Submission #7451: andy120195's DS Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team "Wondermail" in 1:36:40.01

(Link to video)
Console Nintendo DS Emulator BizHawk 2.8
Game Version USA Frame Count 346992
ROM Filename Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Blue Rescue Team (USA).nds Frame Rate 59.82609828808082
Branch Wondermail Rerecord Count 21189
PowerOn Authors andy120195
Game Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team
Submitted by andy120195 on 4/20/2022 6:52:40 PM

Submission Comments
The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games are heavily depending on RNG. One of them will be beaten in this run, Blue Rescue Team. We allow Quicksaves and Wondermails to help us with this challenge. An NDS emulator was used. The time can't really be compared with speedrun records, because they mostly use the WiiU version, which runs faster. Starters used are Psyduck and Charmander.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.8
  • Objective: Beat the game as fast as possible

Game Mechanics

The speedruns of this game do differentiate the categories with Wondermail/Quicksaves and without them for a reason. These game mechanics will be explained first.

Wondermails

You can get yourself custom jobs by entering Wondermails in the Title Screen. Not only will we get faster jobs by that by getting many "Find this Item"-missions, where you just need to carry that item anywhere in the dungeon while leaving. You also get to choose your rewards, even ones that are way too powerful for jobs you'd normally get that early.

Quicksaves

In this game, you can use Quicksaves to save your current position in a dungeon, which I do twice in the run. The original intention of this feature was the possibility to postpone further completion of a dungeon until later. However, an additional effect is that any floors after that are always the same, which is used in speedruns often to know exactly which inputs you need to do to get your desired results. The last effect, however, is not used in this run, because the results would've been worse than the pretty good last floors I got in Thunderwave Cave and Mt. Freeze Peak, so it's just to be able to enter the Wondermails.

Mobile Scarf

Wearing it makes you able to go through any terrain and through walls to escape danger quickly and cut ways to the stairs. But beware, the leader loses a lot of belly while doing so! Taking it off while on terretory you can't naturally cross makes you warp into a random room on this floor, but this is avoided as much as possible because it takes around 70 frames.
I use two of them, one for the starter and one for the partner.

Frustration

This move can be taught by TM and does 45 HP damage every time when your IQ is at 0. So don't eat any Gummis and you're fine. It also always hits under normal circumstances, so it's a reliable choice for bosses, especially being as weak as we are, and not being able to deal much damage otherwise.

Starter Choice

Psyduck was chosen to cancel out any Weather Animation (because of its ability Cloud Nine). This is a big timesave and is more than enough to compensate Item reliability of a Meowth or anything else.
Charmander levels up slowly, so it doesn't waste much time with Level Up texts. And it learns the least moves of all partners.

Miscellaneous

The RNG may or may not change at any frame depending on the inputs you do. That only affects the game before being in the first floor of a dungeon, though. From that moment, every floor in the dungeon is set, and any movement you do has a determined outcome.
The last input before the credits happens at frame 346991. Because the start is at frame 0 and the game runs at 59.8261, this results in an end time of 1 hour, 36 minutes and 40.01053 seconds.

Stage by stage comments

Tiny Woods

Just get to the goal as fast as possible. I got one item on Charmander for using it in the missions. I need to get one less later that way, but it takes time to take it off. On the first floor, I set the options I want to use.

Thunderwave Cave

Getting some items along the way. Apples are best for the missions, it's the item with the least frames. The Wondermails contain the items we need for now.

Tiny Woods (2 missions)

One Mobile Scarf and one TM Frustration as reward, which we will both need in the next dungeon already. It might save one frame to do these missions in Thunderwave Cave instead, but the client is also less likely to be positioned as good as it was that way.

Mt. Steel

Probably the worst dungeon I had, but I needed Gravelrocks and an Escape Orb and I didn't find anything better. I also can't beat up any Pokemon here (except maybe for one Baltoy), because I need to get all of the Level Ups at once at Skarmory to save much Level Up text. But the ways were too long and the downside for warping only once was the Petrify Orb I needed to use.

Mt. Steel (3 missions)

I needed one more Escape Orb in the early game. Using it lets the "Find Item"-mission count as completed. I moved away from Charmander to not see the animation for it and save around 30 frames.

Thunderwave Cave (2 missions)

I needed an Apple to be able to complete all of the missions, so I let us spawn near one.

Sinister Woods

Charmander gets two more Frustration TMs later, but I need to learn Ember naturally to save some additional text frames ("do you really want to forget this move?"). The disadvantage is that it actually has to choose Frustration twice against the boss fight, which is a 1/6 chance (not to mention that you must not get KOed). Luckily I had that first try.
It's important to not let the other Pokemon execute any moves that you fully see. That's why I went for double Mobile Scarf. Also, in this and the next dungeons, we collect items for the next missions. Preferably Apples.

Silent Chasm

At least one Escape Orb is needed for later, and this is the last dungeon for now where they spawn. The rest is just to get to the stairs.

Mt. Thunder

We need a Link Box here to make sure we can kill bosses in two turns. A Sky Gummi was collected as well... avoiding it would've been worse, so I just got it for a mission later.
Here and later, if you find TM Frustration, you don't need to wondermail it in later. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky.

Great Canyon

Just get to the stairs, collect some items, don't fight anything.

Lapis Cave

Entering the fugitive part of the game, the dungeons will spawn much less Pokemon. The strategy is still the same.

Mt. Blaze

This is the last possibility to find the second Link Box you need to make sure you can continue beating bosses in two turns, and I had one on the way, which really came in handy. This dungeon is also worse than the others considering the fiery terrain. You won't want to cross it if you don't want to waste time seeing a Burn animation.

Frosty Forest

Nice and easy. Nothing much to say.

Mt. Freeze

Another set of Wondermails will be attained at the end. By then, you should have 8 items you can spend. Two are the Rawst Berries you got earlier, one is the Pecha Scarf and one is the Reviver Seed. The others are the ones you collected along the way, I got 3 Apples and the Sky Gummi. You can also collect more Apples to save frames on the text, but they would have to be directly on your way to matter.

Mt. Freeze (3 missions)

We use the Escape Orb we collected earlier here. Taking off the Mobile Scarf or changing the Tactics would waste too much time to make running away from the partner worth it, so it's immediately used.
The Chestnut is for Uproar Forest (you can also get two if you have so much reward space, so you don't have to collect any). The Big Apple is needed later to go into walls more often. And the Escape Orb is for the next mission.

Uproar Forest

Before entering the dungeon, the Job Board must give a "Find Item"-mission for the correct dungeon. I luckily had a pretty easy item I had to find, just an Oran Berry or Apple would've been even better. And the reward was money without extra item, which is even better.
I also found the needed Pecha Berry in the dungeon already. However, the chestnut cost me some time. I'd really love to get a second one from the Wondermails instead to not bother with it.

Silent Chasm (4 missions)

Setting the partner's tactics on "Get Away" does not save that much times, but it's a funny strat. The two Frustration TMs probably also don't save much time (if any at all), but it makes the late bosses much more reliable to be killed. The Escape Orb reward is used at the last mission day, and the Petrify Orb is for hard situations I need to get out of.

Sinister Woods (2 missions)

Another Big Apple for lategame.

Magma Cavern

Featuring the last Link Box used in this run.
The dungeon itself was not that good, but long dungeons are always weak to trouble. I still needed many warps here. But the Petrify Orb is still unused, which I didn't expect at all.
The Mud Sport by Graveler was intended because it only used up two frames (as I was off animation range).

Sky Tower

A very hard dungeon, Venomoth can be a troll here. The Petrify Orb is used to stop some ghosts from annoying me.
For the Summit, I had not a single item left to help me (one useless rock and a Ginseng), and I got the best summit I could hope for. I just wish I had a different belly value at the end, but can't be helped.

Possible Timesaves and other hints

This run is pretty good, but not perfect. If you want to beat me, here is what you can do better.

Timesaves from my own fault

  • Menuing Frames, some ticks can be done one or two frames sooner than I did (currently affecting giving names and the first Wondermail batch). Around 20 frames.
  • Opening the menu in a dungeon didn't always happen optimally in the first half of the game, apparently it's just important that two frames of B-presses happen. It's better executed in the lategame. Might also save 3 frames or 4.
  • In the first half of the game, when I open the menu (for accepting jobs or teaching Frustration), I pressed B one frame too long and waited one frame after that. That happened 3 times, so 6 frames can be saved here.
  • The last two Frustration TMs were placed badly by me, which cost me 2 frames.
  • I didn't get perfect Quiz, the very first question could've been "Do you fall asleep without noticing?" instead. I also intentionally dropped one frame at one of the other questions to give me better next questions, so that's 5 frames in total. However, I could manipulate the last part to give me the starter I wanted instead of other choices with the same amount of points.
  • Most important: You can skip parts of the attack animations by holding B+A. This is currently just done at Rayquaza, applying this to all of the other bosses probably saves 5-6 more seconds. Thanks to secureaccount, a PMD Speedrunning Discord member, for mentioning this to me.
Considering everything (including a possible alternate strat posted below), a 1:35 would be a really good time for this game.

Other hints

  • The "Getting Hungry" texts only waste many frames when running around is the cause. If you are inside a wall anyway, it won't cost any time!
  • When choosing the Wondermail Codes, there are some letters next to each other that save frames if they are the same. In my case, those are letters 1 and 2, 4 and 5, 7 and 8, 10 and 11, 13 and 14, 16 and 17, 19 and 20, and finally, 22 and 23.
  • In the overworld, watch out for in which directions the characters look when triggering cutscenes to not waste 4 frames just to let them turn where they need to or other crazy stuff. I also saved 4 frames just by opening the mailbox the first time one frame later than I could have, just because the screen didn't need to adjust then.

Alternative strats

Another member in the PMD Speedrunning Discord, Shady, had the idea to let the partner fight bosses offscreen. You'd set the Tactics to "Go Away" and run to another corner of the room, reset the Tactics to "Let's go together", the partner uses his moves and you wouldn't see the animations at all, saving a huge amount of time. However, this might be hard to do, and you might have to switch tactics or do random stuff often. It would affect the rest as well, you'd have to give four Frustration TMs to Charmander and only one to yourself (maybe a second one later to fight the Mankey team). If executed well, it can save a good amount of time in bosses, and you can get more items from the other Wondermails to help you lategame, also skipping the Link Box in Magma Cavern (and delaying the one in Mt. Blaze if you need it at all). It seems hard to do, but might be worth seriously looking into. This applies to all bosses from Zapdos onwards (except for maybe the Mankey), and only Articuno (Powder Snow) and Rayquaza (dodging/surviving 3 hits while not getting Agility) seem to be really hard.

slamo: Claiming for judging.
slamo: Replaced movie with an 82 frame improvement and cut off blank inputs.
slamo: Replaced movie file with an earlier ending point.
slamo: So I've decided to go ahead and make a decision on this. Most of my thoughts are in this post. TL;DR: Wondermail is a password system, which we didn't allow, but I still want this to be published because it's an interesting optimization challenge. Thankfully, codes are now allowed in Moons, which makes the waters significantly less murky here. You can probably see where I'm going with this.
I do think that this run has enough merit to get into Moons. Feedback was borderline (it's hard to get votes on long runs), but we like to err on the side of accepting, and I think this being an actual competitive speedrun category and the fact that we don't have any PMD runs published pushes this over the edge for me. I think a general audience would like to see this movie.
I also want to make this clear: This is not meant to compete with a Standard Fastest Completion category! We can have both on the site. I do believe they would be different enough with the absence of the Mobile Scarf and significantly different battle strategies in a codeless run. There was some talk about having a Standard goal that uses codes, but I don't think we need to wait for it here.
I'm adjusting the branch name. We never put "any%" in the name, and I don't think quicksaving is notable enough to put in the branch since we don't have any general rules against it. If quicksaving is faster, you should use it, unless you can really convince us of the merit of a run without quicksaving. The branch will just be called "Wondermail" to differentiate it from a Standard Fastest Completion run.
Accepting to Moons as a new branch.
fsvgm777: Processing. AntyMew is handling the encodes for this one.

Last Edited by andy120195 on 6/10/2022 6:03 PM
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