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

Submission #2290: Ferret Warlord's SNES Ardy Lightfoot in 19:56.93

Console: Super NES
Game name: Ardy Lightfoot
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Ardy Lightfoot (U).smc
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 19:56.93
FrameCount: 71816
Re-record count: 11223
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: Ferret Warlord
Submitter: Ferret Warlord
Submitted at: 2009-06-16 05:56:09
Text last edited at: 2009-07-18 04:11:44
Text last edited by: adelikat
Download: Download (5438 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Oh, Ardy Lightfoot, you could have been a good game.

Really, I hate this game. I hated it trying to play it at full speed, and I hate it even more now that I've run it frame by frame. Whoever tried programming the mechanics and collision detection needed to spend some more time on them. Both are just slightly off, leading to a massive disconnect when things seem like they should work but don't.

And what makes it worse is that everything else was actually pretty good! While not graphically impressive, it has a good, clean style, and possesses a mostly memorable soundtrack. The overall atmosphere of the game is great, but sort of like an uncanny valley of quality, because it fell a little short of being good, it ended up being worse than if everything were middling in quality.

Anyway, enough whining.

I came across this game while perusing various Youtube videos. It seemed to be a good, old fashioned platformer that didn't aspire to greatness it knew it couldn't achieve, and had enough visual flair to be a decent TAS. After burning through several other projects I finally got around to doing this one after no one else really tried (or had tried but failed).

It's been sort of a frustrating task because of the dodgy engine underneath it. One of the more frustrating aspects was that it accepts input unevenly and unpredictably. It even lags for no reason at all, often seemingly invisibly. Trying to hyper-optimize this game would be a task for the truly insane, so I didn't worry too much about it. I managed to get through it, and I'm fairly pleased with the results. I am happy that I could squeeze it under twenty minutes as well.

I also realized while making this run that the main character looks like a friend of mine if he were rendered as a German catman. Kind of a weird thing to realize, but...

So, time for some explanations, I guess.

The Title Screen

Many attempts to TAS this game ended because of this. The way the game is emulated causes some weird desynchs to happen: unless you start playing the movie immediately upon opening the emulator, you'll get stuck here. I managed to bypass that by pressing start for two frames instead of the customary one. Haven't had a problem since (although it seems other viewers have...).


First opportunity to use the screwy collision detection to my advantage is here. The blast radius between the wall and the bomb is bigger than the one between Ardy and the bomb, so Ardy can place himself between the two safely. Unfortunately, this doesn't work in later levels. Also, I have to jump into the wall as it's blowing up because otherwise Ardy will be stuck pushing an invisible wall for a bit.

And for whatever reason, landing on the left end of the loose dirt is a bit faster than landing on the right. Okay then.

Mining Town Ablaze

A very plain, boring, bland level consisting of Ardy running to the right and jumping on occasion. At the end I get hit by Grounder to cancel out a pose Ardy would pull when the screen shifts right, allowing me to move about a half a second sooner.

Grounder's Mine

A bit more interesting than the previous level, but overall nothing too terribly special. The falling bucket is the second chance to mess with collision to my advantage: by hitting it at full speed Ardy will usually fall through. The rotating buckets in the rest of the level seemed to hate me; only one was in a really good place when I got to it. >_<

Tunnel Chase

Video Gamedom's most boring mine cart level (although that's preferable to to frustrating ones that usually populate games). You'd have to be stupid to die in this one. Follow that with a long, uninterruptable cutscene...

Grounder was a simple fight. At the end I get hit because prepping a tail jump on top of him will hit him as soon as he tosses his helmet, whereas before I had to wait a few frames.

If you listen close enough, you can hear when I clock Ardy's head against Grounder's feet.

The cutscene after this level is supposed to introduce Don Jacoby, resident Deus Ex Machina and later sufferer of the Worf Effect.

Lumberjack Forest

Again, not much special here. I grab Peck's helium enhancement in order to minimize the amount of time spent traveling to some trampolines and spending time jumping up them.

The first group of enemies was quite frustrating. Why couldn't that last one just jump so I didn't have to tail bounce up?

You see the pit at the end of the level? You have a two frame window to jump in so you can clear it. Yeah. When I first played this game, it was around there I started realizing that I really didn't like it. For whatever reason, I kept playing...

Catry's Tree Fortress

Oh gee, Mr. Jacoby, thank you for not providing an easy lift straight to the top! >:(

How fast I can complete the first part of this level is limited by Don Jacoby's ascent: he has to get to the top before I can keep going. I decided to do a few things off to the side to reduce waiting time.

Once we do get to the top, I go to the very bottom of the copter's hook as that's the only place I can jump out from underneath him. This ends up being fast enough to do some minor memory corruption, where it becomes apparent that Catry takes Don Jacoby's place in the RAM. Seriously, his feet turns into hers if you watch. Another part of the glitch involved the platform on the left side of the button being turned intangible for a bit, allowing me to walk partially lodged into the floor. This saves a small bit of time in prepping a tail bounce.

After defeating Catry, getting her to stand back up requires Ardy to have her back to her at certain intervals.

Eaten Alive!

Nothing to see here. I just mess with the cutscene involving finding Catry's corpse (skeleton in the Japanese version) just for the heck of it. Doesn't make a difference.

Ancient Pyramid

The blocks at the end of the spiked floors in the beginning can be walked under. The second, however, requires getting hit in order to do so, so I took my hit there. Later I grab Peck because he picks things up much faster than Ardy, so the bit of time spent getting him back is well worth it.

The snake's tail, for whatever reason, provides insufficient bounce if he takes less than four bites on the rope. Otherwise I would have gotten off much sooner.

I wish never to speak of those falling spikes again. Their hitboxes are nearly twice as tall as their sprites. >_<

Mouse Trap

Some basic, loose testing showed that the bottom route was a bit faster than the top, even though I had to push some things out of the way to get to and through it.

The genie's body acts as a platform that I can land in as it's materializing. However, as it tries to push Ardy out, I had to make sure I got lodged between it and the ledge on the way up. After returning to his lamp, a key will appear and fall; Peck can grab the key before it falls, and Ardy can use it immediately if he lands right next to the door. If you hit the ground before hitting the door, you can get Ardy to do some moonwalking.

Ordinarily you're supposed to chase a mouse around the room at the end, but I get to him before he even runs off with the gem. The little ragtime piano doesn't even kick in!

Gilson's Pirate Ship

Fairly straight forward looking level, but trying to jump from boat to boat without stopping is harder than it looks. Any leaps that were made in time with the music were unintentional.

Gilson was a fairly simple fight. I'm somewhat upset that I couldn't manage it without getting hit, but I'm actually more upset that he didn't try swooping in from the right. Where's the variety in that? At the end of it, I decided to jump off the anchor and take a plunge.

Another long, unskipable cutscene... What the heck is he doing back on the anchor? I thought I threw him off of it!

Island of Ruins

The top route is virtually impossible to reach at full speed due to, once again, faulty collision detection. It's a bit faster since there's no back tracking a less waiting. Along the way I grab another helium pack for Peck to cross a stretch of spikes. Even though I turn it off the first moment I can, it's still faster than getting hit.

Am I the only one who thinks the music here and in the next level sounds like it could have come straight out of Chrono Trigger?

Beecroft's Stronghold

Around the first fake girl, there are two cutscenes one after another. I jump over the first and land right next to the second in order to minimize warmup time for running. The buzzsaw right after moves faster than Ardy, so taking a hit there is obvious.

There were a few ways I could have messed with the cutscene right before fighting Beecroft, but all of them were slower than the normal approach. Fighting Beecroft involves using a mirror to bounce his machine's shots back. Hit him and you get another volley. Hitting the second shot of each volley moves you onto the next, so I had to hit at least the first two of each round a quickly as possible. Before he starts firing I decide to push and pull on the little robot that's supposed to hurt you on contact.

After his defeat, the mirror is supposed to fall through the ground, but not if Peck has something to say about it. While the ground is collapsing I get some falling blocks to push me down faster. I'm not sure if it helps, but hey.

Underground Passage

Completing this level requires pulling on a few valves scattered throughout in order to fill a pit with water, allowing me to cross it by jumping on the log that's in it. Reaching these valves requires getting a spiked helmet on Peck, which allows him to break down certain walls when thrown into them. So the first item of business is to get this helmet.

The stack of boxes is another opportunity to abuse the game's collision detection. Ordinarily you're supposed to pull them out and jump on them; I thought doing this would be a frustrating endeavor due to the game's weird physics. However, I found that those weird physics would be of great service: As you jump into them, you'll clip onto some ledges, giving you a two frame window to jump.

Peck requires a bit of time to put the spiked helmet on, so grab it first and then pull the plug. He finishes by the time I'm ready to smash the wall and get out of there. You'll notice that Ardy will get stuck on some invisible wall for a bit on some of these; I couldn't find a way around these unlike in the prologue, sadly.

The mook on the way to the second valve couldn't have timed his jump any better. ^_^

Somehow I manage to collect a star twice. *shrug*

Visconti's Castle

I hate this level. Hate hate hate it. Spotty controls, dodgy physics, and faulty collision detection come together for a perfect storm of mental anguish that involves trying to jump up a long series of moving platforms that can hurt you. And if that wasn't enough, the developers decided to throw in a single flying enemy near the top. Trying to deal with him without falling off and/or getting hit is a very awkward affair that will most likely end in failure and maybe a hole in the wall.

Every time I try to play this level, I spend at least an hour trying to reach the top. I don't enjoy a single second of it. It was here I decided this game was terrible.

Thankfully due to the heightened control TASing gives me, I can fly by this level with little regard. I can jump up a couple of arrows before the other side's come flying by, reducing the amount of time taken to complete it to around 15 seconds. I love watching it.

Throne Room

What kind of throne room is this? All these spikes, no place to sit? Looks like a torture chamber to me.

The developers provide Peck with a lot of helium in this level, but I usually ignore it, using them only to ascend as necessary. Sorry about your feet, Ardy.

The Tower and Hall of Mirrors

Auto scrollers. Why does it have to be auto scrollers? :(

For The Tower, I followed two rules: 1) Land on as many platforms as possible; 2) Once I land on a platform, I may not land on any others I've already landed on.

For the opening Hall of Mirrors, yes, I was timing my actions to the music. At least the actions that make sound. As far as atmosphere goes, this level is one of my favorites. It gets kinda creepy once you realize how it's reflecting the rest of the castle...

Royal Throne Room

Visconti, as a boss, *sucks*. You have to hit him fifteen times; you can only get hit twice. Given the problems the engine has, getting hit and dying is a very likely proposition, and why you get a game over, you get to watch that long, mostly pointless cutscene all over again. The somewhat surprising turn of events is already cheapened if you know the backstory (hint: those crystals act as dragonballs), and having to watch it again and again as Visconti continues getting cheap potshots on you reduces the impact that scene would have even moreso.

That said, do not try this strategy at full speed. For part one, you're supposed to use the flying thing that the now Worfed Don Jacoby came flying in, and on the second you're supposed to use some magical bowling balls Visconti throws at you (why is he even using them? they don't hurt even you..). At full speed, use them. Trying to tail bounce up to him is just asking to get hit. Heck, he's hard enough using those resources.

Anyway, yeah, using what is ordinarily a completely unreliable strategy, I turn Visconti into an utter joke. He deserves it for the amount of pain he's put me through.

Thanks to adelikat for his test run that included a number of tricks I wouldn't have thought to do. Visconti would have been much longer if it weren't for it.

I seriously hope that Ardy is just a guardian or caretaker for that girl, and that she isn't a love interest. Otherwise... >_<

mmbossman: Pretty standard platforming fare, but an enjoyable run nonetheless. Accepting for publication.

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