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

Submission #2792: AKheon's GBC Xena: Warrior Princess in 03:37.25

Console: Game Boy Color
Game name: Xena: Warrior Princess
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Xena - Warrior Princess (U) [C][!].gbc
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 03:37.25
FrameCount: 13035
Re-record count: 2394
Author's real name: Hannu Ratilainen
Author's nickname: AKheon
Submitter: AKheon
Submitted at: 2010-08-07 20:56:18
Text last edited at: 2010-08-12 06:58:40
Text last edited by: Flygon
Download: Download (1614 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:

(Link to video)
Made with VisualBoyAdvance Emulator version 1.7.2 re-reconding v21-interim

Settings should allow Left+Right

"Welcome to Psychosia, Xena. You are now in one of your dreams, will you be able to wake up?"

Dream analysis by AKheon:

Setting of the dream is a colorful, simplistic world, naivistic in its exaggerations and lack of realistic attributes. An open plain where the sun always seems to shine. But it's a foreign place, with Xena apparently having wound up there by an accident. She is lost, and her body shows out of ordinary signs. It's being the chubby girl of the classroom once again. Her emotional immaturity and insecurity has materialized in the most conniving manner right before our mortal eyes. It's a world where everything is out to get her, from the seemingly innocuous wildlife to the instantaneously drowning lakes - a symbol with many meanings - with the almost only exception to this endless list of dangers being a mysterious man named Salmoneus, who briefly appears in the role of a tutor before stepping out from the view and, as could be interpreted, abandoning Xena, like many others in her life have done before. It represents her yearning for closeness that she apparently has never had. It could also mean that her parents always wanted for her to be a boy instead, and how she has suffered trying to fulfill that ambitious pipe dream forced upon her.

She acts as if she was in a terrible hurry, wishing to leave this hellish place "Psychosia" at once. But alas, it is no more hellish than her own inner strife. She grabs a sword, then proceeds to cross a big lake in arching, nature-defying steps. It probably means that she has had to overexceed herself in her daily life, possibly for a long time already. Wandering through the maze of wilderness, she finally ends up at an old well. She slips down and slides into the dark beneath - sub-consciousness - in which scary creatures roam and everything is dark, and as to reflect this unimaginably dreadful turn of events, her speed increases twofold! Eventually she makes it back to the surface, and after fending off for her life even more, this time against threatening male figures, and also miraculously jumping through solid brick walls (her inner world, even with its scant laws, is breaking down) she ends up at a kitchen and faces the biggest humiliation of them all: she is bombarded with raw dough by two coarse looking kitchen workers. She is not hurt, but she panics at the sight of the pasty substance for reasons unbeknownst to us and only known by her.

Almost out of her strength, she finally manages to break through the last door of her trials. The truth that now awaited her flabbergasted and tormented self was even more prismatic and surreal than anything that had come before. There was a bearded man named Morpheus, caged and marching restlessly to the patterns his solitary mind dictated. He and Xena manage to exchange a few words before he too disappears from the dream. He promises better dreams from now on... while his words might not hold air, they are the best thing Xena has for hope for a happier tomorrow, and thus she chooses to ignore any pessimistic thoughts on the matter because, having woken up, she is not forced to drivel in her neurotic undercurrents any longer and she can just drown everything out in the blissful pain of staring directly at the sunset. Life is good.

Disclaimer: I last watched Xena when I was a kid, and I may have gotten a few details wrong.

History of the run:

I got interested in this game after having watched a humorously anguished Let's Play type of video of it on Youtube. While trying the game out, I found the glitches which allow skipping almost everything in the game. Not a hard task, because this game seems to be shoddily tested. It's easy to use these glitches even in real time. I started making the run in 2009 just because I always wanted to try to make a TAS. I personally think this is a pretty good game choice - short, versatile, broken, good music... and also, the setting allows your mind to easily wander and write its own fan fiction while playing it, as you can probably tell had happened from the lengthy introduction. Anyway, I took a few breaks from making the run over the year, and finally finished it just a few days ago.

Techniques & glitches:

Fastest movement is jumping. However, since you can't jump diagonally, some amends have to be made on the course of the game.

The biggest glitch-inducer in the game is the message which appears when you have too few diamonds to save. You can combine it with jumps to get through walls or over rivers, you can skip item pick-up music and message with it, you can combine it with items for various effects (not seen in this run since almost everything is skipped), you can combine it with momentum, collision, ladders, mine carts and other stuff to breach walls and do some interesting tricks (not seen either)...

In the sidescrollers, if you hold L+R, you double your speed. Damage (and collision) boosting is possible, and recommended. Ladders can be jumped up for very quick ascension.

There's a long period of invulnerability when you damage your enemies. This can be cut short by going far enough from them, a trick used in the fighting section 1. If you go too far from your enemies as they are dying, they will instantly respawn but with low enough health to die from just one hit (note: in rooms in which you are forced to kill all enemies, you can't fool the computer using this trick by respawning one enemy over and over, or variations, etc.) Overall, manipulating your enemies from far away is not possible because of the same distance limit... your enemies begin their actions only after you come close enough to them.

Messages can be skipped with both A and B, so instead of patiently searching for the earliest frame for skipping a message, I usually alternated between A and B for every frame.

There are a few random occurences which lead me to believe that there is still something to unearth with this game. For example, I've had Xena's sword disappear when unlocking the cage at the final area (unrelated to this run) for no obvious reason, and I couldn't reproduce it either. Then, there are cases like Xena becoming "immune" to collision and insta-death platforms until she re-visits the "too few diamonds" screen. Now, if only there was a glitch with which you could manipulate your inventory or warp... that would be nice.

Level notes:

Swamp - hop to the sword. I jump through collision using the most common glitch to cut a few corners and also to skip the item pick-up message & music (it saves, according to memory, about 100 frames each use due to the item pick-up music being a lot longer than the non-save screen music). From there, it's straight to end game, jumping over the pond like it's no biggie. Enemies had to be manipulated, and I think they caused a few lag frames in last screen before Centaurs' Village.

Centaurs' Village - I tried out a few routes through the level, and ended up with this one. There is a chance it is not the fastest possible route.

Castle Moats - The only platforming section in this abridged version of Xena: Warrior Princess. L+R glitch and damage boosting is utilized for maximum speed. The longest swimming section took some attempts to get done quickly - I manually crunched the earliest point Xena can dive again, get damage boosted (and collision boosted from the rock above) and still survive until re-surfacing. Wish there was a way to get down ladders quicker, but quick try-outs did not yield a technique for it.

Ramparts - A roadblock of sort, a level I dreaded doing for a long time. The key to open up the next area appears only after all the enemies are down, and I couldn't find ways to bypass doing any of this in my tests. I jump through the walls instead of using the door on the right side because I'm fairly certain it's faster (using the door causes the same long loading that changing areas does, including the period during which Xena's health bar re-appears inch by inch from the bottom). Since killing stuff is slow, I try to multitask and hit multiple beings with one swing. Manipulating the third foe from the corridor to enter into the range seemed extremely frustrating, and so I settled for two, with the third one killed using the invulnerability shortening technique (again, crunched to be frame precise). At the first patch of enemies, I left the screen too early and prompted the other of the first two enemies to respawn, but I later manage to defeat him without losing (much) time. I don't know how much time, actually, but I don't think it's a big flaw. Plus it adds to the entertainment value, to the asymmetry... In the second patch of enemies, I wait instead of letting any of the enemies respawn. Overall, this section is likely to contain some improvements.

Guardroom - This room went well in my opinion. You can have all four of the guards get killed at the same time with some trickery. The door at the other end only opens after you've defeated every one of the enemies, and you can't jump through it either.

Kitchens - For a long while it was a mystery what made the exit of this room tick, and I'm not sure if I still got all of it yet, but at its purest form the solution just seems to be... get hit by a pasty 10 times. So I went and had Xena do it as frame perfectly as I could. At the 9th hit, I go to the area below the door and attack the wall, causing the enemy behind me get hit for no reason. Some random glitch in this area, being able to hit from a distance occasionally.

The rest - The last "dungeon" is skippable by just doing a jump towards Morpheus when he is heading your way. Simple! I manipulated over a second off this run from my first attempt by having Morpheus walk towards the correct spot a bit quicker.

Note: if you press select in the credits screen, you will see the in-game timer. Note 2: if you press start before Morpheus has disappeared, he glitches up!

Potential improvements: - I did my best to be literally frame-precise, as should, around the game. However, it's to be expected that there are some lost frames here and there.

- memory watching is something I can't do very well due to being fairly new to TASing.

- Centaurs' Village & Ramparts are two areas where I'm feeling lingering doubt as to whether my route choices were the best.

- better enemy manipulation?

- new glitches?

That is all for now.

FractalFusion: A large number of people seem to like this movie. Accepting for publication.

Flygon: Processing...

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