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

Submission #2271: Sp00ky's PCE Keith Courage in Alpha Zones in 16:17.3

Console: TurboGrafx 16
Game name: Keith Courage in Alpha Zones
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Keith Courage in Alpha Zones (U).pce
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 16:17.3
FrameCount: 58468
Re-record count: 487
Author's real name: Victor Fontanez
Author's nickname: Sp00ky
Submitter: sp00ky
Submitted at: 2009-06-04 21:16:31
Text last edited at: 2009-06-19 15:51:42
Text last edited by: sp00ky
Download: Download (6205 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
This is a TAS of 'Keith Courage in Alpha Zones', a well known TG16/Pc-Engine platformer. It was created using Mednafen-rerecording 138. The actual rerecord count is in the 8000 range, but I messed up somehow and reset the rerecord statistics.

I'd like to give a shoutout to FuzZerd. His early WIP made this run possible, as it filled some necessary holes in my early strategies.

A Youtube version of this run is located at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq5KG9_2lgU

The Details

  • As Fast as Possible
  • Takes Damage to Save Time
  • Manipulates Luck (Coins/Heart Maxes)
  • Abuses Programming Errors

Game Specific Notes

Keith Courage is broken down into 7 Zones. Each Zone features an Overworld section, where you play as plain old Keith, and an Underworld section, where you play as Keith donning the robotic Nova Suit.

Gameplay is basic platforming with some RPG elements thrown in. There are some NPCs in the Overworld who can heal you for a price, sell you Bolt Bombs (a Sub-Weapon not used in the run) and give you general advice. There are also 5 upgrades to your initial weapon you can buy, of which we purchase only 2, the 2 which increase the length of Keith's sword in the underworld as well as add damage.

Keith in both sections can abuse damage pushback to save time. The invincibility is also useful for bypassing enemies. He gains more frames for doing so in the Underworld, but is slower and takes less damage in the Overworld. Keith's slower Overworld speed necessitates taking as much damage as we can fit in conceivably unless it will put us below a certain health threshold for the Underworld or lose us time in another way (such as killing the enemy for a coin).

Keith loses momentum if he touches the floor while being pushed, but can jump to gain his speed back quickly, meaning even small pushes are faster.

Another abusable concept are the hearts dropped in the Underworld by larger enemies. Killing these enemies on different frames or while jumping or moving can manipulate them to drop hearts. Not only this, but Life MAX ups are not gained by getting a certain amount of hearts as previously thought. They are a different item completely (even though they look exactly the same as a normal Heart!) and can be manipulated into dropping in the same manner. Manipulating a Life MAX up to drop is of course much faster than collecting coins and visiting Nurse Nancy in the overworld.

Rock Zone

Overworld: Some minor Coin collecting is done in this short level.

Underworld: Sets the tone for the rest of the run. Keith rarely attacks an enemy and heavily abuses damage pushback. One enemy is manipulated into giving me a Heart. Moving in the opposite direction while falling is normally not possible, but we find a way around the game's limitations. If Keith has to have no momentum left when he goes over the edge of a Cliff, the game will allow him to move opposite the way he was going while falling. Additionally, if he is falling one way and you graze a platform just right, you can turn directions and fall the other way. Because Keith can reach his full momentum in midair, these actions can potentially save lots of time when falling off ledges, and each action is done at least once here. It is most useful when falling into a Boss Area or when you reach one edge of the stage and need to fall and double back the other way, both common occurrences in every underworld level.

Boss: Nothing special. Keith's short sword length is the only thing making this fight an annoyance.

Reverse Zone

Overworld: Treated just like Rock Zone. Minor Coin gathering mixed in to save us a tiny bit of time later.

Underworld: Not very 'reversed.' Because Keith doesn't have much health yet, I have to be very careful with my damage choices here at first. I manipulate one Ninja Bomber enemy to drop a heart so I can continue, and later in the level manipulate a second one to drop a Life MAX up. I miss that top dissipating platform by only 1 frame, which is a big area for potential improvement. It is determined by when you jump into the area near the platform, and not anything previous.

Boss: This Boss proves to be no match for TAS style dodging and attacking.

Fire Zone

Overworld: There is a Rooftop here with a bunch of cats. These are used to gain the rest of the coins necessary for us to reach 3000 (the exact amount we need to buy both our Sword Upgrades.) This area has the most room for potential improvement. I tried various ways to get the coins as quickly as possible, but this 2144 frame solution was the best. There is also 12 frames of known improvement here, although going back to attempt to fix it ruined my coin gathering manipulation, making that slower. By jumping just before a fire pit damages you rather than after, you gain 4 frames. I use 600 of my well earned coins to buy the Thunder Sword, finally visiting my first hut, before moving on.

Underworld: They remembered to actually make this Underworld area have some fire, since you know, this is Fire Zone and all. Damage pushback is also used to traverse some wide gaps here, saving additional time. At the end a ninja bomber is convinced to drop me another life MAX up. I then take a shortcut among some spikes (definitely not intended!) and head to the boss.

Boss: Manipulated into the perfect position at the cost of a whopping 0 frames.

Toxic Zone

Overworld: Life rounding is abused in an unintended way, temporarily giving me 6 hearts when I should only have 5. This glitch only seems to work if you gain a life max up with 1 heart remaining, have that heart not be 'empty' (a hit or 2 from death) and take no more damage before you reach an Overworld area and the rounding kicks in. I abuse my newly gained 6th heart, quickly sacrificing it to take a ton of damage in this area and boost myself with anything I can find of use.

Underworld: This area doesn't look very Toxic. I'm starting to feel cheated. There aren't many enemies here, but the ones we do encounter are convinced to push us over a gap, push us through a gap normally too tiny to fall through, and other oddities. This mixed in with good platforming makes this stage a breeze.

Boss: Unfortunately this was the best method I could find for killing him quickly. Even 2 hits per wave is usually impossible for a human without taking damage or wasting a bunch of time moving far away. It is (occasionally) possible to sneak in a 3rd hit at the cost of taking damage, but it doesn't save much time because you have to move further away, and this boss takes an entire heart each time he hits you, making the trade not favorable when hearts can save us much more frames with damage pushback. We are also fighting him with an inferior weapon to save us the time of gathering more coins/stopping at a Weapons Master.

Glacier Zone

Overworld: The icy patches are meant to be an annoyance if you get hit but I safely ignore them and keep moving. I then purchase the Jewel Sword with our remaining coins, and that concludes my second and final visit to a hut.

Underworld: The only thing making this place 'Glacial' are 2 small frozen platforms, one of which I skipped completely by falling into that gap at the beginning. Long and confusing map done quickly. I manipulate a Life MAX up while having to wait for a dissipating platform to reform, and with my new found health continue on.

Boss: Manipulated into perfect placement at the cost of 1 frame.

Magic Zone

Overworld: There is a whole theme of Magic in the storyline here, but it's not seen since I don't visit any of the huts. I guess you'll have to settle for those weird grey Shrines.

Underworld: Not very magical. Notice a theme here? I wait slightly when I reach that first Ninja Bomber because I need to manipulate him while waiting for a dissipating platform below. Later in the level I take on a series of jumps/falls that would be impossible for a human, first jumping onto the edge of a spike pit, using the pit so I can change directions while falling, squeezing into a tiny gap and again changing directions while falling.

Boss: My single favorite part of the run, Keith versus the by far hardest boss in the game, and with an inferior weapon.

Robo Zone

Overworld: Conveyor Belts are used where possible to speed things up here.

Underworld: I guess since we have Conveyor Belts that's an excuse to call this place Robo Zone. The first Gunhead we meet is convinced to give us a Life MAX up, and we use the health as well as the Conveyor Belts to blow past this stage despite its' length.

Boss: I use a well known glitch here to make the boss inactive, making speedy victory a certainty.

Screenshot recommendations

  • Frame 47409 (Keith dodging among 2 shots from Boss 6 while hitting with the very tip of his sword)
  • Frame 20071 (Keith walks among spikes)

Thanks

  • FuzZerd
  • Bisqwit
  • adelikat


adelikat: Good viewer response, accepting for publication.

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