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

Submission #4196: ForgoneMoose's PSX Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 18:40.08

Console: Sony PlayStation
Game name: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Game version: USA
ROM filename: sotn.iso
Branch:
Emulator: PSXjin v2.0.2
Movie length: 18:40.08
FrameCount: 67205
Re-record count: 27971
Author's real name: Dan W.
Author's nickname: ForgoneMoose
Submitter: ForgoneMoose
Submitted at: 2014-02-20 21:18:11
Text last edited at: 2014-02-24 16:27:07
Text last edited by: Guga
Download: Download (12894 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
"I believe this movie is improvable... In term of frames, i think maybe up to 300/400 (at the best and ideal conditions) can be saved if you feel enought nerdy to take upon that game" - arukAdo on the previous TAS

challenge accepted

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: PSXjin v2.0.2
  • Abuses programming errors
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates luck
  • Ends input early


(Link to video)


Comments

This is basically just an overall improvement to the existing TAS this time, there are no groundbreaking new glitches or what have you that have been discovered since the previous TAS. The time saved is the result of improved movement tech, luck manipulation, and route planning.

The two biggest improvements are skipping the Cube of Zoe in favor of using the Medusa Shield to revenge tech enemies instead, and getting the King's Stone, which makes Dracula die much sooner.

Tricks used throughout the run

Movement - Gotta go fast :^)

Shield Dash - Backdashing starts at a top speed, then slows down before you can do it again. Canceling it into shield then back into backdash again repeatedly allows you to maintain top speed for as long as you repeat the sequence.

Frontslide - After getting the Leap Stone, doing a divekick near to the ground without holding left or right will cause Alucard to maintain the horizontal momentum of the divekick while sliding across the ground. This is slightly slower than shield dashing but can be done without having a shield equipped. It is also faster in cases where you can already be in the air anyways without wasting time due to having a higher top speed than shield dash, such as after a hard landing.

Extended Frontslide - Every frame that you pull out a shield or use a "USE" item, momentum decay ceases. Repeatedly shielding during a frontslide doubles the length of the burst of speed that you get. This is the same speed as shield dash while on the ground, and slightly faster when going uphill.

Big Toss - Losing half or more of your max HP in one hit from anything causes Alucard to go flying backwards at an upward angle for as long as he doesn't hit a wall or ceiling, at ridiculous speeds. This is the fastest form of movement possible in this run, clocking in at twice as fast as top frontslide speed, but is initially limited due to a lack of healing items early on as well as a lack of enemies that can do enough damage. Hitting a wall causes Alucard to stick to it for 2 seconds, but hitting a ceiling or glancing a corner does not have this disadvantage, and lots of time was saved over the old TAS by doing so whenever possible.

Wolf Jump - While in wolf form, doing a running jump while on a slope causes you to gain ridiculous height very quickly. Not used often because transforming into wolf wastes time.

Wolfrise - You pop into the air a little when you transform and untransform from wolf form. You can't actually gain much height by doing this due to a timer before you can transform again after untransforming, but by using the Flamberge's thrust attack after untransforming you can ride out the timer without losing height.

Extended Wolfrise - Wolfrise is normally limited by your MP and you should have to wait for it to refill after doing it, but I get around this by using an exploit where having more than 1 and less than 5 MP while doing it lets you wolfrise without losing MP until it hits 5 or more again.

Infinite Jump - Headbonking a ceiling while untransforming from wolf gives you your double jump back. I use this to cut down on the wolfrising whenever possible.

Hovering - Releasing X during a jump then immediately holding it again makes Alucard hang in the air for a moment before falling. This can be done even after getting Leap Stone by shielding on the same frame you start the hover.

7 Frame Rule - There's a few frames after falling off an edge where you can still walk around and jump before you enter a falling state. This lets me bend around some ledges that I would normally headbonk on.

Falling Velocity - Because aerial movement is slower than ground movement, it's best to jump/fall from ledges as late as possible. You do accelerate downwards while falling, so it's best to optimize falling sections so that you land as few times as possible.

Experience Routing - Avoiding time wasting level up animations, planning level ups to occur at times where I need them to do specific glitches

Shiftline - The loading zones of room transitions work based on the position of the camera, not Alucard's actual position. Having momentum during a screen pause from a level up animation or the Heart Refresh animation displaces the camera from Alucard's position, meaning that I can go further through the room without hitting the room transition. I use this to fall off the edge of rooms and into areas below or above a couple of times. With backdash, 2 pauses is exactly enough to fall off, and with big tossing 1 is exactly enough but killing with some sort of projectile is required.

Damage Boost - The hitboxes for colliding with enemy attacks and colliding with enemies themselves work differently. The way you're sent flying when you touch an attack is dependent on the direction you are relative to the hitbox, while the direction you're sent from touching an enemy is based on which direction the enemy moved last. Thus, you can manipulate enemies to move backwards, jump into them, and be sent past them without having to kill them.

Revenge Tech - Killing an enemy while

  1. inside their hitbox using invulnerable frames
  2. they are stuck in a specific frame of animation
  3. using multiple hitboxes on the same frame

causes the enemy to die, but Alucard does not gain experience and it is not counted as a kill by the game's kill counter. This is done using the axe subweapon early on, and the Medusa Shield at several point in the run. This is not possible on certain enemies such as Medusa, but this is not a time loss because I need the stats gained from leveling up against enemies later on anyways.

Luck Manipulation - Making rare drops happen ASAP, getting critical hits as often as possible, getting low STR early on and high STR later

Map Buffer - I regularly open the map screen for several frames before I need a rare occurrence to happen; this allows the RNG to advance naturally without being pushed by anything, meaning I can observe outputs of the RNG that are otherwise skipped over.

Shield - Pulling out a shield pushes the RNG forward a single frame.

Swords - The particle effects on the Alucard Sword's swing push the RNG forward for every frame that they are generated, making it the most powerful form of RNG manipulation available when it is equipped. Flamberge calls the RNG several times throughout the swing but isn't nearly as powerful as the Alucard Sword, and Masamune only calls it twice, making manipulation with it difficult.

Enemies - Most enemies call the RNG multiple times when their actions are decided, and some call it during said actions themselves. RNG can thus be pushed by waiting for enemies to act before trying to manipulate yourself.

Hitflash - The little flash created when hitting an enemy or a candle with an attack compounds any change in the RNG that is already occurring. It essentially doubles the push caused by slashing it, making it invaluable for lots of rare drops in the first castle, but there aren't enough candles to really help in the inverted castle. Some enemies such as the Fleamen are directly affected by hitflashes alone.

Things that require luck manipulation

Uncommon/Rare drops - Lots of these in this run. Straightforward, is a direct function of the RNG. This TAS had the fastest drops overall of any submission to the site to date by a long shot!

  • Shield Potion - Needed to survive while using the Medusa Shield spell on Dracula.
  • Axe subweapon - Needed to revenge tech Slogra and Gaibon, as well as to break the wall leading to Flamberge and kill the Flea rider for the Castle Keep shiftline.
  • Morning Set (x2) - Healing item used to survive more big tosses in the Long Library.
  • Medusa Shield - Used to revenge tech Karasuman and a Black Panther, as well as kill Dracula.
  • Large Heart - Getting this from a Harpy in Clock Tower let me throw two axes at the Flamberge wall while still having an axe for Castle Keep.
  • Flamberge - Needed for wolfrising.
  • Masamune - Powerful sword that wrecks Medusa and Shaft instantly.
  • King's Stone - Large STR boost, needed to kill Dracula with the Medusa Shield spell.
  • Javelin - Needed to kill a Guardian during a big toss to open a shiftline in Black Marble Gallery.
  • Mablung Sword - Functionally equivalent to the Shield Rod, needed to kill Dracula.

Stats - Stat gains upon leveling up are a direct function of the RNG as well. The only stat that is important is STR, which directly determines the attack power of the divekick and the Medusa Shield shield rod spell. I need to not get any STR for the first castle due to the massive amounts of divekicking I need to do using Flea Riders in the Castle Keep, whereas I needed to manipulate more STR than usual from then on out in order for the Medusa Shield spell to do enough damage to kill Dracula.

Enemies - The actions of several enemies are directly tied to RNG somehow and will be explained case-by-case in the level commentary.


Stage by stage comments

Prologue

I name myself X-X!V"Q to activate luck mode, which is like normal except Alucard starts with very low stats but 99 luck, allowing for more big tosses and divekicks and making luck manipulation much more bearable.

As Richter, I stop to break an extra candle as the number of hitflashes you have directly determines where Dracula will teleport to when the fight starts. Slide kicking into the cutscene is done both because it is optimal and because Richter calling a pillar a monster that doesn't belong in this world is amazing.

When the fight starts, I immediately get the holy water and use the Hydro Storm item crash followed by throwing holy water to activate a damage stacking glitch where Dracula is hit by Hydro Storm much more rapidly than usual. This glitch is very RNG dependent, and can take several forms depending on the RNG position when you activate it:

  • Normal Speed - You get a bunch of hits at once. This is the slowest form of the stack.
  • Double Speed - You get lots of hits more often than normal speed. This is the form I accepted here due to limitations of my ability to push the RNG in time.
  • Triple Speed - Very rare. Hits even more often than double speed and is the most powerful form of the stack. I could not find a way to manipulate this to happen without wasting time in the process.

on top of this, you can hit Dracula with blade dashes and uppercuts to deal even more damage. These push the RNG, however, and usually cancel out the damage stack entirely. I did my best to match the previous TAS in this fight, but still lost frames because the old TAS had a literally perfect fight and trying to replicate it exactly didn't work. I still killed him very quickly at least, so it's not too bad. I make sure to lose all my hearts because having 0 hearts at the end of the fight causes Alucard to start with a Heart Refresh item that can be used to open shiftlines.

Entrance

Almost immediately, I do a neat big toss. Warg's heads are special in that they are treated as attacking hitboxes, and there is just enough of a gap to fit between the head hitbox and the body hitbox, meaning I can run into the head from the wrong side and go flying right. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoiding landing on the wall without wasting time as far as I know.

I break the rock leading to the Pot Roast with a double hit - hovering during a jump slash extends the sword's hitbox long enough to hit things twice in one slash. Stopping to heal with the Pot Roast before the second big toss does not waste time because I need to wait for the Warg to lift its head before I can go under the attack hitbox anyways. Doing so allows me to big toss through the room where Death stops you and jacks your equipment without stopping, allowing me to keep my powerful items for the whole game.

The old TAS got the Cube of Zoe here to get hearts of axe revenge techs, but I do not because it is not needed now that Medusa Shield revenge tech is possible.

Alchemy Lab

I get a Shield Potion from the skeleton by the switch in the first room, which gives me a temporary defense boost much later in the game. I get a level up and use it to pass through spikes, where I then get the Leather Shield from a candle because it allows me to shield dash without having the defense boost that the Alucard Shield gives.

I get an axe drop from one Axe Armor for revenge tech and a few other things later in the run, then do a nifty jump to just barely avoid touching the next Axe Armor. In the next room, I have to do a neat hover to jump around a Spittle Bone.

Killing Slogra and Gaibon with one jump and two double hits is impossible as far as I can tell, so I manipulate a critical on Gaibon that does as much damage as one extra hit would have.

Leaving the fight, I use invulnerability from Summon Spirit to go through groups of enemies. This is the fastest option if it gets you through more than one enemy and you can't damage boost through them. Afterwards, I do a precise hover to go between a Spittle Bone and an Axe Armor.

Marble Gallery

Experience is now very tight, so I can't kill much of anything. I break a candle to make the Fleamen jump over me - their actions are a function of the number of hitflashes you've accrued and Alucard's facing when you activate their A.I..

Maria whines at me, then I get 2 Morning Sets to use for big tosses in the Library. I kill a skeleton and use the level up and the Heart Refresh I got earlier to open a shiftline to let me get into the room below me which has a Library Card, letting me teleport to the Long Library early.

Long Library

I wait around to get poisoned, lowering my defense and letting me big toss off move things. I kill Spellbooks to set up for a level up while waiting. I big toss by hitting the back of a Dhuron's sword and get sent into the room with the Faerie Card, which summons the Fairy familiar who is useful for several things. Leaving, I make her dance because she has action of trying (and failing) to heal my poison queued and I need the queue empty.

I open a shiftline by big tossing during a level up off an enemy that's just barely onscreen. I get Fairy to try and heal me, then equip the potion I got from her room while she tries to use it on me, causing my number of potions to underflow to 255. I jump into the bottom of the shiftline and enter the bottom level of the library, skipping a trip around the whole area.

From here on out, I just abuse potions to invincibility frame through enemies and big toss as often as possible.

Outer Wall

I just completely ignore all the enemies on the stairs using potion invulnerability. Near the top, I start breaking candles to manipulate Medusa Heads to spawn in certain spots that are convenient for me. The old TAS used axes to hit the elevator switch, but I do not because I lack hearts and because I found that this is slower because leaving the screen as fast as possible causes the axes to not connect in time. I manipulate the very rare Medusa Shield on the way down.

The elevator normally takes time to come to the top of the area, but entering the red door and leaving puts it at the top instantly. On top of that, jumping into the bottom of the room transition while inside the red door clips you through the ground on the way out, putting Alucard right in front of the wolf relic. I go back up and leave, slowing down to force a Medusa Head spawn to stay off my path.

Clocktower

I do a big toss off a skull right at the start, skipping the entire large open section you're supposed to need several relics for. The time that it turns around is RNG, determined by number of hitflashes when you enter the area. Inside, I do a wolf jump to get up a ledge that should be impossible to reach, then wolf through the rest of the area until I get to the gear room.

At the top of the gear room, I throw axes to break the wall I need to get through then kill a Harpy to immediately get more hearts. In the next room, I do not big toss off the first Flea Axe because I do not have potions equipped and healing would waste too much time. I do a subpixel accurate jump to skip the whole platforming section with the rotating cogs and get the Flamberge before immediately heading back.

I save time leaving by getting a big toss that does not hit the wall, then avoiding the glitched big toss after that. While the glitched big toss in the old TAS is funny, it only moves at half normal big toss speed and thus is avoided here through careful positioning. More big tosses in the next large room, where I then do a glitch exploiting a flaw in the map design. The rooms outside Karasuman overlap as opposed to directly touching, so going back the frame you enter underflows your X coordinate in the next room.

I proceed to manipulate the fastest Karasuman fight in the history of the site, ending with a revenge tech.

Castle Keep

I big toss to the Leap Stone and back as it is required to move around the Inverted Castle efficiently. I then start divekicking off two Flea Riders, up to the top of the room, where I then big toss level up to open a shiftline by killing one with an axe. As their movement is based on your distance relative to them, manipulating one to move in a desired direction without messing up the other is incredibly difficult.

I proceed to get on top of the level and big toss all the way around to the teleporter, where I get back in bounds by jumping into an acute angle while in wolf form, pushing me downwards into the floor, skipping the Richter fight and the need to get the silver and gold rings as well as the Holy Glasses. The whole shiftline debacle saved several seconds over doing the wolf clip to skip the Richter fight and watching the ensuing cutscene, and they are seconds well earned.

Inverted Keep

The wolfrising begins! I first do a big toss up to manipulate the Skull Lord to move to the right and upwards towards me, then wolfrise over to it and big toss again to the left. The old TAS hit the wall below the ledge I land on, while I glance the corner saving some time. I go up and start big tossing through all the gravestones, using frontslides in between because you can't shield while cursed.

Inverted Chapel

The Balloon Pods I divekick off of here have 3 HP, so low STR was still manipulated until here. I go up and get the fastest Masamune drop in the history of the site from the Black Panther before Medusa, revenge teching it at the same time. Medusa is a pushover with the Masamune special attack, though I stop for several frames before the kill to get higher STR from my numerous level ups.

On the way out, I do divekicks off Snipers of Goth to get up to higher ledges. I found that divekicking forwards onto platforms directly above you is faster than just jumping as the old TAS did, so frames are saved every time I jump. I get a perfect King's Stone drop from an Imp on my way out of the tall room, then proceed to get a perfect Javelin and a very good Mablung Sword in the last room before leaving. I have to use a slower strat to get it than the Replay Mode TAS because killing all the enemies would result in an extra level up animation no matter what I do.

Reverse Colosseum

Just a lot of big tosses and divekicks, nothing special.

Deathwing's Lair

If anyone knows who the hell Deathwing is, please explain it to me.

Black Marble Gallery

I go up and start attacking the Guardian with Masamune. It's actions are a function of your number of hitflashes as well as your location relative to it when it starts attacking, so I stay back at first. Killing it and getting big tossed off its first attack isn't possible, so I settle for immediately getting hit by the second. I jump up into the shiftline and use the Flamberge's thrust through the clock room, skipping the need to get all of the Vlad relics from each of the Inverted Castle bosses.

Also, transforming into wolf on that platform lets you activate the elevator frames sooner. Makes sense.

Inverted Center

Welcome to wolfrising, enjoy your stay. I do a wolf jump off the top of the starting platform to save a couple rises, and I get a better infinite jump on the way out than the old TAS did, but this is still very boring. I do slower wolfrises than is frame perfect to change how much MP I have left on the next screen and allow for extended wolfrise.

I also do the menus more optimally than the old TAS here; it did one during the Shaft fight and two during the Dracula fight, which wastes time due to lag. In particular, I do a frame perfect trick that lets me do a menu access after killing Shaft, which saves 10 frames alone. I could not use the Shield Potion before Dracula though because the cutscenes go on for enough eons to wear out its timer.

Dracula was about 123435424542 times faster due to King's Stone, and I am once again the wind.


Mothrayas: Judging.

Mothrayas: Replaced submission with a 55-frame improvement.

Mothrayas: Accepting as an improvement to the published movie.

Guga: Processing...


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