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Submission #3988: Hâthor's PSX Tenchu: Stealth Assassins in 29:52.65

Console: Sony PlayStation
Game name: Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Game version: USA v1.0
ROM filename: Tenchu - Stealth Assassins (U)
Branch:
Emulator: PSXjin v2.0.2 svn0
Movie length: 29:52.65
FrameCount: 107559
Re-record count: 7077
Author's real name: François Guiot
Author's nickname: Hâthor
Submitter: Hâthor
Submitted at: 2013-06-16 20:08:12
Text last edited at: 2013-07-03 21:35:20
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (14198 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh85-tRBg0w

Game information

  • Emulator used: PSXjin v2.0.2 svn0
  • Bios used: scph1001.bin
  • Disk ID: SLUS00706
  • Game name: Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
  • Game Version: NTSC-US
  • Timer: In-game (option -> Record screen)
  • Genre: Action-Infiltration
  • Published year: 1998
  • Developpped by: Acquire
  • Edited by: Activision
Difference between JP and US

In fact, there are 3 japanese versions of this game.
In the first japanese version, there are only 8 levels and only one layout for each. Missing levels are 4 and 5 in the US version. Option, character select, item select and level select screens are also different. Bosses have different weapons. Mashing button are less permissive in the JP version. Other interesting difference is that, in the level 1, you have to defeat Katanal and Echigoya in the same place. So you don't have to quit the first area and you save a lot of time. Finally, 180° reverse roll is absent in the first JP version.

In order to respond at this lack of levels in japanese version, an second edition was published and called Tenchu: Shinobi Gensai. This version almost matches with US and PAL versions with a level editor directly offered by the game (you're not obligated to unlock it with a cheat code). There is also a supplementary short cutscene just after the end of the level 5 (Katoaka's Senpuku). Funny thing about the PAL version is that gives you kunai instead of shuriken and the 50 Hz makes the sequence breaking of the level 9 more difficult.

The first JP version seems to be less challenging and interresting to TAS, but may be Shinobi Gensai version will offer a good challenge because of the layouts are very well thinking (particular shorcuts are impossible). Furthermore, Sephyr0sS and Riskbreaker Y have chosen the US version for one reason : it seems to be the fastest version given the layouts. I really wanted to help them. That's why I choose the US version.

Objectives

  • No Death
  • Aims for faster time / any%
  • Beat the game

Introduction

According to me, there are some really important points in order to understand choices that I have made. First, the game is divided into 10 levels and each level has 3 different layouts. By layout, you have to understand that some ennemies are located differently in the level. As you maybe doubt, it can influence drastically how you are going to deal with the level (and the time that it will take to achieve it). Those layouts are randomly chosen just before the level starts (see "tricks" section for more information). Second, you have at your disposal several items. The most interresting are bombs and mines (who deal damages) and the special item: Lightfoot Scroll (abreviate LFS). This scroll boostes your movement speed for 5 seconds (which represents a gain of about 15 seconds in real time; definitely a must-have. You choose item that you will carry on before the level begins (in a screen I call inventory). This item is unlock by obtaining the rank "Grand Master" in the first level. Third, about the ranking. Quite simple to understand. Here is rank you can get (best to worst):
  • Grand Master
  • Master Ninja
  • Ninja
  • Novice
  • Thug
At the end of a level, you're evaluated. 300 points if you beat the level, 100 points if you've never get spotted, 20 point if you kill someone without being detected, less 20 point for each time you've been spotted, etc... If you reach the grand master, you'll unlock a special item (specific to each level). To get it, you've to earn 400 points at least; shortly, go to the end without being spotted. Fourth, increasing amount of items in the inventory. When a level ends, depending of your ranking, you'll get some extra items. Grand master ranking gives you 2 more of each item, Ninja ranking 1 and Novice ranking... are more complicated. See tricks section for details. I don't know what happens when you get Thug and Master Ninja ranking; Master Ninja is quite dificult to get and Thug only happens on the last level. Important about Grand Master items: The quantity of these items are capped at 3.
So, for summerize you've to remember:
  • Levels have layout
  • There are items who help us
  • When a level ends, you are ranked...
  • ...and you get more items depending of the ranking

Routes

Most part of my routes are largely inspired by Sephyr0sS's himself inspired Riskbreaker Y's. You can see the thread from SDA here and Sephyr0sS's speedrun here.
Opposite to they, I'm able to determinate what items I receive when I end a level; so I planned it as following:

Numbers meaning in order: Quantity, Used, Obtained
/ means that I don't care

Level LFS Bombs Mines Rank
1 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 2 Grand Master
2 1 1 3 3 0 0 2 0 1 Novice
3 3 2 1 3 0 1 3 1 1 Ninja
4 2 2 2 4 2 0 3 2 1 Novice
5 2 0 1 2 1 0 2 0 1 Ninja
6 3 2 0 2 0 1 3 2 1 Ninja
7 1 0 2 3 1 2 2 1 2 Grand Master
8 3 3 1 4 0 1 3 0 1 Ninja
9 1 0 2 5 1 2 4 2 2 Grand Master
10 3 3 / 6 3 / 4 4 / Thug

Tricks

  • RNG: The base of the RNG (expressed in frame). I found an internal frame counter, I guess it's used for RNG calculation (see RAM adresses for details).
    This RNG influences:
    • Level layout: Depending of time you spent in the inventory screen, you will get one of the three available layout.
    • Additionnal items: Depend of time used to perform the level and when you reach the Novice rank, the RNG will decide how many additionnal you'll get. The layout influences which item will be affected.
    • Ennemy parry: The enemy parry behaviour can be manipulated if you press the square button at a certain frame. By doing this, it's possible to make him never parry. Warning, there are some special additionnal factors that I haven't found yet (for example in the level 9, when the boss gets blocked in the right corner, he will parry ALL of your next first hit).
  • Fall animation skip: Called by myself "FACS" (for Fall Animation "Cumulet" -Belgian Word for roll- Skip). When he falls, the character will follow a strictly vertical way and make an animation when he hits the ground. By making a roll just before falling, he'll follow a diagonal way and the animation doesn't happen.
  • Quick enemy stand up: When an enemy is projected because of an attack, you can make him instantly stands up by hitting him when he's just on the ground. The most important in this trick is the fact that if a character is laying on the ground, he's immune to everything. The time he'll lay depends on its life; the less life he has, the more he will "sleep" (to give an idea, I measure about 20 seconds against a boss with 15 H.P. left).
  • Quick reverse roll: (Not used anymore) You're able to face back by doing a 180° reverse roll, if it's done against a wall at a quite precise frame, entire animation will be skipped and you'll stand up face back. I used to do it in the 3rd level but Alaktorn show me a faster way.
  • Double jump: A pretty cool trick found by Alaktorn (thank you, man!). During a jump (foward flip or simple jump) and if your landing point is lower than where you've took off, by pressing the jump button at the right moment, the character will made a second jump in the air.
  • Infinite air jump: Just an extension of the previous trick. You can redo the jump indefinitely while an obstacle isn't on your way.
  • Mastering the grappling hook: An important point to know about the grappling hook is that its movements are based on camera's. If you try targetting as the "normal" way, your movement will be very slow. But if you aim while the camera is moving, you'll be able to keep camera's speed for the direction it's moving to. (I maybe guess that camera's speed and aim's speed add together but I'm not sure)
    This is a very important trick that can save several seconds.

Other useful informations

Ram addresses
What it is Address Type
Inventory Shuriken Count 0x0001040D Byte
Inventory Calltrops Count 0x0001040E Byte
Inventory Healing Potion Count 0x0001040F Byte
Inventory Bomb Count 0x00010410 Byte
Inventory Smoke Count 0x00010411 Byte
Inventory Mine Count 0x00010412 Byte
Inventory Poisened rice Count 0x00010413 Byte
Inventory Colored rice Count 0x00010414 Byte
Inventory Sleeping Gas Count 0x00010415 Byte
Inventory Resurection leaf Count 0x00010416 Byte
Inventory Chameleon spell Count 0x00010417 Byte
Inventory Protection amulet Count 0x00010418 Byte
Inventory Lightfoot srcoll Count 0x00010419 Byte
Inventory Shadow Decoy Count 0x0001041A Byte
Inventory Super-Shurkien Count 0x0001041B Byte
Inventory Dog Bone Count 0x0001041C Byte
Inventory Fire-Eater scroll Count 0x0001041D Byte
Inventory Decoy whistle Count 0x0001041E Byte
Inventory Ninja armor Count 0x0001041F Byte
Stealth kills counter 0x00095918 Byte
Spotted counter 0x0009591A Byte
Detected kills counter 0x0009591C Byte
Internal frame counter 0x000944C0 DWord

Hit values

  • Rikimaru
Hit Amount
Simple 7
Second-combo 11
Third-combo 20
Triple combo total 38
Crouch attack 25
Jump slash 13
Stabbing 13
Side Left/Right 8
Second side combo 16
Side combo total 24
Reverse roll attack 20
  • Items
Item Amount
Shuriken 20
Bomb 30
Mine 45

Level by level comments

Level 1: Punish the evil merchant

I walk a little before throwing the hook because if I use it immediately from the beginning, the camera slows aim movements. Then a pretty cool infinite air jump. I was affraid to do it because I could be detected by guards below; but finally no, everything went well. I don't use roll before the first cutscene because it makes it raise earlier than if I use one (Roll animation is prior to cutscene).
First boss: Katanal. Nothing special, you have about 15 frames to take the fight initiative.
Second boss: Echigoya. Juste like cutting a butter slice. The point we have to pay attention is the first hit because if it's done too late, the boss will moved too much against the wall and the final crouch attack will fail.

Level 2: Deliver the secret message

If you look well, the character stop a little just before the end custscene. In fact, I wait 12 frames in order to manipulate the RNG and get 3 LFS. I'm really sorry, I didn't find a way to fill them with something more funny. Note that I stop just some pixels before the trigger.

Level 3: Rescue the captive ninja

Using a wall jump has been suggested by Alaktorn, it's a few faster than I did before.
Boss: Goo. Using a mine to finish him is a little bit faster than using shuriken (and more, it produce funny things in the cutscene). This is the only boss where I use shuriken because he's really bad in dodging them.

Level 4: Cross the checkpoint

Nothing special to mentionned. I use the second LFS after falling because if we fall with LFS actived, it is the same as it wasn't: A vertical way fall...
First boss: Tazu Akechi. What can I add...
Second boss: Senjuro Akechi. More complicated than the previous (as he has more HP). I start running to him because he's to far for a mine. The wolf caused me some troubles to make a good fight.

Level 5: Execute the corrupt minister

♫ I believe I can fly ♫ Why I don't fly until the end? Just bescause I'm too close from the roof and so, Rikimaru does a wall jump agaisnt the roof instead of jump I wanted... That's also why I walk a bit.

Level 6: Infiltrate the Manji cult

In the speedrun, we use roof in order to keep as more stealth as possible. In the first version, I walked straight away intentionnaly to get the novice rank by being spotted. In the version you're wacthing, I use two LFS instead of one. I run so faster than some gards doesn't pop and some others doesn't have time to spot me. So I get the Ninja rank which also satisfy me as I get one LFS and one mine.
First boss: Manji. If one day you try speedrunning it, you'll remark something strange with your movements. What happen is that there are ennemy above you and it drives the game crazy. Killing Manji with a such random constraint is a challenge espacially in a speedrun. I had to deal with it (you can see an ennemy fall, the one who throws flames).
Second boss: Onikage (Round 1). The custscene trigger is raised when his life become under 100. I don't see anything else to mention about this fight.

Level 7: Destroy the foreign pirate

Using infinite jump to reach the boat is faster (about 30 frames) than using grappling hook. I aim Grand master ranking in this level.
Boss: Balmer. I try to keep him as more as possible on the right side because there is a guard on the left. If he spots me, I don't get the grand master (which allows me to add two items of each type in my inventory).

Level 8: Cure the princess

Just a crazy level where we have to use the grappling hook too much Q_Q. I optimize the hook aim speed with camera where it's possible. You also probably notice that I take damages near the end. In fact, this guard really bothered me. In another slower version, he simply ran straight foward felt but here, I didn't find any way to reproduce that. The better I found is I do: I start a side hit and at the same time, the guard hits Rkimaru. That interrupts him and obliges the guard to straff on his left and he falls, finally. And before you ask, no he didn't let throw the hook.

Level 9: Reclaim the castle

Another grappling hook party. This is a real sequence breaking because you're supposed to pass into the castle.
Boss: Onikage (Round 2). More difficult fight. After throwing the bomb, if he is projected backward, he'll be blocked into the wall and it becomes impossible to hit him; if he is thrown on his left, he will be blocked into the corner and that gives him 100% parry for the next first attack. So, no other choice than his right. I'm also obliged to let him attack me; that let him get down the "platform" (I don't know what it is). If I attacked him up stairs, either he felt in the stairs or on the roof and it definitely took more time than I choose to do.

Level 10: Free the princess

Finally, here we are! This last level is really longer than all the previous. I make a roll in lava to avoid damages (and an animation that freeze me), I chain infinite air jump to skip the guard and in a cool "V" path over the lava (suggestion is coming from Veisper). Finally, I roll through the wall for fun (it just a few frames faster than jumping).
First boss: Onikage (because in video games, the evil man always comes back twice). Easy as pie compared to the fight in the level 9.
Second boss: Mei-Oh. The biggest thing I had to deal with is his "teleport" skill. I succeed interrupt it, and chain my attacks as fast as I can.

Thanks

I would like to thank Sephyr0sS, for letting me discover this game, motivation he gave me for making this first TAS, work he did on route planning, help in writing and spellchecking this text. Riskbreaker Y who first worked on speedrunning this game and so, created the bases. Alaktorn, for the double jump trick. Sethdemon and Veisper who followed me on twitch during my work. A special wink to Veisper who made a wonderful plan of route he suggested to me in level 10.

Special Thanks

A very particulary special thanks to Nesblog. You all made really amazing things around video games. Thank you guys !


FractalFusion: Judging.

FractalFusion: Accepting for Moons.

feos: Processing...

FractalFusion: Replaced movie file to remove blank input at the end. Nothing else has changed, so it is still publication underway.

FractalFusion: Replaced movie file again to fix the time reported.


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