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

Submission #6476: Lobsterzelda's A2600 Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns "maximum score" in 09:25.75

Console: Atari 2600
Game name: Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Pitfall II.bin
Branch: maximum score
Emulator: BizHawk V. 2.3.2
Movie length: 09:25.75
FrameCount: 33901
Re-record count: 53572
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: Lobsterzelda
Submitter: Lobsterzelda
Submitted at: 2019-08-04 22:33:14
Intended tier: Moons
Text last edited at: 2019-08-20 14:12:18
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (9215 bytes)
Status: publication underway
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Author's comments and explanations:

Game Description:

Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns is the sequel to the popular game Pitfall! for the Atari 2600. In this game, you play as Pitfall Harry once again. This time, your goal is to rescue Pitfall Harry's niece Rhonda, your cowardly lion sidekick Quickclaw, and to recover the Raj Diamond. Along the way, you can also collect gold bars and a valuable ancient cave rat in order to gain points. The game ends once you collect Rhonda, Quickclaw, and the Raj diamond. However, to get the highest possible score in the game, you must collect all treasures and the rat before you have finished getting the Raj Diamond, Quickclaw, and Rhonda (you must have at least one of these three treasures left until you have collected all of the extra treasures in the game). If all treasures are collected and you don't die or fall down any pits, you can finish with a high score of 199,000 points.


In this TAS, I aim to achieve the maximum score in Pitfall II in the shortest amount of time possible, which I do in 9 minutes and 25 seconds.


The other night I was watching the video of the Pitfall II Maximum score TAS that's published on TASVideos. While I was watching, I noticed that the movie never had Pitfall Harry climb up and down ladders when he got near them in order to boost himself forwards. I thought that this was odd, since I knew from my experiences TASing the original Pitfall that this was a few frames faster than jumping in that game. Since Pitfall II reuses most of Pitfall!'s physics, I wondered to myself whether ladder boosts could be used to save time in this TAS.

In order to test this, I downloaded the submission file for the published movie, and made slight alterations so that it would sync on the newest version of BizHawk. Then, I added a ladder boost in the last room of the game, right before you rescue Quickclaw. Once I did this, I saw that my new movie was about 10 frames faster than the current publication, which made me realize that there were optimizations that hadn't been implemented in the published run.

With definitive proof that the current run could be obsoleted, I went back to the beginning of the game, and worked to create my own movie of the game in order to create a movie which was faster than Alyosha's run.

With all of that introduction out of the way, here are some strategies I used to save time over Alyosha's run:


1. Ladder boosting:

As I already mentioned earlier, climbing onto and off a ladder when near it is faster than jumping over it, since Pitfall Harry "teleports" to the ladder as soon as you press up or down in range of the ladder. This was used in each spot of the game where I walked past a ladder in order to save time. Unlike Montezuma's Revenge for the Atari 2600, ladder boosting can be done from either the top or the bottom of the ladder, which allows for lots of opportunities to save time.

2. The Balloon Sections:

In the balloon sections of the game, I was able to save a little bit of time by getting knocked off of the balloon as soon as possible while also landing on the ledge.

3. The Balloon Glitch:

This trick was also present in Alyosha's run, and I didn't save any time over his run by using it. However, since the submission texts for the previous submissions of this category haven't explained how this glitch works, I figured I should explain it here. Normally, whenever you enter a screen with a balloon on it, you have to wait until the bats on the screen cross all the way from the left to the right, wait for the balloon to move all the way to the right after this, and then you can jump on the balloon. However, if you exit the previous screen within 2 frames of a scorpion walking off screen or an enemy flying off the screen, then the balloon will spawn immediately on the right edge of the screen, which can allow you to skip waiting for the balloon to come when you are standing on the rightside of the shafts that the balloons come up. An example of this can be seen at 4:43 in the encode provided below.

4. Condor and Bat Manipulation:

Whenever you enter a screen, all enemies on the screen spawn at the exact same point. For flying enemies, this point is always either the left-most edge of the screen or the right-most edge of the screen. However, a global timer determines what point in the flying enemies flight cycle they start at when the room loads (ex. at the top of their flight cycle and moving down, halfway through their flight cycle and moving up etc.). By waiting to enter the next screen until a bat or condor is at an ideal point in their flight cycle, you can save time compared to just running into the next room and waiting for the enemy to fly above you.

This is used a lot in the final 2 minutes of the game in the section with all of the bats and condors. For each condor section here, I keep waiting on the previous screen until the condor will spawn just early enough in it's flight cycle that if I'm standing as far away from the ladder as possible while still being able to climb on it, I can climb up the ladder without being hit by the condor. Doing this saves a large amount of time over going into the room early on, and it also saves time over waiting for the condor to move a little, going into the next room, waiting for the Condor to pass over you, and then running right and climbing up the ladder (which is what the previous TAS did in most of these rooms). I was also able to save time here by waiting a few extra frames so that I could get past the bats in some of these rooms without waiting as well.

All told, optimizing the sections with the condors resulted in my largest timesave compared to the previous TAS.

Final Thoughts:

One pitfall of TASing this game was that the frogs that jump back and forth move on a global timer, which can't be manipulated like the flying enemies can by entering the room after a few frames. Because of this, timesaves can be negated by not being fast enough to get past the next frog before it jumps, though this effect is nowhere near as extreme as the cycles of vines in the original Pitfall! are.

I spent a lot of effort on making this TAS, so I hope you enjoy watching it!


(Link to video)

slamo: Looks good to me, the goal was met and this is a definite improvement to the published movie.

The movie this is obsoleting is currently in Moons and carries a 6.8 rating. Despite there not being that much feedback for this submission, the content in this movie is extremely similar to that movie, so I think that rating justifies keeping it in Moons (this is not Vaultable anyway). Accepting to Moons as an improvement to the published movie.

feos: Pub.

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