EDIT (20 Jun 15): Updated notes and editor commentary thereof
Summary of major route changes used in current runs, in the order they were implemented:
- Surf from Cinnabar to Fuchsia to fight Janine, rather than going on Cycling Road, skipping 1 stander (Bob) + 1 spinner (Joel) (credit: ryziken)
- Use Abra to skip Route 35 and Rock Tunnel pt 2, skipping 3 standers (Kim, Ivan, Arnie) + 1 spinner (Irwin); entails fighting trainers in underground earlier to get Coin Case, as well as a second Goldenrod Mart trip (credit: Shenanagans, ryziken)
- Acquire Return on second Mart trip and forgo Earthquake later; get Pink Bow from Mary after Radio Tower quest to give boost power of Return & Strength (credit: iMAX1UP, Lembox, werster)
- New Kanto order: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=390&start=25#p3537
- Catch Poliwag in Ecruteak City after fighting Morty (or possibly after Chuck) (credit: Exarion)
- Delay purchasing Ice Punch until second Mart trip, saving time on movement, freeing up money for more important uses, and allowing more PP flexibility in the middlegame (credit: Sinstar, Exarion for helping with this)
- Spinner mechanics in Gen 2: http://pastebin.com/2QCjptA1 (credit: Mountebank)
- 2 other spinners can be completely avoided: Dana on Route 38 (credit: Sinstar) & Doris in Sabrina's gym (credit: ryziken)
- Bug in Special Defense badge boost - see here (credit: Dabomstew for help on this)
- Various improvements in movement, menus, PP route, fight strats, money/item management, etc. (credit: Everyone)
- Encounter immunity mechanics on route transitions - see here (credit: Mountebank for help on this). Semi-related, some notes on turnframes can be found here.
- Trainer AI - see here.
***EDIT (21 Oct 2015): Up-to-date guides can be found on speedrun.com here.
- Lembox's UPDATED notes
- Ed. Note: These contain the most detail and include fantastic visuals for learning hidden item locations and the tricky movement sections -- the best to use if you are new to [speedrunning] the game.
- UnderscorePoY's notes
- Ed. Note: Less detailed than Lembox's notes, but up to date with the recent developments; very good notes to follow after learning the basic route. UnderscorePoY has registered several sub-3:20 times with these notes.
- entrpntr's notes (NOTE: New link)
- Ed. Note: Not as beginner-friendly as it could be (yet) as it omits many fundamentals, but is up-to-date with current strats and loaded with useful information. You should read through this once you're familiar with the current route if you're going for a very competitive time (3:20 or lower).
I routed Gold from scratch back in June and found several improvements to the standard route. I refined things off and on for a few months and achieved a route I think is pretty neat. I'd like to see the Gold time pushed down, but after a decent number of offstream attempts, I'm not sure I have any real desire to do serious attempts (routing is a lot more fun for me). So I'm leaving the notes I have here for others who might do so in my stead; I will be adding to them as I get stuff organized in the next week-ish.
I'll start off with by the the most significant improvement for now: embracing police brutality.
FUCK THE POLICE
Those with discerning eyes might have picked up that all the trainers on route 35 (Picnicker Kim, Camper Ivan, Bug Catcher Arnie) are actually optional (and Juggler Irwin is an avoidable spinner). This is only true in Gold/Silver, since the Squirtbottle quest changed in Crystal. Anyway, if the last Pokecenter you visited was Violet, you can deathwarp to Violet and bike straight to Sudowoodo. It may not seem like the logistics are there to pull it off in a speedrun, but fortunately it is elementary (just ambush a police officer and have him murder you), and there are reliable ways to stay alive without any Pokecenters.
In short, after picking up the Squirtbottle, you (1) pick up Kenya, (2) go Mart Shopping, (3) deposit all Pokemon except your cutter in the Day Care PC, (4) fight Officer Keith outside the daycare and white out, (5) withdraw Pokemon from PC in Violet and bike to Sudowoodo. Police officers only fight you at night, but you should be setting the clock somewhere between 5:25pm and 5:39pm anyway to hit all cutslave windows (the last being Oddish in Ilex).
Here are some quick comparison videos I made that show near-optimal results from Squirtbottle to Sudowoodo (with Mart Shopping and Kenya acquisition skipped because it's the same; the movement is still reflective of all differences between the two):
(1) My route: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/460 ... Police.mp4
(2) Standard route: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/460 ... Police.mp4
You have to deposit the egg / box heal once in the standard route, so I included it here for a more apples-to-apples comparison since this is where you always do it in my route. I checked the frames afterwards and the times were 1:47.85 vs 3:07.95; there's like a second more slop on my part in executing the standard route, but I grew weary of pressing keys. So as a baseline, it's around an 80 second advantage for that section.
If you come out of the Whitney fight with low HP, you can save a little time by sacrificing Croconaw instead (you can also let Kenya die if something silly happens like Clefairy metronome-roaring and then killing your cutter -- goddamn I love Metronome). As already mentioned, the deathwarp avoids having to pass Irwin, but also avoids possible Vulpix trolling (missing the damage range and getting Roared). Coming out with a full HP, full PP Toto heading towards Ecruteak is a nice plus as well. You also save a lot of time by virtue of skipping Pokecenters, but this could be adapted to the standard route as well, so I don't think it counts. On the flip side, you can get an unlucky grass encounter, and Growlithe can choose non-damaging moves, so you won't always reap the entirety of the timesave.
The best case scenario is going spinnerless and fighting Kaylee to get to L29 so you can Rare Candy and evolve to Feraligatr before Cianwood Gym (Ernest falls just short; gives 1182xp, but you need 1264xp). Kaylee is a longer fight compared to the best case methods to make up the 292xp you need on the standard route, but that only gives back 20-25 seconds or so. There are also situations where you hit a spinner that would have gotten you to L29 in the standard route, but you still fall short of the exp in my route; you have enough of a buffer that you'll still pull out ahead with an extra trainer fight. The best case scenario is too good to pass up if you are going for a really low time. You have 972 less experience (vs standard route) from Psychic Greg until evolving to Feraligatr, but this impacts very little; the majority of runs come out on par with the standard route in this section.
Surviving without Pokecenters
The last part of the equation is healing items. If anyone else had thought of the deathwarp strat before, they may have gotten discouraged because they couldn't get HP healing items to last through Morty. Some creativity with $$ fixes this for the most part, but it can still be a tad tight.
For reference, here is exactly what I was doing as a default with items: http://pastebin.com/xWHeK6qJ. I only get 4 Repels since you only go thru 4 grass tiles to get to Ecruteak, so I save $350 there. I get a second Full Heal in Azalea (behind the Slowpoke Well), which saves $600 compared to buying 1 in Goldenrod. From my testing/runs, buying 4 Potions in Azalea is enough to make the route safe enough in my eyes. I also always get the Route 29 Berry as it is often quite handy in a pinch. Picking up all 3 Super Potions is an obvious necessity. There are alterations you can do if you hit certain spinners, but this post is long enough already.
I only ran with 10+ atk DV Totos (14 atk @ L6) because it makes a difference on enough fights (at least when routing the game to its limits), and consequently I only ever bought 5 X Attacks. I do Kanto differently, and the Blue fight in particular ... I'll detail that elsewhere, but I'm basically paying $200 extra here (2 more X Specials, 1 less X Attack) compared to the standard route because it results in some worthwhile timesaves. There's a lot of flexibility depending on how you like your pokem speedruns, but this item route got me to a state I was very comfortable with running while sacrificing minimal time.
I invite questions and discussion in the meantime (about any aspect of this route) while I prepare notes on the route as a whole.