Lordy Lordy Lordy.
Micheal Fried, I need your screenname.
I read TSA's comment on the Mario Kart board about how we cheaters will never know the fastest route. How TSA discovered this fastest route is beyond me. I am willing to bet it's not the fastest route, unless he did the same thing I did, and he probably didn't.
If you did every combination of 123, you'd have
That's a lot. Now, think of how many combinations there are for 9 levels of Zelda 1. That's 9 factorial. I didn't bother with 9 factorial since I knew 9 must be the final level completed. So it's 8 factorial, which is 40,320 different combinations.
But there are some rules you must follow. For example, 4 cannot come before 3, because it's impossible to do in the game. A friend wrote a program to eliminate all of the combinations that broke my rules. Here are the rules I came up with: 3 has to be before 4
4 has to be before 5
4 has to be before 6
4 has to be before 7
5 has to be before 7
9 has to be last
I don't think I'm missing any rules, but if I am, tell me. I could run them through to eliminate other bad combinations. After eliminating every combination which broke the rules listed above, I'm left with 1008 different level combinations for Zelda 1. See all of them here: http://www.geocities.com/its_ramzi/DATA.html
Now, I did not include other things, like heart pieces, bombs, bait, arrows, or candle. I imagine those will be determined based upon how convenient they are on the route.
The only levels you can start off with are 1, 2, 3, and 8. I don't think it would be necessary to check all 1008 to find the shortest, since some would be obviously be too long, but I'm certain that THE fastest level combo is in one of those 1008. I'm sure that did a whole lot of good narrowing it down, eh?