Honestly. On the Phoenotopia leaderboard, there are now 10 total categories: 3 main and 7 miscellaneous. I aim to get a satisfactory time in every established category (notwithstanding subcategories), and I wanted to get one in New Game + (more on that later) before the writing of this article, but the process is so painstaking that I ended up preferring to prioritize writing over grinding. So, here are some miscellaneous categories that I’ve established since the last time I reported:
Named after the medal of the same name, this category involves increasing maximum HP to 99—that is, collecting all 23 Heart Rubies and consuming five Chocolate Protein Shakes. I was initially reluctant about establishing this category because one of the Heart Rubies requires 40 moonstones, but later on I thought, “Ah, what the heck.” I mean, it’s a safer category, and the existing categories are not particularly minimalistic about Heart Ruby collecting.
I have not yet started routing this, and it will be at the bottom of my priority list.
For this category and the next two, kudos to fellow Flash game runner Jhynjhiruu for programming a command line tool to decrypt and modify save passwords (it’s on the Resources page of the leaderboard, under Tools, named Phoenomanager). Jhyn also did a Reddit post with a detailed explanation of the intricacies of the save password system. With this tool and information handy, I decided to establish categories revolving around files created by save passwords. (Admittedly, I took inspiration from the SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom leaderboard for the category names.)
Cheat% means getting to the final cutscene from any save file, any at all. The only thing you absolutely have to do to get there is view the cutscene before it, where Billy revives a Phoenix weapon. The simplest appropriate save password meets the following criteria (according to the aforementioned Reddit post):
- Spawn in room 193 (the room where the cutscene begins)
- Game time of 50 or so (this is needed for the cutscene trigger)
- Spawn at point [x = 1100, y = 242] (roughly the location of the cutscene trigger)
The issue is: When you finish the cutscene and get to the escape sequence, you’ll notice immediately that the camera stays in one spot and does not follow Gale. This happens because, if Big Eye is not yet defeated, the camera is bound to a particular set of coordinates, which is…inconvenient, to be sure.
For this reason, and due to the fact that major glitches are not necessary for anything past or including Big Eye, I decided to use the No Major Glitches subcategory to split two types of Cheat% runs: those that involve defeating Big Eye (No Major Glitches), and those that don’t (Standard).
For runs involving Big Eye, it is ideal to spawn in room 192 (the Big Eye room) at point [x = 750, y = 236] (a ground location close enough to the leftmost of the mini eyes).
I did manage to get a decent run of Cheat% with No Major Glitches, clocking in at 3:15 RTA.
However, I don’t plan to do Standard any time soon, because learning the escape sequence blind seems like a huge pain. (It has potential to save 35 seconds over the NMG counterpart, though.)
Here is a Pastebin where I keep my cheat% save passwords: https://pastebin.com/1jqrc1ZJ
New Game Plus
Similar to any%, except starting from a mostly empty save file and with skipping the intro cutscene. By “mostly empty,” I mean: You start a new file, get the save password after the intro cutscene, and can only modify inventory (excluding keys), equipment, coins, and HP. This implies the following:
- Spawn in room 5 (Gale’s bedroom)
- Game time of 0
- Starting point [x = 1724, y = 402] (where Gale starts off the first moment the player can control her)
- General and Key arrays set completely false
- Key codes unaltered
Anything I haven’t mentioned is insignificant and therefore will not be monitored in run validation.
As for skipping the intro cutscene, that’s something that I’ve always prohibited in the non-password categories, mostly because it provides unwelcome complication in starting a run. For password categories, however, the process of generating the appropriate save password is complicated enough per se that further complication is meaningless.
So, what part of New Game + is painstaking? Well, you could say that I have higher standards for it because it’s a shorter category than any% (by about 12 minutes). I mean, the only real thing that makes me want to reset per se is getting an extra cycle on any boss in the game. (Somehow, I’ve lost 3 runs to missing the one-cycle on Big Eye.) For other flubs, I add them up to determine whether to reset or keep going. Even so, they somehow quite often add up to an extent that aggravates me. (For example, there was a run where Harpy Skip took obscenely long and I failed the bomb puzzle after that.)
This is top priority, and the run is so close that I can almost taste it.
- What does and does not have to be done: https://www.speedrun.com/phoenotopia/guide/7vcz0
- Save password: https://pastebin.com/VGt33ayD
- Inventory item lookup table (for save password generation): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1o1a2wYjKF0FIRAxJFhqgjTOWkOc-Ck8E7mcDIueIaw0/edit?usp=sharing (notable items: 18 [Lilac Honey], 66 [Bottle of Glowy Wisps], 68 [Power Potion])
200% (renamed Hundo Plus as of May 24)
NG+ but with 100% collection rate. This is currently uncharted territory, but I’m looking forward to it. (There’s a whole lot to look into.)
Note: In spite of the name, you actually only have to add 90% to the collection rate, because you start off with 10% from having the Morning Star, Nebula Armlet, Lucky Belt, Blood Ring, and Ancient Armor from the get-go. The other 90% is Heart Rubies, moonstones, unlocking Mystery Bento, and restoring Aella’s memories.
À la prochaine! (Until next time!)