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

Submission #3426: Mukki's GBA Sonic Advance 2 in 18:01.78

Console: Game Boy Advance
Game name: Sonic Advance 2
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Sonic Advance 2 (U) (M6) [!].gba
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 18:01.78
FrameCount: 64907
Re-record count: 249497
Author's real name: I. Masterson
Author's nickname: Mukki
Submitter: Mukki
Submitted at: 2012-01-14 22:12:54
Text last edited at: 2012-12-27 20:03:38
Text last edited by: Ilari
Download: Download (5135 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:

(Link to video)

After submitting my Sonic Advance run in October 2010 I couldn't help but wonder if Sonic Advance 2 could also be improved. I soon began researching the game, but quickly recognised that this would be a completely different animal. In Sonic Advance 1 you are fairly unrestricted, not merely because you can blast through virtually any obstacle, but because there is no boost mode which, in SA2, is a constant concern. In Sonic Advance 2 zipping is rather useless and the possible routes are restricted by how quickly you can enter boost mode. Therefore, Sonic Advance 2 is more linear in this respect than its predecessor, however, the gameplay is far more varied and complex making the game far more difficult to TAS and far more entertaining to watch (in my opinion at least). Because of this the learning curve was rather steep and it wasn't until December 2010 that I had learned enough of the game's mechanics to match nitsuja's times and even then I felt as though I was just copying his strategies. I then decided that tackling this game sequentially was not the best method. I picked several levels at random and TASed them, finding a few frames each time discovering new tricks and optimisations. After submitting Pokémon Blue I started to hit this game pretty hard and through the summer of 2011 I applied the knowledge I had accumulated to gain some nice improvements. After discovering a few new tricks I realised that I would need to give everything another once over, but by this time I was confident enough to tackle the game from beginning to end with consistent quality. This run is an in-game improvement of 2070 frames (34.5 seconds) to the currently published run by nitsuja. I also found various real time improvements and with those included this run is 2591 frames (43.18 seconds) faster than the current run.

Level nitsuja Me Improvement (in frames)
Leaf Forest 1 0:24:27 0:22:92 81
Leaf Forest 2 0:23:70 0:22:82 53
Egg Hammer Tank II 0:05:62 0:05:62 0
Hot Crater 1 0:31:63 0:31:13 30
Hot Crater 2 0:34:15 0:30:33 229
Egg Bomber Tank 0:06:92 0:06:55 22
Music Plant 1 0:33:85 0:32:23 97
Music Plant 2 0:40:92 0:40:13 47
Egg Totem 0:05:50 0:05:50 0
Ice Paradise 1 0:41:95 0:39:85 126
Ice Paradise 2 0:32:85 0:31:95 54
Aero Egg 0:05:50 0:05:50 0
Sky Canyon 1 0:39:73 0:37:60 128
Sky Canyon 2 0:37:65 0:34:77 173
Egg Saucer 0:07:32 0:07:08 14
Techno Base 1 0:59:32 0:53:02 378
Techno Base 2 0:32:53 0:31:07 88
Egg-Go-Round 0:06:48 0:06:35 8
Egg Utopia 1 0:52:48 0:47:83 279
Egg Utopia 2 0:56:72 0:52:70 241
Egg Frog 0:08:52 0:08:52 0
XX Zone 0:49:42 0:49:05 22
Total 10:37:03 10:02:53 2070

The levels in this game are so huge that it would be impossible for me to describe the improvements in any detail. To overcome this I have annotated the level maps from The Sonic Center with the individual improvements for those that are interested. The maps can be found here, though feel free to mirror these wherever you prefer. These were thrown together quite hastily so please ignore the awful grammar etc.

There are a couple of things worth noting that are not shown in the maps. Firstly, real time was improved by inserting a reset at the beginning to skip the intro (saves ~3 seconds), plus in some levels I use a glitch that allows you to skip the skidding animation at the end of the level to save ~2 seconds per use. Technically it is possible in all levels, but I only use it where in game time isn't affected. The glitch works by passing the goal line off-screen before it has loaded and then using A+B to come to a halt, or pass back through the goal in the opposite direction. This causes the game to skip directly to the score tally. Secondly, the improvements to the bosses are not shown in the maps. Most boss improvements are just from fiddling around with the positioning in order to get a hit in a few frames earlier. The only interesting improvement is the Egg Bomber Tank. The HP and invincibility counters for both the cannon and the body are held in different locations and you must defeat the cannon before defeating the body. Because the addresses are stored seperately you can, with precise positioning, register the first hit on the body on the same frame you register the last hit on the cannon. Thirdly, I'm not going to go into detail on the game mechanics as nitsuja amply covers the important points in his submission text. Fourthly, and finally, enjoy the run! That is worth noting and it is not shown in the maps.

Thanks to nitsuja for his masterpiece of a run. I was often dumbfounded that such well optimised work could be made with 2005/06 tools. This run wouldn't be half as good as it is if it weren't for his run.

Thanks also to Zeupar for watching my WIPs and for providing support when I lacked motivation.

And thanks to Aktan for providing the encode.

Adding a soniccenter.org comparison table:

Level TSC (Sonic) Me Difference
Leaf Forest 1 0:28:88 0:22:92 0:05:96
Leaf Forest 2 0:29:90 0:22:82 0:07:08
Egg Hammer Tank II 0:05:62 0:05:62 0:00:00
Hot Crater 1 0:37:68 0:31:13 0:06:55
Hot Crater 2 0:37:20 0:30:33 0:06:87
Egg Bomber Tank 0:11:15 0:06:55 0:04:60
Music Plant 1 0:46:43 0:32:23 0:14:02
Music Plant 2 0:49:78 0:40:13 0:09:65
Egg Totem 0:05:50 0:05:50 0:00:00
Ice Paradise 1 0:53:62 0:39:85 0:13:77
Ice Paradise 2 0:38:95 0:31:95 0:07:00
Aero Egg 0:05:50 0:05:50 0:00:00
Sky Canyon 1 0:48:63 0:37:60 0:11:03
Sky Canyon 2 0:46:88 0:34:77 0:12:11
Egg Saucer 0:14:95 0:07:08 0:07:87
Techno Base 1 1:15:92 0:53:02 0:22:90
Techno Base 2 0:38:90 0:31:07 0:07:83
Egg-Go-Round 0:09:32 0:06:35 0:02:97
Egg Utopia 1 1:08:87 0:47:83 0:21:04
Egg Utopia 2 1:06:97 0:52:70 0:14:27
Egg Frog 0:08:87 0:08:52 0:00:35
XX Zone 1:30:08 0:49:05 0:41:03
Total 13:39:60 10:02:53 03:37:07

DarkKobold: An substantial improvement to a highly-regarded published movie? Easy accept. Good work.

Nahoc: Processing...

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