Squirtorino represents the last great hope to end Nidoran’s tyranny over Red speedruns. This route should be considered for sub-1:49 attempts in the future (for 1:49 times, the Nidoran route is clearly the way to go). It’s an alternative route to consider even if you’re not going for a highly competitive time, though it might offer more enjoyment for the viewers than for the runners.
I don’t definitively know whether Squirtorino is faster, but I suspect that it is … more on that later.
 Use Squirtle/Wartortle thru Lavender Tower (L33) to exploit Squirtle’s early game advantage.
 Catch L33 Nidorino in 2nd screen of Safari Zone (it’s the only L33+ poke, so Super Repel makes this relatively trivial).
 Use slightly modified (but essentially identical timewise) Nidoking route for rest of game.
I conceived the central idea for the route in December 2013. Routed from scratch and worked on and off thru April 2014 (somewhere between 150-200 hours in total) and have had a few goes at refining it since then. There were a few major revisions to accommodate Mountebank’s Koga strat and to accommodate countless other optimizations that were found. I’ve fallen way behind on optimizations that other runners will know better, so I’m leaving it here in case others want to try to build off of it, for fun or for serious attempts.
I finished 4 attempts (2:07, 2:03, 2:03, 1:59) before realizing I had no interest in grinding for a real low time. Changed to doing attempts from a save file right before picking Squirtle, and eventually managed to get a high 1:54. I figured the route on its own wouldn’t be worth much unless it was coupled with a recording of a good time, but there was some interest from Exarion and his chat a while back. With the response to my Gold thread, I figured it was time to dump this here as well.
Not for the faint of heart
- Need Squirtle to have 12+ Atk, 7+ Spd, 10+ Spc (11/10/11 @ L5) to be viable (~5.3%, 1 in ~19; 1 runnable Squirtle per ~36 mins).
- Catching Nidorino isn’t a guarantee (3/256 encounter rate, 27.5% catch rate per Safari Ball, 41% to run each turn on average speed), and is over an hour into run. Nidorinos with 0 or 1 speed DV can’t beat the game, and 2 requires a lot of luck.
- Nidoking lategame has moderately more risk (esp w/ bad DV Nidos). However, apart from speed DV, even the worst of the worst stats aren’t crippling (Horn Drill is a saving grace, and vitamins can help too).
- Very similar to werster’s old Blue runs w/Squirtle, but there are more runnable Squirtles since you only need him for the first half of the game.
- Good stats required still for Route 3 and Nugget Bridge (inevitable resets/time lost otherwise).
- Can’t gain too much experience as L34 must be avoided at Poke Flute split (1083 short of L34 w/ no wild pokemon and no optional trainers)
- Moves taught: Tackle/Tail Whip/Bubble/Water Gun/Mega Punch/Bubblebeam/Bite/Dig.
- Route 3 and Nugget Bridge provide great redbar opportunities early into the game. Can grind out resets for really good Bill splits and go from there if going for highly optimized time.
- Needs at least 2 speed DV to be able to complete run, but 3 DV to be realistic (without major route change / extra rare candy / different X items). 2 DV will tie Dugtrio and Jynx,
- More constrained w/experience; best approach is to Rare Candy immediately after catching to check stats (to see if you need Protein, more Carbos). After that, you cannot Rare Candy until before the Drowsee/Hypno trainer in Koga’s gym, or you’ll lose L43 for Cinnabar Mansion.
- Specific Carbos, X Item, and Gym order strats are needed to guarantee outspeeds (and guarantee levels don’t nullify needed badge boosts): Blaine 5th, Erika/Sabrina 6th/7th depending on speed DV.
- No need for Thunderbolt until Lance; no need for Earthquake after Agatha, so Thunderbolt can be taught over it then. Allows the usage of Focus Energy on Koga’s Weezing (!), and Surf in a few places to preserve PP (Blaine, Viridian Rival) / save time (Rhydons). This also allows a very large time save opportunity on Lance by YOLO drilling Gyarados, and forgoing teaching Thunderbolt as well as healing (~26 seconds).
- Since you need to hold on to a few items (Moon Stone, TM07, TM13) up until the Safari Zone, you lose item flexibility. It’s not possible to hold on to more than 3 of TM24 / Super Potion / Potion / Full Restore / Ether / Max Ether without losing significant time somewhere.
Observations of best completed runs (Exarion, werster)
Surge / Poke Flute (leaving house) splits
- In his Squirtle 1:54 console run, werster had 46:55 / 1:07:36.
- 49:41 / 1:07:54 (Exarion console 1:49)
- 48:50 / 1:07:57 (Exarion emu 1:50)
- 49:04 / 1:08:30 (Exarion console 1:50)
- 49:44 / 1:08:03 (werster emu 1:51)
- 50:10 / 1:08:43 (werster console 1:51)
- Encountering / catching Nidorino
- Using Moon Stone, 1 Rare Candy
- Teaching 2 TMs (Horn Drill, and possibly Thunderbolt before Lance)
- Getting/Using needed Protein, Carbos, filler items
That said, my route is significantly faster than werster’s for this section due to not teaching 2 TMs and not using 2 Rare Candies, meaning there is extra time to work with. However, I'm pretty certain there isn't any way to work in redbar here with Wartortle (aside from last 2 Rock Tunnel fights + Gambler fight potentially).
Ultimately, I’m guessing the best approach to maximizing this route is being reset-happy and playing risky as hell with Squirtle through Bill. If it is possible to finish the Poke Flute split consistently 2+ minutes faster with Squirtle, then this route has a lot of promise. Whether that is possible is yet to be determined definitively.
It’s worth pointing out that werster’s 1:54 is a sample size of 1, and his goal at the time was only to PB (sub-1:55). werster didn’t put in many attempts to get sub-1:54 with Squirtle and did not do many attempts in general with refined strats, so it’s difficult to tell how low these splits can be with Squirtle (I haven’t put in enough attempts to get a meaningful sum of bests, especially since my route kept changing). FWIW, werster lost 52 seconds between his Mt. Moon and Surge splits in his 1:54 w/Squirtle (compared to 1:55 Squirtle splits).
... More to come ...