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One of the potentially most annoying parts of any attempted speedrun of Final Fantasy IV is the prospect of random encounters. They are rarely actually fought, and the potential for a back attack or surprise attack means precious seconds lost. The routes listed on this page serve to minimize the amount of time wasted on random encounters.
Essentially, a step route is a series of extra steps or alternate paths taken while running the game with the goal of decreasing the total amount of time the run takes. This page provides ready-to-use step routes for the original US SNES release of Final Fantasy IV (originally released as Final Fantasy II). Routes for other releases may also be available at some point.
For an introduction to step routing, I recommend reading the Step Routing Basics guide. If you have suggestions or comments regarding that guide, please contact me.
In addition, each route has its own individual Tutorial tab which should help newcomers.
In order to find your seed during a run, I recommend using my Seed Finder tool.
If you use any of the routes and something goes wrong, please let me know and link me to a video so I can attempt to investigate the problem. It could simply be a mistake in execution or a misinterpretation of the instructions, but it could also be a problem with the route generation or with this site.
Final Fantasy IV uses a relatively simple system for determining when encounters occur. There are 256 possible seeds. For any given seed and encounter rate, the step numbers where encounters occur is fixed. By following the path through the game, we can determine exactly when encounters will occur and what formations they will be.
There are two ways we can adjust our route:
Including healing time, an encounter will waste anywhere from 5.6 to 32.0 seconds. The overall average is somewhere between 8 and 10 seconds per encounter. Knowing this, there are three primary ways taking extra steps can actually be beneficial:
All of this sounds wonderful, of course, but as I'm sure you can imagine, trying to figure this all out in your head would probably be a fool's errand. Instead, we use a computer to solve the problem. Specifically, I use a tool I've written called Spoony to generate the routes.
I don't know exactly what his contribution was, but some early work on the concepts of step routing was done by the_roth, who is one of the top runners of FF4 in the world.
I'd also like to thank Myself086 for his instrumental work in the development of FF4 step routes. His pioneering work used a truly optimal solver, though it operated on a simplified model that didn't take individual encounter times into account and did not optimize the final descent. His routes were originally used to seed the generation of my own.
Later on, many of the routes were optimized with encounter timings using an optimizer written by fcoughlin. I've since enhanced the timing information even further to change based on the current party, so we can no longer use his optimizer, but the routes you see on this site descend from optimal routes generated by his software.
My optimizer, Spoony, as I've hinted above, does not generate truly optimal routes as it uses a stochastic optimization algorithm. However, testing has indicated that it gets very close. Eventually, I will replace the routes with ones generated by my new route generator, ROSA. However, ROSA is not yet feature complete and is unable to serve this role.