Low G Man is the final game from the NES Speed Demos Archive game list that has not had a submitted run yet. This game is was released in 1991 for the NES where you are tasked with traversing levels and beating a diverse group of bosses using an upgradable freeze ray, spear and jumping shoes that allow you to jump up three times the screen height at maximum.
• Emulator used: fceux 2.1.6 with TAS Editor
• Aims for fastest time
• Takes damage to save time
• Manipulates luck
• Genre: Platformer
Low G Man is a relatively fun game but is definitely one that I can understand why it has never been submitted as a TAS. There is a Speed Demos Archive run seen here
that is roughly 5 minutes slower than this TAS and there was one TAS WIP posted years ago by an anonymous author that, up to the start of the final level, was 2 minutes and 1 second slower than my run. With that the controls are at times clunky, the screen refresh is frustrating and finally the last boss is an example of a difficulty spike as it suddenly becomes much harder than the rest of the game.
In the game you can travel at three different speeds based on your choices. Walking is the slowest at a velocity of 3, which translates to a true velocity of 1 pixel per frame as the game only refreshes location every 3 frames, in the air your velocity is 4, or 1.333 pixels per frame, and sprinting at 6, or 2 pixels per frame. While jumping your y-velocity is 10, or 3.333 pixels per frame, which then decreases to 2, or .666 pixels per frame, and finally you begin to fall. You enter sprinting by pressing the direction you want to run while your character has the “on ground” value set for at least a single frame, then at least a frame off, and then press and hold the direction again for the length of the run.
You have a few weapon options in the game as listed above. Through gathering the upgrade tokens at the beginning of the game the weapons are updated from their lowest level up to the maximum strength possible.
The freeze gun can fire at a rate of once every 15 frames or 4 times per second. This weapon can be upgraded twice ranging from 1 bullet at a time up to a maximum of 3 bullets at once. The first use for the gun is to freeze enemies and bosses. This does not actually decrease the enemies’ HP but does prevent the enemies from moving. For the normal enemies one bullet completely stops them, but for bosses it can be up to 10+ bullets required to freeze the enemy. In addition to this after a time period the enemies will thaw out and begin moving again. Luckily after the first freezing, and each subsequent freezing, the number of bullets required to freeze an enemy decreases. The second use of the gun is to improve sprinting. If your jump lands and slides instead of falling straight onto a platform the character can become “stuck” where you can neither jump nor sprint for 10+ frames which can lead to a loss of over 6 pixels each landing which certainly adds up. To resolve this issue it was found that if you fire your freeze gun 15 frames prior to landing the animation transition prevents you from becoming stuck so that you can sprint immediately upon landing. This is used on a majority of jumps and explains why there are so many random firings that do not hit an enemy in the run.
The second weapon choice is the spear which can be used to attack below or above your character. As with the freeze gun your spear can be upgraded to increase length and strength of the spear. This is absolutely imperative as the strength of your spear can drastically speed up boss fights. Each spear attack takes 42 frames and at maximum can do up to 30 HP of damage.
There are other weapon abilities available to be gained from the enemies on course but due to the added time required to attack the enemies, gather the upgrade, and switch out to the weapon it is slower and thus not used in the run.
Stage by stage comments
Prior to the first stage 8 frames is lost over the ideal time to start a level. The levels were attempted to be rerun with less frames lost but resulted in the RNG for the upgrade drops to be far worse than in the submitted run.
This level is trivial compared to other level without a single platform. The most difficult portion of this level is the manipulation of the enemies to drop the proper upgrades. Each enemy randomly drops either a jump upgrade, a freeze gun upgrade, a spear upgrade, a weapon associated with the enemy, a red vial which damages your character, temporary invincibility and a health boost. In this level I completely upgrade the spear ability and most of the jump and freeze gun ability for use in future levels.
The first boss is finished as quickly as possible. It is not actually required to defeat the box that is shooting at your character but it only loses around 10 frames on the first possible frame that you can attack the main boss sitting within the box, but it becomes worth it as you no longer have to avoid its’ attack.
This level was fairly simple to beat and showed off many of the jumping tricks listed previously in the description.
The boss was attempted without freezing but resulted in a far slower time.
This level is essentially only a boss. To beat this level all that you must do is avoid the bubbles that are shot at you because they both freeze your character and cause him to fall off the screen.
This level contains the first example of another trick in the run which is that on each level start regardless of real position your character is set to the “on ground” value. As a result of this you can jump prior to the character appearing on screen saving time.
Another simple level. Gathering an invincibility boost and running along the bottom of the screen on the water was attempted but the time it saved was negated by the time required to manipulate the drop. The boss was found to be fastest when not frozen.
This level is a vertical level where you must fall as fast as possible. Another trick is used here where there is a form of clipping boost that is possible. If you freeze an enemy and enter the enemy at roughly the same time you will not be damaged but will be shoved out of the enemy. If you enter at the right location you will be forced out to the bottom speeding you up for a short time. The boosts used in this level save roughly 5 frames.
The boss is again spear until dead but shows the first example of manipulation. The sporadic twisting and turning that is done by my character is done to manipulate the boss’ movement to stay on the left side of the screen within reach. Both your location and the key presses, even if they do not affect position or movement, affect how the boss will move so some pretty precise manipulation is possible.
Nothing of interest to note about this level. Boss is not random so it is simple to beat.
Again another level with little unique tricks. Boss has to be frozen as he fires up and would injure you.
One odd thing that occurs in this level is that this is the only enemy to move while frozen. The boss moves up the screen upon each spearing to the point that you are almost shoved out of the screen.
This level has by far the best vertical screen movement of each level. As with falling down a screen if you freeze an enemy you can also be boosted out of the top of the enemy with proper positioning. In addition to the boost, when you are in the enemy you can also restart you jump. These two factors combine to result in maintaining the maximum velocity for nearly the entire level.
In this level I pause on the platform before entering the boss room so that he can be shot twice. This is required because if the boss moves into the corridor with the roof I cannot land on him and thus cannot hit him so I must shoot early to freeze him where I can land and thus attack him.
This boss can randomly teleport to any portion of his room, even off of the visible screen so some intense manipulation is accomplished to keep him at roughly the same location for the entire fight.
Another simple level. The boss drops the red vials which harm your character but I beat him fast enough that it doesn’t matter.
This is my least favorite level in the game. Twice in the level I have to pause to avoid an enemy that would cause me to fall and lose a ton of time, which kills the momentum of the level. Plus the boss moves under a platform so I have to wait to shoot him at one point so that I would actually be able to harm him.
To make up for 4-3 this is one of my favorite levels in the game. It is really quick and I get to use two tricks. First I get to use the damage boosts while falling. In this level it only saves around 3 frames but I feel it adds to the entertainment value. Second the boss manipulation is the most manipulation done in the run. I not only control the boss so that he stays in roughly the same location but also manipulate all of the other enemies so that they do not teleport to interfere. The other enemies can teleport anywhere and at times I would have an ideal boss location but the other enemies would appear directly where I was making it an unusable position.
One of the longer levels in the game, but luckily it is also the last. The first portion of the level is the same as the rest but it eventually becomes quite different. This is the only level where I use a vehicle. The vehicle has the same velocity as walking but its benefit is the weapon. The bombs fire once every 16 frames and can harm enemies twice on each time.
As stated before this boss is far harder than any other portion of the game. The balls that attack you both harm your HP and do the same enemy boosts described above. This means that if you do not avoid properly the balls will kill you through depleting your HP. It also means that even if you escape with your life the extreme boost that they give you shoves you down out of the level so you die that way. Plus there are a lot of these balls, they are extremely aggressive and they cannot be damaged. The only way to get rid of the balls is to move around the level until the balls are no longer on screen and thus despawn. Plus this boss is the only boss that becomes inaccessible at any point in the fight. All of these things combine to a quite frustrating boss battle.
Overall I hope that you enjoy the run. It is a simple short game without much of a plot but at very least it eliminates another SDA run.
: HD encode. May still be prcessed.
: This game makes for a nicely paced TAS, with some good action sequences at times. Accepting for publication.