Well, it’s officially a wrap. Fire Emblem’s time during this year’s Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 has come to a close, but not without producing some excellent entertaining gameplay and pulling in some amazing numbers. Gwimpage’s speedrun of Fire Emblem Path of Radiance (click here to view it) was almost his best single-segment run ever, coming less than two minutes off of his personal best to date (and when your run lasts 123 minutes, doing it a second time in such an unpredictable game like Fire Emblem within two is outstanding).
As if his run itself wasn’t awesome enough, Gwimpage’s time on the game brought in $11,052.00 worth of donations to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. That’s an astounding $88 per minute.
Gwimpage had some time afterwards to answer a few questions for me about not only his speedrun, but others that he’s done, and even shares some advice for budding speedrunners who want to join in the fun. Check it out below
Elieson: Why did you choose to speedrun the Japanese version of Fire Emblem Path of Radiance?
Gwimpage: I had originally started speedrunning Path of Radiance on the North American version of the game, which does not have the 255 Crit glitch. The glitch was known throughout the community for quite some time and I had theorized some possibilities where the glitch could improve the speedrun. Finally caving in last year I had imported a JP version of Path of Radiance with the intention of copy-pasting the NA route into the JP version. This proved to be unsuccessful as there are subtle differences throughout both versions. The main reason to use the JP version for a speedrun is to abuse the 255 Crit Glitch to cut a significant amount of time spent watching map battle animations. At first I was intimidated by running the game entirely with JP text, but there’s actually little reading in a speedrun and it’s easier memorizing inputs and menu orders than reading.
Elieson: Your time of 2:05 was incredible! Can you think of any areas which you could’ve improved on for this run in particular, without cutting out the entertaining elements of the run itself?
Gwimpage: There are several improvements possible throughout the run and most of them involve cutting decisions that make the route more consistent. At a marathon like AGDQ you only have one shot and in a game like Fire Emblem it’s easy to get screwed over by the game at any moment. The possibility of a series of bad luck lead me to steadily make the route as consistent as I could. Now that the PoR run at AGDQ is done I can start working on improving the record to the best of my abilities. I have more freedom to remove consistency if it will save a turn or some extra time, but at the cost of resetting a lot more. We’ll see how I motivated I truly am to reach my goal of a Sub 2 hour time in the coming months. .
Also, as someone who has run the game for awhile now, I find it hard to believe any of the chapters are entertaining lol. I’m glad that people do find it entertaining though.
Elieson: On Reddit, you posted requests for Weapon Forge names. Certainly, you had a few in mind for yourself. Which were your favorites?
Gwimpage: I’m actually a very easily amused person so I found several funny. While I was doing a practice run me and the couch commentators were brainstorming some additional ideas for the forge names. My favorite suggestions overall were:
Dongers, I[<3]Memes, S.S Critania, Wendy, Pog Champ, FrankrZ, and 4Frends
I was unavailable to use most of the suggestions made on Reddit due to the 7 character limit, but I was surprised I was getting a good number of people helping out. The first two forge names were actually supposed to be “Please” and “Donate”, but when I actually got onto the stage I felt like it was too forward or would come off as desperate so I went against it. I ended up naming one “Donate” but the joke was long gone so hopefully not too many people picked up on it. lol
Elieson: You’ve done speedruns for quite a few Fire Emblem games. Which do you enjoy the most? Why?
Gwimpage: I enjoy Radiant Dawn the most, but I think the Path of Radiance and FE: Conquest are both good runs. I enjoy Radiant Dawn the most because of the fast paced nature of the game, but it does drag on in Part 4 and late Part 3 when enemy phases start to slog. There are numerous cursor and menu’ing tricks that make it a lot of fun to play and challenging to optimize. Path of Radiance would be first if it weren’t for the lengthy battle animations, but the menu’ing and cursor tricks are too fun to pass up on. Conquest might be flavor of the month right now, but it’s an interesting callback to RD and PoR runs with the objective variety while keeping the cool user interface of Awakening. For what it counts I also really like “Draft Races” where players go against each other for the best times under draft constraints.
Elieson: What’s your Personal Best time? Do you think you can cut it down even lower than where your PB is?
Gwimpage: Right now my personal best for PoR is a 2:03:19. I didn’t record the run so I don’t have proof of the time, but it’s an easily improvable run and when I get home from AGDQ I’ll destroy it. My goal for PoR is sub 2 hours and I’m confident that it can go down by at least 1-2 minutes with the current strategies. I’ll need to sacrifice some consistency to make the run faster, which results in more failed runs. I’m hoping to stay motivated and not completely forget about PoR when the Fates Localization hits next month.
Elieson: In the GDQ community, some people, like Miles, speedrun many games at the GDQ series. What other games do you want to speedrun?
Gwimpage: I’d like to casually speedrun a few games like Donkey Kong Country 2 or Final Fantasy 4 or 6. I don’t think I’d really have the capacity to focus on another series like I have with Fire Emblem though. I just get too many urges to play Radiant Dawn or another game if I haven’t played it in awhile. I play a variety games casually, but I really love menu segments as they’re a lot of fun to optimize and I can really appreciate good routing.
Elieson: How did it feel being involved in the speedrun, with the pressure of a charity and international viewership behind you?
Gwimpage: I’m gonna be dramatic here for a second, leading up to my run I felt some sort of impending doom lol. Kirbymastah had set up his laptop in the practice room and had it play the marathon stream so we could keep track when we would need to pack up and head off to the streaming room. As the SM64 race progressed I started increasingly getting more nervous as while I felt ready and confident in my gameplay I was dreading doing commentary. I had practiced my commentary for weeks this summer, but when it came down to just before my run it went right out the window. I’m normally a person that freaks out at doing something as little as a presentation in front of a class, but given that thousands of viewers tune in I was borderline having a nervous breakdown.
I read some supportive messages from Skype and Twitter in addition to being encouraged by some friends. It really helped and eventually I was calm enough to do my thing. I think I was visibly nervous, but I was really doing my best to keep my composure. Thanks to the couch commentators they offered some really strong commentary and I eventually found a comfort zone for the rest of the run.
Elieson: Do you have a simple “how-to” speedrun advice, for those that want to try speedrunning Fire Emblem games but aren’t sure where to start?
Gwimpage: There are a number of Fire Emblem Speedrunners that cover most of the games (FE6-14) with recorded speedruns for each of them. I’m also happy to help and/or direct anyone with questions regarding picking up speedrunning Fire Emblem. For general advice and if you’re going to route a game yourself you should follow the most general rule for most RPG runs. “Finish the game with the bare minimum possible” . Also having someone else look over your route is a good idea since routing it’s easy to overlook weird or unnecessary things.
On a side note I actually have a WIP Radiant Dawn Speedrun Tutorial on my YouTube channel. It’s not complete, but I’ll finish it when I get the time this upcoming spring.
Elieson: Fire Emblem is a game where statistics just don’t always cut it. What parts of the Fire Emblem Path of Radiance speedrun are typically the most difficult to plan around?
Gwimpage: Definitely the enemy AI movement patterns.Chapters 11, 20 and 28 are probably the worst offenders as the enemies will block you from the seize point with their canto. There’s unfortunately nothing to get around this, but to reset and try a new formation in hopes it will work. There was also the frustration of the Ch1-11 stretch with Ike and Marcia’s EXP management. Ike needs to hit at least level 16 to reach a strength benchmark and Marcia needs to promote for the Ch11 strategy to work. The new Chapter 8 strategy ended up flipping the previous EXP management on its head so I was glad I managed to make it work.
Elieson: Will we spot you in future events?
Gwimpage: I’ll likely attend more AGDQ events in the future, but this may be my last speedrun in the actual marathon as it grows every year and FE isn’t exactly a popular speedrun like SM64 or Ocarina of Time. I’ll definitely consider attending RPG: Limit Break if it becomes an annual event (I really hope it does) as I totally botched on submitting games this year. I’m planning on submitting FE: Fates next year for AGDQ in hopes of a possible Conquest vs Birthright bid war.
Elieson: Anything you’d like to add before bringing this to a close?
Gwimpage: I’d like to once again thank the couch commentators and everyone for giving me their support, whether they watched the run or not. I didn’t come to AGDQ only for myself, because I really wanted to do something great for the charity and FE community. I’ve lost my grandfather to lung cancer as a child and I’ve only recently discovered that it took his life. I feel like it would be a cause for him to support and pride himself on knowing that so many people are supporting a charity that can save lives. I’m so grateful for the opportunity again to support and be apart of an event like AGDQ. I’m going to enjoy the rest of the week and I hope you can tune in for the rest of the marathon too.
Gwimpage’s speedrun catelogue can be viewed at his YouTube channel and TwitchTV channel, and he’s quite active on Serenes Forest. Be sure to check out some of his speedruns and the event itself if they interest you, and consider joining the forest to socialize with other fans of the Fire Emblem franchise!