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

Submission #4577: MUGG's GB Tennis in 04:51.42

Console: Game Boy
Game name: Tennis
Game version: any
ROM filename: Tennis (W) [!].gb
Emulator: VBA-v24m-svn-r391
Movie length: 04:51.42
FrameCount: 17406
Re-record count: 2314
Author's real name: Christoph H.
Author's nickname: MUGG
Submitter: mugg
Submitted at: 2015-01-31 22:54:58
Text last edited at: 2015-02-18 14:25:02
Text last edited by: fsvgm777
Download: Download (1581 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
This is a TAS of the gameboy game Tennis that I made in 2012. It aims to complete the game on difficulty level 4 as fast as possible.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: VBA v24
  • Uses hardest difficulty
  • Genre: Sport


In July 2012, I was inspired by TheKDX7's video so I made my own TAS that completes the whole game (rather than just one set). I finished it in about 2 hours and uploaded it here. I decided to submit it now for the Vault. The glitch used in this run was claimed to be an emulation bug by someone, but at least two people said it was legit.

(Link to the forum topic.)

Serve glitch

When your character serves, but fails to hit the ball and the ball subsequently lands on the character and on the ground, you will be awarded the point. Random trivia: There is a similar glitch in NES Nintendo World Cup where you can place your character right in front of your own goal, then shoot pass and you are awarded that goal.

Nach: I've been on the fence for a while how to handle this game. Audience response was too weak to place this in Moons, leaving this to vault tier rules.

The vault typically doesn't allow sports games. One problem with sports games although not spelled out is that you have dozens of players and teams with all kinds of stats making it non-trivial to define a single TAS objective. Another is that there normally is no definitive version for a particular game. The particular sport appears in dozens of games, sometimes remade year after year with no noticeable differences other than different players to choose from.

This Tennis game does differentiate itself from some of the above difficulties in that there are no teams or players to choose from. However, it still remains just one of many Tennis games. Although I must admit that the play controls in this game is significantly better than half a dozen other Tennis video games I've played, and with a nice amount of AI difficulty too.

The vault's list of example ineligible sports games are baseball, football, soccer, basketball. The commonalities between those games are:

  • Large teams competing with only a fraction of the play controllable by the player.
  • A fixed amount of time or innings to play, where the winner is decided by a tally of points collected in each segment of play.
    • Meaning a significant chunk of the gameplay is not strictly relavent for winning.
    • Points and advancement are not strictly related, meaning that there is little or nothing the player can do to achieve a speed record.

The nature of Tennis is different in that this is a one on one (or two on two) game leaving much in control for the player. There is no fixed time for play, meaning the player's play can contribute towards time based records. Advancement and points are tied together, demanding that all play is solid in order to progress, there is no reason to get yourself out like in baseball in order to progress, contrarily, you're penalized with additional volleys to complete if you play poorly. Thus, every part of play directly contributes towards completing the game, and as fast as possible.

When comparing the natures of these sports, it should become apparent why most sport games aren't serious games, whereas Tennis differentiates itself. However, let us now compare against other game play mechanics for other genres ineligible for the vault.

Most board games and game-show games are also ineligible for the vault, due to the following possible reasons:

  • The game is too fixed in that the game is nothing but a collection of allowed moves or set responses to certain questions.
  • The AI cannot be played on the highest difficulty, as that causes the game to drag on forever, and the AI is then intentionally crippled.
  • The game-play occurs at a fixed pace leaving little to nothing to show a speed record for.
  • There is no ability to manipulate randomness, or if there is, it doesn't noticeably affect the game.
  • The final result differs little from a real match of the game, and a summary of play can be reduced in some way.
  • The final TAS of the game looks pretty much like a regular run of the video game in question, and nothing special particularly differentiates the two.

When we compare to this particular Tennis game, the game is not too fixed, and the AI is played on the highest difficulty. As already mentioned above, when comparing to other sport games, the pace is not fixed. The manipulation of the randomness for the AI's movement (directly breaking the AI) is very noticeable. Unlike board games or game-show games, there's a lot more variety in the openness of a sports games allowing significantly freer play which cannot be trivially reduced. Lastly, this TAS looks like a TAS, not just some moves inputted quickly, and differentiates itself from a non-TAS well.

Based on these differences I highlighted, I would say that Tennis should not always fall under the ban, as time records for a particular video game can be meaningful, the game-play is non-trivial, and the TAS appears to be a TAS. However, I'm not ready nor willing to give blanket permission for publication to the vault for all Tennis games nor Tennis game TASs. Publication for a sports game must also differentiate it from other implementations in some way, and in a positive manner. Therefore, let me add the following criteria for a worthwhile to TAS Tennis game:

  • All the relavent field of play has to be visible during play, otherwise, it becomes too similar to the example ineligible sports games, and less obvious what is going on during play.
    • This means that the field of vision should be overhead and show all or most of the court, and not just the perspective of a single player.
  • There is no significant player/team choices to make, each which should have their own record.
  • The implementation is done well and appears complete.
    • Meaning the game typically doesn't ignore out of bounds, or double-faults, and things like that.
    • The play-control is decent, and doesn't feel like you're playing drugged and trying to hold a racket through a pair of thick oven mitts.
    • The AI has to be tough (which TASs will abuse or outplay).
  • The run is a single match or series of matches which are meaningful.
    • A run which just competes against a series of sprites which have different AIs shows that several of the AIs are crippled, and therefore unmeaningful.
    • Multiple matches makes sense if each match is on a different court with different physics.
  • The game/run matches all the previously mentioned criteria that differentiates it from other sports/board/game-show games.
  • There are no other similar Tennis games for the console/platform in question which would be considered better suited to all the above criteria, and worthier of a TAS.
    • This means a better Tennis game, especially in TAS worthiness can obsolete a worse one.
    • If certain Tennis games do something significant to differentiate themselves (super powers, different courts with different physics, etc...), then if runs which include these difference are made, they can be published side by side.

Based on the above criteria I find this run to be a meaningful record for a decent Gameboy Tennis game. Accepting to vault.

fsvgm777: Processing.

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