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

Submission #5392: zk547's Arcade Metal Slug 3 in 24:27.8

Console: Arcade
Game name: Metal Slug 3
Game version: World
ROM filename: mslug3.zip
Emulator: FBA-rr 005a
Movie length: 24:27.8
FrameCount: 88068
Re-record count: 4527
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: zk547
Submitter: zk547
Submitted at: 2017-02-13 10:44:54
Text last edited at: 2017-02-26 17:29:58
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (23532 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:

Game objectives

  • Aims for fastest time
  • Uses 2 players
  • Plays at Hardest difficulty
  • Does not abuse death or use continues
  • Manipulates Luck

About this run

This TAS was initially started in late 2011, even before my Metal Slug 7 TAS was started and when FBA-rr 005a was the most recent version. The frustrating nature of the emulator and demotivating sections in the run made me put this on hold numerous times. The first 4 missions were completed over a span of 2 years, from 2011 to 2013, before I decided to TAS Metal Slug 7 instead. After my Metal Slug 7 run was finished in 2014, I worked on mission 5, getting all the way to the first Rootmars battle. At that point, I lost motivation and the run was put on hold for 2 years. It wasn't until HappyLee brought it up in forums and encoded my WIP when I was inspired again to finish the run.

This run manages to beat x2poet's run by 9705 frames or 2:41.75. The re-record count is highly inaccurate, the real count is most likely closer to around 300000. I often used multiple files due to the unstable nature of FBA-rr. Improvements come from using new strategies, using new tricks/glitches, and optimizing everything better.

Weapon Damage Data

  • Pistol: 10
  • Melee attack (knife, kick): 30
  • Grenade: 100 (the smoke can do 1 or 2 damage to certain enemies depending on how close it is to the target)
  • H: 10
  • L: 8 per 2 frames (1 bullet consumed every 4 frames)
  • R: 30 (the smoke can do 10 damage to certain enemies)
  • D: 30 (the smoke can do 1 damage to certain enemies)
  • I: 30 (the smoke can do 10 damage to certain enemies)
  • C: 30 (the smoke can do 10 damage to certain enemies)
  • G: 100 (the smoke can do 50 damage to certain enemies)
  • F: There are two parts: the "main" flame and the "side" flame. The "main" flame does 20 damage per 2 frames while the "side" flame does anywhere from 0-5 damage per 2 frames. The "side" flame damage depends on how much it covers the enemy. The "main" flame can hit an enemy a maximum of 13 times for a damage of 260. The total max damage you can do with F is 314.
  • S: 200
  • Firebomb: 80 (The smoke of the firebomb can do 15 damage to other enemies that are close to the intended target)
  • Mobile Satellite: 10
  • Zombie's blood: 100 per 2 frames.
  • Slug Vulcan: 10
  • Slug Cannon/Missile: 200
  • Slug Attack: 400
Note: Big weapons do the same damage as normal weapons in this game.


Turnaround Cancel:

While crouching, when you attack, you can immediately turn around and do something else. For certain weapons, you can immediately turn back around and attack again. This cancels the delay between time you fire a weapon once and the time you can fire again, allowing you to fire at a much faster rate. This can also be done with grenades and melee attacks. However, when doing this with melee attacks, you must wait 2 frames before turning around to cancel the attack animation, but it is still faster than just crouching and attacking.

Faster F:

If you get a new F right after you finish using up all of another F, you can fire 2 shots of F within a few frames. It seems that if all you do is fire F, then you can fire the second shot just 2 frames after the first shot. For some reason, if you crouch, throw a bomb, or try to use turn around cancel, the rate you can fire F becomes slightly slower (have to wait about 4~6 frames), but it goes back to being just 2 frames after some time. This does not work when you try to go from big F to normal F.

Faster H:

Although H already auto fires multiple bullets at a fast rate, it is actually possible to fire H at an even faster rate. This is done by pressing fire once, waiting 4 frames, pressing fire and down once, turnaround immediately, and firing again back in the original direction. By doing this, every other bullet that is fired will actually be two overlapping bullets, resulting in a faster H.

Faster Vulcan:

For some slugs, it is possible to use the vulcan in a way such that some of the bullets will overlap, allowing you to fire slightly faster. The easiest way to do this is to simply press fire on the first frame where the slug will fire 5 additional bullets (so the first bullet with overlap with the last bullet from the previous round). This trick works with the Metal Slug, but I'm not sure about other slugs.


Whenever you fire L once, 4 shots are fired with each shot doing 16 damage. However, at the end of the 4th shot, the laser lingers and does an additional 16 damage. This means that you get 16 damage for free without using any L bullets. This can be abused by pressing fire at specific timings and makes L effectively have 250 bullets, rather than 200 as shown in the screen. The easiest way to do this is to simply press fire on the first frame where L will do an additional 80 damage. Pressing too early will cause the laser to only do an additional 64 damage.

Instant kill on Allen/Hairbuster Riberts:

When fighting Allen in Mission 5, if you manage to destroy a truck while it's overlapping with his ship, he will take infinite damage and will die from just a single shot. Doing this saves a lot of time and is one of the main improvements over x2poet's run.

Screen scrolling to make enemies disappear:

Some enemies can be made to disappear by manipulating the screen position at specific times. This allows me to not only save time, but also weapon ammo and bombs.

Other Things to Note

  • Most of the time, jumping is faster than walking. There are a few cases where walking is better than jumping
  • Whenever you enter a new area (whether you descend from a parachute at the beginning of a mission or walk in from the left) it is faster to hold right for 2 frames before jumping.
  • The rng in this game is determined by your inputs. Any input you make (even simple actions like holding right for 2 frames) can change the rng. Against bosses, the boss' current HP also seems to affect the rng.

Stage by stage comments

Mission 1

Part 1

I used a bomb at the beginning to kill two crabs so that Marco and Fio could continue jumping uninterrupted. Two bombs are all that are needed to destroy the crab house, but they have to thrown at a specific time because the crab house is invincible until you get pretty close (x2poet threw bombs at a bad time and ended up wasting 4 extra bombs). At the warehouse entrance, I use a single bomb to kill each pair of crabs from the top faster so that Marco and Fio could focus on killing the ones from the bottom faster. In general, I tried to get better use out of H to kill the crabs faster so that I could have optimal movement. I also used G sparingly so that I could have more shots left going into the next part.

Part 2

The piranhas have 100+hp so I had to use a single shot of G on them to kill them fast before I could use 2 shots to destroy the can. A single bomb and a few H bullets were all that were needed to kill each group of small crabs before the first giant crab. I had to use a bomb on the second giant crab because I ran out of G (even if I had one more shot left, I couldn't hit the crab because I was too high) and in order to keep moving optimally. I also picked up the C from the second giant crab because it is useful against the next giant crabs and the boss. The third and fourth giant crabs were both killed efficiently by using bombs and weapons optimally.

Boss: Huge Hermit

I decided to have Fio use D against the boss because I can do more damage with it than H before I get into the slugnoid. With Marco, I had him slowly walk toward the second slugnoid while using C and throwing bombs. Doing this, I was able to do more damage to the boss faster before using the slugs than x2poet was able to do in his run. Once I started using the slugs, it was a matter of using cannons and vulcan and then crashing them to finish off Huge Hermit.

Mission 2

I managed to kill the first horde of zombies faster by using more bombs optimally, which also helped Marco and Fio clear the area without having to stop. When Marco obtained the extra bombs, Fio had to delay moving for a few frames because if she jumped right away, she would get hit from the fat zombie. At the part where you fight the helicopters, the screen can be scrolled earlier if you wait to kill some of the enemies that come later. Waiting to kill them makes the game think you killed the last enemies that had to be killed before the screen scrolls. The rest of this mission was improved by optimizing everything better.

Boss: Monoeyes & The Ten Commandments of Moses

Not much different from x2poet's run. Each pair of aliens is killed with a single use of the zombie's blood and the beacon was destroyed quickly with six shots of the zombie's blood (three from each player).

Mission 3

Part 1

I decided not to use bombs against the first wall because they are better used in the late parts. At the part where I got the 2nd extra bombs, I had Marco destroy one of the falling tanks so that both players can swim forward without having to wait for the whole line of tanks to fall first. At the entrance to the next part, if you wait to press right at a specific time, the players will enter the hole right away instead of doing the slow turn-around animation that happens when you hold right, which saves a few frames.

Part 2

When destroying the first tank, Marco is able to go through the tank while it's in its "getting-destroyed" animation (Fio isn't because the tank gets destroyed too fast). I use a bomb to destroy the missiles because waiting for them to fly up takes too much. I also used some bombs against the 2nd tank in order to destroy it faster. At the end, I had Marco pick up the last extra bombs in order to balance out the number of bombs for both players before the boss.

Boss: Jupiter King

When Jupiter King shoots the missiles I have Marco destroy them with H while Fio continues hitting the boss with the big L because the big L does more damage to the boss (and the point is to destroy the boss fast, not the missiles) and the H is able to handle the missiles without any help. I also manipulated one of the blue missiles to drop extra bombs (the boss shoots only one blue missile during this phase). This was crucial because it allowed me to destroy the boss before it threw the giant missile on the ground, saving me a lot of lag frames.

Mission 4

Part 1

Both trucks are invincible when they first appear and won't start taking damage until you get close to them (x2poet attacked both trucks too early, wasting weapon ammo and bombs). After the second truck, I decided to bomb my way through the tanks in order keep moving optimally. This was made possible because I had extra bombs saved from not attacking the trucks when they were invincible.

Part 2

It is not necessary for Marco to get fat, it only wastes time. I used bombs at beginning of this part to kill the man-eater plants fast in order to get the screen to scroll faster. I decided to get C later in this area because it is helpful for killing the mosquitoes faster and makes the rest of the area faster (and allows me to skip the prisoner that gives H, which is much less useful). The strategy at the end is simple, use F for the mosquitoes that fly in and bombs for the plants that walk in from the side. I could've thrown bombs to the right earlier than I did to kill the plants faster, but doing that releases the prisoner that gives L off screen so I had to intentionally delay throwing bombs to the right.

Boss: Sol Dae Rokker

The L-trick becomes very useful here because combined with optimal F shots, I'm able to destroy the boss without needing an extra L from the first prisoner. I optimized shooting F by making sure to always get 6 hits with F to deal at least 120 damage (this is the max number of hits you can get with F on the boss). There was a moment in the middle where I had bad rng and had to settle for getting only 5 hits with and delaying L for 3 frames in order to get the boss to do what I wanted it to do.

Mission 5-1 (Start to Morden)

Part 1

I managed to get the enemy planes to spawn at better locations so that I could destroy them faster. For the last pair of planes, I manipulate them to fly to the center and then destroy them quickly with the slug missile/bomb.

Part 2

For some reason, destroying all the trucks at once by destroying the truck in the front saved some frames. I crash both slugs against the first helicopter to destroy it faster because I don't need them for the rest of the part. When Fio gets the H, I try to use it sparingly because I need some ammo for the next part. Right before the mini-boss, I don't destroy the last truck because I need it to exploit a glitch against the mini-boss.

Mini-boss: Allen / Hairbuster Riberts

There is a glitch against Allen where if you manage to destroy a truck while it's overlapping with his ship, he will take infinite damage and will die from just a pistol shot. I knew about it earlier from one-player runs, but I wasn't sure if it could be done in two player. Fortunately, I managed to find a way to do it. The pistol shots Marco fired beforehand were done to manipulate the boss to come over to the truck. After destroying the truck, I had to hit the ship with H to make the soldier shooting the missile disappear quickly and make Allen appear faster. The pistol can't reach the soldier so I could only use H. I could've waited a little bit before killing Allen in order to get extra bombs from a motorcycle soldier, but this costs 180~190 frames and is not worth it.

Part 3

A short part. I kill all the soldiers with Fio's H because I want Marco to have all 200 bullets of H available for the next mini-boss.

Mini-Boss: Fake General Morden

I had to delay shooting with Marco by 18 frames at the start in order to manipulate him to go low so that Fio could throw all her bombs at him while using turnaround-cancel. I do this at the beginning because I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to do it later, which turned out to be the right thing to do. I originally had planned to have both Fio and Marco stay on the platform, but it became nearly impossible to throw bombs fast, because I have to hit the ship since hitting Morden himself doesn't do any damage. Morden sometimes doesn't take damage from bullets too. I had to let two of Marco's H miss at one point because of bad luck, I couldn't manipulate him to stay low all the time, though even if I had better luck, I'm not sure if I could've manipulated him to come down again like I did. There are I think 2~3 times where I had to delay shooting with one character to properly manipulate Morden. Though having 19 more grenades and having Marco stay on the platform to use faster H and then turnaround-canceled pistol allowed me to save a lot of time. Note: For some reason, if you have two players, you can jump once with Tarma after Marco gets kidnapped. This is not possible with one player.

Mission 5-2 (Space Action)

Part 1

At the start of this part, I managed to manipulate one of the mini ufo's to go away, saving a missile. I use almost all of my missiles and throw away Tarma's rocket slug to destroy all of the mini ufo's fast before the meteorites. Destroying the last few blue meteorites before the giant meteorites also saves a few frames. I get two S's for the Fio since with the rocket slug, she can fire S faster than normal and an L for Tarma so that the mini-boss can be manipulated easier. I decided to let the rocket slug get hit once by the giant meteorite so that I can aim the S better instead of having it alternate left-right.

Mini-boss: Three UFO's

I manipulate all the aliens to drop bombs and get 99 bombs for Tarma and 20 missiles for Fio. This is one of the few parts where the run loses frames compared to x2poet's run, but more time is saved later. Because I only have one rocket, I use bombs to destroy the last UFO quickly.

Part 2

Inside the mothership, I destroy some enemies to spawn the next group of enemies quicker. The first wall must be destroyed as fast as possible to spawn the mini ufo's as soon as possible. After the first wall, I throw Fio's rocket against the first pair of mini ufo's to destroy them fast. I used one grenade later because there was an opportunity to do damage to three of them at once and I only had pistol and H. By not having any rockets, I can get L from the ufo's which is useful for the next part. The second wall only has to be destroyed fast enough (required a minimum of 2 bombs). If you take too long, you have to fight three extra aliens (one of them gives H, which is useless) before the group of five (that gives one L). It was best if the rest of the walls were destroyed as fast as possible. However, destroying the last 4 walls as fast as possible only saved a few frames and took a lot more bombs, so it was best to just use L.

Mission 5-3 (Inside the Mothership - Rescuing Marco)

Part 1

Using the L-trick allowed me to have more than enough L to use in this part. The 3rd hoop-shooting bot can be skipped by screen scrolling to the left at the right time. I decided to give both F to Tarma while keeping L for Fio because most of the aliens after can be skipped with screen scrolling ( the ones that are fought cannot be skipped) and the bots don't take that much longer to destroy with F and L because F can't do full damage to them. I can also take advantage of the weapons that come out later while still having plenty of F for the next parts. When fighting the hoop shooting bots, I used F twice on each bot, getting 10 hits for each bots and using L to finish them off. I had to use one grenade on the last bot in order to destroy it fast enough for player 2 to get R before it disappeared.

Part 2

I used R and a shot of F to kill the first few aliens fast so that I could destroy the last alien and the computer fast. I have Fio fire two shots with the pistol at the end to manipulate a few things for the next part.

Part 3

I manipulate the alien walker that drops weapons to drop L for Fio (Other choices are D and C). The first giant walker and the bot after can be skipped by screen scrolling at the right time. Although the bot gives the mobile satellite, which is helpful for preventing the giant walkers from moving, it also has 800 hp and L is better to use against the last giant alien walkers and Rootmars1 (the L trick was used to save enough ammo for all of those enemies). A single F shot is all that is needed at the end for the door to Rootmars, using L or bombs takes way too much time.

Mini-boss: Rootmars Round 1

I don't need to manipulate an extra L because it's not necessary for the next part so I just destroy Rootmars as fast as possible. I make sure to always get 7 hits with F on Rootmars (this is the max number of hits you can get with F on the boss). There's a small trick against rootmars1 where if you jump at the right time when rootmars is defeated, you'll get pulled to the right side, so you'll leave the screen earlier, which saves some frames.

Part 3

The bombs that I had saved up to now finally come into use. The metal slug is used to help fight the giant alien walker since it can deal more damage to it than L. After destroying the walker, it becomes useless as the cannon and vulcan are too slow against the hoop shooting bots. The hoop shooting bots also have a lot less HP when you engage them without being inside a slug (huge decrease from 1600HP to 750HP). I obtain R and C from the first few bots to use against the next bots. The bots from the left were manipulated to drop two big S, which are very useful for the next parts. The weapons dropped by the bots are determined by the actions you do right before they appear. At the end, I obtain the big F for Tarma, which will be useful for the final boss

Part 4

When destroying the bubble, I used some big F along with bombs and S even though the big F only does 65 damage. This because after I throw 2 bombs, I have to wait 8 frames before I can throw 2 more bombs so might as well use F to do some damage on frames where you can't do anything else. The bombs don't hit the bubble instantly when you throw them while crouching, but it's still faster to throw them using turn-around cancel. At the end, if you time your jump, you can land on the pathway during Marco's cutscene which results in you leaving the screen earlier and saving some frames.

Mission 5-4 (Escape)

The first two doors are best destroyed with 2 bombs and 2 shotguns (it's annoying how everything has 240 hp so a single S shot can't take them out). So I was forced to use S+knife for taking care of some of the zombies. At the part where I get the 2nd F, if you delay scrolling the screen and kill the extra clone, you can get extra bombs. This ended up only costing about 15 frames, so it was totally worth it. At the 3rd door, if you lure a clone near it and throw the slugnoid close enough to the door while overlapping the clone, you can destroy all three bubbles (?) of the door, the clone comes too late for this trick to be useful. This is because the timings of the clones spawning were thrown off when I delayed screen scrolling to get the extra bombs. Changing the time of when I killed the previous clones didn't affect when the next ones spawned. So I decided to use a single cannon and 2 bombs to destroy the top bubble and then just crashed the slug noid at the earliest frame possible to destroy the bottom two bubbles. For the final hoop shooting bots, F is really not suited to fighting them, but I don't think using only bombs is correct. Using the rebel slug cannons for the first two bots ended up only being about 10 frames slower, but saved me 10 bombs so I decided to use it.

Final Boss: Rootmars Round 2

The cannon smoke does 50 damage to Rootmars and only costed a few frames (2 for Tarma, 5 for Fio), so I decided to use them once before exiting out of the metal slugs. There is a spot around Rootmars' nose where I can easily switch between using a weapon and using knife. Even though the knife speed is slower, this was still faster than using just knife (although it created a lot of lag frames). There is also a safe spot by the left stitch where I can stand and avoid getting hit by the ring. I manipulate 2 F's and 2 G's from the 4 red balls that are shot during the fight. I had Tarma get the first F right away for just 15 additional bullets because I found that he'll run out of F around the time the 3rd red ball is available, so I can either initiate the faster F or start using G. The 2nd F is used to initiate the faster F trick for Fio, which does a lot of damage to Rootmars over a small period of time. For the last two red balls, I decided to use G because Rootmars doesn't have much HP remaining by then and G is faster at dealing damage over a short period of time (and it also creates less lag). At the end, Tarma stopping a little early didn't waste any time. At the time Tarma stopped, Rootmars had 292 HP remaining, so I would've had to fire 2 shots of G regardless of what Tarma did. So I had Tarma wait a little bit to set up a nice ending shot (see suggested screenshot below).

Possible Improvements

Despite the large improvement over x2poet's run, this run is still far from perfect. Many of the tricks were discovered when I was far into the run and couldn't be implemented in the earlier parts of the run. A good amount of frames can be saved with less lag, but that might just require a better emulator. Some specific things/ideas:
  • The faster H and faster Vulcan tricks can used to save time in earlier missions (mission 1, 3, and 4).
  • I noticed that the last cannon shot from the Slug Noid against Huge Hermit (mission 1 boss) wasn't optimized well. Unfortunately, I didn't notice it until way later in the run. I think 20~30 frames could be saved there.
  • In mission 3, there's most likely a better strategy such that Marco doesn't have to wait for bombs from the last tank right before the boss. It might be better to give one of the earlier bombs to Marco instead of Fio so that Marco can go the right earlier which would save some frames. Maybe Fio should pick up the bullets earlier in the mission and be the one to use H and Marco should be the one to use big L.
  • In the first part of mission 4, I used bombs to destroy some enemies after the 2nd truck so that Marco and Fio could continue jumping uninterrupted. It might be better to save those bombs for the next part and walk a few frames and jump over those enemies.
  • In the second part of mission 4, I initially took the C in mission 4 because I thought I had to save more F shots for the boss and it was useful for killing enemies quickly. Turns out that L-trick was a lot more useful than I initially predicted and I only needed 31 shots. Thanks to the L-trick, I think it might be better to skip the C and use more F + H + bombs to kill the enemies. It might also be worth trying take R to this part, which might be better than using H.
  • At the beginning of mission 5, it might be better to throw the slugs earlier to destroy the last pair of planes faster and use pistol + bombs to destroy the first helicopter in the next part. The helicopter will drop bombs when you engage it without any slugs. When I tried testing using pistol + bombs on the helicopter much later, I came out 5 bombs ahead of this run after destroying the helicopter.
  • In the same part of mission 5, after destroying the first helicopter, it might be faster to destroy the two trucks afterward to initiate the next phase faster. I always thought the next phase started at the same time regardless of whether the trucks were destroyed or not.
  • I just recently learned that the first 3 hoop shooting bots after Rootmars1 (before the ones that drop the big S) can also be potentially be skipped by screen scrolling to the left at the right time. If all 3 of them can be skipped, this would save a lot of bombs and time.
  • I had 12 bombs left going into Rootmars2, but I think those bombs are better used in some of the earlier sections. I didn't use any bombs in the earlier sections because I had no idea how the rest of the run would turn out.
  • Some of the boss battles (Sol Dae Rokker (mission 4 boss), Morden, UFO's, and Rootmars2) can probably be improved with better luck manipulation.

I think with a better emulator and the improvements listed above, a TAS of this game can potentially go sub-24.


  • x2poet, for his TAS of this game.
  • Many thanks to mtvf1 for his lua scripts, helping me plan out the later parts of the run, giving me important information, and discovering many new tricks for the Metal Slug series.
  • HappyLee, for his old 1 player TAS of mission 1 (a few ideas in my run were taken from his run), encoding my WIP to inspire me to finish the run, and joining in the discussion for strategies in the last parts of the final mission
  • Anyone who followed the discussion on the forum, followed my WIP's, and was patient enough to wait 6 years for this TAS to finally be completed.
  • Everyone who made the effort to encode my run, going through the nightmarish process of getting it to sync. Much appreciated.

Suggested Screenshots

Nach: Very nice improvement, good audience response, accepting.

feos: Switching to win7x64 kept desyncing, then I started saving states randomly and manually split the avi, and it decided to sync. One more thing though. I was also listening to Keith Apicary – Neo Geo Song (2600 Remix by James Brady), so that must have been the actual solution. Publishing...

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