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

Submission #5877: DrD2k9 & EZGames69's NES The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner in 18:00.64

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner
Game version: USA
ROM filename: 3-D Battles of World Runner, The (U) [!].nes
Branch:
Emulator: BizHawk 1.13.1
Movie length: 18:00.64
FrameCount: 64945
Re-record count: 20603
Author's real name: Mike D & Colin
Author's nickname: DrD2k9 & EZGames69
Submitter: DrD2k9
Submitted at: 2018-03-28 02:32:11
Intended tier: Vault
Text last edited at: 2018-04-08 16:44:30
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (26738 bytes)
Status: decision: accepted
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Author's comments and explanations:

The 3-D Battles of Worldrunner

This game by (pre-Final Fantasy) Square is an attempt at a 3D title on the NES.

In a way, this game is a predecessor to the myriad of modern endless-runner games available on various platforms (primarily smartphones). One major difference is that this game (thankfully) isn't endless.

Basically you run forward while avoiding enemies, pillars, and gaps in the ground. At the end of each world is a boss battle. Stars can also be collected for bonus points.

There are eight worlds each with three to four subdivisions. These divisions are continuous with each other.

This game is probably best described as a pseudo-autoscroller. We use 'pseudo' for the following reasons:

  • Unlike a true autoscroller, the rate (and thus timing) of level progress is variable. This allows for optimization potential.
    • Even without button presses, the character will run forward and progress through the level. However, 'Up' and 'Down' on the D-pad will alter the speed at which the character runs.
    • Impacting posts that don't kill you (non-fire posts) knocks the character backwards and sometimes contain power-ups. These knock-backs will delay reaching the end of the level.

Emulator Used: BizHawk 1.13.1 (Actually both versions 2.2.2 and 1.13.1 were used to make this run. The .bk2 file will sync with either version, but will show up when being loaded as a movie made in version 1.13.1)

Temp-Encode


(Link to video)
Special Note for viewing: If the quick back and forth movement in sync with the World 1_1 music is too jittery for you, just wait a few seconds. This is the only segment in which movement is synced to the music.

General Notes

  • This video is played in Hard Mode
    • Hard-Mode is accessed via a code entered on the demo screen (not the title screen) by pressing 'B' four times then holding "Up" and "Left" while pressing start. This code is given to the player after completing the game in normal mode.
    • As a code is used to access it, and there is otherwise no visual indication that hard mode is being selected (no options screen), we recommend retaining "Hard Mode" as a branch to differentiate from any future submissions that may not utilize this feature.
    • The primary difference between normal and hard mode is the speed of the enemies movement. No new content is otherwise added (from what we can tell).
    • Interestingly, the same hard-mode code is again given to the player after completing hard mode itself. This perhaps suggests that Square either overlooked (or just didn't care about) making a different credits sequence for hard-mode, or they didn't think anyone would ever beat the game in the hard-mode and didn't bother to mess around with making a different credits sequence.
  • It is possible to jump off the tops of posts if you time things right; upon landing from a pole-hop, the character does a small bounce before running again.
    • While touching fire posts in any other way will instakill the character, he is still able to bounce off their tops.
  • It's possible to hit the death zone of a gap and a spring character at the same time. This triggers the death music and causes the rest of the level to have no music, up until you reach the boss. This is the only time you get to be free from the otherwise VERY repetitive music.
    • This glitch is performed twice in World 3. The first time kills the music. The second time replays the death music.
    • This probably would happen in any world with spring characters hovering over gaps, but is not demonstrated (nor was tested) anywhere but World 3
  • Pressing left and right at the same time causes the character to spaz out while on the ground and do a squatting pose (actually the landing sprite)when jumping, it has no other purpose other than to look ridiculous.
    • This probably would have been utilized more often in the run if it didn't also cause the character to move to the right.
  • As opposed to the previous submission of this game, we avoid collection of any stars.
    • Collecting stars stops movement for 1-5 frames and then adds further time as all collected stars are counted toward scoring at the end of each boss fight.
  • Similarly, bonus stages are avoided.
    • While they may appear to some people to move you ahead in the world, the bonus stage is instead, a separate zone after which you return back to the exact location from which you left the main world.
    • Further, the bonus zones themselves have no point other than to collect more stars, thus there is not reason to go to them.

Bosses

  • In later levels the bosses must be killed multiple times to progress.
    • Though the movement pattern between successive snakes are very close, subtle changes to character movement/actions were necessary to both prevent death and optimize the battles. Some bosses spawn midair rather than on the ground, jumping before you enter the battle allows you to get close enough to fire shots as soon as possible.
  • The "invisible" World-3 boss is not a glitch, it's simply the same color as the background and blends in.
    • The snake's silhouette and shadow can both be seen on the ground.
    • Switching to the 3D mode of the game, the snake will be always visible. (This strat is used in the current RTA world record.)
  • While the ground only moves laterally with L or R character movements during the main levels, the ground movement changes to constant lateral motion during boss fights.
    • Upon defeating a boss, the character takes a victory pose. During this pose, the game resets the ground's X-position to its default (x=0) before entering the next level. To speed up transitions between worlds, we manipulated the world position to be at this x=0 state at the moment the character enters his victory pose.
      • This can save as much as 2.1 seconds depending on the ground position when the victory pose starts.

Entertainment Notes

  • Since this game also includes a built-in 3-D mode, it would be possible to make a movie that plays the game in 3-D mode. Some vieweres might appreciate this feature if they have red/blue 3D glasses. However changing to 3D will likely cause the run to desync, and would thus need a lot of tweaking.
    • IMO(EZGames) this most likely isn't worth the effort because, red/blue 3D effects have not aged well.
    • This also results in a 'seizure inducing' visual if you're not wearing the appropriate glasses.
  • Due to the pseudo-autoscroller aspect of the main worlds, we attempted to add entertainment value wherever we could.
    • We synced movement to music in World 1
    • We often use jumping from the tops of poles to demonstrate TAS precision over a human player.
    • Enemies and Poles are often dodged with frame perfect movements.
    • We demonstrate the glitchy graphics of movement when L/R are pressed together.
    • Random goofing off between segments of boss battles.
    • Many times gaps are jumped at the last possible frame and landed on the first possible frame.

Comparisons to other submissions/runs:

  • This run clocks in at just over 18 minutes.
    • This is roughly 4 minutes faster than my(DrD2k9) previous submission of this game.
      • This time is saved primarily by foregoing the bonus stages and star gathering.
      • There are probably around 15 seconds saved through better optimization of the boss battles.
    • This run is also roughly 4.5 minutes faster than the current RTA world record (which is using normal mode, not hard mode).
      • This advantage is mostly due to boss battle optimization and the fact that no power-ups are gathered by impacting posts (which slows down the RTA run).
  • Due to the rapidity of firing during boss battles (every other frame at points), it is likely impossible for a human to replicate this submission's battles. To do so would require a turbo/autofire controller and some insanely good timing and character positioning.
    • This aspect alone demonstrates why this run is worthy of publication from a "superhuman" perspective.

Some RAM values

Address Description
50 World X-Position
5C Runner's X-Position in battle
5D Runner's Y-Position in relation to ground both in main worlds and battles
D0 Shot availability - when this is 0 the next shot can be fired (one extra shot can be buffered)
386 Boss' Head HP (each body segment has a separate HP)

Final thought: If this run is published it will be one more game completed for the TASmania project.

Suggested Screenshot


feos: Judging...

feos: First of all, it's been suggested that it's an autoscroller game. As already mentioned by the author(s), it's not. Pressing Up and Down changes your running speed, also some things can bounce you backwards. Yet I asked myself, is this game still trivial given that you hold Up and avoid touching anything? To answer that, I checked out the current RTA world record. Its first level from level start up until boss fight is slower than this run's, and the boss fight is slower as well. If even the people that have enough skill to get a speedrun world record can't beat this game's easiest level as fast as this TAS, then it's obviously not trivial.

Even if it was an autoscroller, it's never been a problem, even our Movie rules don't mention anything about autoscrollers that could disqualify them. Even things like [2141] NES Disney's TaleSpin (USA) by Thorning in 17:18.02 are fine, as long as there's at least something to optimize. So in that regard everything is good.

Second, difficulty. Movie Rules say that you can use a code to unlock the hardest difficulty. And this difficulty is objectively hard in this game, as it makes all the dodging harder, RTA or TAS, not simply changes every enemie's hitpoints. So it's acceptable.

Third, tier. No matter how hard you try to entertain, the game itself is incredibly annoying to watch unless your tastes are strange enough to like the same short music loop (consisting of basically the same melody) being played for 20 minutes straight, identical levels consisting of the checkerboard scrolling for 20 minutes, and gameplay where all you need to do it run left and right and jump on the pillars for 20 minutes. Bosses add some so-called variety, but not when you get rating like this:

tl;dr: Vault.

Fourth, what do we do with "fuller" kinds of completion for this game? Extra stages have been agreed to be fine, as we do indeed consider "all levels" full completion in some cases. But regarding stars, it is known that you can't collect them all, and also that they don't do anything useful, don't even generate any reward other than score. The manual says: "Catch as many of these as you can. They're worth extra points". Interestingly, stars are the cheapest item in the game, it grants you the least amount of points! http://files.tasvideos.org/2095/pics/WorldRunnerManualScore.png So they are officially and objectively useless, for normal play as well as for a TAS.

Quoting Vault Rules:
Maximum points or score is allowed as a full-completion category, provided that:
  • There is no better way of defining full completion in the game.
  • The maximum score is easily defined and absolute - it must not be possible to gain a higher score, even theoretically. It must be definable without being dependent on precise time, speed, or similar requirements.
  • The maximum score is limited by not being able to gain any more points, not by hitting a score cap or overflow. If it is possible to score points infinitely, score cannot be used to define full completion.
Not that any of that is aimed for in this run, just felt like discussing it for future reference, and because there's no detailed explanation why stars don't belong to full completion for this game.

Accepting to Vault. "Hard mode" should not be in the branch, because there are no counterpart runs for this game using normal mode, and otherwise we normally don't label hard modes.


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