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

Submission #2856: p4wn3r's GB Buster Brothers in 11:22.1

Console: Game Boy
Game name: Buster Brothers
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Buster Brothers (U).gb
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 11:22.1
FrameCount: 40926
Re-record count: 12388
Author's real name: Felipe Lopes de Freitas
Author's nickname: p4wn3r
Submitter: p4wn3r
Submitted at: 2010-10-01 04:39:01
Text last edited at: 2012-12-30 13:29:53
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (2358 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Unofficial encode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a1QQBpryq4

Run attributes

  • Emulator: VBA-rr v23 svn217
  • Aims for the fastest completion of the game
  • Uses no warps
  • Abuses minor programming errors
  • Contains speed/entertainment trade-offs

About the game

Buster Brothers, also known as Pang, is a well-known series of puzzle games. This is the first release of the series, ported to the Game Boy. I decided to pick the GB version for TASing because the levels are simpler, which makes the run shorter and easier to optimize.

The plot is rather simple. Some "bubbles" are attacking the Earth and you must travel across the world busting them. The game has 50 stages divided into 17 locations: Mt. Fuji, Mt. Keirin, Emerald Temple, Australia, Taj Mahal, Leningrad, Paris, London, Barcelona, Athens, Egypt, Kenya, New York, Maya, Antartica and Easter Island. It offers the option to start from Leningrad and thus skip 18 levels. However, I ignored this and went through all the levels to show the entire game.

Each stage can have breakable, unbreakable, icy or invisible platforms, ladders or frozen ground. There are always bubbles to be busted. When hit, they lose all momentum and break into two smaller parts, which go in opposite directions, getting hit by them will make you die. The bubble only disappears when you hit their smallest piece. Eventually, when hitting a larger bubble, an item may drop, it can be one of the following:

  • Power Wire ---- Stays attached to the ceiling for some seconds
  • Double Wire ---- Allows you to fire two wires, stacks with Power Wire
  • Vulcan Missile ---- A weapon that fires a lot faster than the others, but doesn't leave a line behind it.
  • Shield ---- If you get hit by a bubble, you live and the bubble disappears. One use only.
  • Dynamite ---- Breaks all bubbles to their smallest parts
  • Clock ---- Freezes the bubbles at their positions for some seconds
  • Hourglass ---- Gives you 30 more seconds to complete the level, if your remaining time is less than 100
  • Mystery Item ---- Gives you one more life

Tricks/glitches used in the movie

The only way I found to manipulate item drops is by dying, which is out of question, since it wastes a lot of time. Because of this, drops in a stage occur when you separate a bubble and only if there's no item in the screen, the type of the item is the same no matter which bubble you bust.

A lot of the time, I have no items on and can't shoot a second wire until the previous one has disappeared. The most immediate trick then is to move into position for the next shot while the previous one is on its way to the bubble and try to shoot bubbles at their lowest positions. Another trick is to get the wire to hit the bubble in its bottom since it makes it explode some frames sooner sometimes, this is useful when I need to get another shot really fast. However, it can't be applied when I need to move at the earliest possible moment because this trick often requires delaying the shot. I try to keep movement to a minimum, because it may cause lag.

Most strategies rely on getting the Dynamite fast because it reduces the number of shots to get rid of all bubbles. Another useful items are the Vulcan, that can be fired a lot faster; the Clock, which makes the bubbles stop making them easier to hit and gives Pang invincibility, so you don't need to worry about dodging bubbles; and the Shield, which allows killing a bubble without shooting and often saves time by running into a bubble instead of dodging it. The hourglass can actually waste time, grabbing it while having less than 100 seconds remaining makes me waste 30 frames on the score counting screen. Sometimes though, it was better to get it because it's necessary for other items to drop and/or because there wasn't other alternative.

There's also a glitch with the platforms, the collision detection is completely messed up, which makes the platform a lot wider than it looks. It may sometimes stop items from hitting the ground, making them unobtainable. It's possible to make an item stop over thin air because of this. Another trick also exists, if you hit a bubble when it's too close to the platform, the item will go through the platform. I use this a lot to receive item from bubbles that are trapped.

There's also an interesting trick with Pang's invincibility. Apparently, the game only runs collision checks on the edges of the hitbox. Because of this, when Pang is invincible from the shield or a level respawn and a bubble enters his body, he'll only die when the bubble gets out. I abuse this by grabbing a shield and moving Pang against two bubbles that are near. One of them is destroyed, while the other can be shot inside Pang's body. With this, I avoid dodging a bubble and save time.

Another nasty glitch exists. While in a ladder, you can shoot a wire, but can move freely after that without the knockback animation. However, when Pang gets out of the ladder and returns to his normal stance, he does the knockback animation, even long after the shot was done. A similar effect occurs in levels with frozen ground. When Pang is in the air and you move him to the side and do a shot just before hitting the ground, he shoots and stays still in his position. However, he conserves the gained momentum somehow, meaning that he'll slide back if you move him the opposite direction and accelerate a lot when going to the same side. I had to do an unoptimal shot at a level in Leningrad to avoid the effects of this bug.

At 13-39, my first shot is glitched. It breaks a big bubble into one medium and one small. With this, that shot counted as three. This glitch could greatly improve other levels, but I failed to make it work in other occasions, so I ignored it.

My entertainment trade-off is in the last level. Because there's no input after it to clear the game, it may be possible to lock the bubbles in the lower-left portion, leave the game with no input when a crab will eventually drop and kill all bubbles. However, I don't believe people would like to see Pang dying/waiting minutes for the bubbles to be killed and finished that level like all others.

Individual stage comments

  • 1-1: Fastest level in the run. I wait for the bubble to get to its lowest position and break it to get a clock and a dynamite.
  • 1-2: Only one big bubble. With the help of the shield, I can eliminate it before it bounces.
  • 1-3: Trying to move closer to the last two bubbles will cause death, so I'm forced to wait.
  • 2-4: I couldn't avoid letting the last bubble bounce, so I had to wait a little in the end.
  • 2-5: I get the clock at the right time, so that the right bubbles is close and the bubbles on the left don't freeze too close to the wall, which would make them impossible to hit.
  • 2-6: I time some shots here to make the items get to the ground.
  • 3-7: This one was hard, I was unable to stop some small bubbles from leaking. I'm satisfied with the solution, though.
  • 3-8: Despite the annoying platforms, the dynamite-vulcan-clock combo makes this level easy.
  • 3-9: Annoying level, in the end I take an hourglass, wasting 30 frames, I couldn't avoid getting it losing less time.
  • 4-10: A little slow because the bubbles stay in high position in the beginning and I have to wait towards the end.
  • 4-11: I break two platforms to allow the bubbles to stay in better position. I also time the shots to make the Power Wire stay in the platform, since it's slower than the vulcan.
  • 4-12: Completed fast because the platforms keep the bubbles enclosed in a small area.
  • 5-13: Huh, LAAAAG!!! Hitting the falling bubbles is tricky, I did some dodging because I needed the shield on because I needed it to kill a bubble above that was bouncing too low to be hit.
  • 5-14: I time a shot to avoid getting the Power Wire.
  • 5-15: Two bubbles leak here, unfortunately.
  • 6-16: I wait a little to get the clock for better positioning.
  • 6-17: I hate this level. The bubbles upper-right take too long to leave without breaking the platform and, even after many attempts, I failed to stop a bubble from leaking to the right.
  • 6-18: Getting the clock is useless. One bubble always ended up above a platform, so I don't get it.
  • 7-19: Frozen ground is annoying. Avoiding a backslide is only possible by moving really slow. Also, there's a lot of dodging here, making it a hard level.
  • 7-20: Simple. I could have avoided some walking to hit the left bubble but that would be slower because of a glitch.
  • 7-21: Bubbles in opposite sides and difficulty in steering makes it slow.
  • 8-22: No dynamite. It takes some time because of the amount of shots.
  • 8-23: After many attempts, I could use a platform to stop the last bubble from leaking left. Yay!
  • 8-24: I wait a little to stop bubbles from getting above the platform. I also time getting the clock to make the leftmost bubbles closer.
  • 9-25: Only one bubble enclosed makes it fast. However, I couldn't avoid losing 30 frames because of an hourglass.
  • 9-26: I time getting the dynamite to make the vulcan get to the ground. Also loads of lag.
  • 9-27: Pretty simple. I wait a little in the ladder, because I'd die if I climbed as fast as possible.
  • 10-28: I break two platforms to get the Vulcan, there's no way to get it breaking only one.
  • 10-29: I have to wait to set the farthest bubble closer.
  • 10-30: I break a platform to get the dynamite and vulcan.
  • 11-31: Simple, just freeze the bubbles close.
  • 11-32: I need to break two platforms to free a bubble.
  • 11-33: I wait a little on the stairs, so that a bubble isn't frozen too close to the left.
  • 12-34: More platform breaking. It was hard timing the dynamite, and still one bubble leaked...
  • 12-35: I break platforms and wait so that all bubbles are frozen in hittable positions.
  • 12-36: Hard level, I spent a good time trying to make the items drop to the ground.
  • 13-37: OMFG 1337 level!!11 It took some work to find a fast way, but I could do it with careful breaking and timing.
  • 13-38: I hate to wait to dodge a bubble. I also couldn't get the vulcan to drop very fast, so I ignored it.
  • 13-39: I do a mysterious glitched shot and time getting the clock.
  • 14-40: I break a platform to freeze the bubbles close.
  • 14-41: Lag and no items make it long.
  • 14-42: Too many shots to make and bubbles in different directions make it hard.
  • 15-43: The diagonal obstacles made it tricky, but not very hard.
  • 15-44: The bubble above is very annoying and made it last a lot more.
  • 15-45: That required the most precise timing of the dynamite and clock in the run, I spent a really long time to do it fast.
  • 16-46: Getting hit by the bubbles is very easy, some time was lost with dodging. There's also the movement difficulty.
  • 16-47: Maybe the easiest level in the game. Can be completed without moving by just shooting as soon as possible. Don't know why it's one of the last.
  • 16-48: Easy because of clock-dynamite. I have to move a little to the left while falling to be able to hit the bubble.
  • 17-49: I break an invisible platform to stop the bubbles from remaining above forever.
  • 17-50: I needed to wait for a bubble. One of them also leaked to the right, which is very annoying.

Final words

With this, I hope to make an acceptable run of this great game. The game is quite hard to TAS and I won't be surprised if some levels can be done significantly faster with different strategies. I did my best to optimize the strategies I used though. I know that puzzle games have a great decrease in entertainment if they take too long, but I think this one was very varied and short. If it still drags on, it's possible to hex part of this run and make it start at Leningrad, doing only 32 levels. Enjoy!
Nach: The reception on this one is a bit low. A more entertaining port of this game would be preferable. Rejecting.
adelikat: Unrejecting as accepting for publication to the Vault. Note to publishers, it looks like the speed/entertainment tradeoff described by the author does not lengthen the completion of the game, it just that he did not end input earlier than the completion of the last level (which is one of several options available to an author) therefore do not tag this movie with Contains Speed/Entertainment Tradeoffs

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