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Submission #3357: Tanooki Teabag's NES Amagon in 18:01.79

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Amagon
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Amagon (U).nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 18:01.79
FrameCount: 65014
Re-record count: 19365
Author's real name: R.K
Author's nickname: Tanooki Teabag
Submitter: Tanooki Teabag
Submitted at: 2011-11-12 05:49:05
Text last edited at: 2011-12-07 14:09:24
Text last edited by: Ilari
Download: Download (9269 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Amagon is a game about a soldier sent to depopulate a remote island for future colonization and resource exploitation by the western powers. The game, however, is so infamously difficult that its underlying message becomes one of the futility of standing up to the unwavering forces of nature. Mankind's unquenchable thirst for resources and land will have to stop somewhere, and if the enemies in this game have any say in it, it will stop with Amagon. The game ultimately becomes a critique of the substantial natural cost of "slash and burn" capitalism. Also, you can turn into a muscleman and punch stuff.


(Link to video)
Here's a temporary encode of the run. Sorry for the low quality and the fact that I forgot to turn off my lua scripts before encoding.

Goals

  • Aims for fastest time
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Uses death to save time

This is an improvement of 1442 frames over Tailz's previous run. Most of the improvements come from better use of Megagon, who runs slightly faster than Amagon. Lag reduction was a priority as well, made more difficult by the fact that most of the lag is invisible to FCEUX's lag counter.

Tricks and Glitches

Jumping and Edge Boosting

When Amagon or Megagon jumps, you lose a frame, but edge boosting off a corner will gain you a few frames, depending on the nature of the corner and which form you are in (Megagon gets better boosts than Amagon). Thus, no unnecessary jumps are made in this run. There are a few instances in which I jump to kill a seemingly non-dangerous enemy. This is for one of three reasons: it will become dangerous momentarily, its presence on the screen will cause more lag frames than the jump will cost, or to manipulate the order of item drops at the end of a level. Edge boosting is a bit more complex than it should be in this game. Megagon's boosts are slightly longer than Amagon's, and he has an extra frame (or two, sometimes, for no obvious reason) in which he can jump following a successful boost. Not all edges can be used for boosts: any platform you can jump through from below cannot be used for boosts.

The Turtle Dance

I've taken to calling the strange-looking jittery movement used when riding on a moving platform the Turtle Dance, after the first instance of its use in level 2-1 (it is also used on logs and clouds). It's interesting because in theory it shouldn't work, but in practice it saves several frames during each moving platform section.

Shooting

Amagon can have a maximum of three bullets on the screen at a time. In practice, though, this tends to cause lag, so it's best to minimize the number of bullets on the screen, especially when there are multiple enemies around. Occasionally, Amagon has to turn around to shoot at enemies behind him.

Megagon

In this run, I transform into Megagon as soon as possible at the beginning of each boss level. This is because Megagon gains a frame over Amagon for each second of forward movement. There are a few tricks to playing as Megagon, though. His attacks (uppercut and power-wave) are on an 8-frame cycle that counts down as you move. If you attack outside of the one optimal frame in the cycle, you'll lose as many frames in forward movement as it takes to reach the end of the cycle. Therefore, Megagon can only attack once every eight frames at best. Doing multiple attacks in a row takes longer, so unless you want Megagon to plant his feet and stand around for a while, you have to wait out a second cycle before attacking again. There is also a glitch involving his two attacks: if you try to execute a power-wave during the cooldown cycle after an uppercut, Megagon will do the animation for it but the attack won't happen. By autofiring B, you can keep Megagon in this position indefinitely, and hitting enemies while in this state does more damage than the uppercut.

Item Drops

I haven't decompiled the game's code or anything, but judging from experience and experimentation, the game appears to assign item drops to enemies based on the order in which they spawn. Thus, it's possible to get (or avoid) certain items by killing (or not killing) enemies in a particular order. This is used in 4-1 and 6-1 to prevent unnecessary delays at the end of the level.

Time-Saving Death

The non-boss levels will end when Amagon has passed a certain point on the screen and there are no enemies or powerups present. However, it doesn't care if Amagon is alive or not when it happens. It is possible to end most of the non-boss levels with Amagon dead, but it only saves time in 5-1 by avoiding an unnecessary jump: instead of jumping over a projectile, I let it hit me right before my last bullet hits the last enemy, ending the stage while the death animation is in progress.

Stage-By-Stage Commentary

Stage 1-1: 11 Frames Saved

I played through this stage several times, and as far as I can tell, the fastest possible time is 4128 frames. It's possible to avoid turning back and shooting one of the snakes, but this puts you in a bad subpixel position for the boss, causing you to lose more frames than you gained since you have to stand farther away while shooting.

Stage 1-2: 93 Frames Saved

Since Megagon gains a frame over Amagon with every second of forward movement, I transform into him at the first possible instance. Towards the end of the level, a horde of enemies swarms me, and I use Megagon's Power-Wave for lag-reduction purposes. If the snakes and the wasps all have their projectiles on the screen at once, the game slows to a crawl. Luckily, I can take out the boss with only one Power-Wave and a bunch of melee attacks.

Stage 2-1: 25 Frames Saved

This level includes the first instance of the Turtle Dance. At the end of the level, the elephant scrolls off the screen right when I cross the threshold, saving me the hassle of killing it.

PROTIP: Try doing the Turtle Dance at a nightclub or party. People will probably think you're having a seizure, and you might even get to ride in an ambulance!

Stage 2-2: 133 Frames Saved

There was lots of lag reduction in this level, mostly involving those stupid blue frogs. There's a part, right after I transform into Megagon, where I get off the turtle, screw around for a bit, and get back on. Any apparently sub-optimal movements were intentional, so that the turtle doesn't totally scroll off the screen and disappear, stranding me on an island with only mosquitoes and those crawly guys from Metroid for company.

Stage 3-1: 171 Frames Saved

Most of my improvements here are crocodile related. Right at the beginning I saved some frames by jumping over the two crocs instead of stopping to kill them. Just after that, I jumped over a croc that Tailz had spent a bunch of time jumping backwards to kill. This happens again after the first log ride (although he didn't kill this one, but jumped backwards and then over it). I was also able to get some extra edge-boosts in during the waterfall part.

Stage 3-2: 170 Frames Saved

I only got a little bit of extra Megagon time in this stage, so most of the time saved comes from lag reduction, turtle dancing, and a substantially faster boss battle against the hippo.

PROTIP: I'm pretty sure that the hippo's approach and fadeout is longer than all the other boss battles in this run combined.

Stage 4-1: 87 Frames Saved

The end of this stage was a pain to do because the enemies have to be killed in a certain order and at certain times in order to prevent powerups and owls from appearing on the final screen. In order to end the level, the screen has to be totally clear of enemies and powerups. Thus, I was able to prevent any enemies from dropping powerups that couldn't be grabbed without wasting time. Sometimes, if I killed certain enemies too early, an owl would spawn in the upper-right corner of the screen, hopelessly delaying the completion of the level.

PROTIP: The owls are not what they seem...

Stage 4-2: 54 Frames Saved

Like 3-2, I only gained a few seconds of extra Megagon time here, so most of the improvements come from avoiding unnecessary jumps and ending the boss battle more quickly.

Stage 5-1: 105 Frames Saved

I was able to minimize the time spent walking backwards to avoid those stupid birds, and I reduced lag and sacrificed my life to save time at the end (although the game was nice enough not to deduct a life from my total...).

Stage 5-2: 214 Frames Saved

I transform into Megagon right at the beginning of the level. Since Megagon can take hits without dying, I took damage to get some extra edgeboosts and to avoid having to jump over projectiles. I also took the lower route twice where Tailz took the high road - I gained quite a few frames by edge-boosting down the steps and on the edges of the pits. The boss here is an absolute joke who barely lasts a second against the might of Megagon.

PROTIP: The boss battle is supposed to be really fun - you're supposed to punch or shoot away sections of the body to lower the head enough to hit the horn a few times.

Stage 6-1: 78 Frames Saved

This level has a ton of lag thanks to those big robot alien ducks. Jumping over them instead of killing them saves numerous lag frames from the bullets. This level's major improvement involves backwards-shooting those little robots instead of jumping backwards like Tailz did. Like 4-2, I killed the enemies at the end in a particular order so that I wouldn't have to go out of my way to grab any power-ups in order to end the stage.

Stage 6-2: 301 Frames Saved

This level shows how fast Megagon really is - I transformed into him right at the start, while Tailz waited for the final boss battle.

Possible Improvements

There appears to be a frame rule associated with the boss fights. The only battle that was slowed down by this was the 1-2 boss, who delayed his rising action by 10 frames for no obvious reason. Figuring that out could save a few frames if it can be easily changed. Also, it might be possible to manipulate a Mega-Key earlier in 4-2 (I tried every combination of enemy kills I could think of and I couldn't get it earlier, though).

Special Thanks

  • Tailz, for doing a nice first run of this game.
  • Randil, for noting Megagon's slightly faster speed
  • Baxter, for (probably) maxing out 1-1 at 4128 frames

DarkKobold: Accepting as an improvement to the currently published movie.

Dacicus: I'll publish this.


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