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Introduction

The Nidoran route used by the currently published run is well-established, and used throughout all Gen 1 games, for TAS and RTA runs. Nidoking has good stats and a great move set through TMs, is available early on, and can deal with virtually any matchup.
But Nidoking also has downsides. Its main downside is that it is very slow to get going: Catching a Nidoran is very much out of the way, it requires the help of Squirtle to get through the first gym, and starts with only slow moves. It loses more than a minute and a half up to Mt. Moon, compared to just using Squirtle the whole way. Nidoking does later make up for it with efficient moves like Thrash and having access to both Fissure and Horn Drill as one-hit KO moves for the late game.
What I initially wanted to find out is whether this Nidoran route is really without alternative, or if it's possible for the Squirtle route to hold the large initial lead to the end, being overall faster than the Nidoran route. And the answer turns out to be yes: It's possible to end up ~6.5 seconds faster than the published run. I created a TAS to demonstrate this. It's an interesting run in its own right, and that could have been the end of it. However, it turns out there's actually an even faster route.

The Route

This route started out as a meme, which was meant to be interesting to look at, not necessarily fast. To my surprise, even though it was an unoptimized meme-fest (e.g. fighting Brock with Charmander; canceling Charmander's evolution), it ended up actually being faster than the Squirtle route. When I looked into how this could possibly be, I realized something that is obvious only in hindsight: Changing your main battle Pokémon during the run can actually be faster.
All serious routes tend to use the same Pokémon throughout the whole game. And it makes sense, at first glance, main switching mid-run seems like a terrible idea, for many reasons:
  • It takes a lot of time to catch a new Pokémon
  • Wild Pokémon are generally lower level than your current one
  • You lose all your accumulated Stat Experience, lowering your effective stats
  • You lose your redbar setup, and need to take damage again
  • You need to split up your TMs across the different Pokémon
But on closer inspection, there are actually also a lot of positives, mitigating these issues:
  • You can re-use your previous mains for using HMs, avoiding the need to catch additional Pokémon just for using HMs and negating the time it costs to catch the new main
  • You can get Pokémon with high base stats earlier, mitigating the lower level and loss of your Stat Experience
  • You can avoid slow elements of leveling up your current main, e.g. learning unnecessary moves or evolving
  • You can utilize the available TMs more efficiently by always having a good Pokémon that can use the best moves, speeding up the fights
  • Your current main only needs to be performing well until it is replaced, so it does not need to be able to beat all fights in the game efficiently or have amazing DVs
The route used in this submission main-switches twice: to Clefable in Mt. Moon, and to Tauros in the Safari Zone.
Clefable has very good base stats for early in the game, and can make good use of the TMs that are available early on, like Mega Punch (extra powerful due to STAB), Bubblebeam and Thunderbolt, allowing it to OHKO anything beyond Misty. As an added bonus, it does not learn any new moves on level-up, saving extra time. It would not be able to perform well in the late game, but it doesn't have to, because it is replaced by Tauros before it runs into any difficulties.
Tauros has amazing base stats, with 110 base Speed, great Attack and decent Special. The high speed is doubly important as Tauros can also learn both Horn Drill and Fissure, which in Gen 1 are dependent on your Speed stat, allowing it to outspeed the vast majority of enemies without any X Speed items. Its physical moves have STAB boost, and it can also learn available strong late-game TMs like Blizzard. Overall, it can OHKO every enemy thought the remainder of the game.
Compared to the published run, this new route saves almost 52 seconds.

General speed techniques

Text

Every character printed to the screen costs one frame, so you want to minimize the amount of text shown. This means any name that appears more than a few times should be made to be only one character long to save time. This also extends to fights, where additional text for critical hits or super-effective moves cost extra time and should generally be avoided.

Move animation

Even with with battle animations turned off, there are two types of animations, a shaking animation and a blinking animation. The shake is about a second faster than the blink and generally preferable, even if it causes additional critical hit or effectiveness texts. All moves that have a side effect have the fast shake animation (even if the side effect doesn't trigger), and all moves without a side effect have the slow blink animation.

Redbar

When your Pokémon is low on health, a constant beeping sound plays which overrides lots of other sounds and speeds up the run. This is especially noticeable during level-ups. The redbar time save does not apply for level-ups that happen at the very end of a fight, so level-ups should generally happen in the middle of a battle where possible.
In menus it's often possible to do multiple inputs in the same frame to save time, both when scrolling through lists, and when selecting items from a list. Whenever you see the cursor apparently over the wrong list item, this is what happens.

Notes on the run

Pallet Town

Squirtle is the fastest starter to reach Mt. Moon, and after being replaced will still function as the user of HM Surf.
The battle animations are only turned off after the initial rival fight, as Tackle's animation is faster while they are enabled.

Viridian Forest

The fight against a wild Pikachu both sets up redbar and gives Squirtle enough extra EXP to learn Bubble before Brock

Pewter City

Due to how crits are calculated in Gen 1, Geodude cannot be defeated in one crit, even though the non-crit Bubble takes way more than half of its HP.
The money earned so far is exactly enough to buy the 7 Escape Ropes and 4 Poké Balls we need.

Route 3

Bubble is used over Tackle for all fights, since it has the significantly faster shake animation, compared to Tackle's blink animation.
Rattata's speed is lowered by Bubble to allow Squirtle to outspeed it in the following turns.
A Pidgey is caught to use as the HM Fly user later.

Mt Moon

TM Mega Punch is somewhat out of the way, but it's essential for Clefable, as it is an 80 power move with STAB, allowing Clefable to defeat most enemies in one hit.
Clefairy has a wide range of acceptable DVs, the ones in this run are 12/10/12/12. Most importantly, it has a HP DV of 0, to minimize the amount of damage it needs to take to get into redbar.
Losing some initial turns against Rattata in order to get into redbar still saves time overall.
Paras is caught as the HM Cut user for the run.

Cerulean City

The Bike Shop is used to get Instant Text three times in this run. Instant Text is lost in certain menus, including the start menu and any yes/no options menu.
Misty is fought before entering the Nugget Bridge in order to get TM Bubblebeam early. The additional PP and its fast animation makes it the best move by far at this stage in the game.
The Pokécenter is used to restore PP and set the Escape Rope location. The yes/no dialog cancels Instant Text.

Route 25

The Hiker with the single Onix is faster to defeat, but gives less EXP. The additional EXP does not matter at all during any of the following fights, but it changes when the level-ups happen. Level-ups that happen at the very end of a fight don't benefit from redbar, costing ~2.5 seconds each. Getting the additional EXP here makes it align more favorably and overall saves time.
The hidden Ether is collected and used to extend the PP of Bubblebeam, which is faster than using the Pokécenter again.

Route 6

Due to Instant Text and the music transition when entering the Underground Tunnel, collecting the hidden Full Heal is very fast. The item is not needed outside filling the inventory in order to avoid receiving TMs from gym leaders later. It's the second-fastest way to fill a bag slot after buying extra items from a mart.
Fighting the male Jr.Trainer first is generally slower, but it prevents the level-up from happening at the end of the fight, saving time in this instance.

Celadon City

When buying items from the Celadon Store, it's advantageous to buy 2 of each in order to keep the bag slot full even after it has been used.
There is no need to buy X items, Tauros will be plenty fast enough on its own.

Lavender Town

After the fight before reaching the heal pad, Clefable's PP for Bubblebeam, Thunderbolt and Mega Punch are all exactly 0.
It's not worth to get into redbar again after the heal pad, as Clefable will soon be replaced by Tauros. This is helped by Clefable's relatively short cry.
While it seems that talking to the Rockets directly would be faster, talking to them from below makes them take extra steps in their exit cutscene, overall losing time.

Celadon City

The Pokécenter is used exclusively to set the warp location, which overall saves time as we need to return here multiple times.

Route 17

Picking up the Max Elixer here is slightly slower than the Max Ether on Route 10 which would also suffice, but this way it's in a better position in the item bag, making it faster to eventually use.

Safari Zone

Tauros' DVs don't need to be very specific, this run uses 12/6/12/10. It's all that's needed for the remainder of the game, and minimizes the HP and therefore damage it needs to take.

Fuchsia City

Kadabra outspeeds Tauros, and is a convenient place to take redbar damage.
Koga's Weezing is manipulated to use Self Destruct, as Tauros ran out of PP for Horn Drill.
The Max Elixer is used not only to restore the PP of Horn Drill, but also to make space in the bag for the items found in the Cinnabar Mansion.

Cinnabar Island

Tauros learns both Blizzard and Strength. Strength is a strong move due to STAB, but not a fast move due to its slow animation, and only used rarely in battle.

Saffron City

During the Giovanni fight, restoring Tauros' PP and maintaining redbar are conveniently compressed into the same turn. Since Tauros outspeeds pretty much everything, there are not many good places to take damage efficiently.

Viridian City

The Escape Rope used before flying to Viridian City was the last one, conveniently freeing up the necessary bag slot to receive Giovanni's TM Fissure.
During the rival fight, replenishing the PP is again combined with maintaining redbar in a single turn.

Elite Four

All Pokémon besides Tauros are deposited to speed up the Hall of Fame cutscene.
Agatha is by far the most difficult fight, because her Gengars have very high Speed stats making it difficult to use OHKO moves on them, even for Tauros. The first Gengar is outsped by using the Rare Candy before the fight to increase Tauros' stats. This is still not enough for the second Gengar though. In order to be faster than it this run abuses a miscalculation the game makes when computing badge boosts: When Arbok uses Screech to lower Tauros' Defense, it re-applies all badge boosts, which also increases its Speed as a side effect, making it fast enough to outspeed the second Gengar. This extra turn on Arbok is combined with restoring Tauros' PP.
In the final rival fight, animations are forced enabled, changing the rules for what moves are fast or slow to use. For example, Horn Drill is significantly faster then Fissure, Which itself is significantly faster than Blizzard. It is worth taking extra crits and effective texts in the previous fights, just to be able to use the shortest animations here.

RTA viability

So one big question with this route is, would it also be faster RTA? With proper setups to manipulate Clefairy and Tauros encounters, it's feasible to use a similar route in RTA runs in principle. In fact for Clefairy such a setup already exists, as part of an "alt-main" category that uses Clefable throughout the game.
It would still not be as straight-forward though, as main-switching generally is more expensive in RTA runs. Doing the manips costs extra time due to saving and resetting, so it might be advantageous to skip Clefable and keep use Squirtle until switching to Tauros, as the time difference between these routes is not that big. There will also need to be some necessary deviations to make it more safe, like the use of X items.
Maybe this will be nothing more than another meme route for RTA, but that's what I initially thought for this TAS as well. Time will tell.

Conclusion

I set out to break up the monotony of the familiar Nidoran route, and ended up succeeding more than I expected. I hope this will be seen as a sign and an opportunity to experiment more, in this game and others, and not just assume the current route is "obviously" the fastest. There's a good chance that more improvements are possible still with more creative routing.

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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #7131: MrWint's GB Pokémon: Red Version in 1:28:43.76
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Wow, this was unexpected. Yes vote!
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Very exciting! I love the larger look at the mon choice for the route and the smaller details like continuing the use of animations on through Rival 1 from Yellow. I'll probably have a lot more questions after a deep dive but I noticed at least these from my first watch: I would want to test double growl gen 1 miss on the moon rocket as in the Yellow Rival 1 battle, I'm pretty sure it's slightly faster in theory but it's only a handful of frames which might be hard to keep saved searching for gen 1 misses. I'm curious about the use of the Red cart and Paras over Blue and Sandshrew, due to Paras' longer cry at both the catch and the E4 deposit. I'll have to re-weigh that against the shorter name and the extra route 4 steps. I'm curious if you checked the 4x Night Shade strat with pound, I'd need to test it again here since Clefable's cry is so much shorter but redbar is so useful in red I wouldn't be surprised if it's worth it just for the rest of tower. Will try to test console verification soon :)
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It warms my heart to see this TAS. Red/Blue always seemed like the most fertile ground of the Gen 1-2 glitchless runs to test out alternative routes, and I was disappointed when only Nidoran was pursued originally. Some notes from the RTA perspective:
  • For mainswitching, the Safari poke of choice was usually L33 Nidorino (then immediately evolved into Nidoking). Clefable had also been considered by some as an intermezzo between Squirtle and Nidoking; certainly interesting to see it came out a bit faster in a TAS setting.
  • Leaving aside the question of RNG manipulation, the biggest issue for non-Nidoking pokes has been "safe redbar" for the lategame. Nidoking is rather uniquely suited to keep redbar for the entire lategame, due to several places with consistent AI abuse to help setup on fights. (Tauros has some additional issues, being underlevelled and vulnerable to encounters in Celadon Mansion and Victory Road.)
  • Here is at least 1 Squirtle -> Tauros run on the JPN boards: https://www.speedrun.com/pkmnredblue/run/mexnr22z
Out of curiosity, did you attempt a full-game Nidoran TAS? I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there were 52 seconds to save on the published TAS from fully bruteforcing the luck manipulation, but from the writeup it seems like it would have run counter to your objectives with this TAS. (Edit: TiKevin83 says he'd estimate 15-20 seconds from bruteforcing, and he'd know better than me.) Regardless, as someone whose foray into speedrunning was attempting to break up the "tyranny" of the Nidoran route, I'm happy to see this as the route that made it to the workbench. There are a lot of creative routing ideas out there for Red/Blue Glitchless in particular, and this hopefully will inspire more of them.
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entrpntr wrote:
It warms my heart to see this TAS. Red/Blue always seemed like the most fertile ground of the Gen 1-2 glitchless runs to test out alternative routes, and I was disappointed when only Nidoran was pursued originally. Some notes from the RTA perspective:
  • For mainswitching, the Safari poke of choice was usually L33 Nidorino (then immediately evolved into Nidoking). Clefable had also been considered by some as an intermezzo between Squirtle and Nidoking; certainly interesting to see it came out a bit faster in a TAS setting.
  • Leaving aside the question of RNG manipulation, the biggest issue for non-Nidoking pokes has been "safe redbar" for the lategame. Nidoking is rather uniquely suited to keep redbar for the entire lategame, due to several places with consistent AI abuse to help setup on fights. (Tauros has some additional issues, being underlevelled and vulnerable to encounters in Celadon Mansion and Victory Road.)
  • Here is at least 1 Squirtle -> Tauros run on the JPN boards: https://www.speedrun.com/pkmnredblue/run/mexnr22z
Out of curiosity, did you attempt a full-game Nidoran TAS? I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there were 52 seconds to save on the published TAS from fully bruteforcing the luck manipulation, but from the writeup it seems like it would have run counter to your objectives with this TAS. (Edit: TiKevin83 says he'd estimate 15-20 seconds from bruteforcing, and he'd know better than me.) Regardless, as someone whose foray into speedrunning was attempting to break up the "tyranny" of the Nidoran route, I'm happy to see this as the route that made it to the workbench. There are a lot of creative routing ideas out there for Red/Blue Glitchless in particular, and this hopefully will inspire more of them.
This isn't only meant as a reply to you but in general, it does apply though. IIRC Nidoran being king of Gen 1 stems from Yellow, where the starter (Pikachu) is not very helpful and can't even harm Brock until significant grinding is done to endure a slow Quick Attack-fest. Additionally, it learns Double Kick at 12, which is pretty early, and handles Brock very well. It can also be caught at Lv6, and trained via Pidgeotto encounters which award a colossal 148 EXP. One Pidgeotto sends Nidoran-M to Lv8, enough to get Horn Attack, a strong Normal-type attack. In R(G)B, it learns Poison Sting and not Double Kick, and is caught at Lv4. No Pidgeotto encounters either. So the highest non-trainer EXP yield (and you have less rewarding trainers and less trainers period) is like 53 or something. Yellow was generally agreed on by most speedrunners to be the definitive "glitchless" one due to having slightly more content, harder enemies (Gyms 5-7 are FAR harder, as are the Rival fights), and fixing (minor) glitches (being able to Dig/Escape Rope out of Bill's house and most gyms, etc.). It also has two timesaves where you get Charmander (Cut+Dig+Strength) above Cerulean, and Squirtle in Vermilion, who learns Surf (and Strength if it saves more time for Squirtle to have it instead) and is available far earlier than Lapras in Saffron. However, I never really liked this concept of a "singular" game for Gen 1. I prefer Yellow in playthroughs as well but R(G)B have a unique experience compared too, as this run clearly shows. It's not like Emerald and Ruby/Sapphire, or something, where the separate games are more or less the same thing. Yes vote. You were inspired by that recent LeafGreen run, weren't you? :D My dude Clefable is goin' over!
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TiKevin83 wrote:
I would want to test double growl gen 1 miss on the moon rocket as in the Yellow Rival 1 battle, I'm pretty sure it's slightly faster in theory but it's only a handful of frames which might be hard to keep saved searching for gen 1 misses.
I didn't test it initially, using non-damaging moves was a blind spot for me, good call. I did a quick test, and it turns out it is actually 25 frames slower than Mega Punch. Some but definitely not all of this can be extra delay, it just doesn't seem to be faster in the first place. Haven't investigated more into why, my first suspicion is that the failed text is much shorter than for the trypical enemy moves, so it loses the advantage compared to the "But it failed!" text for Growl misses.
TiKevin83 wrote:
I'm curious about the use of the Red cart and Paras over Blue and Sandshrew, due to Paras' longer cry at both the catch and the E4 deposit. I'll have to re-weigh that against the shorter name and the extra route 4 steps.
I did test this one, and catching Paras is ~100 frames faster (excluding the Elite 4 cry). Again I didn't fully investigate why, other variables to consider are that the battle start transition animation is different and potentially shorter in caves than it is in the overworld. Re Red vs. Blue, Red saves ~7 frames due to Charmander's cry being shorter on the title screen, and I didn't need any version exclusives (not that 7 frames matter in the grand scheme of things, they can be easily lost or gained during the manips).
TiKevin83 wrote:
I'm curious if you checked the 4x Night Shade strat with pound, I'd need to test it again here since Clefable's cry is so much shorter but redbar is so useful in red I wouldn't be surprised if it's worth it just for the rest of tower. Will try to test console verification soon :)
This one I also tested, and it's close-ish, but ended up 1-2s slower. That said, I also tested it in the Squirtle route where it was actually faster, so it's not clear cut, and my test might have been flawed.
entrpntr wrote:
Out of curiosity, did you attempt a full-game Nidoran TAS? I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there were 52 seconds to save on the published TAS from fully bruteforcing the luck manipulation, but from the writeup it seems like it would have run counter to your objectives with this TAS. (Edit: TiKevin83 says he'd estimate 15-20 seconds from bruteforcing, and he'd know better than me.)
I didn't do a Nidoran route for Red/Blue, but I did do one for Yellow, and the timesave was ~9s, which largely is attributed to manipulation. Of course my brute-forcing isn't perfect either and the quality of the manips might be different between the two.
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Wow, this is such an amazing route. I'm impressed that the meta can be shaken up so much so late into the speedrun development for this game.
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I watched the run and enjoyed it. Didn't expect you'd switch mains yet another time (thought at first you were just use Clefable all the way and get Metronome). Against the Hiker in Rock Tunnel, was it faster to take them out with Bubblebeam as opposed to missing a move and then manipulating a Selfdestruct miss?
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Yeah that strat is used for PP management in the old route not speed, so with the extra PP from ethering Bubblebeam it isn't relevant here.
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This run is only 2 seconds and ~39ish frames away from 1:26 in the HOF, so I'm definitely going to keep diving into the routing here to see if I can find anything that would enable 1:26. So far my only other idea was around center and IT timing when entering Cerulean, I was aware an IT get for only Misty could be faster with full botting but what caught me off guard is how much time is lost to not having redbar for goldeen+Misty when centering before. I looked at those variations because someone mentioned the Elixer above Top Hiker could be an intriguing way to fix PP issues from the 7 Mega Punches used during Misty. So now I'm still interested if something can be done with the Elixer but it doesn't look like it would involve center timing.
Post subject: OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN!
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Salutations, fellow tool-assisted Pokemon trainers! I'm GamesFan2000, and I'm just a random trainer that you probably didn't even battle. That aside, for the first time in a long while, we've got a new route for Red and Blue! The tried, true and tested Nidoking route has finally been obsoleted! Reading the submission notes, I'm intrigued by the fact that you started this by proving that the Werster strategy of riding Blastoise through thick and thin was faster than the Nidoking route, a route created by RTA runners specifically to gain an advantage over Werster. But, alas, we instead get a mix of FireRed/LeafGreen inspiration and a completely new idea for this TAS. We switch from Squirtle to the adorable Clefable in Mt. Moon, and then to the mighty Tauros in the Safari Zone (those who TAS the Gen 1 remakes might want to take note). For so long now, we've believed that Nidoking was the final solution, but the door has been blown wide open now. A whole-hearted yes vote for breaking the mold with something different and faster!
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I absolutely love the way Clefable plays a major role in the Red and Leafgreen TASes, and Clefairy even plays a small part in the latest improvement for Gold version. This is an awesome, clever route, and a clear Yes vote. The work done to optimize luck manipulation is also very impressive.
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Switching main Pokémon not once but twice in the run is very creative, and it's great to see it working out. There's something hilarious about entering the Elite Four with nothing but a Lv41 Tauros with 6 HP, underleveled by about 12-16 levels throughout the entire ordeal. Excellent display of planning and mastery of the game. Clear yes vote.
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Post subject: Re: OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN!
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I love Pokémon TASes that use different mains than the RTA runs, and I especially love the possibility of shaking up the Gen 1 routing. Easiest Yes vote I’ve had in a while
GamesFan2000 wrote:
We switch from Squirtle to the adorable Clefable in Mt. Moon, and then to the mighty Tauros in the Safari Zone (those who TAS the Gen 1 remakes might want to take note).
The idea of main-switching midway through FRLG is not without merit, but I don’t know that Tauros is the answer. The remakes take away two of his biggest strengths: speed-based crit rate, and access to Fissure
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Post subject: Re: OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN!
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UnopenedClosure wrote:
The idea of main-switching midway through FRLG is not without merit, but I don’t know that Tauros is the answer. The remakes take away two of his biggest strengths: speed-based crit rate, and access to Fissure
On top of those reasons, speed itself is made less important thanks to Quick Claw, and OHKO moves cannot work on higher-leveled opponents, which also discourages catching a new (lower-level) Pokémon later in the run. This all just puts emphasis on having more raw power on your Pokémon (as opposed to cheese OHKO move strats), which is hard to get when re-catching.
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Lol surreal to see Clefable and the Tauros wiping out almost everything in one hit. And to have that be faster than the very optimized nido route. Great job!
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very interesting new strategies, yes vote!
I plan on TASing whatever simple games you don't want to. TAS i'm interested: megaman series: mmbn1 100%, bn3456, mmx3 any% psx glitched, pokemon series : colosseum and XD, emerald 7symbols, maximum carnage, mmx command mission mortal kombat series: UMK3, MKT, MKA, MKD and MKDA fighting games with speed goals in general
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EDIT: Never mind, there was a mistake in my routing, you're still outsped.
entrpntr wrote:
Minor possible routing improvement: I took a quick look at the Tauros part of the route, and it appears with a 15 speed DV Tauros, you are speedtied with Agatha's first Gengar at L44. This makes the Rare Candy appear unnecessary at first blush. It's not clear if you considered this, because you actually don't achieve the speedtie on your original route (Viridian Rival's Blastoise team gives less speed stat exp, and it just happens to matter in this situation). Benefit: - Not having to use the Rare Candy (or swap it up in the inventory) Drawback: - 1 bad levelup (after Lance's Dragonite) Not sure if I missed something because I mostly just glanced through the battle scenarios, but that stuck out as a very plausible time save.
TiKevin83
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Might have been missed due to aiming for even Speed for 2 less HP DV? Would have to check how that changes redbar routing having 2 more HP DV
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Yeah, it is very close, but you are still outsped 136 to 137. Technically you have enough Stat Exp for a speed tie from Machamp, but since the effective stats are only re-calculated on level-up, you don't get the extra point of speed you need.
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Did you check using Squirtle all the way to Tauros? Looking at your full-game Squirtle movie, it's very close with Clefable through the end of tower, after having done extra prep expecting to continue using Squirtle.
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gifvex wrote:
Did you check using Squirtle all the way to Tauros? Looking at your full-game Squirtle movie, it's very close with Clefable through the end of tower, after having done extra prep expecting to continue using Squirtle.
I did not do a full run, but some calculations and came to the conclusion that it won't be faster with enough confidence. The additional prep that the Squirtle route does, mainly collecting and teaching Ice Beam, is largely offset by the help it provides during the Tower fights, as Squirtle is very low on PP at that point. That said, I now see that I didn't consider some of the potential additional time saves (e.g. using Paras over Sandshrew, fewer E4 deposits) and it might be closer than I gave it credit for, I guess I also didn't look too closely when Clefable sounded like the more interesting route. I'll need to do some more analysis.
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Well, it turns out my previous calculations were entirely wrong, and using Squirtle all the way to Tauros is actually significantly faster. Thanks gifvex for pointing this out. So while this finally achieves 1:26 IGT, it unfortunately also makes the route a bit less interesting, but I guess reality is under no obligation to conform to our expectations. I created a new submission for the updated route, since it seemed significantly different, but I'll leave both open for the time being given the voting that has already taken place on this submission, in case the judges see it differently and would like to have these merged instead.