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Willow (Any %) (Single Segment)

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Oh, Willow.  A game with a lot of charm that hasn't retained its popularity as well as similar titles like Crystalis and Zelda.  The currently posted 1:34 by Emptyeye was good at the time but pretty dated by now.  I (gyre) started working on a route with a goal time of 1:25 when feasel came out of nowhere to gift us with this 1:18.  Still, this remains one of the longer NES runs so there's more tolerance for small mistakes.

Video quality: No complaints.  Yes, there is shimmering at times.  Willow does not capture well.  Every tile set is fine line drawings and the whole screen animates during combat.  I haven't found capture settings that do much better than this.

Audio quality: Good throughout.

Run quality: Willow doesn't have any real glitches or sequence breaks so it comes down to routing and execution.

The route here is very sharp.  It's fairly close to the rejected TAS by p0rtal_0f_rain with modifications to do the grinding earlier and remove the death warps.  The grinding is required because the setup to beat the final boss can only be obtained after level 13.  Grinding is never fun but the spot used here gets dramatically more XP/minute than Emptyeye's run.  That change alone accounts for 2/3rds of the improvement in time.

This route also avoids picking up several pieces of equipment.  The only one I wasn't sure of was not getting the Dragon Scale.  Getting the scale and making the sword + shield takes about 65 seconds.  Feasel loses 55 seconds just in the fight with Muzh without this.  The TAS dodges spine shots point blank to avoid the lost time but it's really hard for a human to do the same.  I think that the extra gear would save at least 10 seconds elsewhere to pull ahead but the overall difference is probably small.

The execution is on par with the existing run.  Willow gets lost 3 times: after getting the devil eye, past Tir Asleen, and in the first trip to Nockmaar which in total is 10-15 seconds.  There's an unfortunate episode as a pig.  The fight with Bogarda takes 2 cycles more than the minimum and the Muzh fight is slow as described above.  There are a lot of unplanned heals on the way to Zhena and on the trip to get the shoes, which leads to having to farm MP drops to stay alive.  The menuing and text advance is not crisp and I noticed an unnecessary menu after getting the Nockmaar key.  You might see Willow hanging up on corners for a split second on many screens.  The walls in this game are sticky and unforgiving so this is hard to avoid.  Overall, I think a 1:17 would be realistically possible with this route but since there's no big RNG or tricks to execute it's hard to be noticeably better compared to the total length.

The Bavmorda fight may seem a little slow but I will not complain about this.  That boss absolutely sucks.  If you miss a single cane shot in phase one, and those fireballs do block shots, then the run is over.  Watching it get down to having a sliver of health on phase two was terrifying.  Big props to not losing it.

Verdict: Accept.  I get an estimated time of 1:18:27 (0:0:10-1:18:37 in the movie file).

Reject for typos in comments.

Now to run comments.

I hate, HATE when a run looks sloppy at the beginning, even if it doesn't even slow the run down.  Feasel mentions needing the slimes and a couple of them ran off a bit.  I wouldn't have been happy at it.  The skulls look like they make up for it.

So Bogarda is supposed to be five seconds faster?

I suppose 10 seconds isn't too bad 13 and a half minutes into a run.  Might be worth trying to despawn it? 

Gotta be a way to finish dodging the spikes and be closer to the boss, right?

I wonder if going to the hut and getting thunder and killing the faces once on the way and adding that exp would be faster overall than solely the tower grind.  It is an MP drain, though, so less use of heal.

Castle mistake wasn't nearly the length of time I thought it would be when I read the comment on it.

Use specter to avoid monsters here, but not in the mountain maze?  Why not?  Costs 2 1/2 healmaces.  Save a lot of heals, especially given you're taking over 50 damage on the bridges.

Second trip to Nochmaar is just for the exp...better be worth it.

Not much else to say to the run.  Certainly compares favorably to the current SDA time, and no major hiccups.  Can't really be anything other than an accept. 

A/V's good, route's an improvement, not too much in the way of blatant errors, and none of them that flagrant. I was glad that my media player has a fast forward for the grinding section.

It's been a while since I've seen this game played so I'd forgotten just how batshit and arcane some of the event triggers and story bits are. As much as I might complaint about Crystalis' weird event flags, it doesn't hold a candle to this game's tangled web.

There's still some routing questions that I'm not sure have been answered yet, but they're probably not worth quibbling over unless somebody wants to revisit the run later.


Sorry to hold this up. Accept for all the reasons above + 10 minutes less grinding.

Decision: Accept

Congratulations to Jeff Feasel!
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