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

Submission #4130: theenglishman's PSX Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions "100%" in 2:10:12.43

Console: Sony PlayStation
Game name: Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions
Game version: unknown
ROM filename: Metal Gear Solid VR Missions [SLUS-00957]
Branch: 100%
Emulator: PSXjin v2.0.2 svn0
Movie length: 2:10:12.43
FrameCount: 468746
Re-record count: 408652
Author's real name: Noah Tomlin
Author's nickname: theenglishman
Submitter: theenglishman
Submitted at: 2013-12-13 04:29:01
Text last edited at: 2013-12-16 09:45:22
Text last edited by: Spikestuff
Download: Download (163596 bytes)
Status: published
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Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions (Special Missions in Europe) contains 300 action-packed levels with enough scintillating Snake-sneaking setpieces to last a lifetime. Originally a part of Integral, the 1999 Japanese re-release of Metal Gear Solid, it received a 2000 standalone release in North America and Europe as an extra bonus to satisfy fans hungry for more tactical espionage action. Watch as theenglishman sneaks, shoots, punches and investigates his way past the world leaderboards, all just to see a low-resolution piece of concept art from a game that came out twelve years ago.

For this submission I have provided two encodes: one which plays the run in its entirety

(Link to video)

and a second which fast-forwards through the redundant and/or unranked missions.

(Link to video)

NOTE: the console versions of MGS1 and VR Missions feature an audio echo/reverb on all of its sound effects (though some sounds, like bottomless pits opening, have the echo pre-rendered). While PSXjin correctly emulates this when playing back the input file, the reverb is lost when doing an audio encode. I hope it doesn't sound too weird. Perhaps the official encode could do some post-processing work on the audio to make it reverb properly.

Run Statistics

Run time: 2:10:12.42
Rerecord count: 408,652
Lag frames: 5,715
Percentage of lag frames: 1.22%
Rerecord-to-frame ratio: 0.87
Total leaderboard time (TAS, real-time): 36:38.89
Total leaderboard time (TAS, in-game): 27:30.14
Total leaderboard time (console WRs, in-game): 32:40.33
Total time saved: 5:10.19
Total time bonuses awarded: 9:08.75
Average time saved per mission: 1.94
Average time saved per category: 12.41
Average mission real-time (TAS): 13.74
Average mission in-game time (TAS): 10.31
Average mission in-game time (console records): 12.51
Total Score (TAS): 1287
Total Score Improvement: 195
Average Score (TAS): 71.50
Average Score (console world records): 60.67
Average Score Improvement: 10.83
Records Broken: 154
Records Tied: 24
Percentage of missions with new WRs: 86.52%
Number of "0.00" times: 11
Time spent not watching world records: 1:15:33.53

About the Game

Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions is a series of 300 extra missions which serve as extended tutorials, obstacle courses, challenge maps, setpieces and other interesting if gimmicky scenarios, such as solving a murder mystery, knocking down guards like dominoes or destroying a UFO. As a reward for completing all the missions, you got a sneak peak at some concept art of Metal Gear RAY from the then-upcoming Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

Virtual reality and the Metal Gear franchise have a very interesting history. In this series, VR serves as a substitute for combat experience, allowing trainees to learn how to use weapons and participate in advanced combat scenarios without having to actually be on the battlefield, kind of like the training programs in The Matrix. The concept of artificial or digital training serving as a poor man’s replacement for combat experience (particularly where child soldiers are concerned) has been a running theme in the series, at once condoning and condemning the argument that violent video games can corrupt young minds. And like anything in Metal Gear, the message can get a little heavy-handed.

The genome soldiers you fight in Metal Gear Solid were trained through a VR program which, in addition to flawed cloning, justified their lack of intelligence. In Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden, who represents the player in its extended metaphor of cookie-cutter sequels, was given VR Training in what is heavily implied to be the first game’s VR Missions (yeah, there’s no fourth wall in this series either). Metal Gear Solid 4 introduced a shiny new replacement to VR called the SOP ('Sons Of the Patriots') System, which allowed users to share vision and other senses with the rest of their squad, but would break down from shell-shock and hysteria if their SOP deactivated. With the fall of the Patriots (and SOP) at the end of MGS4, VR came back, more invasive than ever, in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, where virtual scenarios were implanted directly into children’s brains before giving them cyborg bodies.

Gameplay-wise, the initial release of Metal Gear Solid featured ten VR Missions as a sort of tutorial, which were reused as Sneaking Mode No Weapon Practice Mode 01-10 in the expanded version. The 290 extra missions were included in the PlayStation re-release of MGS1, called Metal Gear Solid: Integral. Although Integral served as the basis for the worldwide 2000 PC port, the PlayStation version was never released outside of Japan; instead, the extra missions were sold as a standalone title, called Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions in North America and Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions in Europe. Special Missions is by far inferior, as it not only runs at 50Hz but includes a bizarre copy protection gimmick which forces you to insert a copy of the first disc of the vanilla Metal Gear Solid before you could play it.

Konami also hosted a leaderboard on its official website, where users could submit their own times and scores and compare them to the developers'. This was heavily expanded on in Metal Gear Solid 2’s re-release, Substance, and I do mean heavily; in addition to 511 unique missions, an experimental passcode-based online leaderboard, and a complicated scoring system, a full (speedy) playthrough of all 511 missions takes almost eight hours. The Game Boy Colour spinoff Metal Gear: Ghost Babel had basic VR tutorial challenges, while Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker had Extra Ops missions, which worked the same way as in MGS2 but, as a prequel, lacked the VR gimmick. As an extension of MGS2's experimental leaderboard system, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance featured 20 VR missions with online leaderboards, 5 extra missions for both DLC spin-off campaigns, and another 30 as DLC.

About the Run

For those of you who complained that my 1:05:42 any% run of Metal Gear Solid didn't have enough action, this is my gift to you.

This run uses the NTSC version of VR Missions for two main reasons: as mentioned above, the PAL version has some major flaws; and for some reason, the (as of this writing) current version of PSXjin is incapable of running either disc of the Japanese Integral version without crashing.

This run is also a start-from-scratch 100% run. My initial plan was to do all the Practice Mode missions "off-screen" in a verification movie, and then load the submission file through the first movie's SRAM. However, PSXjin has trouble supporting SRAM with the VR Missions ISO; movies can be recorded, but will crash when played back.

This run is a first for me in many respects. It’s the first run I’ve made with analog controls; it’s the first run whose progress I streamed over twitch.tv; and it’s also the first run that I’ve done where an on-screen timer is present for most of it, which provided excellent incentive to save every frame I could.

Before I start going really in-depth, I want to give out a huge thank-you to four people:

  • mgslade: despite being French (i.e. in the PAL region), he owns both VR Missions and Extra Missions, and was able to help me formulate strategies by playing through the missions on console while he watched my stream progress.
  • fs10inator: he joined the research team about halfway through and became invaluable. His contributions, research, advice, feedback and input were just as critical to this run as slade’s were to my previous TAS of the main game.
  • koji123456 was also a big source of encouragement and advice during the home stretch, and his YouTube channel contains several strategies which I ended up using, or otherwise directly inspired new ones.
  • Anonymityhope was another big help for showing me strategies on the 1 min vs. battles as well as the VR Mission.

Additionally, I would like to thank anyone from the Cyberscore and Konami.jp leaderboards (and YouTube at large) whose strategies I lifted, including Adnan Kauser, AmaebiUniO, AngelOfAnEnd, Anonymityhope, brazilianjoker, fs10inator, illusionmgs, koji123456, lobbywww, mgslade and mrmanet. I would also like to thank anyone who watched my streams while working on this TAS, especially the “French Crew” of the aforementioned mgslade, bonobodu28, ergx, lut1n, rwede and xsnakeeater132x.

Rules of the Run

The run completes all 300 VR missions. Of these, 160 are completed in the fastest in-game time, and 18 are completed with the highest score, while the remaining 122 exceptions are elaborated on below. Barring any blatantly false times, my basis for time and score comparison was an old (last updated September 1999) leaderboard from Konami’s Japanese website, as well as an individual level table I found on CyberScore, and any faster times I could find on YouTube. Missions use the on-screen timer or score displayer.

There are some exceptions to the time/score rule:

  • Practice Mode generally aims for fastest real-time, as there is no timer, nor is it counted on any online leaderboards. Occasionally I will use a speed-entertainment tradeoff to show off an unusual route or funny glitch, which would have wasted far more time in Time Attack Mode. The second YouTube encode linked above fast forwards through Practice Mode missions.
  • Photography Mode is not included, as it is considered a reward for reaching 30% completion and does not count towards overall percentage.
  • The two Genolla missions (Variety 12 and 13) are meant as joke missions and do not have timers, but still count towards 100% completion. Genolla 1 is attempted as quickly as possible, while Genolla 2 lets the scripted event play out as normal.
  • Mystery 01-09 do not have recorded “final times” nor are they counted on online leaderboards, but there is still a final time shown after crossing the goal marker. One player (lobbywww) seems to have tried to time attack the Mystery levels, and he did not take the category very seriously; therefore, this is the category with the most improved time.
  • Mystery 10 is meant as a joke; the “murder victim” is faking his death using ketchup. There is no way to discover this earlier, and the player must wait five minutes in order to complete the mission, wherein the “victim” gets bored and just walks away. While I have done my best to make this portion entertaining, the encode includes an annotation to skip it, and is fast-forwarded in the second encode.
  • NG Selection 08 is not timed, as it is a joke murder mystery mission with a predetermined scripted event.

As there is no real ending or credits per se after achieving 100% completion, I have elected instead to end input upon pressing “Exit” after the final completed mission, which reveals the Metal Gear RAY concept art.

Mission Types

There are thirteen mission types.
  • 'Sneaking Mode NO WEAPON' (30 missions): Get to the end goal without being seen. Sneaking Mode is split into two subcategories, with fifteen Practice Mode and Time Attack missions each.
    • Game Over conditions: being spotted (all); death (Practice Mode and Time Attack 11).
    • Bonuses awarded: None.
  • 'Sneaking Mode SOCOM' (30 missions): Eliminate all enemies without being seen, which spawns the end goal. Sneaking Mode SOCOM is split into two subcategories, with fifteen Practice Mode and Time Attack missions each.
    • Game Over Conditions: being spotted (all); death (Practice Mode and Time Attack 11).
    • Bonuses Awarded: ammo bonus (Time Attack 01-15; X seconds per bullet remaining, which varies with weapon type).
  • 'Weapon Mode' (80 missions): Destroy all targets with the weapon provided, which spawns the end goal. Each weapon type (SOCOM, C4, FA-MAS, Grenade, Claymore, Nikita, PSG-1 and Stinger) has five dedicated Practice Mode and Time Attack missions.
    • Game Over Conditions: death (Practice Mode and Time Attack 01-05 for C4, Grenade, Claymore and Stinger).
    • Bonuses Awarded: ammo bonus (all Time Attacks).
  • 'Advanced Mode' (80 missions): eliminate all enemies, which spawns the end goal. Each weapon type (see above) has five dedicated missions in Practice Mode and Time Attack Mode.
    • Game Over Conditions: death (all).
    • Bonuses Awarded: Sneaking Bonus (Time Attack; 3 seconds if not caught, 1 second if caught once), Ammo Bonus (Time Attack).
  • 'One-Minute Battle VS. TARGET' (9 missions): destroy as many targets as possible in one minute. One mission is dedicated to each weapon type (see 'Weapon Mode') plus an additional “no weapon” mission.
    • Game Over Conditions: death (all); failing to reach at least third place on the scoreboard in the allotted time (all).
    • Bonuses Awarded: none.
  • 'One-Minute Battle VS. ENEMY' (9 missions): eliminate as many guards as possible in one minute. One mission is dedicated to each weapon type (see 'Weapon Mode') plus an additional “no weapon” mission.
    • Game Over Conditions: death (all); failing to reach at least third place on the scoreboard in the allotted time (all).
    • Bonuses Awarded: none.
  • 'vs. 12 Battle' (8 missions): eliminate twelve enemies as fast as possible with the provided weapon loadout.
    • Game Over Conditions: death (all).
    • Bonuses Awarded: none.
  • 'Mystery' (10 missions) requires the player to play detective and investigate the murder of a guard.
    • Game Over Conditions: accuse the wrong suspect (01-09).
    • Bonuses Awarded: none.
  • 'Puzzle' (10 missions) requires the player to kill enemy guards and/or reach the goal marker in unusual ways.
    • Game Over Conditions: Death (01-04, 08); being spotted (05, 07, 09, 10).
    • Bonuses Awarded: Ammo Bonus (01, 03-10).
  • 'Variety' (13 missions) requires the player to perform unusual tasks. Variety 12 and 13 are not officially timed, but still count towards 100% and are completed as fast as possible.
    • Game Over Conditions: fail the mission’s unique objective (all).
    • Bonuses Awarded: Ammo Bonus (04, 06-11).
  • 'VR Mission' (1 mission) requires the player to fight or sneak their way through ten specialized maps in a row.
    • Game Over Conditions: Death.
    • Bonuses Awarded: None.
  • 'Ninja' (3 missions) Destroy all wooden targets (and, in mission 3, assassinate Solid Snake) and head to the goal as Gray Fox, the Cyborg Ninja.
    • Game Over Conditions: Death (all).
    • Bonuses Awarded: none.
  • 'NG Selection' (8 missions) requires the player to perform various difficult tasks under a strict time limit. NG Selection 8 is not timed, but still counts towards 100% completion and is completed as fast as possible.
    • Game Over Conditions: Death (all); getting caught (02, 03, 05, 07, 08).
    • Bonuses Awarded: Ammo bonus (01, 02, 04, 06, 07).

Tricks, glitches, hindrances and other observations

In addition to the tricks mentioned in the submission comments for my TAS of the main game, the run uses the following tricks:

Box Throw Cancel

A cardboard box can be used to cancel a judo throw (pressing L1) using the same trick as the R1 cancel.

C4/Claymore Cancel

The magic of R1 allows Snake to not only cancel the last few frames of his animation when placing C4, but also to use R1 to cancel the punching animation when detonating it.

Claymore Randomness

Without a shred of doubt in my mind, the Claymore mine is the buggiest weapon in the entire game. It’s pretty bad when facing targets, but it reaches a whole new level of insanity when fighting human enemies.

Allow me to explain. When placing a Claymore on the ground in such a way that an enemy is in its cone of detection as soon as it’s set, any of the following can happen:

  • The claymore goes off as intended, destroying everything in its kill radius.
  • The claymore goes off, killing soldiers directly in front of it but injuring the soldiers caught by shrapnel.
  • The claymore goes off, injuring soldiers directly in front of it but killing the soldiers caught by shrapnel.
  • The claymore goes off, injuring but not killing any of the enemies.
  • The claymore goes into “safety mode”, designed to prevent the player from blowing themselves up, and won’t detonate at all for half a second.

For added fun, during all but the last scenario, the claymore can backfire and blow up in Snake’s face, often killing him instantly; not even using an R1 cancel allows him to escape in time. All of this is completely determined by the game’s RNG, and that’s not even factoring enemy AI manipulation.

The Clock Glitch

Okay so it’s not exactly a trick or glitch, but the “Clock Prevents-Bringing-The-PlayStation-To-Its-Knees Mechanic” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. As mentioned above, some missions award the player Ammo Bonuses which subtract a certain amount of time per bullet remaining. For the purposes of maintaining weapon balance, some of these values can be really strange, such as ⅓ of a second (not 0.33..., ⅓) per SOCOM bullet or, my personal favourite, 0.07 seconds for every two FAMAS bullets. When you hit the goal, the game runs a math check to make sure it can subtract the ammo bonus from the final time without having a remainder in milliseconds (0.001 seconds), since the clock only counts in centiseconds (0.01 seconds). If it can’t, it will add or subtract a few centiseconds until it can safely apply the ammo bonus without killing the game engine.

This can sometimes be manipulated, but it’s rarely worth it. For instance, in Weapon Mode SOCOM 01, shooting one extra bullet can net you a pre-ammo bonus final time of 3.72 (as opposed to 3.74 in my run), but the overall time would be slower since you’re losing an entire bullet’s worth of ammo bonus to save such a pithy amount of time.

Similarly, if the current time on the clock is smaller than the available subtracted time bonus, the clock will readjust to be equal to the ammo bonus in order to ensure that 0.00 is the lowest possible time.

Damage Cancel

If the player has no items with which to use the R1/Box Cancel, they can still be interrupted from placing explosives or performing a judo throw by being shot, a technique which proves most useful in 1 Min vs. ENEMY missions.

Danger Close

When planting C4 or a Claymore, taking damage and then detonating the explosive while Snake is in his mercy invincibility state allows for very quick takedowns without having to retreat to a safe distance.

Directional Influence (DI)

Gray Fox has a spinning jump move, his fastest method of movement. It also has an extremely wide hitbox and is ideal for cutting down targets; however, it often causes him to fling himself in the wrong direction. Four frames after pressing Square for the spinning jump, you can have a small amount of influence on the jump to attack in one direction and move in another.

Double Tap

While running and gunning with the SOCOM, releasing Square before the first shot is taken, pressing it again and then releasing it at the right moment will result in two shots being fired two frames apart instead of the usual four. Unfortunately this trick is highly circumstantial; it can only be used for the first two shots of a run-and-gun, and since the second shot is glitched, it will miss at medium or long range.

Kick Turn

Invented by koji123456, and named by me (since if you do this standing still it looks like Snake is trying out for the Rockettes), this trick lets you cancel out of the kick animation in a punch-punch-kick combo by pressing the X button.

Quick Turn

A trick with the PSG-1 which lets you turn on a dime four frames after unequipping the weapon. If you then immediately re-equip the weapon, Snake will be lying prone at another angle entirely. This trick works with any position within a semi-circle of the direction that Snake is facing; two extra frames of repositioning are needed if Snake needs to make a turn wider than 90 degrees on either side.

R2 Reloading

R2 can be used to reload your weapon in addition to R1. It is slower in real-time but faster in-game.

Reload Squeezing

Pressing Square one frame after doing an R2 Reload will make Snake raise his weapon faster. This works with the SOCOM and FAMAS, although in the latter’s case it means that Snake will start firing immediately after reloading.

Schrödinger’s Hug

A hilarious, but sadly not very useful, trick. Grabbing an enemy the same frame as they fall over will cause the enemy to both be grabbed and not grabbed. The enemy will finish their knocked-over animation and then teleport into Snake’s arms, even if Snake has already moved to the other side of the map.

Spin Hopping

A trick for Gray Fox which allows him to skip jumping in some situations. The game intends for you to leap small gaps with the running spin (Square while running), but you can trick the game into doing a longer variant of this jump at the right angle.

Squeeze Turning

In instances where Snake is an area too small to run-and-gun freely, you can trick the game into thinking Snake is running-and-gunning without actually moving by holding X and Square for a few frames, which gives him the much faster turning speed of run-and-gun without moving at all.

Target Leading

A trick with the SOCOM (and to a lesser extent, the FAMAS) which lets you move to a new target faster when running and gunning.

Let’s say Snake, with his gun drawn, is running forward facing 12 o’clock. He needs to kill an enemy on his 9 and move toward his 6. Moving to the 44, 45 or 46 minute position will allow him to kill his enemy in 6 frames; however, 46 allows him to start firing one frame faster. After releasing Square for the first time on the 46 minute angle, you then swing the analog stick towards your next enemy as far as it can go while still getting a six-frame kill on the first enemy (how much is dependent on the distance between yourself and your targets, as well as the distance between the two targets).

Level-by-level commentary

As there are a huge number of missions in this expansion, I’ve created a detailed time comparison spreadsheet if you’re interested in seeing level-by-level comparison times. Any videos I could find of console world record times can be found in the comments section of the level’s “Best console time” cell (Column D).

I will not be making comments about each mission, as it would take forever, but I will provide text commentary for missions with significant tricks or that require some additional explanation.

Sneaking Mode NO WEAPON 02

An angle of (X=125, Y=000) on the final turn lets you run just outside the guard’s cone of vision into the goal. The console strategy is an interesting little wiggling move which I initially had difficulty replicating on an emulator until I found this better trick.

Sneaking Mode NO WEAPON 05

This level was an early litmus test for my own analog stick skills. A very precise angle with gradual changes is needed to save one frame from a typical 5.50 time.

Sneaking Mode NO WEAPON 09

My loathing of this map is beyond words, and worst of all, it appears four times if you count Practice Mode. Never again.

Sneaking Mode NO WEAPON 15

This one will no doubt cause some controversy. Both the Konami and Cyberscore leaderboards claim faster times than mine (8.60 and 8.02 respectively) but after weeks of testing I have come to the conclusion that these times are either phony or use completely insane strategies which I am not aware of. Regardless, this strategy is executed frame-perfectly.

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 01

I stop here to make sure I kill the enemy as early as possible, since the goal only spawns once the enemy is dead, and Snake arrives several seconds before the goal activates.

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 03

The first guard will always catch you unless you knock on the wall.

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 06

You're not supposed to be able to get to the first guard this way (he's supposed to block you) but there's a gap between his and the camera's cone of vision just big enough to slip through.

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 08

This is one of my favourite missions, aesthetically. The route just looks so cool and really sets the tone for the whole run.

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 10

There's a strange story behind this route: I ended up developing it in about five minutes after spending several frustrating hours failing to properly replicate the console strategy. It just happened to be that much faster. It's funny how that kind of stuff happens, huh?

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 12

This map is a great example of how well squeeze turning can work in small spaces. I'm relatively sure this particular strategy is near frame-perfect, but a console player could just stand further back when shooting, losing time for consistency and safety.

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 14

The kill order may not look optimal to the naked eye, but I needed to properly time every kill. The goal is to make sure the second-last enemy I kill will turn to the right, distracted by another noise, so he doesn't see me; that way, I could keep moving in a relatively straight line to the goal.

Sneaking Mode SOCOM 15

Sadly, this is the only map where the vent glitch that made the vanilla game so broken is useful.

Weapon Mode SOCOM 01

Run forward, shoot the minimum number of bullets, hit the goal. There is literally nothing else to this mission, which is why it’s tied with the world record. As mentioned above, the Clock Glitch allows for a goal time of 3.72, but at the cost of an extra bullet, resulting in a slower final time.

Weapon Mode SOCOM 02

Getting 0.00 is almost frame perfect, as 100% accuracy on this level gives you exactly four seconds of ammo bonus with a margin of error of less than half a second. A sub-1.00 on console is definitely possible using this method.

Weapon Mode SOCOM 05

It's hard to notice in this run, but the moving targets disappear and reappear at preset intervals. This is partly why I shoot them in such an usual order, to make sure I can destroy them right when they initially appear.

Weapon Mode C4 02

Unusually for a map this long, this is a tie for the world record. I'm not going to call BS on this one, since I can see some margin of error for this strategy, as it takes a while for the goal to spawn.

Weapon Mode C4 03

The targets' movement patterns are deviously designed so that you can only a detonate a maximum of 7 targets with a single explosive. This one definitely took a while to optimize.

Weapon Mode C4 04

There's a 3.84 time on the Konami leaderboards which I don't believe.

Weapon Mode C4 05

Massive thanks to fs10inator for teaching me this strategy! This was one of the first maps he helped me with.

Weapon Mode FAMAS 01

Using a deliberately tight angle, I wasted a few bullets but hit the third target earlier than intended.

Weapon Mode FAMAS 02

On the other hand, controlled burst fire like this is sometimes faster.

Weapon Mode Grenade 04

Cooking grenades is a tricky business to do optimally. It needs to be time to the frame tower sure you can still throw then as quickly as possible.

Weapon Mode Grenade 05

The final grenade throw is deliberately obtuse so I can run ahead of it and towards the goal before it spawns.

Weapon Mode Claymore (all)

Claymores are easily the buggiest weapons in the game, but thankfully some of those bugs are useful ones, especially when it comes to detonating extra targets that are not really within its range.

The Claymore levels are also one of the few levels in the game with significant differences between Practice Mode and Time Attack. Namely, in TA, most claymores must be procured on-site, while in practice you start equipped with them. If you're going to watch any of the Practice Mode levels, watch these.

Weapon Mode PSG-1 03 and 05

The targets' hitboxes are very small; even if the top point is visible, you can't hit it, thus why I have to wait for it to move out.

Weapon Mode Stinger 01

Moving to the left side of the map to shoot down the target is faster for some reason.

Weapon Mode Stinger 03

Stingers follow the Mega Man bullet rule: only one is allowed on screen at time. Once the Stinger has turned into the explosion sprite, you can fire another.

Advanced Mode C4 04

This one, no joke, took nine hours to get right. The AI manipulation was just terrible on this map.

Advanced Mode FAMAS 02

The noise radius for the FAMAS is fairly large, which is why I detour to make sure that I can shoot enemies from a distance without alerting the guards. If a guard hears a FAMAS shot, they will automatically go into alert without an investigative phase. Taking the time to doing this “stealthily” (pffft!) ends up paying off with the three-second sneaking bonus.

Advanced Mode FAMAS 05

I get caught as early as possible to make the enemies come to me. It ends up being fast enough that I can sacrifice the sneaking bonus for it.

Advanced Mode GRENADE 01

The difference between a 2.41 and a 2.25 has to do with which death animation the enemy uses. The “fall flat on his ass and die” animation is slightly faster than the more common “fly through the air, waving like an idiot” animation, although it seems to only affect this and a few other specific missions.

Advanced Mode Grenade 04

Here’s another strategy I had to reinvent from scratch due to lack of any help online. Grabbing the sneaking bonus is the only way for this strategy to work, and the window for it is very small. If I had pulled the pin on the grenade one frame sooner, the guards would have been too far away and they would fall over the edge instead of dying on the platform, which would cost a second.

Advanced Mode Grenade 05

I am so ridiculously proud of this strategy. It involves a huge amount of AI manipulation, and much like Sneaking Mode SOCOM 10, it was made up on the fly as a here-goes-nothing strategy after failing to replicate the console technique.

Advanced Mode Claymore 01

Stealth! Perhaps Snake attended the same sneaking school as Frederic’s band of pirates.

Advanced Mode Claymore 02

Oh boy. If you thought Claymores were buggy in Weapon Mode, you ain’t seen nothing yet. As mentioned under Claymore randomness in the tricks section, the claymore can sometimes blow up in your face. When approaching the sleeping enemy at an optimal angle, there is an exactly two-frame window to place the claymore so it both kills him and doesn’t backfire on Snake.

Advanced Mode Claymore 03

More AI manipulation. I had to factor in the kill/injure RNG as well as the enemy’s AI.

Advanced Mode Claymore 04

Claymores are the only type of weapon that have an infinite noise radius; use one and everyone will be alert. Getting a sneaking bonus on this map is certainly possible, but far slower.

Advanced Mode Nikita 02

Luring the guards over to the opening with a detonated Nikita missile is much faster than killing them off silently (and yes, since they’re asleep when they spawn, you can do that). Interestingly, absolutely nothing short of an explosion will lure the guards away from their post; if you fly a missile close to them, they’ll stare at it curiously and then go back to sleep.

vs. 12 (all)

While each level has its own complicated gimmick, in the end it comes down to making the best use of what weapons you have and heavy luck manipulation. Enemies will only spawn four at a time due to engine constraints, and where the remaining eight will spawn depends on both RNG and Snake’s position relative to the available spawn points.

Mystery 04

Sadly, this is the only map in the game where Schrödinger’s Hug is useful.

Puzzle 01

Throwing a cooked grenade between the first two enemies saves about a second.

Puzzle 08

Four frame-perfect grenades, the minimum required to solve this puzzle, nets me a 0.00 time. The last one needs to be cooked, but that doesn’t affect its timer.

Puzzle 09

The gap between the enemy’s cone of vision and the camera’s is extremely small, maybe just a few pixels wide. I don’t see this being a console strategy without some crazy controller tricks and lots of pause buffering.

Variety 01

Enemies who are grabbed will eventually break free if Snake doesn’t choke them again with the Square button. Five chokes is the minimum when dragging this enemy to the marker.

Variety 02

I seriously doubt Konami’s time on this one. Maybe they were using an earlier build of the game which had more forgiving AI. Sorry, Konami :(

Variety 03

Using the Kick Turn allows for precious frames to be saved.

Variety 04

For the first time, in history, it’s gonna start raining men! Or at least genome soldiers. This is probably the best example of judo throw cancelling in either the vanilla game or VR Missions.

Variety 07

The spawn positions of these targets are luck dependent, and very rarely do they line themselves up for multikills.

Variety 09

The FAMAS needs to waste a few bullets when locking on to a target that is not on the same horizontal plane as Snake, therefore 100% accuracy is impossible on this map.

Variety 11

Destroying 20 targets causes the UFO to spawn, so I blow the 20 closest to me.

Variety 12

Since this mission is not timed, I used two instances of speed/entertainment tradeoff: killing Meryl on the same frame as finishing the Genolla mission. Additionally, I let the “Excellent, Snake!” message play out because I thought it was funnier.

Ninja 01

Gray Fox has a great moveset and this was really fun to work on. Incidentally, if you look really closely, you’ll notice the sprite of the character warping in and out of the VR arena is Snake, not Fox. It’s only there for a few frames, but it’s really noticeable once you’re aware of it.

Ninja 02

Some relatively simple luck manipulation resulted in ideal enemy spawns and plenty of time saved.

Ninja 03

The RNG for Snake’s positioning is incredibly stupid, and can only be manipulated by restarting multiple times. There are three possible spots where Snake can spawn: near the staircase on the left, directly in front of the goal, or patrolling with a guard on the right. The last one is unwinnable, since killing anyone other than Snake will result in a game over, while the second one is about a second slower due to Snake’s long death animation.

NG Selection 03

This time can easily be tied on console by pause buffering with the L2 or R2 buttons.

NG Selection 04

Shooting too early will cause the whirlwind to be misaligned, and won’t blow everything up. After about half a second it’s safe to shoot.

NG Selection 05

This level relies entirely on getting the first enemy to slow down while walking back to his post. It was the last truly horrible level to optimize in the run.

NG Selection 06

Going in order of right, left, centre is a few frames faster, as the centre target spends less time hiding behind cover than the right.

NG Selection 07

All of the time saved here came from frame-perfect neck snapping.


I am extremely happy to have finally finished this run. I went through the usual routine of anxiety, restarts, long spurts of progress and a euphoric finale as in any of my projects, and now I'm thrilled that all of you get to enjoy the final product.

As for future projects, well...in my crazier moments, I have considered taking on the Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance VR Missions once PCSX2 or some other emulator becomes stable enough. The saner part of me still accepts this idea, but I'd only do it as part of a collaborative, multi-author effort. This run was hard enough to put together as it is, and the scope of MGS2's missions is humongous: compare MGS1's 188 ranked (i.e. not Practice Mode or gimmick) missions to MGS2's 511, all of which are unique and scored individually. Perhaps you'll see me return to the world of Metal Gear eventually, but not quite yet.

Mothrayas: Judging.

Mothrayas: Impressive. Excellent, Snake.

In other words, beautiful run. Despite its long length, it maintains high technical quality and entertainment value throughout the whole run. Accepting for Moons.

Spikestuff: Since I'm nearly done with encoding Castlevania (Basically YT encode is about to finish and uploading that will begin at night) I'll take this one.

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