Step routes in Final Fantasy IV are a relatively new innovation that allows us to minimize the total duration of a run in several ways:
This page will attempt to detail many of the nuances you'll need to understand if you wish to use any of the routes generated by my software.
This tutorial was written for the US version of the game. It is slightly outdated, but still accurate. It does not show the correct path to reach the Dwarf Axe, if you are using it.
If you are running the SFC version, there are some additional differences: (Eventually, I will make images for it all, but I have a pretty heavy project load right now.)
When using a step route, there are a few basic points you need to keep in mind as you play:
The first key to a successful run using a step route is knowing what seed you are on. There are two approaches, depending on if you're planning on using the Mist Clip or running single segment.
If you are doing a single segment run, it is recommended to choose the best seed available and set up the guaranteed seed manipulation for the seed in question. More information can be found in this highlight from neerrm. Instead of using seed 223, you should look up the appropriate seed using this chart.
If, instead, you are using the Mist Clip (as most people do), you will need to determine your seed on the fly after resetting at Mist. Compare your encounter steps to this list to determine your seed. Your first step occurs immediately after resetting, before entering Mist. The remaining steps can be determined from the below images:
This section goes into detail about each screen that's relevant to using a step route. What it doesn't cover, however, is perfect walking on every screen. If you're having trouble with a route, please contact me and I can help determine if it's a walking mistake or an error in my data.
The most common use of this area is to take a single extra step to ensure zero encounters on the way to Mist when on seed 92. The stool itself doesn't count as a step, so stepping off and then back on accomplishes this goal with ease. (It's interesting to note that when using seed 92, there are actually several steps available before you get an encounter, so it's not critical to take exactly one.)
In single segment runs, however, this room may be used to take additional extra steps. If you need an odd number of steps, you can either step off and back on the stool to get a single extra step or you can walk below the stool to add three steps to your count. The remaining steps can be taken by pacing back and forth.
In single segment runs, you may be directed to take extra steps in the Misty Cave. This is primarily to exploit the fact that the encounter rate after Mist will change from 7/256 to 8/256. (In certain seeds, it also advances the encounter string to ensure a Pike x3 formation appears in the next cave. Depending on if other formations are also suitable for levelling Rydia, this may be suboptimal.)
You can take an odd number of steps at any of the available trigger tiles, which are highlighted in magenta. Even numbers of additional steps can be taken anywhere, but I've given my suggestions in the image.
In this section, you may need to take extra steps in order to encounter a Pike x3 formation. This may be suboptimal, and if other formations are viable, I may revise the routes as some of the seeds may improve substantially.
In non-single segment runs, this is the first place you may need to take extra steps. If you need an odd step, you can step off and directly back onto the save point.
There are a few seeds that are indistinguishable by the time you get here. Solutions for this are being investigated.
This room precedes another change in encounter rate from 7/256 to 8/256, so you may be asked to take extra steps here. Again, you can take them anywhere on the floor, but I've made a suggestion in the image.
Here, you'll want to take the extra steps before jumping off into the waterfall.
On Damcyan 2F, you can take either the default left path, or the right path which adds an extra step. You can then take the extra even number of steps on either floor, but make sure to not take extra steps on a cracked tile (or behind pillars), as those don't count toward your step count.
Both on the way in, and on the way out, you may be asked to enter the Charm Room in the Antlion cave (so named because it contains a chest holding Edward's Charm harp). You may also have to take some extra steps within the room. Afterward, immediately leave and continue to follow the path.
This room is useful and interesting because it does not have any encounters, but continues to advance the step counter.
This screen again exploits the fact that the encounter rate will soon change. You can take a single step at either end of the bridge, as bridge tiles don't count as steps. Pairs of steps can be taken anywhere else.
There is a total of 10 optional steps available in Fabul. If you need an odd number of total steps, I recommend taking an odd number of optional steps and making up the difference with pairs of extra steps. That said, there are numerous tiles that can be used for single extra steps if necessary.
A few steps east of Mysidia, the encounter rate changes from 8/256 to 10/256, so it may be beneficial to take extra steps to potentially skip an encounter. Ensure that you walk as far down as indicated in the image before you begin to head east, otherwise you run a small risk of an extra encounter.
At the top of Mt. Ordeals, there are two trigger tiles (which don't count as steps) in front of the stairs leading up to the Milon battles. By walking on either only one or both of these tiles you can potentially take an optional step. Since we pass this area twice, there are two optional steps available.
On the last screen of Mt. Ordeals, before exiting the mountain, you may be asked to take extra steps. If you need a single or odd number of steps, you can use the trigger tile indicated on the image. Otherwise, take pairs of steps anywhere else.
You can take extra steps in the Serpent Road building, using the non-step tiles in the doorways to take a single step. The image depicts the Baron end of the Road, but you can also take the steps on the Mysidian end.
In the cave heading toward the battle with Baigan, there is an easily accessible save room where steps count but there are no encounters. You may be asked to enter the save room and take extra steps.
Sometime while in Castle Baron before fighting Kainazzo, you may need to take extra steps. The most convenient time is probably immediately after the Baigan battle, where both pairs of steps and a single step are readily available.
Depending on where you turn left while heading to the room where Edward is, you can add up to three optional steps. Extra steps can then be taken over in the corner next to the doorway.
When leaving the castle, instead of heading directly north, you can head right, which will give you one extra step.
Since the route generator knows whether or not the extra step will have an encounter, this will be marginally faster than taking the extra step inside (assuming you've already taken all 3 optional steps). However, there is also a small chance it will use the step to manipulate the encounter string, so taking the step inside is not guaranteed to produce the same result.
On B3F of Cave Magnes, there is a save room that you come within one tile of entering. You may be asked to enter this save room and take extra steps.
Similarly, on the fourth floor, there is also a save room. It's definitely further off the path, so it's less likely to be used, but it is a possibility.
Second, the route may ask you to take extra steps on B4F itself. You can take these steps immediately before entering the crystal room.
First, when returning to Toroia, the route assumes that you enter Toroia on the north tile. Additionally, for Yes64, it assumes that you land exactly as indicated on the image. I may be willing to revise this portion of the route depending on what runners typically do.
You may be asked to enter the Extra Steps Area, which refers to the non-carpet tiles on the left or right side of the screen. For those accustomed to Myself086's routes, this is your first extra step. You may then be asked to take additional steps on top of that. Therefore, if you are asked to take 3 extra steps on this visit to Toroia, your total number of extra steps will actually be 4. (This is a consequence of how I implemented the room in my software to properly count tile movement. I may revise it in future versions, but this way makes some sort of sense as long as you treat the extra steps area as an optional room, like the save room or Charm room.) The route summary will flash a big red warning at you if this situation comes up as a reminder.
The image should make the counting in this case somewhat more clear as well.
When leaving Toroia for the Tower of Zot, you can take up to two optional steps depending on which direction you go.
(Again, this assumes you entered Toroia on the north tile. Doing so is technically 8 frames slower, but it does give us access to one additional optional step. Whether or not this is worth it, I have no idea. It's probably so small that it's not worth considering. Future versions of the route may excise these optional steps entirely.)
After Valvalis, you can take extra steps in Castle Baron. It's easy to do this in either Cecil's room or on 1F. I've shown some sample steps for Cecil's room on the image. (In addition, Cecil's room has the advantage that you can take 3 extra steps with only a two tile penalty by walking under the stool. The current route generator has no way of modeling this particular movement, however, so it doesn't optimize for it.)
With a total of 20 optional steps scattered among seven rooms, the Castle of Dwarves is where step routes can start to get somewhat complicated. Your first step should probably be to learn the default paths, as they aren't necessarily how one would walk normally.
You may be asked to cast Warp twice immediately after retrieving the crystal in the castle. Simply collect the crystal, cast Warp twice, and then follow the rest of the route as normal. In this case, there will be a maximum of two optional steps.
In Excalbur routes only, you might be asked to take extra steps in Castle Baron during the time you are acquiring the hook for the airship. These steps are easily taken on 1F, as demonstrated in the image.
The reason only the Excalbur routes take extra steps in Baron is that the Drain spear routes have access to 3 optional steps in Eblan, which is slightly more efficient. Carefully mind your walking on 2F of the right tower, as the default path walks behind the wall, rather than out in the open.
In the Weapon/Armor shop on Cave Eblana 2F, there are two optional steps available, as tiles up against the shop counter don't count as steps. If you need to take extra steps beyond those, it's easy enough to do.
In the last room of the Pass to Bab-il (where you meet Edge), there is a save room near the entrance to the room. You may asked to enter the room and take extra steps.
When returning to the Castle of Dwarves the first time, you visit with Cid directly in the infirmary. On the way to the infirmary, you can take up to 4 optional steps depending on how you walk among the pillars. Technically, there are actually other paths through the pillars that will achieve the same number of steps, but I think I've picked the easiest to remember for the image.
Immediately before entering the Land of Monsters, you may be asked to take extra steps on the world map.
Because the Cid visit immediately precedes this, it's not really useful for skipping encounters (even though the encounter rate does jump from 8/256 to 9/256 when you enter the cave). Instead, in non-TAS runs, it's more useful for potentially taking an encounter on the world map to change the encounters seen in the cave itself.
On the third floor of the Land of Monsters, there are three paths you might be asked to take. The default path is the obvious walk directly to the exit. There is also a secret passage with two useful exits you might be asked to use, as demonstrated in the image. For whatever reason, tiles within the secret passage don't count as steps.
During your brief trip into the Sealed Cave, you can take extra steps either before or after Kain's departure.
During your final visit to the Castle of Dwarves, you may be asked to take extra steps. There isn't a very long opportunity to do this, as it must be done entirely in the King's room before stepping on the trigger tile. Essentially, from your starting location, you can either take one step down and back to take a single step, or one step up and back to take two steps. Once you walk up two steps, you'll activate the trigger and your opportunity will be over (without going slightly out of your way to take extra steps after the scene).
In Excalbur routes, when transferring airships in order to go retrieve Adamant, you may be asked to take extra steps on the Eblan World Map. The reason is that the encounter rate will soon raise from 8/256 to 10/256. Of course, since this really only affects one step, the chance of it mattering is vanishingly small, unless the route generator finds innovative ways of using it to manipulate the encounter string.
When retrieving Adamant, you can take extra steps within the Grotto. If for some reason you need to cut some steps to get back on the route, you can also cast Exit here.
First, depending on which is more favorable, you may be asked to either visit the Hummingway Cave (to buy Elixirs) or to recruit FuSoYa first. Just make sure you don't forget your Elixirs if you recruit FuSoYa first.
Second, in the Hummingway Cave, you may be asked to take extra steps. This cave currently has a 16 step minimum, to allow you enough steps to track down the correct NPC, who is highlighted in red, and purchase the Elixirs. (My testing indicates that if you take your steps slowly you can often do the entire cave in 8-12 steps, but we're sticking with 16 as a safe number for now.)
Any extra steps indicated in the route are in addition to this minimum of 16. The route summary will also list the total steps needed to keep things simple.
If you mess up and are unable to exit the cave without taking too many steps, you can simply cast Exit once you reach the correct number of steps. This gives you slightly more leeway in case you have trouble catching the shop NPC.
In routes where you visit the Hummingway Cave first, you may be asked to take extra steps on the Lunar World Map before you board the Big Whale to return to Earth. You can take these right outside the Big Whale immediately before boarding.
In the Giant of Bab-il Mouth (which for some reason is called the Stomach in Myself086's routes), you can take one optional step depending on if you take your step to the left or right on the stairs or not. (The stairs do not count as steps.)
On the two floors where you might encounter the grind fight, you may be asked to take extra steps. You can take these steps anywhere, but be careful to keep in mind that stair tiles do not count as steps. Some suggested locations for taking these steps are depicted in the images.
Any extra steps required to find the grind fight will be listed. If you are not being asked to take extra steps, you can head directly toward the Elements battle confident that you will encounter the grind fight along the way in the listed room (assuming you're still on the step route).
The route summary also lists all fights in these two rooms so you can easily determine if you have encountered a fake grind fight or not. Future versions of the route generator will also very likely list the encounter string in each room to help you find the grind fight if you have made a mistake at some point.
The CPU room in the Giant does not have encounters, so you may be asked to take steps here to adjust the encounters for your descent. If you need an odd number of steps, you can utilize the stair tiles as they don't count as steps.
In the Lunar Subterrane, the encounter rate bounces between 8/256 and 10/256 as you travel through the rooms. The route generator will take advantage of this by asking you take extra steps in various rooms. It may also may do this to manipulate the encounters seen in the Core.
The first room is Lunar Subterrane B2, which is easily recognizable as the room with the long secret passage. The secret passage tiles do not count as steps in case you need to take a single or odd number of extra steps. (Please note, however, that the entrances to the secret passages do count as steps, so pay close attention to the magenta tiles in the image.
The next room is Lunar Subterrane B4, which is the "outdoor" room with two longer staircases heading downward. I suggest taking any extra steps immediately before entering the room at the end.
The next room is Lunar Subterrane B5, which is much more complicated. The main problem is that you visit this room three separate times, and each time there may be step route-related things to do. I'll step through each visit individually:
The first visit begins with a descent down a long staircase, with the Crystal sword (Wyvern battle) visible to the right. You may need to take extra steps here. Again, immediately before entering the room is a simple place to do it.
The second visit is after the room where you get the Protect ring. Again, there may be extra steps to take here.
The third and final visit comes two rooms later, and is recognizable because you have to walk up before heading down a staircase. In addition, the room containing Pink Puffs looms to the right. Speaking of Pink Puffs, you may be asked to enter that room (which has an encounter rate of only 5/256) to take extra steps.
The next floor comes immediately after the last visit to B5, and is Lunar Subterrane B6. You may be asked to take extra steps here, presumably to avoid a potential encounter in the following room, but also possibly to manipulate the encounter string in other ways.
The final room you may need to take extra steps in is Lunar Subterrane B7, which is recognizable as the room where the last save room in the game is accessed.
First, you may be asked to enter the save room and take extra steps. Since there are no encounters in the save room, you will therefore skip one or more encounters.
Second, you may need to take extra steps on B7 itself immediately before entering the Lunar Core. From the routes I've looked at, it does this to take extra encounters in the subterrane to avoid unfavorable encounters in the core. The longest encounter on average in the game is easily the Red D. battles, and avoiding as many of those as possible is a noteworthy goal, even if it means running into two more groups of Ryus.
With any luck, this will help you navigate the step routes available on this site. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please send me an e-mail or contact me on Discord. This is only the second version of the routes, and I am open to suggestions for future versions.