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

Submission #2812: MUGG's GB Super Mario Land "hard mode" in 12:14.77

Console: Game Boy
Game name: Super Mario Land
Game version: any v1.1
ROM filename: Super Mario Land (W) (V1.1) [!].gb
Branch: hard mode
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 12:14.77
FrameCount: 44086
Re-record count: (unknown)
Author's real name: Christoph H.
Author's nickname: MUGG
Submitter: mugg
Submitted at: 2010-08-18 19:10:44
Text last edited at: 2010-08-22 17:30:09
Text last edited by: Nach
Download: Download (10557 bytes)
Status: published
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VBM file begins from a snapshot (flags=1)

Author's comments and explanations:

(Link to video)

About the run

  • Used emulator: 1.7.2 re-recording v21-interim

  • Aims for the highest score without wasting time
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Second quest/Post game-completion
  • Genre: Platform

I had the idea of running this game in hard mode for a long time and I began working on it after I finished my regular TAS. After completing the game once, you are given the oppportunity to play through it once more in hard mode. There are more enemies in hard mode so I thought it would make a more interesting TAS. Unfortunately, many enemies can't be jumped on or comboed, be it due to the level design or due to lag. I asked the community in the Super Mario Land thread if I should attempt the maximum score even at the expense of lag, but I eventually decided to go for the lag-free option because 1) I wanted a clean TAS. Ignoring the lag may have led to some unpleasant moments in my run and it is rather arbitrary. 2) The moments where I can't combo enemies because it would result in more lag are kept to a minimum and it's hardly noticable now.

Why does this TAS run from a savestate?

In order to unlock hard mode, one needs to complete the normal game first. There aren't any save files so starting from reset wasn't possible. I took the regular TAS and continued from there, quitting the end credits sequence as soon as possible. This felt like the least arbitrary way of starting the TAS, better than using a sloppy playthrough for the normal mode. I'm not sure if the game resets the RNG after the end credits, but my assumption is it doesn't. Waiting at the "The end" screen might have resulted in better luck with the x-3 levels... I didn't test it. But I didn't want to use such a strategy to 1) avoid a luck-manipulation mess where I redo many levels over and over (which already is tedious with inserting idle frames in x-1 and x-2 levels). 2) It felt less arbitrary too.

So I cut off the regular TAS since I only wanted to present the hard mode TAS and not a 25 minute movie of both the regular and the hard mode TAS.

http://dehacked.2y.net/microstorage.php/info/277491756/Super%20Mario%20Land%20TAS%20HARD%20MODE.vbm This is the complete movie file. The savestate this submitted TAS runs from was taken on frame 51701.

The regular TAS was thought to be unimprovable until I came up with the crouching trick which saved 4 frames. If this movie was to be published, I'm not sure how future movies should be handled (should they use the improved regular TAS or not?). Maybe it's the best if the next player is given the option to wait at the previous mode's "The end" screen until the RNG is perfect. I'm not sure if this strategy would work, though, as I mentioned earlier. The luck this TAS had was already very good. Only about 6~9 idle frames needed to be inserted.

Level comments

Level Comments
1-1 There are many enemies here that I can't hit due to level design.
1-2 This got to be the best level to show off hard mode's potential. Here was also the first occurence where a combo would have resulted in lag so I needed to avoid a part of it.
1-3 -
2-1 This is the level where I stopped progress for a long time because I wasn't motivated to deal with the bonus screen in 2-3 (meaning I would have to redo 2-1 and 2-2 many times). Luckily, no idle frames needed to inserted in these levels at all!
2-2 Many enemies can't be hit here due to level design either.
2-3 Strangely, I was able to kill the boss here with no delay occuring in the bonus screen (which wasn't the case with the regular TAS). This may support the reasoning that someday the 5000 points from this boss can be gotten in the regular TAS without delay.
3-1 There is some lag in the beginning of this level, but nothing much can be done about it.
3-2 -
3-3 Manipulating this level's bonus screen is different from 1-3 and 2-3. The bonus screens in those levels seem to depend solely on timing whereas the bonus screen of 3-3 depends on other things too. This image ( http://img841.imageshack.us/img841/7093/unbenanntzo.png ) describes the problem I experienced. This bonus screen may depend on the behavior of the boss, Mario's position, the time he falls down... 5 idle frames needed to be inserted here.
4-1 There is much lag in the tunnel sequences here and I needed to miss a coin block to reduce the lag...
4-2 1 frame was lost at the last falling platform due to how the game works: Falling platforms and enemies are shifted leftwards as the screen progresses so their positioning isn't accurate all the time. Mario steps on the falling platform later than in my improved regular TAS even though both runs had the same movement (they both went 1 pixel, 2 pixels, 1 pixel, 2 pixels etc. at the same screens). This may be caused by a different frame number so the object shifting is much related to how the screen scrolls only at every other frame in 2-3 and 4-3, independant on when the level started. I'm not sure if my reasoning is correct though...
4-3 -

Possible improvements?

I can get one more coin in 1-1, at frame 350. However, this results in one more lag frame in 4-2 so it's actually slower. If I get the coin in 1-1 and miss one purposefully in 4-1, the result is the same as when I miss it in 1-1 (the TAS syncs until the end). It seems like the number of coins has an effect on the lag in that instance in 4-2. Maybe future movies will be improved by missing certain coins in certain levels or keeping the number of coins low...

Closing words

Enjoy the run :)

Flygon: Added YouTube module.
Nach: Despite this being an excellent run, and being well received by the audience, acceptance isn't easy, due to starting from a save state. This movie is "impure". Ideally any movie trying to obsolete this will start from the exact save used here, but that is unenforceable. Till we can come of with some sort of alternative though, we really have no other way to create a movie of this kind, other than hacking the game to begin with hard mode, and having the movie made with the hack. Therefore, I'm accepting this for now. We'll need some alternative solution for future runs.

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