Treasure Hunting 101: A Comprehensive Guide

Hunting guide - Treasure Hunting 101: A Comprehensive Guide

Submitted by SadisticMystic

Hunting stage mission 1s. They're among the most despised levels at TSC, being cursed for their randomness, and single-handedly blamed for deterring almost all attempts to get a single-segment story mode run of the game. You'd have to be insane to like those levels, right?

Hopefully, as I finally release this guide, that won't be true anymore. With these techniques, you too can excel, and maybe you'll start thinking of hunting stages as your friend--not an enemy!

[EDIT 2006/03/22] Found a better piece in Dry Lagoon
[EDIT 2006/08/15] Made the piece counts more accurate and added a faster method for a piece in Pumpkin Hill
[EDIT 2007/02/11] One Death Chamber key is changed and another is obtained faster

First, the general tips.

You won't have record potential all the time. Because the piece locations change every time, it's inevitable that some layouts take longer than others to clear. You can try playing a bad layout, but all it'll get you is a bad time. Each piece has a best location, and when it comes time to go for the records, looking for the pieces in anything other than their best locations will result in a blown chance. Hunting runs can get boring fast, as at the record-setting level they consist of running to one spot to see if a piece is there, and usually finding that it isn't, then repeating several times until it is there, then repeating for the other pieces. Don't bother wasting time using hints--you'll just know where the best pieces are, and only go for them in those spots.

Bring lots of lives. In each stage, there are believed to be 102 potential piece/key/emerald locations, generally divided in such a way that each piece in order gets more locations to choose from than the next. Note that any location that's inside an enemy can hold either item #1 or item #2. This means that even if you don't botch any of the pieces when they do show up in their best locations, it can take about that many tries to clear the level. If you get your lives up to 99 beforehand, good for you. Occasionally 99 has proven to be not even enough (more precisely, if you bring 99 lives and never miss a piece when it's in the right location, you have a 51.64% chance of getting a completion before running out of lives assuming distribution is 32-[8]-30-32, with the [8] representing enemy locations that count toward both 1 and 2), but it's a good thing Knuckles and Rouge have the power to dig. If you run out of lives in any hunting stage except Security Hall, just dig up a bunch of rings until you have more lives, then try again. That's all there is to it! You might even dig up standalone life icons along the way--think of them as an added bonus.

Collection order: why 3-2-1? You'd think it wouldn't matter what order you collected the three pieces in, but it does. There's a small trick to the piece placement algorithm. After placing piece 1 (or having it locked in based on the location you took on a previous life), the game looks for any locations for piece 2 that are close by to that piece 1 location, and makes sure never to put piece 2 in one of those locations. Likewise for piece 3 never being close to the 2 location. Feel free to come up with your own reasons for why they did that. Anyway, since the good locations are usually those closest to start, and those are naturally likely to come within the radius of "closeness" that triggers a lockout by the game, that can interfere with ever getting correct piece placement on a run. Fortunately, there's a way around that. Get piece 3 first, when it doesn't answer to anything. Then get piece 2, and save 1 for last and you neatly erase the problem of lockouts. It may not always be necessary, but 3-2-1 order is guaranteed not to interfere with anything. Even if there was a stage where it's both advantageous and possible to get multiple ideal pieces on the same life, such as (2+3)-1, that already increases the number of expected lives to over 1000, assuming you don't get dealt the right layout only to miss or take too much time. 3-2-1 individually is the way to go.

Kill vs. Restart: You probably already know this, but it's worth mentioning. If you die (by getting hit or falling out of the bottom), you retain any pieces you may have collected. If you pause and choose Restart, you still lose a life, but lose all your pieces and start back at the beginning. Because these levels can be so tedious, with you repeating the same motions over and over, choosing Restart where possible can make your tries go by faster. This means that if you don't have any pieces yet, use Restart after you find that your piece isn't in the right spot; once you already have one or two, you'll have to find a place to die normally.

Radar. Because you'll be getting the pieces in 3-2-1 order, and (unlike the first Sonic Adventure) the radar is only active on one piece at a time, you'll be getting pieces 3 and 2 "blind." But once you get those, you can use the radar on 1 to know if you should even bother trying for that piece or if you should just die right away and move on to the next life.

Anyway, you now know some techniques to help you, but what about the material that will actually get you some good times--the locations of the pieces themselves? These are the best locations I know of. If you know of a better one, just send me a PM and I'll fix that in the next guide update. Here goes...

Wild Canyon:
Piece 3: "The beginning room" Hm...I wonder what room that means? As you fall into place for the start of this level, you may see a brief point of green at the top of the screen. If you don't, then the piece isn't there and you can immediately restart. If it is there, then just spin the control stick and press B to do a Spiral Upper. That's all it takes to get this one.
Piece 2: "A bird box" In the alcove, there are three "bird boxes" behind you. Piece 2 can appear in the center box of the three, which is just behind and to the left of where you start. Turn around and punch through the chest, and if you didn't get the piece then die and try again.
Piece 1: "A bird box" ...And this one is the chest just behind and to the right of start. The radar will be red from the beginning; if it's not, then don't even bother trying for this.

Pumpkin Hill:
Piece 3: "Flattened grass" To get the piece in the fastest way, familiarize yourself with Rayku's guide for giving yourself a large upward boost from the very start. Unfortunately this means you won't be using the Restart pause menu option here, and killing yourself off repeatedly in preparation for the rising start takes a frustratingly long amount of time. Once you've gone flying, head toward Ghost Train Mountain. You'll see spinning spikeballs and an oval track (minus one ghost train). At one end of the track, the spikeballs will go over a patch of orange grass. Dig where that grass is and you just might grab piece 3.
Piece 2: "Twin skulls" Head toward Church Mountain. Fairly low down, you'll find two flamethrowing skulls. The piece is in the cove, between those skulls. Just don't get hit by the fire while trying for the piece, and you're set.
Piece 1: "The tombstone guarded by four skulls" Once you have pieces 3 and 2, it's time to use the rising start again. If you have the correct piece 1, the radar will turn green as you fly up. Glide forward from the boost, and aim for the platform just ahead. Behind the tombstone is the final piece.

Aquatic Mine:
Piece 3: "Three fans" Of course, there are 3 fans to the left in the starting hall. Piece 3 can actually be in front of any one of them, among its other locations, and the middle fan can also house piece 1. But if you want the best time, you'll want the closest fan. Wait for the piece to appear there, then glide left. Because the ground there is an upslope, it's actually possible to jump high enough to reach the piece with a simple jump, but you can also do a quick Spiral Upper and gain height faster. Both ways are roughly equivalent.
Piece 2: "Switch No. 1.5?" Just behind the start, of course, are switches #1 and #2. So naturally, switch #1.5 would be between them. Head back there, and dig into the ground between the two switches for a possible piece.
Piece 1: "Skull pulley" Not much "pulley" about this one. It's on the water wheel just to the left of start. The radar will start out yellow for this piece.

Death Chamber:
Key 3: "Bugs on patrol" In the starting room, look to the wall surrounding the lower alcove at the top. The correct key location moves back and forth across that wall, on a 10-second cycle. It's very difficult to get quickly, but what you want to do is jump and glide forward-right from start. Land on the right sloped edge of the ledge in front of you, then immediately spin the control stick for a Spiral Upper. That move can reach out to grab nearby objects (this is in fact true for both systems; Dreamcast gets a system-exclusive reach radius that extends much wider, but only for the first frame of the attack, and that doesn't come into play here). If you did it right, you'll shoot up just as the key passes overhead, and the reaching power from the very top is just enough to grab the key, even though it looks like you're not touching it. When you get it (probably in close to 2 seconds), you can breathe a sigh of relief and move on.
Key 2: "Roasted keys" This key is at the top of the fire pit, just behind start. To get it quickly, you'll do a Spiral Upper immediately upon starting, then glide at the peak of the move and you can go straight back through the key. You need to take a straight line to get the key instead of hitting fire, and the camera tends to shift on you; you can counteract this by holding L+R the whole time.
Key 1: "Three container brothers" The radar starts out green for this one. Head forward to the hallway, and to the somewhat wider room ahead. There are three boxes just to the right of that doorway; stand next to the stack of boxes and do a Spiral Upper to get it without breaking them, again thanks to reaching power.

Meteor Herd:
Piece 3: "Middle of the rotating beacon" Turn right from the start, and go past the barrier. Near the outer wall of the level, you'll see four beacons. Naturally, just dig into the center of them.
Piece 2: "In front of a big door that never opens" There are actually two piece 2s that have this description. Once again go right, past the barrier, but this time you'll want to move toward the central tower rather than the outer edge. On the ground, in front of that wall, you'll see two spinning beacons, one at each end of the "door". In front of each of those beacons are a potential piece 2. Of course, you're going for a fast time, so you'll want the closer one.
Piece 1: "In front of a big door that never opens" ...And wouldn't you know, there's a piece 1 location with that clue as well! It's the same area as piece 2, except instead of digging, it'll just be free-standing in front of the door. The radar will start out blank, as with everything in Meteor Herd.

Dry Lagoon:
Piece 3: "Under the turtle's face" Glide forward to the small pool, head to the left side, and dive down. There may be a piece there. Easy enough.
Piece 2: "By the giant's chair" See that statue just to your right? That's the giant referred to here. The piece is on the ground, just in front (relative to starting position) of the statue.
Piece 1: "Plants in the shade" And this one's just behind the same statue. Radar starts out green for it.

Egg Quarters:
Key 3: "Semi-dark Eggman" Head left from start, and two shadows over, there's an Eggman symbol on the wall that's partially covered by a shadow. Dig on the ground just in front of that.
Key 2: "Where you first landed" Okay, not quite where you first landed, but close enough. Just a short glide forward, and dig in between the two columns.
Key 1: "Yellow head" This one's fun. Head forward into the hallway, and do a suicide rush past the beetle. Once you're past it, jump up and let momentum carry you into the first E-1000 robot ahead, which can contain the key. The radar for this one starts out blank, but turns green before entering the doorway.

Security Hall:
Emerald 3: "In the air" Turn 45 degrees right at the start, and hop the rail. If you see the blue emerald hovering over the C block air conditioner, good for you. Glide up and grab it. If not, restart.
Emerald 2: "Everyone has seen it at least once before" This refers to the enemy directly ahead. Note the radar for this one. If it starts green, but turns yellow while you're falling and before you can move forward, don't bother trying this one, just die. Otherwise, run ahead and kick through the enemy and you just might come up with the purple emerald.
Emerald 1: "Everyone has seen it at least once before" The reason why you want to reject a green-to-yellow starting radar for emerald 2 is because the same enemy can hold either of 2 emeralds! If you got it when the radar was a giveaway, then you would end up getting the emeralds in 3-1-2 order which means you would never see the good spots for emerald 2. Anyway, the location for this one is the same as before, except this time you want the radar to start out green and turn yellow before landing.

Mad Space:
Piece 3 (Dreamcast): "diuqil live" Strangely enough, this piece has nothing to do with evil liquid (Artificial Chaos enemies). Just dive down to the platform below start, and you might see a piece moving around in a circle. That's piece #3, so grab it. However, it only appears if you're playing on Dreamcast (presumably on GameCube it was moved to a different spot more reflective of its hint), which is the source of a time advantage on this level.
Piece 3 (GameCube): "A bunch of black containers at the base" The platform you start out on has three spokes. Head in the direction of the spoke with yellow lights (back and to your right) and continue past it, to the outer platforms at the edge. Between two of the platforms, you'll see a bunch of floating black boxes. The piece can be among them, so keep a close eye as it's a tough piece to hit.
Piece 2: "tserof eht esolc ot seert eht ees ot" Ignoring the misspelling, this piece is in the same area as the last one (for DC). Dive down again, and look for a piece that's just standing still. That one's #2. If you got it first, that's no good since it takes away the good piece 3. Get the moving one first, then the still one.
Piece 1: "The blue enemy on the blue stand" 3 for 3 on hint errors here, as this piece's first hint isn't reversed like it should be. Glide to the left, and one of the outer platforms there has blue lights and a floating Artificial Chaos enemy. The radar here starts out blank, of course, and you have to go a considerable distance to get it to turn green. Just keep practicing a smooth glide into the enemy to bash its head in for 200, and eventually it'll have the piece so that (if you so choose) you'll never have to play Mad Space, ever again.

Hopefully now you can give these nine levels a run for their money, all without costing any of yours. (Unless you actually think this guide is worth money, in which case I'll accept donations--PayPal for the win.)
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