TASVideos

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

Submission #6248: Flip & Archanfel's Genesis James Pond II "all levels" in 26:11.26

Console: Sega Genesis
Game name: James Pond II
Game version: unknown
ROM filename:
Branch: all levels
Emulator: Bizhawk 2.2.1
Movie length: 26:11.26
FrameCount: 94154
Re-record count: 118936
Author's real name: Phil Hutchinson
Author's nickname: Flip & Archanfel
Submitter: Flip
Submitted at: 2019-01-27 17:56:16
Text last edited at: 2019-03-23 01:47:14
Text last edited by: Dacicus
Download: Download (40680 bytes)
Status: published
Click to view the actual publication
Submission instructions
Discuss this submission (also rating / voting)
List all submissions by this submitter
List pages on this site that refer to this submission
View submission text history
Back to the submission list
Author's comments and explanations:
Dr. Maybe has infiltrated Santa Claus's main toy factories, and is planting bombs disguised as penguins. Our mission is to infiltrate the workshops, and remove all the explosives. This movie saves 3049 frames over the previous publication, but now also includes the 2 extra secret levels.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: Bizhawk v2.2.1
  • Aims for fastest completion of all levels
  • Takes damage to save time

Encode

Improvements

Sections in bold have been updated since the previous submission.
Section Difference
Castle Movement -3
Extra Castle Movement +799
Level 01 -6
Level 02 -83
Level 03 -5
Level 04 -128
Level 05 -153
Level 06 -37
Level 07 -244
Level 08 -369
Level 09 -46
Level 10 -386
Level 11 -314
Level 12 -5
Secret Level 01 +4091
Secret Level 02 +4798
Level 13 -1264
Level 14 -6
(Total Improvements) -3049
Overall Difference +6639

Emulator

Bizhawk adds 1 frame to most of the loading screens, but is otherwise overshadowed by all the improvements found in the run.

Boss Battles

A boss's 100 frame invincibility timer only decreases while they're on screen, and doesn't tick if they're not currently visible. Special care was taken to make sure that we always have the boss in our sight, to remove any extra waiting which the previous TAS did not do. Note that this is does apply to the level end sequence, and so we're free to jump around once the boss is dead.

Mystery Bonus

Every 4th enemy killed drops a special bonus in the form of a pair of false teeth. Collecting these is what awards the Mystery Bonus at the end of the level, for 500 points per pickup, and annoying ~70 frames to give it to us. This was completely overlooked in the previous TAS, collecting a lot of unnecessary bonuses. Proper effort was undertook to avoid all of these, which also includes controlling which enemies actual get killed in order to make sure the bonuses never spawn in our way.

HP Management

Each HP remaining at the end of the level results in an extra 100 points, which gets awarded in addition to the base line of 1500 or 2000 point bonus. This gets transferred over to your main score at the rate of 3 frames per 200 points. This means that according to the level's base bonus, collecting an additional HP may result in a 3 frame delay to each score screen. As a result of this, storing HP early is a bad idea, and ideally we want to collect HP as late as we can. In fact, we need to make sure the trick we were saving them for does actually save a greater amount of time, as HP boosts only save at most 2 frames. Proper analysis produced improvements Across three areas. First the HP on level 01 gets skipped, as does its HP boost on level 4. Next, excess HP wasn't collected in Level 07 during the plane section. Finally, all spare HP gets used up on level 11 so we don't waste time on subsequent levels.

Movement Optimisation.

Speed Control.

Basic speed is 3, with no subpixel value to worry about. The next best thing is the subspeed value, which gets truncated but nevertheless is constantly flickering and is still a crucial variable. The subvalue will be affected by how we choose to handle slopes, and we'll want to keep it as high as possible.

Landing Boosts

When falling from a significant height, Pond will gain a quick speed boost, which can increase our speed for anywhere between 1-3 frames according to our subspeed value. More ledges have been utilised in this run, and more effort was taken to make sure we get the maximum boost possible by landing when our subvalue is highest. Note that height difference is based our initial/final height, and so constant jumping doesn't work for constant boosts.

Pathfinding

Don't be fooled by the 'flat' ground, it's anything but, especially the yellow ground. Pond reacts to all the individual nooks and crannies formed by the pixels on the floor which results in constant flickering to acceleration and produces horribly inconsistent velocities across each section. This is always annoying to predict and to optimise to full, causing tonnes of strategies to test.

Preserved Y velocity.

Landing inside tight corridors doesn't reset Y velocity, which preserves it until falling off the next ledge. This can also be achieved by trying to 'fall faster' when in vertical ascenders, which can be seen on level 05.

Level improvements

Castle Movement.

Slightly better movement when going between entrances which are located on the left hand side, and the occasional window ledge can be used to give us extra landing boosts, for 6 frames improvement total. But since we now visit two additional levels on the right hand side, there is now a huge increase to total time.

Sports World

It's 6 frames faster to jump onto the shoes and take advantage of the bumpy ground, but we need to waste 3 frames to deliberately avoid the HP. Doing so saves 3 frames on the first few levels, so it pays for itself.

Teddy World

Better initial jumps down the thin descents, and used Y Velocity conservation before the final end for a faster drop.

Boss: Giant Teddy

Better final hit to the boss, which is the only one which matters.

Sweet World

By skipping the earlier HP, we have therefore saved 6 frames up to this point, and instead we can omit the HP boost from a bird. Since it would only save 1-2 frames otherwise, it is therefore a better choice. This did require a redo of the level afterwards, but further optimisation managed to squeeze a few more frames out of it compared to our initial attempt. That, plus all other areas have generic improvements everywhere.

Industrial World

Preserved Y velocity in area 4's tight corridors, to make each drop faster. Most noticeable just before the trampoline, where we can use the vertical ascender to 'fall', and keep velocity for when we drop off the next edge. Plus this time, we have a faster start to the on-rails level.

Boss: Giant Car

Boss kept on screen at all times not delay invincibility countdown.

Bathtub World

Ejected from the bathtub earlier, to take advantage of the slope acceleration. The swimming areas are subject to random lag, which luckily was reduced this time.

Board Games World

Generic improvements across all areas. Archanfel also discovered that the wheels can be delayed through camera manipulation, allowing one to be in prime position to bounce on to get to the next tier, saving over 200 frames.

Boss: The Queen of Hearts

Boss kept on screen at all times not delay invincibility countdown.

Sky Castle World

Special thanks to Archanfel for discovering it's possible to jump directly to the first exit, in addition to showing it's faster to reroute the bathtub through a bonus zone for a faster exit to the area.

Music World

More speed boosts across bumpy things, involving a lot more effort put into testing combinations to get across all the various slopes. For the yellow area, the killing of the first bird was skipped, and after the death respawn it's faster to just jump into the next corridor. When going across the piano, using HP for invincibility proved more useful at the start compared to when going down the slope. Afterwards, spare HP was then lost during the on-rails section, to reduce each subsequent level's score screen by 3 frames a piece.

Boss: Ballerina

This is a very laggy boss fight, but better timing on jumps managed to reduced the lag by 5 frames.

Circus World

A slightly faster start, and using the cannon to shoot into the platform provides a faster route. Afterwards, comes the most significant improvement of the run. There's just enough room to squeeze the plane into the bottom of the platform, which means we can grab both penguins on each side with only a single trip, cutting out two of the four chambers and saving nearly 20 seconds.

Boss: Evil Snowman

Better manipulation of the boss gives a faster start to the first hit.

(Incorrect movie loaded, use one linked in post)


Memory: Claiming to see if we have truly saved Christmas

Memory: Updating with correct movie file.

Memory: Optimization seems good. In spite of the extra levels cleared in this submission, the movie ends up being only slightly longer in length than the original publication due to all the improvements found.

This movie elects to do all of the levels instead of merely the required ones. The previous submission and the current publication both do a bunch of levels that were thought to be required but were actually optional. As such the previous submission was rejected.

It was suggested that this "all levels" run supersede fastest completion due to overlap in content as described in the Judge Guidelines. Indeed, the individual levels themselves should be the same but I was slightly unsure about the navigation through the hub world. It's more complicated than merely selecting additional levels from a sort of menu. From what I can tell, you have to take the same sort of path through the hub world regardless due to restrictions in when levels unlock, but you'd simply jump over the entrances to levels you don't need to do. The secret levels you enter by moving to the left slightly while falling on your way to the circus level. However, in theory I could see some differences in hub world movement being possible through new discoveries even if they are not possible at present.

As a side note, despite potentially superseding fastest completion, this goal still warrants an "all levels" branch label and I have added it to the submission.

Audience reception regarding this goal was mostly positive, with only one concern brought up in regards to nearly immediately beating level 1 by taking the secret exit, resulting in the question "is this truly all levels". To me it seems to be merely an easter egg of sorts and is as legitimate of a method of beating a level as any other exit, just faster. However I can definitely see a segment of our audience that would like to see level 1 completed in its entirety. But at the same time if an all levels run was submitted that went through level 1 in its entirety, I would see people that asked why the secret exit was not taken since it's faster. We obviously cannot accept branches that are completely identical except for one level. As such I think that this run is all levels since it does "complete" all the levels. If somebody ends up making a TAS that goes through the entirety of level 1, we could link to a separate video in the description containing just that level. That way the people who wish to see level 1 in its entirety could be satisfied in addition to those wanting to see the secret exit.

Accepting this run to Moons to obsolete [2932] Genesis James Pond 2: Codename: RoboCod (USA/Europe) by Archanfel in 24:20.46 since this movie is faster where the content overlaps. However I would be open to accepting a new movie that only completes what is minimally required to beat the game if said movie was sufficiently different from this one, something that would almost certainly require new discoveries.

Dacicus: Processing...


Similar submissions (by title and categories where applicable):