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Tool-assisted game movies
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Submission #283: JXQ's GBA Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance in 30:43.92

Console: Game Boy Advance
Game name: Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance (U) [!].gba
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 30:43.92
FrameCount: 110635
Re-record count: 54126
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: JXQ
Submitter: JXQ
Submitted at: 2006-11-08 05:24:13
Text last edited at: 2006-11-07 22:15:59
Text last edited by: Nach
Download: Download (15157 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance TAS by JXQ

Essentials:

This run satisfies the following criteria:

  • Aims for fastest time
  • Abuses programming errors
  • Manipulates luck
  • Uses a restart sequence
  • Takes no damage
  • Best Ending

  • Emulator Used: VBA 1.7.2 rerecording 19.3

  • Suggested Screenshot

About the game:

In this installment of Castlevania, Juste Belmont, Simon's grandson, has to do the usual vampire hunting. Despite looking nothing like his grandfather (or, a man at all), he still wields a whip <strike>with the best of them</strike>. At least he's got his "androgynous good looks and silvery long hair". (Quoted from Kaz)

Come follow on the adventure through a castle that contains no less than eighty clashing colors in each room! Be amazed as Juste shakes his fist as the Grim Reaper escapes! Question his motives when he takes time out of his rescue mission to decorate the basement he will soon destroy! Enjoy the comic relief of Maxim, the hobbling amnesia victim with a hearty laugh! Feel the pain as Juste struggles to understand that there actually are two castles!! (Ouch my brain!)

About the run:

I first saw a partly finished run of this game by Hornqvist, and realized that this game had a lot of potential for a TAS. The way the main character moves is just asking to be ridiculously optimized. Kaz then took on the project, doing extensive route and weapons research, and he made good progress, notably improving on the previous run in technique and extensive luck manipulation to get lots of critical hits. His effort unfortunately stalled once he discovered the "whip launch" glitch by accident, which could be used at many places beforehand.

This run achieves the best ending, which collects all of dracula's remains and Maxim's bracelet.

Notes:

This run takes advantage of a warping glitch that is seen sometimes when entering a new section of the map (through a swinging door). By dashing backwards after entering a new area, you can enter the doorway in the same way that you enter a normal passageway, instead of via the door animation. What's interesting is that this can sometimes take you to a different place than the door intends. The route used skips three bosses that are normally required, and three more become faster to skip than to fight.

When entering the new area for the first time (so the text appears with the name of the area), the warping glitch will not work. Due to this property, some areas are left as soon as they are entered, only to reenter and then perform a warp glitch.

Near the beginning of the run, I spent about 8 seconds taking a detour to grab the Soul Orb. This relic will display the amount of damage that is done to an enemy each time they are hit. It is technically unneeded because enemy HP can be monitored in the memory viewer. However, attacks can be manipulated to a degree to achieve critical hits, which cause twice the damage. The degree that they are manipulated is entertaining during fights against stronger enemies and bosses, and it gives a greater sense of control over the game when you can actually see the word "Critcal!!" at such a rapid rate.

Several times in this run, the game will pause and seem to start over briefly. This is actually a quicksave, followed by a soft reset, done usually after getting an item that is a bit out of the way in order to warp back to the last save point. This avoids unnecessary backtracking.

A large enemy near the middle of the run (holding a big stick with a skeleton on it) is not killed immediately because he needs to be manipulated into dropping the floating boots, which allow for several shortcuts shortly afterwards.

There are improvements to be found here and there - more toward the beginning than the end. Examples include a few spots I didn't use the downward kick where I could have, and a couple places that a whip launch would be faster than the existing method. Plus, with all the variables involved in critical hits, I'm sure that better "boss routes" could be found if enough time was spent searching for them.

Final game time is 25:42 with 78.3% exploration.

Forms of Travel:

With so many forms of travel, it can be confusing why I use what when I use it, so here are some general properties of Juste's various methods of transport.

  • Dashing

The most basic technique, this can be done from the very start in either direction (meaning, you don't have to be facing the direction you want to dash). Moves 3 pixels/frame for 12 frames, then gets slower. Dashing keeps the same horizontal speed on inclines, and it can be canceled at any time by ducking for a frame, which allows for precise timing of whips and jumps without having to sacrifice dash speed.

  • Sliding

This can be done after getting the Lizard Tail, which is in the fourth room of this run. Sliding moves at 4 pixels/frame, but has pauses between slides, bringing the average to about 3.25 pixels/frame. Sliding (usually) goes slower on inclines, and it can't be canceled either.

  • Jumping

Castlevania has long been known for it's uncontrollable, or "realistic", jumps - especially in the NES days. At the beginning of the game, Juste has the jumping skills of an elephant filled with helium. Platforms are often overjumped because after jumping for 11 frames, you can't stop the ascent. This makes the beginning of the run look sloppy, something that can't be helped.

  • Double jumping

After the first boss, Juste grabs Sylph's feather, and things go from lame to pwnsnake. Each jump still follows the 11-frame rule, but starting a new jump in mid-air can be given just the height needed without over-shooting. Climbing goes from watching a retarded kid play hopscotch to riding in a nice smooth elevator.

  • Diving kick

Juste also can do a diving kick once Sylph's Feather is obtained, making downward travel about twice as fast and approximately one hundred and seven times cooler. This dive can also go diagonally, which is faster than dashing down a slope, and can bounce off of enemies, causing damage. Often this is used as a method to pass through enemies while they are taking damage.

  • Whip Launch

The diving kick opens up a whole new bag of worms. When dive-kicking an enemy or object, whipping (or using a sub-weapon) immediately afterwards will send Juste flying backwards with rapidly increasing velocity. This is the fastest form of travel as long as the environment allows it. A form of Whip Launching can also be done without the double jump, by sliding backwards off of a ledge and using the whip or sub-weapon.

  • Super Jump

A very fast and high reaching vault which is the fastest way to move upward if the space is large enough. If the jump hits a ceiling, Juste will pause on the ceiling for a moment, and this is usually enough of a delay to make regular jumping a faster alternative for short climbs.

Thanks to...

I owe many many thanks to Kaz, who not only did all the hard stuff, including finding the optimal route, weapon combinations, and glitch discovering, but also for watching my progress closely and making sure I was doing stuff right, and offering lots of encouragement.

Also thanks go to OgreSlayeR for his important discoveries - most notably, skipping the ice fist, and whip launching off a corner - and similarly watching my progress and looking for improvements. Thanks to pirate_sephiroth and Zurreco as well for checking my progress for improvements.

  Friend 1: I just castlevania-jumped into the (bleep)ing water SON OF A (bitch)
  Friend 2: What a horrible night to have a curse.

JXQ: Apparently I submitted this two years ago? What the hell?
JXQ: Editing seven thousand times because some formatting looks good on the original page and some looks good on the forum, but not much seems to work for both.


Truncated: Accepted for "kickassness".


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