TASVideos

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

Submission #5164: Hetfield90's SNES Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard in 2:06:15.37

Console: Super NES
Game name: Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard
Game version: JPN
ROM filename: Front Mission Series - Gun Hazard (Japan).sfc
Branch:
Emulator: BizHawk 1.11.6
Movie length: 2:06:15.37
FrameCount: 455271
Re-record count: 228561
Author's real name: Richard Fitkin
Author's nickname: Hetfield90
Submitter: Hetfield90
Submitted at: 2016-07-09 07:48:59
Text last edited at: 2016-07-14 18:51:23
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (224914 bytes)
Status: published
Click to view the actual publication
Submission instructions
Discuss this submission (also rating / voting)
List all submissions by this submitter
List pages on this site that refer to this submission
View submission text history
Back to the submission list
Author's comments and explanations:
Hetfield90's Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard TAS in 2:06:15.4.


(Link to video)

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 1.11.6
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Heavy luck manipulation
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Abuses programming errors in the game
  • Genre: RPG
  • Genre: Action

About the game

Released for the Super Famicom in 1996, Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard is the second installment of the Front Mission series. Unlike the numbered titles in the series, which are isometric tactical RPGs, Gun Hazard is a side-scrolling shooter which takes place in a completely separate universe. The game was never given an offical English release, but there is a high quality fan translation made by Aeon Genesis.

Plot

Following a series of wars in the early 2000s caused by competition for dwindling natural resources, the warring nations eventually banded together to invest in a means of procuring space-based energy via the construction of the orbital elevator, Atlas. Before its completion, the Atlas project was scrapped due to a breakthrough in a more cost-effective resource in the form of miniature fusion reactor technology. What was supposed to stand as a pinnacle of human achievement and a symbol of unity, Atlas instead became a symbol of wasted investment and failed dreams as involved nations regressed back into prior conflicts.

Set in the year 2064, the story follows Albert Grabner, a lieutenant of the Bergen(geographically equivalent to Norway and/or Sweden) military. In the midst of a coup d'├ętat spearheaded by Colonel Ark Hellbrand to overthrow the government led by President Moss Orwen, Albert is sent to escort President Orwen out of the country. After being captured by Hellbrand and separated from the president, Albert manages to escape with another prisoner named Brenda Lockheart. Branded as public enemy #1, Albert is left with no other option but to team up with Lockheart and join a New York-based mercenary group known as the Kernlight Association, to assist with different civil conflicts over the world and eventually gather enough forces to stop the Bergen coup d'├ętat. Over the course of his employment as a mercenary, Albert begins to notice links between these civil conflicts, including the coup of his home country, and a mysterious organization called "The Society".

About the run

As both a side-scrolling platformer and a long RPG, creating a TAS of Gun Hazard entails the more difficult aspects of both genres of games. It has all of the long-term routing decision making and abundance of RNG manipulation typically found in RPGs, as well as intricate movement and fighting mechanics of platformers.

Routing

By far the most daunting aspect of tackling a Gun Hazard TAS was having to route everything in the run, since there are several aspects of the routing which needed to be taken into account and all have an effect on eachother. I would narrow the primary routing components to shop trip route, pilot experience, weapon experience, upgrades, money, enemy spawns, ammo constraints, resupply route, and score tally screens.

  • Shop trip route: The shop trip route is essentially the backbone of the routing in the game which shapes how the other components are routed. There is usually some major bottleneck present that mandates when shop trips are taken in the form of ammo constraints, money constraints, upgrade availability, etc...
  • Pilot experience: Stronger upgrades are made available as Albert reaches higher levels, so you generally want to farm as much experience as possible without wasting time. Gaining excess experience sometimes leads to extra time on score tally screens, so there are certain missions where experience is avoided.
  • Weapon experience: Weapons in this game level up as you hit things that have actual hp with them. Their stats increase incrementally from 0-100%, and there is an additional threshold beyond 100% at 120% with no incremental gains in between. Each weapon has three stats that increase as they level up, one of which is always attack power. The other two are either magazine capacity, attack range, shot interval, or reload time depending on the type of weapon. Each weapon in the game also has 5 tiers that correspond to 5 armor values of enemies that you encounter in the game. If you are using a weapon to attack an enemy with an armor value that is 1 level higher it will deal 50% reduced damage, and 75% reduced damage if the armor value is 2 levels higher. Generally, each subsequent tier of weapons have twice the damage at relative XP levels as their predecessors, with other stats being increased slightly.

There are two classifications of weapons in this game: primary weapons and special weapons. Primary weapons typically have lower dps, full screen-length attack range, omnidirectional aiming, infinite ammo, and only one can be carried on your wanzer at a time. Special weapons, on the other hand, typically have higher dps, more niche applications in terms of aiming/attack range restrictions, finite ammo which needs to be purchased at shops and resupplied between missions, and the amount which can be carried on your wanzer at a given time is equal to the tier of wanzer you are piloting.

In short, you want to farm as much weapon experience as possible in order to maximize DPS on bosses, but weapon experience must also be farmed with respect to sharing experience between a primary weapon as well as one or more special weapons, special weapon ammo constraints relative to the shop trip route, and consolidating resupplies between missions.

  • Upgrades: In addition to primary and special weapons, there are also different wanzers, vernier units, dash units, shield units, and pilot gear. Each upgrade in the game has five tiers with the exception of shield and dash units, which only have four.
  • Enemy spawns: Nearly every enemy in this game can be manipulated in one of three ways: enemy type, spawn location, and action, which usually need to be manipulated in a way that is conducive to the weapon and pilot experience routes.

Movement

Movement in this game changes dramatically in regards to how you optimize it and what tricks you can do each time you get a new dash or vernier unit. I'll go into the specifics of each unit in the mission comments as I obtain them.

Mission by mission comments

Mission names link to timestamps in the youtube encode.

Operation 1: BERGEN 1

Ertothal Harbor (0:18)

  • With no dash unit to start with, the fastest form of movement at the beginning of the game is simply doing full length jumps.
  • Since the starting special weapon, Hard Knuckle Punch-10, can only be used while standing still and generates 6 frames of hit lag with each use, it is completely useless outside of 1 punch on the first Ark fight. As such, I am able to freely consolidate all of my weapon experience farming into my primary weapon, Vulcan Gun-10, until the first shop trip where I replace the hard knuckle.
  • Even though Ark has plot armor while flying through the air, he still has a hit points which I'm able to use to farm Vulcan XP off of.
  • Unlike most other weapons, the Vulcan Gun refills its ammo periodically when you're not using it instead of having to be manually reloaded when it reaches 0. In a TAS setting, you can simply press shoot for 1 frame each time it comes off cooldown to allow it to refill on all other frames in between. Because of its quick fire rate and auto-refilling, the Vulcan Gun is a very effective RNG manipulation tool.
  • While the stage becomes an auto scroller after the cruiser missiles hit the harbor, you can pause the camera scrolling by hanging near the right side of the screen. I used this to my advantage by delaying the camera from reaching the point that initiates the actual Ark fight long enough for Ark to lose his plot armor and come down while he is oscillating right. I also delay bringing Ark to 0 hp by a few frames to force him to walk into his post fight-dialogue position during the fight rather than after.

Arun Mountains (2:17)

  • There are a couple things I change in the menus before this mission since it is my first opportunity to do so. I change message speed to very fast which saves a ton of time over the whole run, arm speed to very fast so I can change my aim more quickly, arm mode to B which makes it so left/right directional inputs have no effect on my aim allowing me to freely aim up/down while moving left/right(arm mode A is really the only way to go for real-time play; it's like they put arm mode B in specifically for TASing), alarm mode off so there's no alarm going off when I'm at critical hp(this saves no time but I was able to turn it off without wasting any frames since I was going by it anyway), and control scheme to B. There are a lot of inputs in this game, so much that not all of them can fit on a single control scheme. Control scheme A has no dash button so you have to double tap dash everywhere, and control scheme C has no special weapon swap so you have to go into the menus to swap weapons, leaving B as the only option. B gets around the button limit by putting aim lock and fire on the same button, which is no problem for a TAS since you can get around that simply pressing shoot for 1 frame each time it comes off cooldown.
  • Each enemy that spawns in this stage can either be a wanzer or a pilot, so they all need to be manipulated to be wanzers for maximum pilot/vulcan experience and money farming.
  • The Brenda encounter lasts for a fixed period of time aside from how the last few shots are manipulated. Her y-axis position which she drops each bomb from is based on RNG, and her x-axis position follows you around. You have to make the last few bomb drops have enough x-axis movement between them to cause the encounter timer to run out just before another bomb. She should also be manipulated to drop the last bomb from the lowest possible y-position, and in the center of the screen so you don't have to wait for her to fly there for her post-encounter dialogue.

Orobos (3:53)

  • This mission is effectively an autoscroller since you have to wait for President Orwen to reach the end of the stage in his truck, so I can use this opportunity to farm extra experience into the Vulcan Gun off the parked cars and such.
  • Killing Ark more quickly with the hard knuckle punch would merely result in extra hit lag, since I have to wait for the president to come ram him anyway. I delay bringing Ark to 0 hp by a certain number of frames so that he will be oscillating as far left as possible when Orwen rams him; that way he doesn't have to walk as far to get into his next dialogue location.

Gromund (5:10)

  • Nothing special in this mission, just jumping to the end of the stage. Some of the larger wanzers were a little tricky to manipulate into patterns that allowed me to kill them without slowing down.

Riese (6:05)

  • The two helicopters I left alive were worth a massive 40xp each, but ended up not being needed for the first experience threshold of the run, so I left them alive since killing them would have costed around 20f.

Beeg Army Base/Bergen Army HQ (7:08)

  • A shop was made available on the map after clearing the Riese mission, but the Beeg Army Base/Bergen Army gives so much money that it's better to shop after and buy all of the necessities for the next operation and a half in New York instead. The only trade off is that you don't have a dash unit for this mission, which is well worth it in the end. Also, how much ammo you are able to carry in your reserves is linked to which carrier your party members have, and Brenda's carrier that you get after this mission can hold a lot more ammo in it than Orwen's truck.
  • The noise that happens each time I skip text that occurs during gameplay is the game telling me I can't swap special weapons because I only have 1 at the moment. Incidentally, one of the buttons used to skip mid-gameplay text is the special weapon swap button.
  • Only one pilot can spawn during the long pilot section after escape the jail cell, so his position needs to be manipulated so you can damage boost from the top of the slope to get as much air time as possible

Shop Trip 1(Post-Bergen 1 New York)

  • By selling my first aid kits for $1000, I have just enough money to buy everything I need for the next operation and a half.
Items Purchased:
  • Dash-100(RDD-100): The first tier dash unit is absolutely essential since goes about twice as fast as jumping speed.
  • Vernier-10(VU-10): The first tier vernier unit is mandatory to progress through the upcoming parts of the game.
  • Upward Vulcan-10(UVG-10): The Upward Vulcan is a special weapon that has a very high ammo count and can be fired only in an upward direction. Not only does it deal significantly more DPS than any other weapon at this point in the game, but it also has the lowest level prerequisites of any weapon in each tier.

The only useful upgrade at this point which I didn't buy is the primary weapon, Shotgun-01. At a 0% XP, it deals 70 DPS(at close range) compared to the Vulcan Gun's 32 DPS, but is simply too expensive to fit into this shop trip with all other purchases being completely mandatory.

Operation 2: CENKTRICH

  • With the addition of the first dash unit, movement becomes much more complicated than chaining full length jumps. The way dash movement works is that once it finishes accelerating to its max velocity, it begins to decelerate until it reaches a certain value, then goes back up to its top speed again. Whenever you end a dash by jumping or falling off a ledge, you want to be at the highest possible value on the final frame of your dash, since your speed will start to decrement from there. Optimizing this entails a lot of trial and error of letting go of directional inputs on specific frames near the end of the dash to reach that value on the final frame. If a dash is ended with a jump or a straight drop off, then you usually only need to let go of the directional input for 1-3 frames with random spacing in between, but dashing off a slope can require more. This is because even though dashing down slopes causes you to fly off them, you actually move faster during the time that you are connected with them so traveling at slower speeds initially can allow you to stay on the ground longer for more acceleration. There didn't really seem to be any rhyme or reason to which frames I let go of directional inputs, so each dash just took copious trial and error to optimize.
  • Now that I have the a special weapon that is worth putting experience into, I have to balance my experience between two weapons. Since the Upward Vulcan deals significantly more damage to bosses than the Vulcan Gun, it is generally prioritized. The route I ended up going with involved using one full clip of UVG ammo before the final Cenktrich mission and one full clip during it, so that I only have two resupplies in between the first two shop trips. There were other routes which I tested, but I'll touch on those later.

Army HQ (10:17)

  • This mission has the first enemy meter encounter of the game. This one is a bit different from the others in the game since it is in such closed quarters and has such a fast minimum spawn time, but the concept is still the same. The encounter itself has a "health bar" in the upper right hand corner of the screen that is displayed whenever you are not currently attacking any enemies, and it depletes at a rate relative to the amount of XP each kill yields. Enemy spawn times are random and all have to be manipulated, and enemies spawn off screen relative to your camera position. The speed at which you kill enemies does not affect the timing of subsequent spawns, but only 2 enemies can be on screen at a time. As such, the only enemy that has to be killed as quickly as possible is the last one. To accomplish this, I slowly kill the second to last enemy with my Vulcan from afar, and back up into the last enemy and kill him with 2 Upward Vulcan shots. Since enemies spawn relative to camera position, dashing backwards brings that side of the camera(and also the enemy spawn) closer to Albert than if you are dashing forwards.

Osten Village (11:13)

  • Getting out of the wanzer before the first villager talks to you saves you the time of having to wait for him to walk off screen.
  • This stage has the same type of enemy meter encounter as the last mission, only with a much longer minimum spawn time. Since the rate at which you kill enemies has no effect on subsequent spawns, I use this time to farm more experience on my Vulcan Gun by weakening enemies to 1 hit from death before finishing them off with the Upward Vulcan. Since weapon experience is only based on whether or not your shot hits and not how much damage it does, overkilling enemies typically allows you to farm more total experience between your two weapons.

Alpine Forests (13:48)

  • You can tell how much the spawns in this enemy meter encounter were giving it to me by how many Vulcan shots I fired at the end of the previous mission and the beginning of this one. Eventually I got everything to cooperate, including the last enemy which I needed to have dash at me.
  • Dashing into an enemy while traveling a certain speed will cause you to bonk and fly in the opposite direction. I needed to do this on the final enemy in order to be able to hit him with a second Upward Vulcan shot, since there is no other way to decay your momentum quickly enough.

Ruben Woods (14:57)

  • I manipulate one 2-XP pilot to spawn in this mission instead of a 12-XP wanzer, since I would have had to sacrifice 5 frames of movement to kill the wanzer, and I will be just barely able to hit the first experience threshold in the middle of the next operation without it.

Hollen Facility (15:41)

  • I'll explain how the vernier unit is optimized here since this is the first mission with a lot of vertical movement. The vernier will activate if you are holding jump in the air and either reach 0 y-speed or are already descending. You don't instantly start to go down after letting go of jump in this game like most other platformers, but you merely start to decelerate at a quicker rate. Because of these two factors, as well as the initial jumping velocity of the first-tier wanzer, you always activate the vernier quickly as possible by repressing jump exactly 24 frames after your initial jump input(the interval becomes 1 frame larger at each successive wanzer tier). Note that this interval is tied to when you press jump; not when you release it. If your initial jump has to be held out longer to reach a higher ledge, you will activate the vernier later than otherwise, but it will still be activated earliest by pressing jump again 24f after the initial input. Since the boost of the first vernier unit is so high, you generally want to make your initial jump as short as possible and use as much vernier as possible for each jump.
  • Further expanding on vertical movement, and this applies to both normal jumps as well as vernier movement, you can re-input jump after releasing it to cause your vertical speed to decrement at the slower jumping rate once again. This is key to optimizing every landing after a jump. Typically you want to extend your jump just long enough to reach the platform, then detach the final frame of the jump and move it as late as possible while still reaching the ledge you are jumping to.
  • Optimizing vertical movement that incorporates dashing up slopes, vernier, and back and fourth movement is some of the hardest movement in the game to optimize.

Deurr Facility (16:54)

  • You need to be going a certain speed and be in the middle of a dash in order to bonk an enemy, but if a dash ends you can walk through enemies at any speed. If you can't manipulate an enemy into a location that is conducive to your dashing interval, you may have to jump through it if it can't be killed with the Vulcan Gun alone. Jumping up a slope will cause you hit the slope again immediately and start to walk, so you can dash immediately after killing enemies in your way without having to do a full jump.

Ehren Hill (17:56)

  • Getting an optimal miniboss fight in this stage was rather difficult to manipulate. Enemy explosions in this game not only damage Albert, but can be used to damage other enemies as well. As such, I needed to weaken the last enemy before the miniboss to 1 hit from dead, bait him to be right next to the miniboss, kill him before the miniboss loses his plot armor, and manipulate the miniboss to walk not only into the explosion, but closer to the camera lock as well. Since I had to kill the miniboss with Upward Vulcan, I dashed into him to get a damage boost as I killed him. Since damage boost direction is based on which direction your initial momentum is going in, it is only useful in a handful of instances. You can't damage boost in any sort of a continuous fashion since it takes so long to get your momentum moving in the opposite direction to get the damage boost in the direction you would want it. Damage boosting, or taking damage in general has to be done with regards to whether or not it saves enough time to offset the extra time you'll spend refilling it on your next resupply. The speed at which hp/ammo refills during resupplies is based on thresholds of missing hp/ammo. The more you are missing, the more units it refills each frame until it eventually slows down to 1 unit/frame for the final 15 frames. This does not apply to resupplies that coincide with situations where you have to go down into the menus to change wanzer parts/weapons, since you can simply de-equip/re-equip your wanzer or weapons to instantly refill all health/ammo while you are in the menus.

Ventt Base (18:47)

  • The two spiders near the med kit were the hardest part of the stage to manipulate. I needed both to walk towards me, and I had to slow my dash down to a speed that would prevent a bonk to get through the first, and I was able to time my dash to end to walk through the second. You can maintain a constant dash speed with the first dash unit at any speed simply by mashing the directional input at 30hz after reaching that speed.
  • I take some damage from the turrets while destroying the power generator after the boss fight in order to get an off screen explosion. This only results in a few extra frames on the next resupply, but was well worth it in the time I saved from lag reduction.

Operation 3: BORUKTA

Radar Site (20:59)

  • The 3 minibosses at the end of the stage spawn at fixed intervals, so it doesn't matter how quickly you kill the first two. I utilize the explosions of the first two to conserve UVG ammo on the 2nd and 3rd, and also to kill the 3rd as quickly as possible.

Mount Bartov (22:12)

  • The three helicopters in this mission each have a fixed area where they can spawn, but also have a minimum time interval between each spawn. A TAS can kill them quickly enough that you will be well into their spawn area before they are able to spawn, so I use this opportunity to pick up an ammo refill item in the cave without wasting much time on their spawns, allowing me to eliminate an extra shop trip in between Cenktrich and Borukta.

Originally I had tested a route which conserved enough UVG ammo to eliminate the shop trip as well as this ammo item. This table shows, for each enemy in the game up to the Borukta shop trip which required either a UVG shot or wasting time to kill, how frame I lost per point of XP gained by conserving each UVG shot. Ultimately, the route ended up not working out since my UVG DPS was too low to kill the Cenktrich operation boss before I ran out of ammo.

  • By picking up the ammo refill along with the $1000 at the same time, I'm able to eliminate one of their acquisition text boxes to save nearly a second.
  • The end of the stage was a little tricky since I'm limited in my movement while skipping text, since holding R keeps your shield out and prevents you from dashing.

Bechua Bridge (23:14)

  • This stage is an enemy meter encounter, but different from the others in that you still have to make it to the end of the stage instead of the stage simply ending when you deplete the meter.
  • Emil's movement is actually based on the direction that you are looking in, so I can force him to jet pack onto the ledge at the end of the stage instead of waiting for him to jump up.

Resistance HQ (24:05)

  • Nothing of noteworthy value here, other than the fact that Albert is apparently Spiderman.

Shadak (24:34)

  • The start of the enemy meter encounter in this stage was rather difficult to manipulate since the spawns happen during a pilot section where you have very few options for manipulation.
  • Since the minimum spawn interval for enemies in this encounter is so long, I can take the opportunity to farm Vulcan Gun XP off the rubble on the crumbling buildings. It's not worth farming any more UVG XP at this point since I'm about to replace UVG-10 before the next mission, and I want to conserve ammo anyway. When you buy ammo from the shops, you can bypass the maximum ammo reserve limit slightly by having ammo already in your equipped weapons at the time.

Shop Trip 2(Borukta)

This shop trip marks the first experience threshold of the run, since I absolutely had to reach level 7 at this point to buy the 2nd tier wanzer and UVG-20. My first WIP of this game did not reach level 7 at this point, so I had to test every enemy kill in the game up to this point to find the optimal pilot experience route. Items purchased:
  • SW-46S(2nd-tier Wanzer): Each tier of wanzer has twice the max hp of its predecessor, a slightly taller hitbox, a higher initial jumping velocity, and an additional special weapon slot. The main reason for getting the 2nd tier wanzer here is for the initial jumping velocity, since I need either it or the 2nd vernier unit to progress through one of the missions in the next operation. An added benefit is the extra hp allows me to consolidate resupplies since it gives me enough hp to last between mandatory weapon refills.
  • UVG-20: Since the upcoming boss of this operation has a tier-2 armor level, I need the UVG-20 to fight him since I wouldn't be able to kill him in a full ammo clip of UVG-10 reduced to 50% damage.
  • HGR-02(2nd-tier hand grenade): Hand grenades are needed for a mission in the next operation, and thanks to the money I picked up for free in Mount Bartov I was able to buy the 2nd tier, which does triple the damage of the 1st tier.
  • VG-01 ST/AP upgrades: Each time you buy something in the shop, the clerk spends 50 frames thanking you for it, so buying the shot time and attack power upgrades comes at the cost of 100 frames. It's questionable whether or not those frames will be made up for on boss dps, but they also allow me to kill a number of larger enemies before I reach them and avoid having to jump through them, which would cost around 10f each time.
  • UVG ammo: Since I still have a small carrier, I still have to route each UVG shot between shop trips.
Items skipped:
  • Shotgun-01: Again, I don't pick up the SG-01 even though it's a dps increase over the VG-01. It's a pretty expensive item, so I had to choose between it and the 2nd-tier hand grenades, and I would have had to spend time extra time equipping it. The upcoming boss fights before the next shop trip are all fairly short, so it's very unlikely that the slight dps increase from the SG-01 would offset the time spent equipping it and the time wasted using tier-1 hand grenades.
  • Vernier-20: There are 3 stats to each vernier unit: velocity, sustain, and maximum altitude. While the VU-20 gains significant increases to its sustain and maximum altitude stats over the VU-10, it has next to no starting velocity whereas the VU-10 is effectively a double jump. Since the VU-20 is not necessary to progress through any of the missions and is much slower, it is forgone completely.
  • Dash-200: The 2nd-tier dash unit has identical properties to the first tier, only with double the duration. Adding extra duration to your dash might save a few frames here and there, but also takes away options you have to end dashes before reaching enemies and walking through them at high speeds.
  • Bazooka-10: I'd really like to have a special weapon at this point that can be fired horizontally, but since you have to spend time buying the weapon and equipping it as well as buying its ammo, there's really no way to justify taking anything other than the UVG until much later in the game.

Mount Gorcha (27:49)

  • When enemies are affected by plot armor, they either have some obscene amount of hp like Ark in the first mission, 0 hp, or a small amount of hp. Weapon experience can only be gained from enemies that are under the effects of plot armor if they currently have hit points. Also to note, the hit which brings a plot armored enemy to 0 hp does not reward weapon XP(even though bringing an enemy that can actually die to 0 hp does). Because of this, I farm UVG-20 XP off of Genoce until he is one hit from reaching 0, then use the rest of his hp to farm VG-01 XP. Also to note, there is no way to tell what a plot armored enemy's exact hp situation is in the game without looking at ram values.

Bolsai (29:04)

  • When the boss reaches a certain amount of hp and splits into two parts, his bottom half retains the hp of the first phase while the top half gets a fresh hp bar.
  • A number of bosses in this game, this one included, have a move where they try to back a certain distance away from you before using an attack. This can be abused by strafing back and fourth to force the boss into constantly changing directions and stay in effectively the same place. Since the boss moves very quickly and you move very slowly while changing directions, this sort of strat isn't even remotely possible in a real-time situation, since being even a frame late on a turn around can cause the boss to get away from you. Most of these are easy to do in a TAS scenario, but this one was more difficult to pull off since I also had to position the top half in places where I could dodge the shots from the bottom half.
  • I split DPS on each half so that they'll die at the exact same time for two reasons. The first reason is so I don't get a mid fight text box, since text boxes prevent you from shooting for a period of time after you clear them. The second reason is to reduce lag by ending the stage half way through the bottom half's explosion.

Operation 4: AL HARI

ARS Headquarters (30:34)

  • Operations at allied headquarters with no combat are usually pretty uneventful.

Sunset Hill (31:11)

  • The sand dune movement in this operation requires a lot more trial and error to optimizing movement compared to the earlier operations in the game. Since the sand dunes have pretty gentle gradients, you have more opportunity to pick up speed going down them by letting go of directional inputs on random frames before getting forced off. Earlier operations' rural areas could be approached fairly methodically in the way I optimized the ends of my dashes, but optimizing these sand dunes was seemingly more random than reducing lag. On the plus side though, it's a lot easier to kill enemies without slowing down on sand dunes since you can jump if you are going up hill to start walking before them, and are typically not on the ground while going down hill.
  • Camila's actions are actually based on your position and not RNG. I have to start in the center of the screen lock to get her to use her rail gun, since if you are too close to the side of the screen she will fly off and try to ram you.

Nafud Dunes (32:24)

  • Turning around to shoot enemies behind me can be done without wasting frames if done on frames that I normally would have let go of directional inputs anyway to get more slope speed.

Sunset Hill(revisit) (33:06)

  • You have to revisit this mission after completing Nafud Dunes in order to progress through one of the later missions; it's just a standard enemy meter encounter this time around with different enemy types and very fast minimum spawn times that have to be manipulated.

Eastern Desert (34:13)

  • The screen lock at the end of the stage is lifted once you kill the two Commandos. You can't actually shoot the shield guys unless you land really precise shots, but they have such low hp that they just die from commando explosions alone(at least the bottom one does anyway). Killing the bottom Commando and the top Commando before the top goes off screen is precise enough that I didn't even think it was possible to pull off in my first test WIP. You need perfect speed and positioning at all points during the encounter to make it through the shield wanzers without bonking them and kill the top Commando in time.

Prison Carrier "Galeon" (34:59)

  • This is the first mission in the game with level 2 armor enemies and no sand dunes to help you go through them, so nearly all of them have to be manipulated into specific patterns and/or spawn locations to kill them without having to slow down.
  • Once you get to the part where you have to get out of the wanzer and continue on foot, RNG manipulation is very limited as a pilot so most of it has to be set up beforehand. For whatever reason, damage boosting while going right sends you much further than when you are going left. The pilot spawns are not random, but their actions are. When I'm going left I have to manipulate them out of my way, and when I'm going right I manipulate them to jump so I can damage boost off of them from higher up.
  • Blowing up the door to get Luven out of jail was the primary reason for for buying the 2nd-tier hand grenades, but they also allow me to kill the turrets for some extra XP without slowing down.

Dahana Highlands (39:26)

  • All of the enemies in this stage are simply too strong to kill without slowing down. One thing that is worth noting here is that the way score tally screens work is, once you collect more than a certain amount of experience per stage(I think it's 60) the score tally screen will not take any longer for additional experience. So if you can only kill a few small enemies in a stage that yield some unneeded experience, it is better to avoid killing them.

Cliff Garrison (40:31)

  • There are several routes you can take through this stage. This one ended up being the fastest since it utilized the most platforms jumps, even though it gets stuck under a ceiling for a few frames at one point. This is also the stage where you need either the 2nd wanzer or 2nd vernier unit to progress.
  • The way I approach this boss looks slightly awkward since he has to be a certain distance away from you before he starts his pre-fight dialogue, otherwise he'll back away from you if you get to close to him before he starts to talk. Unlike most other bosses, this one had an extra hp gauge to farm Vulcan XP off of while he was exploding. I had to cut my XP farming a little short to get an off screen explosion to reduce lag.

Mount Umtarl (41:31)

  • With my current UVG ammo count and Vulcan Gun magazine size being what they are, it was best to use all of my VG shots on the land mines and kill the turrets exclusively with UVG. There were some conveniently placed ammo packs and med kits throughout the stage that made routing this part significantly easier than what it could have been.

Fort Navaru (42:58)

  • Shooting air vents and other random objects with the UVG has no effect on RNG but still rewards weapon experience, which allowed me to finalize my UVG route much more easily via hex editing. One thing I haven't mentioned yet that comes into play in this stage the fact that weapon stats only update with their current XP value upon entering a mission, going through a loading zone, or swapping between special weapons. Since I don't have a second special weapon to switch to yet, I have to rely on loading zones to update my weapon stats. Because of this, I tried consolidated most of my UVG usage to be before the loading zone into the area with the first boss of this stage. If you look at the red/yellow/green square to the right of each weapon at the top of the screen, yellow means the weapon is between 0-99% XP, green means 100-120%, and red means I obtained the weapon through means other than a shop, don't meet its level prerequisite yet, and can't gain experience.
  • The door after you kill the cannon does not open until a certain period of time has passed, so I'm not wasting time by farming enemies.
  • Killing the final boss in only 2 jumps was something that I was unable to pull off in my test WIP. It requires perfect vernier usage as well enough VG and UVG XP to kill him on the final frame your UVG is still able to hit him on the second jump.

ARS Headquarters(revisit) (45:02)

  • You get a new carrier in this mission that holds a lot more ammo than than the carrier Brenda starts with, so I no longer have to worry about running out of UVG ammo between shop trips.

Shop Trip 3(Post-Al Hari New York)

I skipped the Al Hari shop trip in favor of this one for a number of reasons, but as a general rule of thumb, New York shop trips are faster than mid-operation shop trips since you're 1 screen transition away from the shop in New York anyway, where as a mid-operation shop trips have a lot more load times and menuing. Items purchased:
  • Shotgun-02: Generally weapons get a 100% increase to their attack power each time they go up a tier, but the Shotgun-01 to the Shotgun-02 is a 200% damage increase. At close range, the Shotgun-02 deals 216 DPS compared to the Vulcan-02's 147 dps. The trade off is that the shotgun has a much high level prerequisite each tier, but my shop route prevented me from getting the Vulcan-02 until both it and the Shotgun-02 were available to me.
  • UVG ammo

Operation 5: BERGEN II

Emingen (46:24)

  • It doesn't save or lose time to go ham on the first miniboss as a pilot since he is under the effects of plot armor at that time, and you're inhibited by an autoscroller going back to your wanzer.
  • Like the Cliff Garrison boss, this one also does not gain an hp gauge until he is a minimum distance away from you.

Bergen Capitol (47:53)

  • Nothing noteworthy here, other than the fact that you don't have to actually fight the miniboss.

Gwain (49:15)

  • The top route in this stage ended up being only a few frames faster than the bottom. It took some pretty specific manipulation to get the enemy up there to be over the gap as I was passing him to avoid a bonk.
  • This entire operation is full of annoying miniboss encounters that have to be manipulated into specific positions for post-fight dialogue.

Riese (50:20)

  • Rook is actually too short to hit with the Upward Vulcan while he's on the ground, so he has to be manipulated to use his jet pack.

Beeg Army Base (51:16)

  • Since my UVG-20 is already at 100% with no possibility of reaching 120% before I replace it, I utilize the fact that enemy meter encounter spawn times aren't depending on how fast you kill enemies to farm more experience in my Shotgun-02.
  • This seems to be the only enemy meter encounter in the game where enemy spawn type is based on where you spawn them and not RNG. Small enemies will always spawn from the left if you're on the right side of the room, and large enemies from the right if you're on the left side.

Bergen Army HQ (52:35)

  • RNG manipulation is a lot more limited with the shotgun than with the vulcan since its slower and has to be manually reloaded, and there are cases like this where you have to dump the majority of your clip before a boss fight. However, since the shotgun fires multiple shots, aiming differently so more/less shots hit walls will increment RNG at different rates.
  • Once you bring Ark to a certain hp, his floating pod will detach and you can focus dps on that; the spider's hp does matter after they separate and can be left alone.
  • Because the end of the fight initiates a camera lock, it is impossible to get an off screen explosion.

Operation 6: ZAMBOLA

Zamboli Forest (54:31)

  • Keeping your back to the screen lock at the end of the stage will prevent some annoying enemies from coming on screen to block your shots against the miniboss.

Encampment/Mercenary Bunker (55:24)

  • The BOOST upgrade I pick up in the encampment costs around 1 second to pick up(mainly because of the text box) and around 1 second to menu, but it will come in handy a bit later on. It increases your movement speed by about 400 units per frame for about 12 seconds. This equates to around a 50% speed increase over RDD-100 dashing speed, and around 100% increase over standard jumping speed. As such, it is most beneficial to use this in a long horizontal area with as much mandatory air travel as possible.

Shop Trip 4(Zambola)

Items Purchased:
  • Vernier-30: Like the Vernier-20, the 3rd tier unit also has pathetic initial upward velocity compared to the Vernier-10, but its sustain and altitude limit are essential to progress through the next operation.
  • Upward Vulcan-30: I buy two Upward Vulcans this time around since I have extra cash for it. Having two instead of one allows me to spend less time resupplying between missions, as well as swap between them mid-mission to update weapon stats with my current level of XP.
  • Shotgun-02 AP: The attack power upgrade for the shotgun is the only one worth buying since the other two upgrades have to do with reloading, and in a TAS setting I can just plan my reloads ahead of time.
  • Fuel: Fuel is used to resupply your wanzer's hit points between missions.
  • UVG ammo
Items skipped:
  • SW-54s(3rd tier wanzer): The 3rd wanzer is skipped because I don't really need it for anything so it's not worth the time to menu it. The 2nd wanzer has enough hp to last me between my weapon resupplies at this point in the game, and I don't need the 3rd special weapon slot since I only have 2 decent special weapons at this point. I guess the extra jumping velocity could save frames in places, but nowhere near the 120f it would cost to buy and equip.

Road to Janga (57:13)

  • I leave the helicopter alive until the end of the mission for two reasons. The first is so that he'll keep spawning the 8 XP enemies, and the second is because he normally has a text box that pops up when you kill him and wastes 50 frames, but you can avoid it by getting a frame perfect kill when you exit the mission.
  • I also have to make sure the helicopter never touches the explosions of the small enemies, since that would take away valuable hp to farm UVG XP off of.

Janga Village (59:07)

  • The top route in this stage requires more air movement, but ended up being a few frames faster since dashing uphill is slower than dashing along horizontal ground.

Mount Garal Path (1:00:06)

  • The Bishop encounter in this stage took a bit of experimenting to get right. You have to start the encounter so he barely walks off the steep ledge at the start of the fight, and then avoid killing him until he is near the camera lock. Starting the fight any further right will cause him to go past the camera lock before you can finish him off, since the steep ledge inhibits his movement for a bit. Also, killing him to soon will make him take longer to get off screen after the fight since he walks much faster during it.

Garal Caves (1:01:04)

  • It might look like I'm going against standard movement conventions by dashing off ledges before before changing directions instead of getting a small jump, but it really depends on what is coming up next. Since it takes so much longer to slow down in the air vs in a dash, sometimes the X-axis deceleration you get from keeping the dash is worth more than the extra Y-axis speed from the jump if you have to reverse directions quickly.
  • Underwater movement speed is slower than air speed, so you want to stay out of the water as much as possible unless you are able to dash along the sea floor.
  • This Genoce encounter was the trickiest to manipulate yet. You have to manipulate his pattern at two different points as well as Rook's positioning via your own positioning before you go to the right to get them both off screen as quickly as possible and end the stage.

Tangany Diet (1:02:15)

  • Just like the boss of the Borukta operation, Balming can be infinitely juked back and fourth by getting the pattern where he tries to back away from you, only this fight is completely trivialized by the fact that you don't have to dodge any shots from another boss in the process. The hardest part of the fight was actually balancing the lag reduction of the off screen explosion with starting Elgar's dialogue as quickly as possible.

Operation 7: Sibirska

Oil Platform (1:03:41)

  • Vernier-30 isn't actually needed for this mission, but it's still worth equipping anyway since it allows you to take a pretty major shortcut through the stage. Optimizing Vernier-30 movement is a lot more simple than Vernier-10. Since its boost is so bad, you just hold onto your entire jump before activating the vernier.
  • Farming weapon experience off all of the structural objects in the stage can cause some lag, so you have to be careful with how you do it.
  • The turrets in the Defense System boss fight spawn based on camera position, so you want to approach them backwards the same way you do with final enemies of enemy meter encounters. They also have some restrictions in terms of where they can spawn in general, so the optimal place to spawn them is as close to the camera lock as possible without behind behind it when you can start shooting them with UVG.

Riyohov Coast (1:05:20)

  • This stage is one of the two stages that mandate the VU-30. I tried for a bit to use the BOOST upgrade along with maximizing my slope speed to get past the last hurdle without it, but I don't think it's possible.
  • The tanks and turrets are impossible to kill without slowing down. You can kill the pilots, but it's better to leave them alive since they would just add a lot of time to the score tally screen relative to the minimal XP that they give.

Moruvsk (1:06:05)

  • You can get larger wanzers to spawn in the sewers, but they're impossible to kill without slowing down, so I manipulated all small spawns.
  • The reason I dash away from the boss at the end of the sewers half way through the fight is to force him back over to the right, since he always goes to the side of the room opposite where you are. Not only is his post-fight dialogue position on the right side of the room, but letting him go all the way over to the left will force him off screen for a considerable period of time.

Levi Bridge (1:07:58)

  • Another enemy meter encounter; this one I have to manipulate all helicopters with a short minimum spawning interval.
  • Something I forgot to mention until now since I remember it being particularly extreme on this stage is the fact that the delay in which it takes for an NPC face to show up in the text box after it comes on screen is actually variable based on actions that you do beforehand. For the most part, doing extraneous inputs leading up to the text box will cause a few frames of extra delay, but sometimes doing things slightly different will cause a significantly less amount of delay. The miniboss at the end of the encounter spawns based on your camera, so you have to approach him backwards, but I had to delay initiating his text box by a frame or two to reduce the delay on his face appearing.

Red Shark Fleet (1:08:56)

  • I actually had to redo this mission 4-5 times for a variety of reasons. Originally I had intended to use the BOOST here and kill all of the power generators on top of the ships before going underneath, but since some ships don't have topside generators, it is faster to go in an out of the water as you make one pass. I had to redo the mission again once I realized I had done the missions in the wrong order in terms of minimal map movement, which also worked out in my favor because I hit a higher threshold of shotgun XP that allowed me to kill the power generators in 1 point blank shot. The fastest way to take out the long brown ships is by going over the top of them, then jumping in the water and doubling back to get the ones underneath. You can kill the one on the left up top without even landing on the ship at all, which has less back tracking, but much more underwater movement so it ends up being slower. I had to redo the stage once again once I realized I did the first ship the wrong way. Making matters worse, all of the underwater wanzers have to be manipulated out of your way so they don't absorb any shotgun shots when you're taking out the power generators.
  • Exiting the water has to be optimized in a similar fashion to how you optimize the ends of dashes. Your speed is constantly fluctuating while under water, so you want it to be a high value once you exit the water. This can be done simply by changing your up/down inputs while underneath bottoms of the ships.

Vayachev Coast (1:10:23)

  • Nothing worth mentioning on this mention other than Bishop dropping the ball big time.

Ice Wall 202 (1:11:32)

  • This mission is an autoscroller, but I still need to manipulate quick enemy spawns each time as if it were an enemy meter encounter to maximize my pilot experience.
  • I have to take a bit of damage before the hatches on the ship open to set up the kills on all 3 of them. Two have to be killed with Upward Vulcan since the shotgun takes too long to be used more than once here.

Launch Tunnel (1:13:34)

  • This mission, along with the next two, can be done in a variety of orders, but this order has the fastest map movement and gets me the Shotgun-03 earlier.
  • Bringing Luven along on this mission is required for him to plant bombs. You can't use the secret code to control him with the second player since he's too busy doing plot-related things. If you're wondering why I haven't used any 2nd-player helpers up until this point in the run, you'll understand why once you see the score tally screen for this mission.
  • Luven's wanzer has almost no hp, but thankfully the hitbox of Albert's block takes priority over Luven, so it's pretty easy to keep him alive.

Gilka Iceberg (1:16:03)

  • The enemy meter encounter at the end of the stage does not begin until the first two enemies are dead, which is why I'm willing to take so much damage to kill them as quickly as possible.
  • Brenda hijacks the ship at the end of the stage to use as your new carrier, which incidentally has a free Shotgun-03 on it. Even though you're not high enough level to buy the Shotgun-03 from shops at this point, you can still use this one; it just won't gain any experience until you reach the normal level pre-requisit.

Kovskaia Bay (1:17:32)

  • This mission was by far the hardest mission to optimize up to this point in the run so far. With up/down inputs controlling your swimming as well as your aiming, and how many hotgun shots hit the objectives each time you fire being based on how close you are, it's very difficult to optimize the movement in this stage. I absolutely needed the Shotgun-03 here since the objectives have level 3 armor, and the angles of the 4th shotgun bullet make them much easier to hit.
  • This is the one mission in the game where having arm mode A would have actually been beneficial for a TAS, since your aim wouldn't have as much affect on your up/down swimming movement. It would have taken over 4 seconds to menu this on and off, so it wasn't nearly worth it.
  • The hitboxes of your shots actually change based on your movement even after you fire them, which is why I have to do this weird back and fourth movement for the one that I kill with the Upward Vulcan.

Red Shark Base (1:19:01)

  • There are 2 routes on the way into this stage and 4 routes on the way out. With VU-30 still equipped, the fastest route is the lowest one going both ways. After you talk to the boss and see his particle beam, you have to leave and go pick up Dr. Sakata in the desert. VU-30 is left on at this point since it's actually impossible to get out of the Red Shark Base with VU-10.

Dahana Highlands(revisit) (1:20:48)

  • It was really only between this mission and the Riyohov Coast for when to use the BOOST item. Dahana Highlands won by close to a second because it has so much prolonged air travel, and the stage last roughly 12 seconds after you get on top of the high ledge at the beginning. Overall, picking up the BOOST yielded a net ~4s time save.

Red Shark Base(revisit) (1:22:05)

  • Since we have to go down into the menus to equip Dr. Sakata, it's the perfect time to re-equip VU-10 since we won't be needing VU-30 for the next two whole operations and the VU-10's saves a lot of time when the VU-30's altitude/sustain is no longer needed. It is actually a few frames faster to go top route with VU-10 than bottom route with VU-30, so the switch is made before this mission rather than after(it's impossible to go bottom route with VU-10).
  • I actually use the secret code here to take control of Dr. Sakata with the second controller for a brief period of time simply to manipulate RNG with his dash. One of the wanzers near the beginning of the stages needs to walk backwards and I couldn't get him to do it with Albert alone. Dr. Sakata is way too slow to keep up with Albert, and it seems like, once he goes off screen once, you can't regain control of him for the rest of the stage.

Operation 8: MACHU PICCHU

Jose's Mansion (1:24:03)

  • Just like the last enemy meter encounter in Bergen II, my UVG is already at 100% with no chance of reaching 120% in sight, so I prioritize all XP into the shotgun on this mission.

Cuzco Village (1:25:13)

  • Probably the most straight forward mission in the game

Ancient Ruins (1:26:23)

  • I made level 23 on the final enemy of this mission with only 173 XP to spare. I absolutely needed to hit level 23 here because I need to shop after this mission for the 3rd-tier dash unit, and I need level 23 to buy UVG-40s.

Shop Trip 5(Machu Picchu)

Items Purchased:
  • SW-82k(4th-tier wanzer): Has 4x the max hp of the 2nd-tier wanzer, higher jumping speed, and 4 special weapon slots.
  • Dash-300: A much better dash unit that the 1st tier dash that completely flips movement on its head. Instead of taking time to accelerate to its top speed, the 3rd dash unit hits its top speed on the very first frame of the dash and drastically decays its speed for each frame you stay in dash. By jumping the frame after you start the dash, you can bypass this and cause your speed to decay at the normal airborne movement rate. This unit's top speed is ~1490 units per frame compared to the first unit's ~860, so it allows for significantly faster movement.
  • UVG-40: I buy 3 of these here, not only for less resupplying, but since there is going to be a mission later on where I'll actually need all 3.
  • Hard Knuckle Punch-30: You may have seen lag reducing mech punches in Nrgzam's Mega Man X TAS, but you probably haven't seen sequence-breaking mech punches yet.
  • Hand Grenade-04: Needed for pilot sections later on.
  • Armor Vest-04: Also needed for pilot sections.
  • SG-30 AP: The Shotgun-30 is actually the last primary weapon I acquire in the run, so its definitely worth getting its attack upgrade here.
Items Skipped:
  • SG-30 MG/RT: It's hard to say whether or not the magazine size or reload time upgrades would have been able to offset the 50f they cost to buy, but if they did it would have been very minor. I only have to reload during boss fights 4 times later on and the SG-30's DPS is so minimal compared to the UVG-40's anyway.

Madios (1:28:00)

  • Since you optimize RD-300 movement basically by dash jumping as often as possible, it's best to use the terrain in whatever way you can to stay as close to the ground as possible.
  • Hitting a slope at dash speed from a jump will cause you to walk, so it's possible to chain jumps together once every 3 frames when going up slopes.
  • Normally you want to walk at the very top of a slope, but I jumped immediately on the one on this stage to land on and dash off the upcoming ledge.
  • The 4th-tier wanzer is actually too tall to hit the wanzers in this enemy meter encounter with the Upward Vulcan unless they are jumping, so I tried to manipulate as many as possible to jump to farm UVG XP. Both types of enemies in this encounter deplete the meter at the same rate, so other that weapon XP priority it doesn't matter which enemy you get time-wise.

Cusco Village(revisit) (1:29:35)

  • Passable floors are the next best thing to uphill slopes for RD-300 movement. By dropping through the floor the frame after you dash instead of jumping, you can use the VU-10 to get back up to the floor immediately to chain dashes together once every 7 frames.

Jose's Mansion(revisit) (1:29:55)

  • The Bishop/Rook fight took a bit of effort to manipulate. Both of them need to do specific patterns and fly low when they do them, since they can go to a number of different altitudes. Just like Borukta operation boss, I kill both at the same time for text box reasons.

Jose's Airfield (1:32:12)

  • The enemies at the start of the stage spawn at fixed intervals, so all but the last one are killed slower to farm more XP between my two weapons. The last one has to be set up to die as quickly as possible, since Jose's airship spawns a fixed number of frames afterwards.
  • As far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to avoid taking hits on this boss fight; even if you dodge them initially they'll just loop around and hit you while you're too slow to do anything. The boss always does this laser move where he goes off screen, so I just take that opportunity to refresh my UVG stats.

Operation 9: ESPORTE

Esporte (1:33:54)

  • Aiming upward seems to help with lag reduction in most cases.
  • I don't utilize the passable ground at the end of the stage since you have to be on the lower floor to spawn Anita.

Indico (1:34:38)

  • Nothing of noteworthy value in this mission.

Sumerio (1:35:08)

  • Since the airship has a finite amount of hp, I want to prioritize shooting the bombs over the airship to maximize my weapon XP. UVG-40 still has priority over SG-03 at this point, so I make sure none of my shot gun shots hit the air ship.

Colgare (1:36:57)

  • It was on this stage that I discovered the passable floor movement tech, so I had to go all the way back to the Cuzco Village revisit to incorporate it into the rest of the run.

Galtsa (1:38:13)

  • AKA lag city. This game is generally pretty much free of lag on most stages, but these jamming devices are just too much for the game to handle.

Rio de Sambo (1:39:12)

  • This purple wanzer was pretty adamant about trying to block my shots.
  • I could have gone to the right after destroying the airship to farm more weapon XP off of Genoce, but it ended up not being necessary for my XP routes and would have just caused more lag.

Via Blanca (1:39:58)

  • This mission is where the Hard Knuckle Punch comes into play. You're supposed to get out of your wanzer and crawl through the air ducts to destroy the horizontal barriers from the other side, but the HNP has such long range that you can just punch straight through them to the other side.
  • This mission was incredibly difficult to pull off in terms of RNG manipulation. In the long pilot section in the middle, all of the large purple wanzers have to be manipulated to stand perfectly still as you are running through them, and all of the pilots need to be manipulated to not spawn in your way. The pilots can spawn pretty much anywhere on the ground and even in the air ducts with you. Health management was also a large factor in the patterns I was able to take from the purple wanzers and where I could damage boost. The one damage boost I took off the turret was well worth it since it was from so high up and allowed me to dodge a bunch of shots, so it didn't really cost me much hp to begin with.
  • I redid this Genoce fight a number of times trying to find a way to end the fight that would trigger the post-fight dialogues more quickly. Every time I ended the fight with him further to the right, he would either be not moving right quickly enough or be moving left. I got one that triggered Genoce's dialogue a few frames faster than this, but then Brenda's dialogue was significantly delayed. I still don't quite understand all of the conditions that need to be met for Brenda's dialogue to start.

Shop Trip 6(post-Esporte New York)

Items Purchased:
  • Vernier-50: Necessary to progress through the remainder of the game
  • Flamethrower-40(FBG-40): Pales in comparison to the Upward Vulcan-40 in terms of DPS, but is needed for destroying things that the Upward Vulcan can't hit.
  • Fuel/UVG ammo/FBG ammo: Initially I had bought maximum supplies of each of these, but thanks to the power of the Tudio I was able to shave off the excess I didn't need after I reached the end of the run. This game is pretty friendly for these kind of edits since RNG increments only when random events occur.
Items Skipped:
  • Vulcan Gun-04: This would have been a temporary DPS increase over the SG-03 due to enemy armor levels, but not worth it since boss fights are so frequent and long in the end game that I would just run out of ammo without enough time for it to automatically refill in between, so the shotgun's manual reloads are better in this situation. I'm also slated to hit 120% XP on my SG-03 relatively soon, which gives it a massive 50% DPS increase, so it's better to stick with the shotgun instead.

Madios(revisit) (1:45:35)

  • We have to go back to this mission to get a carrier that will allow us to launch our attack on Sentinel. This mission also contains the first component of the first and only glitch used in this run.

Operation 10: SENTINEL

Escort Fleet (1:46:34)

  • After leaving Madios with my flamethrower selected, I de-equip my wanzer before entering the first Sentinel mission. Luckily the first mission is strictly an autoscroller, so I waste no time by doing it as a pilot. After doing these two steps, once I re-equip my wanzer for the next mission, the current ammo count of my first special weapon slot will be overwritten to my flamethrower. Since the UVG had a higher ammo count than the flamethrower's maximum ammo count, I'm able to dump my entire ammo reserves into my flamethrower when I resupply to have functionally infinite ammo for the remainder of the run.
  • I don't need any more experience at this point in the run, so I don't kill anything on this stage for the sake of expediting the score tally screen.

Sentinel Wing (1:48:01)

  • Probably tied with Via Blanca for the most difficult mission in the game, Sentinel Wing was a nightmare of optimizing DPS on the engines while having optimal movement, manipulating enemies out of my way, and reducing lag.
  • The flamethrower levels up insanely fast since you're only supposed to be able to use a small amount of it each stage, so sometimes it's better to toggle your weapon swaps while attacking something to update your weapon stats with current XP, even though prevents you from shooting for ~20 frames. There's also a lot of random stuff other than the engines throughout the stage that I can farm XP off of.
  • Bonking enemies out of my way was a pretty effective method of reducing lag and sustaining damage on the engines.
  • You have to kill all but 2 of the engines before you can finish the stage. It was pretty clear cut which two needed to be avoided since they would've each required a lot of backtracking to get.

Sentinel Command (1:49:15)

  • I initially did this stage by switching back to the first dash unit since you can't infinite juke the Balming-type wanzer boss back and fourth with the 3rd dash unit. This is because the center of his hitbox moves a large distance when he turns around, otherwise you'd be able to do it without any dash unit at all. Since I run out of UVG ammo right before the end of the stage anyway, it ended up just being straight up faster to keep the 3rd dash unit on.
  • Since the vernier unit's altitude is tied to nothing else aside from where you left the ground from, I have to fly into this wall for a bit after the Ark type wanzer to reach the next high platform instead of dropping down and jumping from the low ground.
  • I have to wait for Praetorian to go off screen after his first fight before I can go talk to Genoce, so finishing him off with flamethrower saves UVG ammo for his later phases without wasting any time.
  • Praetorian's 3rd phase doesn't start until he's in a specific position, so he has to be manipulated there during the 2nd phase. By standing on the god sub pixel, you can actually infinite juke Praetorian's 3rd phase without a dash unit by tapping alternate directions for 1 frame every 5 frames. I move him over to the left after I run out of UVG ammo to get an offscreen explosion, but this one still seemed to lag a lot anyway.
  • After the last Praetorian phase is 6-7 minutes of plot/cutscenes, so you can skip ahead to the next mission if you're not interested.

Operation 11: ATLAS

Atlas Foundations (1:58:43)

  • I leave the first 2 enemies alive to prevent more from spawning and giving me extraneous EXP. My UVG-40 and SG-03 are already at 120% XP, and I don't need additional enemies on this stage to reach 120% FBG-40 before I need it to kill stuff again.
  • The turrets at the top have plot armor until I start attacking them; it's pretty tricky to kill them quickly since it's hard to make all of your shotgun bullets connect. You have to be on the carrier when you finish off the last turret before the carrier starts moving again.

Area 101 (2:00:30)

  • Health management on this mission was extremely crucial since I had to take a few hits from the turrets at the end of the last mission.
  • Shield dashing yields slightly slower average movement speed than changing dash jumps, but is useful for getting around certain obstacles or conserving hitpoints when going underneath ceiling-mounted Gun Traps.

Area 102 (2:01:50)

  • These tiny eyeballs really like to self-destruct after going offscreen and give me experience for it, regardless of whether I touch them or not. All of them have to manipulated into not doing so otherwise it adds 2 seconds to my score tally screen.
  • It's slightly faster to do a 1-frame jump before activating your vernier unit rather than dashing off a ledge and activating it sooner unless you need the sudden direction change from the dash.

Atlas Summit (2:02:58)

  • Since this is the last mission, I no longer have to care about anything related to pilot experience.
  • Each of the sphere droid mini bosses were difficult to optimize for different reasons. They have such an amount of hit points that will cause me to have to spend an extra UVG shot on them if I miss even one shotgun bullet from any shot. I get close to the first which pushes it upward, but I am able to land on the elevator right as he dies by killing him with UVG, so this is still faster than keeping him lower and missing any shotgun shots.
  • The second sphere droid can be triggered sooner if you ditch the elevator, but then you won't be able to make it to the next platform because of altitude limitations, so it's fastest just to stay on the elevator the whole time.
  • The 3rd and 4th(it's hard to tell that there's two since they're right on top of each other) were hard to start DPSing right as their plot armor came off while still killing all of their minions in time. The little ones will recharge to 197hp and try to ram you after you initially bring them to 0 and will block your shots when they have this 2nd hp bar, so I have to damage them in a very precise manner to kill them all in time by making sure I'm not getting much overkill on anything. Just before killing the 4th sphere droid, I fly as low as I can without missing any shotgun to get as much momentum as possible after finishing the fight. The explosion of the 3rd sphere droid gives me enough damage to sacrifice 2 shotgun bullets on the adds that spawn, which would have otherwise blocked my UVG shots.
  • The 5th and 6th were difficult because of the number of enemies around when you fight them. I have to leave the two wall enemies alive, but am able to get my shots around them on the 5th fight and use the right one's explosion to assist in killing the 6th.
  • The Atlas Core fight was pretty bizarre since doing too much damage to it in too short of a period of time would cause it to heal a major portion of the damage dealt immediately after. Because of this, I wasn't even able to use UVG-40 on it at all, and had to space out my shots whenever my Shotgun-03 came off cooldown(or be a far enough distance away to miss some of the shotgun bullets).
  • You have to stop DPS on the Core when it's healing between phases, otherwise you just prologue the healing process.
  • When the barrier changes positions, you want to pass through it as quickly as possible. Since I have the hit points to spare for it, I use the tentacle in phase to 2 bounce myself upwards as the barrier is lowering.
  • For the final phase, the barrier gains an hp gauge and you have to kill it immediately in order attack the Core once again. Since the barrier has none of the strange healing properties that the Core does, I can just unload on it with UVG.
  • The camera lock does not lift after bringing the Core to 0 hp until it flies back to the center of its container, so I have to bait it into a specific position as I finish it off so I hit the camera lock at the same time that it lifts.
  • You want to be as far left as you can while triggering the ending cutscene so Genoce doesn't have to move as far before he rams you into the escape pod.

In Closing

Acknowledgements

I owe a huge thanks to these people helped me a significant amount in creating this runs, the likes of which would not be as optimized or possibly even exist without their help.

Colonelfatso: for introducing me to this wonderful game in the first place, and for sharing his knowledge of the game by answering any and every question I had over the course of making the run. At the start of this run, the only things I knew about the game were what I learned from 1 casual playthrough, so Fatso was a tremendous help, especially in the initial stages of routing development.

Omnigamer: for his lua script which I used to make the run with. There's no way I would have been able to make the run at all without it.

Feos: for his work in all of the bugs he fixed and features he added to TAStudio while I was making the run. With how many things needed to be fixed at earlier points in the run in order to tweak experience and ammo routes, there's no way I would have been able to TAS this game using the standard Homo Habilis method of TASing.

Flameberger: for editing Omnigamer's lua script to include anything I asked for, which was a huge help in optimizing some of the more difficult movement sections since Flameberger was able to add features that calculating average movement speed values and such.

Possible Improvements

  • Killing the 2 helicopters in Riese may be able to save some frames on score tally screens if you forgo killing all enemies on other missions in Bergen I that reward little experience.
  • Equipping the VU-30 immediately after you get it will change up your resupply route in the Sibirska operation to shave off about a second worth of menuing.
  • The SG-03 reload time/magazine size upgrades might be worth getting. I didn't get them initially since I thought I was going to the shotgun with another weapon later in the run, which ended up not being necessary.
  • I didn't discover shield dashing until Atlas. It might be able to save frames in some places earlier in the run, particularly the Via Blanca mission.
  • Don't get the BULLET item at the end of the Galtsa mission. It ended up not being necessary because of the healing on the Atlas Core, and just caused some extra lag frames.
  • You can farm more primary weapon XP during enemy meter encounters if you kill enemies by attacking them with both weapons on the same frame.

Suggested screenshot: 362292


Samsara: Judging.

Samsara: Accepting to Moons.

feos: Pub.


Similar submissions (by title and categories where applicable):