This is an in-depth explanation of the manipulation route I'm taking in Lufia II. It is intended to teach both me and you how to move through the game, which items to sell and buy, which enemies to fight and how, and which scenes are time-critical. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, have a look at my general Lufia II notes.
Also note that this is currently a work in progress and, due to the massive scale, will be for quite some time. The same goes for the quick reference, intended as an accompanying document while performing a run.
Before the Game
The very first thing you should do when you turn on the console is to make sure there are no save files stored on your cartridge. One way to do so is holding down both start and select right before the intro animation would usually start which gives you a menu to do a full reset of the game' save state. Another way to ensure that is to remove the battery from the cartridge and/or erasing the save state file in case of an emulator (named .srm usually). Then hit the start option in the main menu.
Before the game begins, you get the chance to choose a name for your hero. Make sure you pick exactly one character, otherwise each text box containing the name will run four frames too long. The timer for runs is usually started the moment you hit the start button to confirm your name choice.
After that, an opening cutscene will begin showing Maxim entering Tia's shop. The RNG counter should move from 05 (in the menu) to 0F (in town) to 18 (within the house) and stay at that value the whole time during the dialog inside the shop. It is error safe, meaning the RNG is not updated in a frame-dependent manner (in fact, it is not updated at all during this).
After the scene ends, with Tia furiously smashing the money at Maxim, you gain control over the hero's movement. Head outside and immediately return and talk to Tia. This has to be done rather quickly, because out in Elcid as well as inside the weapons shop, NPC behaviour will cause the RNG to update. This is rather easy to accomplish, since you can start holding down the up arrow long before character movement takes place, but when talking to Tia, you have to be quick (not really, though, this is one of the easiest time-critical dialogues you'll have to do).
As soon as you have the shop menu open, you can take your time (unless you try to do a run, obviously), because background NPC movement will stall. Sell all 10 Potions you have (pressing up on the amount input will bring it straight to 10) and buy 3 Boomerangs and 1 Escape, speding all your money in the process. The order in which you buy doesn't really matter and mostly comes down to personal preference, it really only comes down to whether you want to be able to hold down and left when using the Boomerangs for the first time or quickly use the escape with a triple stroke in the menu. I mostly go for Boomerangs, because that' the same spot where they end up in Elcid.
Afterwards, head to the south exit of town on the shortes route possible. Be careful when exiting the shop screen, since the RNG starts iterating as soon as the shop interior is shown. The first right turn, from Tia's house to the left side of the bridge, is rather easy to miss, so pay attention here. The old man will interrupt you with a safe dialog, but as soon as that's over, you need to exit town immediately and release the down key as soon as possible so the map counter remains unaffected. The random encounter counter starts ticking just a little bit before you actually move on the map, that is why it' so important to only tick it intentionally, since it affects the RNG counter.
Once you're on the world map, take the shortest route to Secret Skills Cave in the south (whyever they call it secret). The actual path you take does not really matter, only the number of map tiles you pass, because that is what the random encounter counter is counting.
Secret Skills Cave
For your complete stay in this cave, you will be on the safe side concerning timed actions. The guide will start you off with four rather long speech bubbles, which you can safely queue up and prepare to head up towards your first enemy: a Red Jelly.
If everything went to plan until here, the jelly should move one step towards you as you approach. A simple auto-attack (holding downduring the action input) should get rid of it, causing 8 damage points. You don't have to auto-attack as far as the RNG is concerned, but it' fast and easy. After another 5 dialog boxes from gramps head straight north until two tiles after the door so the (tiny tiny) cutscene takes over controls and brings up the next dialog.
After the dialog, bypass the Red Jelly by going straight north, then one step to the east and through the door. The Red Jelly should move away from you, towards the east and south during this. After yet another dialog with out dear old man, shoot the lever with an Arrow and make your way west through the next set of doors.
You are now in the room that introduces the pushing mechanic and reset spell. The dialog with the bald mister will only have two boxes. Keep thebutton depressed through the second one for pushing the pillar onto the floor button (north and west) and go to the tile just before the door (the step with the arrow on it). This will trigger the dialog where the bearded fella gives you the reset spell. You don' have to dismiss the box that says you got it (that's true for all quest event boxes), just try not to lose focus during the rather lengthy animation sequence (which also does a number to the RNG, if you're watching it; it should be 2D afterwards).
Next up is the "jump from a cliff" room. The dialog has only one box and you can simultaneously hold down thebutton and d-pad to have it automatically dismissed and start walking to where you need to go. Then up the ladder and through the door, and another door in the small upside down U corridor.
Be careful in the next room, though, since randomly moving enemies are present, and any step your character takes, even the ones into a wall, will result in an RNG update (multiple, in fact). It's not too bad, since you only have to take one step south, one step east. Then, cutscene control will take over again.
Two dialog boxes from the pink robed dude again, then move one step east and two steps north into a Lizard, which you should then get an advantage turn on, because it's facing west. An auto-attack for 10 damage will get rid of it. After the fight, jump off the cliff to the east and follow the path up the ladder, the top of which you should encounter the Red Jelly. Again, auto-attack for 7 damage and exit the room.
Through the hallway into the next room, it's bush cutting time. In this room, you have to cut exactly three bushes and step on the button. Cutting a bush wreaks havoc on the RNG, so make no mistakes here. You can safely over-walk in this room, so there's really no need to risk cutting the wrong shrub. After stepping on the floor button, the RNG counter should say 14. Exit the room through the door to the south and trigger the next dialog.
Now comes the pot "puzzle" (well, it's a tutorial). Pick up the vase in the east, turn around withand place it down. Do not, under any circumstances, pick it up again. The wall extending and retracting seriously scrambles the random pool and can be considered irrecoverable damage to the manipulation (minor errors can sometimes be fixed via the map/menu trick, but only if it's a few ticks of the random counter). After that, place the other pot on its respective plate and continue west through the hallway.
This marks the end of the tutorial and after a final talk with Mr Green you can head southwards through the door. You will find yourself in the room with the dodged Red Jelly still there. Avoid it by shifting your southbound path one tile to the west (see aside image if you don't know what I mean).
Back to Elcid
After that, head on out of the cave, keeping in mind not to step the map counter while it's loading. Take a direct route to the east tile of Elcid, then straight on into Tia's shop (careful, villagers) and begin the next story-driven cutscene.
If you're speedrinning this, and chances are that you will be, eventually, pay attention to when she goes to fetch tea. There are four really short bubbles in direct succession after that. They're not critical though and, unless you're going for a frame-perfect run, you manic, can be easily advanced by button mashing.
The end of the dialog with Tia will auto-eject you straight into the city, so be prepared to head directly to the bridge again else you will mess up your random numbers.
Take a direct path to the left side of the bridge again, this time being interrupted right before you manage to cross. You'll find yourself in a short-boxed, but spaced out dialogue, which, even though it takes place in a city, isn't RNG critical, because all citizens are partaking in it. It even leaves you time to prepare for heading out after the guard's last box (after he makes way for you).
The random timer will start ticking again once you gain control over Maxim, whichever single-character name you chose for him, so navigational skills are required. You need to slip through the gap between the old man and the tree and then dodge the sign on your way out the south exit of town. Once you made it there, imediately release the d-pad as to not step the map counter by accident. It' not too bad if you miss it by a frame or two, since you get a chance to rectify the random state on the map now, but the time loss that comes with such a correction is rather annoying.
Once on the map, head north towards the Cave to Sundletan. You should encounter two Red Jellies exactly three tiles before you reach the entrance. Simply escape the fight. Then continue the remaining three steps and enter the stairs down into the cave.
If you have messed up somewhere and get the fight a little earlier, you have a chance to correct the RNG's state by taking at most four steps on the map, opening the menu (), taking steps again, until you're exactly three steps away from the entrance. Then open the menu one last time and continue. I you get an encounter and it's not two Red Jellies, you have messed up royal and need to hard reset your system, sorry.
Cave to Sundletan
Now we are in our first actual dungeon. Upon entering, the RNG counter should be at 36 and change to 00, then 01 with the second and third step you take into the cave. Live yourself up with the door column, cut two bushes and go north into the next room.
From there, continue north across the bridge, take an immediate right turn towards the east until you're right above the bush, approach and cut it and continue south into the next room, stepping on the revealed floor button that opens its door in the process. The Lizard should move into the corner right when you step on the southmost tiled floor tile.
The next room is rather simple, but has some trickery to it if you don't pay attention. First, take at least two steps south. You can take more, but no less, otherwise the Mushroom will miss the gap it needs to go into. Then, take one east, all the way south, cut the two bushes, stun the Mushroom with an Arrow, and go around it through the door to the east. I have drawn the path I usually take onto a screenshot here. The ground clutter, though one step further than necessary, makes an easy target to eye. You can, however, take more steps in this room, since it does not have enemies with random movement in it, so fixing a misstepped Mushroom is possible (if you do not engage it in battle).
Another easy room follows. Simply cut the left of the bushes, place the vase on the thusly revealed pressure plate and go through the northern door it opens.
Then take the shortest route to the eastern gap between the bricks (the ones next to Lizard and Mushroom), watching your moves because although the enemies cannot move, they will still tick the RNG with every step you take.
Push the southern block and engange the Mushroom. You should face a fight with two Mushrooms which you can combat simply with a Boomerang, which will cause 35 and 51 damage points. (If you have followed my shopping habits that amounts to holding downand left on the d-pad.) After that, push the northern block (you can hold down and up from the "end of fight" screen, just don't press up while the results are running because it will interrupt its flow) and fight the Lizard with an auto-attack, getting a critical strike for 16 damage. Then go east, push south, and east again, down the staircase.
You are now in a basement with Bats. Since those react not only to your movement, but also your position, you have to take precise steps here. First, head all the way south, then east all the way, then south one and east three. You should be right next to the spider switch now (north of it, to be specific). Turn around withand hit it with your sword. Then take two north, jump down the cliff and cross the bridge continuing south until you hit the wall. From there, go to the west and enter the staircase.
In this room, navigate around the floor tiles, tempting as they might be, and up the eastern staircase again. This brings you right into the boss room. Walk up to the Lizard Man and engage battle. Two Boomerangs (just holdand left), doing 48 and 44 damage respectively, will get rid of him, reducing your hitpoints by 13 during his counter attack in the first round, leaving you with a whopping 7 HP.
After the fight, you'll get the Iris talk during which your RNG counter should stay at 05. Use an escape from the item menu, which may be in position one or three, depending on your shopping order back in Elcid.
On the overworld map, take one step west or south and back again to reenter the cave. Head all the way north, unlocking the door (pressto dismiss) and keep on holding the d-pad up through the map load, then head towards Sundletan (it's north, east, north).
Now comes the first sequence that's kinda hard to perform. Entering Sundletan you immediately have to take a step north to trigger the earth quake mini cutscene (that, oddly enough, has no dialogue whatsoever). After said commotion, you need to enter the shop to the north east (shortest route as usual), which, to all extents of evil, has a randomly moving NPC in it (of course), so good timing on thebutton part is required.
Once you're in the shop menu, buy 2 Potions as well as 7 Boomerangs, which should leave your balance at a whopping 3 monetary units. After exiting the shopping screen, immediately leave town again (mind the timing inside the shop, the NPC is still there, messing with your luck) via the east-most tile on the southern path. See attached picture for clarification. Again, this is the shortest path, so should come to no surprise. Once outside, take a direct route to Lake Cave. If you encounter Bats on the way, you have messed up, sorry about that.
We are now being introduced to the concept of bridge building, hooray. Watch your step here, since it' very easy to accidentally walk into a wall, be that the cliff, bridge tile or placed bridge end. Now, while remaining on the light tiled path the whole time, first hit the lever with an Arrow (turning with), then place the north east, south east and south west bridge tiles (in that order) to form a crossing, also turning with and always releasing the d-pad before picking them up or placing them down. I've had best results when pausing movement just after going north the first tile after picking up the second and third piece.
If everything went to plan, the Mosquito should be two tiles to the left of the path you're on. If it is right on the path, you may have a chance to correct your RNG with the Lake Cave fix by TrogdorSRL, moving down three tiles, slashing your sword four times, forcing an encounter with it by heading straight north, escaping, stunning it with an Arrow and then making your way around it to the door. You can tell if it worked when you still get an Eagle rock from the Eagles.
Back on the track, the next room has a blue carpet in it, which you need to enter two tiles in (to the height of the larger ground clutter west of you and the corner across from the door in the west). From there, head all the way to thee west and continue north through the door.
Next, cut the middle row of bushes in your way and jump through the middle cracked floor tile from the south side. You will land right on a pressure plate opening the lower eastern door. Ignore it and tkae the other one instead (the one leading to the save tile). Immediately turn around and, back in the room you fell into, take the first chance to head east until you encounter a pair of Eagles. (Don't worry about the 7 HP, it's fiiine.)
Crush those Eagles with a Boomerang for 98 and 103 damage and receive your precious Eagle rock. Don' equipt it just yet, instead, head for the ladder up (not the staircase, mind you) and on its top tile, go east. Follow the wall south until you can move east again and the north through the door.
Next room, push the northern one of the pillars one block to the west, opening both doors and route to the southern one (the one that actually stays open once you move. Push the south eastern block south, entering a hidden staircase. The arrow puzzle you can actually solve whichevery way you like, it's not affecting RNG at all, but the usual method is pushing the southern block to the north spot and then shifting the others by one.
Pick your favourite route to the blue chest and retrieve the Lake key. After that lengthy animation, open the ring menu to cast Reset and make your way back up the staircase. Once upstairs, use one of your Potions and equip the Eagle rock. Then leave the room via the door to the north, once again via the shortest path.
Continue on westwards, through another door which will bring you back to eagle droppings room. In here, you first have to walk south (to avoid the Baby Frog) until you're just one tile away from the small two-wide nook and continue westwards until you're aligned just right with the cliff dropping arrows north of you. Jump down and land right on an Eagle, which you shall finish off with the Eagle rock's Dive IP (dealing 71 damage).
Use another Potion and enter the pressure plate opened door. In the next room, before doing anything cast Reset once again. This should also move you closer to a bridge piece. Pick it up and place it in the water stright north of the next one (so your soon-to-be bridge wil be one tile next to where the ladder sticks out).
Finish the bridge, picking up tiles west to east (frist one from the north, the other two from the west), then push the lever. Descend the ladder, pick up the bridge tile that's in your way (turning around with) and continue on your way to the next ladder, placing the bridge as you come to the water. Head all the way north until you hit the wall, then take a west to unlock and enter the boss room door.
The Catfish fight is dramatic, but, well, spoiler alert, you win. Just use two Boomerangs, then a Potion and two Boomerangs again and you shall receive the grand price. As well as the Catfish jwl.. Oh, and a level up. (Damage values from the Boomerangs must be 49, 51, 53 and 47.)
3. Crown returned
Tia Joins the Party
After the Catfish's demise, use the Reset spell from the menu screen—the ring menu won't work from where you stand—and exit the room heading south. Go west (life is peaceful there) and through the door to the save spot on the ground and save there. Then back outside and up the ladder and staircase to the north. Then south again, through the door, continue east, cutting through the northernmost two bushes and, again, through the door.
You are now in the blue carpet room. Hug the west side wall until you're facing the Mosquito and hit it with an Arrow (there should be one tile space inbetween), then continue one tile north and all the way east to the last carpet tile to avoid the Blue Jelly. From there straight north until you hit the wall and enter the door.
This will start a cutscene where you first get to fight a Goblin and a Skeleton. Hit them with a Boomerang for 44 and 45 damage and a level up. After a few more lines of dialogue you get to fight another Goblin with, you guessed it, another Boomerang, this time for 42 damage. After that, Tia will join your party.
Open Tia's spell menu and cast Strong on Maxim (whatever one letter name you gave him). Stay in the menu, go to Maxim's spells and cast Reset. Then make your way towards the exit. After going through the door, head one tile south, so you can shoot an Arrow at the Blue Jelly. Take one step to the east and continue south to the wall and through the door. The next room just head straight south until you're out on the world map.