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

Submission #2376: p0rtal_0f_rain's NES Willow in 1:06:47.92

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Willow
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Willow (U) [!].nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 1:06:47.92
FrameCount: 240475
Re-record count: 22487
Author's real name: s. swinson
Author's nickname: p0rtal_0f_rain
Submitter: p0rtal_0f_rain
Submitted at: 2009-08-15 15:02:25
Text last edited at: 2009-08-15 17:16:43
Text last edited by: p0rtal_0f_rain
Download: Download (9371 bytes)
Status: decision: cancelled
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Author's comments and explanations:
   [P0RTAL 0ƒ RAIN]  ~ presents to you

==== N.E.S. Willow ====


  • 3rd draft, final revision ~ 1'06:47.92
  • Emulator used: FCE Ultra 0.98.28 (also compatible with most versions of FCEUX, as converted to FM2)
  • FCEU configuration: Allow L+R/U+D
  • ROM filename used: "Willow (U) <!>.nes"
  • ROM checksum used: 38D1E298F55D24F4AFD08BDAA2002939
  • Aim for quickest time
  • Complete playthrough
  • Take damage to save time
  • Use no passwords
  • Use warps
  • Use death as a shortcut (once)
  • Abuse programming errors in the game
  • Contains a few speed/entertainment transitions
  • Manipulate luck and strategy
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, RPG

Prologue (movie)

Willow is a 1988 fantasy adventure film directed by Ron Howard and produced/co-written by George Lucas. Warwick Davis stars in the film, as well as Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh and Patricia Hayes. With a sword and sorcery setting, Davis stars as the eponymous lead character and hero Willow, a reluctant dwarf who plays a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willow_(movie)

Prologue (My comment)

Willow as a video game featured characters and aspects that didn't seem to be in the movie and quite a few things seem to be altered in the movie-making and game-making process. Here's a few things that concerned me about events that happened between the movie and the game:

  • Elora Danan arrived by river to Nelwyn, but the game kept her at the Twin Towers north of Lake Cheef.
  • Willow was called a "peck" throughout parts of the movie, but no one called him "peck" in the game.
  • There was no such thing as characters of Muzh and Zhena.
  • They did not mention the Crest of the Spirits the whole time.
  • When Gen. Kael trapped Willow, he took Elora Danan instead of the Crest of the Spirits.
  • Madmartigan was in a cage instead of sitting down on the ground.
  • Madmartigan was released from his cage with the swing of a weapon instead of Willow looking for a key.
  • The biggest difference I noticed between the movie and the video game is Fin Raziel fighting against Queen Bavmorda -- instead of Willow. Only Willow used tricks to hide Elora and make Bavmorda get diminished.

Basically, Capcom did a crappy job doing movie-to-game translation. To say the least, though, I don't think this is as worst as "Data East on Robocop" so I'll give some credit here.

Areas of the game

Nelwyn, Village of Dew, and Bogarda's Cave

PLOT: This run starts off with Willow telling Vohnkar to go blow himself, and run straight through the forest to the Village of Dew. Immediately, he leaves Dew and travels through the North section to get a Gold Statue. After that, he kills himself and goes back to Dew, however, he maintained the Gold Statue. He then proceeds to Bogarda's Cave. Entering this cave unarmed, he went straight to a room that has a Battle Sword and decides to equip that weapon for majority of the game. Then he goes on to confront Bogarda, use TAS techniques against that boss, and get 700 ex added on. After the confrontation, he travels through the forest, through Dew, through the Southwest section, and on through the long bridge to Forest of Death.

MY COMMENT: I received word that not only the route going toward the Gold Statue was improvable, but the confrontation with Matanda as well. There were even more improvements along the way, but this was the beginning.

Forest of Death (FoD) and Matanda's Cave

PLOT: Upon entering the FoD, Willow noticed Franjean and Rool along the way. But for a TAS, Willow had better things to do than to speak to them. He proceeded through wicked trees in some places where they shoot fire. Too bad "Smokey the Bear" wasn't around. He had to stop by a dugout "unannounced" to get details about a flying creature named Po. Then he continued proceeding through the FoD with more trees trying to burn the poor guy. Finally, he went on through rocky terrain to Matanda's Cave.

PLOT: Entering Matanda's Cave, he heads over to a room where Po seemed to be trapped. Willow gets the Ocarina spell (so he can start using warps) and then heads southward to get the Theives' Bracelet from Matanda the fat dragon. On his way back to the entrance, he needed some protection so he picked up a Gold Shield. Finally, an opening was revealed and that took Willow into Lake Cheef.

MY COMMENT: I don't think there was a gain or a loss compared to my 2nd draft, I make sure this part stayed as optimized as possible. There are other sections that needed improvement, but all I could do was hang on to this one.

Lake Cheef and the Under-Island Cave

PLOT: As soon as Willow steps out of Matanda's Cave, he gets surprised by Cherlindrea. Then Willow is given a magic cane which later needed to be amped up by Fin Raziel before facing Bavmorda. Willow continues his journey up north where he later found a prisoner known as Madmartigan in chains. Willow then traveled West-Southwest to get a key and then take that to Madmartigan. That prisoner gets freed and Willow then heads a few more screens north to a bar known as 'Tavern of the Traveler'. Willow was already in safe condition (HP/MP) so he immediately started getting information about the Under-Island cave up North and even having to cross the lake to get there. Willow leaves the Tavern and heads South to find Kchii of the Nail Clan to obtain a Wakka Seed which was said to "breathe in water". Willow used TAS techniques to switch over to the Ocarina spell and have Po warp him back to the Tavern just to save walking distance. From the Tavern, he goes north along the shoreline, under water, past Fin Raziel's dugout, and into the Under-Island Cave.

MY COMMENT: I sharpened up the route just a little bit but I wouldn't bother going back to see how many frames I might've saved. I did manage to score a nice damage-boost from a fire statue after I got the key but that was the only thing I was able to find. The other screens I would get to were likely skeletons, and they can easily push Willow back.

PLOT: Entering this cave, Willow travelled the screens until he got up to a screen where two ghosts appeared. As soon as the two ghosts lit up the screen, Willow immediately paused himself on a specific frame to change into the Devil Eye sword. He only fought two screens worth of ghosts and came out with 1980 ex. A few screens later, a small bat perfectly placed Willow where he needed to be, with 2000 ex. He had to go see a blue ghost named Zhena and get her Cross Flute; which seemed to be mandatory in the event to defeat Muzh. After getting the Flute, it was time for Willow to head back into the cave and make way to a room where Muzh was waiting for him.

PLOT: Entering Muzh's room, the door behind him was closed, the exit toward the Twin Towers were blocked off, and the battle was underway. Even at that rate, the outcome of the battle was Willow doing more than just defeating Muzh, he actually torn that muthaphukka out the frame! After victory, Muzh drifted off with Zhena and left Willow a magic spell known as Bombard. Willow then proceeded through the exit toward the Twin Towers.

MY COMMENT: This is a slight repeat of the 2nd draft, but improvement within this area still remains. Willow was on a level that was too weak to face his 2nd duel boss, Muzh. I noticed that he was stronger on level 5 than he was in the level he was already on (3). You may not get much improvement on level 4 or lower, especially with very limited HP. Willow has to be on at least level 5 with the battle sword for a decent Muzh battle. The catch is that getting the experience to meet LV 5 should not take too long. For the Muzh battle, I pinned him against the left wall instead of the top, pulling hits much quicker and saving about 30 to 50 frames altogether.

The Twin Towers

PLOT: Willow heads North to the Twin Towers. When he got there, the first one he had to go into was the East tower. Willow then climbed about 5 stories to talk to an old blue human and get a Blue Crystal. Perhaps the old guy stole that from Simon Belmont back at Transylvania?!!! After obtaining the Blue Crystal, Willow immediately used the magic of Fleet to warp back to the entrance of the East tower and make way through the West tower. There, he climbed 5 more stories - this time with random enemy encounters in his way. Damn. Some were well-manipulated but others were hard to bear with. Reaching the top of the West tower, an old red human awaited. The old guy gave Willow a Red Crystal, which perhaps that too was also stolen from Simon Belmont?!!! Geeze, give Willow a retractable Morning Star so he at least won't have to worry about Dracula for Christs' sake! Upon obtaining a Red Crystal, Willow warped out of the West tower and went to see Elora Danan. There, Danan hooked Willow up with a "Crest of the Spirits". So Willow took that, left her place, and had Po warp him back to the Tavern of the Traveler.

MY COMMENT: I conserved a ton of HP as I was making my way through both towers. There were aspects of this part of the draft where some of the ghosts in the West tower could not be well-manipulated and would block me off. I would not consider wasting HP + frames and even be pushed back for that reason. I stood back for a few frames and manage to get through the ghosts as they were duplicating. Though I gave up 10 MP every time I had to do that, I'd rather give up MP than to say "Game Over."

Thunder Mountain (maze)

PLOT: Using the same route that would lead to the Under-Island caves, Willow went past that to go into rocky terrain and walk through the long and winding Thunder Mountain. First, he went through route to a treasure chest that contained Scepter. The game first called it "Monster's Bone". Austin Powers himself may have one, but Willow will be using this one differently! It seemed mandatory to obtain the Scepter spell because the guard at the front door of Nockmaar Castle is afraid of monsters! And so, Willow's next destination was a house on the trails of Thunder Mtn. where an old man teaches the Thunder spell. Of course, he got there safely. When Willow got up to the house, he switched magic spells just to shake off the effects of the Scepter. He did this before entering and then everything was cool from there. He got the Thunder spell and proceeded through the mountain. Along the way, he conserved more HP/MP. Then once he entered and progressed through a trail where there were multiple holes in the ground, Willow used Scepter to easily roll through that. Then Willow appeared just in time to enter a red cave.

PLOT: Willow took path through the red cave and then led a long walk through more Thunder Mtn. trails. Willow was running short of MP, so he did all he could to manipulate random encounters along the way, especially annoying skeletons. After more trailing, he enters a purple cave. He spoke with Adik of the Eagle Clan alleging that his brother, Abang, is held at Nockmaar Castle. Then Willow had to get information alleging that it is impossible to cross the long bridge because it is cursed. Willow then used Fleet to warp out of the cave, backtrack to the Red cave which sucked, and talk to another old man that gave Willow a pair of Witches' Shoes. So Willow used Fleet again, went all the way back to the entrance of the Purple cave, and passed that entrance to finally cross the bridge. A few more screens later, he reached Tir Asleen!

MY COMMENT: Same thing basically. Being forced to backtrack just to get a pair of shoes. Ridiculous! The only form of improvement I did manage to achieve was 2 nicely manipulated damage-boosts from 2 wizards on the cursed bridge toward Tir Asleen.

Tir Asleen and Tir Asleen Castle

PLOT: Willow ignored a lodging opportunity and went North-Northeast of Tir Asleen through a path that led to an old woman -- telling Willow to "wait". Along the way, he took damage from two pink vipers but had to battle through 3 or 4 gray monsters because his HP was short. Then after he heard the old woman's gibberish, he warped back to Tir Asleen and headed straight for the castle - and ignoring yet another lodging opportunity.

PLOT: And so, Willow is in the castle. He goes straight to a room where Eborsisk awaits. Airk on the other hand wanted to give Willow an even stronger sword, but Willow basically said "Nah, I already got a sword, man. Though my sword is a little weak, it is best known to the world as a 'Tool-Assisted Sword' (TAS)!! And of course, this is lot better than yours. Hey, I gotta get going, thanks anyway!"

PLOT: Entering Eborsisk's room, the battle begun. Willow again used TAS techniques by rapidly attacking Eborsisk, and this time without taking a single hit, making this another short one which is a good thing. ^_^ After Willow's victory, he stepped into a trap behind bars where General Kael appeared and grabbed the Crest of the Spirits from Willow. He was imprisoned along with Madmartigan. Madmartigan told Willow what he knew, and then Willow stepped on the Southeast section of his prison cell to reveal an opening. Then miniatures known as Franjean and Rool came in to save both Willow and Madmartigan. Willow then escaped with the Fleet spell and went around the corner to a secret cave.

MY COMMENT: As I said before, talking with known characters in the game (like Airk) would force me to obtain new stuff. Now in this 3rd draft, I finally realized that I was able to not be so dependent on stronger weapons very often which was another strategy. I wanted to carry fewer weapons and that's exactly what I did. Vohnkar and Airk was the reason I threw away a lot of frames last time! Idiots...

Path to Nockmaar

PLOT: The path toward Nockmaar Castle begins with a long-stretch secret cave. But Willow was still able to conquer the caves' apexes using the best routes and positioning possible. Along the way, he manipulated into taking more damage boosts from vipers and such gray monsters now that he had enough HP to do that. After he came out of the secret cave, this time with 6 HP available, he ended up one screen North of the Thunder house! But what did he do? It was another lodging opportunity, right then and there, that he ignored! He chose to continue his attempt with 6 HP to his name! Even at this rate, he was still able to get to work on obtaining more ex. like the last time.

MY COMMENT: Coming out of the first long stairway, that is when I pulled out the Devil Eye sword and equip the Thunder spell. I had to level-grind quite a bit here, but I am deeply sure that this is also improved without a shadow of a doubt! Each ghost on this pathway was worth 100 ex. a piece which was more valuable than the ghosts at the Under-Island cave. As much as I had available MP, I was able to not only manipulate ghosts' appearance, but I was also able to use the Thunder spell to kill off red ghosts quicker! To me, using the Thunder spell was slightly much faster than having to wait several frames to see these red ghosts dupe themselves. If I wanted more MP to continue using the Thunder spell, that was when I had to wait for ghosts to dupe. However, this "wait for ghosts to dupe" procedure was not as frequent as it was in the 2nd draft. The Thunder spell was more frequent, though, and I found it useful!

MY COMMENT (continued): Also, I saved about at least 810 more frames after I discovered a glitch where I was able to use the Thunder spell about 1 to 4 more times before looking to score more MP from red ghosts. Another form of improvement here!

PLOT: After obtaining all the ex. and MP that Willow needed as quick and as strategic as possible, he finally moved forward toward Nockmaar. So when he walked up to the door, he masked himself with the Specter one frame before he met with Bavmorda's guard. Then that guard ran away in this predicament and Willow proceeded inside. He went straight to a room where Abang was at. Abang placed all his strength into Adik's sword and told him to go speak to Tir Asleen's elderly woman, the exact same one that was sitting north of Tir Asleen Castle. Willow then Fleet'ed out of Nockmaar and had Po warp him back to Tir Asleen. Willow then went to speak with the elderly woman about a key for Nockmaar Castle, which Willow later obtained. And yes, Willow still has 6 HP on him! From there on, he went back to Nockmaar to get prepared.

MY COMMENT: Again, the goal was to be strategic. It is possible for Willow to pick up MP along the way to a certain part or event of the game, without having to go back to do some lodging. This was a goal that I once set and it did save me more frames. I chose to continue keeping Willow at 6 HP remaining.

Nockmaar Castle: Preparing for Bavmorda

PLOT: Willow re-entered Nockmaar Castle, and this time, he started off by whacking a few enemies along the way. Willow then had 31,660 exp pts. He went up the stairways to have a word with Sorsha and Madmartigan who happens to be prisoner again! Geeze, when is Madmartigan going to stay out of trouble?! The game talked about the Powder of Unrequinted Love and Madmartigan's feelings toward Sorsha. Then with Willow still having 6 HP to his name, he then proceeded to face General Kael!

PLOT: General Kael said he passed the stolen Crest of the Spirits on to Bavmorda and he became Willow's next duel opponent. Willow's TAS techniques used here was the exact same techniques used against Bogarda and Muzh. Kael moved slowly going up-and-down, but he did charge fast at Willow going sideways! Kael constantly charging at Willow meant that he was hungry for nothing but blade. For that, Kael's death from hunger made this duel another small one for our judges. :)

PLOT: After the defeat of Kael, Willow slipped in to level 13 with 39,660 exp (39,350 required) and was able to change the form of Fin Raziel. So Willow used Fleet, warped to the Tavern, went north through the lake, and met up with Fin Raziel. After Willow changed Raziel back to human, she placed her strength into Willow's Magic Cane. Finally, Willow warped back to Nockmaar.

PLOT: Entering Nockmaar Castle for the 3rd and final time, Willow used a Devil Eye long enough to regain MP needed to face Bavmorda. Thereafter, Willow switched over to a Wing sword and the Magic Cane. Then more manipulation was exercised along the way. Several screens later, he steps into the room of Queen Bavmorda.

MY COMMENT: After reviewing the Gen. Kael duel, I went back and managed to make sure he was pinned against a wall because I had a different positioning strategy that worked quite well and allowed me to save at least 60 more frames! Glad I checked, now I'm confident that Kael's duel is another very short one. :)

Nockmaar Castle: Queen Bavmorda

PLOT: The first battle against Bavmorda, involved using Fin Raziel's Magic Cane and every hit that Willow inflicted had to be fast, accurate, and precise. One miss, and Willow would've had to face potential death. Willow was close enough to ensure every bubble from the Magic Cane won't travel too far just to hit Bavmorda. Willow defeated Bavmorda with 5 MP remaining, was able to retain the Crest of the Spirits, and was even well-positioned for... THE N.E.S. WILLOW GRAND FINALE!

PLOT: After Willow retained the Crest of the Spirits, Bavmorda was logically threatened because she knew that she would cease to exist without holding this so-called "Crest." For that: she turns her room into a full-scale inferno, waits a few frames to recharge her health back to maximum, and begins this grand finale. Meanwhile, Willow didn't have to walk too far just to strike a hit which was a plus! Willow used the Wing sword not only to rapidly strike Bavmorda, but also to control her positioning and make sure she remains pinned against the top wall! Basically, 2 small battles against Queen Bavmorda marks the end of this emulator movie, with a new improved record time of 1 hour, 6 minutes, and 47.92 seconds! Thank you for watching my input, and enjoy the ending. :)

Glitches

Inaccuracy of MP: If for any reason that Willow acquires a large amount of MP (80 for example) within a small number of movie frames, the game has to sit there and count every single digit (31, 32, 33, 34, etc.) until it finally gets where it needs to be. If a large amount of MP is in queue which I am sure that's exactly how their system works, then it does take a certain amount of time to count them all up. Now, if the game is still counting a large amount of MP and not being aware of Willow using any magic spell during that point, then it is strict that this is a nicely known glitch. When the game finally gets done counting MP back where it needs to be, then it regains its accuracy and will keep track of magic spells that was used again. If for any reason that Willow leaves the screen while MP is still counting up, that means the game has to halt counting MP for a moment and focus on taking Willow to the next screen - then it gets back into counting MP.

Techniques

Random enemy encounters: Most of the screens in this game are mandatory when it comes to providing enemies. Such enemies can easily block Willow, push him back, even send him in the wrong direction. But for majority of the game, the rest of the screens can be manipulated. Let's say Willow is standing in point A and an enemy encounter was prepared by the game at point B. If Willow can manipulate luck in point A before going into point B, it's likely that no encounters will be in his way under that circumstance. Manipulation for this situation is done in 4 ways: (1) unscheduled sword swing, (2) unscheduled sword poke, (3) repositioning, and sometimes (4) stopping for a couple frames, then proceeding. Using the Scepter spell takes the guesswork out of manipulation, but it will hog up 50 MP. It's too bad that most of us never researched the memory addresses and determined which would tell us about these random encounters. But all of this was one thing I learned.

Abusing "inaccuracy of MP glitch": This was effectively used during a level-grind toward Nockmaar. This is done by making sure all red ghosts are gathered in one pile as quick as possible and as close to one side of the screen that it can get to without touching Willow. From that point, the goal was to kill them all with the Devil Eye sword BUT making sure Willow does NOT touch MP balls during the course of killing them all. Once all red ghosts are killed and there are several MP balls piled up, it's easy for Willow to get several or all of them in one shot, put the MP in queue, and immediately use the nearest side of the screen to manipulate red ghosts' appearance nearby. This glitch technique allows Willow to use his Thunder spell about 5 to 7 times, instead of 4, before having to score more MP from red ghosts.

Entertainment: There was no telling how entertaining that nearly 4 minutes of improvement can do. To say the least, the Thunder spell was similar to a fireworks celebration.

Experience level adjustment: It is mandatory for Willow to be on a minimum level of 13 (39,340 ex) to change Fin Raziel back to human and to get the ability to use the Magic cane effectively against Bavmorda. Most of the screens usually have one ghost. These ghosts take away MP by dup'ing themselves. Once 6 to 8 ghosts appear, they will head straight for Willow at a quicker pace. I found out that there were screens of two ghosts along the path to Nockmaar. One hit will weaken them as they dupe so it's much easier for Willow to defeat them all (upon the split-up into 8) and start acquiring exp. in the masses. Manipulating this encounter over and over again when leaving and re-entering the same screen was important because you want to try to get close to level 13 as quick as possible but without over-doing it. Bear in mind that as you adjust Willow's exp during any part of the game, you still have three bosses to go through from there: Muzh with 2000 exp, Eborsisk with 5000 exp, and Gen. Kael with 8000 exp.

Boss battles: If you want to defeat all the bosses at a short time, you must understand Willow's sword control as well as positioning. My technique involved using Willow's sword to pin each boss (except Eborsisk) against the left wall, and then torturing them by rapidly poking them which seemed to be quicker going into Muzh. For Queen Bavmorda, she chose to pin herself against the upper-left hand corner, but even at that rate, Willow had the techniques to defeat her quickly. In the beginning, Willow still had to get used to swords, but swinging one slowly allowed him to gain 2 to 3 hits pretty quick. For a TAS, our judges may ask for battles to be kept as short as possible. And that would call for critical thinking.

My final thoughts

This 3rd draft has been a huge ride. And after three drafts, the only word that best describes this is simply "endurance". And the reason is that as I look back, this has been worked on for at least a year. So there is no telling if another long-term RPG run will ever come around. If you want RPG and you want improvements, I give you the honor to take advantage of both on this one.

Recommendations

Screenshot: frame # 220610

Opening and Closing logos on publication: Dr. Mario ( http://rapidshare.com/files/239791535/dr_mario_logo.rar ) -- the RAR should have the AVI's needed to make this possible.

Encoder: ShinyDoofy, adelikat, Raiscan, Bisqwit, or ccfreak2k :)

Special thanks to:

  • emptyeye - For his recent interest in this game and setting a single-segment record on speeddemosarchive.com because I learned a few things from that run of his.

  • omnipotententity - For giving me the heads-up on quite a few things that were improvable including the Bogarda duel and the route through Forest of Dew. Also, for making up the WIP clips to cover this.

  • Finally, YOU. The tasvideos.org viewers and judges - Your support is the reason tasvideos.org stays online and it's never coming down. Thank you.

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