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

Submission #2497: fetofs's GBA Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising in 1:08:21.25

Console: Game Boy Advance
Game name: Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
Game version: USA
ROM filename: 1060 - Advance Wars 2 - Black Hole Rising (U).gba
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 1:08:21.25
FrameCount: 246075
Re-record count: 33184
Author's real name: Fernando F.
Author's nickname: fetofs
Submitter: fetofs
Submitted at: 2009-12-18 02:12:21
Text last edited at: 2010-08-05 02:22:54
Text last edited by: fetofs
Download: Download (10280 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Black Hole plans to launch an attack on Macro Land, and almost all of the territories are under enemy control. Your mission is to stop them by moving your troops in order to complete your objective in certain missions. In the earlier missions that objective is usually to either rout the enemy or to capture their HQ, but occasionally you have to destroy Black Cannons.

This movie:

  • Was made using VBA-rerecording-v23-interim svn190
  • Goes for smallest amount of days for each mission
  • Aims for fastest real-time, if it doesn't increase number of days
  • Moves the cursor as fast as inhumanly possible
  • Manipulates luck (slightly)

There was originally a debate about whether we'd go for days or for real-time -- in practice, however, these goals are highly overlapping. I'm going for minimal days in each mission for consistency with my original goals. As someone who watches the run will probably see, the enemy turns take up most of the time in the later missions.

Game mechanics

CO Powers

Each CO in the game has a power meter, which are the stars under their portrait in the corner of the screen. Those stars fill according to damage taken and dealt. It fills based on unit cost, so if, for example, an Infantry is destroyed from full health (cost 1000), the defending CO will get 1000 more for its power bar, and the attacking CO will get a fraction of that. For that reason, in some missions (such as Great Sea Battle and Navy vs. Air), it's usually better to avoid confrontation in order to stop this power meter from rising.

The AI will usually always use the CO Power as soon as it's available, unless their Super CO Power (bigger stars) is significantly charged.

Damage calculation

Base damage for attacks is fixed depending on the type of enemies (http://www.warsworldnews.com/index.php?page=aw2/damagechart.php has the full chart). A unit which does not have full HP gets its attack power lowered proportionally to its current HP (so a unit with 9 HP does only 90% of its full damage). Units which counterattack take damage first, and then strike back, and therefore dish out less damage.

The damage calculated is displayed as a percentage, but it can occasionally be a bit higher. A unit that has its damage calculated at 63%, for example, has a 30% chance of inflicting 7 damage rather than 6. This is manipulated whenever necessary (Andy's Time and Duty & Honor are two examples of this).

Luck manipulation

The RNG for this game is at 03001fd4-03001fd7. It can only be manipulated by one of these two actions:

  • When choosing which enemy to attack, every delay advances the RNG 3 times.
  • When moving a unit, walking diagonally advances the RNG 1 time (similar to the Fire Emblem RNG).

Time table

I wrote a Python script to check the number of frames each mission takes. For simplicity, a mission is counted as "done" when saving the game is cancelled by pressing "No".

Mission name Mission time (frames)
Cleanup 3630
Border Skirmish 3256
Orange Dawn 3717
Flak Attack 4243
Lash Out 4407
Andy's Time 4023
Test of Time 3977
Liberation 4384
Sensei's Return 4349
Silo Scramble 7319
Duty & Honor 18309
Foul Play 15651
The Hunt's End 12248
Reclamation 4151
Toy Box 5202
Nature Walk 9812
Two-Week Test 10737
Factory Blues 8704
Sea Fortress 10143
Drake's Dilemma 15684
Navy Vs. Air 9404
Rain of Fire 10491
Great Sea Battle 34382
Hot Pursuit 18703
Final Front 19149

Stage-specific notes

  • Orange Dawn: It's possible to capture the HQ instead, but doing so is not only slower in number of days, but also in real-time.
  • Foul Play: The rockets don't move, but they force the enemy to move more carefully and change formations, which allows me to hold the choke point for an extra day.

Ending comments and acknowledgements

I'm still an unexperienced TAS author, so I guess that even though I did my best at making this as precise as possible, there probably are some frame imprecisions I missed. I doubt a lot of the missions can be done considerably faster in terms of strategy, except perhaps for the last two factory missions (but still, I played those missions quite a lot...).

Thanks goes to:

  • Translucent Air for providing the base for many of the strategies seen in the run
  • Nitrodon, samurai goroh, Rolanmen1, atro city, Tompa, Admiral_Sif for tips/suggestions/information
  • Paused, Xaphan, hopper, nitsuja, Tailz, mattk210, Yrr, zdude255, georgexi, applepieman, ntclark, adelikat, Bag of Magic Food and anyone else I've forgotten for support/encouragement

adelikat: Accepting for publication based on positive user feedback.

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