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

Submission #2550: FatRatKnight's NES Magician in 11:33.84

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Magician
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Magician (U) [!].nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 11:33.84
FrameCount: 41699
Re-record count: 5290
Author's real name: Leeland Kirwan
Author's nickname: FatRatKnight
Submitter: FatRatKnight
Submitted at: 2010-01-29 11:33:28
Text last edited at: 2010-02-02 06:46:35
Text last edited by: flygon
Download: Download (8837 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.

While many heroes would depend on hours of fighting for experience, Paul instead gets his experience from those trivial things in order to defeat Abadon in a timely manner.

Once again, I don't hold back on the subtitles. May it help inform of many things while watching the run.

Improvements

This beats my previous run by a little over 38 seconds.

  Place       Old    New      Diff
  -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
  TOWN         177    177        0
  WILDERNESS  7094   6794    - 300
  LAKE       11094  10840    - 254
  FOREST     16251  16247    -   4
  CAVERNS    22098  20712    -1386
  DUNGEON    27930  28086    + 156
  CASTLE     32177  30725    -1452
  TOWER      34936  33098    -1838
  TOWER TOP  37526  35287    -2239
  U. POTION  37986  35811    -2175
  End input  44003  41699    -2304
The bulk of the improvements are using EXORCISE against bosses and using the extra mana from the cheaper spell and a REFRESH POTION to more aggressively speed through other parts.

About the game

The evil wizard Abadon threatens to destroy Merlwood tomorrow, or something. And as usual, only one guy can stop him. 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. That REFRESH POTION is all the food I need.

   ??-??-??-??-?? = UNKNOWN...  : Manipulated into healing me
   PO-NA-ST-RA-NA = LIGHTNING   : For Gargoyle and Statue
   PO-HU-RA-NA-HU = EXORCISE    : For the other 4 bosses
   MI-RA-NA-RA-ST = FLY         : Used a few times when I need height
   MI-RA-HU-FI-NA = JUMP        : To get through LAKE. Used for speed, too
   FI-RA-NA-HU-NA = FIRE SHIELD : To survive fire-bridge
   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 each spell eats 50 mana. You can also pick up a spell scroll to learn it as well, but the only ones I do pick up come unavoidably packaged with the required items anyway.

LIGHTNING(4) deals 11 POW damage for 16 mana, with a maximum volley of 3 shots at a time for 33 damage for 48 mana. The bolts fly straight and true.
EXORCISE(4) deals 11 PHY damage per pellet for 50 mana, shooting 6 pellets at once outward in various directions from Paul. 66 damage per 50 mana if you're inside an enemy.

The efficiency of EXORCISE allows me to use more FLEET FOOTs and JUMPs. I still need LIGHTNING to deal with the Gargoyle at the LAKE due to position, and the Statue due to position and the fact I can't fly inside it.

FLEET FOOT(1) takes 100 mana and can save 179 frames at an optimal timing. JUMP(4) takes 36 mana and saves 59 frames, but can be cast rapidly enough that it saves more time than FLEET FOOT, assuming you even have the mana for it.

But with the cost of these spells, one limitation of how fast you can go depends on how well you can manage mana. Then again, snatching up the REFRESH POTION throws that out the window. The REFRESH POTION is so good that it helps me even before I pick it up -- I can spend mana early knowing I'll get it all back later.

Mechanics

Just a few random details I can think of that should be said:

Paul walks in specific increments. These increments are about 5 pixels, but I didn't exactly analyze this deeply. But I do know enough that Paul could very well walk 4 pixels farther than he needs to in order to enter a door. It is possible to "break" this 5-pixel step by casting a spell, even in failure. Paul will instantly hold out his hands in spell-casting form and this messes with his walking animation. Thus, you can adjust where these increments take place at.

A 60-frame timer at 005A dictates the duration of just about everything. From your FLEET FOOT to how long that fire bridge melts you dead or how long you can fly. If there's ever a memory address to watch, it is this one, 005A.

The start button completely pauses the game. Even 005A is halted. It would make managing mana trivial if I could extend a FLEET FOOT indefinitely without the slow menu transitions, but no. 005A is stopped with the start button, don't bother.

Locations

I'll just dump a few thoughts of each zone here.

TOWN

Difference between old run and this one is the fact I start off with jumps. I also get some extra money

First thing, I learn JUMP, set it to level 4, and hop away. This idea came from watching Slotermeyer's run, and why I didn't test it until now... Call it laziness.

I grab the warrior's 500 gold. This will let me buy an extra mana potion. Actually, I only need 10 gold, but there isn't a faster source of gold anyway, and I do appreciate the cash.

For some strange reason, by visiting the wise man and doing stuff in there, I "forget" the JUMP spell. I still have the spell selected and can use it, I just need to relearn it later. The cost in frames for this loss is thankfully minimal.

I need to make a fairly lengthy detour to deliver a letter for max mana. Since my goal is "best ending", I need to do that.

WILDERNESS

Almost identical to the old run. Only difference is the fact I learn EXORCISE and use EXORCISE(3) against the plant monster.

Some timer tricking is seen here. Basically, around where that wizard is, I enter the menu twice, both times I watch 005A to ensure that it doesn't tick in the main screen, to keep a longer lasting FLEET FOOT.

At the bog, it's either the short-lasting FEATHERLITE + shorter-lasting, expensive FLEET FOOT, or the cheap, long-lasting FLY. Guess which one I take? The boss goes down from a few shots of EXORCISE.

LAKE

Compared to the old run, I grab an extra mana potion, and make a daring leap off a turtle shell.

I hit exactly 0 mana while learning LIGHTNING and relearning JUMP. I also cast FLEET FOOT(4) as I'm drinking the three mana potion here and now, and that 250 extra mana had better be used somewhere!

The background lightning can kill instantly if you're flying at the time. Regardless, that one turtle shell takes too long, I'm jumping overboard anyway! This is the earliest I can FLY without lightning death.

FOREST

Good grief, the difference is huge -- I use FLEET FOOT at every useful moment I could try!

Not much to say about the Mushroom Spirit. Dies to EXORCISE like the plant monster. I do manage to get a FLEET FOOT to last after the battle, extended slightly thanks to the needed menu transition.

Numerous optional max mana stuff around, which I do for "best ending". At some point, I cast the UNKNOWN... spell to heal myself. Since I'm finally using the UNKNOWN... spell, I shall introduce it. This spell will often kill Paul in many colorful ways. However, it has a chance to heal for 20% and remove all venom. In a TAS, a chance of anything good happening may as well be a guarantee, so needless to say, I get the needed healing. Unlike the previous run, it's not used to defeat the obnoxious hunger, but rather actual attacks from enemies for once!

CAVERNS

This run goes into the Maze of Doom to get the REFRESH POTION. The old one didn't.

It may be dark, but unlike certain other games, darkness does not completely black out vision. Instead, the game uses darker shades. Thanks, the viewers needs something to see!

The power of address 005A pretty much ruined stuff at the bridge. I was stuck either making my FLEET FOOT run out early or lose a few frames waiting for it to disappear so I can use IRON BOOTS. Oh well...

I grab the treasure for a quick 1000 mana from the two mana potions. This idea came from Slotermeyer, and it's still good.

Gather the three MAGIC CHARMs from each of the rooms. The statue battle is fairly optimal now, compared to the old run.

Then I dive into the Maze of Doom. Along the way to the REFRESH POTION, there is a friendly wizard. I talk to him for 500 mana. Which is good, considering I ran myself down to as low as 12 mana. That's nowhere near enough for another FLEET FOOT, but just 14 frames after the chat, I ended up using some of the freshly gained mana.

Then the REFRESH POTION, at last... This is the reason why I was so aggressive at casting speedy spells earlier. And is why I will aggressively jump through the next area.

DUNGEON

The old run uses FLEET FOOT, then stops abruptly due to mana and health issues. This one uses a REFRESH POTION and those issues don't exist anymore!

I whip out my JUMP(4) spell and... You already know what I'm going to do! The whole friggin' place is jumped through! This is the power of the REFRESH POTION!

I really don't have much to say about this place. I just crunch through no problems.

CASTLE

I squeeze in a few extra jumps and use the EXORCISE spell. The old run had to deal with critically low mana and still beat the flame demon with LIGHTNING.

I cast FIRE SHIELD in the first room, then switch to jumps knowing I'll need a jump to get on the fire bridge anyway. May as well get in some extra speed while I'm at it.

Then the fire bridge. Having zero FIR-SH when you go on it will instantly melt you dead. Ouch. This is why I cast FIRE SHIELD in the last room! The flame demon dies to EXORCISE just as well as any other enemy I've faced, so on we go. Nothing exciting, because I actually had too much mana to throw around.

... Not quite too much. I still needed that Mana Potion from the chest.

TOWER

The old run uses the mana fountain. This run skips the mana fountain entirely.

I need to duck into the spike room for the max mana. Then need IRON BOOTS to leave again. Thankfully, FLY will cancel IRON BOOTS, so upon leaving, I'm not stuck with half speed for long.

While the mana fountain fully restores mana, I have no need for it in this run. Thus, the room is skipped. I go straight to the ULTIMATE POTION room, speed myself up and heal myself slightly. Since I'm not starving to death, just one shot of healing is enough.

TOWER TOP

The difference is that I use EXORCISE instead of LIGHTNING. Poor Abadon didn't see it coming.

One FLY and some EXORCISE doom later, I use the ULTIMATE POTION. During Abadon's long death by potion, I naturally play around with poor ol' Abadon and dance.

Alas, my condition is far different than what I had in the old run. No longer can I make fun of critical injuries or malnutrition. That REFRESH POTION is too powerful!

The ending says I need to beat the game again. The second and third playthroughs only gives the enemy greater health regeneration and more aggressive attacks. Besides, who'd want to watch mostly the same thing three times?

Final thoughts

There's probably still a few things that could be more optimally done. Perhaps there's still some interesting stuff to find.

In any case, I consider myself done. I don't doubt there's still ways to crunch down on even more frames, but finding those savings should be pretty difficult now.

I have made extensive use of my multitrack script while making this run. Letting it hold on to future input helped me avoid needing to remember what I did.

Suggested screenshots:
14809 - Jumping into water...
22982 - Statue battle, like old run
32033 - We're not even facing each other...


mmbossman: Accepting as a magical improvement to a published movie.

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