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Submission #1026: TheAxeMan's NES Dragon Warrior 2 in 46:25.0

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Dragon Warrior 2
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Dragon Warrior 2 (U).nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 46:25.0
FrameCount: 167100
Re-record count: 21074
Author's real name: Frank Amoroso
Author's nickname: TheAxeMan
Submitter: TheAxeMan
Submitted at: 2006-03-22 04:35:18
Text last edited at: 2006-04-29 18:31:51
Text last edited by: Bisqwit
Download: Download (11027 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
The second Dragon Warrior game beaten as fast as possible.

Dragon Warrior is an epic RPG series which now spans 8 games across many systems. The second game greatly expands on the first to include a party of three heroes (all descendents of Erdrick and the hero of DW1) and battles that may include many enemies. The world is much bigger and there are many big dungeons to explore as well. Luckily there are new abilities and items to make this easier. Enemies can randomly drop items when defeated and there is a lottery which is the precursor to the casinos which appear in each later DW game. Finally, you might notice that many of the enemies in this game appear in later games, particularly DW8.

A run for the Japanese version was submitted by choco-mint. The Japanese version doesn't include the 3-minute prologue sequence in the US version, but it still took him 55 minutes because he didn't manipulate luck very well.

Requirements to finish the game

It is necessary to assemble all three heroes, else you will be stopped when crossing a shrine. The shrine near Cannock won't let you through without the prince of Cannock and the shrine by Moonbrook won't let you through without the princess of Moonbrook.

The overall goal is to reach Hargon's castle in Rhone and defeat Hargon and Malroth. However, to break an illusion in Hargon's castle it is necessary to use the Charm of Rubiss, which means getting five crests which are scattered around the world.

The first task is to assemble the party. The second member needs to be tracked down by first visiting his home castle and talking to his father, then visiting the Spring of Bravery in a cave. After that he appears in the village of Leftwynn and joins you. Now you can travel across a cave to another continent where the kingdom of Moonbrook lies. The third member is in the village of Hamlin but has been turned into a dog. To turn her back you need to pick up the Mirror of Ra from a swamp in the area, then she will join. To proceed it is necessary to pick up the Cloak of Wind from a tower to the southeast of Hamlin. Then you can journey to Lianport, which requires crossing a strait by jumping off a tower with the Cloak of Wind. In Lianport you rescue a girl from two gremlins who just happens to be from a rich family that owns a ship, which is your reward.

Now the game opens up a bit and you can sail around the world collecting the many items necessary to take on Hargon. Probably the most important are the keys. The golden key is in the island village of Zahan where a dog shows you the way. The jailor's key and the watergate key are in the underground town of Wellgarth which you need the golden key to enter. The jailor's key is bought from a shop that doesn't want to tell you exactly what you are buying. You find the watergate key when you catch a thief who tried to escape but didn't get very far. The watergate key opens up the watergate in Tuhn. This floods an area which allows access to an island with a tower. Here the moon fragment is found, which allows access to a volcano dungeon by changing the tide. A group of wizards in the volcano dungeon have the Eye of Malroth, which opens up a cave leading to Rhone. So after this the party can navigate the cave and storm Hargon's castle.

However, the five crests need to be picked up at some point and brought to an underwater shrine where the Charm of Rubiss is obtained. The water crest is in a jail in Hamlin guarded by some ozwargs. The sun crest is in the Fire Shrine on an island in the middle of the ocean. The stars crest is in a tower, but you have to beat some more gremlins for it. The king of Osterfair has the moon crest and he gives it to you after you beat a saber lion in his little colliseum. Finally, the life crest is in the basement of the cave leading to Rhone.

Hargon's castle looks like Midenhall until you use the Charm of Rubiss. As you climb the tower there are three subbosses to defeat: Atlas, Bazuzu and Zarlox. Then Hargon and Malroth.

Things I skipped

There is a silver key which is in the bottom of a dungeon on the first continent. It would take quite a while to get and isn't necessary so I skip it.

You can visit Moonbrook castle, which is where the opening takes place. The castle is all torn up and all the people are ghosts. I pass right by it after the princess joins.

A smaller version of Alefgard, the world of the first Dragon Warrior, is included in this game. Unfortunately, there's no reason to visit it, but I do sail by a couple times. Tantegel is the only town, but there are a couple shrines and the Dragonlord's castle.

Equipped weapons and armor

  • Wizard's Wand - Won from the lottery and only equipped for one battle. I hadn't planned on necessarily using it but it was slightly faster to equip it.
  • Broadsword - I buy this in Lianport and use it up until near the end of the game. Chosen because it's the best weapon which can be bought for an easily attainable amount of gold.
  • Sword of Destruction - Dropped by a Green Dragon. This has higher attack power than any other weapon and lets me hack through the end bosses much more easily. The curse on it can make the hero lose a turn in battle, but this can be manipulated never to happen.
  • Erdrick's armor - Picked up in the cave to Rhone. This has the same bonus as in DW1: damage squares can be passed with no effect. This is very nice as Hargon has placed quite a few of those nasty areas in his castle.

Other items used

  • Wing of the Wyvern - Dropped by Gremlins but more are bought. Warps to the last town you saved at, so of course it's very useful to move around the world. Once the ship is acquired it will also warp with you. The wings cannot be used in dungeons but can be used in town, a fact which I take advantage of several times.
  • Lottery ticket - Complimentary gift when buying an item. You need a lottery ticket to play the lottery!
  • Dragon Potion - Dropped by metal babble. One of the toughest items in the game to obtain since it is only dropped by metal babbles. It can be used to save the game anywhere. However, on loading the game you will find yourself at the last town you saved at. I use this to escape dungeons quickly but still keep the princess alive.
  • Leaf of the World Tree - Picked up on the island near Wellgarth. It revives one character. You can only carry one of these at a time but you can always get another at the same spot. I only swing near this area once, so I have to use it wisely.

Each character can only hold 8 items. One thing to note about items, the character whose inventory the item is in must be alive. This is a good reason to give most items to the hero since he is the only one alive at times. Luckily all items go to the hero by default when you pick them up. You can transfer an item to a living person, but that would waste time. It's also faster to throw away items than transfer, so that's how I manage my inventory. By throwing away a few items once they served their purpose I was able to manage my inventory well enough that it was never necessary to transfer an item.

Luck manipulation

The following can all be manipulated, though some are chosen at the same time:
  • townspeople's movement
  • getting lottery tickets from the item shop
  • playing the lottery
  • HP restored by healing magic
  • MP restored by wizard's ring and whether or not it vanishes
  • steps to next random battle
  • enemy group in next random battle
  • enemy hp for plot battles
  • preemptive/surprise attacks
  • battle turn order
  • outcome of each battle action - criticals, misses, curses, damage
  • amount of gold an enemy drops (experience is fixed)
  • item drops from enemies

Note that character stats are not random. The stats you get each levelup are fixed and are the same every time you play.

The names of the other two characters are randomly picked from a list of several names but I didn't worry about that at all.

Unfortunately, it's more difficult to manipulate things in this game than in DW1 or DW4. Button presses have no effect, all I can do is wait. Even worse, when walking around in random encounter areas, stops can only be made in 16-frame increments. Any menu or dialog can be closed with a resolution of one frame, which makes manipulation much easier. Also, opening the menu and waiting can produce different results than just adding pauses while walking. In general, most tougher manipulation is done by adding frames when closing a menu or dialog since this has to done regularly anyway. To avoid enemy fights I couldn't find any better way than using those 16-frame pauses. Occasionally it is faster to open a menu to avoid several of these pauses, I try to save menu trips to throw away or equip items for this.

I manipulate random encounter battles to appear a few times. When my goal is just to die the enemy group doesn't matter so much, I keep my hero weak enough that he will die in one hit. Picking a fight with a particular enemy group is much harder to manipulate. Adding wait frames seems to affect steps to encounter first and only changes the enemy group after the steps go to zero. Sometimes it can be 40+ steps to the next fight and at 1 step/frame it would take a while to get the fight I want. Luckily I can change things by opening a menu. Besides steps there is apparently another encounter mechanism. When you walk into darkness and there is a fade-in/fade-out effect it sometimes triggers an encounter instantly. Because it is an instant effect it isn't subject to the 1 step/frame rule, so I use this to get the quite rare encounter with one green dragon.

The Lottery

To win the lottery all you have to do is match all three symbols which go by slot machine-style. However, the symbols for the good stuff (suns and stars especially) don't come by often. Furthermore, the slots tend not to stop on these symbols, they will go forward or back. Also, if you hit the button for the next symbol while an earlier one is still settling, you may change the results. For this reason I pick three moons for third prize since it lets me stop the slots pretty quickly. The top prizes of the lottery are all pretty neat:
  • Golden Card (suns) - 25% discount on all weapons, armor and items at every shop! Adds an annoying message to the dialog though.
  • Wizard's Ring (stars) - Restores MP! Even better, it can be used over and over until it randomly vanishes. Of course the vanishing can be manipulated never to happen and the amount of MP restored can also be controlled. Sells for 1950 gold.
  • Wizards' Wand (moons) - A weapon that everyone can equip. Weak as a weapon but can be used as an item for...not much damage. The reason I pick it is to sell it for 1875 gold.

Gold

You start out with just the leather armor, but the chest from the king gives you a copper sword and 50 gold. The 50 gold plus 113 from selling leather armor gives me enough to buy two wings in Cannock. The main reason for doing this is actually to get the lottery ticket. Playing the lottery nets me a Wizard's Wand which I can sell for 1875 gold. I also pick up an Iron Helmet from a metal slime which sells for 2363 gold. This is more than enough to buy the rest of the items I need: a broadsword (1500 gold), jailor's key (2000 gold), more wings (80 each). In one test run I spent some extra time at the lottery to buy a light sword for 16000 gold. Though it was nice to have, it took much too long to get and use that many lottery tickets.

Experience

Every experience point was thoroughly tabulated. However, every battle I win has some purpose other than experience. The only compromises for experience are when I let the ozwargs summon some friends and fighting the saber lion in Osterfair when the princess is alive. This adds a few seconds of travel time versus stopping by on my way to Rubiss's pad but allows the princess to get the experience.

My final level is important to make the battle with Malroth go smoothly. I need as much damage from the hero as I can get (since I can't crit him) and also the surround spell from the princess. At level 13 I can do 8-9 damage easily while level 12 limits me to 5-6. The princess learns sleep at level 2, infernos at 4 and surround at 6. So my goal is to have the hero on 13 and the princess on 6. Any more than this wouldn't be worthwhile.

Fighting two extra ozwargs was chosen to give me enough experience to reach my goal levels at the end. An alternative might be fighting an extra metal babble, but I don't go through any territory with them until Tuhn, so fighting the extra ozwargs allows me to use infernos on the four gremlins. Adding more enemies to a fight I have to do anyway also avoids the start and end time of a new fight.

In the end both the hero and princess reach their final level by less than 50 experience each. The princess reaches level 6 at 2400 and finishes with 2449 exp and the hero needs 7600 exp for level 13 and ends up at 7629 after beating Zarlox.

Magic

The only reason the princess gets to stay alive is because her magic is occasionally useful. However, no spells work on metal enemies and Malroth appears to be immune to sleep. You might notice that I never restore her MP, I get by on just the 28 MP she starts with. Her spells:
  • Healmore - Restores about 50 HP. Used to deal with damage squares.
  • Sleep - Puts enemies to sleep, they lose their turns. Easy to make it work and to keep them asleep. I use this once on the Ozwarg fight.
  • Infernos - Does about 15-30 damage to each enemy in a group. It may also miss and do no damage, but why would I let that happen? Two shots of this are enough to wipe out the four gremlins guarding the stars crest.
  • Surround - Surrounds an enemy with the Phantom Force. They miss much more often. Used on Malroth to make him much easier.

Starting the quest

Slow message speed doesn't actually slow anything down, just add extra spots where a button needs to be pressed. This is important because it lets me manipulate the outcome of each action in battle.

I named the hero ! after his ancestor from DW1. Unlike DW1, the hero's name doesn't affect anything as far as I know. Many dialogs render one character each frame, so a single char name is fastest.

Death

As in all Dragon Warrior games, dying takes you back to the last place you saved with half your gold. This is convenient to escape dungeons quickly since the outside spell requires a much higher level than I reach. The hero gets full hp and of course has no MP. However, only the hero is brought back to life, he has to find some way to revive his minions.

This isn't a problem unless I am trying to keep the princess alive. I only get one Leaf of the World Tree and the house of healing takes too long, so I'll use the dragon potion in that case.

Reset button

I use the dragon potion after getting the moon fragment and again after getting the Eye of Malroth. This lets me save, reset and load up my game to start out in the town I last saved with everything else intact. This is actually slightly slower than manipulating a battle where I die in one hit, plus I don't get my HP restored. It is still useful because I need to keep the princess alive.

Attack/defense glitch

There is a glitch which causes the attack and defence stats to be retained after selling, throwing away or uncursing an item. You must equip the item first. The effect lasts until you either do an equip command or get a levelup.

Unfortunately, this is actually harmful in the beginning because it retains my defense level after I sell the leather armor. The equip command takes a few seconds even if you don't have anything to equip, so I just made sure to run my hp down to 2 in the swamp. If I didn't have to worry about levelups I could buy the broadsword, equip it and sell it to save quite a bit of money. So overall this isn't a particularly useful glitch.

Other optimizations

  • I use the swamp to lower my hp so that I can die in one hit
  • Enemies can spawn with quite a range of hps. I use this to spawn gremlins, evil clowns and a saber lion that I can kill in one hit. Even better, I spawn Malroth with 189 hp, much less than his 250 maximum.
  • Every fight can be preemptive, but the "But the enemies did not see thee" message takes so much time that it's not always worth it. Also, it is often more important to consider other factors like hp when spawning a fight.
  • I don't push the damage too hard for each hit on Malroth. I could finish the fight in 21 rounds with 9 damage each round, but by letting it slip to 23 rounds I can deal 8 damage most rounds with almost no manipulation time.
  • The last two dialog boxes at the end will disappear without pressing anything. However, pressing the button clears them away quite a bit faster, so I extended the input a little while to reach the credits a little faster.
  • I use the teleportation network a couple times. This is a pretty extensive network, but only part of it is useful.
  • Damage in battle is avoided so I don't have to heal. The dragon potion does not restore my hp the way dying does. I am on a tight MP budget and need all my healing to deal with damage floors. Only the green dragon is permitted to harm the hero and Malroth takes out the princess so she doesn't hold me back.

Possible improvements

  • I'm sure you could manipulate luck a little better, but it will be tough. For every long pause there is at least one lucky break where I got some pretty long odds quickly. This run is complex enough that it will probably never be perfect.
  • The world is huge and becomes quite nonlinear once the ship is acquired. I wouldn't rule out a faster route, but you'd have to know this game very well.
  • Small tweaks to item management could possibly cut out a few frames. This would affect luck manipulation and should really be lumped in with that.
  • Of course there's always hope to discover new ways to change luck and new glitches which could definitely cut this down even more.

Thanks

  • To players who have attempted this before: choco-mint and univbee
  • Other Dragon Warrior series players who helped, especially acmlm and adelikat (hurry up and finish 4 already!)
  • Blinknot, who IM'd me to remind me about using keys without facing the door.
  • The Dragon's Den forum, where I posted some questions and got some great help right away. Their site also has an amazing compendium of info on every game in the series.
  • To the makers of this sweet RPG series! After TASing both this and Final Fantasy I suppose I can't really hide being a bit of a Square-Enix fanboy. I had taken a break from TASing for a while but was inspired to do this run after playing through Dragon Quest VIII.


Truncated: This wasn't accepted already? I'll fix that then. Accepting due to very positive feedback from voters.

Bisqwit: Processing...


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