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I have also had my eyes on this game. I have the cartridge and have played through it once. Hard game... I gave up my thoughts of speedrunning it pretty much immediately after that (for the same reasons as PJ). Best of luck if you decide to go through with it. I'd be very interested to see this.

Just for the record, the player who made the video PJ linked to has a time of 9:54 reported. There is no video for that time though. Without going into a discussion of the validity of a claim without (public) video proof, I don't think it hurts to entertain the thought that the 11:22 is not perfect in terms of strats/route. Either way, as things stand today, I don't think anyone is going to hold it against you if you can't get close to that 9:54.

Finally a comment about the last boss. From the tas submission notes, it seems like the location of the last boss is determined when you press start on the title screen. Considering how heartbreaking that 25% chance is, maybe it could be worth to investigate if there is a way to manipulate the location by understanding when to press start (you would first need to figure out the ram-address for his location though). Or maybe there are some tells of his location during the game? Sorry to only bring questions and no answers...
Edit history:
HavocProdigy: 2013-08-07 11:40:50 am
No need to apologize.  I appreciated your insight regardless.

From watching his video, I see enough minor mistakes that 11:22 is not a perfect time.  However, managing to get that down to 9:54 seems absolutely insane to me without using a turbo controller on the bosses.  Until I see evidence, I will assume that his 11:22 is the fastest time to date.  I'm of the ilk that won't submit my run if I know that there's a better run out there (with proof!) that already exists.

You're correct about how Maharito is spawned.  If you're familiar with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES), the Technodrome spawns in 1 of 3 tunnels in level 5, depending on when you pressed start at the beginning of the game.  The main difference however, is that TMNT has music playing during the title screen.  This can be used as an indicator of when to press the start button so in theory, you could spawn the technodrome wherever you like 100% of the time (in theory).  Milon has no music and a static screen.  Therefore, I don't see any way in which I'd be able to manipulate his starting location without using an emulator.

Thanks for the insight.
Elbows the keyboard.
You could trying using a metronome or something similar?
Edit history:
PJ: 2013-08-07 03:44:01 pm
PJ: 2013-08-07 03:43:39 pm
Very good posts here!

Havoc, the fire room is actually rather easy.  I could get through it consistently without a problem without vest.  The biggest issue was finding an effective way to balloon out of the well after beating the boss.  Getting to the boss was very easy though.  There are two Hudson Bees along the way and a honeycomb before the boss.  You can definitely manage it if you're doing the rest of the game without much trouble.  Cheesy  I very much understand the hesitation though.

The red room for Maharito seemed really sketchy to me.  Why pick a room that is obviously slower if they all have equal likelihood?  Since the location is set at the title screen and there is no audio cue (another reason I didn't want to run this), any consistent manipulation is thrown away.  IIRC it varies every single frame, so setting a metronome would be two 1-frame inputs (hit reset the same "frame" your metronome ticks, and then hit start the same "frame" the metronome ticks).  I would go into it completely blind and just assume it'd be in the ideal room.  That reason alone makes me wonder if it is a weak tool-assisted run or something.

Still, it is a strong guideline for a good run!  A low-11 time would be AMAZING to get, even if it isn't the "record".  Until video/details of the 9:54 come out, I wouldn't worry about it.  Tongue

Edit:  Mad props for running this, btw!  I was able to consistently beat the later bosses with only basic upgrades but the fights took me a looong time.  I love that this game is finally getting some more attention.  ^_^
Good luck with the run of this!  Perhaps, like TMNT, Maharito has a higher chance of spawning in the red room.  Just a guess.
I'm overwhelmed with all of your supportive responses.  While I've been a casual viewer of SDA for years, I just recently finally signed up.  Your support and insight means more me to than I could properly express.  Thank-you to all of you who have provided advice and encouraging words in this thread.

I agree with everything you said in your prior post, PJ.  Navigating to the boss in the well without the vest is actually very easy.  Escaping is another issue.  While I can pull it off most of the time, it's still rather slow for me to kill the medamaruge (as they are called) to spawn the balloon for a fast escape.

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who questioned the choice of the red room.  Far be it for me to call a run tool assisted without any concrete evidence.  Therefore, I will assume that his run is legit.  Besides the questionable choice of the red room, I see nothing in his run that would indicate any form of cheating.  He seems to press the start button as soon as the title screen appears.  I don't know if there's anything to this or not, given how quickly framerates change on an NES/Famicom.

The idea of a metronome is certainly interesting but I feel that it would be impossible to 100% manipulate Maharito's spawn.  When you consider human error and being off by even a 10th of a second, I don't think it would work.  I appreciate the idea though!

I have virtually nothing to do tomorrow so I'm planning on setting aside a good 6 hours or so to practice Milon without the fireproof vest.  The new goal is sub 11:20 and I don't see myself settling for anything less.
Edit history:
ktwo: 2013-08-08 08:44:29 am
I took the liberty of contacting the tas-author, hisatoki, to ask if he remembered the ram-address for Maharito's location and he replied the following:
So sorry but I don't remember the address.

However, I remember that the location of Maharito was determined by time that the start button was pressed in the title screen.
The location was changed to Red > Green > Brown > Blue room as time passed.
(I think that it has been changed to every 10-20 fps ... maybe.)
For example, if we turn on the power of NES while holding down the start button (= Start button is pressed in 0 seconds), Maharito will be in the Red room.

I hope this memory becomes a reference for something.
Thank you.

I think it's safe to assume that this is the reason for the 11:22 to go for the red room. I'd still very much like to know the ram-address to play around with though. It's usually not too difficult to figure speed and the characters position and such by using filters on ram-addresses. However, I think more advanced tools/knowledge than that is needed to single out Maharito's ram-address... Any ideas?

edit: given that the tas presses start on the 15th frame (to get the Maharito in the green room), it seems like that's how often the ram-address changes. 15 frames is an eternity... Maybe it's not completely unrealistic to manipulate his position afterall?
Oh wow!  Yea that is definitely feasible.  Now I'm wondering where I read that said it changes every frame.  I am very glad I was mistaken!  Thanks for looking into that, ktwo!  I agree that that most likely explains why he chose red room.
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HavocProdigy: 2013-08-08 04:11:51 pm
That's an awesome find, ktwo.  I just tried it out and sure enough, Maharito was in the red room.  I doubt that it was a coincidence.  I really wish that holding start immediately at the beginning would spawn Maharito in the green room but I suppose this will have to do.  This is a pretty big discovery.  I'm awarding you an internet cookie.

I'm still having trouble escaping the well quickly and consistently.
The well escape is so brutal.  I couldn't find a good consistent way to do it with reasonable speed.  I guess it's early enough that you might just have to hope for the best and reset if it doesn't work?  That scares me for this game, but idk.

Sorry if my posts seem discouraging!  I've been noticing a trend in my posts in this thread.  Haha.  I really really hope you continue to push this game lower.  It definitely deserves it!
Is the time it takes to go from physically hit reset button -> game starts operation from frame 0 consistent? If so, waiting 15-30 frames doesn't sound like a very hard window to learn to hit.
Edit history:
HavocProdigy: 2013-08-08 11:36:44 pm
PJ: Before even reading your post, I was about to post that I have been unable to escape the well in a run today.  I do it occasionally when practicing from a savestate on the emulator, but I have not been able to do so during an actual run on the console.  Your posts are not discouraging.  Having to rely on incredible luck to escape the well IS discouraging, however.

Basically, the spring to launch you upwards (in the middle of the slightly longer fire beam) seems to just decide whether or not it will let you get a high enough jump to get onto the ledge.  I have found no reliable way to make sure that it allows me to get a high jump.  Getting to it in the 1st place will take anywhere from 3-5 HP from the fire.  Assuming that the spring even works, I will generally have anywhere from 1-3 HP left to defeat the balloon creature that is higher up.  Depending on where he spawns, I won't be able to kill him in a timely manner anyway.  Killing the balloon creature at the very bottom is painfully slow for me and still requires the use of the spring regardless. 

Assuming this all goes well enough (which it hardly ever does), I'll generally have just a couple hit points for the 3rd crystal boss in the 2nd floor window.  You can spend $5 to regain 2 bars of health at the place where you're given the saw.  Despite that, a lot needs to fall into place to even escape the well.  After that, you still have all of the hard bosses.  Not that this is likely to help, but I did discover that this part of the flame at the bottom has no hit box (see attached picture).  If I move a pixel or two to the right, I will take damage.

Patashu: All I know at this point is that holding start while resetting does in fact spawn Maharito in the red room.  I would like to consistently spawn him in the green room but with this new nearly-impossible route that I'm currently struggling with, reaching Maharito is so far out of my mind considering that I now can't get anywhere close to him.

I'm not going to lie...I am VERY discouraged right now.  I don't really know how else to go about escaping the well at this point.  This isn't your fault, PJ, but I am very bitter about having to escape the well without the fireproof vest.  I'll try not to hold it against you. Tongue

If I just held right and A from the first jump (through that crack on the know what i mean), then I would get a high jump every time.  I think that took 3-4 health away though.  It WAS consistent, but it hurt a lot.
This game is absolutely brutal, and was the bane of my childhood. I enjoyed watching someone destroy it in the TAS, and I will enjoy a real unassisted human run even more. Best wishes!
Thanks for the kind words, One Lady Owner!  I'm hoping that by the end of September at the latest (possibly a lot sooner?), I can submit a run in the 11:15-11:20 range.

I'm happy to report that your strategy works every time, PJ.  I do three jumps at the bottom there and lose exactly 3 HP every single time.  I still have to decide whether I'm better off killing the lower balloon creature or the one above the ledge but the spring is no longer an issue.  Thanks for the recommendation!
I'm also looking forward to this run. Have you started working on how to manipulate the final boss to be in the optimal chamber, or are you gonna wait until after you figure the well out?
I think I just completely solved the Well.  My new strat works almost every time.  Because of this, I can get back to working on the mid-late sections of this game (both towers, 3rd floor, and Maharito).  I still tend to make mistakes in the left tower quite often.

While I would like to get to the point where I can spawn Maharito in the green room with 100% certainty (or close to it), the red room approach is actually serving me pretty well and is an absolute guarantee every time.  Perhaps as I get down to 11:40ish, I'll start to worry about how to manipulate him into the green room (if I even need to).  With the incredible progress I made on the well escape today, I believe that I should be subbing 12:00 soon.
This is fantastic news!  I'm glad my minor well strat is helping.  ^_^  Keep up the great work and keep us posted!
So...I kind of had an unreal day in Milon.  I'm finally completing runs with this new route.  I reached Maharito in 5 runs today in just a couple of hours.  I PB'ed (personal butter!) earlier in the afternoon WITH A DEATH.  My time was 12:23 and I was trolled by a crow on the 4th floor right before Maharito.  I was far enough ahead with the new route that I decided to continue anyway.

My girlfriend and I were getting ready to go out to dinner and I decided to try and squeeze one run in before we left.  This is the result (see attached picture).  The good news is that so much time can be made up on the earlier splits that it's not even funny.  This was a pretty mediocre run at best until the 3rd floor.  Progress is coming and it's coming at an extraordinary rate.

"There is only one Maharito".

Awesome!!!  Keep it up!  ^_^
Wow, that's great progress!  That 11:15 should happen in no time at this rate.  And if you start trying to manipulate Maharito to be in the optimal place, a sub-11 should be easily doable.
So I just made a mistake that cost me 20 seconds, the run that I would have submitted, and a new world record.  More on that in a moment...

I re-timed the 11:22 run by the other runner (sorry, I don't know his name!) using SDA timing.  The timer should start when Milon first moves outside of the castle (right after the "Game Start!" screen) and the timer should end when the last blow is dealt to Maharito, the screen flashes, and the player loses control of Milon.  I clocked his run at 11:15 on the dot.  Now that we have an accurate run to compare with, here's what just happened...

I've been ahead by about 30-40 seconds all day after my Twin Towers split since I changed some minor strategies that helped me shave time.  A run that was ahead by 15-20 seconds after the 2nd Floor/Well was the norm.  However, I got to level 3-2 with full health and a shield and 37 seconds ahead of my 11:54 run.  However, like an idiot, my mental counter failed in the Left Tower and Dungeon 1 and I lost track of how many enemies I had killed.  Unfortunately, this lead to me having to waste 20 seconds in level 3-2 in order to spawn an umbrella.  Virtually EVERY run I've ever done, this has not been an issue and the umbrella is spawned along the natural route.  I lost exactly 20 seconds on my 3rd floor split.

It's not all doom and gloom though.  I did make some tasty PB despite choking away the SDA submission and World Record.  I'm convinced that I will have a submittable run within a week or even a couple of days.  After the disgusting amount of hours I have sunk into Milon's Secret Castle, I'm willing to submit a run of 11:10, but in all honesty, I think I'd be OK with submitting any run which beats the World Record of 11:15.

On a final note, I would be willing to do filthy things to anybody who could somehow tell me how to spawn the same pattern of the skeleton boss every time in order to remove the guesswork.  A few of his patterns are virtually unbeatable without the upgrades and he cost me FOUR runs yesterday.  In all four runs, I was somewhere in the 9:10-9:30 range when I got to him.

That's amazing and a little sad all at the same time.  Keep it up!  You'll crush that WR soon!
Wow, that is really unfortunate.  Sad  Sorry to hear that.

Skeleton boss is a nightmare.  I have absolutely nothing to contribute to that fight.  I wish I did, but I don't.  :/

You are making amazing progress!  Keep at it!  I am really impressed by these times.  That 11:10 (sub-11 maybe? :O ) will be incredible.