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

Submission #1345: xoinx's Genesis Comix Zone in 11:13.08

Console: Sega Genesis
Game name: Comix Zone
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Comix Zone (U) [!].bin
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 11:13.08
FrameCount: 40385
Re-record count: 8870
Author's real name: Leslie Liang
Author's nickname: xoinx
Submitter: xoinx
Submitted at: 2006-11-19 08:25:01
Text last edited at: 2006-11-16 17:00:58
Text last edited by: xoinx
Download: Download (2619 bytes)
Status: decision: cancelled
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Author's comments and explanations:

Introduction

Emulator: Gens 9J/9Z

Goals:

  • 1) Aims for fastest time
  • 2) Variety and entertainment if it barely affects (1)
  • 3) Abuses programming errors/glitches
  • 4) Takes damage to save time

Comix Zone was one of my all-time favourite Genesis games. The graphics, music and gameplay were all top notch during its era. The plot of the story is simple: Sketch Turner, a comic book artist, was trapped in his own story when his creation Mortus somehow manages to free himself. Sketch venture through the 3 chapters or 6 pages of his book (it is not short, it is just incomplete!) in order to free himself and prevent Mortus from destroying mankind.

The format of the game is very straight forward; defeating all enemies or clear certain objects from the screen would reveal the arrow(s) which will allow Sketch to proceed on. What rocks about this game is the arsenal of skills Sketch possess to kick ass! He has 2 aerial attacks, 6 basic strikes, 2 grapple finishers and 3 power blows and a secret paper aeroplane attack! As far as possible, I try to showcase as many of these moves as possible, as long as not at the expense of too much time.

Programming Errors/Glitches

Perhaps it is due to the format of the game, crossing over screens and such, there exists many programming errors which were not taken advantage of in the existing run.

Paper Aeroplane across screens

I am not sure if this was intended, but it was used quite a lot in this run. Since the arrow takes a while to appear even after the necessary goals have been met, this time is taken to prepare for the plane.

Dialogue Skipping

I have no idea how to explain this, but rolling aimlessly against the wall may help prevent the speech from showing, and make subsequent events appear earlier. This was a time saver only in the second stage, where I managed to make the scorpid generator things appear much earlier. This also happened in the Kung Fung fight, though the animation of Kung Fung prevented it to be of much use.

Glitching Mutant Queen Death

I discovered this by luck, which jumping around randomly in real time. Somehow if you jump and get hit by the paper aeroplane from a certain angle as it passes through the Mutant Queen, it would instant KO her, cutting the fight extremely short. I am not sure, but I would guess that getting hit as such would bump Sketch into the body of the Mutant Queen, which would result in some odd self-destruct ejection mechanism.

Bumping Enemies out of screen Area

Doing this would result in instant death of the enemy regardless of their current health (duh). It also shortens the death animation and dialogue, thus making arrows appear faster. The paper aeroplane method as seen on page 1 was discovered by Zer0, which is pretty amazing since the condition for it to work is very rare: first, Gravis must be knocked down, and pray hard that when he gets up, he does not hit Sketch and interupt the folding. Then, you must hope that as the plane comes out, Gravis blocks so that the plane can bump him out of the screen (otherwise he would just get knocked back, which is bad since the second Gravis would take longer to spawn). The second method I invented requires the trusty old Roadkill. His zap attack, while weak, knocks the enemy back quite a distance, which is crucial for bumping them off the screen. This was used often on Styx, since he can be damn irritating an enemy to kill.

Drop of Death

This is a weird one, which occurs in the first screen of page 5. Apparently when the spawn mutant first appears, the game does not apply collision detection to it (you can roll them out of the screen, though they would just walk back it). If Sketch grapples them and mutates them into a Gravis or Strigil, they would fall through the ground and die immediately. However, this only works when they are freshly spawned; if they have roamed the Earth long enough, such trivial methods would leave them unscathed.

Other Noteworthy Tricks

Here's some other little tricks that maybe future runners of this game may want to know

The Grapple

There are 2 conditions to grapple an enemy: first, you need to hold either left or right for at least 7 frames. Then, you need to be walking against the enemy while pressing A. After grappling an opponent, Sketch can perform 1 of 2 moves, a scissors kick, or a throw. Both deals the same damage as a power shot, but without the loss of hitpoints, which is good for aeroplane-intensive runs. Also, you can grapple a down opponent few frames before he is hittable, when in the last frame of the standing animation, which saves frames.

Hitbox Shrinking

For most of the game, the hitbox detection is very programmed and only attacks touching the spites would damage it. Eg if Sketch kicks while he is on the rope, he could avoid attacks, but as his legs swing down, the area that it sweeps out is still susceptible to damage. I found 1 instance however where this hitbox can be shrinked to be smaller than the sprite. This is done while hanging: if UP is autofired when hanging, Sketch would be stuck in the first animation frame, and although his legs dangle, his hitbox is that of a scrunched Sketch.

Interaction with Switches

Oddly enough, cranking switches at 30Hz can make exits appear faster. However, this is if the switch is cranked the right number of times. The optimum number is usually around 4-5 but is subject to vary, so it is best to be tested. Note that leaving the 30Hz crank on until the arrow appears makes no difference, and may even delay its appearance.

Luck Manipulation for ?

I still cannot figure how to do this elegantly. The only thing I know is that the only form of movement that is taken into random number generator is crouching. Punches, jumps everything doesn't work (which explains the ugly shortcut). Interaction with the environment works occasionally but it is erratic and unpredictable: in the first screen of 3-2, it appears that climbing different lengths of the rope affects the item outcomes, but it somehow only causes 2 unwanted items to appear. Time also does not affect randomness, so bobbing up and down is probably the best way around.

Level Walkthrough

Stage 1-1

Unlike Zer0's run, I ignored the potion, since I can get some in 1-2. The knife would be useful later so I grab it first. The first screen is pretty similar, bumping 2 Gravises out with 1 plane. It is more effecient here to make use of the waiting time to throw a plane across to the next screen. In the sewer, I managed to get rid of Strigil fast by grappling him as soon as he can be grappled (even before he can be hit) and scissors kicking him to his doom. The dagger is used here to activate the switch faster to save time pushing the crate. The rest of the level is pretty much self-explanatory

Stage 1-2

I start of getting the hidden grenade while waiting the the one I just set to blow up, since the wait time is sufficient. In the next screen, I manage to make the first generator thing appear quick by rolling 3 round against the left wall (explained above). Also, I managed to manipulate the other generators to appear faster so that a single plane can do the job. Cranking the switch here at 30 Hz surprisingly can affect the time taken for the arrow to appear! Down below, folding a plane here would be quicker since I need not push the crate, and it carries over and damages the creep in the next screen. In the spawn mutant room, I try to use different methods to clear each mutant, since the spawn time is fixed. Finally, I glitch the boss to death in 1 hit.

Stage 2-1

I bump both Styx off the edge of the screen for starters, since they can be a bitch to kill. I uncover a grenade to blow up the stones since it does not require channelling time, so I need not worry that the flying creep interrupts me. In the arena, I manage to clear 2 Strigils and a Gravis in a single plane. Then after that, Roadkill becomes the star as he disposes of Styx and Mongoria in style. Frankly speaking, I feel that the last screen of this stage 'spoils' the run. I initially managed to get a scenario where the first fireball shot tore the page!... but due to the need to redo earlier parts, I could no longer manipulate the outcome. The randomness of this game sucks :(

Stage 2-2

I decide to use the hidden lever to open the gate, since I seriously need to save my health here. I manipulated a grenade here just like Zer0, and bumped Styx out of the screen. Then, with a single plane I cleared the Mongorias. In the well, I decide to save my grenade, so I take a hit on the way down so that I gain damage invulnerability. I throw a plane over to the next screen to clear the punch bags fast, and use the grenade instead in the trap room. Fungy is awfully random too, in my trial run, I managed to get his 'Earth, Wind, Water" to 3 fireballs only, but in the actual thing he wanted to do 4 :( Anyway, I skip the dialogue here for fun, but it doesn't speed things up considerably (by a frame or 2). I manage to get a plane off at him, and since the flies backwards faster than the plane does, I managed to get him struck thrice by the same plane. This plus his own fingernails allowed me to end it fast

Stage 3-1

This is the weird screen where the drop of death can occur (perhaps due to the bad stench emanating from Sketch's feet). Unfortunately, the first spawn mutant in the far right cannot be dropped, so I try to avoid him, dropping every other spawnlings ASAP before the game sets up their collision detection. I use a plane to clear the last spawn mutant, which also came to good use killing the big 'seafood'. In the minefield, I found out that by destroying only the rocks blocking the entrace and the flying creep and leaving the mines intact, you can bypass Mongoria... so on to the next screen. Since I have a grenade now, I used it to clear the stalagmites faster, and manipulate the scorpid to suicide. The shortcut looks bad, with all the bobbing up and down, but it was the only way I could affect the randomness of the loot. Aside from squatting, the game apparently considers nothing else :S the rest of the stage is pretty much standard.

Final Stage

Ugly manipulation can't be helped again... I still can't figure out how did Zer0 perform his manipulations, or was he pure lucky! I decide to take a different path from Zer0 this time round, since I believe the scorpid killing is slow and boring (which is true since I save frames going by my route, about ~100). In the bomb room, I found a perfect distance for me to damage the mine, and yet not get hurt in the chain explosion, which allows me to proceed through faster. In the pounder room, Zer0 made the mistake of throwing Gravis into the pounder. A quirk of this game is that when a usually fatal object may deal no more than the damage of a light punch if it is not correctly used... in this case, walking (or making them walk) into the pounder instant KOs them. The final battle is exceptionally simple; so simple that I decided to show off each of Sketch's power shots again :P I keep the PowerFist to the end, since it clears the flying creeps too.

Voila THE END

Comparisons to Zer0's run

I would consider my route to be very different from Zer0's. Although the paths that we take are similar for most parts, the items and the way we use them is very different. I would consider this a very major revamp to his route, since the items choice and usage is totally unlike his. Note that items remain with Sketch for the whole chapter, though the only time I brought an item to the next stage was in 3-1. The breakdown of our level times are as follows:

Stage My Time Zer0's Time Difference
1-1 4692 4965 273
1-2 7167 8713 1546
2-1 7787 9684 1897
2-2 5733 8740 3007
3-1 5377 7527 2150
3-2 8661 10528 1867
Total 39417 50157 10740

All time given excluded score screens, which I were occasionally 1 frame faster since I had 30Hz autofire on START. Apparently this counts for 43 frames. Level times have an uncertainty of 2 frames, the difference, an uncertainty of 4. Times were taken from when the screen first lights up, and when it first fades to black.

Special Thanks

Special Thanks goes out to...

Zer0 for his brilliant discoveries and route for this run, Truncated for his support despite this being my maiden TAS run, Upthorn and Nitsuja for their work on Gens, Maximus (sorry dude, almost forgot you) for his nicely GUIed movie splicer... AND EVERYONE ELSE AT TASVIDEOS :)


Truncated: Accepting as an improvement to the previous movie. Congrats on having your first movie accepted!

xoinx: I am cancelling this submission because I have made an improvement to it


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