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

Submission #1435: Chef Stef's GBA Mario vs. Donkey Kong in 1:50:54.33

Console: Game Boy Advance
Game name: Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Mario vs Donkey Kong (U).gba
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 1:50:54.33
FrameCount: 399260
Re-record count: 19181
Author's real name: Stefan Roger
Author's nickname: Chef Stef
Submitter: Chef Stef
Submitted at: 2007-01-29 22:31:24
Text last edited at: 2007-02-10 11:33:16
Text last edited by: Chef Stef
Download: Download (23087 bytes)
Status: decision: cancelled
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Author's comments and explanations:
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 100% TAS by Chef Stef

Uses VBA rerecording 19.3 Enable L+R/U+D (The date of recording is incorrect because of various restarts and hex-edits)

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is one of my favorite games. This TAS has been in the works for a while, since MikeRS was starting it (but never posted any progress past the first world), and I only worked on it occasionally due to college classes and other real-life distractions.

The plot is rather original for a Mario game. Donkey Kong was watching the television one day, when he saw an advertisement for the new Mini-Mario toy. Falling in love with the Mini-Marios, DK rushed to the nearest store, only to find them sold out. So, DK heads to the Mini-Mario factory and steals a bag of the toys. Mario intercepts DK outside the factory, but DK runs away, Mario rushing to catch him. And so the chase begins...

Mario vs. Donkey Kong has a great deal of voice acting for Mario. I personally don't have a problem with it, but for some people, your enjoyment of this TAS will be inversely proportional to your dislike of Mario's voice by the end of the run :)

This game is a combination between a puzzle game and a platformer, and a remake of the Game Boy game DK '94. Mario must stomp colored switches, bounce off of springs, bash enemies with trash cans, and defeat Donkey Kong at the end of each world to free the Mini-Marios and stop the ape from causing more michief.

This game features six 'regular' worlds, six 'plus' worlds, and twelve 'expert' levels. In the first six stages of each world, Mario must bring a key to the door in the first half of the level, then grab the Mini-Mario in the second half. The seventh level is a 'Mini-Mario' stage where Mario must guide the six Mini-Marios to the toybox. The eighth level is a battle against Donkey Kong.

In the plus worlds, the strategy changes. In each world's first six levels, Mario must guide the Mini-Mario (who conveniently has a key) to the door to complete the level. The seventh level is the battle against DK.

The game has an automatic scoring system, and there are high-scores to beat for each level. The high score is directly dependant on the amount of time left in the level, but there are other ways to collect points, including collecting the three presents, bopping enemies, and hitting bricks with your feet. If you beat the level's high score, you earn a star. More stars unlock more expert levels. There are a total of 90 stars in the game to collect. Since a straight 'fastest-completion' run would look more or less the same as a 100% run, I decided to aim for 100%. So, my goals for making the movie were (in order of more to less important):

The 'highest score' constraint means that I try to get extra points from killing enemies and the like if the points gained are more than those lost from the time spent. It's of course possible to complete most levels faster and still get a high score, but I think getting the highest possible scores in every level adds to the entertainment.

If you collect the three presents in a level, you get to play one of two mini-games. If the timer at the end of the level is even, you play a roulette game with your boxes. If the timer is odd, you play a game where you can switch boxes to avoid DK's fist. The first minigame takes much less time to play than the second game, so I opted to end levels on an even digit to always play the first minigame and save time (this is the exception noted above). The end result is slightly more boredom from having to see the same game all the time, but much less from having to spend less time in the minigames. I feel that this choice improves the entertainment of the run.

So, in an attempt to manipulate the timer, you will see noticable pauses at the end of some levels in order to end on an even digit. This also means that there may be better strategies for some levels, but the time saved from the strategy could be offset by having to wait for the timer. On the other hand, better strategies on levels where I had to wait could save extra time from not having to wait.

Here is a short list of Mario's important moves used in the run:

Some other gameplay notes:

In the making of this run, I discovered several glitches/tricks:

One more note - I skip nearly all the cutscenes in the game, thus a good portion of the storyline is lost. If you want to watch them, which I recommend, press Start on the title screen after the movie is finished, move to 'Option Menu' and 'Visual Options', and you can select the scenes from there.

Without further ado, on to the level-by-level analysis!

World 1 - Mario Toy Factory

1-1

More of an intro level than anything else, some time is saved in the second half by backflipping to the upper area early. Also note that the first minigame when turning on the game is always the roulette, so I'm able to get an odd time on the first level without consequence.

1-2

The hammer is used to pound enemies, giving progressively higher points for each enemy pounded with the same hammer. So, using the same hammer throughout the second half allows me to crush the high score by over 20,000 points.

1-3

Backflipping to higher areas is fun! There's also an obvious use of the jump-under-ceiling trick in the first half.

1-4

The disguised 'trash-can' enemies require you to jump or land on top of them before they begin moving (and thus, become vulnerable). This is one of the levels that could have benefited the most from the 'conveyer trick,' had I known about it earlier...

1-5

I tried several different positions of the trash can near the door in the first half, in an attempt to create artificial ground to reach the door without pressing the red switch. But, I couldn't get close enough to open the door.

1-6

Hitting the falling bricks with your feet gives you 50 points, but it takes too long to handstand for it to be viable.

1-MM

The first Mini-Mario level. The mini's are tough to manipulate, since they tend to follow you slowly but take a long time to jump up steps (and sometimes even randomly jump). In levels with Mini-Marios, I may take actions that look like 'mistakes,' but nearly everything I do is carefully calculated in order to manipulate the mini's into the right positions. In most cases where I have to wait, moving even a frame too early will cause at least one mini to be left behind.

1-DK

A cool discovery I made is that you can press the switches on DK's platform yourself! (Only when you've just hit him, though.) Without this trick, I would have to wait through random numbers of 'chain pulls,' where DK pulls a chain and drops objects on you, before he presses a switch himself.

World 2 - Donkey Kong Jungle

2-1

Introduction to vines. You climb vines much faster if you're grabbing two of them, and you descend much faster if you're only grabbing one of them.

2-2

The red present in the first half is just out of reach of a normal backflip, but the pressed switch gives a little extra height. In this game, if you throw enemies into trash cans or barrels, they'll still die, as seen in the second half.

2-3

Backflipping is used to full effect in the second half, reaching high areas and eliminating the need to solve the puzzle.

2-4

A normal backflip won't reach the right area in the second half, so the somersault is used. Falling down doesn't waste any time here, since the platform moves automatically, it was just funny to see Mario flailing helplessly :)

2-5

Most of the fruit drops had to be planned carefully, but the end result is a rather fast-paced rush to the end, destroying everything in between.

2-6

A somersault is used to get to the other side of the spike pit without using the monkey. In the second part of the level, the switches need to be pressed in a certain order to grab the presents. The yellow present over the small spike pit was just barely out of reach without hitting the red switch.

2-MM

Not too much to explain here... there's a lot of lag and extra waiting for the mini's in this level. The mini's are so helpless...

2-DK

Backflipping to the fruit is much faster than climbing the vines. The last piece of fruit somehow damages DK well after it passes through him... DK is also manipulated to the right side (it's slower for his platform to move to the left instead).

World 3 - Fire Mountain

3-1

The first half is virtually automatic... it's easily possible to get this time non-tool-assisted because the lava platforms move at the same speed constantly. The second half is better, and the ninji's are used to take a shortcut in the level.

3-2

The crusher didn't hurt Mario at the beginning because I was in the process of jumping upwards, which makes Mario immune to projectiles (and this crusher).

3-3

Once again, the ninji's provide a nice shortcut at the beginning. Backflips break another puzzle in the second part.

3-4

A nice demonstration of Mario's upwards invincibility... those fireballs can't touch him!

3-5

Throwing the key upwards and backflipping to the higher platform is a good trick, skipping a portion of the level. It's actually not that hard to perform, but most people wouldn't know about it their first time through, hence the actual puzzle in place.

3-6

Lava is dangerous... but Mario shows no fear! Some of the platforms are ascended using the 'jump from thrown item' trick. In the second half of the level, the shyguy is carried to the area with the blue present to serve as an extra platform for backflipping up to the mini earlier.

3-MM

On the upper platforms, I need some minis on the top to collect the 'O', and I need some on the conveyer to grab the 'Y.' So, everything is perfectly timed so that the minis will be in the right place as soon as possible. Another note; if Mario jumps, sometimes the minis will stop and stare for a second. So, I often need to walk off edges (which is normally slower) instead of jumping off them.

3-DK

About half the tumbling barrels will naturally stop, but it's faster to tap them with Mario's feet (that way they can all be picked up, too).

World 4 - Spooky House

4-1

Luring the thwomps is necessary to trap them under the platforms and safely away from Mario. Thwimps are rather dangerous because Mario can't jump over them normally, and both thwimps and thwomps have extremely good hit detection.

4-2

The ropes in the first half are very obviously avoided, through the use of the autofire trick. The crushers in the second half will chase you if they see you from the side, but are useful as platforms and for moving Mario through small gaps.

4-3

The red present can be collected with a backflip at the beginning, but the moving platform takes too long to come back. A few small parts are skipped through careful jumping and key-throwing. The ghosts in the second half need to be 'solidified' at the right times for optimal movement.

4-4

The boo is only a minor annoyance in this level, so I demonstrate its poor hit-detection properties. If you die with a boo onscreen, by the way, it'll stick its tongue out at you.

4-5

Falling to collect the yellow present is faster than pressing the blue switch and running back. The blue ghost in the latter half of the level is positioned at exactly the perfect spot for Mario to hop towards the rope.

4-6

The red present happens to be in the reach of a perfectly-placed backflip. It's faster to go left instead of right with the key because Mario will fall too far and drop the key going to the right. I think you can guess by now that if I do something, it's the fastest possible :) The charger/crusher makes a handy platform for a somersault over the spikes.

4-MM

The thwomps will tend to crush down both whenever Mario is near and whenever a switch is pressed that affects something near them. This forces a backtrack to press an extra switch towards the end of the level.

4-DK

The shyguys stay non-fiery if Mario is holding them, even if DK pushes another switch. At one point, I hesitate slightly, since I need to let DK push a switch to set up my next piece of ammo.

World 5 - Mystic Forest

5-1

The normal puzzle in the first part is to toss the key onto the conveyer, then tap the switch to guide the key away from the spikes and onto the safe ground. However, it's possible to just jump up there and grab the key yourself!

5-2

The hammers come into play again! The latter half is a bit of a puzzle with dropping the monkeys to lower levels (remember the puzzle I skipped in 2-6?). By the way, I just love the music for this area... it sounds really interesting and almost surreal for the area.

5-3

I'm not sure if the method I used is the intended method for solving the first puzzle... Anyway, the second half introduces bob-ombs, those lovable little things that blow up in your face! If I have time to spare, I always try to throw extra bob-ombs into destructable blocks for extra points. I also tried tossing a bob-omb onto the spikes on the upper area, then using the bob-omb as a platform to somersault... but the time wasted from falling was not worth it.

5-4

Those bats won't actually hurt Mario, but they will make him fall off the ropes, so they must be avoided. The cannons pose another hazard, but the only thing they're really good at is causing lag (there's too much in these levels).

5-5

Well, not much to say here; more fancy jumping, hammer smashing, and another puzzle skipped.

5-6

The backflip at the beginning breaks another puzzle... There's an oddity with the donut platform near the blue stairs; even though Mario only hits the side of it, the platform destroys itself and Mario briefly has a place to stand (and jump off of). The bob-omb in the second part is used for some extra points at the start while the blue present is being collected.

5-MM

The bob-ombs are really hard to coordinate with the minis... There area lot of close calls with minis running towards bob-ombs and bob-ombs about to blow up in Mario's hands, but everything comes together perfectly with exact bomb tosses and mini-guiding.

5-DK

This battle may raise some questions... I don't actually throw the first three bob-ombs into DK; rather, I throw them onto his platform. The reason is that DK throws bombs less often when he's just been hit (notice the long pause between DK's second hit and his bob-omb throw), and letting the bombs explode on their own makes for a quicker battle on the whole. The final hit is delivered as soon as DK is vulnerable.

World 6 - Twilight City

6-1

The besides thwimps and thwomps, lasers are the only other things in the game that have extremely good hit detection. Therefore, frame-perfect reflexes are needed for optimal movement! Getting the presents is pretty straightforward in this level, but more paths are bypassed by way of backflipping.

6-2

Just more standard movements that I don't need to explain too much...

6-3

Just one short moment of holding the right 'monkey' still is enough to upset the parallel motion and set up the puzzle. The second half just requires some careful jumping past lasers to make it to the end.

6-4

Both presents in the first half are collected without solving their corresponding puzzles. Even though jumping off the edge and falling looks slower, it's actually faster because the laser would kill Mario when just running off the edge. In the second half, here's an example of the 'enemy edge clip' glitch! Mario seemingly jumps right into the spikes without getting hurt. This is a quick method because it allows bypassing of the puzzle to set up the 'monkey' movement patterns.

6-5

Here's a rare level where I actually have to solve the puzzle instead of skipping it! The key will normally be reset soon after hitting the spikes, but I pick it back up before that can happen.

6-6

This level has tricky moving platforms, but a few backflips will skip the worst parts! The second part of the level has another skip through a part that should require two bob-ombs.

6-MM

This Mini-Mario level is rather complicated, with conveyers, lasers, and springs. Leaving the mini's in the corner allows me to hit the blue switch without them being killed by the lasers.

6-DK

A pretty messy setup, but the key here is to press the switches that will drop the bomb on DK, and to press them again only at the exact moment DK does (to revert them to their previous direction). It looks strange, but it's actually somewhat straightforward.

Donkey Kong

The goal here is to grab the colored keys and free the three toads. Then, the toads will bring three barrels for you to hit DK. It's a pretty cool throwback to the original Donkey Kong arcade game.

Once DK is beaten, the plus worlds begin! A quick note - after 6-DK+, I reset the game to avoid the cutscene and to avoid spoiling the final boss until I beat the twelve expert levels. If I have the time, I may write up level-by-level descriptions of the plus and expert worlds. Enjoy the run!


Update: Canceling this submission. The general opinion is that the goals chosen (100% and high scores) result in a movie that is too repetitive to watch, and that an any% movie would be better for demonstrating the same tricks but avoiding the repetitiveness. Look for an any% submission in the future!

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