Released in 2000, many consider Vagrant Story to be the Playstation's swan song and a benchmark title. Developed and published by Squaresoft with Yasumi Matsuno manning the helm, in it you assume the role of Ashley Riot, an elite Riskbreaker agent of the Valendia Knights of the Peace. This game features an intricate equipment crafting system as well as a complex combat scheme that emphasizes tactical timing and strategy that are essential to explore the city of Leá Monde. The game resides within the same fictional world of Ivalice as FFXII and Final Fantasy Tactics in the Valendian kingdom.
Best time: 1:59 by Yadir 'Riskbreaker Y' Osornio on 2009-07-02, done in 13 segments.
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Firstly I'd like to thank certain people who helped make this speed run possible:
When I first started practicing for this speed run, I wasn't expecting to have a decent time, much less set the standard for future runners. I was simply hoping to go through the game and discover stuff that can be useful for others. With that said, I'm really content about the fact that I will be the pioneer of destroying this all-time favorite game of mine.
One thing you'll notice right away in this run is that I jump around, A LOT. The main reason why I do this is to avoid enemy confrontations which consume time and carry the risk of death. Jumping around takes about the same amount of time as running. Without further ado, Lea Monde beckons...
"Reinforcements? I am the reinforcements."
* The first encounter with the Crimson Blades is avoidable if you manage to reach the cloudstone in time (saves at least 15 secs.). This isn't very hard to pull off. I make a mistake right afterwards which cost me a second since I was mashing on start because I was anticipating a cut-scene to skip.
* The Minotaur fight could've gone better; usually he only gets in two strikes but he lands three on me. I got really bad luck with those misses on his head, his most vulnerable body part (in terms of damage dealt).
* After the first boss, I access the menu screen to equip the necessary chain abilities/defensive abilities: Heavy Shot, Temper, Impact Guard, and Ward.
* I impact guard a lot on the way back as a means to ensure I have enough health for the Dullahan battle. He almost always opens up with a Drain Heart attack (he rarely does a physical attack, tricky to impact guard that Rhomphaia) which is impossible to defend against this early in the game. I lose no more than 3-4 secs.
* It's extremely important to kill the Dullahan in two combos since your RISK points shoot up dramatically quickly and I need to maintain my accuracy for the Ghost fight. You'll notice I sheathe the Fandango right away because when you're unarmed your RISK points fall a lot faster.
*I choose to learn Chain Abilities first since it's important to get Raging Ache ASAP.
* The Ghost sometimes teleports right in front of you but he decided to be a douche. Luckily, I take him down hard with a critical.
* The battle with the Lizards almost messed up the segment but luckily I land a critical and compensate for my mistake. Everything else went accordingly since I had to manage my RISK points at the same time.
* The strategy I employed here is slightly different than Babo's. I chain the slime right before the Golem battle as a means to build up enough PP on the Fandango to deal out significant initial damage against the next two bosses.
* I learn the Raging Ache chain ability right after the Dragon fight. This chain ability is perhaps the single most important factor in achieving the time that I got. It deals out damage based on the amount of damage you have taken. In other words, the less HP Ashley has the more damage he dishes out (irrespective of enemy defenses). I replace Temper with Raging Ache as it's no longer useful.
~Town Center West~
* Duane doesn't have a body part that is 'easiest' to chain off of. He will dodge most of your attacks and you're gonna have to live with that. Luckily I land an initial hit on him with 100(!) RISK points. The chances of that happening are miniscule BTW. After the battle, I start learning Defense Abilities so that eventually I can get Absorb Magic which is essential to survive later on.
~Abandoned Mines B1~
* I kill the Hell Hound since his fire based attack will kill me. It takes longer to equip Fire Proof, wait around for the attack animation, and finally time appropriately.
*You'll notice in the room with the Stirges that I hug the wall before entering the room with the necessary sigil. I am avoiding a trap here; it won't kill me but it wastes time.
*Before the Fire Elemental battle I get hit with a Paralysis status so I had to use an item to cure myself (can't do physical attacks or chains in this state). This wastes about ten secs.
* If you don't kill the Fire Elemental in one continuous chain then he'll kill you before you get the chance to recover.
* I kill the Stirges before the Ogre battle for the chain points.
~Town Center West~
Nothing of particular interest in this portion.
Again, nothing really noteworthy here.
* It may look like I got 'stuck' at a tree but this is an attempt to lure the Basilisk over the rise. He didn't bite so I go for it anyway.
* The Earth Dragon battle is a doozy because not only is it hard to absorb his Acid Breath attack, the HP you gain from absorbing the attack really diminishes the power of Raging Ache. So it's imperative to leap to him and initiate the confrontation first as a means to save time and ensure high attack power. This part is hard to pull off consistently.
* I get my first Faerie Wing drop from the Ichthious right before the confrontation with the Fire Elemental.
* Fuck the Fire Elemental, it's so damn hard to initiate the confrontation...I can't even count the number of times I died in this part alone. He tags you twice with his Fireball even if you equip Fire Proof so it's faster to kill him.
* The next Fire Elemental eats my dust. I'm particularly proud of this portion, even though all it took was repetition.
* I get my second and last Faerie Wing drop; I kill the last Ichthious because I can't defend against his Spiral Shell attack and also because I might've gotten lucky with a third Faerie Wing drop...alas this didn't happen.
* The boss battle with Grissom and the Dark Crusader really depends on luck mostly because Sydney can waste a shit load of time casting spells (if he cures your HP it's an automatic reset). Luckily he only casts Prostasia on me and this turned out to be beneficial shortly thereafter.
Nothing to note here really except the friendly-fire incident. XD
* I go out of my way here because it's imperative that I get the Mandrake Sigil from the group of enemies here. The Mandrake Sigil enables me to skip most of the Abandoned Mines B2...so yea it really cuts down the total time significantly.
* Rosencrantz has a pretty high chain evade so it takes quite a few combos to bring him down.
~Town Center South~
* In the first screen, one of the Crimson Blades almost always casts Herakles/Prostasia but I luck out and I get by clean.
* The next screen one of the Crimson Blades actually winds up casting spells but this is fairly normal.
* It's possible to get by without any of the Zombie Mages casting any spells; out of the two that appear one of them winds up casting Herakles. They sometimes cast Solid Shock (Impact Guard it).
* Unless you somehow learned Absorb Magic before (which means you killed more enemies=more wasted time), then you have to kill the Dark Elemental in one continuous chain.
* I make a pretty egregious mistake after the Dark Elemental battle by using a Cure Bulb early (costs about 8 secs.). Somehow I forgot that there were some skeletons in the next room...I impact guard the crossbow attack because there's no telling if it'll be a critical attack or not. The Cure Bulb is necessary to survive the Dark Eye's magical attack. Sometimes he does a Psycho Drain attack but this is quite rare.
~Abandoned Mines B2~
* I learn Absorb Magic after killing one of the Imps and equip it right away to avoid having to use any more Cure Bulbs.
* Sometimes the Imp destroys the box but I don't know exactly what causes this. I get held up by the Lizard so maybe that's the main cause but I can't say for sure.
* Most of the time, the Dullahan here just casts Sorcery spells so it's no problem. Other times he comes right after you and does physical attacks which can be tricky to Impact Guard.
* I fuck up at the save screen but this only costs me about 3 seconds.
~Town Center East~
* Ahhh, the Kesch Bridge. I was gonna opt for a safer strategy but after fucking up royally in the previous segment I had to make up some lost time. So I practiced a bit and perfected jumping around the Crimson Blade at the pillar. I also got lucky in this segment because one of them only casts Herakles once.
* In the following screen, the Crimson Blade who casts Lightning on me is equipped with a silver weapon. There is some kind of limitation on Impact Guard because it's impossible to Impact Guard any enemy who attacks you with a silver weapon. So in other words if you get hit by a silver weapon you're pretty much dead. I'd say it's impossible to get through this game without equipping Absorb Magic in a speed run.
* The Crimson Blade who casts fireball on me is actually avoidable but it's pretty hard to pull off and rare. Sometimes he jumps down to the lower level so you can climb up quickly and avoid him. If you wait for him below he'll just cast from the ledge and hit you from there so you have to be aggressive no matter what.
* This segment is one of the most difficult because all the Quicksilvers in this area carry silver weapons. Expect to die here often if you attempt a speed run of this game.
* The Lich teleports away and wastes a few seconds. Sunbitch.
* In the room where I get the Iron Key, I kill the Lich because he can cast a spell from anywhere in the room. The hard part is the fact that he usually casts hard spells to absorb such as Radial Surge Lv. 1. I kill the Quicksilver because he was gonna kill me and I reacted instinctively: luckily he drops a Mana Bulb which really comes in handy in the next segment.
* I kill the Dark Elemental because this is a more consistent and sometimes faster strategy. He normally casts two spells before you exit; he either casts Dark Chant or Meteor Lv. 1. If he casts two Dark Chants in a row and you absorb them, then you'll get ahead a few seconds instead of killing him. However, if he winds up casting just ONE Meteor Lv. 1 this wastes more time than the route that I chose. I was really paranoid about this segment because I thought I chose a sub-optimal route but after testing it turned out my strategy is more consistent and can even save time potentially.
* So after retrieving the necessary sigil, I stand around the save point for awhile so that I have enough MP to teleport. This is faster than using a mana item.
~Town Center East/City Walls~
* You can get by the Lich 100% of the time so this is no problem.
* I get lucky after getting the sigil because none of the enemies slow me down.
* I kill the Dark Elemental here for the same reasons that were mentioned before.
* Using the Mana Bulb earlier in the segment allows me to teleport after using one item as opposed to two Mana Roots.
* There are two paths to take in this segment but the path I chose has two Dullahans as opposed to two Ogres. The Dullahans have lower HP so you can guess why I picked that route.
* It's possible for the Ogre Lord to open up with a physical attack but this doesn't happen very often. Good thing I only let him do one Tornado spell.
* I use my first Faerie Wing to skip the box puzzle at the end of this section. I'm not sure exactly how much time this saves but certainly at least half a minute.
~Temple of Kiltia~
* I mess up on the jump and activate the Trap Clear panel. This wastes about 4 seconds. I also mess at the save screen again but this doesn't waste more than a couple seconds. I hate the menu screens in this game, so cumbersome.
~Temple of Kiltia (cont'd)~
* The Last Crusader here almost always opens up with a Sorcerer spell but I kept restarting in this segment until he comes after me.
* FUCKING MINOTAUR LORD!!! He has a pretty high chain evade so he dodges a shit load of my chains...fucking bitch. He can make or break this segment. I get the Silver Key and proceed.
* It's possible to avoid both the Water Elemental and the Nightstalker here clean but I mess up and they catch me. You can save at least ten seconds here theoretically but almost every attempt in this segment has at least one thing that slows you down no matter what.
* You can use a Faerie Wing in the last box puzzle but I chose to save my final one for the Great Cathedral. If you manage to get 3 Faerie Wing drops though, this is where you'd use your extra one. Trust me.
* Alright, the home stretch. Practically every boss here (except the Flame and Arch Dragon) have high chain evade stats so it's extremely difficult to take them down in one or even two combos.
* The jumps in this segment are killer. In the room where I throw the switch for the final cloudstone (after the Flame Dragon battle), it's extremely easy to fall down the precipice. Also, after killing the Lich some moments later I drop down a pit because I mess up on the jump. This costs me at least 8 secs. There also a lot of traps lying around this area so it took some trial and error to get this part right. I make some more jumping mistakes right before I save but they're trivial, albeit irritating.
~Great Cathedral (cont'd)~
* The Arch Dragon takes three combos to fell because he has very high HP.
* It's possible to kill the Dao without having to Absorb Magic but this largely depends on good luck.
* After the Dao battle, I mess up on the leap of faith portion where the cloudstones are moving fast. This costs me a few seconds.
* Before the Nightmare fight, I use my second and final Faerie Wing to avoid the box puzzle. Again, I'm not sure how much time this saves but I'm sure it's a lot.
* The Nightmare battle could've gone better because I mess up my first combo. The reason why I kept this segment is because I got a one-round kill on the Dao.
The Final Battle
This segment, I believe, speaks for itself. Regardless of the mistakes I made in this run, I think the fight with Guildenstern II eclipses all of that. I still get goosebumps when I watch myself take him down.
* The final in-game time can only be accessed if you begin a new game+ and access the Gazette and Score in the menu screen.
So that's it pretty much. I hope that you will/have enjoyed watching this speed run as much as I had making it. This is my all-time favorite game and it honestly irked me that no one tried to speed run this game before (at least at a very high level). If you have any further questions or anything you should probably check out the Vagrant Story thread under the Older Consoles sections for more in depth analysis. There's just way too much stuff going on so I tried my best to condense everything. Until next time!
"The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men."
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