TASVideos

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

Submission #4699: FatRatKnight's NES Gauntlet in 11:38.92

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Gauntlet
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Gauntlet (U) [!].nes
Branch:
Emulator: FCEUX 2.2.2
Movie length: 11:38.92
FrameCount: 42004
Re-record count: 6650
Author's real name: Leeland Kirwan
Author's nickname: FatRatKnight
Submitter: FatRatKnight
Submitted at: 2015-05-20 00:06:58
Text last edited at: 2015-05-26 15:08:58
Text last edited by: Spikestuff
Download: Download (12470 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
One character versus countless monsters. We all know the result. Though, usually, for relatively new players, it doesn't end well for the one character.

Just a note: This submission is slightly different from my last WIP upload, as I make the ending ever-so-slightly more exciting, though with an identical frame count. Anyone who likes seeing numbers go down to 1 without actually reaching 0 may want to rewatch the ending of this submission. (Oh, and sorry about that, solarplex. Love your temporary encodes!)

About the game

You must run through a maze of rooms, filled with treasure, monsters, secrets, and monster generators, in order to finally reach the last room and retrieve the orb, all while your health is slowly draining. Along the way, there are eight clue rooms that tell you a piece of the vault combination, which is slightly randomized when you start your game, and is preserved in the password the game gives you at each treasure room, saving your progress and all those nifty power-ups you got.

You can select from four different characters, each of whom have their advantages and disadvantages. If it's too hard to go alone, the game even lets you play with a second player to help out. The pacing is rather fast, especially in the endgame areas, and there are some rather devious traps, including an exit that takes you directly to the title screen (effectively a game over), and one room which has no exit. All that stuff does get rather insane, so if you can manage to win it, you've done very well.

About this run

Since I was thinking pretty heavily about Gauntlet at the time, I thought I would go about fooling around in it for a bit. Initially, I was playing around with the idea of a two player "100%-like" run, of which I never even reached the first door, let alone finish the room, but then decided upon improving FODA's run when I figured out a faster way to fight the dragon. But just in case, I would go through every level in hopes that there might be other sorts of improvements to make, not just the very end. Turns out there are plenty of other improvements to make. One more old TAS obsoleted.

I pick Elf because a lot of moving needs to be done. Speed is usually a priority stat in speedruns. Elf also has pathetic damage for shots, with the one point boost from Extra Shot effectively doubling his shot power. I pick the same password that FODA did, so the only thing different I did was try to fake you out with Warrior showing up momentarily.

On a side note, the invincibility I pick up in room 87 so "conveniently" runs out just as I start attacking the dragon. Leading me into doing things such as getting the dragon to breathe fire onto one of its other heads, which sadly doesn't provide extra damage, but does get rid of the flame quickly for lag purposes and also saves what little HP I have.

Finally, a quick thanks to a number of people in the IRC channel for being supportive of my subtitles when I felt some doubt. All I wanted was a few quick words, and it seemed ais523, RGamma, and atma were there on IRC, as well as Derakon on the forums. So, subtitles are done a bit faster with added motivation behind them. And I shouldn't skip thanking FODA's TAS, the run this one aims to obsolete, as it gave a nice comparison point and some kind of route already worked out before.

Improvements

Room FODA Me Diff Comment
start 318 318 0 To set up password (B4EGLMAI); Only difference here is cosmetic
r01 406 404 - 2 Saved on lag, somehow
r05 507 486 - 31 Went to the right after breakable block
r09 1184 1181 - 3 Hate this level. Lag's a pain
r10 727 710 - 13 Slightly more efficient shooting secret wall; Lag stuff
r11 771 654 -117 Lag management; Skipped a key
t13 406 400 - 6 Oh, treasure room. Little of note
r14 702 730 + 28 That key I skipped? Needed a new one now. Skipped a different key
r17 913 870 - 43 Skipped a switch panel; Got a fast key behind secret wall
r18 497 491 - 6 Slightly different route
t19 403 401 - 2 Probably has to do with pre-lag input or something
r20 1039 1022 - 17 Mostly just lag management
r21 423 420 - 3 Not sure how I sped this one up. One lag to zero doesn't explain the other two frames
r22 845 847 + 2 Extra frames were added due to treasure room RNG
t24 327 328 + 1 FODA did pre-lag input here for some reason; Also, had less HP due to bad timer
r25 523 523 0 Slight differences, but somehow balances to zero
r27 872 866 - 6 Pushed that first block; Lag management; Hate those bubbles
r28 621 621 0 I think treasure room RNG prevented me from pulling ahead
t29 321 321 0 Treasure room. Nothing to note
r30 380 379 - 1 I'm not sure where I did more optimal movement
r34 1716 1702 - 14 Slightly better movement; Good Treasure Room RNG
t36 329 328 - 1 Not sure what FODA did different here
r37 1471 1328 -143 Lag reduction by aggressive killing
r38 619 595 - 24 Eh?
r40 1097 1035 - 62 Picked a secret key
t41 312 312 0 Bah, Treasure room
r42 633 635 + 2 Picked another secret key
r43 323 322 - 1 Pre-lag input, most likely
r44 1232 1187 - 45 Lag management, mostly
t49 416 420 + 4 Bad RNG for exit
r50 972 929 - 43 How? My notes claim I got more lag
r51 344 342 - 2 Nothing to note
r52 1065 858 -207 Popped a potion to kill absurd amounts of lag
t55 601 419 -182 Did not get HP boost, yet
r56 1108 1099 - 9 Um... More precise movements? Oh, and that zone of treasure is surrounded by legitimate walls
r57 391 568 +177 Now I get the HP boost
r60 229 228 - 1 Uh... What happened that allowed me to save a frame?
r59 432 430 - 2 Also straightforward. Not sure what's different
t62 398 395 - 3 Treasure room. Now I get decent luck
r63 248 246 - 2 Navigating the invisible walls better?
r64 357 359 + 2 Lost frames. Where, exactly?
r65 386 378 - 8 Saved enough for usable treasure room RNG
t67 425 421 - 4 Nothing of note
r68 567 541 - 16 Lag, probably
r69 969 973 + 4 Hate this level, hate the bubbles, want to use a potion I can't spare...
s70 409 387 - 22 Better management at shooting destrucable blocks
t71 415 415 0 Nothing to note
r72 586 576 - 10 Rounded corners, lag management
r75 807 675 -132 Different path to avoid more breakable blocks
t78 416 412 - 4 Nothing noted
r79 1085 1037 - 48 Aggressive killings to manage lag; Had a demon destroy its own generator
t83 332 330 - 2 Note: Nothing
r84 785 746 - 39 Lag management, breakable block shootings
r86 1354 1113 -241 Avoided a stun panel
r87 1164 1060 -104 More stuff hit by potion; Somehow I take 255 damage in a single hit
t88 328 326 - 2 Noting nothing
r89 353 350 - 3 Lower lag. Still took a longer path that spent a few of those frames
r91 467 438 - 29 Ignored the invisibility; This might be another potion candidate
t92 329 327 - 2 ...
r93 1285 1259 - 26 Different path
r94 481 461 - 20 Spent a potion in a spot with fewer enemies, but eliminates more lag
r99 2137 1834 -303 Spent a potion. Navigation went pretty smoothly, though
100 3172 2199 -973 Spent only two potions instead of three; Faster dragon kill; Careful lag management

Tricks

Just a few sorts of things that come to mind. Nothing elaborate I can really think of to say, though.

Setting the vault combination

FODA already did plenty of work here, and I'm merely following that work at face value. The vault combination is determined by the first character of your password, and that is affected by when you confirm your character.

Wall walking causes lag

If trying to "push" a wall, either straight on or diagonally, this is likely to add lag frames. FODA frequently did this; Most sorts of lag I removed was due to simply avoiding walking into walls.

Pass through enemies

An enemy can move onto a square that you're just barely on; Since you're technically in this square as well, you can freely move through it. FODA seemed to know of this just fine.

Dragon head invulnerability

The end boss has 100 HP for each head. While a head is breathing fire, it can't take damage. Therefore, it is best to activate each head at different times so that you can attack one while another is breathing fire.

Possible improvements

Even better lag management, mostly. Especially room 09. Trying to figure out when a good time to spend a frame or two attacking/shooting something to reduce future lag leaves a lot of uncertainty whether you really did get the best path. I suspect even the random music might be useful to manipulate for lag purposes.

Even so, the RNG runs every frame, and one rather pronounced source of randomness is that treasure rooms select an exit at random. If a room uses the RNG to locate an exit, it is possible that your eight frames of savings are all lost by that RNG getting the right exit. I'd like to call it a "frame rule" based on RNG.

Then again, I hate every bubble I've come across. Not one of them made me feel good about passing them. Their random movements make me feel I could get past them more quickly. I just took anything that looked reasonably fast and called it a good day.

I haven't considered too deeply the consequences of the route done in a speedrun by Jeff Feasel at SpeedDemosArchive. The 10 potions in the world 2 clue room look real interesting, as lag is immense wherever you go. Still, something to think about in case someone wants to improve on this run.


Nach: Nice run, good audience response, accepting as improvement to existing run.

Spikestuff: Things to cry about and do, Publishing.


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