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Tool-assisted game movies
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Submission #4571: MechChicken's SNES Zombies Ate My Neighbors in 30:47.77

Console: Super NES
Game name: Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (USA)
Branch:
Emulator: Bizhawk 1.8.4
Movie length: 30:47.77
FrameCount: 111049
Re-record count: 27500
Author's real name: Richard Jones
Author's nickname: MechChicken
Submitter: MechChicken
Submitted at: 2015-01-28 04:25:47
Text last edited at: 2015-02-08 10:22:20
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (17543 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
Zombies Ate My Neighbours is a horror movie-themed, top-down, Run n' Gun game. Dr. Tongue has unleashed a horde of zombies and other monsters upon the world for the sole purpose of word domination. Two teens, Zeke and Julie, step forward to put an end to this madness.

This run controls both characters to save (some)survivors from zombies, vampires, crazy lumberjacks, living dolls, werewolves and other monsters. Neither character takes any damage though the 48 levels of this difficult game, using an array of weaponry from squirt guns to rocket launchers to defeat Dr. Tongue and his hoard of monsters.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 1.8.4
  • Aims for fastest time
  • 2 Players
  • Takes no damage
  • Uses luck manipulation

About the Game

The goal of each level of this game is to save all of the survivors in each level. At which point a door appears allowing the player to leave the level. The game starts with 10 survivors. Whenever a survivor dies there will be one less survivor on the next level. If all of the survivors die its game over.

There are items scattered around the levels and in containers such as cabinets, trash cans, urns, and chests to help the player. There are three types of items: Weapons, Special items, and Pick-ups

Weapons

These things shoot things to hurt things.

In order of importance to this run:

  • Rocket Launcher: This does massive damage to everything that the rocket hits, able to destroy walls, and open regular doors. The only downsides of it is that its ammo can be hard to find and, when fired, blasts the character backwards a considerable distance. Whenever I fire this weapon I try to keep the character's back to the wall, preventing them from getting blasted back and allowing them to move right after firing.
  • Flame Thrower: This is a hidden item on level 22 that does massive damage to bosses(and anything else for that matter)
  • Fire Extinguisher: Freezes enemies that it hits. The longer it's used on the enemies, the longer they're frozen.. This is useful for stopping enemies that would take too long to kill and to decrease the kill count at the end of the game. At the end of the game all of the enemies that were killed are counted, which takes 6 frames for each enemy killed.
  • Weed Whacker: Thorny weeds hurt the characters and webs from the spider boss prevent the characters from moving, the weed whacker destroys both of them. It's also able to do massive amounts of damage to enemies and bosses, but since its range is so low its not all that viable.
  • Soda cans: For all practical purposes this is a grenade. A thrown weapon that does damage in an area. Able to be thrown over walls.
  • Ancient Artifact: Makes the character invincible to enemies while creating a damaging projectile that orbits the player. The run uses this about 4 times to get out of tight areas and run though enemies without stopping.
  • Water Gun: This is the basic starting gun that does low damage, but is able to kill zombies and other small enemies in one hit.
  • Popsicles: Doesn't do much damage, but kills the red blobs in one hit.
  • Alien Bubble gun: Incapacitates an enemy by putting them in a bubble. kills giant ants in one hit.
  • Silverware: Does a large amount of damage to a single target, but is a little slow.
  • Dishes: Like silverware, but less damage.
  • Footballs: Thrown item, doesn't do much damage. Can be thrown to the football players to get bonus points, so that's kind of neat.
  • Tomatoes: About as useful as it sounds.

Special Items

When picked up it appears in the 2nd slot and can be used to do something.

In order of importance to this run:

  • Skeleton Keys: Super-duper rare and are a requirement to finish some levels. The doors that have a demon/skeleton face on it require one of these to open. The keys can be found on some levels, but are often very far away from the door they are suppose to be used on. They drop from mini-bosses like the giant baby and snakeoids. Can be found randomly(0.05% chance) in containers. A large amount of routing of this run is devoted to getting enough skeleton keys.
  • Speed Shoes: When used they allow the character to move twice as fast for 15 seconds. I like to call them "Jordans"
  • Mystery Potion: It looks like a beaker with a question mark on it. This potion does one of 6 things randomly:
    • Turn into a monster(Same as monster potion)
    • Turn into a ghost(Same as ghost potion)
    • Move quickly(Same as Speed shoes)
    • Regain full health
    • Lose about half of your health
    • Turn into a zombie. This turns the character evil and will try to kill survivors and the coop partner.
But since this is a tool assisted speedrun the mystery potion is a "Choose what you want" potion. The only reason this item isn't more important than the speed shoes is that there is an animation to drink the potion as opposed to the speed shoes being activated right away. These can also be used to seed the RNG(More on this in the RNG manipulation section)
  • Pandora's Box: Petty much a smart bomb. It fires projectiles that seek enemies and does damage to them.
  • Ghost Potion: Looks like a blue potion. Makes the character become a ghost, unable to be damaged by enemies and walk over water and other hazards. In this run its used to walk over water because the animation for getting in and out of the water is incredibly long and the movement is low.
  • Keys: Opens regular doors. Regular doors can also be opened by rockets.
  • Clowns: An inflatable clown that laughs and waves in the most annoying way. Enemies will try to attack the clown. Used only once in the run to prevent a survivor from being killed. More information on clowns.
  • Monster Potion: Looks like a red potion. Turns the character into a hulking monster that's unable to be damaged and has an attack that can break walls. The attack doesn't do much damage and the run collects enough rocket launcher ammo to be able to get though walls easily enough.
  • First Aid Kit: Restores health to full, but isn't used because the characters don't get hurt in this run.

Pick-ups

  • Money and gold: Gives extra score. This is actually used in this run! See the bonus victims section below for more information.
  • 1-up: Gives an extra life.
  • Hamburger: Restores some health.
  • Bonus Level Pickup: Lets the player go to a bonus level.

About the Run

I'm very proud to say this is my very first TAS. While it is my first TAS I feel that it holds up well on its own.

Why do you get all of the survivors killed at the beginning?

The amount of survivors on each level to collect depends on the amount of survivors alive at the end of the previous level. Since the goal of each level is to collect all of the survivors in the level I kill all but one survivor to get the end doors to spawn as fast as possible.

RNG Manipulation

RNG manipulation is very important to this run. Above all other things I needed speed boots, rocket launchers, and skeleton keys and I only had a few chances to open containers throughout the run.

The RNG depends on what frame you open the container or use a mystery potion. It does NOT depend on character's movements, button inputs, or enemy position. However it MAY depend on WHICH enemies are loaded into memory or the position of the screen, but it's very inconsistent and rarely happens.

The RNG is re-seeded whenever the RNG is invoked. This means if I open a chest and find a water gun inside of it I would be able to change that by opening another chest or drinking a mystery potion right before that. The RNG re-seeding is dependent on the frame that it was re-seeded. This mean if I open chest A and find a water gun inside of it I would be able to get something different depending on what frame I open chest B. If I open chest B one frame before chest A I could get a key. If I open chest B two frames before chest A I could get a first aid kit. If I open chest B three frames before chest A I could get a popsicle. And so on.

Visual Glitches

The game doesn't like it when a button is pressed for 1 frame, unpressed for 1 frame, and repeated. If a character is moving while this happens the character will stop all animations. You can see an example of this in level 11: Weeds gone bad. On the credits level I use a different variation of this glitch to leave my rocket launcher behind for a second.

Freezing Enemies

I freeze as many enemies that are in my way as I can if it doesn't lose time to do so(as opposed to killing them). At the end of the game all of the enemies that were killed are counted, which takes 6 frames for each enemy killed. I may also freeze an enemy because it is too strong to be killed quickly and needs to be taken care of.

Routing

I know it seems like the routing for this game would be to just take the shortest route to the survivor, but there are several things to consider when doing so.

Skeleton Keys

One of the biggest parts about routing for this game is getting enough skeleton keys. There are 21 "skeleton doors" (My term for doors that require skeleton keys) in the game. Roughly 14 of those keys were intended to be found on the ground in levels, but their locations are purposely far away from the skeleton doors that they were suppose to be used on. Take a look at level 46 for example. The characters spawn at the top right, One of the keys is hidden near the top of the map guarded by a chainsaw guy, the second key is on the left side of the map next to the house, and the skeleton doors are at the bottom right. If I didn't already have 1 skeleton key when I got there I would have to get that key on the side of the house. The shortest path would require 14 more walls to be destroyed and significant amounts of backtracking and zig-zaging(The walls that look like bricks and the vertical hedge walls that don't look like they have a bit missing from the top can't be destroyed). This leaves the options of collecting keys from the easiest places on previous levels, killing more bosses than needed, and finding keys in containers(More on this in the RNG manipulation section).

Bosses

Bosses are the largest ammo consumers in this run right behind the rockets used for walls. I need to make sure I have enough rockets, Pandora's boxes, and the flame thrower from level 22. For more information on the bosses take a look at the level breakdown section.

Bonus Victims

When a character reaches 40,000 points the player receives a bonus victim, allowing the player to have an extra victim to collect. This can be devastating for a speed run if this bonus is gotten on a level where the 2nd victim is in a place that is far away from the final victim or if the 2nd victim is in a place that the enemies can't get to them to get rid of them. I needed to manage their scores so that the bonus victim appeared on level 36. This is why on level 35: Boardwalk of Terrors I pickup the dollars and gold to get exactly 40,000 points on the ideal level for a quick kill on the 2nd survivor. This is also why one of the characters ends the game just under 40,000 points.

Level Breakdown

Level 1: Zombie Panic

I get 8 of the 10 survivors killed. The house with the baby in it is hard to lead a zombie into and the pool guy cannot be killed without swamp monsters on the level. I think that about 1/4 of a second could be saved by having the male character move to the house with the baby in it sooner and with tighter control of the zombies.

Level 2: Evening Of The Undead

I get the 9th survivor killed by leading a zombie into it. Then position the female character by the pool so the door that spawn for her where the male character gets out.

Level 3: Terror In Aisle Five

It may be possible to prevent the cheerleader from jumping over the character by having one of the characters lag behind a second or so.

Level 4: Chainsaw HedgeMaze Mayhem

This is when I first start positioning the character's backs against walls when firing the rocket launcher. This completely stops the animation of them getting blasted backwards. I will be using this strategy as much as possible.

Level 5: Weird Kids On The Block

RNG manipulation helps me get a rocket launcher and 2 speed boots out of the containers. Just as a reminder both items have a 1% drop rate.

Level 6: Pyramid Of Fear

I use the speed boots from the last level to pick up 4 Pandora's boxes that will be used on the baby boss on level 8.

Level 7: Dr. Tongue's Castle Of Terror

I make a small detour to open containers that contained speed boots and a skeleton key. I also go a bit out of the way for a flame thrower and a bubble gun that were hidden in the walls. Future runs may want to avoid the bubble gun because it didn't turn out to be too useful later in the game. The plate that I got from the container didn't end up being useful.

Level 8: Titanic Toddler

I managed to kill the baby in 3 Pandora's boxes compared to the 4 used in the last TAS. The baby dropped a skeleton key and a survivor.

Level 9: Toxic Terrors

I kill the explorer by manipulating a blob to fire a shot at the explorer, killing him when I walk off screen. I pause for a moment so that the shot doesn't get despawned.

Level 10: No Assembly Required

Nothing much to say here.

Level 11: Weeds Gone Bad

Mow the weeds? Check. Stare at the camera? Check. Might be able to prevent the cheerleader from jumping by having one of the character lag behind farther.

Level 12: Mars Needs Cheerleaders

Nothing much to say here.

Level 13: Chopping Mall

Nothing much to say here.

Level 14: Seven Meals For Seven Zombies

This level was a big candidate for using speed shoes, but I decided against it.

Level 15: Dinner On Monster Island

Fun Fact, this is the shortest level!

Level 16: Ants

This is the one level that the bubble gun to get a rocket launch from an ant that was carrying it around.

Level 17: Office Of The Doomed

I wanted to get something out of the chest to the north east of the victim, but the door actually won't spawn in that area.

Level 18: Squidmen Of The Deep

Nothing much to say

Level 19: Nightmare On Terror Street

I was planning to have the female character do some entertaining things with the zombies while running, but I actually needed her to run the whole time so that she could shoot the edge. Sad day.

Level 20: Invasion Of The Snakeoids

I found a trick with the rocket launcher on this level. When you shoot the rocket a small white cloud "poofs" out in front of it before the rocket does. That poof does the same amount of damage as the rocket. So it's possible to roughly double the damage from the rocket launcher by making sure the poof hits the target. This seems to only work when facing north. This is how I manage to 1 cycle the first two snakeoids. 4 skeleton keys were collected in this level. 3 from the snakeoids and 1 from a dirt container. 2 were used on doors. If I knew more about manipulating the RNG at this point I could have potentially gotten more skeleton keys out of the containers.

Level 21: The Day The Earth Ran Away

Used some visual glitches to spice up this level.

Level 22: Revenge Of Dr. Tongue

Fun fact about this level, I only used the weed wacker only on the exact frames that I needed to. No real reason, but I worked hard on it so I thought I should mention it. I trade a skeleton key to open to get a flame thrower in the secret alcove next to the bonus pickup. This is the only place that a flamethrower can be gotten and it is used on the rest of the bosses. Also, freezing Frankenstein also freezes his lightning bolts. Crazy.

Level 23: The Caves Of Mystery

Nothing much to say here.

Level 24: Warehouse Of The Evil Dolls

This level has the first, what I like to call, kill room. This is a room that I believe was SUPPOSE to kill the survivor. I managed to keep her alive by placing a clown to distract the dolls.

Level 25: Look Who's Shopping

Killing the baby gives a skeleton key but it would also give an extra victim, so I walk past it.

Level 26: Where The Red Fern Growls

Nothing much to say here.

Level 27: Dances With Werewolves

If the male character moved forward after shooting the first rocket it might save a few frames.

Level 28: Mark Of The Vampire

Time on this level could be improved if more skeleton keys were found. The skeleton key that I went for was fairly out of the way.

Level 29: Zombie House Party

Nothing much to say.

Level 30: The Horror Of Floor Thirteen

This is another level with a kill room in it. 2 frame perfect water gun shots were the only way that I found that could stop the survivor from dying. Also, a skeleton key was found in a cabinet.

Level 31: Look Who's Coming To Dinner

I position the characters so that they are at the edge of the screen. This allows the female character to not get blasted back by the rocket.

Level 32: Giant Ant Farm

There are three skeleton keys on this level, so I use speed boot to go pick them up. On the way to two of the keys there is a line of cacti. I'm fairly sure the developers intended for the characters to take damage walking through the cacti to get to the keys. However, there is a 1 pixel hole that I'm able to walk though. On the way back, however, the male character wasn't able to fit since it was a 1 pixel hole and the characters move 2 pixels every frame. I was able to get him back on the right pixel by running him into a wall.

Level 33: Fish And Crypts

Nothing much to say here.

Level 34: I Was A Chainsaw Maniac

This was the level that I found out the damaging hitbox actually follows the chainsaw around. I abuse this by literally running circles around the lumberjack.

Level 35: Boardwalk Of Terrors

I go out of my way to let the female character pick up some gold and money so that she has exactly 40,000 points at the end of the level. Which gives a bonus victim. The next level is ideal for killing a 2nd survivor. From this point forward I try to let the female character be the one to pick up survivors and kill enemies so that the male character never goes above 40,000 points.

Level 36: Monster Phobia

The reason I stop for a moment at the beginning of this level is to wait for the survivor to be killed. If I walked any more it would have despawned the enemy killing him. Some time could be saved by firing some more rockets during this waiting period.

I used a rocket blast to push the characters backwards over the corner of a roof. This is because the roof tiles push you towards the edge, but doesn't when getting blasted backwards.

I'm highly convinced that the chests in the boss room are rigged to be unluckier. Most of the things that come out of them are water guns, boogymen, and nothing. Not sure why the developers would do that.

I tried using Pandora's boxes against this boss, but despite the last TAS using them and all of the guides for this game saying that they were really good against this boss, they do terrible damage. I found the memory address for the boss's health and experimented with how much damage some weapons do. The boss has about 75 health according to the memory. Pandora's boxes do about 2 damage while a well placed soda hit does about 6.

Level 37: Labyrinth Of Horrors

This is the one of two or three places in the game that would be faster to get hurt, it seems like walking over the spikes near the end as opposed to waiting for them to go down would have save about 20-30 frames. The animation of taking damage is pretty long.

Level 38: Monsters Of The Blue Lagoon

Apparently when the character is using a ghost potion they're able to walk partially inside of the wall of the building. They cannot walk all the way though it, however.

Level 39: Destroy All Vampires

Nothing much to say about this one.

Level 40: Pyramid Of Fear Two

Nothing much to say about this one.

Level 41: Martians Go Home!

This is the level that I discovered how to manipulate the RNG more. I was struggling to find anything useful out of the cabinets before the doors had a chance to finish opening. I found that if I invoke the RNG by opening one of the cabinets before the other I could choose from a larger pool of items. I was aiming to get a skeleton key, but it seems that these cabinets were only pulling from a pool of about 10 items, speed shoes being the best of that pool.

Level 42: Spikes

If a patch of spikes are about to come up and another adjacent patch of spikes are at the same time going down there is a 1 frame window to walk from one to the other without getting hurt. I used this to walk straight to the survivor without stopping. Neat!

Level 43: Super Fund Cleanup Site

At this point I was in desperate need of another skeleton key before. This level being one of the last chances to get one in a short amount of time Before Level 46: Day Of The Chainsaw. I go into more detail about how important it is to have at least 1 skeleton key when going to Level 46 in the skeleton key routing section. I wrote a Lua script to check the the cabinet on different frames and save screenshots of the outcomes to a folder. I used a mystery potion to invoke the RNG like a did in Level 41: "Martians Go Home!" I ended up getting the skeleton key after only waiting 3 frames in front of the container and a ghost potion from the mystery potion which helped collect the survivor that was in the water. Score!

Level 44: The Curse Of Dr. Tongue

I make the male character pause while walking so that the cheerleader spawns a little bit later. This prevents her from jumping over the female character trying to rescue her.

Level 45: Danger In Picnic Park

The speed shoes buff was still going to be active for about 3 more seconds but this level was still important to have to use them to dodge the faster red ants all around the level.

Level 46: Day Of The Chainsaw

Luckily I did have one skeleton key for this level. If I didn't I would have to take a massive detour to the opposite side of the level that would require lots of backtracking, zig zagging, and would require a minimum of 14 more walls to be destroyed for the shortest path. See the routing section on skeleton keys for more information.

I do, however, go for the skeleton key to the west of the spawn inside of the hedge room, which didn't lose much time.

Level 47: Gridiron Terror

This level was fun. I manipulated the first two snakeoids to die close together, then kill the third closer to the exit. I use the time that it is exploding to collect the first two skeleton keys and use a football player to boost the character back to the last snakeoid about 2 frames before it drops the third skeleton key. Pretty damn slick if in my opinion. Then finish the level by getting a skeleton key out of the cabinet

Level 48: Curse Of The Tongue

At the start of the level I pick up a skeleton key from the tunnel north of the start area. The male character is out of speed boots, but he drinks a mystery potion while he waits for the female character to get the skeleton key.

I stack up the characters while they start running because they both have skeleton keys to use on the door, preventing one of them getting stuck on one of the four skeleton doors they have to go though. The spider boss in this level has about double the health of the last spider boss. The last spider boss had about 75 health while this one has 145.

Before the fight I let both characters drink a mystery potion to get a speed boost for the fight. A big part of this fight is positioning the characters in the right spot to do the most damage and to avoid damage. At the start of the fight a Dracula shows up. I'm fairly sure it's programmed to do that the time the fight starts. I manage to have him appear inside of the boss and freeze him with the fire extinguisher.

After the first phase is complete I remove the webs with the weed whacker because the webs inhibit movement if walked on them. I also think it looks pretty cool when cleaning them up. While this is going on the female character is refreezing the Dracula. The Dracula becomes unfrozen during the 2nd phase, but he doesn't cause too much trouble.

I tried hard to find out the boss's health for the 2nd phase from the memory, but it doesn't seem like there is any place in the memory that counts down, or up, reliably. I looked at guides online for what weapon I should use, but they weren't much help. So I went with what was used in other speedruns and the other TAS, water gun and flame thrower. However, They do seem surprisingly effective against this phase.

Winner screen:

This screen is the reason I try to avoid killing monsters. For every enemy killed it wastes 6 frames.

Credits Level: Monsters Among Us

The strangest credits I've ever seen. You're able to walk around and talk to the developers, but it still seems like this is another level and part of the game, so I feel like I need to complete it. I do a small visual glitch with the rocket launch at the end that makes it look like I'm leaving my rocket launcher behind. After this level I input my name. It wastes about 1 second, but it asked me to enter my name. I'm not going to lie, that would be wrong.

Possible Improvements

While I personally believe this is a very solid run. There are a few things I've learned along the way about RNG, routing, and game mechanics that I found out too late to implement them to the fullest extent. I did do a lot of research before starting the run, but some of the information I gathered turned out to be wrong, wasn't available, or could only be gathered by experience though speed running the game.

1. Have a script for RNG manipulation at the beginning of the game.

For most of the game I manually manipulated the RNG(Checking the container, advancing the frame by 1, checking the container, repeat). Having a script helped me find items I needed much easier and helped me check a wider range of possibilities. The script I used did the same method I used, but took screenshots of the outcomes and saved them with their named saved as the frame the container was opened. With this it would be possible to get more skeleton keys out of the containers.

2. Pandora's boxes are terrible for most things in a TAS. Don't collect them after Level Level 8: Titanic Toddler.

All of the guides I looked at online said that the Pandora's box was the most powerful item in the game that was able to do the most damage to enemies and bosses. The last TAS of this game used them on bosses as well. So I considered this when planning the routing for the game, picking up all of the Pandora's boxes I could. When I actually got to the boss and got the idea to search for the bosses health in the memory I found out the average Pandora's box only does about 2 damage on average, while a well place soda or rocket could do about 6 to the spider boss. Pandora's box also stops the character's movements when activated. However, against the toddler boss they are still very effective. Especially since that boss is very fast and able to hit the player easily.

3. Take some damage.

This was a no damage run for two reasons. I feel that it is more impressive when no damage is taken and there are only about 3 instances in the game that taking damage could have saved time. Those 3 instances also wouldn't have save much time either. The animation for taking damage is very long .

4. Don't input a name at the high score screen.

But that's just not fun.

I also put a few level specific time in the level breakdown section.

Suggested screenshots


feos: Acceblishing as an any% branch.

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