I had such a blast TASing this one, and it was really a journey with so many ups and downs.
To give some context, if you don't know the game, this is a visual novel with escape room puzzle sections. Honestly, you should play the game before
watching because it's such a great story (though, I personally prefer the console version for the added effects and voice acting). Because of that,
I won't go into the story here, just the TASing bits. The aim was to do all of the endings, which is effectively the game's 100% category. There is
one ending, the coffin ending, that is more like a dummy ending, and gets unlocked with the true ending, so I don't have to do that one specifically.
Also, with the true ending, the game does 4 story checks in addition to the route of doors you pick, so there are times during that ending that I'm
forced to pick slower dialogue options, since they're required.
The first ending I did was the knife ending. There's no real reason behind the order of endings, I just picked the route that the new game English
speedrun does. A note about that: the speedrun page for this game doesn't distinguish between Japanese and English, though they really should, so
as of right now, the record for this category is 6 hours, but that was done on the Japanese game, not English.
Anyway, this was all very straight forward. Only thing of note is that while you could test every text box and figure out how soon to tap the screen
to advance the text, I soon learned that holding B does the exact same thing, and just as fast. Because of this, during the novel sections, I just
hold B. It's a real shame there doesn't seem to be any cool tech, but technically holding B *is* the cool tech (credit to CasualPoke for that line).
However, there are points where holding B doesn't work, which is the box before decisions. For some reason the game stops reading if you're holding B, and won't continue. I get past this by releasing for a frame during that last text box, which keeps things going no problem.
The piano in the first class cabin escape is so wonky with polling inputs. I'd have to deconstruct the game to fully know what's going on, but basically where most things in a game would have one frame where you can press a button, and everything before that you can't, with the piano it's kind of scattered about. Through testing, I found that all interactive sections like these (the piano, the card puzzles in the casino, etc) are scattered in when they can accept input, like so: YNYNYNYYYYYYY. I haven't *quite* found a pattern to when the first acceptable input frame starts, but I'm sure there is one.
After the first ending is finally done is when things start to get interesting. The text skip is very fast in this game, with boxes or paragraphs
lasting only about a few frames, maybe more if there's an animation going. However, if you just hold right to advance the text, there's a few frames
where an arrow appears to tell the player to advance the text. If you hold B at the same time, however, this arrow isn't there, saving about 2-3
frames per box, which makes the boxes even faster, lasting only 1-2 frames.
I originally did this on desmume, but when I got to the last ending, dshawk was released. While I was apprehensive on switching emulators and having
to resync a 7 hour run, I knew time could be saved by using tastudio to fix early mistakes.
Finally, it was a little confusing on when I should consider the game beaten, as after the sudoku, it's just dialogue. I decided to go with the recommendation of the rules on the site and stop timing on the final input just before the credits roll. The dialogue after that is just post game stuff that doesn't need to be timed, which I've included in the linked user file.
Possible improvements would probably come from route changes. It wouldn't surprise me to learn some routes are suboptimal.
: I feel like TASvideos always needed a good movie to test a normally inconsequential rule.
Regional differences such as text and cutscene length are completely discounted when considering improvements.
This also means you can use a "slower" version that ends up generating a longer input file, as long as pure comparable gameplay is improved.
Or in less professionally flowery terms, changing to a faster language does not count as an improvement by itself, and changing to a slower language does not count as a detriment by itself. We make these for two main reasons. First, barring other version differences, we consider language choice to be purely artistic on behalf of the TASer. We have a diverse community of creators from all over the world, some of whom may be more comfortable TASing games in their native languages, and who are we to tell them they can't do that? While we are a predominantly English speaking community, we want both the site and the hobby to remain as accessible as possible, and we want our members to have the freedom to TAS things in any way they want without having to fear making some "mistake" that they never would have accounted for otherwise.
The second reason is that we simply don't consider language choice to be gameplay. In the past, we saw such things as "cheap" or "free" improvements, i.e all of the work was done for you and there was no creativity in shortening the input length. These days, well, we focus more on the accessibility part, but we do still primarily compare gameplay when considering improvements.
What that means for this run is that, despite a 3 hour time difference between this TAS and the RTA WR of the Japanese version of 999
(also performed on 3DS which is faster overall), the language choice does not affect whether or not it's publishable. As long as the run is good, which it is, we can publish it.
That just leaves the matter of the category being called into question. I'm very familiar with this game and series, I love 2/3 of the series to death and 999 is thankfully one of those 2. I consider this to be adequate full completion for 999, as endings are explicitly tracked (for very good reason, to those of you unfamiliar with the game) while the actual escape rooms aren't. The sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, would be a different story as there is something trackable attached to escape rooms, but that does not apply to this game.
Therefore, I'm accepting this!
Just to briefly (or, as briefly as I am personally able to) discuss what could potentially happen to this run... A run on the Japanese DS version would only obsolete this if escape room gameplay was improved. A run on the PC version
would most likely end up being a separate publication altogether. A run that modifies the route to include the skipped door and escape room would probably lead to a bigger discussion about whether or not it would obsolete on fuller completion, but we'll get to that discussion when it happens.
has claimed this for publication.
: Processing. Note: It may take a while.