Forums  /  Puzzle League series  /  Pokémon Puzzle League  /  Puzzle League Category Discussion

Going to add my own personal thoughts later, but we had some disagreements in the community what should be considered main categories and categories at all. Mostly with 100k marathon becoming a main category. Use this thread as a discussion for any of your personal opinions regarding what you want to see considered a category.


First of all, I'd like to say that I'm perfectly fine with 50k or 999k being the official categories in marathon, as long as they are treated with the same respect as Super Hard or Spa Service as main categories. My issue is not with the score, since what I value about this run is the mental and technical skill which is required to consistently plan and create the maximum chains repeatedly. 50k is what I would consider the more "lucky" category of the two, since you only need to get lucky with the panel combinations one time to get a good score, so if I were forced to only choose one of the two, 999k would be my choice.

The reason I have played up to 100k up until now is because it seemed like a score which fit properly within a time margin which made for a reasonable speedrun to perform for other people at marathons, with the initial idea of it being performed between 5 and 10 minutes. My idea went rewarded when it got into NASA for not being too long or too short, and was very well received by the speedrunners at NASA. Some of them watched me do runs of it for over 4-5 hours in a row. I am now going to explain some math about why 100k is the sweet spot(for my current skill level) in terms of performing at marathons and promoting competition.

The higher the points go, the more the run would clearly differentiate consistency in making large chains over getting a lucky run. I chose one that would respect the skill of players who dedicated themselves to this category enough to create a clear difference in the times of a person who can make 1 large chain a minute on a good day and one who can make 2 large chains a minute on a good day(large chains are what I consider 20k point chains). The difference between these two players in time is 3 minutes, which is extremely large in a category where the record is currently 3:14 and can potentially be 2 minutes or less. To compare, a 50k run would only show this discrepancy with a time difference of 1 minute. A 999k run would create the insane differential of ~25 minutes between the two players. 100k was a fair middle ground to allow players who were newer to the category to not feel completely discouraged or crushed by the difficulty of the run, which I believe is important in the growth of our community(a lot more than semantics are).

As far as the time itself goes, all puzzle games by definition are doing the same thing over and over again. You need a time for a run which is long enough to allow players to understand and begin to appreciate what they are seeing, but not long enough for it to start becoming repetitive for the viewers. Marathon and Time Attack are difficult to follow for your average viewer, so the display leaves them in awe for a while while they see a cursor move ridiculously fast while they see the numbers on the screen grow and the colours explode like a slot machine. Really big chains generate hype, and I'd say your average viewer begins to understand what's going on after 3 or 4 minutes. From that point on, you need to have already reached a point in the run which keeps them interested. The flashiness of the run would probably keep people interested for as long as 10 minutes; however, if the run were to last 5 minutes, being that close to the end would keep people interested and on their toes to see the grand finale. My NASA time was 5:19 in the 100k.

Why is this all important? In order to grow the community you need to attract players by making them see something in this game that interests them. Being displayed in a speedrun marathon is the perfect way to give exposure to the game, so that is my first priority. The exposure so far through Story Mode and Spa Service is alright, but generally speaking has not attracted new players to our game, only older ones. I am convinced that the craziness of the Marathon run, if performed at a certain level, will bring new players to our game.

End of mathematical explanation.

What I am not ok with is Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard and Super Hard all being main categories, and Spa Service, Marathon and Time Attack taking a back door to them. This is for multiple reasons, such as how 5 story mode categories and 0 point based ones(...), but the main one being that Spa Service, Marathon and Time Attack are a greater display of technical and pre-planning skill than story mode is. If a game is supposed to be competitive, it can only be competitive because being better at the game reaps greater rewards. There is no better translation of this concept in the game than Marathon or Time Attack. S Hard Story mode is actually the one which translates this concept the worst due to the low technical speed cap and the amount of luck there is in it. There is AI manipulation involved, which is what makes it a unique run compared to the rest.

Needless to say, it follows that I believe Marathon and Time Attack should be run on the Hard difficulty, since the other ones require much less skill to make the same points on. I wouldn't mind if Easy Normal and Hard were all categories, but if a choice between the 3 needs to be made, I think Hard is the only true demonstration of a player's ability to consistently plan and execute chains.

Speedruns by definition are a competition to see who can complete an objective the fastest. Getting 50k, 100k, completing Spa Service or anything else are all objectives which can be raced and competed for. I play this game solely to compete in the most difficult task to do, and if other people don't want to do that I am perfectly fine with that. What I can't accept is "popularity" of something overriding the proper respect it should be given. There is simply no such thing, and I can and will prove it with more than just talk if necessary.


May my thoughts on the 100k Marathon debate be consolidated here:

100,000 is a number that was a thing for races as long as I have been in this community, probably due to it being the maximum score in Tetris Attack Endless (99,999). I have done several a 100k Marathon race, particularly from when I first entered this community. Its popularity, however, has waned significantly in recent years, thus on this leaderboard it has been kept as a miscellaneous category for historical purposes, if nothing else.

Since doing a memey 100% run (which has no category on this leaderboard because definitions have not been agreed on) and since this 100k debate has started, I have given the importance of this 100,000 score some thought. There is a case to get to 50,000 points as soon as possible as the game will trigger its credits sequence for every Marathon playthrough of at least this score. There is a case to get to the maximum score as soon as possible for the maximum challenge. There is even a case to do this in either 2D or 3D mode, despite those runs probably playing the same way as each other.

In my mind, any number in between those values is arbitrary. As an outsider to the Super Mario 64 community, I find everything between 0 Star and 120 Star to be just as arbitrary. To me, the reason those intermediate categories get held in such high regard is because the community as a whole makes them important through races and RTAs. It's a matter of popularity.

Applying this reasoning to 100k Marathon, I find it to be a matter of popularity. Three years ago, the case would have been made to make 100k Marathon a main category on a leaderboard like this because it had been a popular category. Nowadays, it's not a thing. It deserves some form of recognition as a defined category that has been done in the past, but the community has not held in as high a regard since.

At this point, there is also a distinction that needs to be made--one between the importance of a category and the skills needed to execute it. From my experience, Marathon has never been looked at by the community as a whole as a category to take super seriously. Even when 100k was frequently raced, it was always more or less a fun race, something to take the edge off after the numerous S-Hards that were done at the time. (It didn't do enough to prevent burnout, though.) That said, there was always a great appreciation for what it takes to play Marathon/Endless mode well. We would make sure to tell everyone in our group every time xatmamune went live with Tetris Attack Endless runs because he would always wow us with his skills. Despite the time I have put into versus mode runs, Marathon is not something I could ever hope to do well no matter how much time I put into it. For that reason, I will probably never take Marathon mode seriously.

As far as I'm concerned, one of two things has to happen for Marathon categories to end up being main categories on this leaderboard. Either the less arbirtary thresholds (50,000; 999,999) need to be taken more seriously or the more arbitrary thresholds (100,000; 250,000; 500,000; whatever decides to be a "thing") need to be more popular with multiple people. Absent those criteria, I couldn't make any Marathon category a main category in good conscience.

IT SHOULD BE MADE CLEAR, HOWEVER, THAT THIS IS NOT MY DECISION AND I DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE. No one person can speak for this community as a whole and no one person can expect anything to change without the blessing of others in this community.

Let me isolate this point in response to blinzer's commentary on this subject. I love to see the Marathon and Time Zone modes done well and believe that they deserve whatever attention they can get. My experience with this community has shown that they don't get that attention, though. That attention has usually gone to all of the 1P Stadium categories. Hard mode, in particular, gets several beginner runners involved.

I also have the opinion that the difference between a main category and a miscellaneous category is not one of skill--it's one of activity.


I'm a competitive Tetris Attack player that hasn't had any association with the community until the past week. I've lurked around multiple speed running communities for awhile, but this is the first game where I've gotten into this sort of discussion about runs. There's so much information here, and a lot of opinions are already laid out on the table, so I'll just address them as I scroll past them.

First off, the argument that the time should be either 50k or 999k because that's the credit screen/max score. 100k is not an arbitrary score. It's the max score in Tetris Attack, so as a predecessor to Pokemon Puzzle League, it's not illogical to carry that score across games. The Tetris Attack credit score is 10k, and that would be a god awful sub 30 second run. I wouldn't say it's too far fetched to create your own value when none of the existing ones are entertaining. Also, if you're saying it depends on credits or max score, Tetris Attack's 100k is the max score, and is also in the miscellaneous section. So...

- What's the difference between making it misc and not misc?

You guys don't have much to lose from making it a competitive category. In fact, displaying this run which you all say is 'wowing' at speed run events would be more likely than not to attract interest in the community.

In regards to popularity, it's debatable that there's no community for it. You'll notice that there's nothing on Twitch for point based Pokemon Puzzle League runs, so you come to the conclusion - there's no interest in this type of run in the community. However, if you go on Twitch and look up Tetris Attack, you'll see dozens of people with personal bests listed on the site. It kinda makes sense that there's no community around a run that's not listed as important to the people who play the game. So we're in a bit of a paradoxical situation if you think that we can't establish this category without a following, and if we also can't get a following without this category.

But in the chance that there actually is nobody interested in the game aside from those who already play it, it's still not the strongest argument. In terms of consistent runners, there's me, vZakat, and Blinzer. Several speed run games that push games to their limits, that are constantly being innovated, are competitively run by a small amount people. Diablo 2 is ran by Slimoteq, MrLlama, Teo, Yag, and Ryu. The rules of The Last Of Us glitchess runs are decided by a discussion of 4 or 5 people. All of this brings me to the question.

- What does a community vote entail?

The most competitive speed run games' rules are decided usually by the best players, or the people who have pioneered the game in the past. I do think that players who are committed to the game and understand it more should have a heavier weighted opinion than somebody who's extremely low in the rankings. Not to completely brush off the lesser skilled players, but in a competitive environment, I think it makes more sense to give the majority of the dialogue to people who intend to compete.

I agree with Blinzer on many points, especially on the fact that it seems pretty backwards that the most skill based run in the game is listed under miscellaneous. However, I disagree with him on the stance that "Hard is the only true demonstration of a player's ability to consistently plan and execute chains". That's something I believe will push newcomers away from the community. Hard mode is extremely technically demanding, and if something of this sort is to be implemented, I'd like to see Easy, Normal, and Hard. In addition, I don't agree with the mindset that "I am better than you, therefore my opinion is right". I stand by what I said before that due to his skill his statements demand a certain amount of weight, which it's clear that they are given that weight, but I don't believe that skill can leveraged to more than that.


Just to clarify, I do agree that only having Hard would discourage new players from joining, and would like to see Easy Normal and Hard all implemented for the purpose of bringing in new people. In fact, I think playing on King Kai gravity(10x, aka level 10) is a terrible idea(and will stagnate your improvement) until you have a really good mastery of chaining past 13 on level 1. I said that solely to make it clear that I think the ultimate goal for a person who wants to prove their technical and mental skill should be Hard mode, even if you don't start off on it. That also doesn't mean I am de-valuing the different skillset it takes to double break on easy if you want to get times lower than 2:30, a time which can be broken by only single breaking on Hard. It doesn't mean I am de-valuing the timing for tricks on the different difficulties either. I am simply saying that everything you can do in Easy can be done in Hard at a much faster pace if you are fast and good enough, so it's a more demanding run.

I don't think I'm right because I'm good, and I despise that kind of mentality. It should be clear that a person who believes that would never make a long post explaining into detail their reasoning. It was never my intention to turn it into that kind of air, so I think it serves as a clear indicator of my frustration and conviction.

MingeeMingee likes this. 

As far as marathon goes, I think that 100k is a good number. Like mingee said, 100k was the max score in the predecessor game tetris attack, so it feels natural for that score cap to carry over. I also like 100k over 50k because I think this category should be longer than the regular time trial mode. It's very easy to get 50k under a minute. 999,999 seems way to big of a score. Even for a highly skilled player it's going to take 30~ minutes. If adding this category is to bring in more people to the community that would be very off putting. Newer players would take hours to get that score which would probably discourage them from playing more.

As far as difficulty I think that shouldn't matter at all. In the past when score was the main focus of puzzle league (like early 2000s), the difficulty was never considered and categories were only split by mode. 1P time trial, 2P time trial and endless were all considered different categories. If you played 1P time trial on easy normal or hard they were all compared to each other. Play on whatever difficulty you think you can get the best score with. I feel like that should be kept as well.

In the past though, marathon for pokemon puzzle league wasn't really considered and we only did it in tetris attack, so a standard for ppl wasn't set then. My vote goes for 100k with no distinction between difficulties.


This has nothing to do with the discussion at hand, but I still thought I'd throw this knowledge out there.

I would like to correct you on a single thing NaN, and that is your comments about what you can and can't have control of in a run. Marathon/Time Zone mode have 0 luck to it. Two main reasons go into this, and I will say them in the order I discovered them:

A. Any full screen combination of panels can be converted into optimal amount of points with at LEAST 1 route available(EXTREMELY rare case for there to only be one route).
B. The panels the game will give you as you raise the stack are NOT random, and can be recited infinitely after pushing up only a single line.

Because of B there is 0 luck involved other than the initial screen you see. Because of A, the initial screen can be converted into an optimal amount of points every time, which means no luck other than a couple of extra moves you would have to do(< 10 moves) which would have a minimal effective influence on your time since the moves must be made within the time frame of the chain(you can be obligated to move faster or lose frames by sliding blocks in or doing tricks). Since the "luck" variance itself can only be < 1 second because of this, it is low enough for me to declare that the run has no luck.


I'm gonna leave this discussion to the pros here. Not myself who is god awful at the games in comparison to everybody else here. I do just want to point out the versus channel in the discord is actually meant for all forms of vs. It just happens most of the community does speedrun races as there really isn't a good way to do online PPL yet, Nowhere does it say that channel is specifically for one form of gameplay. This however does tie in with previous mentions to what the community is leaning towards. That is all.


I feel like whatever amounts of thousands people who actually run 100k/those runs want, then it should be allowed, no question.

I am against taking down Easy, Medium, Hard, V-Hard. I feel like they take a certain skill, pattern, efficiency, just like 100k but in a different way. S-Hard can never be touched, ever. S-Hard to me IS the game (outside of 1v1), and I know others might not agree, but that's my vote and my opinion.


I'm glad there's been a good amount of talk put in this thread. My apologies for not replying earlier as I had other things to attend to.

Let me just express what my views were in the first place that sparked having this conversation. As the current culture of speedrunning has developed, one of the first popular races to do on SRL was 100k. A lot of the old boys who would try to race the game preferred doing this, probably a lot influenced by RNG of other modes and was a common competition back in the day. As time has progressed, these points based competitions have kinda taken the backseat as Story Mode speedruns have emerged. As you can tell by the current times that have been displayed, lots of interest has been dealt to those over 100k or any kind of points racing. That has led to 100k being shifted back and forth a couple times from main and miscellaneous.

Old puzzle games have seemed to have many options ranging from completing a number of levels, versus AI modes, score attacks, thinking puzzles, or even other modes. When combining that into speedrunning, that can give people lots of possibilities on what they can do. For the puzzle league series, it seems the 3 big ones are versus, line clear, and points score. Now I do believe it's possible to intergrate a combination of the three is possible to do. I'll express my thoughts in different sections below.

1. General Speedrunning Communities
I think has proven to be a solid ground to expose people to lots of different games and get involved in a game that you might be interested in. That's why I think a well organized game with categories laid out properly is important. Most popular games you've seen are pretty concise, with a few categories that show you exactly what's to offer. Avoiding categories that not be popular, user-made, or just memes. I feel like a solid list contributes to how others view the game and take it seriously or not which can influence one's decision to pick up the game. Doesn't provide a lot of confusion one may have at a first glance. With that said though, I believe there is exceptions with games that can have plenty of options what you can do on the game, one being Puzzle League. I think it's great because of all these runs, I believe you have to think differently to excel in all of them. So I do think it can work, it just needs to be properly fit to not distract, intimidate, or confuse someone when looking at the game.

2. The Modes of The Puzzle League Series
I've spent a fair amount of time playing each one of the modes and think there are good things that come out of each. I'll talk about pros and cons of them in a speedrunning aspect.

Story Mode (Vs Com, 1p Stadium)- What's been the center of attention for the most part of speedruns, and for good reason I'd agree. When people who used to play these games casually, this is what they remember most of the game. The developers would point this out as the main part of the game and include story mode and opponents to make it interesting. When people look up gameplay or speedruns to fill nostalgia, I think this is what was intended for them to find. This mode might be one of the best watches for a casual audience because it's easy to follow along, story explanations, and playing against an AI keeps someone on edge always wondering who's going to win. As a person who's grinded this mode more than the other modes, these categories aren't as RNG as they might be portrayed as. Super Hard is definitely the most RNG-based of all things, but there's so many things involved that make it a legitimate run. Whether it's abusing AI with the double 4 combo for consistent skills, watching AI play to determine dropping of garbage, Consistently keeping chains and combos up to par, still utilizes fast play and quick thinking, and many other options, I think this is why I think and people see this as the mainstay to the series. The skills transfer over to other games in the series too, just maybe in different forms (like Pokemon Puzzle Challenge's Health). While lower difficulties shouldn't be praised as much, I think they deserve just as much recognition because they require just as much execution as the higher ones. I'll compare this to 100k when I get there, but I do not think becoming top level at VS is too much easier than marathon. Both require a lot of dedication and talent. I totally disagree with a thought of someone mastering marathon mode and jumping right into Versus. And not because of the RNG, but because it's literally a whole different thought process.

Line Clear (Stage Clear, Spa Service)- Not a lot to say about this, but it's a mode I've enjoyed thoroughly. The cool thing about this mode when speedrunning is it forgets all your aspects on chaining and mostly focusses on fast clearing. I think this one might be the most demanding on your brain because it forces you to think so quickly and make clears efficiently. If you get locked up for just a second, you can easily waste seconds that are so hard to make up time if you're at that top level. I usually only play this one for fun because my cursor speed isn't the greatest, but I can definitely say FFRPro delivers a great watch and has changed my eyes on the mode over the years. An underated mode that a lot of people should run if they want to expand on the game.

Marathon (High Scores, Time Attack, 100k, Max)- This mode is basically the sandbox of the game. What in concept is probably the coolest mode because it has several purposes. Go for high scores, resource for newbies to get better, chain the hell out of blocks for the fun of it, practice specific tricks, and plenty other things that your mind can think of. Like pointed out by many others, this used to be the main stay when thinking of competitive puzzle league. When translating these to speedrunning, I find it a bit awkward to incorporate. Like I compared to the sandbox feel, There are no guidelines to the mode. You do what you want, basically stop whenever you want to. Now as I person who has dabbled into 100k speedruns a bit, I can definitely agree there a huge skillset to becoming good at it. And with different levels of difficulty, you can push yourself even more and get better times. Why I was initially opposed was just as Cards mentioned above as the arbitrary score. Sure it was the max out point of Tetris Attack, but has no specific meaning to PPL. There is a smaller score to trigger credits and the max is 10x higher. But as Blinzer mentioned several times, The 100k seems to showcase the perfect time for the mode. It's not long enough to stale out the run, and not too short to make it something pretty pathetic. Has enough room for error that can distinguish one players skill from the other. I've always liked the category, but never thought of it as a main due to my thoughts of a speedrun in general. But as I've thought about this and since PPL has several different modes at its disposal, I've changed my mind and think it works out for a game like this. It has all the tools of being difficult to master, can be entertaining just by the sheer amount of skill, and overall just a very fun experience.

3. My thoughts after reading other opinions and combining my own opinions

I've always thought the community should make decisions together to make changes that will benefit the community and make it a better and more fun environment. I believe that a structure still should be set in place so not everything should just fly around every where. With how much high scores have influenced the community before, I think it deserves the right to hang with the current modes on top. I still believe Story Mode Hardest difficulty is the main stay of the series due to reasons I stated before, but I think modes like spa service and 100k (if that's decided as the best category for marathon) should get just as much recognition as some lower difficulties. With how customizable is with variables and sub-categories, I don't think it would be the bad route to organize each mode with different sub categories on what people may be interested in running. As of now, here is what I think should be main categories:

Main Category: 1p Stadium
- Sub: Super Hard
- Sub: Very Hard
- Sub: Hard
- Sub: Normal
- Sub: Easy
Main Category: Spa Service
Main Category: Marathon
- Sub: 100k (3d as well if enough interest. Might be better utilized for a higher score)
- Sub: 999999 (maybe?)

The sub categories wouldn't not be miscellaneous, there just extra tabs to organize the mode's categories together. For marathon, it might be better off to just keep it to 100k, but if enough people like the idea of racing to credits or max score, I would not be opposed. Difficulty will be a variable like it is now because it's easily adjustable to filter out if you want to see a specific speed. 3D like I mentioned could be included, but I don't think I've ever seen interest for it recently, so I'm leaving it out for now.

So I guess that's about it, I rambled quite a bit with a little bit of backstory and explanations, but I feel it's important. I think what I've listed is a good fit and can apply to the other games in the series as well. As far as actually making a decision, I'll try to get more attention on the thread and get more input. Then maybe we'll come to some consensus on what we should have and have an official vote with the community members. Let me know any additional opinions. I'm glad to see how much the community has grown and I only want to see it get bigger.

blinzerblinzer likes this. 

I think Forky did a good and fair analysis of the situation. The only thing I would like to mention is that I don't think Easy/Medium/Hard should be bunched up as the same categories, but should each have their own categories. Enter mathematical explanation.

While I do agree that in the sub 2:30 times Easy must step up to double breaking(by double breaking, I mean you are chaining in two parts of your field at once) in order to compete with Hard, for Medium that is not the case and Medium can easily reach times as low as 2:20 by single breaking, something you can only beat on Hard if you play perfectly in single breaking. Perfectly. While you can argue that you are perfectly single breaking in each mode, you have to keep in mind that Hard is 33% faster than Medium, which is 33% faster than Easy. Just to get the same time on Hard as you would on Easy, you have to play at double the speed(and more because the dark blue makes it even more technically and mentally demanding). What it means to play perfect in these runs are completely different levels of execution, so they shouldn't be compared.

End of mathematical explanation.

The point of why I play Hard mode is to display the pinnacle of speed, execution and quick thinking. It's not the time itself, but what it takes to get there. If I wanted a free sub 2:30 time, I would play on Medium because getting a sub 2:30 on that mode is piss easy for anyone who has a < 5 minute run on Hard; it's literally just doing the same thing in slo-mo. What makes a run important is not the time, and I think it's obvious to everyone that the meaning of having X time on Medium is much, MUCH different than having X time on Hard. You would be hard pressed to find a single person who would disagree. Since everyone acknowledges this even if they don't directly say it, these runs need to be separated. It's as simple as that.