TASVideos

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

Submission #6720: callumbal's NGP Delta Warp in 39:23.95

Console: Neo Geo Pocket
Game name: Delta Warp
Game version: JPN
ROM filename: Delta Warp (Japan) (En,Ja).ngc
Branch:
Emulator: Bizhawk 2.4
Movie length: 39:23.95
FrameCount: 142435
Re-record count: 23767
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: callumbal
Submitter: callumbal
Submitted at: 2020-04-10 21:37:13
Text last edited at: 2020-04-24 17:38:43
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (34447 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:
Released exclusively in Japan for the ill-fated Neo Geo Pocket Color, Delta Warp was doomed to obscurity since its inception. It was the sole game developed by IOSYS inc, a group of individuals clearly very passionate about what they created.

Delta Warp is a well polished game, with truly ahead of its time features and connectivity. Aside from the 100 core levels - which are well designed in their own right - it also came with an additional fully kitted-out level editor, with which you could record your level codes, as well as load up codes of others levels to play on your own system! There was also the functionality of uploading your best times to the (now long since defunct) Delta Warp website, and compete with others through their dedicated ranking system. They even had an active bulletin board, where players and developers alike would give tips, share strategies, and even host their own time trial tournaments. It's a great time capsule to sift back through.

Now, with that bit of history covered, let's move on to the publication.



(Link to video)

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: Bizhawk 2.4
  • Beat the game as fast as possible in real-time
  • Use as much visually appealing movement/patterning as possible without losing any frames

Gameplay

In Delta Warp, you control a triangular Ship (Delta). Your objective: To destroy all of the Black and White tiles scattered throughout each stage.

Your Ship has two faces, one Black side, and one White side. Whichever side is facing upwards can destroy the correspondingly coloured tile if you move onto it. Your movement options are to either "spin" your Ship, which keeps the current face of the Ship the same, or you can "tip over" your Ship, which presents the other coloured side instead. A fluid understanding of both movement techniques and realising when best to use each is required to progress far in this game.

This game also consists of many unique tiles with their own special properties. I created an image here showing all the different tiles with labels attached to help viewers understand what I'm referring to below.

  • Plain tiles: No special properties. These tiles can be interacted with just fine in any form.
  • Empty Pit tiles: Upon touching these, you will fall to the floor below. If you are on the ground floor, then you will Game Over, and have to restart the level over again.
  • Coloured tiles: These are the Black and White collectables scattered throughout each stage. All of these must be destroyed before you can advance ahead to the next level.
  • Thin Ice tiles: These tiles are erased after passing over them a single time with the default Ship.
  • Thick Ice tiles: When going over these tiles once, they turn into Thin Ice with the default Ship. Going over them again causes them to be erased.
  • Green Ice tiles: These can only be broken when you are sporting the Metal Transformation Power-up. If you don't have that, they act the same as a Plain tile.
  • Orb tiles: These rounded objects bump you up to the next floor when you make contact with them. They are instrumental to navigating through a great deal of levels in the game, and their properties can be utilised in interesting ways to gain further distance and cross gaps.
  • Flip tiles: These tiles work as you might imagine, they flip over your Ship and present its opposite side. These tiles are mainly just an annoyance/added level of confusion in a casual setting honestly, and aren't typically crucial to be used to advance in most stages.
  • Ice Transformation tiles: This tile transforms your Ship into an icy version. It allows you to manoeuvre over Ice tiles without them cracking/breaking. One negative effect of this Power-up is that you cannot spin your Ship until the effect has worn off.
  • Metal Transformation tiles: These tiles make your Ship heavier. You will fall through thin ice on contact to the floor below. For thicker ice, you completely erase it in one crossing, but don't fall through. This is also the only Power-up which can break Green tiles, which work in the same manner regular Thick and Thin Ice tiles do whilst under the influence of this power.

Note: All Transformation tile effects persist for 10 moves, after which your Ship will revert back to its original form.


Optimisation

In my attempt to optimise this game as best I could, I tried various approaches to solving stages, as well as discovering some non-trivial framesavers along the way.

The obvious biggest timesave is to cut down on the number of moves I make. Through a combination of mental calculations, annotated images, and the branching & testing of different possibilities, I did my best to optimise each stage as best I could. Some of the latter levels in this run especially get very complex and took hours of careful forethought and testing many routes to determine which pathway was the quickest.

A further optimisation I came across is the usage of the Start button. When inputting Start as you fall to a lower floor, you can reduce the "shockwave" effect normally given as feedback to show your Ship having hit the ground. This works because the game registers it as a valid movement, whilst remaining stationary. This is useful in a bunch of scenarios, namely times when you are aiming to land on a specific tile on the floor below directly. If you have to keep moving in a different direction after falling, then using this neither gains or loses time, as you then have to do an extra movement after the shockwave cancellation anyways, which nullifies the time saved.

The final touch I made to this TAS after using as few inputs with as few gaps between them as possible, was routing out more visually appealing movement. In most instances in this game, you can move a frame later and not lose any time, as the grace period in-between gets shortened along with it. This means you can press the same button twice without losing any time. I left doing this until last, as if I had those gaps there beforehand, it would have made it trickier for me to tell if I lost sync, or was having my input delayed by interacting with certain objects. I also went through the effort of time-stamping when each level begins and ends to make sure I never lost any frames when doing this.

Update! This TAS is a 742 802 frame improvement over my previously cancelled publication! I achieved this by deep diving into a lot of the levels in the mid-section of the run, using the extra knowledge and route finding methods I had developed in the endgame to polish up the rest of the TAS. I screenshotted and annotated all of the levels I previously solved with mental calculation which really helped out, especially in keeping track of what collectables I would end up backtracking over.


Stage Analysis

Each World in this game increases steadily in difficulty. Below, I have detailed some of the standout stages:

  • 1-1: A straightforward stage with no spots to die and no need to spin the Ship.
  • 1-2: This level shows off nicely what spinning the Ship can accomplish.
  • 1-3: Those are Ice tiles in the top-left. Notice how they cracked when I moved over them. We'll touch on those again later.
  • 1-4: Here is the first time we interact with a Flip tile. The first of many instances of our time being wasted on their behalf!
  • 1-5: Every 5th stage is one of these linear "race to the finish" type stages. They served as a nice break point for me, especially towards the end of this TAS.
  • 1-9: Notice towards the end of this stage how I double back for a brief moment. This is to switch my alignment so that the other side of my Ship is showing, which allows me to collect that final Black tile. This will come into play heavily later on.
  • 1-10: Interacting with the Flip tile here is quicker than going around it, despite its animation playing out a fairly long time. Fun fact: The final level of each world in a casual playthrough is set to a fixed time limit, where the screen eventually precedes to flash white before timing you out for not completing it quickly enough. For us, it plays like any other stage.
  • 2-1: These Orbs you see launch us up a floor. They become commonplace and are by far the most important component to completing levels further down the road.
  • 2-2: Collecting those Coloured tiles in the middle of the stage before heading up top at the end is important, because falling back down to a plane we’ve already been on is usually not worthwhile, with how falling in this game stun-locks us for a while.
  • 2-4: That Orb in the top-left on the ground floor cannot be used, as the ceiling above it is blocked off. Something to keep in mind for later. At the end, we fall off the edge of the stage to grab the four remaining White tiles, instead of breaking the ice to gain access as was likely intended.
  • 2-6: Here is our first interaction with an Ice Transformation tile. Not that we need it to cross the gap in the middle of the stage either, just a relatively safe environment for the typical player to find out what it does. We also use the Flip tile in the very corner to alter our rotation to be able to grab the leftover White tiles, something we cant do ourselves anymore with the Ice Power-up active unfortunately.
  • 2-7: Using the Ice Power-up here is essential to completing the level. We would be stranded otherwise on a platform with no bridge left to return over.
  • 2-8: Contrary to how it may appear on the surface, we must backtrack fairly substantially through this level due to the bottom-right section of the ground floor not having an Orb for us to return with. It's slightly faster to stick to following the four branching paths here than dropping back down into the spawn area.
  • 2-9: The Ice Transformation tiles here force us to use the Flip switch in order to change what side of our Ship we have facing upward, just like we had to back in 2-6.
  • 2-10: The tile we end on here has to be our last, as it is disjointed from the rest of the level with no means of return. This becomes a common theme as we continue forward.
  • 3-2: For straight falls such as the one at the end of this stage and the one found in the previous stage, it is optimal to hold Start as we land. This registers as an input without bringing up the menu during the "shockwave" faze of us colliding with the ground, and actually cuts it short. Pretty useful!
  • 3-4: This stage shows off how great a distance we can potentially travel from a high enough height, which allows us to clear the chasm below us.
  • 3-6: That Green tile can only be erased if we first use the Metal Power-up. A very important key in clearing later levels.
  • 3-8: This level revises both our knowledge on how far we can reach when dropping from a height, as well as testing if we remember what tiles we can and can't backtrack over.
  • 3-10: There was a fair bit of optimisation to be done on this level despite how sluggish and linear it appears on the surface. Re-tracking our way up off the ground floor multiple times ends up being the quickest method, due to how we can combine rows with the next one situated directly beneath it.
  • 4-2: You can see here how I utilise pressing start on an Orb in this level in order to cut the animation of being pinged by up to the top floor short. This method is used all throughout this TAS.
  • 4-4: We must clear the ice block above the Orb in order to make it back up to the top floor with the Metal Power-up still active. Power-ups can only last for 10 movements, after which we are reverted back to normal, which means taking the Orb at the beginning is far too distant to bother.
  • 4-6: Here we're forced to do the right side of the stage first, because the side of our Ship we have showing is forced to be only one side, as we spawn on a corner tile with no room to rotate. The joys of being forcibly restrained to simple flipping only, courtesy of the Ice Power-up!
  • 4-9: Probably the most confusing level to route so far, even though it's mirrored. The 3 floors being so stacked with so many imposed floor changes makes for a lot to think about.
  • 4-10: Unfortunately for us, we can't collect all of the coloured tiles in one visit to the middle floor because of how the conjoined platforms connecting the Ice bridges are aligned. I negated as much backtracking time as I could by dropping us off as close to the Orb on the ground floor as I could.
  • 5-1: The Metal Transformation tiles here force us to take certain routes through the level, as going over a Thin Ice tile with one will send us crashing down a floor on contact.
  • 5-4: Certainly one of the more complex stages presented to us so far. It's important that when falling from the top level we land as close to the coloured tiles we've left behind for ourselves. This saves time going out of our way the first time we're down there, as we can just factor them into our exit down to the bottom floor to regain the Metal Power-up. I love how this turned out in the end.
  • 5-6: Only one of the two Green Ice tiles can be erased in the middle floor here, as there is no means of getting back to the top floor again to break the other one. The right one works out more fluidly overall, allowing us to collect to far-off Coloured tiles in the top-right of the ground floor just before popping back up to finish off the stage.
  • 5-7: This level forces us to venture over to the right side before finishing up the left, because of the Thin Ice tile we cannot backtrack over in the top-left corner. This stages takes a bit of thought about how to make it back over, with that Thin Ice at the bottom not being able to carry us back all the way on its own.
  • 5-8: Because of the nature of how the Metal Power-up works in relation to Thin Ice, we're forced to take a pretty set path through this level.
  • 5-10: This was the level that caused me to start taking the screencapping and annotating of levels seriously. Without drawing things out, levels such as these would be really hard to figure out in their entirety mentally. From this point on, I transitioned from mostly using purely mental solving methods, to screencapping the different floors from each level and piecing the route together analysing those.
  • 6-3: The Metal Transformation tile in the bottom-left of the ground floor is the only tile available to change our rotation on, therefore we need to return to it to destroy those final White tiles. Doing the Black tiles first saves us two backtracking movements.
  • 6-4: Very fun and very cool stage!! :) At least that Start press tech is coming in handy...
  • 6-6: This level shows off some of the wacky little rotations needed to optimally collect many tiles of the same colour on spaces we can't rotate onto.
  • 6-7: This level looks pretty unique, but unfortunately has to follow a rather linear path.
  • 6-8: Unfortunately we're forced to run out the 10 movement cool-down on the Ice Power-up to progress further in this level. The tile we fall down onto initially forces us to face a way which doesn't allow us to collect the next White piece below without rotating ourselves beforehand. There's also no alternative Ice Transformation tiles close enough to get there with, which without we'd just end up stranded.
  • 6-10: They sure did love putting these long, repetitive levels at the end of Worlds, huh?
  • 7-2: It's integral to preserve the Thick Ice tiles on top of this stage for us to then travel back over with the Metal Power-up.
  • 7-3: A huge amount of backtracking is imposed upon us here by the fact we must finish up the stage in the top-left of the ground floor, as there is no Orb to carry us back up over there.
  • 7-7: Those 4 coloured tiles in the top-left of the ground floor are really irritating, as they just barely can't all be picked up in tandem with backtracking for power-ups, as they end up falling short of their intended destination otherwise.
  • 7-8: As we are forced to finish up in the top-left corner of this stage by a solitary piece with no means we can travel back from, this level ends up playing out more linearly than you might think.
  • 8-2: Lots of forced backtracking here due to the Ice Power-Ups properties.
  • 8-3: This was the level I spent the longest amount of time on until this point. There's so many cool and differing routes we can take throughout each floor. I'm really happy with the final result here, looks so cool!
  • 8-7: Pretty convoluted level, there's a few paths we can take through here that give similar times. This ended up being the most polished result of course.
  • 8-8: Actually quite a fun level to do, has some satisfying patterning towards the end. We need to head in direct lines towards the corner pieces, as we have zero moves to spare before the Ice Power-Up runs out, which would otherwise leave us stranded.
  • 8-10: Okay, this is epic. We can only break through the middle floors Thin Ice tile on our 9th movement if we want to survive on the floor below by turning back into the Ships standard form.
  • 9-3: This level has quite a lot to it, with many imposed movements due to the Ice tiles scattered throughout.
  • 9-4: This level stumped me for a while the first time I played it. It looks straightforward at first with it appearing almost entirely symmetrical, but that White piece in the top-right being forcibly made into our last move makes things a whole lot trickier.
  • 9-9: Tough stage, it's really important which of the variable Ice Transformation tiles we utilise here, as picking the incorrect one means we won't be able to make it out of the next location due to the floor being caved away.
  • 9:10: Gross stage.
  • 10-2: So many possible paths to take here, took quite a while to route out. Avoiding having to take that thin Ice section in the middle of the stage felt rewarding.
  • 10-3: There's a pretty fixed route we have to take through this one to complete it, still surprisingly fun to do though. Shame about having to run out the Ice Power-up in this one, but it's unavoidable due to the surrounding Ice tiles preventing us from re-entering the area.
  • 10-4: By far the longest stage in the game. What an absolute trek we have to make back up and down these floors what feels like a hundred times. I was very glad to get this one out of the way.
  • 10-5: I enjoyed this "break" stage as much as I could. World 10 is really unforgiving.
  • 10-7 The ground floor to this one is super annoying. We’re forced to come back again as we need the Ice Power-up to carry us to each section.
  • 10-8: I'm thankful we were able to finish the top floor in one go here and don't have to backtrack again (not that we could anyways with the Ice tile next to where we get back up getting erased, but still).
  • 10-9: The penultimate stage. A fairly complex level here, but honestly it didn't take too long to route out.
  • 10-10: We made it. A fairly linear stage here all-in-all, easy to slip up on casually, but in a TAS setting it ended up being pretty straightforward.
  • Credits: Why why why does the music end only halfway through?? Lmao.

Additional Comments

If you're a fan of puzzle games, I implore you to give this one a try. It's quirky, unique, and most importantly - Fun!! A lot of these levels really tested my mind and got me thinking outside of the box. It's truly amazing what the developers managed to accomplish here.

This was my first time using TASstudio, or doing any form of TASing at all for that matter. I was a complete novice coming into this, without a shred of knowledge of how anything relating to TASing works. I think this game served as a great learning step for me, as a lot of its optimisation appears to be surface-level stuff. No crazy stats to keep track of here. Creating this gave me a lot more confidence that I can do more work for the TASing community in the future, and delve into further games that have been playing on my mind. Big shoutouts to the very thorough TASvideos resources page, which taught me pretty much all the fundamentals I needed to know to get underway.

This TAS is by no means perfect. There is only so much time and foresight I can give to solving these stages. However, I am confident I have done the best job I can. I have gleaned over the entire TAS multiple times, coming back to earlier stages and utilising all of the new skills I honed throughout the making of this TAS. I put a great deal of effort into routing out each level as optimally as I could. I hope that shines through in the finished product.

A huge thank you to EZGames69 for helping encode the movie for me!

Suggested screenshot: Frame 465

Thank you (you) for reading/watching!


Memory: Replacing file with trimmed version.

Memory: Claiming for judgment

Memory: Optimization appears fairly good, no obvious mistakes. I imagine one could bot the game to confirm the most optimal solutions but that's not strictly required for publication.

While I personally enjoyed the movie, most others felt it was a tad repetitive, and I can definitely understand why they'd feel that way.

As such, accepting to Vault.

feos: Pub.


Similar submissions (by title and categories where applicable):