This was going to be a joke about the fear of the unknown and how it relates to the fact that I keep TASing games I don't understand using glitches I don't understand, but then I learned that the psychological term for that is xenophobia. Cool, thanks. Exactly the kind of energy I want to bring to Tool Assisted Speedrun videos dot org.
- Emulator used: BizHawk 2.8
- Aims for fastest time
- Heavy glitch abuse
- If I was funnier I'd just copy/paste what I wrote in the Shin Megami Tensei submission text
- Good thing I've never been funny in my life
Sweet Home, based off of the state of Alabama, is a 1989 horror film directed by famed Japanese director Kurosawa. No, the other famed Japanese director Kurosawa. The plot centers around a film crew of five people who aim to make a movie named Sweet Home, based off of the state of Alabama. They complete the movie and it releases in 1989, alongside a tie-in video game, if by "alongside a" you mean "11 months earlier than". Sweet Home, based off of the movie Sweet Home, based off of the state of Alabama, is a 1989 horror game directed by famed Japanese director Capcom. No, the other famed Japanese director Capcom. The plot centers around a film crew of five people who aim to make a video game named Sweet Home, based off of the movie Sweet Home, based off of the state of Alabama. They complete the video game and it releases in 1989, alongside a tie-in movie, if by "alongside a" you mean "11 months later than".
In reality, Sweet Home is a seminal horror film and game combo. The film is indeed about a film crew, who visit the seemingly abandoned mansion of artist Ichirou Mamiya with the intention of restoring his paintings and filming a documentary about him and his work. The mansion, as it turns out, is not abandoned, unless ghosts don't count. The game, closely following and expanding upon the events of the film, is often credited with creating the survival horror genre in gaming. The game has been cited as a direct inspiration for the Resident Evil series, and many of the features and mechanics of the game were ahead of their time. Wikipedia says this game has "Metroidvania-style exploration", which I hear is the Dark Souls of exploration!
This is a Schrodinger project for me, in that until it is observed, no one can truly know whether it is the most Samsara game choice of all time or the least Samsara game choice of all time. On one hand, I actively dislike horror. I really don't enjoy being scared in most circumstances, and any circumstance in which I am okay with being scared is not something I should be talking about in public spaces. On the other hand, though, this is a heavily broken Japan-only RPG that I don't understand whatsoever, and if that doesn't scream Samsara at you, then find someone who can scream Samsara at you so you can experience what it's like.
Given that this isn't a game end glitch run where you have to traverse a map made out of the name of the female party member that you don't even proceed far enough into the game to get in your party, I'd like to think I can kinda explain what's going on this time. On the other hand... Well, look at the run. Almost nothing is correct in it. Even if you've never seen the game before, you can tell that basically every single aspect of the game is wrong in this run.
Maybe we should get into it.
I will say most terms and item names are based off of the old Gaijin Translations patch, which is pretty okay but not quite fully accurate in places. This really doesn't matter, I'm just saying it to cover my ass when someone with actual knowledge rocks up and says "THOSE ARE MAGGOTS, NOT WORMS", to which I will respond "Influencers like myself will often intentionally make mistakes in order to drive up engagement", and then I will promptly sink into the floor and straight down into Hell over the act of even ironically calling myself an influencer.
It's all waitin' frames, baby! Gosh, I love it when things are easy. This affects, at least in this run: What enemy appears in a battle, what attacks enemies perform in battle, character damage, and the number of steps that need to be taken before the next battle.
The game's random battles are based on a step counter. Upon clearing the last textbox in a battle, the game rolls a number ranging from 11 to 74, and after taking precisely 1 more step than whatever number it rolls, you will enter a battle. Certain areas do not decrement the step counter. I'll be calling these "safe areas" whenever they come up.
As a general rule, outside of necessary battles, this number is manipulated to be as high as possible every single time, to minimize battles throughout the run.
There are 5 characters in Sweet Home, three of which are allowed to band together at any given time. EXP is not split between characters, so it's worthwhile to always keep a full party. All characters move at the same speed. Each character has an inventory that can only be accessed while the character is nearby: One unique item they always carry, two slots for items, and one slot for weapons. The only reason I'm writing these things in such a strange, stilted way is to make some later lines funnier.
This game has permadeath: If a character dies, they are unable to be revived. As such, their unique items do not actually provide unique benefits: They are simply reusable and easily accessible versions of items normally found within the mansion.
Kazuo, the director of the film crew, carries a Lighter. This functions identically to Matches found throughout the mansion: It burns ropes that block certain paths, and is required to solve the final puzzle in the game.
Akiko, the producer of the film, carries a Healthkit. This functions identically to Pills found throughout the mansion: It cures status ailments. It is not strictly required at any point in the game.
Taguchi, the cameraman, carries a microphone. No, I'm kidding, it's a Camera. This is normally used on Ichirou's frescoes for clues and such, though if you know what you're doing this is also not required.
Asuka, an art restorer, carries a Vacuum. This functions identically to Brooms found throughout the mansion: It removes glass shards that block certain paths, and can clean dirty frescoes.
Emi, Kazuo's daughter, carries a Key. This functions identically to Wires found throughout the mansion: It unlocks certain doors.
Kazuo, Asuka and Emi are usually used for speedruns, as their unique items are all required to be able to move efficiently throughout the mansion. Taguchi and Akiko often go almost entirely untouched throughout runs. The only reason I'm writing this is to make some later lines funnier.
Party Management and Calling
You can switch between characters at any time. Characters can join up with each other as long as they can reach each other, and can also break away from parties in order to go off on their own. During a battle, you may call out to another character, taking control of them on the field in order to try and join the battle. This can allow you to have all 5 characters in a battle at once, making 5 the maximum number of characters that can fight.
Characters directly next to each other, or in the same party, can freely exchange items. Since there are items outside of unique items that are required to beat the game, carefully managing each character's two inventory slots is important. Even your 3 person party may not be able to hold everything they need at once, and might need to return to one or both of the other characters in order to exchange items.
Level Requirements and Prayer
The maximum level is 20. With such a low level cap, you may think that a TAS wouldn't need to level that much. On the contrary! I have directly misled you into some false thinking! Certain puzzles in the game require characters to be at specific levels in order to be solved. In fact, the minimum level required to beat the game is 16. This is due to the game's prayer mechanic. Each level raises a character's maximum prayer points, but also raises the maximum number of prayer points they can use in a single prayer. The final puzzle requires a prayer of at least 82, and the final boss requires a prayer of at least 80, and level 16 lets you use up to 85.
Character EXP values are not tracked anywhere in game, so they need to be carefully tracked and managed through RAM watch. Characters can also only level up once per battle, though it's rare that you'll ever get more than one level's worth of EXP in a single battle to witness this yourself. The only reason I wrote that is to make some later lines funnier.
Some Later Lines (Glitch explanation and/or theorizing)
Hey, remember when I said that everything is wrong in this run?
The first couple minutes of the run is spent setting up what I call the board glitch, because it's performed with one of the breakable board items. The board lets you cross 1 tile gaps, but it can only be walked on a certain number of times before it breaks. Characters can fall into these gaps and need to be rescued. When they're in this state, they lose 1 HP per step. The board glitch makes it so a character stuck in a gap can move while they're stuck, leading to some quite interesting results!
To perform the glitch, you need a full 3 character party. Place down a board and have a single character step on and off of it. Rejoin the party and move your first character one step past the board, then step back onto it. Your first and third characters should be standing on the board, and your second character should be off of it. Disband from the party. Switch to the second character and disband from the party as well. You need to get into a battle on the space you're currently standing on. Once you're in the battle, call the character you want to glitch and have them join the battle. Next, call the other character, and have them step off the board in the other direction. This will break the board and cause your chosen glitch character to drop into the hole. Do not move until the battle resumes, then finish the battle. You should be in control of the glitched character. Rejoin with the second character, then switch to them to be able to move with the character "stuck" in the hole.
Party Glitch, Part 1: Move Glitch, Part 1: Double Party
This is what truly, deeply breaks this game, and... no, I don't know how it works at all. The only way I was able to get it to work for me was to directly copy the RTA run. As such, I'll stop using general descriptors and start describing things exactly as they were done.
Emi is board glitched. Taguchi comes up and manages to save her from the "hole" and pull her into his party. What this means is that Emi and Taguchi are now essentially psychically linked to each other through pure glitchery nonsense. If control is passed to Taguchi and he moves, then Emi will move as if she were following him, even if she is completely across the map.
This will be explained later as well, but only the lead character in a party has collision with the world. Party members only have collision with each other. Because of this, the move glitch can put Emi into walls and obstacles, allowing for a lot of skips and timesaves. Notably, this renders Asuka useless outside of the very first room, as Emi can just be move glitched past all the glass shard obstacles, so Akiko is used instead as her join dialogue is shorter.
This also means that Taguchi can be used as storage through Emi, even if she's out with a full party. You just need to switch to Taguchi in order to exchange items between them. Notably, this allows for a cutscene skip partway through the game.
For those keeping track at home: "Each character has an inventory that can only be accessed while the character is nearby", "Taguchi and Akiko often go almost entirely untouched throughout runs", "your 3 person party may not be able to hold everything they need at once, and might need to return to one or both of the other characters in order to exchange items", and "Asuka's unique item is required to move efficiently throughout the mansion" are no longer true statements.
Party Glitch, Part 2: Move Glitch, Part 2: Double Speed
Over the course of setting up this whole glitched state, Emi begins to move at twice the normal speed. You may think this is extremely useful for speed, and you would be correct, though not as correct as either of us would like you to be.
When I say Emi moves at twice the normal speed, I mean precisely that: Emi moves at twice the normal speed. Nobody else does. Field characters are all considered separate entities even if they're all in the same party. This means that if Emi is the lead character and moves faster than once every 10 frames, the other two in the party will desync from her because they simply can't keep up.
This is a huge problem at times, and there are multiple reasons for that. One is, ironically, the main benefit of the first move glitch: As I explained earlier, the other party members have no collision, so it is entirely possible for them to move into walls while they're desynced, which is at best a significant time loss and at worst a complete softlock. Even if you manage to avoid trapping characters, though, if they get too desynced then you can't open the menu. The game works on a tile system, and I believe every character has to be properly on a tile in order for the menu to open. At least one progression item is affected by double speed as well: Using the Rope with a double speed lead character leads to a softlock as the third character just gets yeeted forward until they hit a wall.
That all being said, though... As long as you don't have anyone else in the party, you can move as fast as you want. Characters also get realigned when moving between rooms, so if you don't need to open the menu at any point and walls aren't an issue, you can move as fast as you can even with a full party. Emi spends a majority of the TAS on her own, though, as her key allows for the widest variety of movement options.
For those keeping track at home: "All characters move at the same speed" is no longer a true statement.
Party Glitch, Part 3: Clone Glitch, Part 1
For those keeping track in advance at home: "Emi spends a majority of the TAS on her own" has never been a true statement.
As it turns out, another fun side effect of all this glitch setup is that there is a permanent copy of the Emi/Kazuo/Akiko party in every battle from now on. This comes with all the benefits you would normally expect from permanently having a complete copy of your party in addition to having your normal party: Double attacks and double EXP. Even though Emi is in fact moving around the mansion on her own, the cloned party fights in every battle alongside her, meaning that Kazuo and Akiko still gain EXP despite not being in the party, and Emi gains double EXP for being in the party twice.
For those keeping track at home: "three of which are allowed to band together at any given time" and "5 is the maximum number of characters that can fight" are no longer true statements, and "it's worthwhile to always keep a full party" is now a Schrodinger's statement.
Party Glitch, Part 4: Clone Glitch, Part 2: EXP Glitch
By the way, we're not done with party glitch side effects yet.
Due to the clone glitch putting a permanent party copy into every battle, any character who is in the actual party will gain EXP twice. Character EXP is stored in two byte offset values per character, and under certain circumstances, when they gain EXP for the second time, it will be written to the value that controls the second bite, essentially multiplying their EXP gain by 255. I believe this is governed by the character who finishes the fight, though not in the obvious way of "the final blow gets the EXP". Emi, for example, seems to never be able to do this. From my testing, when Emi finishes a fight, Akiko will get EXP glitched. If Akiko finishes a fight, Kazuo will get EXP glitched. If Kazuo finishes a fight, no EXP glitch takes place. This cuts down significantly on the amount of grinding necessary, and ensures minimum time spent even in the battles we have to face, as we don't need to worry about what we fight.
For those keeping track at home: "it's rare that you'll ever get more than one level's worth of EXP in a single battle" and "EXP values (...) need to be carefully tracked and managed" are no longer true statements.
Party Glitch, Part 5: Battle Glitches
I think this might be the last one for party glitch stuff. I could split it up into another two-part thing if I wanted to, but this bit has already gone on for longer than even hyperfocused people have the attention span for.
Battles take a couple less seconds to start once the glitches are set up. Normally, they start with a fadeout and that little Jaws-esque music sting to build tension, but the glitch gets rid of both of those. On top of that, glitched battles start with a free action, or set of actions, copied in some way from a previous battle. It is possible for the enemy to be taken out by this free action, saving a good few seconds per battle by preventing the lengthy sequence of needing to select actions for Emi, Akiko, Kazuo, Emi, Kazuo, and Kazuo.
The free action thing can also be a curse: It can go essentially infinitely if you keep fighting, which sounds great, but it also wastes a LOT of time on the final battle if it isn't dealt with. Save+Reset does this. Even worse, though, is that it's possible for an even glitchier action to happen. I believe this is some sort of weird glitched party member, which doesn't sound too bad, but it means you can't switch characters after the battle. This is very bad, given how switching characters is integral to saving massive amounts of time throughout the game.
Oh Boy, Here We Go
After a minor timesave right at the beginning from pressing Start earlier than you would expect, a short cutscene plays. Asuka is immediately switched to for the first and last time in the run to vacuum up the glass blocking the doorway. We will be seeing her precisely one more time over the course of the input.
We put together our party for the rest of the game. Emi takes the lead spot, Kazuo takes the second spot, and Akiko takes the third. This falls directly in line with the Sweet Home movie, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing. Upon leaving the first room, we take a slight detour to pick up a Tonic. This may seem odd, but as far as I've tested, this seems to be a strict requirement for the party glitch, along with being something we need later in the game.
So far, we have only remained in safe areas, but after unlocking the door on the right with Emi's Key, we enter the first area where random encounters can happen. The first step counter is always 30, so only after the very first battle in the game can we start manipulating how long they take. There are three boards in this little area. After dancing around a spirit to run down the step counter a little bit, we grab the first two boards and get into our first battle just before the stairs. We proceed to use one of the boards to smack the crap out of the Evil Doll. Our step counter is manipulated to be a very specific number afterward so we can efficiently set up the board glitch. We grab the third board, a much stronger one, and leave this little area.
Some game breaking happens. Feel free to follow along by rereading all the stuff I wrote about glitching! One of the weak boards is placed down to board glitch, the stronger board is placed down to be able to move around, and everything goes as planned. It takes 4 steps to get into a battle, here, because getting anything faster required more time than the 20 extra frames it takes to walk two more steps. Emi gets glitched, gets saved by Taguchi to party glitch them together, then gets thrown into a wall and saved again.
If you're wondering what any of that has to do with anything... Let me just say right now, anytime you see strange-looking actions that perfectly mimic the RTA run, there's an extremely high chance that not taking these exact actions leads to the death of the run. I don't know at all what anything after the board glitch actually does, I just know that if I don't do it, the run will not work in the slightest.
Everything in this room south of where we placed those boards is considered safe. Moving north over the board will start decrementing the step counter. Taguchi spends a majority of the run in the safe area of the room from here on out, while the party of three venture forth into the relative unknown. The final board we collected is placed down, Kazuo burns a rope with his Lighter, and we perform the first move glitch. What does this do? It... sets up Taguchi to be able to perform the actual move glitch in a few seconds.
Emi disbands for the first of many times and gets move glitched in a specific way in order to collect and equip a Silver Sword, making early battles much easier as it's the second best weapon in the game. She rejoins the party and we get into a fight with some Worms, or possibly Maggots. The translations aren't super consistent between resources. This is our first EXP glitch, as they provide 6 EXP, the most of any enemy we can fight in this area. For those of you who aren't tired of the "keeping tracking at home" bit yet, 6 EXP is actually 1542 EXP when EXP glitched (6 written to both the first and second byte). Akiko gets glitched here, Emi and Kazuo have to settle for just 12 EXP instead. Emi unlocks a door and proceeds.
Moving through the Dining Room, we ensure that Kazuo and Akiko are aligned properly, then we can have Emi zip to the end and move glitch over some glass. In the following room, Emi disbands once more and zips off on her own over to the left, and over some pits by move glitching. She picks up a Rope and fights a Zombie on the way back, instantly killing it because of the previous battle. When she rejoins, she picks up a normal Sword for Akiko and a Hammer hidden under the table next to it.
Normally, you're not allowed to move through this room until you turn on a generator, but we can move glitch past the barrier and go straight through. One long corridor later (rendered halved by Emi's excellent movement speed), we enter a room with a big gap and a giant hole, two things that may sound the same but are in fact completely different. We need to switch to Kazuo in order to use the Rope to cross the gap, or else Akiko will fly off and softlock us.
This room is important because it's the last time for a good while where the whole party is together, and it also happens to be a room with fairly easily killed enemies that give a lot of EXP. This does in fact mean we'll be EXP glitching here! Akiko gets EXP glitched from a Hound, to gain 7710 EXP, and Kazuo gets EXP glitched from MAN, gaining an even more impressive 8995 EXP. This is enough for both characters to reach level 18, not counting any additional EXP they gain from further fights, which is more than required to beat the game. The Hound is chosen for the first battle because it can be defeated in one hit from Emi, while MAN is chosen for the second battle because of the higher EXP and health value. Since Kazuo can only be EXP glitched from Akiko ending the fight, we need a battle that won't immediately end. The Silver Sword transfers to Akiko before MAN in order to ensure Akiko ends the fight, before it returns to Emi. She won't keep it for long. Then, we have to burn the rope. Influencers like myself often use references in order to drive up engagement.
Emi disbands, here, and it may seem like the movement here goes out of the way. The game has QTEs that trigger on certain tiles, so they need to be carefully avoided whenever possible. This is one of those times! After the Veranda, which we will be coming back to later, we enter and swiftly exit the Northern Region. This is the first big reroute from RTA, using a big move glitch to collect the ladder instead of going all the way around the room normally, or at least as "normally" as the game in this state can accomplish. We then return and do some fun item swapping. Kazuo takes the Silver Sword and gives the Hammer to Emi, then Akiko uses the Tonic which heals up Emi to be able to do an upcoming puzzle. Emi descends to the Courtyard below by using the Ladder she phased through a large section of wall to obtain.
Courtyard and Lake
After an insta-battle against a Hound, Emi move glitches up to re-unite herself with a very familiar Silver Sword, then returns back down, move glitches past a statue, and smashes a mirror with the Hammer. Thankfully, doing this does not throw her directly into outer space, but more of an outdoor space.
Enemies from this point on can no longer be insta-battled, all of them have just a bit too much HP to finish off in a single round. The next best thing is 2 hits, done with the Corpse enemy. The EXP is nice too, because prior to this fight, Emi's level was too low for the next puzzle, and now she's right where she needs to be. Double EXP definitely helps, even though she can't be EXP glitched.
In the fountain room, we body-check a statue into the fountain and wait a moment before leaving the screen. It spawns a Tool that we will need later, but we'll grab it on the way back. Another move glitch to go past the green statue, a quick corridor, and we're at the Lake.
This is the second big reroute from RTA, ignoring basically every part of the Lake and just move glitching wherever possible. Normally, you need to use Logs to bridge the two-wide gaps over the water and make your way over to a couple boats, where you can sail down to collect the Shovel and then back up to the Monument. In my case... Move glitch, move glitch, Shovel, very big move glitch, Monument.
This is the first time where prayer is needed, and it requires a prayer of 28 or higher, which means a character at least Level 7. All we have is Emi right now. Even though Kazuo and Akiko and a second Emi are constantly there helping her in battles, Emi Prime is all by herself on this puzzle. She looks at the Monument, then rubs the Shovel on it, then prays for the loss of her sanity after the quick rub and/or squeezy-squeezy. The Monument, embarrassed, explodes. Two more quick looks and we get the Low Key, which is highkey very important.
Move glitching all the way back. Along the way, Taguchi grabs the Low Key from several hundreds of meters away. Normally, when you return to the green statue room from the Lake with the Low Key in hand, you get a cutscene with the mysterious Yamamura, but since this is specifically triggered by the presence of the key, having Taguchi store it means we can skip the cutscene, as he's not in the party that enters the green statue room. We grab the Tool on the way back, grab a Bowgun for later, and rejoin with the party on the 2nd floor. After another fun trip out on the Veranda, we use the Low Key to unlock the door to the Inner Sanctuary and briefly enter and exit to re-align our party. Akiko finally gets her Silver Sword. Hooray!
Due to the boulders, this area is the only one in the place with actual game-affecting lag in it. Unfortunately, despite being the precursor to Resident Evil, none of these boulders are punched, just walked through like they mean nothing. This room also contains the first of many mandatory QTEs. The best way of dealing with these QTEs is always to pray. Not only does it always work regardless of prayer level, but it's the fastest of the potential options.
Emi disbands the party while they're near the stairs, as her return route is going to be a little different this time. The ice room gets move glitched into. The ice here only pushes you downwards, so the Bowgun we picked up earlier must be used to cross. Move glitching would also be possible, technically, but the area Taguchi has to move around in doesn't quite work out here. This is where we pick up the first of three Blue Candles, required for the final puzzle of the game.
Moving through a bunch of maids and down into the depths of the mansion, we pick up the second Tonic since it is quite literally right there and also necessary for the final section of the game. It gets used in the next battle to ensure that the whole party is healed, and also to make sure we have a free inventory space. This is the section of the game where we need a lot of items at once: The final puzzle needs 3 Blue Candles, and the final boss needs 4 distinct items to be used at specific times. Speaking of items, we grab the Two Keys and get spirited away back near the rest of the party.
Enjoy the mandatory QTEs, and then enjoy the rat room with the second Blue Candle.
Submission text WIP from here, especially since there are likely improvements incoming
Yeah, this was a lot of technical writing, even for me. I'll answer questions when they come up but I need a small break from going all in.
I'd like to start by saying that I want to be involved in any potential improvements to this run while it's still on the workbench. I prefer active collaboration here, especially for a run like this with a lot of potential.
The only improvement I know for absolute certain is that I have a 40 step buffer at the end of the game, meaning a couple seconds can certainly be saved from not needing to manipulate higher step counters after every battle. This is a lot more frustrating than it sounds, as not only does it throw off the RNG for everything afterward, but it also affects textboxes and movement in subtle ways, meaning everything needs to be double checked to ensure no frames are being lost.
Okay, there are kind of a lot, admittedly. This was sort of meant to be a proof of concept run, though after restarting it several times and implementing a good amount of TAS level improvements, I think it's at least good enough to submit and move on.
I'll start with the biggest one first: I don't know if the overall RTA route is the fastest route for a TAS. Given how powerful these glitches are, I wouldn't be surprised if the RTA route was made specifically with safety in mind. I did everything I could with the overall route, but I feel like there could definitely be a better one out there.
Understanding the glitches more would be a huge boon, but much like every single other TAS or remotely technical thing I've ever done, it is beyond me by myself.
: I've seen enough cursed Zillow listings that I feel qualified to judge this.
: Setting to Delayed by author request as home inspections are done for finding tech discoveries and further improvements.