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

Submission #1191: Bag of Magic Food's NES Totally Rad in 12:07.57

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Totally Rad
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Totally Rad (U).nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 12:07.57
FrameCount: 43654
Re-record count: 49393
Author's real name: Ryan Ferneau
Author's nickname: Bag of Magic Food
Submitter: Bag of Magic Food
Submitted at: 2006-09-09 03:21:06
Text last edited at: 2006-09-10 19:58:15
Text last edited by: Bisqwit
Download: Download (2632 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Bag of Magic Food's NES Totally Rad in 12:08

Emulator used: FCEU 0.98.15 with Nitsuja's modifications (but syncs in other versions, including 0.98.16) Aims for fastest possible time Does not use cheat codes Takes damage to save time

This game is the localization of the Japanese game "Magic John", which is about two kids who meet a magician who teaches REAL MAGIC, which comes in handy when one of the kids has to fight off a bunch of people who turn out to be from some secret underground society. The American version mainly changes the kids into stereotypical Californian teenagers from the eighties, with a completely different outfit for the boy you play as. (In Magic John he wears a scarf and a baseball cap with wings on it! Whee!) The other big change is supposed to be in the difficulty of play. I never really compared the damage tables, but I did notice that losing to a main boss in Magic John merely forces you to refight that boss, while in Totally Rad, you get sent back to the level before the boss. Totally rad? More like totally unfair!

Totally Rad is interesting in that there are no power-ups besides gaining extra lives from killing enough enemies. You start each level with all the abilities you'll ever have, despite the story's claim that your magic grows stronger with practice. (Of course, you're not going to see much of the story anyway until the ending. It's another Ninja Gaiden situation here.) You get 6 points of life and 6 points of magic to spend on spells from the Start menu. There are spells to restore your life, freeze enemies, pass through enemies, damage all enemies, and transform into a different character with different abilities. They're there to get you out of a jam, but since you only get 6 points, you have to be careful.

It turned out that only a few of the abilities saved time. The greatest timesaver was the cat-looking transformation that passes through enemies unharmed while jumping and fires a short but powerful beam of electricity. I also used the bird-looking transformation because it can fly (Well, it technically jumps in mid-air) and has a weapon that the second main boss is weak to. And one of the damage-all-enemies spells turned out to be useful too, but I'll get to that later.

Act 1-1

Jake's regular form fires orange balls of energy that he can charge up to double shots or triple shots. Triple shots are special in that they continue on through enemies that they hit and thus can hit multiple enemies. But double shots tend to be the best bet because while they do about half the damage of triple shots, they can be charged up in about a fourth the time, which is about the same amount of time it takes for many enemies to finish flashing their invulnerability colors from a previous hit. Plus you often have to wait for a triple shot to clear the screen before you can get your next shot ready.

Also, slipping off ledges or getting hit by an enemy makes you fall straight down with no ability to move either way, and for some reason, this allows Jake to charge up shots four times faster. I didn't end up using that technique, but now you know why I jump over ledges a lot.

Something I noticed about jumping is that when you land, you almost always stop moving for one frame. So I always try to minimize the number of jumps, even though it means I don't get to kill as many of those little flying wingdings.

Oh yeah, those ramps are unique to this level. They make you walk uncontrollably down them (backwards sometimes!), so I always jump up them. And the miniboss... I think his barrel's hitbox is a little off, but I like that you can shoot it right out of his hand.

Act 1-2

If you thought there was only one level in this game, you were WRONG! And if you thought only Sonic the Hedgehog games contained funky arrangements of Entrance of the Gladiators, then you were also wrong! Here's a level where I have to deal with some lag. You know that part at the beginning where I jump over the Ball-Like Metool's shot? I jumped a little higher and earlier than necessary because it seems that the ascending part of a jump is less laggy. I also have to blow up the clowns' balloons as fast as possible to avoid lag from other objects appearing, and to beat the clowns faster.

Oh hey, here comes a way to avoid most of the "take damage" animation: Take the damage just before landing from a jump. This seems to bypass the hop-up-and-fall-down stuff the character normally does.

I wasn't originally going to take damage in the last spot I did. Before, I waited for that first balloon at the top to rise, and my first hit was taken by jumping into the balloon right after the part I talked about in the previous paragraph. Jumping into the balloon both got rid of the lag by destroying the balloon and allowed me to charge up faster to kill that Ball Metool guy, but I only get so many hits without wasting time on that slow life restore spell, and it saved more time to pass through the later balloon with the hit from the robosoldier.

Oh yeah, and did you notice I jumped off the normally-painful fire? That's a frame-perfection exploit where you jump exactly when you land so the game doesn't process a frame of your character "standing".

Act 1-Boss

This boss's weakness really is your normal form's weapon, despite having to jump all the time to attack. Just so you know, you can't fire charged shots in the air--if you jump while charged, you immediately fire it off. I even tried jumping into the boss to try the "fast charge while falling straight" tactic, but it turned out the double shot wasn't actually programmed to do any additional damage. And why is this boss laggy as I attack it fast when the rest of the big bosses don't lag? It's a mystery why this game struggles with what it does.

Act 2-1

Pogo guys! There wasn't quite enough time to use the triple shot on both the third missile silo and the Mark Kistler Clone, sadly, but here appears THE ELECTRIC CAT THING! HOLY GOSH! To stay for quite a while in fact!

Act 2-2

Wow, here they set up this nice little challenge where you have to watch the timing of the spouts to jump over them safely, and here I go jumping right through them with my flashing Screw Attack thingy, not caring a bit.

I like that Calcubot at the end. It's a good thing I figured out that I get a great advantage by taking a hit and walking to the other side of him so I don't have to walk so far to the exit, since I eventually had to take a hit anyway, and if I take a hit just after hurting the enemy, I'm spending most of the damage animation waiting for the enemy to finish his color-flashing anyway.

Oh yeah, tips on using the electric attack: You are able to fire your next shot earlier if you stand still on a certain frame, but that next shot actually comes out earlier if you start moving again. Don't ask why, this game is just really weird about the delay to your weapons.

Act 2-3

This is actually the level that convinced me to use the cat thing in the first place. There's no way you're getting through those enemies fast otherwise. Especially annoying in normal form are those giant flies that change direction unpredictably and fire a shot at you when they die.

Also, you may not see it, but I actually have to duck for one frame to zap those missile silos and crawly flashy pod things. Though if it's to save the one frame from jumping and landing, or whatever lag they may have caused afterwards, it's worth it!

Act 2-Boss

Yes, you do have to destroy the leg before you can actually damage the boss. And cat-thing can't attack in the air, so it's bird-man for a while!

Act 3-1

Hmm, notice that once I have to jump, I keep jumping in mid-air so I won't have to land. It's also nice that I can get in some long-distance shots before switching back to the cat for more power.

Act 3-2

And you might start to notice that sometimes I jump for no apparent reason. Well, sometimes jumping lessens the lag in the room, especially because the game doesn't have to worry about collisions with the invinci-jump.

I thought for sure the fish transformation was going to do more good on the mini-boss and main boss, but no.

Oh wait, I forget to mention: Swimming Calcubots! But I ignore them anyway.

Act 3-3

Well that's kinda cheap, a waterfall background animation that's just a still image that switches between two palettes. And this after those nice parallax backgrounds in 1-1.

Now it might look as though I choose willy-nilly when to blast an enemy and when to jump it, but I test both ways for whatever's less laggy.

What's interesting about falling down ledges is that you can get closer to the wall than you could by walking up to it.

Act 3-Boss

Yup, I could only attack on the ground with the electrocat, so I took up some of the waiting time by making the boss spit mini fishes for me to kill. Funny how these bosses go down so fast to this transformation, I guess because the game designers think it's difficult to use. I suppose it's a trade-off, but still.

Act 4-1

Here I have to start testing whether it's faster to slip off a ledge or to jump down, moreso in 5-1. Also, I'm not afraid to turn around to zap an enemy I just passed, just so it's off the screen! Hah!

Classic Jake returns in this level, mainly because I have to shoot out those walls in mid-air. But it was also convenient to have him use the fire spell on the miniboss. I know it looks lame to use it five times in a row and it will probably trigger someone's epilepsy, but the mini-boss takes much to long to fight the normal way, as it has several-seconds-long phases of "knock off the eyeball" to get through before it even starts opening its shield periodically. Actually, all four full-screen-damage spells beat him in five uses, so I chose fire just because it had the shortest animation time, which I further minimized by standing in the exact center of the screen so one pillar wouldn't take longer to reach the edge of the screen than the other. (The animations you get for these spells depend on what level you're in. In the first level, the fire spell doesn't even have an animation, just a short bit of flashing!)

Act 4-2

Here's another annoying "fight off the lag" level, including some awkward fights with more Mark Kistler Clones. In case you didn't know, those alligators act as platforms, and they don't hurt from below until they jump.

But one interesting thing I did was crash into the 'side' of a spike platform to cancel the damage animation, I suppose because the character "pops up" onto it in an attempt to do the jump-up thing and never gets to fall down. Anything to lessen to damage animation. Act 4-Boss

It's a good thing this boss happens to have a phase where when it gets low on health, it starts sinking into the ground prematurely and uses nothing but its crystal toss attack. I would otherwise have had to jump around those nasty bouncing/sliding/shocking ball things!

Act 5-1

Strange discovery: Standing still for a bit in the spot with the first Ball Metool causes the first pogo guy to fail to appear, thus eliminating the lag from having two pogo guys at once. But can anyone explain this?

Here's another way to avoid damage animation time: Take damage in an area with a low ceiling so the character has no room to bounce up in pain.

One odd bit of enemy manipulation occurs when I'm jumping down to one of the running robosoldiers near the end of the level. If I stop moving forward for 7 frames or so at a certain pixel during the jump, he'll keep running forward rather than stopping to crouch and shoot. Those robosoldiers are tricky like that.

And did anyone notice that many enemies have higher HP values in later levels? Those same robosoldiers that took a single orange ball to kill in the first level are taking two hits from the cat now.

It is a little laggy to let the miniboss's eyeball bounce around, but it's worse to lose the eye and let the miniboss rocket away where I can't attack it for a while.

Act 5-2

Hey hey, the parallax backgrounds from the first level are back in full force in some kind of creepy Starry Night imitation!

Bird guy was useful again, not just so I could attack the miniboss that's harder than the final boss from a distance without landing after jumps, but also so I could shoot more flying wingdings throughout the level and not have to land throughout. There's actually quite a variety of combinations of transformations and tactics I tried before I settled on this one as the fastest so far. I found yet another "recover from damage faster" trick: When bird-guy is falling straight down, you can just make him jump to get back into flying-around mode.

Act 5-Boss

HAHA WHAT A JOKE. You have to attack him when he's sword-stabbing. Cat dude does damage the fastest. Hooray win.


Well, I hope you like the movie. It makes the game look a lot less annoying to play than it really is. The ending doesn't make much sense without the rest of the story, but you could always stop the movie just before the end of each level if you're curious.


adelikat: Accepting for publication. An entertaining game, good quality TAS, and good voting results.

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