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Submission #2237: FatRatKnight's NES Magician in 12:12.18

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Magician
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Magician (U).nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 12:12.18
FrameCount: 44003
Re-record count: 2534
Author's real name: Leeland Kirwan
Author's nickname: FatRatKnight
Submitter: FatRatKnight
Submitted at: 2009-04-21 10:53:34
Text last edited at: 2009-05-08 06:50:30
Text last edited by: ShinyDoofy
Download: Download (8162 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Meet Paul -- A guy who starves to death five minutes after a grand meal. He also feels experienced from doing trivial things like entering a store or delivering mail.

Thankfully, he's subverts hunger by healing any damage it causes through casting unknown, life-risking spells. Also, he doesn't have to fight as much as some other heroes thanks to the trivially gained experience.

I may have gone overboard with the subtitles -- There's hardly a moment where there are no subtitles to be seen. However, there isn't a whole lot for the unfamiliar person to see, so distracting them from the run might not be so bad when there isn't a whole lot to see anyway.

Improvements

This run uses the ULTIMATE POTION at frame 37986, thus ending Abadon's reign of terror faster than Slotermeyer's third submission which does so at frame 39594 -- 1608 frames faster -- In spite of having different goals. "Best ending" takes a little longer than any%, so this run should be significantly better in some respect. This is mainly due to route changes, where I get MANA POTIONs twice from a shop and take a shortcut in the CASTLE.

However, the input length is extended by roughly 100 seconds due to needing to show the entire ending. There's one last message that needs to be shown in "best ending" that wouldn't be seen without this extra input at 44003, hence the extra length.

Baically, here's a list where my run is different from Slotermeyer's run:

  • "Good ending" route instead of any%. Slower
  • Slightly faster menu navigation. Few frames faster
  • Use of FLEET FOOT instead of JUMPs. Hard to say, I think it's faster.
  • Charging into the bosses' faces with spells flying. Several frames faster
  • Instead of SPEAR(4), I used LIGHTNING(4). Mana saved, meaning more FLEET FOOTs
  • Not jumping down the well. Seconds saved
  • Not grabbing swamp boss chest. Saves a menu transition or two
  • Entering the potion shop twice for extra mana potions. Good for more FLEET FOOTs
  • Starving half to death in favor of not picking up/using food. Hard to say.
  • Used a shortcut in the CASTLE. Certainly much faster

Those are the differences I can come up with.

About the game

The evil wizard Abadon threatens to destroy Merlwood tomorrow, or something. And as usual, only one guy can do it. You need to travel all the way deep into Abadon's domain in order to stop his plans, and to do so, you'll also need to master quite a number of spells that will surely be useful on your journey. Then again, there are a number of spells which are completely useless, but who's counting?

However, when entering a friggin' STORE gives you more max mana than what you start with, how did this guy even become a magician in the first place? Regardless of Paul's shortcomings and an unusual talent to learn from life's silly stuff, you still need to brave through the various monsters and traps along the way to defeat Abadon and become a true Magician.

As for gameplay, you recover mana at a fairly slow pace. Sure, it may be 6 points per second, but when you consider that some spells takes a hundred, and others even more than that, it's quite a few seconds that gets added up. Then throw in the fact that you can go from 100% food to 0% in 4.25 minutes, and you'll find yourself hanging around a food shop while you charge up your shield spells, taking thousands of mana to get all four at 100%. Hey, it is an effective tactic! Additionally, bosses regenerate health, so you must deal damage quick enough to have hope, and if you're out of mana, the mana regen alone isn't fast enough.

I obviously don't stick around for food, let alone use most shielding spells, so I get by through other means...

The spells used in the run are as follows:

  ??-??-??-??-?? = UNKNOWN...  : Manipulated into healing me
  PO-NA-ST-RA-NA = LIGHTNING   : Only attack spell used. A great spell!
  MI-RA-NA-RA-ST = FLY         : Used a few times when I need height
  MI-RA-HU-FI-NA = JUMP        : A bit of speed, and also get through LAKE
  FI-RA-NA-HU-NA = FIRE SHIELD : To survive fire-bridge and Abadon battle
  MI-NA-RA-  -   = REVEAL      : For needed items and shortcut.
  MI-MI-FI-NA-ST = FLEET FOOT  : Enhances speed. However, it is expensive
  MI-ST-NA-ST-   = IRON BOOTS  : To progress as necessary
  MI-NA-ST-OL-   = WAKEY WAKEY : Get needed item. And for "best ending"
  MI-RA-HU-OL-   = TRANSLATE   : Only for that tree to get "best ending"
  MI-NA-OL-NA-   = TWIN        : To progress past DUNGEON
Learning a spell eats up 50 mana. You can also learn a spell by picking up its scroll, which this run only gets because they come packaged with certain required items. You may choose to cast a spell at any level from 1 to 4, which changes the effectiveness and cost.

One FLEET FOOT(1) takes 100 mana and, cast at an optimal timing, can save 179 frames. One JUMP(4) takes 36 mana and saves 59 frames. Since mana is a limiting factor, it's often best to use FLEET FOOT. The JUMPs are still used to speed up a few things when convenient.

Since FLEET FOOT gives a considerable amount of frames saved, and is costly in the mana department, one limitation to your speed is mana management. I don't see much of a way to squeeze out any more from mana than what I did, since when I faced the fire demon in the CASTLE, I had 3 mana left after my last LIGHTNING bolt. That ain't much.

No matter what, even if I used it before, I must "relearn" the UNKNOWN... spell. Means that if I want to select it, I lose 50 mana to do so. I can cast it as many times as I like after that, as it only costs like 1 to 4 mana per shot, depending on what level I use, but once I select another spell, I have to spend another 50 mana just to re-select UNKNOWN... spell once more.

Areas

There's a few different areas in the game. I'll explain what I can think of in them.

TOWN

You start the game with 50 max mana. You need 50 mana to learn a spell. You regenerate 6 mana per second, if you're not full. It takes over 8 seconds to regain that mana, but not nearly so much to enter the menu, learn a spell, and back out. With this train of logic, I decided it's in my best interest to occasionally visit the menu to learn spells, as seen in this run.

Slotermeyer's run learns JUMP first thing and hops away. This would certainly make use of that mana other than my menu transitions. I keep thinking what I did is faster, as I have to learn those spells someday, but I can't convince myself it is. Maybe I should have jumped and see...

Not a lot to see along the way, though. Delivering that letter is required for "best ending" and it's quite a detour. The minimal damage I took from the warrior at the end is regenerated back far before it would do anything.

WILDERNESS

Tree with hole has a needed item. So does the wizard. Searching the tree does not require you to stop, so naturally, no delay. As for the wizard, since I could pick 'n' choose when to use the menu, twice, I used that fact to get the most out of my third FLEET FOOT. A menu transition was saved when I used the REVEAL scroll (conveniently from the tree) instead of the spell.

Avoiding damage from the enemies around here either calls for flying, jumping, or really good manipulation. Unfortunately, I need mana for other things besides mere health, and I try not to waste a frame on manipulation, so whatever damage I take, I'll deal with it.

I've tried to avoid all the fire at the swamp. I can't seem to avoid two of the bursts without slowing down. It's not like it's fatal, though, so I just keep going. I use a single FLY spell of a high enough level so that it lasts clear through the boss battle and beyond. Note where I saved my game... Yea, not exactly a bright place to do that, eh? The save is done to jump my item selection to POUCH OF COINS.

LAKE

The flashes of lightning in the background is not for show -- Any attempt to FLY will be cut short by the next thunder. Oh, by the way, it's an instant death. Not that it really matters, when I need to use the boat ferry (by using POUCH OF COINS) to get max mana for "best ending". Incidentally, it is possible to skip the ferry if you manipulate the lightning a little or use IRON BOOTS to negate your flying, then FLY once more just as you hit the water.

Since this place has a potion shop, I buy mana potions for mana! I immediately drink two and buy replacements, where the 1000 extra mana surely comes in handy later. I also use the menu transition to learn JUMP. It's quite obvious when I start bouncing all of a sudden.

These jumps can frustrate nearly anyone. And there's ghosts that damage you on top of that. Even at some cost of mana, I only use level 4 JUMPs, as switching to a lower level for smaller jumps takes a screen transition to do so. Probably not worth saving the 7 or so mana for each of those jumps.

That green gargoyle thing is defeated by the ever-trusty LIGHTNING(4) spell. I'd ask the weather to not be so selective about which flying thing to zap, but no... It doesn't listen. I do make a "missed shot", but due to the order of how Paul fires his attack spells, I have no choice if I want to go fast as possible. He always goes upper-mid-lower, in that order. If I fire twice, and shoot off upper and mid, Paul insists on making the next shot a lower one, no matter how long I wait, except when I leave the area.

FOREST

FLEET FOOTs are used generously at the start. Actually, I spend a frame or two on manipulation of that mage guy. My health is so poor at this point that I would die quickly from a few of his spells. The boss after the mage is nothing special, though.

Yes, purifying the water is optional. Entering the building is optional. Talking to some tree is optional. Visiting a beggar is optional. Many, many optional things here, but they all provide max mana, meaning I need to do this stuff to reach the "best ending".

It was at the point I switched to the UNKNOWN... spell when the damage I took was too extensive. Clearly, dieing and restarting from scratch is a much slower option than living. I will introduce the UNKNOWN... spell: It often kills Paul in various colorful ways, but in the rare case it doesn't, you get healed by 20% instead, with a bonus that your venom is set to zero. Since I need to be "lucky" to not die, and since this is a TAS...

The timing of the UNKNOWN... spell here isn't great. If I could last until after that tree, I could replace the FLEET FOOT used there with UNKNOWN... and later FLEET FOOT through the DUNGEON for a little longer due to having more health then. Possibly could manipulate earlier damage into not happening to save time here.

CAVE

It's dark, but not too dark. Unlike certain games, you don't actually need a light source to see something, so the audience isn't exaclty in the dark when all the action takes place without light. In spite of being in a dark, gloomy cave, rooms are well-lit without the spell in place. Only the main zone is dark.

The treasure chest wasn't my idea, but the mana potions within can't be ignored. Slotermeyer's run called attention to it, so it ends up getting used in this run. I time searching the chest to minimize IRON BOOTS time, waiting until just after the 60-frame timer ticks.

As for each room, the baby dragon needs the DRAGON EGG obtained from the hollow tree in the WILDERNESS, the statue needs a zapping, and the puzzle room is trivial when the solution is known ahead of time. I need the MAGIC CHARMs from each room to get through the CAVE.

There is more to the CAVE, a maze of sorts, but it's entirely optional. There is no point in diving into it, and only gives a few items. Some of it might be useful in a normal run, but I can't actually use it well in the TAS. Then again, the REFRESH POTION is rather attractive when it refills everything to the maximum, even the thousands of mana, but not the shields... Would going in there be worth it?

DUNGEON

I start off with FLEET FOOTs. Lots of them. Unfortunately, my speedy dash has to end for two reasons at once: One being that I can't otherwise survive that skeleton, and the other being that I won't have enough mana for a boss battle later.

Seeing as these reasons are pretty strong barriers, I slow down and use the UNKNOWN... spell to keep healed. On the other hand, those reasons vanish in a hurry if the detour to the REFRESH POTION is shown to be worth the trip.

I'm kept pretty healthy by "risking my life" a lot. The water I pick up from the fountains have no use in this run.

CASTLE

REVEAL shows a hidden passage guarded by the iron ball. This is a significant shortcut that lets you skip most of the CASTLE. Slotermeyer didn't take this passage, for whatever reason. As seen in my run, I don't need further spells like FLEET FOOT to reach it in time. If I had entered just two frames later, I would crash the game. Something about how the game handles the iron ball death animation when you interrupt it by leaving the room.

The firey bridge requires that you have a non-zero fire shield. If you take one step without any, you instantly melt in a puddle of gooey flesh. Yuck. I learn the spell now, since it would otherwise lengthen my spell list earlier.

When I entered this room, I looked at my mana left, and wondered how in the world am I going to have enough for the fire demon? It was extremely tight on mana, and it looked like I may need to get rid of an earlier FLEET FOOT to make it. I didn't even have enough for a FLEET FOOT on the hot bridge, so I tried to come up with something on the fly.

Then I came up with jumping on the bridge a couple times. And trick the timer to extend my time even with the jumps, while simultaneously getting my LIGHTNING spell out. Then I wailed on the fire demon at utmost speed. Not a single moment wasted, and I was hoping dearly that I had enough mana. Will it be enough? Come on, if it's not, then... Oh, I win! I didn't know if I could... Er, I mean, uh... It was planned the whole time! Erm, yea! (They'll believe me)

Virtually no mana left, nearly dead from lack of food, incapable of even learning UNKNWON... to save my life, I use the mana potion they provide so nicely in that chest. Then all was good in a hurry, when healing and FLEET FOOT happened.

TOWER

You FLY up. And up. And more up. Oh, what's a guy to do? Move left and right at 30 Hz while waiting?

There's a spiked room that gives max mana, so I visit it in order to get the "best ending". Leaving it requires IRON BOOTS, though. I use a FLY spell after exiting it to cancel the slowing effect.

The fountain fully restores mana. With 3650 mana to sling around, I can throw spells every which way I feel like. Which is good, since Abadon needs a bunch of mana to shove down his throat. If I did pick up the REFRESH POTION, I might actually have enough mana to spare to simply skip this room.

Then the last room. This is why I'm collecting the four VIALs: I need the ULTIMATE POTION to win the game, so you can imagine why I visit this room. Since I need so many menu transitions, I go ahead and shield myself, speed myself up, and heal myself while putting my vial collection in place. I figure that it wouldn't take much time to prepare, would it?

Then one more FLY spell to reach the top...

TOWER TOP

Ah, the battle with Abadon. One FLY spell and a bit of LIGHTNING doom later, I use the ULTIMATE POTION and win. While waiting for Abadon to finally perish, I play around with the fact he faces Paul by making him look back and forth at 20~30 Hz. And the fact he can attack even while getting destroyed. And I dance while I'm at it.

By the way, my health hit 4 when Abadon finally goes away. I didn't have long to go before either poison or starvation kills me. I really needed that FIR-SH that I cast earlier, or else I wouldn't live through Abadon's death animation, as I'd starve to death too quick. Blocking that fire damage is just enough to live.

Yet in spite of malnutrition, deadly venom, or life-threatening injuries, Paul manages to walk all the way home as though it were nothing.

As for the ending, it says I should beat the game again. I suppose if I want to do a "true best ending", I need to play through the game, not once, not twice, but actually three times. Don't mind my choice of not running the game three times for the "true best ending".

Possible Improvements

There's probably something I missed. Some things could be manipulated better. Some things could be tested. Some things could be optimized. I point out a thing or two in my subtitles and the above submission texts.

I've tried pausing the game with the start button, and it freezes the 60-frame timer, so we can't extend timers that way. I made minor tests with left+right, but I didn't find much. I didn't search hard, but I got the impression there isn't much to find.

Suggested screenshots:
10592 - Game saved... Here?!
24403 - Statue battle
32695 - I should watch out for that iron ball...


Truncated: Nice run! I will accept it. I think this can obsolete the current run, because this gets the best ending and is still faster. And the detour is not really all that long. mmbossman: Considering that there is no currently published run, obsoletion will be a bit hard... :)


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