Mothrayas' Gomola Speed in 12:45.34
- Emulator used: BizHawk 1.11.7
- Aims for fastest time
- Manipulates luck
- Takes damage to save time
About the game
Gomola Speed is an action/puzzle PC Engine game, released in 1990 in Japan by UPL. Its gameplay is described as a cross of Snake, Flicky, Qix, and Gauntlet - you control a cyber-worm's head, have to collect segments to increase your worm's length, use it to encircle spheres of "food", and then reach the exit while dodging enemies along the way. This is done over the course of 25 Acts which throw several kinds of enemies, mazes, keys, power-ups, and bosses into the mix.
Besides the power of eight-directional movement and up to 9 segments trailing it, the player character (called "Gorm" in the game's credits) also has a run button that multiplies its speed (which is held down through almost the entirity of the run) and the ability to drop bombs.
Tricks and notes
Notes about Gorm:
- Gorm is a one-hitpoint wonder. If the head is hit by an enemy, he dies immediately. However, if a tail segment is hit, he does not die, but the segment (and any further tail segments) are detached from Gorm. This usually costs time, because one or more segments will have to be re-collected, but sometimes it is still faster than an (even slower) alternative.
- Gorm moves at 2px/f straight, 1.5px/f diagonal, and 3px/f & 2.25px/f when the run button is held.
Notes about bombs:
- Bombs' first functionality is to stun enemies (rather than outright defeating them). After stunning an enemy, it is motionless and harmless and can be removed by encircling it (which also nets a point bonus). While stunning enemies is useful in some instances, removing them is never done because it is a waste of time.
- Bombs' second functionality is to serve as a lure for enemies. When an enemy spots a bomb, often it will be attracted towards it until the bomb explodes and stuns it. This is useful in several circumstances. If you see me drop a bomb and it is scrolled off-screen before exploding, or it doesn't seem to have a particular purpose, it usually is laid for this reason.
- Bombs are laid at the hind segment of the worm. This means that with a particularly long worm, if you want to lay down a bomb somewhere, you actually need to go there and continue on moving until the hind segment reaches that position.
- Up to 3 bombs can be on screen at once.
- Bombs despawn if they are scrolled off screen.
- Bomb explosions can kill Gorm or detach segments if they are hit by them.
- There is a power-up, introduced in Act 11, that when encircled by Gorm replaces the bomb with an explosive projectile (designed for use in the boss battles). However, I never actually use these, because the projectile is limited to one instance on screen at once rather than the bombs' three, and because it takes time to collect it.
General run notes:
- Besides collecting all food, it is also necessary to collect all segments in every stage. Collecting all foods opens the exit, but it won't actually do anything if you try to enter it without having all segments.
- Collecting food triggers a point bonus which freezes the screen for a few seconds. Because of this, it is generally fastest to collect all food together and then collect it all at once, so that the bonus only appears once.
- Encircling only works when at least 4 tail segments are attached, and the head must touch the rear piece to form a closed circle. The encirclement detection isn't always perfect - sometimes it catches a food that touches a segment but on the outside of the circle, and sometimes it does not catch a food inside the circle (usually with very tight or oddly shaped circles).
- Luck manipulation note: there is not a lot of room for luck manipulation, though there is some. Changing the RNG mostly depends on having enemy AI do different things, and sometimes being in a different position at a certain frame also affects some segment or food's movement. Delaying frames before entering a level sometimes also does something, but it often takes a lot of frames just to make any difference happen. Because of this, it's not always possible to get an optimal outcome as far as random food or segment movement is concerned, because attempts to manipulate it better often just take too much time and end up slower in the end.
- The first act is a single screen with a few small enemies and plenty of room to maneuver about and get familiar with the action.
- Because all the foods and segments are spread around the room more or less evently, that already presents a challenge to route collecting all 9 segments and 4 foods as fast as possible.
- Every time an action is done for the first time, like collecting a segment or enclosing a food, a tutorial message appears explaining briefly what is happening. Since in Act 1 you do these basic things for the first time, that means it takes some time to process all the messages here. There will be a few more of these later on but they are few and far between.
- You'll notice I push all food together before collecting them. This is to avoid getting more bonus messages than needed. You'll see me do this in a lot of places.
- Another open room, larger this time, with a lot of segments and foods to pull together.
- This stage introduces a key and a treasure gem. I intentionally avoid all treasures, because collecting one shows a tutorial message wasting several seconds. (Later treasures would still waste a second or two upon collection, but we never get this desperate).
- Collecting the key and going to the right side of the stage opens up some more rooms with enemies and an alternate exit, which results in a different Act 4. arandomgameTASer's WIP did this, but it just costs way too much time and just going through the bottom left exit is much faster.
- This singe-screen stage has a floor gimmick, where encircling a piece of floor will "destroy" it and sometimes reveal something underneath. In ths particular stage, the foods are hidden in one tile this way (as are some bonuses and enemies). What tile the foods are under is fixed; so the objective here is to get the minimum number of segments to be able to encircle a tile, encircle the foods tile, collect the rest of the segments during the delay before the food becomes active, and then collect it all before going to the exit.
- This is where difficulty starts ramping up in this game. Paths become tighter, enemies harder to dodge, and segments and foods harder to reach.
- These enemies usually target Gorm, but are slow at turning. I use this to dodge them in fanciful ways.
- I briefly bump into a wall in the northwestern area in order to manipulate the enemy into walking the other way.
- This is the first boss battle act (other boss battles are at acts 11, 16, 20, and 25).
- The foods are all in a relatively narrow room which makes it hard to place them all together in the middle because the walls get in the way a lot. This double circling motion ended up being the most effective way to go about it. With other strategy ideas, one or more foods would get stuck against the wall without a quick way to get them out to encircle them.
- This boss is defeated by stunning it with a bomb, and then encircling its five orbiting sphere-things to destroy it. (Bombing an enemy leads to another tutorial message, which appears here as this is the first time I did it).
- I delay several frames right before the end in order to manipulate luck for the next stage. It looks slow, and is slow, but it still saves time to prevent the first segment in the next act from moving in the opposite direction.
- The reason I get the segment in the left corridor first is because I need 4 segments to be able to collect the foods in the top right corner. The rest of the stage is just a maze-y but linear route, collecting the yellow key in order to collect the red key in order to reach the exit.
- I get hit by the blue enemy in the middle of the stage because it is stuck in its pattern of moving around left and right and it wasn't possible to change its timing of doing that. Because of the narrow passage and length of the snake, losing one tail piece was unavoidable without waiting for a substantially longer time.
- I need to reach the exit with a precise positioning to avoid grabbing the key and losing a few seconds on that.
- The enemies that extend from the wall are quite annoying, and I need to take weird zigzagging routes along the way in order to avoid having the tail hit by them while pushing the food forward. On top of that, they also cause lag.
- I use the downtime while waiting for a bomb to explode to collect the spheres without losing time on the circling action.
- I trigger the last wall enemy at a precise moment so that it is retracted right when I am going for the exit. Otherwise, it'd hit Gorm.
- This is the second boss act, and the act in which the fire powerup is introduced. However, you won't see it here in the run, because it takes far too long to get the powerup. Instead, I just go straight for the segments, then go back to the boss room to stun it with a bomb instead. This time, the boss itself needs to be encircled rather than its segments surrounding it, but it goes down quickly either way.
- This is a stupidly long stage, filled with a lot of twisting corridors padding the length greatly.
- I take damage again, from one of the disappearing sphere enemies. These move in a fixed pattern, and with a sufficiently long pattern, it is not possible to avoid getting hit by it even if it is going in the opposite direction.
- On the second part with these spheres, I delay and take a precise route in order to get past them without getting hit at all.
- Back to a single-screen stage again, a nice change of pace after the extremely large previous one.
- Though the treasures seem harmless, they are such large timesinks that I still have to avoid them like they're instant death traps. This made getting the foods together a bit tricky.
- This is a confusing stage. The small corridors on the left, top and bottom edges (not the right one, oddly) are actually invisible warps that send you to a different part of the stage (which is preset for each warp). The one on the top sends Gorm to the bottom left region, the one on the left sends Gorm to the top right region, the one on the bottom sends Gorm to an enclosed area in the bottom right region, which has an invisible warp that sends Gorm back to the top left starting position. As confusing as it is, the route to go for in the end is reasonably unambiguous.
- This is a painful act with a lot of large enemies blocking the pathway, and I have to go through that area back and forth and also collect a bunch of food along the way.
- I only collect half of the segments first, to be able to encircle the foods up ahead while still being short enough to be able to dodge the enemies.
- To make things a little easier, I use a few bombs to block the tall vertical-moving enemies.
- Another boss act. This is the first boss that is not defeated by being stunned and encircled, but takes ordinary damage until its hitpoints are depleted instead. This boss has 40 hit points, and a bomb can deal up to 6 hits.
- Bosses have mercy invincibility while they are being hit for a few frames, so optimally bombs are laid with a bit of a delay between them.
- The boss pattern of staying invincibile for a set time before opening up their weak spot dovetails well with the bombs' explosion delay and limit of 3 bombs on screen at once. This means that I can do up to 18 damage in ideal circumstances.
- Due to the boss' motion pattern, he gets in the way for the final bomb and I can only do 17 damage that time. However, that still means I get to do enough to kill him in in three phases, doing 17, 18, and 5 damage each phase to deal the 40 required.
- I collect the segments in this stage after the boss explosion opens the exit. This is still faster than collecting the segments first and then doing the boss battle. Oddly, leaving and re-entering the stage causes the boss to respawn, although the exit remains open. The boss helpfully goes out of the way to let me in the exit, though.
- Another single-screen stage. Unlike the similar Act 3, there are no foods under the ground here, only enemies. Thus, it's a simple matter of collecting all segments and pulling all foods together as usual.
- Another very long act (only slightly shorter than act 12), and a confusing one as well.
- All the diagonal corridors made this stage hell to optimize. Diagonal corridors are tricky.
- This stage also has several breakable blocks (which are hard to spot unless you look very closely). Having to bomb all of these takes a lot of time too.
- The middle room was tricky even though I had some free time after placing the bomb in it. Both enemies would fire projectiles at me and I would have to dodge both of them while also still encircling all the foods and still reaching the upper area when the bomb explodes.
- All these factors combined made this one of the most annoying acts to run of the whole game.
- This is another tricky act. It is jam-packed with tall enemies that block the way a lot, which is especially bad when there are segments and foods all over the place to be collected.
- Dropping a bomb at the start to block the path of some enemies and stunning them proved to be quite helpful.
- Another boss act. The boss moves in more or less a set pattern, and has no invincibility in its pattern, which made it easy to figure out where to place the bombs. Then it's just a matter of dodging all the spheres, and collecting all the segments before the exits open.
- This boss has 50 HP, and is destroyed in 3 optimal bombing runs.
- After some of the previous acts, this one was quite a breather. I still had to do some tricky movement to get all the foods together, and had to use a bomb to get the enemy near the end to not get in the way.
- This plays like act 21, except longer. More moving foods around corridors and using bombs to manipulate enemy movement.
- The final enemy gets in the way, but its movement is fixed so I had to get around it instead.
- This stage looks similar to act 19, except with the small projectile-firing enemies instead of the bigger moving enemies. Fortunately, those didn't get into the way nearly as much.
- By moving the foods right at the start, they stay clamped together for a short while, which gives me the opportunity to get some segments and collect them all before they all go far apart from each other.
- This stage is utter madness. Combine Act 19's truckload of large enemies with an even smaller area, and add a few destroyable blocks to complicate the routing.
- I am pretty much forced to go up first and collect the segments there, because going down would just get Gorm crushed by the enemies there.
- I also place a bomb at the top destroyable block, and then scroll down until it just barely stays on screen. While waiting for it to explode, I group the foods together in the middle of the stage and collect them. Then I can go down to destroy the other block and collect the foods there. Then I have a free road to the exit of the stage.
- I place a few more bombs throughout the stage to stop enemies from moving and stun them. In fact, I lay so many that at one point every enemy in the stage is stunned, and by the end of the stage, all but one enemy are still stunned. This made the road to the exit significantly more doable without notable delays.
- This is the final boss act. The final boss has 60 HP.
- The boss' movement can only be manipulated to limited extent, being limited to just a few fixed movement patterns. These can be manipulated a bit by collecting segments at certain times. Because of the limited movement options, it wasn't possible to get completely optimal bomb damage patterns on the boss, but I got fairly close anyway (18-17-16-9). It is still better like this, than other patterns that would require taking damage or would otherwise make it impossible to drop bombs in the right places at all. This still loses only a few frames compared to a theoretical maximum bomb pattern on this stage, anyway.
- I end input when I reach the area where the exit spawns and opens up immediately (it opens up faster in the center of the tile than on the outer edge). This way, reaching the game credits is done as fast as possible, with end of input as the second highest priority.
Publisher note: the movie file has a wrong hash, which refers to a bad dump that has graphical issues with some enemies. The movie does sync with a proper dump that doesn't have these issues. Be sure to check when encoding whether the ROM is a recognised good one (green checkmark) in BizHawk.
- arandomgameTASer, for his previous WIP of this game (although I improved it by a lot), through which I discovered this game
- fsvgm777, Masterjun, Samsara, and everyone else who listened to me ramble about this game or post gfycats on IRC
- Derakon for commenting on my WIP in the topic
- You, for reading this text and watching this run!
: I must say that this is one intriguing game choice! This run has made what would've been a seemingly unusual game appear very entertaining. ...in fact, it was very entertaining as shown by the audience reaction towards this movie! It's very optimized and the entertainment is really good. Very good job, Mothrayas
Accepting this movie to Moons!