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Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #7228: weils & Randomno's DS Professor Layton and the Last Specter in 1:29:06.6

Console: Nintendo DS
Game name: Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Game version: JPN
ROM filename: Layton Kyouju to Majin no Fue (Japan).nds
Branch:
Emulator: DeSmuME 0.9.9 x86
Movie length: 1:29:06.6
FrameCount: 319866
Re-record count: 13133
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: weils & Randomno
Submitter: weils
Submitted at: 2021-10-11 21:32:26
Intended tier: Standard
Text last edited at: 2021-10-22 17:09:24
Text last edited by: Samsara
Download: Download (55073 bytes)
Status: decision: accepted
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Author's comments and explanations:

Encode:

Emulator Settings:

  • Advanced Bus-Level Timing ON.
  • Rest OFF.

Goals:

  • Aims for fastest completion.

About:

Professor Layton and the Last Specter (known as Spectre's Call in Europe or Layton Kyouju to Majin no Fue (and the Devil's Flute) in Japan), is the fourth game in the puzzle game/point-and-click hybrid series Professor Layton, and the first in a trilogy of prequels, thus making it, in terms of plot order, the first adventure of the series. In this run, I aim to speed through Professor Hershel Layton's investigation of the unusual witch-related happenings in Misthallery, and save his friend Clark Triton's town from the wrath of the "specter" in as fast a time as possible, breezing through the dialogue and solving the puzzles in fast, unintended and bizarre ways.

Characters:

Since this version of the game is in Japanese (used due to it having the fastest overall completion time as a result of puzzle differences and dialogue alterings), I have made a list of the English names of the most plot-centric characters for reference:

  • Hershel Layton - The man with the top hat. We see him near enough immediately in the left-hand seat of the Laytonmobile.
  • Emmy Altava - The girl in the yellow jacket. We also see her immediately, in the right-hand seat of the Laytonmobile.
  • Clark Triton - The man with the cool beard who wrote the letter Emmy reads at the beginning. He's the father of Luke Triton.
  • Luke Triton - The young boy with the white and blue clothes who we first meet in Clark's house. He follows Layton around to help him, as he wishes the specter would go so his father can spend time with him again.
  • Doland Noble - The Triton family's faithful butler... who is being impersonated by somebody holding Clark hostage!
  • Arianna Barde - The ginger girl with a white bow in her hair. She's the 11 year old daughter of the now-deceased Evan Barde, and is rumoured to be a witch...
  • Tony Barde - The young boy in a yellow coat. He's Arianna's brother.
  • Loosha - The blue seal-like animal. It's best friends with Tony and Arianna, however it's protecting a treasure those in the town could never have seen coming...
  • Levin Jakes - The fat police inspector. He's secretly working for an impostor though...
  • Jean Descole - The badass villain who is revealed to be impersonating Doland Noble and working alongside Jakes. He attempts to destroy the town with his mega-specter, which initiates Chapter 10's final battle with some of the hardest puzzles in the game (which we go through effortlessly)!

Chapters:

  • Prologue: So We Meet Again - in this very short chapter, Layton discusses with his assistant Emmy Altava the aim of his investigation. We solve a puzzle to give us a clue about why we have been invited to Misthallery by Clark Triton.
  • Chapter 1: The Fog of Misthallery - In this chapter, we enter the town of Misthallery for the first time in pursuit of Clark’s house. Once there, Clark informs Layton of his sons recent reclusive nature.
  • Chapter 2: The Boy Who Foretold Disaster - In this chapter, we persuade Luke to leave his room and join us by solving his puzzle (which is annoyingly doing absolutely nothing for 15 seconds). He then joins us for the rest of the game.
  • Chapter 3: The Specter Appears - In this chapter, Luke acts as a tour guide for Layton and Emmy as they take a look around Misthallery. At the end of the day, they rent a room at the hotel.
  • Chapter 4: The Shadowy Manipulator - In this chapter, we visit the black market. We chase down a shadowy figure known as the Black Raven, and befriend the many behind it by working out the secret that it is actually two people disguised as one.
  • Chapter 5: The Witch's Castle - In this chapter, Layton insists on entering Barde Manor, where the “witch” Arianna is said to reside. At first, he is locked out, so decides to break in via an alternative way. This works, and we attempt to discuss with Arianna, but unfortunately even with Luke’s help the conversation goes nowhere.
  • Chapter 6: London's Hidden Secrets - In this chapter, there is no Layton. We exclusively follow Emmy as she searches London for Inspector Grosky, her friend, in order to find the crime records for Misthallery.
  • Chapter 7: Third Eye Jakes - In this chapter, we meet Jakes. Following his threatening behaviour and claim to remove us from Misthallery within the next 24 hours, Layton suspects Jakes of being corrupt, so once we finish with him we immediately head down to the black market in order to try and trick him.
  • Chapter 8: Face to Face with the Specter - In this very short chapter, Layton comes face to face with the specter (who knew?), but unhelpfully doesn’t elaborate on what he saw. He and the rest of the party are arrested straight after, but we break out thanks to Toppy the mouse. He also deduces how the music travelled all throughout town: the old piping system throughout Misthallery.
  • Chapter 9: The Specter becomes Clear - In this chapter, Arianna confirms Layton’s theory about the music, and reveals Loosha the sea creature to us. Shortly after, however, Jakes ambushes us and Arianna and Loosha are abducted. We clear Loosha’s name, then head to the abandoned factory to expose the real specter for what it is - a digging machine. We also solve a lot of puzzles at once in order to meet the 80 puzzle threshold required to enter the factory.
  • Chapter 10: A Legend Revealed - In this chapter, all hell breaks loose. The impostor posing as Doland reveals himself to be a scientist named Descole, and he uses a bunch of copies of the specter we found in the previous chapter to create a mega specter which we fight in the final boss battle. Yes, there’s a boss in a Professor Layton game.
  • Epilogue: The Last Gift - In the epilogue, we unlock the entrance to the Golden Garden, which Loosha was trying to hide this whole time from the digging machines. Loosha dies here in a cutscene we heartlessly skip, and the credits play.

Puzzles:

In this run, we are required to solve a minimum of 80 of the multiple types of puzzles in Misthallery, including:
  • Drag and drops: Puzzles where we have to pick up a piece and insert it somewhere in order to solve the puzzle.
  • Multiple choice selections: Puzzles where you get a choice between a few options, typically three. Being solvable in just one frame, these puzzles are ideal.
  • "Jigsaw" puzzles: Puzzles which involve putting multiple pieces into place in order to form an image or condense them into a specific place. The earliest example of this can be found in puzzle 4.
  • Writing puzzles: Puzzles where you have to write the solution. These are my favourite for how broken they are. Poor writing detection results in some... interesting answers.

weils' comments:

I'm really happy with this movie, my first major TAS project. It was so satisfying to use the puzzles (particularly the jigsaw ones) in this game to push my TASing experience to its total limits, and find out the fastest ways to interact with and navigate through the town of Misthallery. I am very grateful to Randomno, who assisted me with optimisations to puzzles, as well as TASing those which I found too difficult to do myself (aka, the kana). I am super pleased with the end result, and I hope whoever judges this is impressed with what we made.

Randomno's comments:

I've never played the Layton games and I don't speak Japanese, so I didn't really know what was going on. I optimised some puzzles though. I don't suggest using my katakana writing as a learning tool.

Potential improvements:

  • Look into further optimising voice lines. Each character has at least 3 different lines for completing a puzzle, but only 2 are chosen from each time. Forcing the fastest one every time would require further manipulation.
  • See if certain puzzles can be substituted out for quicker alternatives.

Special thanks:

  • Randomno for assisting me with optimisations to, as well as fully TASing, multiple puzzles.
  • StarrlightSims for TASing Curious Village (the first Professor Layton game), which gave me inspiration to create this TAS, and giving me advice.
  • tutelarfiber7 for making the route which forms the basis of this TAS.
  • The rest of the Professor Layton Speedrunning server for their support.

weils: Cancelling.

weils the very next day: Actually, I’ll give my TAS the chance it deserves to have. How will I know if I don’t try?


Samsara, shortly afterward: Judging.

Samsara, a few days later: Upfront, the obvious thing to talk about is whether or not a point-and-click puzzle game fits the site. In a word, yes. In several words, yes, as long as it is not ultimately trivial, though even that point is something I could see changing in the future. Judging from the manipulation mentioned in the submission text, this follow-up post, and the RTA record being more than 10 minutes slower than this, I wouldn't exactly call it a trivial run with trivial improvements, at the very least it surpasses what we would consider as being trivial enough to reject these days.

Aside from that, there's really nothing wrong with this TAS whatsoever. Entertainment level seems to be the biggest factor here for the thread feedback, and that's not even a metric we pay attention to anymore. The optimization is on-point, the potential improvements are miniscule in comparison to the length of the run (most of them are at the frame level, and I doubt a "perfect" run would be an improvement of longer than 20-30 seconds barring some major new trick or skip) while also not being trivial in and of themselves. Plus, there will be people out there who enjoy this run for what it's worth, whether they're just fans or even speedrunners of the Layton series, or people like me who greatly appreciate games and TASes like these helping the staff push back the boundaries and figure out exactly how we can allow more things through. I'm glad this TAS exists, I'm glad it was submitted, and I'm glad that I can accept it.


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