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

Submission #4817: Fred's SNES ActRaiser 2 in 39:17.83

Console: Super NES
Game name: ActRaiser 2
Game version: USA
ROM filename: ActRaiser 2 (USA).sfc
Branch:
Emulator: Bizhawk 1.9.4
Movie length: 39:17.83
FrameCount: 141703
Re-record count: 18262
Author's real name: Fredrik Sandqvist
Author's nickname: Fred
Submitter: Fred
Submitted at: 2015-09-01 01:37:01
Text last edited at: 2015-09-04 14:25:11
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (24352 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
The oft-forgotten sequel to the more popular Actraiser, Actraiser 2 once again sees The Master do battle against Tanzra and his minions. The culmination is The Master ramming down Tanzra's front door with an entire palace to give him a beating during his ice cold bath. Clocking in at little over a minute and a half faster than the current TAS, this submission features since-then known improvements, new strats figured out during the making of this TAS and optimization here and there.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: Bizhawk 1.9.4
  • Beats the game as fast as possible (~10 frames lost to entertainment tradeoffs, however)
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates luck

Comments

My interest in this game began with seeing PJ do speedruns on this game. I was impressed by his efforts to make a well optimized run of this unforgiving game and decided to look into some pain points in the run. By that time, I had become somewhat acquainted with the game mechanics and knew the newer strats employed in the first stages. Beyond that I didn't really have a plan, but nevertheless I set out to make a new TAS. Armed with Pasky's TAS + submission text (covers movement and attack options in detail) and the collective speedrunner knowledge passed down to the current runner PJ, the results were well beyond expections!

While The Master can seem stiff and clumsy at first, give him some time and you'll see that he can actually be quite nimble! For being a statue, anyway.

Important mechanics

  • Double jumping ends up in a glide. Gliding is twice as fast as walking, so I make sure to glide whenever I can.
  • Glide landing cancelling. Landing while gliding makes The Master slide forward for a while, disabling any other action. While sometimes useful as it briefly retains the high speed, very often I cancel glides by quickly diving or jumping again for other movement options.
  • A double jump can be started at any time during a standing jump. If left or right isn't held during the first frame of a jump, one can initiate a double jump at any given frame during a jump. Otherwise one has to wait until about the top of the jump.
  • Damaging enemies disables their hitbox and hurtbox briefly. Very useful for getting through enemies that would otherwise get in the way. Some bosses are exempt from this, however.
  • Charging magic is slow. Charge time scales with difficulty, and at hard difficulty, it's nearly never the best option to clear normal monsters with magic.
  • Slowdowns are real in this game. Sometimes taking the time to kill enemies is worth it for lag reduction.
  • The Master's invulnerability frames. During sword plants and dive attacks, The Master can safely pass through enemies and other malicious non-solid entities.

Stage by stage comments

I unfortunately don't have exact times here, but I have done some rough comparisons.

Industen

A small route improvement taken from the current speedrun, otherwise very similar. Gains ~1.4s.

Benefic

Also benefits from a newer route from the current speedrun. I manage to squeeze past the cramped uphill area in the second half without a magic use, saving some time due to less lag. Gains ~6.8s.

Modero

The time saver here is landing an early double Phoenix on the vulture miniboss. Phoenix magic deals 6 damage, making a double hit deal 12 (bosses have 20 hp). I also land a sword plant on him before he goes off-screen. Gains ~1.6s.

Demon's Cave

Faster platform climbing during the second part of the stage and overall more optimized movement adds up for a decent improvement. Gains ~3.5s.

Gratis

Another double phoenix makes quick work of the gargoyle miniboss. A quicker jump under the moving spike ceiling helps some too. Gains ~5.9s.

Stormrook

Big saves here. I just barely avoid having to damage boost through the first boulder in the second part, followed by a more optimized platform climb similar to Demon's Cave. I clip through the spike elevator, which can be done every 1 in 9 frames and land a double Phoenix on the gargoyle miniboss faster than the current TAS. Lastly, Greed (boss) goes down faster thanks to a lower jump for the initial double Phoenix, followed by an unusual dive attack double hit. Gains ~11.6s.

Palace 1

This is the big breakthrough in the run. Upon entering the second part, a set of platforms starts appearing and disappearing. The current TAS gets there just to see the platforms disappear and has to wait for the next cycle. After hours of gaining a frame here and there and with frustration starting to kick in, I manage to do something during the slope climbs after the spike floor that nets me just the time I need to climb the first reachable platform cycle. This alone saves about 8 seconds! After that, the by now infamous double Phoenix decimates the gargoyle miniboss. Faster startup of the second magic use also saves a decent bit of time at the stage boss. Gains ~13.8s.

Palace 2

I jump into nothing and enter a door somewhere else. This costs 1 more frame than entering a door the normal way, perhaps due to a lag frame inserted somewhere. Deception (boss) shoots bombs at you that induce massive lag. Getting behind him stops him from doing this, even making a damage boost through him worth. Gains ~5s.

Death Field

An incredibly laggy stage. Better lag management and a faster miniboss kill make up for most of the time gained. Gains ~9s.

Almetha

Faster cliff climbing and some off-screen platforming in the floating rock section saves a decent chunk of time. Otherwise a straightforward stage. Gains ~8.1s.

Tortoise Isl.

I make sure not to hit the pink shells as they generally cause lag. Since I have more magic saved up than the current TAS, I can use two Phoenixes to poke the boss right in the eye. Rude! Gains ~1.9s.

Altheria

Some route improvements from the current speedrun and general optimization. Another fairly straightforward stage. Gains ~3.6s.

Tower of Souls

To get to Pride (boss), one must first pass through a miniboss gauntlet. Any MP collected throughout the stage will help a decent bit there, and I manage to get 4 MP drops which I put to good use. The one other entertainment tradeoff is during the Pride fight. Finishing off the boss with magic gives me enough time to fall off the stage. This takes 9 frames longer than optimal, but this run needs every style point it can get. Gains ~8.9s.

Death Heim

At this stage, The Master gains the ability to shoot projectiles that deal one damage. They only need the startup attack frame to fire, so they come in very handy. A big time saver comes in the form of killing Sloth (the snail) in one cycle, made possible by the projectiles and jump cancelling into sword plants for a faster landing. This saves about 8 seconds. Fury & Greed (akuma & the dragon) also go down a decent bit quicker due to better initial positioning. Gains ~14.4s.

Other comments

In retrospect, a few frame savers here and there were found, but every big known route improvement and then some have been added and optimized to the best of my ability which is the most important thing to me at least.

Special thanks to:

(I always wanted to write that!)
  • Pasky for the current great TAS. It laid down the groundwork for me working on a new TAS.
  • PJ for demonstrating new strats since the current TAS, reviewing my TAS and coming up with suggestions. Also for introducing me to the game in the first place!

  • Also thanks to the Bizhawk crew for TAStudio!

I was going to include a temporary encode, but had some difficulties getting it right. Sorry! For a suggested screenshot... perhaps frame 136496? I'm open to suggestions!


ars4326: Judging!

ars4326: Hi, Fred. Impressive job on improving an already tightly optimized run. Watching the two side-by-side, it was evident how the minor route improvements, lag reduction, and quicker boss strategies contributed to the incremental time savings gained. This made for an entertaining watch, overall. Congrats on your first TAS!

Accepting as an improvement to the published run!

feos: Pub.


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