is a major source of annoyance.
-Note that Supica (The flying monkey dude) and Gun Meca (The robot), the two characters I skipped in the Chapter, are actually with the party in this and all future between-chapter cinema scenes. This is further evidence that Culture Brain didn't fully test getting through the Maze Desert without Supica.
-I cast Defenee here because in the screens that have trees with faces on them, you'll meet evil tree enemies, and they HURT. Incidentally, I manage to not run into any before I get cool armor and Defenee becomes obsolete.
-Sometimes the bandit dudes turn into flies. This is my cue to RUN LIKE HELL, because if I stay on the screen too long, out pops a super-deformed Grim Reaper. This guy is effectively a run-killer; he takes a bunch of hits (Somewhere in the region of 25 at this point in the game), AND he will follow you from screen to screen, even into Palaces.
-I class change to Saint because this is the only way the Cimaron Tree in the future will talk to me. The Saint is utterly useless as a combatant, combining the Magician's weakness with Swords and the Fighter's ineptitude with Rods. With items, they can automatically reflect bullets and walk across damage squares unharmed (Though I skipped the latter item), but this isn't nearly enough to offset the lack of offensive strength.
-I attend the University for R. Armor. This is effectively a permanent Defenee spell, doubling my defense power. This is HUGE, because the evil trees here and in Chapter 4 still hurt a lot, to say nothing of other enemies I fight. Well worth the money and time spent. Note that no one is quite sure what the R. stands for, though "Rupia" is my guess.
-The Cimaron Tree, as mentioned above, is why I need to be a Saint. The seedling is necessary to advance the story, and my first weapon upgrade in two Chapters is certainly helpful as well.
-Yay for a class change back to Magician, particularly in light of my Rod upgrade.
-The weird eye fly things are also a Reaper trigger.
-Even though they hurt, the evil trees are great experience sources.
-I was going to try and jump the damage squares, then didn't.
-My weird route through the Dark Maze was to avoid hidden pits. Note that Pukin lights this place up for you. It IS possible to go through in the dark, but then you can't defeat Troll at the end of the Chapter.
-I get lucky with the Gygatorn miss, at least in terms of making the run look good; it's an insta-death spell.
-For some reason, Real Troll does no damage when walking into you. I don't get it either.
-By the way, one fun childhood memory I have of this game is watching a family member play it and having everyone else watching yelling "PAMPOO! PAMPOO!" when they would run low on HP.
-For lack of a better term to call them, the leafblowers are annoying in that they impede your progress in the direction opposite the one they happen to be blowing in. In other words, walking toward them is a pain.
-This was the most difficult chapter in terms of route choice. Once I decided to get the Crystal upgrade (This allows me to shoot three projectiles at once instead of two, reducing Salamander from "Potentially run-ending" to merely "Really freaking annoying";), my main choice became "how do I change classes from Magician to Fighter and back?" I elected to go with what I did here, because building up the Rupias to change back into Magician at a Mosque, plus having to find a way to a place where I could do so, would likely have taken me until the Solar Eclipse anyway. This isn't even taking into account getting supplies for Salamander.
-Encountering the flamespinning guys while traveling vertical is a big "ouchie!" because there's basically no way out of the flame until it contracts.
-As with the Saint in Chapter 3, I need to be a Fighter later in this Chapter, and this is the most convenient spot to change.
-Admitting to Rainy that you fear stuff is an instant Game Over.
-In Yufla Palace, besides getting Moscom, I'm more or less just waiting for the Solar Eclipse while building to Level 17. TAS makers have a philosophy of "Always make it look like something is happening even if it isn't", and I try to do that here.
-Rostam is the first Sword Upgrade I grab, both for the HP refill and the fact that, being a Fighter (however briefly), I can now shoot slow projectiles out of my Sword.
-The Eclipse hits, and I cast the two Great Magics I've grabbed to this point--Moscom (Not to be confused with Dschinghis Khan's 1970s disco hit "Moskau";) to class change back into Magician, and Monecom for supplies and to clear my debt to the stores (Not that I ever visit them again anyway).
-Like Chapter 2's Curly battle, lag is a major source of annoyance in the Salamander battle. I do pretty well, all told, though the Rod shot that disappears as a result of Salamander's final disappearance is heartbreaking.
-I need both Hassan AND the Armor of Light later in this chapter to get into Sabaron's Palace.
-I walk into Pao and immediately walk out so I can Carpet to it later on. The same goes for my first visit to Chigris.
-Gorlas are a pretty rare enemy; none of the GameFAQs guides mention them, and a previous attempt at a run was actually my first time encountering them. Just throwing that out there.
-That Gorgon fight was pretty unlucky.
-Don't forget that the Light Palace is in the past; this is why I walk all the way back to the Time Door before I use the first Carpet. Additionally, if I don't talk to Kaji in Pao, all that will happen in the next screen is my character will go for a permanent swim.
-The bridge-walking sequence to the Armor of Light is one of my favorite sequences in video game-dom. Despite its simplicity, the music here fits the atmosphere pretty much better than any game ever, in my opinion, with the exception of parts of Metroid and Super Metroid. As a bonus, the Armor of Light reduces my damage to one fourth of what I take at the start of the game. Sweet!
-Screwing up Sabaron's riddle is another instant Game Over.
-Something I didn't know at the time of this run is that you can immediately shoot the third pillar to make the star turn blue, then shoot it again. This would've saved about 8 seconds.
-I hesitate slightly on the ending so you can read any unique text (Several characters repeat earlier ones). Per Radix's instructions, I try not to dilly-dally too much, but my time has already stopped here, so....
And that's that. Hope you enjoyed the run!
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