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

Submission #5200: itsPersonnal's GC Metroid Prime in 54:33.58

Console: Nintendo GameCube
Game name: Metroid Prime
Game version: USA v1.0
ROM filename: Metroid Prime.iso
Emulator: Dolphin 4.0-4222
Movie length: 54:33.58
FrameCount: 196415
Re-record count: 132712
Author's real name: Hazel Elaine Cogan
Author's nickname: itsPersonnal
Submitter: itsPersonnal
Submitted at: 2016-08-21 03:05:47
Text last edited at: 2021-09-25 09:26:49
Text last edited by: CoolKirby
Download: Download (150954 bytes)
Status: decision: rejected
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Author's comments and explanations:
Metroid Prime done fast. Have fun syncing the dtm!

Emulator used: Dolphin 4.0-4222

Objective: Beat the game as fast as possible

Metroid Prime is a very odd first person shooter/first person platformer in terms of controls, there is only one analog stick which handles both aiming and moving around. You switch between the aiming or moving/turning by holding the R button, and can lock your facing angle by holding L. Momentum in this game is also odd. When airborne, if you release the analog stick, you will maintain your velocity instead of slowing down like you'd expect in most games. You also gain speed holding forwards in the air, though there is a speed cap ...but only for going forwards or backwards (and upwards). For some reason there is no sideways cap. Since you can turn sideways in the air without losing your initial velocity, you can jump forwards to set a trajectory and then turn sideways and hold up to “infinitely” build speed. There are obvious limitations to this, you lose speed changing your facing angle to directions other than sideways, which is required to do when turning and shoot and open doors, or to avoid walls in rooms that aren't a straight line. You do still have some influence over your jump angle by turning left and right also, just not very much.. You can also abuse the strafing mechanic to build an initial speed much faster than simply jumping forwards. When you lock onto a target and jump left or right, you do a quick strafe which builds high speeds and then removes those speeds shortly after. If you strafe and release the target at a certain point, you'll maintain the speed. We call this dashing and it can be done on all scan points or enemy lock ons on the 0-00 release of this game, in later releases it only works on enemy lock ons. One last thing to mention about jumping is that while in the air, holding R and L will lock your speed, doing this the frame before landing and then jumping first frame will carry over all the speed from the previous jump into the new one (terrain plays a roll in this though, uphills tend to take some speed away no matter what). We call this bunny hopping.

The goal of this run was in-game time, which it finished in 37:20.517. (Well, the submitted dtm finishes with that time, the Youtube video has a dated Essence fight, which I saved 16 seconds over on this dtm). The in-game timer counts upwards any time you have control of Samus. Cutscenes, item collection text, and elevators between areas are some examples of things that do not contribute to in-game time. An argument can be made that a TAS should have the goal of the lowest possible real-time, but the vast majority of people from the Metroid Prime community will agree that real-time strats make for a less interesting watch, as well as a considerably slower in-game time on the mission final screen.

This TAS starts off looking very robotic. I only used the TAS input did nothing but necessary movements and angle adjustments. This resulted in a lack of fluidity in the movement, which isn't particularly slower, it's just less appealing looking to me personally. After taking a long break around the end of March 2015, due to rampant desyncs caused by RNG being inconsistent, I came back to this TAS with a more entertaining style to my moment. It's fairly apparent from around the time I collect Bombs onward.

Frigate has a few known improvements, Edzan recently TASed Frigate and implemented a faster Bioharazad bomb jump by only using 2 bombs instead of 3 to get to the beam. And also 2 new damage boosts, one only save a couple frames on the way to Parasite Queen and one during the Escape. A new method of getting out of bounds was also found for the Escape. All these new tricks added up comes out to a couple of seconds of potential timesave.

Landing on Tallon up to Morph Ball was where I first ran into desync issues, this was the point in the run were I decided finishing by any means was better than stopping due to desyncs. The movie after this point will likely never sync properly.

After Morph Ball is the first “TAS-only” thing in this run, where I collect an early Power Bomb expansion by loading in Magma Pool just high enough for Samus to touch the item, but low enough to be stuck-in-the-floor, which allowed me to clip back out of bounds. Being too high and clipping inbounds here is a soft lock, there's no way out of that part in the room. This early Power Bomb allows for a free Missile expansion during the Incinerator Drone fight, as well as early X-Ray Visor shortly after.

After collecting Morph Ball Bombs, I wallcrawl to Ice Beam and then collect X-Ray, in a theoretical Varialess route, you could go do a Varialess Magmoor Run (VMR) at this point, which is still untimed due to how many things in the route it would change. In this TAS I had back to Chozo to get Varia Suit though. Wallcrawling to Flaahgra to damage the boss without triggering the fight, saving a couple seconds.

The movement after Varia Suit is to hit a trigger that activates the ghost fight to get the Artifact of Wild. Partway down Sun Tower is an invisible trigger that changes the Sunchamber roomstate. By rolling into the Spider Track a certain way then doing a frame perfect instant unmorph, I'm able to hit the trigger and jump back up, skipping the Spider Ball and Super Missile requirement for this Artifact.

In Magmoor I go out of bounds to take a more direct path to through the first couple rooms, saving something around 3 seconds if I remember right.

Things up until Boost Ball are pretty standard as far as Metroid Prime speedrunning goes. The strat used in Phendrana Shorelines was new though, it uses 2 extremely precise ghetto dashes that just barely barely make the jumps if optimized fully.

When boosting, having no analog input maintains most of speed, and each boost adds more on. Boosting is pretty much the fastest way of movement when it's an option, it takes long to build speed than damage boosting or dashes, but far exceeds their speed after just a couple boosts.

Up next is the trick we call Wave+Sun, in which you use the infinite speed glitch to collect both Wave Beam and the Artifact of Sun simultaneously. If you want to know why this trick works... that sucks, because I have no idea. I can tell you how it will act in specific situations, but why it does so? Uh, I don't know.

After leaving Phendrana I can head straight to Plasma Beam, since I've already collected Ice Beam and X-Ray visor. The strat in Geothermal Core was the old 22% strat, using an R jump and morphing into a collision seam to get stuck long enough for the ball to snap to the bomb slot. It's incredibly precise and took a lot of trial and error to make happen, needing to do it setupless to be optimal and having minimal aerial mobility after the R jump. After the cutscene I was able to bomb jump and boost up to the beam with the Spider Track, the whole point in all this was the skip raising the spinners.

Most of the rooms in Phendrana trip 2 are programmed to load the next room as you enter the current one, this means as long as I passed through the doorway optimally, and got to the other side of the room before the load finished, it's technically perfect. Progress here was pretty easy due to that, I beat the loads on the majority of rooms on the first strat I tested.

Just before collecting the Artifact of Elder, I “broke the morph ball camera” by getting it stuck in the scripted position above the little morph ball hole the tower makes. Until I hit another camera trigger or take an elevator, the morph ball camera will act weirdly and allow for instant unmorphs in places otherwise impossible. By wallcrawling out of the room, I avoid some scripted camera points, and also save around 4 seconds by skipping the elevator on the way down. The BSJ in Frozen Pike and the instant unmorph before the elevator room were only possible because of the broken camera.

At this point in the run, all that's left is Phazon Mines and a couple Artifacts in Chozo. Phazon Mines I personally think is the highlight of this run, it uses new TAS strats in most rooms, including riding Metroids to gain height and some insane BoostSJs. The amount of time save in most of these rooms compared to non-TAS is still crazy to me.

Early Newborn is a trick I found last year, in which you do a precise clip out of bounds using the Glider in Fungal Hall A. By going out of bounds, having the map on the wrong room and using infinite boosts to get through the backside of collision, it's possible to collect the Artifact of Newborn without Phazon Suit, meaning you no longer have to backtrack here later.

Omega Pirate was done in 2 pools, which is a very precise and weird TAS strat that MilesSMB theorized a couple years ago. The Omega Pirate can only take so much damage in each pool, and can only take damage while you have X-Ray Visor on. By using a Power Bomb to do a lot of damage, and then hitting a fully charged Plasma shot on the frame the damage cap is met, you can do over 50% damage in the first pool. It's multiple 1 frame inputs as well as the damage the Power Bomb does is fairly inconsistent, you need a perfect Power Bomb, to put the X-Ray Visor on on a certain frame, and to release the Plasma shot on a certain frame.

While leaving mines I do one last Metroid ride in Ore Processing and then head off to Chozo to collect the final Artifacts. This is the part of the route I don't find flows very well, the trip through Chozo is the only way to get to Lifegiver, but it takes so long. A Varialess route wouldn't have this issue.

Ridley has two phases, an air phase and a ground phase. For some reason Boost Ball does a stupid amount of damage to the air phase and instantly ends it. I use a trick to skip Ridley's flyby attack by stunning him the frame it starts, making him land immediately so I can boost. By carefully positioning myself on Ridleys ground phase, I was able to skip a round using rapid fire missiles to do additional damage after just as Ridley is about to stop being vulnerable. There's 2 frames of leeway for skipping the round.

Metroid Prime Exo can be damaged during the charging attack it does before switching colours. By getting perfect RNG on the beam changes and hitting all the snips, this fight goes by really fast. Ice and Plasma only require 2 charge shots and 2 uncharged shots to end a round and make it change beams again.

Metroid Prime Essence only takes damage to Phazon Beam, which can only be used while standing in the Phazon pools it lays... except not really. If you walk into the pool to activate Phazon Beam and then walk out, you can fire a shot without draining any Phazon from the pool. If you do this with certain timing, you can interrupt Essence's movement/attacks and cancel them out. Once you cancel enough attacks, Essence lays another Phazon pool, at this point you can drain the current pool by actually standing in it for extra damage, and then switch to the second pool and walk in and out until Essence is low enough on health for draining the pool to kill it.

There are potential route improvements out there. Nothing known to be faster yet, just some untimed theories that would require making an entire new TAS just to compare the difference to this one.

Here's the screenshot from the Youtube video: http://i.imgur.com/jJBoZoY.png And here's the Youtube video:

(Link to video)

Samsara: Hit me up, Fog, let's kill ourselves over this sync nightmare.

Samsara: I'll just start off by saying that I'm really glad that this run was finished and is available to watch in some regard. It's a standout run that everyone loves, and everything looks incredibly solid.

However, there's a major issue with the run, one that was brought up by several people in the thread, and a problem that existed even before the submission was actually made: It just doesn't sync. It doesn't sync for me, it doesn't sync for the author, it doesn't sync for anyone at all. And because of this, we can't accept or publish it. It's a shame that such a high-profile run has to be treated to this fate, and it's an even bigger shame that it isn't the first time we've had to turn down a perfectly good run for completely failing to sync, but the run syncing is the biggest requirement we have for a site submission.

Since there are a number of newcomers who may not understand why we can't accept this run, I'm going to take a second to try to explain the reasoning behind it for those who aren't at all familiar with TASes. When we judge a run, we do it via the input file, which is the actual TAS. We verify that the game is properly completed within this input file, and if it is, then we can proceed with a proper judgement. The input file in question does not properly complete the game under normal conditions. Since the game is not completed, the TAS can't be judged, which means it can't be accepted. That's the simplest explanation.

Why doesn't the input file complete the run? Because the game's RNG isn't consistent when playing under TAS conditions, which is likely a result of inaccurate emulation at the time of the run's creation. Random Number Generation being consistent, apart from technically being an oxymoron, is the entire reason that a TAS can even be made in the first place. The exact same set of inputs in a game should always lead to the exact same results happening at the exact same time, and since a TAS is an exact set of inputs, the game should play out the exact same way every time. If this does not happen on an emulator, then we know emulation needs to be improved before we can get a proper, syncing run. Obviously, this isn't happening with Metroid Prime.

So if the run doesn't sync, then why is there a video of it? Well, it technically doesn't sync in the video, either. itsPersonnal describes how the encode was made by splicing together individually TASed segments. The video only shows what the full run would look like if everything had properly synced in the input file. This is why we don't judge TASes based on provided encodes, because they're not a foolproof method of determining whether or not the TAS is legitimate.

Hopefully that should be a good enough explanation, but if anyone has any further questions, I'll be glad to answer them as well.

For my final words, I just have to be honest for a moment. I originally thought that this run should not have been submitted, but thinking about it over time I now think that it was the right decision to do so. As I said earlier, this is a standout run, a run that many people have waited years to be able to watch, a run that was the result of over a decade of research by many, many people, as well as the patience and skill of one very talented TASer. It's an incredible piece of work through and through. Submitting it ensures that it is publicized, spending the time to put together the encode ensures that people can watch it easily, and it will remain here as the gold standard of what a publishable Metroid Prime run should look like in the future. Even if it can't be accepted, it brought a lot of entertainment to a lot of people, as I'm sure it will continue to do even after this. Thank you for making and submitting the run, itsPersonnal.

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