TASVideos

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

Submission #5812: FatRatKnight's NES R.C. Pro-Am "all gold trophies" in 39:06.22

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: R.C. Pro-Am
Game version: USA PRG1
ROM filename: R.C. Pro-Am (U) (PRG1) [!].nes
Branch: all gold trophies
Emulator: FCEUX 2.2.2
Movie length: 39:06.22
FrameCount: 141005
Re-record count: 26889
Author's real name: Leeland Kirwan
Author's nickname: FatRatKnight
Submitter: FatRatKnight
Submitted at: 2018-02-01 13:29:19
Text last edited at: 2018-02-07 20:31:51
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (24935 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
... Eh? I had this run in userfiles for over a year now?!

Goals

  1. Clear 48 tracks
    • Each loop is 24 tracks. The 3rd+ loop is identical to the 2nd loop.
  2. Collect all items
    • Allowing a CPU to pick up an item for me is considered a failure for this goal.
  3. Always 1st place
    • Requires a few techniques that wouldn't be seen in standard any%

For the 48 tracks goal, this is enough to clear two loops of the game. It is otherwise an endless game that will just keep on going. I have looked over some of the speeds the rivals move at, and on the 49th track, they are identical to what is seen on the 25th track, so in terms of difficulty, things are right back to where they were then. Even on the trophy screen, clearing track 49 will replace trophy 25! By all measure other than the numeric track counter, we're back on track 25 after clearing track 48. This is therefore a natural stopping point for any TAS.

All items and always 1st place are simply chosen as a way to maximize potential differences from any%, and should this run be unacceptable for Moons, I submit that this is the closest possible of a 100% definition the game will ever reach. If it's unacceptable as a 100% goal for Vault, then I would suggest it is impossible to provide a satisfactory 100% definition that fits the Vault tier (nothing wrong with that in itself, as 100% definitions depend on the game). Besides that, several races are fastest done where the player gets 1st anyway, and would look identical to the any% run in such races where I didn't add in the "all items" restriction.

PRG1 was chosen because it happened to be the version I had available. I made no analysis into differences of version.

The "end input early" standard that TASes seem to be submitted in is done here as well. Frankly, this is not something I like to do, as I'm a believer that null input is still input, and if the game isn't done, there's still more input to the game. One reason is that ending input like this makes track 48 end humorously (although whether anyone's left who's still engaged in watching this TAS is another question). Secondly, I do not have a proper TASing set-up after a change of laptops, so I'm not able to, conveniently, adjust the input to my personal liking. I've put off submitting this run for over a year, and I'm kicking myself for having forgotten this run until now, so I'm submitting it as is before I put it off another moment for some ambiguous moment where I actually get FCEUX ready for use on this file.

Game Mechanics

Leaving the game alone for over a year doesn't do well with whatever notes I've taken or what I could remember. Still, I have these to share.

NINTENDO letters

Picking up eight of the letters will upgrade your vehicle from the truck to the van, and later the car. The power-ups are reset, but the stats generally are that the new empty vehicle is simply better than the old maxed-out vehicle. After the final upgrade to the car, the only effect of picking up the letters is a time-wasting scoring animation every 8th letter collected, but a goal is to pick up every item, including these letters, so you can see for yourself.

Top Speed

This number isn't static. In general, each upgrade gives +2 MPH to top speed, and the next vehicle (empty of any upgrades) has +2 MPH over the prior, maxed-out vehicle. There is one spot in this upgrade chain where you actually get +3 MPH instead, but it "fixes" itself by giving you +1 MPH further down the chain. While the accelerator is held, your vehicle will try to match this speed. Note that steering will reduce the top speed.

As if this wasn't enough, speed only works in blocks of 8 MPH. That is to say, going at 71 MPH is no better than traveling along at 64 MPH. When top speed is just above one of these thresholds, steering loses can very easily drop you below it, so one strategy is to try to get as much gentle steering as possible when entering and exiting each turn, so that you spend less time at the lowered speed. When top speed is just below a threshold, you are free to glare at just how close you are to it, but it also means a wider buffer for turning, as well as keeping boosted speed at an upper threshold for longer.

Also, spinning out over oil slicks locks your speed for a moment.

Steering

When attempting to turn, the vehicle will steer by either 2 units or 4, depending on the frame count (odd or even). Its momentum, on the other hand, does not change so readily, dependent on tire upgrades, the vehicle you're using, and current speed. The typical strategy is to turn as hard as you can to properly take each curve, then straighten out afterwards to restore your top speed.

The difference of facing and momentum affects top speed. The farther apart the two are, the worse the speed drop. In addition, there is a limit to how great a difference the two are allowed. If you try to steer past this limit, momentum will suddenly keep up to stay within this limit. The limit does go up the higher your current speed is, making it more difficult to use the faster momentum shift as the vehicle's speed gets upgraded.

As for the natural momentum shifts, when you're not using the limit described above, that depends on some unknown formula of speed, vehicle, and tire upgrades. The speed becomes irrelevant when the current vehicle has maximum tire upgrades, getting a fixed rate of 0.5, 1.0, or 2.0 per frame depending on vehicle. Well, more like 1/256 below each specified value, or 2/256 below the 2.0 rate, but that's a pretty small difference. The net effect is that a "gentle" steering that doesn't reduce top speed can be done at a greater rate, but it also makes it harder to use the momentum limit for the average 3.0 rate. With the final vehicle and the final tire upgrade, the 2.0 rate is still a bit too low for hairpins, yet no matter how hard I steer, because it's constantly applying that 2.0 the whole time, it takes longer to hit the limit and start enjoying the 3.0 rate.

By the way, there is no "gentle steering" control. It's just tapping left or right on the D-pad at a sparse rate, so that momentum has time to catch up to facing.

Items

The roll cages can be picked up by CPU cars. By the rules I've defined, letting them do so means I fail my goal. This sometimes means I have to go out of my way in lap 1 to get these before they do.

Bombs and missiles can be used to destroy rivals for a few moments. Apparently enough hits against any of the rivals means the orange car goes really fast. I do not know the details, just that I'm aware of the potential for any% to get races done sooner.

The power-ups, in addition to giving a permanent boost, also give a temporary speed boost. I believe the target speed is 111 MPH, just short of the 112 MPH threshold. The speed arrows set speed to 127 MPH.

Skull items are strictly disadvantageous, with zero score and you lose one ammo. It's an item. I'm still picking it up.

Final Notes

It's been way, way too long since completion of the TAS and my submission. I've forgotten too many things to give a proper analysis in my submission text, so there's some loss in information from when I finished it. Kind of upsetting, actually. I'm submitting this file without FCEUX set up on any computer I'm using, as I do not want to put off any more hours to submitting this thing already.

I do not know if this is Moons worthy. Based on distant memories, the CPUs don't give an appreciable challenge to the TAS in the first half, but start to become more interesting in the second half. If not, consider if the goals presented fit well enough as a 100% requirement of Vault.

Lastly, for anyone working on any%, this TAS should give a fairly decent starting point for how quickly the player can get 1st place. Well, I do pick up every item, so perhaps a second or two can be cut off for skipping useless pick-ups. As well, you may want my script to get at some information. Even if this run doesn't make it, knowing whether the player or the orange car can finish 1st faster will still be very good to know without having to run two passes of each track.


ThunderAxe31: Claiming for judgment.

ThunderAxe31: This is an interesting case. In this game there are 24 unique tracks that loop endlessly, and the difficulty increases only once after finishing the first loop, so any race after the 48th doesn't feature any new content or harder challenge; the awards screen does also reflect this, since it features a maximum of 48 trophies. So beating the 48th race is clearly the completion point for this game.

While this run is enough entertaining to be accepted for the Moons tier, I have to note that its goal is also applicable for Vault, as full game completion: in this game, a race counts as beaten as long as you don't get last place, and in most cases getting 1st place is slower due to the game mechanics. However, every time the player is placed 1st, a gold trophy is awarded instead of a silver or a bronze one; for this reason, getting 1st in all races fits the "maximum points" criteria for Vault. Instead, getting all items is considered as a speed/entertainment tradeoff, since a run that ignores getting all items could still obsolete this run. For these reasons, I'm renaming the branch for this submission to "all gold trophies".

Accepting for Moons as full game completion.

feos: Pub.


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