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

Submission #1028: adelikat's NES Dragon Warrior 4 in 2:09:06.58

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Dragon Warrior 4
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Dragon Warrior 4 (U) [!].nes
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 2:09:06.58
FrameCount: 464795
Re-record count: 112426
Author's real name: adelikat
Author's nickname: adelikat
Submitter: adelikat
Submitted at: 2006-03-24 22:01:15
Text last edited at: 2010-01-02 15:41:19
Text last edited by: adelikat
Download: Download (29858 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Dragon Warrior 4 is the last NES game of the Dragon Warrior series. This is by far the longest and most advanced RPG made for the NES, featuring in-depth battle sequences, AI controlled characters, and a unique chapter system.

Quotes from the DW4 discussions:

Paulygon wrote: "In battle, of course, it would be relatively simple up until chapter 5, where AI considerations make it much more complicated.. Making do with a battle round's outcome that ends up being "close enough" to the way you wanted may be a necessity most of the time."

Mookish wrote: "To be honest, I don't know...I may run the first chapter this weekend as a trial, just to get an idea. I'd say 5 hours /quote

Hopper wrote: "I once posted that a speedrun of DW4 would be nearly impossible. This is a huge game with multiple chapters, a lot of playable characters, and tons of weapons and armor. I think I said that someone would have to be very brave to even attempt it, and I stand by that."

Well here it is, a run of this game, a Herculean task indeed! This run is done in a mere 2hr 9min (as opposed to the predict 5hrs). Note:

  • I only get into 2 fights for the sole purpose of leveling up
  • There is no single instance of "good enough" during fight sequences. If It was possible, I made it happen :)

Making the run:

I began this run in late July of 2005. Nine months of my life have been devoted to the making of this game. WOW! I feel like I've been on a journey of my own. In the process of making this run I have through much frustration as well as excitement. I've watch 2 dragon warrior 1, and a dragon warrior 2 run completed. I've gone through many personal life events. And in the end, I learned far more about this game and TASing than I ever thought I would.

Route Planning: A nightmare! You will notice I use death as a shortcut quite often in the run. I also keep my characters at as low level as possible. I use the return spell/Wings as efficiently as possible to reduce walking distance. Character selection was difficult for chp5 5. I went almost entirely with a Hero, Ragnar, Alena, and Taloon party. This gave me the advantage of having pure attackers, reducing the need to manipulate the AI. Taloon was invaluable for his "sweeping legs" and "awful puns" in order to incapacitate enemies. I kill off uncessary characters to prevent them from leveling up. This saved me several minutes.

Luck Manipulation: This is by far the most difficult part of the run. Unlike many RPG's almost any button pressing are any delay changes the rng. While this is a blessing it is also a nightmare for the author. With so many options I have no excuse but to get every critical hit, miss, etc.

Critical hits: In this game the odds of a critical hit is 1/64 (unlike the mere 1/32 in DW1&2 :P). The only exception is Alena who has a lv/256 chance. (notice that this mean the 2 critical hits I get early in chapter 2 are each a 1/256!) With a systematic use of button presses & waiting I manage to reduce the delay when trying to get critical hits to and average of 10 frames (with a 20max). This results in near-flawless looking fight sequences.

Miss attacks: It is always faster for a enemy to miss rather than to cause damage (even when my characters have plenty of HP). So you will see that an enemy never causes damage to my characters unless I am purposefully killing them off. Also I manipulate them well in order to get a missed attack after only a short delay.

Taloon's actions: it is highly unlikely that taloon will do any one particular action, nevertheless I manage to get the optimal action. Note that Taloon's "army of merchants" is used rarely. This is because it is rather slow and it is much less manipulatable for critical hits (button presses don't affect critical hits in this case which could lead to long delays). In one case I used the "tripping" in order to get a critical hit. This is usually slower due to the added text. But you can manipulate the amount of damage the critical hit does (which was needed to get a few more hp of damage against the final boss). The last hit of the game came from Taloon. I thought it was only fitting that the brave hero trip and accidentally kill the ruler of all evil :)

Smooth walking: This is much easier in this game than others since it is very easy to change the rng. Also up+down and left+right were used to give me more possibilities.

Future Improvements: Like with any RPG there is always the possibility of improvement. As far as route, character selection, I believe this to be as fast as possible. Further improvements would be mainly be from better luck manipulation to reduce wait times between actions. (I believe this to be unlikely without the aid of a "bot") I did sacrifice some time due to inability to luck manipulate: in chp 5, on my way to Keelon, I get stiletto earrings form a random treasure drop. It is slower to have Taloon in the party, but I needed him to steal the treasure chest. The odds of getting the regular treasure drop are 1/4096! I hope people can understand me compromising with THOSE odds :)

Special Thanks:

I want to thank TheAxeMan, Acmlm, and Paulygon for their invaluable insights and help in making this run. It wouldn't have turned out so well without their great advice.

I want to also thank hopper, spoonybard, and mart for their enthusiasm and encouragement. Many times this run was pushing my patience to the limit and I seriously considered abandoning the run. Their moral support helped me keep my motivations.

Well thats it for now, I hope you all enjoy!

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