TASVideos

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

Submission #1653: klmz's NES Kage in 09:48.32

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Kage
Game version: JPN
ROM filename: Kage (J).nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 09:48.32
FrameCount: 35299
Re-record count: 32650
Author's real name: K.H.
Author's nickname: klmz
Submitter: klmz
Submitted at: 2007-08-06 17:21:11
Text last edited at: 2008-09-19 08:48:33
Text last edited by: klmz
Download: Download (4221 bytes)
Status: published
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General Informations

  • Emulator Used: FCE Ultra 0.98.16
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Movie ends as fast as possible
  • Abuses programming errors
  • Takes damage to save time
  • No cheats/passwords

Throughout the most part of the run, I abused the Blade/Item Boost (see below) maily with the ninja blade, and picked up all the shurikens and bombs on my way that were easy to reach. I tried my best to optimize the Blade/Item Boost movements in this run, but I think it could be even better.

Version differences

This game is know as Kage in Japan, and it is also know as Shadow of the Ninja in the USA and Blue Shadow in the Europe. There are (J), (U) and (E) releases, respectively.

Besides the text, the differences among the (U), (J) and (E) versions as far as I know are:

  • The (J) and (U) versions were designed to run in NTSC mode, and the (E) version was designed to run in PAL mode.

    • All the movements in the PAL version were adjusted for lower frame rate when the game was ported, in order to make the PAL version feel as fast as the two NTSC versions. However, they weren't adjusted perfectly due to discrete (integral in this case) mathematical problems. As a result, some movements were made faster (eg. the ROF of the blade weapon is once per 10 frames in the PAL version, while that in the NTSC versions is once per 13 frames), while some were made slower (eg. the walking speed is slightly slower in the PAL version.).

    • For the same reasons as that above, some movements result slightly differences in the PAL version. For example, you can jump so high in the PAL version that the enemy on the box at the end of Stage 1-2 can be jumped over from the ground, as well as two-man higher places can be reached without using the edge-sinking glitch, which are something impossible in the NTSC versions.

  • Level designs were modified during both the (U) and (E) porting. These modifications have changed the difficulty. Overall, the (J) version is the most difficult. Some of the modifications are described below:

    • Some enemies' strengths were adjusted eg. the seamen in Stage 1-1 were made weaker in the (U) and (E) versions, as their hit points were reduced from 2 to 1.

    • Some enemies in the (E) version were replaced eg. in the middle part of Stage 1-1, the monkey in the (J) and (U) versions was replaced by a droid in the (E) version.

    • It is said that the bomb weapons in the (E) version were made not so efficient as in the (J) and (U) versions against bosses. [source requested]

    • Some terrains were modified eg. in Stage 4-2, one conveyer in the first shaft was made longer and higher in the (E) version, while a rising platfrom before the last shaft was added in both the (U) and (E) versions.

  • The (J) version has the fastest intro. It is about 10 seconds shorter because the intro is only played once before you can press the start button to play the game in the (J) version rather than twice in the other two versions.

There could be more differences than I've listed here. I chose to make the movie with the (J) version in favour of the NTSC timing and shorter non-motion periods (mostly the intro, which I think plays twice would be boring).

Some tricks for the NTSC versions

The Odd Rule

In this game, when you are walking on the ground or jumping forward, your horizontal acceleration is 2. When you release the D-Pad, your horizontal acceleration will be -4 on the ground or -1 in the air, which is decelerating your velocity. If your horizontal velocity is going to be below 0, the game will set it to 0. If your horizontal velocity is going to be over 25, the game will set the accelation to 0 and keep it below 26. Therefore, if your current horizontal velocity is even, the game will keep it 24, while if your current horizontal velocity is odd, the game will finally keep it 25. Thus it's better to keep your horizontal velocity odd when you are moving. This is called "the Odd Rule" by me.

Blade/Item Boost

A trick called "Blade Boost" (also by me) features in this movie. When you are jumping forward with high velocity, pressing the B button on the controller to swing your blade or throw your item (a bomb etc.) will set you to a special status, where your horizontal velocity is boosted by about 90% and it can exceed 25, while your horizonal acceleration is limitted to -2 for a few frames, until the game realizes it isn't good and suddenly drops your horizontal velocity heavily and remove the acceleration limit. This procedure can be repeated as much as you want as long as you are in the air. The faster your weapon is, the shorter the cycle can be, and the higher average speed you can get. The ninja blade is the fastest main weapon in this game, whose ROF is one swing per 13 frames. The chain weapon has different ROFs in each grade, which are 1/26f in the firt grade, 1/21f in the secong grade and 1/16f in the last grade. The shurikens and bombs are both as fast as one throw per 4 frames. Since the higher the speed is when you perform this trick, the larger the 90% boost can be, it is best to follow "the Odd Rule" to get the maximum boost.

However, this isn't over yet. As soon as you land, your horizonal velocity will always drop down suddenly. Depending on your moving state before landing, the landing velocity varies.

1) Landing as boosted(still unable to accelerate yet) will halve your velocity.

2) Landing as not boosted with Left/Right Button pressed will temporarily set your velocity to 0 for one frame, then it restores your velocity to how great it should be with acceleration.

3) Landing as not boosted without Left/Right Button pressed will decrease your velocity by 1.

Obviously Case 2 should be avoided when moving forward because Case 3 is always better than it. However, Case 1 or Case 3 may result in an even velocity, and in Case 1 the landing velocity may be decelerated too much. Therefore, you may need to wait for several frames before doing Blade Boost or release Left/Right Button before landing to get an optimal landing velocity. Just like in other games that require constantly jumping for a TAS, you have to adjust the length and maximum height of your jumps according to the terrain everywhere, and it gets harder when you are TASing a game like Kage involved in such complicated accelerate mechanism.

Saving items while making boost

I've found a way to save bombs and shurikens when still get boosted. Just fire them 3 frames before landing. So you may see that I was "just hopping there" after I got bombs in Stage 2-2, but I did got boosted there. However I didn't jump much in narrow passages because of the dropping down of the horizontal velocity when landing.

Sinking into the wall

As far as I know, there are two ways to sink into the wall:

  • Climbing up platforms attaching to the bottom corner of the wall.
Jump to the joint as the "-L" part in "----L___"("----" illustrates the platform and "L___" illustrates the bottom corner of the wall), then climb up as soon as you grab onto the platform while holding down the direction on the D-Pad towards the wall.

  • Falling onto the wall.
The game assumes that you are landing on the ground if you jump and fall to some internal margin. There will be a one-frame window to jump up before you are getting ejected out.

The first way allows you to be ejected upwards very fast through the wall. The second way allows you to reach higher places than expected.

Utilizing invulnerability

When you take damage or pick up an item/power-up, you'll be invulnerable for a while. You can use this to go through enemy without getting hit.

Another way to go through enemy safely

Once an enemy is hit, it will be temporarily invulnerable and unable to hit you for several frames. You can go through it without getting hit, if you are fast enough.

More about items/power-ups

Once you pick up an item/power, bisides temporary invulnerability, it recovers you from some bad status as well eg. being stunned.

More tricks?

There are more tricks in Kage, but I don't want to write a longer discription than this. If you are interested, please feel free to PM me and you'll receive the answer once I've read the messages.

Major improvements

After reading the tricks expalined above, these items should be easy.

  • Faster way of moving.

  • Better strategy of using items for faster movements and boss fights esp. in Stage 2-3, or getting invulnerable to avoid damage (eg. that near the end of Stage 3-1).

  • New zipping tricks for shortcuts in many stages.

  • Reducing more lags by making certain input(hard to find them out during watching, though) and killing certain enemies.

  • Using an unknown glitch to kill some enemy quickly.

  • Reducing waiting time eg. the gap between the gas in Stage 2-1.

  • New shortcuts in Stage 3-1, Stage 4-2 and Stage 5-1.

  • Scrolling the screen better in Stage 4-2 and Stage 5-1.

Drawbacks

  • Having to kill the unskipable monkey in Stage 1-1 rather than the skipable droid there in the (E) version.

  • Having to wait for two moving pads in Stage 1-3. For the first one it was due to weaker jumping ability, and for the second one it was a side-effect of the the first one that I had to wait for the upper pad to show up.

  • Longer boss fights when only the blade weapon is available.

  • For some reasons, some enemy behaved differently and I had to spend more time in dealing with them eg. the mortar soldier one-shot-killed in Stage 4-1 would but shouldn't block the power-wave if I had attacked him on the right, which should have finished off the three of them in two shots.

Potential improvements

  • It can be found that I didn't perform the Blade Boost trick each time I climbed up a platform. I just forgot to do that. Had I done that, it might be either several frames faster now or not, depending on some frame-rule like that in SMB1 and SMB2j.

  • In Stage 4-1, it is possible to sink into the right side of the highest ladder and jump up from there, which can save some frames.


NesVideoAgent: Hi! I am a robot. I took a few screenshots of this movie and placed them here. Oh! I also replaced the ROM name.
  • You indicated Kage (J) [!].nes
  • I updated it to Kage (J).nes

Truncated: Hello klmz, and welcome here.

We already have a movie published for the european version of this game, [856] NES Shadow of the Ninja (Europe) by xipo in 09:22.13, which regardless of being recorded in the wrong format is faster than this (33728 frames, yours is 35299). In any case you seem to have found a nice glitch, zipping upwards in the wall.

I recommend remaking this movie, on the (U) version, looking at the published movie and incorporating your trick. This one will be rejected.


Truncated: Submission unrejected, see post for details.


adelikat: After discussion we have a new verdict. This movie will be accepted and will obsolete the published blue shadow movie.

Also, any future submissions will be measured from the beginning of the actual gameplay in terms of speed. As a result a theoretical U version submission will not be "penalized" the extra 625 frame it takes at the title screen. All 3 versions (E, U, and J) are "fair game" provided that they are faster using this means of measurement. Also, the E version must run at 50fps.


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