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Submission #3498: goofydylan8's NES Gargoyle's Quest II in 27:43.08

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Gargoyle's Quest II
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Gargoyle's Quest 2 - The Demon Darkness (U).nes
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 27:43.08
FrameCount: 99949
Re-record count: 25298
Author's real name: Dylan Alcorn
Author's nickname: goofydylan8
Submitter: goofydylan8
Submitted at: 2012-03-19 06:33:44
Text last edited at: 2012-03-23 02:05:52
Text last edited by: Velitha
Download: Download (10697 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:

(Link to video)

Gargoyle's Quest II is a sequel to the Gameboy game Gargoyle's Quest both of which exist within the Ghost n' Goblins universe. In this game you play as a gargoyle named Firebrand and you must try to save to land from the "dark light." This run is a 4303 frame improvement over my previous submission attempt.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: fceux 2.1.6 with TAS Editor
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates luck

Comments

In this run you have two different game play elements, the LoZ style over world and the platformer in level sections. The over world section is trivial to TAS as there is no lag, no random encounters and movement exists on a grid so you can only change course along lines causing optimization to be extremely simple.

The platformer section is a different beast entirely. I am almost guaranteed the reason why this game has not had a submitted run is that without TAS Editor no one would have to will to finish due to lag. In the levels there is a ridiculous amount of lag that is entirely unavoidable and quite random. It appears to be dependent on the frame you enter the level, the frame the enemies (or any item that can move for that matter) enter the screen, the items that you use, whether or not your character is moving, etc. etc. This large amount of random lag causes optimization to become extremely painful as if you change any movement at all the rest of the run will desync. It is also seemingly random as sometimes killing an enemy removes the lag and saves time, but other times the process of firing creates far more lag and then other completely unexplained lag persists so it becomes slower.

In the platforming sections there are a few possibilities of movement. You can walk which happens at a constant 1 pixel per frame, you can jump which randomly alternates between 1 pixel and 0 pixels per frame, and after you have jumped you can "fly" or glide for a certain length of time which is also at a constant 1 pixel per frame. Early on in the game your jumping ability is quite poor so there has to be trial and error to decide if in certain situations 3 small wall jumps or 1 large jump would be quicker. As the game progresses your jumping and flying abilities increase greatly so the 1 large jump becomes increasingly more effective.

The weapons in the game increase in strength by two for each one you receive but for the most part the enemies follow suit and essentially only take one hit to kill. A problem with the weapons is that while the "claw" that lets you land on spikes and the fire attack at the end are the strongest moves, you have to use the buster move to break the blocks so you have to at times switch out weapons. Another strategy that must be looked into is that debate between the "claw" and the tornado moves in moving vertically in levels. It depends on the height you must traverse, the shape of the walls and the area between the walls to determine if the tornado or the claw are more effective and thus why I alternate which I use. The final factor to take note of is that all of the weapons except for the final fire attack allow for two shots to exist on screen at a time. This leads to a few other lower level attacks potentially being more effective in boss fights where multiple hits are required. The problem is that, like on the boulders that require the buster attack, the final boss only takes damage if the final fire attack is used so while it theoretically would be faster to use a lower tier weapon, in practice they coded him so it does not work.

Finally damage boosting is a new feature in the run. After each boss, and some of the regular levels, your health is regenerated so within the levels you can use damage to avoid waiting for enemies, reaching locations previously unattainable and for creating entertainment.

Stage by stage comments

As over world sections could potentially be run at the same speed in real time run they will be skipped here.

Training Center - Frame 2506

This level is extremely short and doesn't have any enemies so it is one of the simpler levels in the game. As such only one frame is saved from the previous submission. All that needs to be done on this level is jumping up and over to collect a vial. This frame is saved through better optimization of jumping so that vertical and horizontal speed is maximized.

Etruria - Frame 4599

This level was my first major improvement and a total of 656 frames are saved. These frames are saved through far better jumping, lag management and taking damage. My jumps are greatly improved so that I just barely jump above platforms as multiple short jumps turns out to be much faster than a single large jump. Lag management results from not having a direction selected during specific frames and through better choices on when to destroy enemies. In the game if you do not hold a direction on certain frames it can prevent between 1 and 10 extra lag frames from forming. The enemy management is also improved so that lag due to enemies is greatly reduced from the previous run.

Finally I decided that the stylistic choice of not taking damage not only slowed down the run but also greatly decreased the quality. First I hit the one-eyed bat thing whereas in the previous run I waited for him to pass. The next major damage boost is taking a shortcut around a barrier. In the original run I fall down below the barrier and then have to climb back up to continue the level. In the new run I jump onto the spiked wall and while I am invulnerable after the damage I climb up and over the barrier saving a lot of time just barely making it to the next platform.

Boss Nagus - Frame 8540

In this boss 85 frames are saved due to better manipulation of the bosses position. I manipulate the boss to jump and then remain on the platform nearest the door so that less time is wasted moving around which wastes time and creates unnecessary lag frames.

Three Ghosts Before Broken Bridge - Frame 12236

This level neither gains or loses frames. In both cases the ghosts are manipulated to appear as early as possible and lag & jumping is manipulated to finish in minimal time (actually much more complicated than some of the time saving sections).

Broken Bridge - Frame 13217

In this level 8 frames are saved over the previous run. The frames are saved through better jumping management.

River of Flames - Frame 16455

99 frames are saved over my previous submission in this level. These frames are saved through better use and manipulation of the floating platforms so that velocity is maximized and waiting time is at a minimum. The key to this is through minimizing jumping as when you are about to land on the platforms they begin moving in the direction away from you (aka towards the end of the level) maximizing the speed.

Hinom Forest - Frame 18858

This level has a massive improvement over my previous run at 1034 frames which is 1/7 of the total length of the level on my previous attempt. As stated on the previous levels jumping and platform manipulation is improved which saves some time.

By far the largest improvement in this run is the damage boosts that are used. A damage boost is used to land on the moving platform at around frame 20100. The character collides with an enemy entering no-clip mode and passing into a platform which then rejects him out on top so I no longer have to wait for the platform to move all the way to the right and then to the left. Then in the slow rising shaft damage is taken like in the Etruria level so as to jump up the spike walls saving a ton of time. Damage is then taken during the top most portion of the level to no longer wait for the flying attack to pass.

A damage boost was attempted on the spikes that are waited at right before the end of the level. No damage boost was possible to move the character past the first spike only resulting in taking damage and still having to wait. The second spike can be damage boosted across but results in a file that is 19 frames slower.

Boss Death Balloon - Frame 24850

1 Frame is saved fighting this boss. This was completely luck based as a frame was saved through almost identical input.

Gaza Valley - Frame 31390

First off, 37 frames are saved on the over world portion before this level. These frames are saved through the realization that it is far quicker to switch out weapons in levels than in the over world. There is a net gain of 5 frames in this level. These frames are saved simply through better jumping and lag manipulation.

There was a hope that a damage boost could be used on the first enemy encountered in the level as currently you have to wait. It resulted that no damage boost was possible there because there was no jumping combination that could boost you onto the platform therefore getting hit wasted time.

Desert Sittem - Frame 33717

In total 73 frames are saved in this level, 3 frames are lost due to changing out the weapons which was previously done in the over world so a total of 76 real frames were saved. The first damage boost is so as to not avoid getting hit by an enemy. The second damage boost is on the final genie right before the level ends. This saves time so that I do not have to manipulate the genie to not appear and the boost accelerates the character so I hit the exit slightly faster.

The missed shot at 35666, which is the only missed shot in the run, is done to manipulate the bony fish that jumps up to attack frames later. If a shot is not fired the fish jumps up near the next pillar like it does slightly later which causes damage which slows the run.

Boss Sand Frog - Frame 36816

113 frames are saved in this boss through better manipulation of the boss. The boss is manipulated so that he continues to jump around whereas in the last run he stops and fires for a few frames. During the period of firing he is invulnerable so manipulating him to continuously jump saves some time.

Gaza Valley II - Frame 38655

49 frames are saved crossing back through the Valley out of the desert. This is due to better jumping, simple enough.

River of Flames II - Frame 42321

In this level 209 frames are saved over the previous run. Like the other River of Flames level these frames are saved through better jumping and use of the moving platforms.

Broken Bridge 2 - Frame 48218

28 frames are saved here. Again better jumping and using the tornado to maximize speed.

Boss Fake King - Frame 51357

3 frames saved. Better lag management as the battle is essentially the same.

Mount Imaus - Frame 52951

A massive 338 frames are saved flying around this level. The vast majority of these frame are saved through better use of the tornado. In the first run I used the tornado move by jumping to the maximum height and only releasing the tornado at the last possible frame. Under suggestions I tried use the tornado more towards midway of the jump before vertical acceleration began to slow. The other improvement is through damage boosting on the spikes near the end of the level. This portion does not actually speed up the progress of the level, but it severely reduces lag as the enemies no longer jump around. Also I find it much more entertaining to see him getting damaged jumping around on spikes while still moving fast rather than using the given platforms.

Boss Twin Guardian - Frame 56227

Here is one of two places in the run where frames are lost. In total 8 frames are lost in the level due not being able to manipulate the boss to superior movement present in the previous run. In the first run the boss is manipulated so that they both fly down and pause by the platforms. In this run the bosses would swoop down passed the platform and then meet in the middle of the level above the platforms. No matter what position and jumping was taken this movement could not be prevented and as such a non-symmetrical boss attack was taken. A large amount of work was put into reducing this from the initial 25 frames lost down to a minimal 8.

Boss Guardian Before Lethe - Frame 60131

In this boss 101 frames were saved over the previous run. These frames were saved through a much more aggressive strategy of staying immediately by the boss the whole battle instead of running and evading like was done in the previous battle.

Cave outside of Lethe - Frame 61174

In this level 48 frames are saved. Again better jumping.

Lethe's Palace of Mirrors - Frame 63625

Between all room in this palace a total of 159 frames were saved in this level. These frames were saved through better use of the tornado and better jumping. Frames were actually lost during the section where damage is taken due to the spikes in the level. This was an unavoidable loss due to different randomness on jumping speed which was not able to be made up at any point.

Boss Doppelganger - Frame 67715

This boss was another nice improvement at 193 frames faster. The improvement on this level results from manipulating the boss to never change back into his imitation form. On this boss the only time you can harm the boss is when he is in his ghoul form not imitating your character. Attacks must wait until he enters this form and then he must be made to stay in this form because not only does attacking while he is imitating not affect his health level but it actually harms your character as well.

Naga's Path - Frame 71887

332 Frames are saved on this level. Almost all frames saved on this level are due to the much faster vertical path taken near the end of the level.

Naga's Path, Again - Frame 77804

91 frames are saved this time through. Again, doing better through jumping and a quick damage boost. I really needed to spend more time on jumping the first time through this run and I have corrected these errors.

Goza's Palace - Frame 82391

A total of 380 frames are saved traversing this level. These frames are saved through a damage boost, better jumping and better use of the weapons. I switch much more frequently between the "claw" move and the tornado to quickly jump up levels where before I relied on walls which wasted a lot of time. Overall this level looks much smoother and quicker than the previous run with the exclusion of busting the final blocks wall. The reason the final wall requires a pause is due how the weapon system works in the game. On "screen" (either in or out of frame) there are allowed to be two tornadoes and two projectiles (including the blue weapon). Due to this you must alternate between the two to save the most time. As a result when you reach the final block wall there is only one projectile left to fire at a time as the other claws have not disappeared yet. Then the buster does not officially disappear until the block and the fire that results dissipates.

Boss Goza - Frame 86888

This level ends up being the exact same length as the previous run. Other than the seizure inducing aspect of this boss it is one of the more entertaining boss fights in my opinion.

Breager's Palace - Frame 90612

This level contains 215 frames of improvement. These again come through better jumping and vertical movements. A nice damage boost is used early in the level which looks nice because it causes the character to land on the rust colored spikes which normally would cause and instant death but in this case actually saves time. Another impressive portion of this level begins at 92200. Even jumping a frame later in any of the situation would result in damage and may be the situation in the run which would be least possible in a real time run. A few frames later I also land and walk on spikes for a few frames. This is a glitch in the game in that they did not program the spikes to cause damage so they are the only ones you can walk on without causing damage.

Boss Breager - Frame 95716

Finally a 53 frame improvement was found on the final boss. This boss is sort of terrible to play through so the improvements help make the run less slow. Flaws with that battle: You can only have one shot on screen at a time. They force you to use a suboptimal weapon (technically it is the strongest but it only allows one on screen so another weapon could finish in about 1/2 to 2/3 of the time).The large circles that he shoots at you destroy your shot so if you hit one it wastes your one shot that is on screen. It has a ton of lag compared to any other level. The only "safe zone on screen" is far to the left so your shots take forever to hit him. Also the "safe zone" doesn't actually work because if you are in the safe zone he is no longer on screen so your shots don't hurt him. His hit zone is minuscule in comparison to his total size, almost all other bosses can be hit anywhere. Finally the lag increases even more so when you move so that moving for 5 frames adds 5 lag frames. Basically the only benefit of this fight is that you can float forever.

Other comments

Overall I hope that you enjoy the run. The dialog runs at a readable pace (and is in my opinion entertaining) and I tried to optimize and make the movie entertaining without sacrificing time. Sorry for the huge submission text. This was the first time I had detailed ideas of what I did on each level so I thought I would give it a try.

Thanks to mklip2001 for giving me the idea for the run and for helping me with ideas which greatly improved the run.

Thanks to Derakon who also helped tell me errors in my original run and who showed interest which helped keep me motivated.

Possible Screenshots:

I do not have specifics but I have been told that during Boss Guardian Before Lethe or the Goza Boss. I have no strong feelings so feel free to suggest your own.

Nach: Judging.

feos: HD encode.


Nach: Very nice run. Accepting for first run of this game.

Velitha: Processing...


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