Solomon's Key (NES)/best ending

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Solomon's_key

Category description

This category aims to get the best ending by collecting the pages of space and time and finally saving the princess (or "prinsess", as it's spelled in this game). It's possible to both use some golden wings (in rooms 23 and 31) or death abuse (room 32 and 36, depending on which room solution is used - these rooms are skipped when warping), while still getting the best ending. The room solutions for the warp route would be identical to the no-warp solutions (only exception being if the super fireball is used in room 36, which requires collecting the one in room 39). The death abuses only have an impact in the rooms they occur in. The videos below show the route without warps and without death abuse.

The terminology from the game mechanics page is used below.

Fireball management

Given that fireballs are scarce, cost time to both grab and launch and how they need to be shot in the order they are picked up, fireball management is a huge task when routing this game. Below is a document that shows which fireballs are collected and where they are used in the route described in this section. There are also some comments about time saved by fireballs in the different rooms and how much time they take to collect.

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Level-by-level description

VIDEOS WITH AN ASTERISK (*) USE FASTER STRATS THAN IN THE CURRENT SDA-RUN (ktwo, 2014-10-12)

Room 1

Same as in the normal ending (room 1) run.

Room 2

Same as in the normal ending (room 2) run.

Room 3

Same as in the normal ending (room 3) run.

Room 4

Same as in the normal ending (room 4) run. However, the fireball can be collected for an overall time save of one second (~0.3 seconds slower here in room 4, but then saving ~1.3 seconds in room 8): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfDesiyTDbY. The cost for this second is two running edge jumps though.

Room 5

Same as in the normal ending (room 5) run.

Room 6

Same as in the normal ending (room 6) run.

Room 7

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAgeX-vTmqk
Just like in the normal ending run, the room solution looks slow. The enemies quite efficiently prevent faster solutions (without resorting to very tight maneuvers such as shown in the tas). It can also be sped up by one sec with the use of a fireball, but that doesn't seem to work well with the fireball management in the following rooms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVbJ2vY_xZo< *br /> 2 seconds faster than the above solution. Of course it comes with a cost of added risk...

Room 8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkIyA4xAuHs
It looks a bit tight to get past the ghost after picking up the key. However, just hold right and it never fails (unless arriving very late at the key of course). It can be a few frames faster by pressing right at the right moment instead of pressing against blocks during the drop. It's just as easy (or probably even easier) to lose time by trying to cut time doing that though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE_dlrqE5zQ
This solution is 1.3 seconds faster than above, but requires to alternative solution in room 4 (notice the difference in fireball inventory between the two videos).

Room 9

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Bcbd5GDoc

Room 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZLYzv1fwIE
The jump to the exit must be performed so to allow for the next room to start with a buffered jump (release up before hitting the exit).
The jump onto the first floor is a bit delayed because of the demon heads.

Room 11

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRySZUfCpfE
There is a risk of one of the sparkballs not being destroyed by the fireball (happens when they pass each other on opposite corners). A trick is to launch the fireball as late as possible (so when standing on the edge of the platform). Then it very rarely happens.

Room 12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNBb5Kau_sQ
Without mistakes, Dana will be able to break the block containing the super fireball before the Saramandor has passed by overhead. You therefore need to make a small pause somewhere before to prevent that from happening.

Room 13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWcaS4aTbgc
Just like in the normal ending run, the ghost is dispatched to reduce slowdown (and also to avoid dealing with it later on). Watching this room solution is informative on how the game slows down movements due to sprite limitations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfGc8UXyo2I
By not collecting the orange jar, you create less lag and overall end up saving 0.3 seconds. It's a great deal harder though because of the Saramandors that spawn during the climb.

Room 14

Same as in the normal ending (room 14) run. (the fireball inventory doesn't necessary match with previous/next rooms).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eRCAxsRD6E
This is a very safe way to clear the room. It's two seconds slower though.

Room 15

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpKiJnG1uIg
A very scripted solution. You have to keep a brisk pace throughout the room, but you need to wait for enemies in several places, so it's not possible to speed things up (without coming up with a completely different concept).

Room 16

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1ysfKdXeFw

Room 17

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbBej_CiyLI
It's possible to jump from the second to last ledge to the exit, but it's one frame slower than just walking into the exit.

In this video, one of the enemies drops an upgrade jar, which will end up saving time in room 19 (more about the time saved is described under room 19). The enemy drops are sort of rng based. It hasn't been researched exactly how this works (but the tas authors might know?). However, from empirical testing, the exact same actions have a good probability of reproducing the same drops between attempts. The table below shows if one of the enemies will drop an upgrade jar when ducking from the beginning of the room (any action from Dana seems to have the possibility to affect the rng) and shooting the fireball at different frames (measured from the first frame of movement in the room). As can be seen, there is a 50/50 chance of getting an upgrade jar. Another observation is that there is a 10/12 chance of an upgrade jar in the interval 73-84. These frames can be identified by looking at the sparkball positions. The below gif shows this interval in slow motion (note: from console experience, trying to launch the fireball when the sparkballs are at the bottom right corner of the block seems to work pretty well for getting an upgrade jar, so slightly different timing than what's observed on emulator). Be aware of that the above information is not 100% accurate. The drops will vary slightly for unknown reasons, but the overall information seems to hold (50% overall chance of an upgrade jar and the interval with increased probability).
Solomon sparkball17.gif

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The upgrade jar is dropped by one of the wizards (the sparkballs never drop upgrade jars). Since there are three wizards, it's possible to get 2 or even 3 upgrade jars. With the route shown here, any additional upgrade jars wouldn't be of any use since there is only one normal fireball in the inventory. However, it'd be possible to pick up one more in room 13, have it upgraded here in room 17 and then skip the super fireball in room 22. That would overall save around half a second. It's quite uncommon to get 2 upgrade jars though, so it would add quite a bit of risk.

Room 18

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ALUf1j2s3U

Room 19

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbA4mM63gZ0
This shows how to complete the room without using any fireballs and without picking up the super fireball. This is used when getting an upgrade jar in room 17.

If you arrive here without getting an upgrade jar in room 17, you have to get rid of the normal fireball and collect the super fireball in this room (for use in room 22). Below are two solutions showing that scenario.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RQF7KI6wiI
Roughly 2.5 seconds slower than above.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCgBt8pNiZ0
This is an alternative with the aim to avoid the hard jump to the super fireball in the first solution. It's one second slower though.

Room 20

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-GAJ1ijfP0
It's important to get the fairy behind the block you turn around mid-air to create. This is done by jumping fairly late from the block below. The fairy always behaves consistently if done correctly. This is provided no mistakes have been done after having collected the bell. On the other hand, if there is a mistake after having collected the bell, it's almost guaranteed that the fairy will cause trouble on the right side by flying around and blocking one of the free spaces.

Hidden room (page of time)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buLZATLjyng

Room 21

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgtQ5mR8DdE
It doesn't seem like the faster solution shown in the normal ending (room 21) is possible when not using warps.

Room 22

Same as in the normal ending (room 22) run. (the fireball inventory doesn't necessary match with previous/next rooms). If following the route in this guide, the super fireball is be picked up in this room.

Room 23

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3-EAChIoEQ

Room 24

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyv9EX4j9co
There is more to the first sequence than what it might appear. Releasing the first sparkball (by breaking the block beneath it) and still avoiding it is only possible at certain frames. There are 3 (or so) valid frames just when Dana is about to run into the block. With practice, the success rate of this can still be fairly high, but with such a small time window, even a minor moment of inattention will result in failure.
Picking up the hourglass is roughly 20 frames slower than trying to clear the room as quickly as possible. It does however save around 50 frames of countdown, resulting in an overall gain of half a second.

Room 25

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvcYj1MPTLk
The last jump to below the exit is a bit precise, but can be done consistently.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhdrMqitjGs
If you pick up the key at the right frame, the spawns will be delayed and it's possible to reach the exit without stopping. If no spawns appear before or "right after" picking up the key, you can go for this solution. Otherwise the one above. For this to work, you basically need to reach the key as quickly as possible. The delay of spawns by picking up the key is part of the game mechanics and works in all rooms. With the route described here, it's just not beneficial in other places.

Room 26

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RllHmHX2SI

Room 27

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkkDGL1ulTw
The "safe" solution.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZvqtLl6hWw
This variant is a good deal riskier than the solution above, but is also almost a second faster.

Room 28

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RaT0NBa8HI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Df0qEfJV9w
This one is a little over a second faster, but also adds risk and there is not much room for error to reach the top in time before the second ghost arrives. The good thing is that you can revert back to the solution above if you make a small mistake along the way.

Room 29

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpAdQOeKHnQ
Unlike the normal ending category, the gargoyle always seems to start out by going either right if you arrive here on the first life. However, sometimes (quite often actually), the goblins on the floor start out by punching. This seems to be rng-dependent. That means you can't run and jump straight to the seal, but instead have to make a quick pause (otherwise you'll run into the left goblin). The room can still be cleared in the same way as the video shown here, but it will be 0.3 seconds slower and the jump to the block before the key will be even harder.

Room 30

Same as in the normal ending (room 30) run. (the fireball inventory doesn't necessary match with previous/next rooms).

Room 31

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcojiKUjtic
Just like the comment for the normal ending run, this room could be faster with more use of advanced techniques (zigzag climbing etc). It's fairly late in the game and risk increases dramatically though. The solution shown here is not trivial, but still relatively safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YV1WEeLxUuA *
Difficult solution, but a little over 4 seconds faster than above (1 enemy cycle).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B68-pNOcVs *
Reference solution with zigzag jumping. It's again a little over 4 seconds faster than the first solution above (1 enemy cycle faster). There might be even better solutions in real-time, but it hasn't been thoroughly tested (the current tas finishes one and a half enemy cycles earlier). The difficulty of this solution is already quite high (it took more than 60 real-time attempts to make this video, including a save state when picking up the key).

Room 32

This is one of the rooms that can benefit from death abuse (drop down to the key and into the blue flame, jump to the exit when restarting the room). However, the solutions shown here complete the room normally.

There are two variations to how this room plays out. Depending on how fast Dana drops down, the left gargoyle may fire a shot or not at the start.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wFpVceAR4A
The left gargoyle fires a shot at the start.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsNbe9kKvDY
The left gargoyle doesn't fire a shot at the start. This solution is one or two tenths of a second faster, but it's probably "random" on which one you get.

It's worth noting that there is a quick pause before jumping to the key in both of the solutions above. This cancels out an enemy spawn (see sprite saturation on the game mechanics page). Not being able to cancel changes the way back to the exit and quite a bit of time will be lost. However, the success rate should be very high, so no video will be shown here on what happens when the cancellation fails.

Room 33

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iUTwLeJiY0
Without mistakes, you'll jump into the top bat just before descending to the exit. You need a small pause to prevent that from happening, but of course not so long that you risk colliding with the bat on the right side...

Room 34

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9yGobiLK54
Combining the increased countdown speed from the grey jar and the yellow hourglass allows for a low timer when exiting the room (and thus saving time during point countdown during the following room transition). Using the block magic on the grey jar is only to create a controlled delay. Picking up the grey jar and then the hourglass asap will have the time run out before being able to reach the exit.

Room 35

Due to many sprites at the same time and resulting lag, this room varies a bit from time to time. Sometimes the spawns are a bit earlier/later, sometimes the enemies are a bit faster/slower. The general solution concept shown below should always work, but time can be gained/lost depending on how the room plays out from one time to the next.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rdSSH_7ct4
Problematic room. Dana needs to wait a few times near the top. The timing of the gargoyles' fireballs and the spawning of the demon heads don't allow for much time to be saved without making everything a whole cycle faster. The gargoyles' fireballs can create a sprite overload that prevent some demon heads from spawning, so one can experiment with that to come up with alternative solutions. It's also possible to come up with faster solutions involving the use of a super fireball (to be replaced in room 39). But there is no obvious solution as of how to squeeze out more time by doing this without adding lots of more risk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT4yn_yE7YI
Very similar to the solution above, but with a slightly faster way to end the room for a half second gained. It's pretty unreliable though. The enemy movements and spawns seem to be slightly random in this room (more than in others), which might delay you enough so it's not possible to block the last demon head.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdtKOTj8_ks *
For reference, this solution is around 4 seconds faster than above by using advanced techniques (zigzag climbing and a difficult drop after the key). Possible in real-time, but it adds a considerable risk this late in a run.

Room 36

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMoxsU019MU *
Death abuse would save around half a second (right after picking up the key). Important for this solution to work is to collect the jar as late as possible, while still being able to avoid the wizard (guy in hat). Collecting the jar too early and the drop from the enemy on the top will block the possibility to create a block after picking up the key. If that happens, try to block the skull in the level below instead (0.3 seconds slower though).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siOGzHkdqsI
This is an easier alternative, which uses a super fireball. It's one second faster than above, but is overall slower since picking up the super fireball costs ~1.5 seconds (room 12 or 39).

Room 37

Same as in the normal ending (room 37) run. (the fireball inventory doesn't necessary match with previous/next rooms).

Room 38

Same as in the normal ending (room 38) run. (the fireball inventory doesn't necessary match with previous/next rooms).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__eseAHvKkE *
This solution collects a normal fireball for a cost of half second. The fireball can be used in room 46 for an overall time gain.

Room 39

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgKARpbq6DE
Collecting the super fireball near the exit assumes a super fireball was used in room 36, but that's in total half a second slower than not using one in room 36.

Room 40

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekox-Bq4dso

Room 41

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTjslv2Rxm4
Just like in room 10, make sure to set up for a buffered jump at the start of room 42. During the last drop to the floor, it's easy to first land on the block that is destroyed by the demon head. That stops the vertical momentum and renders the shown solution impossible (not enough time to avoid the demon heads when jumping up on the left side). When that happens, jump up on the right side instead (one second slower though).

Room 42

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFmGN5p35PA

Room 43

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imAfZqK2N1s

Room 44

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qYgjVdSlm8
This route is pretty optimal for a real-time speedrun (and very similar to the current tas). However, there are many sections in the room that can be done slightly slower, but also make it easier/less prone to time losses because imperfect execution.

Hidden room (page of space)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUeQ79t9dyQ
The bottom grey block only becomes breakable once Dana used block magic on the exit.

Room 45

Same as in the normal ending (room 45) run. (the fireball inventory doesn't necessary match with previous/next rooms).

Room 46

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrqOZU6RuGw
Very similar to the normal ending run.
There is a trick for the positioning on the block below the exit. If Dana's nose is covered by the white border surrounding the exit (or even more to the left), the position is correct for making the Solomon's seal appear like shown here. If Dana's nose is visible to the right, you have to start jumping left, turn around to the right and then make the seal appear.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKLWZiwhTw4
This solution can be used if the normal fireball was collected in room 38. The risk level increases compared to the above solution, but it's overall 1.5 seconds faster if the time it took to collect the fireball in room 38 is taken into account.

Room 47

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKCSMhGVYmE
Very difficult room. There aren't really any good alternative to the two drops (without wasting massive amounts of time).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3HlDd_CxMo
Just a demonstration of how to pick up the seal in a safer way. It's one second slower though. Considering it's late in the game, it basically boils down to an individual risk-reward decision that has to be made in a speedrun setting.

It's worth mentioning that the first drop can be turned into a 3-frame window drop (iso 2 frames) with the same technique as shown in the normal ending video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb1qUzwaWeo

Room 48

Same as in the normal ending (room 48) run. (the fireball inventory doesn't necessary match with previous/next rooms).

Prinsess' room

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L40ra25sBjg
The grey block on the left side that allows Dana to enter the outer heart becomes breakable by using the block magic on the right red flame. To enable the block opening up to the Prinsess to be breakable, you need to use the block magic in the top space of the area where she's trapped.
The Prinsess moves erratically, which has an impact on how fast it's possible to clear the room (depending on how far to the right Dana has to run). The difference can be around two seconds between the fastest and the slowest cases. The best case scenario is that she stays clear of the space you need to use the block magic on, so you actually create a block in that space. That usually means the Prinsess will move to the left and can be rescued quickly. The worst case is that she moves to the right and you have to pass the middle (jump down and back up or create a block to pass to the right). The average solution (and the most common) is that she stays in or around the top space and can then be rescued near the middle. There is no known manipulation to make her move in any certain way.

Solomon's room

Same as in the normal ending (Solomon's room) run.

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