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

Submission #2667: DarkKobold's Genesis Shining Force II in 3:11:04.65

Console: Sega Genesis
Game name: Shining Force II
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Shining Force II (U) [!].bin
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 3:11:04.65
FrameCount: 687879
Re-record count: 20221
Author's real name: K. Thomson
Author's nickname: DarkKobold
Submitter: DarkKobold
Submitted at: 2010-05-12 00:52:03
Text last edited at: 2010-05-19 13:37:40
Text last edited by: sgrunt
Download: Download (23570 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
This run is 54,786 frames, or 15:13.1 faster than the currently published run. If you don't want the surprises of the run spoiled for you, I'd suggest reading the comments after watching. If you've watched the previous run, you will be surprised at the final party.

The Game

Shining Force 2 is a turn-based strategy RPG, and has been on IGN’s top 100 games of all time. The game consists of up to 12 player-controlled characters going against a group of CPU controlled monsters. The characters gain their own experience and levels. Each battle is fought, and ends when all enemies or a boss enemy is dead.

Improvements

While this is my second submission of the game, it is technically my fourth full run of the game. Each run, I realized how little I needed every force member other than Peter. Leveling Peter to absurdly high levels is the key to success. A great number of improvements came from handling death and locations better. The number of characters that are dead changes the starting layout of each battle. I'll be discussing each battle independently.

Difficulty Selection

This submission plays on the difficulty level "Super." This gives all monsters a bonus of 125% of their normal attack power. While, theoretically, "Ouch" was intended to be the most difficult, it is obvious the programmers didn't test the difficulty feature. The AI does not change its behavior, unlike popular opinion states. For fans of the game, "Super" is widely regarded as the hardest difficulty, and thus was chosen for this improvement.

Truth be told, for a TAS, the difficulty matters almost nil. Misses take an extra 30 frames over non-killing hits. However, since a vast number of characters die in the run to critical attacks, and may have require two hits previously, this saves ~100 frames per death. I lose about 5 seconds in the first battle, due to the increased difficulty, however, no other battles required a change of strategy to deal with increased difficulty.

Battles

Spoilers Ahead (Frames/Seconds saved)

Battle 1, Gizmo (-280/-4.7)

Time is lost due to the increase in difficulty, but Bowie ends up with more EXP than the previous run.

Battle 2 (-121/-2)

Another Battle were time is lost, but puts Bowie at a higher level/position than the previous run.

Battle 3, To Hawell (236/3.9)

Improvements were due to better placement of Chester, as well as Bowie at a higher level gains.

Battle 4, Red Baron Ambush (22)

A slightly worse battle order, but only an attack and a critical vs. 3 attacks, so Bowie dies faster.

Battle 5, Inside Galam Castle (1557/26)

A stronger Bowie, along with better manipulation of battle order means that I do not have to kill the mage or get attacked by the archer. All around, a much cleaner battle.

Battle 6 (322/5.4)

Better overall manipulation, as well less kills for Jaha puts me in a much better position to deal damage with Bowie and Slade the rest of the run.

Battle 7, Ancient Tower (1636/27.3)

I got extremely lucky that there were two misses in the RNG cycle. This was also close to the Bowie double/+2 level on the archer. This allowed me to draw the enemy closer without losing Kazin. Poor Jaha bites the dust. After this battle, I pick up the quick chicken, as the previous run(s) all required it. I don't end up using it this run. This costs ten seconds, and should be a noted improvement.

Battle 8, New Granseal (594/9.9)

Jaha has returned from the dead... That is strange. He dies quickly, so I don't have to carry him through the entire battle, saving time. Also, I don't shop, since Chester is quickly becoming useless, and buying him a spear only wastes time (1193/19.9).

Battle 9, Drudge 1 (1933/32.2)

JAHA WHY WON'T YOU DIE??? DEMON! Chester also meets his end in this battle. Kazin survives, as Peter is under AI control, and I need to maintain the ability to manipulate his attacks.

Batte 10, Drudge 2 (3309/55.2)

I waste a lot less time overall. No Chester to slow things down, and better overall motion. Also, Bowie gets his first +1 level.

Battle 11, Cave #1 (13039/25.0)

Less attacks to kill everything in the cave, and switching Bowie/Slade's roles speeds this battle up. The run finally starts to pick-up speed after this.

Battle 12, Cliff Battle (651/10.9)

Sadly, I have to double hit the witch, as Kazin is dead, and no longer able to manipulate Peter's next attack. However, Peter comes under my control after the next battle, making it essential to kill-off Kazin.

Battle 13, Polca Village (329/5.5)

Gerhalt meets his end with the zombie instead of being forced to move further down the map, saving time.

Battle 14 (789/13.2)

I don't carry Luke through the battle, which saves quite a bit of time. I'm still required to double attack a large portion of the enemies to ensure Bowie and Peter full levels.

Battle 15, Achilles Sword (32/.5)

I used up 10 seconds of time, as there are no Peter double attacks with a +3 level within 10 seconds of manipulation. If I managed levels slightly better, I could have avoided the Power Ring boost.

Battle 16, Kraken (927/15.5)

I save quite a bit of time, by only getting attacked by the tentacle once, as well as not boosting Peter, replaced with the Power Potion.

Battle 17 (1020/17.0)

This battle was just cleaner all around. If I had better motion from the top right Arrow Launcher, I may have been able to avoid the last enemy attack. Was unable to get this to work, for a reason that escapes me.

Battle 18, Taros (-229/-3.8)

This battle changed very little from the published run. Peter is tasked with killing more, as I work towards maximizing his Pre-promotion level, which costs a bit of time.

Battle 19, Harpy (-153/-2.6)

This is easily one of my most dreaded battles in the entire run. It is close quarters, with enemies with large movement ranges, and a few enemies on the fringe edges of the map. Ergh. Sarah dies for a very important reason, coming soon.

Battle 20, To Creed (1317/22.0)

I killed quite a few enemies that really didn't need to die. Also, Slade doesn't need to move at all in this battle. It takes 220 frames for Peter to critical the Monk and gain +3. Every attack point for Peter counts, so this is time well spent.

Battle 21, ChessBoard (662/11.0)

Since I've spent so much time on Peter's attack, I don't need to Boost him. Additionally, I wait until after this battle to promote him. This serves to gain him 2 additional attack points. There are only 3 levels in Peter's pre-promoted growth chart where can only gain 2 attack. Since I knew that level would happen on the King, I am able to ignore manipulating both the double hit as well as the attack gain.

Battle 22, Rats! (2856/47.6)

I could not move Willard closer, no matter what I did, and last time this battle took 3 rounds. However, due to Sarah's death in Battle 19, Peter is now 1 Square closer to Willard. This one square was all that was needed to end the battle in 2 rounds. This is one of those times where the number of characters alive changes the entire fight.

Battle 23, To North Paramecia (-248/-4.1)

I pick Karna in Creeds, as she has the lowest Agility/Defense. Since Sarah is dead, I needed someone to replace her job for the next two battles. Bowie's low Agility makes manipulating this battle a pain. You will also notice that Peter gains 50 EXP for many, many attacks. This has a 1/16 probability, and is done frequently.

Battle 24, Cave #2 (153/2.6)

Literally nothing interesting to say about this battle, except, finally, the LAST kill all enemies battle. FREEDOM! Karna nicely offs herself to draw the Lesser Demon to Bowie. Since the following Battle Order doesn't matter much, I can kill her and still manipulate Bowie's double attack.

Battle 25, Higins (3918/65.3)

Peter equips the movement ring, and swaps to the speed ring in the second round. This allows him to take a turn before the mage who steps in the way of attacking the Lizard Man. Sarah already being dead saves time as well, both in missing her attack, and Peter being the required 1 square closer to the Lizardman.

Battle 26, North of Palcon (1175/19.6)

Slade no longer needs kills, so we ignore more enemies. This saves considerable time. Also, I didn't save for a reason that will be clear later

Battle 27, The Bridge (1072/17.9)

Once again, Slade doesn't participate, saving a large amount of time.

Battle 28, Outside the Mitula's Shrine (1511/25.2)

Another level that saved time due to a lack of Slade Power-leveling.

Battle 29, Zalbard (3953/65.9)

Peter's location in this battle is the exactly perfect number of squares to reach Zalbard in two rounds. If Slade were dead, the Harpy Queen would prevent Peter from reacing Zalbard which is why...

Battle 30, Inside Palcon (527/8.8)

...Slade dies in this battle! I also saved outside Mitula's Shrine before this battle...

Battle 31, Jaro (~ 2 minutes)

...so I can glitch past the Jaro battle. The battle takes ~3 minutes with Jaro joining, but walking back from Mitula's shrine takes 30 seconds, so I lose a minute of time from walking twice.

Battle 32, Frajya (738, 12.3)

I take an entirely different path, which results in far less attack animations, but more enemy motion.

Battle 33, Camella (1983, 33.1)

I use Peter's full movement extent in this battle to reach Camella's final position, and with no Slade, a lot of time is saved. Also, I find it funny placing a very weak Bowie in the middle of the action for the final round.

Battle 34, BowRider (515, 8.6)

A Slade-less battle saves a few seconds.

Battle 35, Prism Flowers (194/3.2)

I use a counter on the Mist Demon to gain 25 EXP, which puts Peter at 1 EXP at the end of the Battle. I use the Brave Apple after the battle to boost Peter by 3 attack, resetting him to 0 EXP. All but one of the +50 EXPs paid off.

Battle 35, Red Baron (1027/17.1)

Peter needs to be boosted by Bowie, but due to Bowie's crappy movement radius, I do so earlier than I'd like. About 150 frames are required to manipulate a double attack/single critical, which is due to the loss of affect of the power ring.

Battle 36, Geshp (3412/56.9)

Peter stands over the spot where one of the Burst Rocks will appear, preventing it from Spawning. This battle was also done a round faster.

Battle 37, Hydra (466/7.8)

Peter doesn't desperately need the EXP, so I only kill the Hydra. After this battle, Lemon joins. This is my last access to the caravan, so he gets added into the party. He is required for the final battle.

Battle 38, OddEye (3170,52.8)

I was able to do this in two rounds, due to boosting Peter earlier. OddEye is given two turns in the final round, so that he sits on a 0% land-effect square, as opposed to a 15% land-effect square in the published run.

Battle 39, Tower (-28/-.5)

This battle is nearly identical, but Peter doesn't swap back to the movement ring yet.

Battle 40, King Galam (1207/20.1)

It took far fewer frames to get the double attack/single critical required to kill Galam. Also, no Slade-leveling saves time. I waste about 5 seconds near the end of this battle to get the best round for Zeon.

Battle 41, Zeon, King of the Devils (466/7.8)

The double attack/double critical Peter scores in the first round against Zeon is approximately 7 seconds of manipulation-wait away from the final blow against King Galam. Since this is a fixed amount of wait time, I wait 5 of the 7 seconds at the end of the Galam battle to get a faster round, saving 1.5 seconds off a previous attempt. Red Baron is required, since he has a high enough agility to go before Peter. The hits Peter performs are 250, 51, and 199, in case you were wondering.

A quick note, the Battles add up to a total of 384,103 frames, and non-battle times are 303,776 frames. This means that ~44% of the run is (mostly) un-improvable "cut-scenes." Improving this by 11 minutes would require some pretty heavy-duty scripting. However, here is a list of known improvements: Not getting the Quick Chicken. Bowie using the Speed Ring for Battles 24, 25. Balancing Peters EXP, so he gains the +2 Level on the Arrow Launcher or Kraken. Better scripting to minimize cursor movements.


adelikat: Accepting as an improvement to the published movie.

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