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

Submission #3098: CoolKirby's GBC SpongeBob SquarePants - Legend of the Lost Spatula in 07:35.75

Console: Game Boy Color
Game name: SpongeBob SquarePants - Legend of the Lost Spatula
Game version: USA
ROM filename: SpongeBob SquarePants - Legend of the Lost Spatula (U) [C][!].gbc
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 07:35.75
FrameCount: 27345
Re-record count: 6302
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: CoolKirby
Submitter: CoolKirby
Submitted at: 2011-04-02 23:14:25
Text last edited at: 2011-04-11 04:26:46
Text last edited by: CoolKirby
Download: Download (1791 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
This is my first TAS, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. I played this game over and over again when I was young, so finishing it in the fastest time possible is more of a personal goal for me. This is actually a very easy game for a first TAS, since the physics of the game are easy to figure out and the game itself isn’t very difficult. Though it’s received mixed reviews, I think it’s a decent platformer for the Game Boy Color.

I decided to make this submission text long

  1. to help viewers understand parts of the video
  2. to help rookie TASers (like myself) who might find a new glitch, decide to do this game and need information about the game
  3. because I personally like reading others' long submission texts, so I made one myself

About the run

  • Emulator used: VBA rerecording v23.2 svn284 (will also sync on v23.4)
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Uses no passwords
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Genre: Platform

In this game featuring the famous SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob stumbles upon a legendary statue that opens the way to the Dutchman’s Underworld. SpongeBob must unlock the statue and defeat the Flying Dutchman to get the Golden Spatula and become the Master Fry Cook. The game has developed a sort of cult following, especially among younger ones. However, there is still very little on the Internet about the game (there were only walkthroughs and a debug code to help me out). All of the tricks and the glitch were found by me.

I started this in November a week after reading Groudon199’s 2006 suggestion of this game in the GB/GBC wishlist. Contrary to what he thought, none of the weapon upgrades need to be collected and the Undersea Desert boss doesn’t choose his attacks based on luck manipulation. Because I don’t need to do the "side quests" to get the weapon upgrades, I can blaze through this game going straight for the oven knobs in the 4 knob-areas.

I started this run two weeks before I finished and submitted it, but sometimes I got all the way to Dutch Under and then was able to save frames from the first levels or got desyncs early in the movie and had to start the run over (copying most of my input from what was left of the desynced/suboptimal movie). I once got most of the run finished and then realized I could have saved a frame in the menu at the beginning of the game by turning "Account for Lag" off. But I'm glad that it syncs now and that it is optimal.

Tricks and Strategy

Moving

Jumping is almost always faster than walking. So I will mostly be jumping to move. Jumping the right distance is hard to do in real time because the jump mechanics of this game are terrible. I remember my fastest completion time a few years ago being about an hour because I kept jumping into enemies and pits. The bad controls may make the run even more entertaining for those who have played the game before.

The few times I walk in this run (unintentional joke) are when it saves time, like in caves with low ceilings. Jumping the highest saves more time, not only because SpongeBob can reach higher platforms but because it moves him farther horizontally than any other jump. After landing from a jump or fall, walking for 1 frame will allow a greater horizontal movement than jumping immediately after landing. SpongeBob squats before he jumps: for 10 frames in a normal jump, and for 17 frames in a spring jump. Holding the B button for any less amount of time will usually result in a lower jump. SpongeBob also seems to gain more horizontal distance if he starts his jump on an odd frame (I don't know why this is true, but this occurred in every area I tested it in).

Manipulation

I sometimes manipulate off-screen platforms with certain input. This way, when I scroll the screen, the platforms will already be moving in the direction I want.

Health

In this game, SpongeBob's hit points are represented by layers of clothing. When he has his brown pants on, he has two hit points. If he takes damage, he will lose his pants and only have one hit point left. If he takes damage one more time, he will have nothing on and you will "die" and start the area over. There is no Game Over in this game; you can "die" over and over, but you'll keep restarting at the last checkpoint until you complete the area. There is also a "hall monitor uniform" which you can get to provide a third hit point, but it is too far out of the way to save any time.

Stage by stage comments

To Treasure Chest

  • I skip the intro cutscene and controls text boxes by pressing Start for both.
  • Once I get to Goo Lagoon (the beach level), I have to go to the far right of the level to get the spatula and the net launcher. These items are necessary to beat two bosses later in the game.
  • Instead of backtracking to the goo directly over the cave, I save time by pausing and selecting "Restart Area" and appearing on the grassy area. I took damage near the middle of this level and lost my second hit point (SpongeBob only has two), but restarting the area refreshes my second hit point.
  • There is a route to an anchor that is floating in midair directly over that spot, which you are supposed to hold on to as it falls very fast through the goo. Alternatively, you can approach the spot where the anchor is and sink to the cave under the goo.
  • I’m happy that I was able to find the glitch that saved 8.5 seconds in sinking to the cave. Normally, when SpongeBob sinks to the cave, he sinks very slowly. But by sinking on the edge of the anchor’s allowed path, SpongeBob shoots down through the water as if he was on the anchor and lands right next to the treasure chest.
  • Opening the treasure chest unlocks 4 new areas where there are 4 oven knobs that SpongeBob needs to collect to unlock the statue.

To Jellyfish Fields

  • I fall down a steep drop and barely make it over the first scallop in the low path. The next scallop is unavoidable without switching to the jellyfish net item, which takes 165 frames to switch to and 57 frames to use. Since this is a speed-oriented run, this item is too slow to be of use.
  • SpongeBob only has one hit point left, so if he hits another scallop, he will "die" and go back to the treasure chest. After I got the spring shoes (which I need for later), I paused and restarted the level. This was faster than walking right, hitting the unavoidable scallop, having to go through a "death" animation, and appearing at the same place that "Restart Area" would take me anyway.
  • There is another scallop in another part of the cave (about frame 4975 or 1:25 in the official encode) that only has a one frame window for jumping over it. I barely made it.

Jellyfish Fields

  • Going to the oven knob-areas in the order (Jellyfish Fields - The Carnival - Kelpazoic Jungle - Undersea Desert) is fastest because SpongeBob defeats the Big Jellyfish with the bubble wand with which he starts the game.
  • This level introduces geysers that shoot SpongeBob very high in the air. As this boost also helps with long horizontal distances, I use these throughout the level. For the rest of the level, I use jumps to keep moving left.
  • After trying three different strategies, I finally optimized the boss battle. The first strategy was standing on the ground and blowing bubbles up at Big Jellyfish. Then the second strategy involved walking on the ground and jumping and blowing bubbles, which I thought was optimal until I realized that just jumping up and down and blowing the bubble inside Big Jellyfish will hit him on the first frame he can take damage after recovering from the last bubble (which looks better anyway).
  • Defeating the boss earns SpongeBob the first oven knob.

To The Carnival

  • I use Up+Select as a shortcut to the Item Switch menu and switch to the spring shoes to enable some super-shortcuts in The Carnival.

The Carnival

  • I abused the geyser’s shoot-player-upward-no-matter-where-he-touches-it behavior to fly to a platform halfway through the level.
  • That moving hook is the only hook in this area high enough to use the spring shoes to jump to the high platform and across a series of hooks to the second oven knob.
  • The two big shortcuts I used allowed me to complete this area in about 17 seconds.

To Kelpazoic Jungle

  • Spring shoes help our square yellow friend move fast and efficiently.

Kelpazoic Jungle

  • There are two routes to the final area, and I choose the right one because it’s (a lot) faster.
  • Near the end of the second area, I jump between two thorny bushes (spikes?). It’s safe to jump between them, but touching either one results in instant "death."
  • I can’t make huge shortcuts in the first two areas because these areas are all about climbing or falling short distances. In the final area, I can make shortcuts through the level thanks to the spring shoes.
  • I had previously thought that the spot the Jungle Fish boss jumps to was based on SpongeBob’s X position, but it appears to be on some kind of frame rule based on which frame SpongeBob enters the battle. The battle can start earlier or later depending on how you enter the stage. A shorter jump into battle will usually make the Jungle Fish jump up earlier, but it may also depend on what height SpongeBob is at when the battle starts (or even when he touches the ground) and how fast the screen scrolls to reveal the boss.
  • After beating the Jungle Fish, SpongeBob gets the third oven knob.

To Undersea Desert

  • I had to switch back to the spring shoes to cover more horizontal distance on the way, since the shoes really help save time in long, flat, horizontal areas like the 4 main areas and Undersea Desert.

Undersea Desert

  • That statue at the beginning of the Desert is the one SpongeBob found at the beginning of the game. It’s fitting that this area holds my last oven knob, even though I could have gone through the stages in any order.
  • Jumping in some caves and hitting the ceiling may look slower, but is actually faster by a few frames.
  • There is a part of a cave where I seem to be wasting time, standing in one place and slowly jumping over an urchin. This is because I am waiting for an unavoidable scallop to swim past me so I have a small amount of time to avoid it and pick up more health. I have to open the treasure chest to refresh my second hit point. Without the jellyfishing net equipped, I have to hit the unavoidable urchin near the end of the level and go back down to one hit point. Luckily, I won’t need to take damage for the rest of the run, so I don’t need to waste time opening any more treasure chests.
  • The boss, Hot Sauce Bandito, chooses between two attacks based on SpongeBob’s Y position. If SpongeBob is above a certain line when he spits out the previous patty, he will do a slow grin animation, slowly take out a hot sauce bottle, and slowly shoot out three hot sauce squirts (did I mention it’s slow?), so I stay on the ground when he’s spitting out patties to always keep his faster attack.
  • It takes the same amount of time to stand at a distance, throw a patty, and jump as it takes to jump toward Bandito and practically feed him the patty. I decided to do the latter, since I think it’s more entertaining.
  • I defeat Hot Sauce Bandito and pick up the fourth and last oven knob. I equip the spring shoes because I will need them in Rock Bottom to jump the great horizontal distance across the level.
  • At the "You Have Found an Oven Knob" screen, pressing A will play a cutscene but pressing Start will skip the cutscene and cut to SpongeBob falling into Rock Bottom.

Rock Bottom

  • This level has lots of enemies. Almost half the platforms (not including balloons) have an urchin or a one-eyed monster on top, both of which are harmful to the touch (or deadly to the touch with one hit point left). To avoid hitting these enemies, I sometimes have to use shorter jumps or walk to the edge of platforms I land on to avoid enemies on the next platform.
  • The spring shoes make quick work of this level, with a level time of about 19 seconds.
  • I did a lot of testing for the jump into Dutch Under, and used what I had learned about the game’s jump mechanics and gravity to execute it perfectly.

Dutch Under

  • The final level of the game! This level introduces ghost birds which behave like jellyfish and big pirates that behave similar to beach bullies. The level music is pretty cool too.
  • I have to wait for some platforms to move up so I can reach a higher platform, so I try to provide some entertainment.
  • Sometimes it looks like I’m wasting time going out of my way and not jumping on a moving platform soon enough. For some reason, platforms seem to have less delay moving up when they are just barely off-screen. Go figure.
  • When I read the walkthrough five years ago, it said that you can only feed the Flying Dutchman one patty every time he is onscreen and then you have to wait for him to fly off-screen, attack, and come down again before you can feed him another patty. This is false; as soon as he spits out the patty, you can feed him another one. I tried it on a real Game Boy Color and I fed him five successive patties on my first try.
  • Don’t fight him, feed him!
  • SpongeBob defeats the Flying Dutchman and obtains the Golden Spatula!

Possible Improvements

None as far as I know. I spent two weeks optimizing everything.

However, I really wish there was a way to glitch through the ceiling in the second area of Kelpazoic Jungle, since the whole level is one big map. You can see the floor of the final area above the ceiling at about frame 12710 (or 3:35 in the encode). I don't think there's a way through, though; this seems to be a pretty solidly programmed game.

Thanks

  • Groudon199, for suggesting this game (quite a while ago)
  • Those who made the Rules and Guidelines, which inspired me to make the run and encouraged me to learn about the game’s mechanics.

Suggested Screenshot

8270


Mukki: Judging...

Mukki: Looks good for a first submission and the audience seems to agree. Accepted, congratulations!


Brandon: Publication underway.

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