TASVideos

Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #1015: trazz's Genesis Shadow Dancer in 12:52.82

Console: Sega Genesis
Game name: Shadow Dancer
Game version: World C
ROM filename: Shadow Dancer (JUE) [c][!].smd
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 12:52.82
FrameCount: 46369
Re-record count: 6058
Author's real name: Clinton L. M.
Author's nickname: trazz
Submitter: trazz
Submitted at: 2006-03-16 00:43:38
Text last edited at: 2006-06-23 12:46:16
Text last edited by: DeHackEd
Download: Download (6542 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
This is my third attempt at this movie. My previous attempt was 13:00:06 long and it got several Yes votes. That movie stayed in submitted-movie-limbo for a few months. However, while that movie looked good, it had several flaws.

This attempt is 12:52:47 long and it's noticably more aggressive than the previous attempt.

Run Summary

  • Aims for fastest time
  • Played on highest difficulty level (3)
  • Runs into enemies to save time and/or entertainment value
  • Minor bug abuse (Level 2-2 ends without actually reaching the exit)
  • Contains lots of ninja abuse: kicking them out of the air, tricking them into jumping off of buildings, shoving them off buildings, etc.

(_Still_ not my previously planned pacifist run. That's still on hold for now, sorry.)

Game summary

One of the lesser known Shinobi games, Shadow Dancer is still a solid entry in that series. I had a blast with this game in my teens--three difficulty levels and lots of ninja fighting action. The game sure looks different in a TAS though--there's quite a few enemies that a TASer can run from that a normal player can't.

Weapon notes

All attacks that start from a standing position (be they sword or shuriken) force you to stand still for a few frames and are therefore rarely used.

All attacks that start in mid-air (jumpkicks, shuriken or sword (if you walk off a ledge, you can do a midair sword attack will let you keep your forward momentum. If you hit the ground while still in the attack animation, you can still glide forwards.

Dog--The pooch can be used to momentarily stun most non-boss/non-ninja foes. Unfortunately, it takes too long to set up such an attack. (You have to both charge a gauge and wait for the dog to notice an enemy. Worse yet, the dog tends to be very slow on the uptake.)

Ninja Magic: Does 2 points of damage to bosses (most of the time), kills everything else. Only used to end the game--it's just too slow to use in any other situation.

Bumping: Running into enemies can result in a bump. Even if the bump moves Shinobi forwards, it's slower than walking. However, bumping still has advantages in the right situations--it stuns enemies, it moves enemies, sometimes a jump that completely clears an enemy isn't possible, the bump can allow you to reach a platform that you wouldn't be able to reach otherwise, etc. Bumps are used for both speed and entertainment value.

Bunny hopping: Repeated forward jumps are slightly (very slightly!) faster than walking. I think if you do a forward jump and then do another forward jump the instant you hit the ground you get one frame's worth of extra forward momentum. I don't bunny hop everywhere--there's plenty of places where jumping just gets Shinobi into trouble.

Level notes:

_This section contains spoilers--you might want to watch the video first_

1-1

Ouch. I'm not entirely happy with the very first frame of the very first level. It starts off with jump, jump, walk, jump, kick. I now think walk, jump, jump, jump, kick would look better and it might even save one frame. (If I figure out a way to make other substatial improvements to the movie, I'll redo this--right now, the improvement would be tiny and the cost needed to make that improvement would be large--I'd rather spend that time making other movies.)

Happily, the rest of the level kicks butt.

I have to pause for the Manhole from Hell (Just what's in that sewer, anyways?) but I found a way to jumpkick the gunman after that. This is faster than trying to shoot him with a star. After that gunman, I basically bunny hop through most of the remaining level.

There's some enemies that fail to show up at the end of the stage--the game sometimes prevents enemies from appearing if there are already several on the screen.

1-2

This stage starts with another jump=jump-walk-jump situation just like 1-1. (Ouch.)

However, the rest of the level is a huge improvement over my previous attempt. I manage to kill the first shieldman before he can release his shield which saves several frames.

At the 45 second mark, I delay jumping. The ground splits due to an earthquake and by walking on the ground during the start of the earthquake I can get dragged a few pixels to the right for free.

There's two jumpkicks that miss in this level, one near the beginning and one near the end. I think that jumpkicks that miss are amusing--the jumpkick animation isn't supposed to happen if there are no enemies in range. (The game gets confused if you do a jumping attack near a prone gunman.)

Shortly after the 48 second mark, I reveal the 1up icon with a jump kick. The 1 up icon is mostly concealed behind a roly poly fighter but you can still see it if you know what to look for. This is a bit odd--normally you can't kick things that are on an upper level if you do a jump from the lower level.

Boss 1

I'm constantly adjusting the distance between the boss and I so that I can time the stars properly. He gets in only one attack--you can't stop the first earthquake.

First bonus round

Unfortunately, there's four bonus rounds that can't be sped up at all.

2-1

Back to the regularly schedules hostage-freeing, jump-kicking action!

This level is pretty much just a nice stroll across the bridge with the occasional jumpkick to keep the riffraff in line. Other than backtracking slightly to pick up hostages, you can run right through this stage.

2-2

It's a bunny hopping rampage! I found a route that's several frames faster than my previous attempt.

I get close enough to reveal the 1up icon but choose not to do it--it doesn't help anything and, unlike the icon in 1-2, kicking this icon doesn't demonstrate kicking a target from the "wrong level".

Boss 2

Not much to say. I manipulate the boss a bit--where he appears depends on where you stand. His hand attacks can be (and are) manipulated even more.

Bonus #2

Another autoscrolling stage where the player is invincible. Big whoop.

3-1

At 4:33, I jump on a box I'd rather jump over to prevent the missing hostage glitch from occuring. (If there are many enemies on the screen and Shinobi is in the wrong place and a shieldman tosses his shield, the game can get confused an make a hostage disappear. This makes the level completely unwinnable until you die and restart the level.)

At 4:40, I jumpkick a red and grey guy--if I don't, he bumps into me, wasting my time.

3-2

Fixed scrolling stage. Can't speed things up, so I kick the ninjas around for fun. I also walk completely off the platform a few times only to be bumped back onto the platform.

I do not kill any ninja directly--every last ninja is lured, bumped or kicked off of the elevator. Look out below!

Since I do not land any directly fatal blows, I get a huge 200,000 point "Peaceful Bonus". I am not sure what is particularly peaceful about jumpkicking a ninja off of a multi-story elevator.

Boss 3

Special thanks to Neofix for showing how to beat this boss quickly.

It's very important not to get too close to her. If you do, she slowly backs up with her buzzsaw hands covering her face. Killing her is much faster when she doesn't keep her guard up--she falls faster than she backpedals.

Since final jump is done at the last frame, falling off of the stage doesn't count as a death.

Bonus 3

Just why are 50 ninjas bouncing off of skyscrapers anyways? And why doesn't the stage end with Shinobi going SPLAT?

4-1

There's a rare standing sword attack here--it's either stand still for a few frames or do a forward jump attack and get caught on the next ledge, losing even more frames.

This is a fairly difficult stage to time atack--it's very easy to lose frames and not realize it until you check the clock. After many, many failed attempts to find a route just as fast as my previous attempt, I finally found one that's a few frames faster.

There's a jump over a pit and a green monster near the end--it's faster if I do the jump as soon as possible as this minimizes the air time after I clear the green monster.

4-2

You can always see the floor but you frequently cannot see your ninja or enemies. If you use the Game Genie code AAPA-CASG, you can never see the floor but you can always see your player and all enemies. I did the whole level with it on. When I turned off the code, the movie didn't desync. (Note to be 100% clear: No Game Genie codes are needed to play back this movie.)

It's another bunnyhopping rampage and one that's slightly faster than my previous attempt. It's a bit of a shame that things are so dark--it's not easy to see what's going on.

Boss 4

Normally, this is an annoying boss that's invincible most of the time. Using frame states, you can keep him in hitstun until he's dead the moment he becomes vunerable.

The boss' path is determined before it even starts to move. I had to expiriment with button presses during the animation that starts the level to find a way to luck-manipulate the boss into stopping just above the left edge of the platform. I lose frames if the boss stops anywhere else (E.g., on right side or on the left side but closer to the top of the screen).

Bonus 4

I tried to be as aggressive as possible. Somehow, that makes this bonus level four frames _longer_.

I'm keeping the extra 1/15 seconds--while staying in the center is actually the fastest way to complete the stage, it _looks_ faster if you aggressively hunt down the ninjas. Quite frankly, the bonus stages need all of the help they can get in the entertainment department. I'm not entirely happy with the situation--I lost four frames!--but staying in the center is boring.

Level 5

Lots of running, very little fighting.

Room 1

Another bunny hopping rampage--gunmen aren't good closeup fighters.

Room 2

The sword may be slow but that works to my advantage here, as it damages a large and slightly spread out group roly poly guys. I found a slightly faster way to get into the pit, rescue the hostage and leave the pit.

Room 3

I have to slow down for a few of the jumps--the green monsters cannot touch or be touched by Shinobi as they fall from the ceiling. I have to make sure that I'm not standing where they are when they land--one touch is fatal. I found a faster way to deal with the green monster that lands on the tall stack of boxes just before the hostage. I do two midair sword attacks to clear the way to the end of the stage while keeping my forward momentum.

Room 4

Just before the first jump, I walk forwards, stop for one frame and resume walking fowards. That one extra frame means the difference between kicking the first two ninjas and harmlessly bouncing away. Can't do anything about the lag--killing ninjas takes a long time.

Room 5

More ninjas, more running, one more section of lag as Shinobi leads the parade. I have to stall very slightly at the beginning of this stage to deal with the first ninja just like I did at the start of Room 4.

Boss 5

Another boss that's both invincible unless attacking and takes a long time to attack. This boss is even immune to ninja magic most of the time.

Ninjas that roll off the screen disappear and are never heard from again. Ninjas that do a back flip from the edge of the screen also permantently disappear.

Shinobi isn't supposed to be able to stand still and then do a jump kick against ninjas that are doing forward flip attacks. That's one of the things that make ninjas such challenging opponents--the high priority of the air attacks is supposed to force the player move out of the way of the attack before they can counterattack. However, the evil ninjas have a gap in the forward flips. If you crouch just before the attack hits and then jump you have just enough time to sneak a jumpkick into that gap.

I'm not entirely sure how the boss' helmet works but I do know that if you throw a bunch of stars during the first attack wave, the boss delays lifting his helmet for 3 seconds. I used as few attacks as possible and was rewarded for doing so: this fight is 1 second, 17 frames faster than my previous attempt!

I end the game with ninja magic--this saves a bunch of frames as activating the fatal ninja magic clinches the game, allowing me to quit the movie as soon as I release the button.

Wrap up

When I started this movie, I was hoping to save at least seven frames from my previous attempt as I wanted to break the 13 minute mark. I certainly didn't expect to save four hundred thirty seven frames!

While this movie isn't perfect--I could save four frames by using less interesting tactics in Bonus Level 4 and I would like to make extremely minor tweaks to levels 1-1 and 1-2--it's a huge, huge improvement over my last attempt.

Most importantly, this movie does a very good job of showing extremely aggressive gameplay. There's a few places where I had to slow down or stop but these moments are both few and brief. There's a severe shortage of Shinobi TAS videos and I'm hoping this movie can help correct that trend.


Truncated: I have decided to accept this movie. While the bonus levels are boring, the entertainment level is high enough overall to make up for it.


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