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Submission #6794: Arc's NES The Wing of Madoola in 16:01.23

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: The Wing of Madoola
Game version: JPN
ROM filename: Wing of Madoola, The (J).nes
Branch:
Emulator: BizHawk 2.4.2
Movie length: 16:01.23
FrameCount: 57769
Re-record count: 14884
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: Arc
Submitter: Arc
Submitted at: 2020-06-26 04:00:44
Text last edited at: 2020-06-26 10:00:48
Text last edited by: ThunderAxe31
Download: Download (15057 bytes)
Status: judging underway
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(Link to video)

The Wing Of Madoola (マドゥーラの翼, Madoola no Tsubasa) is a fast-paced Metroidvania (platform-adventure) game by Sunsoft. It is not well-known because it was a Famicom-exclusive release. The heroine, Lucia, must recover the powerful Wing of Madoola from the evil Darutos. The game has 16 stages, and there is a boss battle on each stage.

No TAS of the game had been submitted to TASVideos before this one. But in 2006, hisatoki completed a very good TAS in 16:24 that is available on YouTube. I don’t have access to the FCM file that he made, and so I can’t see his inputs nor directly compare completion times. There is also a speedrun with a listed time of 19:57 made in 2014 by duckfist.

I made the movie in FCEUX and converted it to BK2 to save one frame.

Tricks

Lucia’s horizontal speed is constant except when damage boosting. Falling speed quickly reaches 64 and holds steady. There are some unique terrain situations in which it is better to jump than not jump.

Damage boosting is more difficult than it looks. In most games, taking damage has a consistent predetermined effect on the character’s movement. In this game, damage will knock Lucia left or right at a random speed between 0 and 64. If, for example, it’s a left-to-right stage and Lucia’s normal speed is 40, then a damage boost needs to be manipulated to increase Lucia’s speed above 40 (to the right). The randomness is mostly determined by timing, with jumping playing a minor role sometimes.

A related trick is to minimize a damage boost rather than maximize it. The change in speed lasts only for as long as Lucia is airborne. If Lucia jumps immediately before getting hit, she gets knocked right back onto the ground. It’s useful when taking damage against bosses so that Lucia can keep attacking continuously.

Lucia doesn’t have to climb all the way down a ladder. After establishing herself on the ladder for a few frames, she can release and drop down. The reverse is also true to some degree. Near the top of the ladder, Lucia can jump up to solid ground. The jump up is slightly faster early in the game when Lucia’s speed is fairly slow. Another ladder trick that I use frequently after getting the level 3 boots is to jump all the way up the ladder rather than climb it.

What I call a “quick kill” is essentially an upstab every other frame. It isn’t exactly the same as in Zelda II, but the result is similar. In Zelda II, Link can downstab or whirlwind every other frame regardless of whether he hits an enemy. Here, Lucia’s ability to swing her sword resets immediately after hitting an enemy. Her sword always begins with an upward motion, but if the enemy is in a spot where it keeps getting hit, then Lucia will damage it every other frame.

Death warping allows Lucia to go back to the beginning of the level while retaining all items collected, including the crystal ball after defeating the boss. Neither hisatoki nor I ever use this trick. But if I were a speedrunner, I would consider using it. From the moment of death to regaining control at the start of the level takes about 12.75 seconds.

Items

The boot upgrades are more valuable than the sword. The most noticeable feature of the boots is that they increase Lucia’s maximum jump height. The level 2 boots allow Lucia to change direction in mid-air while jumping. But the best feature is that each boot increases Lucia’s speed. Lucia’s speed starts the game at 24 but progresses up to 28, then 32, and then 40 after getting the third boot (on stage 4).

Lucia’s sword is ten times more powerful with the level 2 upgrade (from 10 damage to 100), and so it is undeniably worth getting. But the level 3 upgrade only doubles its power to 200, and I am completely certain that it is not worth getting.

Flash is a magic spell that does 240 damage at level 1 to all enemies on the screen and temporarily protects Lucia from damage. It costs 500 MP per use. Flash is useful on the stage 10 boss and on the stages thereafter. There is also a feature that I call Flashscroll. When Lucia is moving left or right and scrolling the screen, Flash somehow can do more damage.

But the real reason to get Flash is because of the game-breaking glitch known as Flashsword. It makes the bosses of stages 11-16 so much easier than they’re supposed to be. If Lucia swings her sword immediately after using Flash, it deals essentially infinite damage. The strongest bosses in the game have 2560 HP. Flashsword kills them all instantly.

There are four types of potions. The most important are orange potions, which increase max MP by 100. I also pick up some blue potions, which restore 100 MP. Enemies drop potions on a simple 256-frame cycle. There are 252 straight frames of no item drops. Then on the next four frames, the drops are red, violet, blue, and orange. All enemies killed on the same frame will drop the same potion. Manipulating potion drops on stage 10 is essential to the rest of the TAS.

There is a crystal ball after each boss battle except Darutos. The ball opens the door at the end of the stage. The room with the crystal ball is inaccessible until the boss is defeated. The ball restores 500 HP. Since I never pick up a red potion, all of the HP refills in the run come from crystal balls. Lucia starts with 1000 HP and picks up 15 crystal balls, and so she has a total of 8500 HP to use for damage boosts throughout the game.

The Wing of Madoola appears right before the final boss. It allows Lucia to fly, but it costs 1000 MP per use. It replenishes 500 MP when Lucia picks it up. Flying is required to finish the game. Lucia must be standing on the ground (not airborne) to initiate flight.

Stages

1: This stage is designed as an introduction to the game. The path to the boss and goal is a straight line. Lucia picks up a sword and boot along the way. The egg boss takes 4 hits with the level 2 sword. I played through the stage a few times to learn the game. It is possible to finish the stage a few frames faster, but then I lost those frames to worse RNG on the next stage. Since Lucia is so slow at the start of the game, managing damage boosts is key to the early stages.

2: The game becomes a little more complex on this stage. The waterfalls make it non-linear. The nyurus (the floating enemies that look like Pinky from Pac-Man) take 200 HP away, and it’s difficult to get a good damage boost from them. The Mantle Skull boss takes 9 hits, but it is no more difficult than the previous boss.

3: Here is the first real Metroidvania type of stage. hisatoki took an unnecessary detour to get the level 3 sword. It was a strange decision since he was aware of the quick-kill technique. I go straight for the boss. First I tested the upper and lower paths to the warp door, and the lower path is easily faster. After the warp door, I tried both the left and the right path. The left path was about 74 frames faster despite a damage boost on the right path. This boss—Nigito—is slightly more difficult because he keeps walking forward, but I still get a quick kill. Since I skipped the sword, I’m about 12 seconds ahead of hisatoki at the end of the stage.

4: It might be possible to beat the game without the level 3 boot. From the divergent path on the bridge, I can reach the boss room in about 11 seconds. Getting the boot, hisatoki needed about 32 seconds. Do the boots gain back 21 seconds over the course of the run? The answer is easily yes, mainly because the level 3 boot increases Lucia’s speed from 32 to 40 for the rest of the game. A better question is whether to death warp after getting the boot. The answer is no, the death warp takes too long. hisatoki stopped using damage boosts efficiently at this point, perhaps because he was uncertain how much HP he would need to conserve for bosses. That is an error, because damage boosts with the level 3 boot can be major timesavers since Lucia stays in the air so long. I skipped damage boosting on stage 3 to save HP for more full-power damage-boosting after getting the final boot. Suneisa takes 13 hits to kill, but she’s a simple boss. I’m close to 13 seconds ahead of hisatoki at the end of the stage.

5: This stage is the first one to have Metroid-style vertical shafts. It appears to be a good stage to use a death warp, since the end gate is right next to the start point. But, running back is a little faster, and it’s certainly more entertaining. The Zado Fly boss moves like a maniac, but he’s easy to dispatch with a quick kill. With some damage boosts and precise play, I extended my lead over hisatoki to about 14 seconds at the end of the stage.

6: The game returns to the outdoor side-scrolling format, but this one is a little longer and more difficult than stage 2. Whether to get the magic book seems like a difficult decision. It takes about 4 seconds to get it. Each magic book increases MP by 500. MP is fully restored at the end of each stage. At the time, I wasn’t sure if the magic book would save time against the stage 10 boss and perhaps the stage 14 boss also. I took my chances and didn’t get it. Fortunately, I learned later that I made the right decision. The stage 6 boss (Pera Skull) takes only 3 hits, but the difficulty is in manipulating where it flies. I used a pause buffer (3 frames) to get a pattern where I keep moving forward on almost every frame. The potential damage boost from the Nigito at the end of the stage is not worth it. Since I skipped the magic book, I’m about 18 seconds ahead of hisatoki.

7: This stage is short and easy to navigate because it is an introduction to more difficult boss battles. Gaguzul takes 20 hits with the level 2 sword, and it doesn’t stop moving when it gets hit. It does 600 damage if it hits Lucia directly, but its fireballs do only 200 damage. I exploit this fact by getting hit twice by fireballs, but it’s almost unnoticeable since I give Gaguzul a major beatdown at close range. On the way back up the vertical shaft, I jump so fast that the screen can’t keep up, and so I have to wait a few frames. Although I had the weaker sword than hisatoki (20 vs 10 hits), I had better RNG against Gaguzul, and I maintained a lead of around 18 seconds.

8: Although this stage is Metroidvania style, I barely explore any of it. The boss is close to the start. Bunyon is the hardest boss in the game because it isn’t possible to use the conventional quick kill. A quick kill is a series of upstabs every other frame, but Lucia has to hit the bottom part of Bunyon to do damage. However, I do a modified quick kill method when it’s up in the air. Still, getting 17 hits on this thing is difficult. Since hisatoki needed only 9 hits, it’s unavoidable that he did this fight a little faster. But I conceded only about one second, maybe even less. Fortunately, I had planned out my HP with the expectation that I might have to take two hits from Bunyon (-700 HP).

9: I have no HP to spare for damage boosts. This stage is the last of the outdoor side-scrolling style. I dodge enemies and head right into the next boss fight against Joyraima. Even though it takes 20 hits and does 600 damage so I can get hit only once, this fight feels easy compared to the last one. I bait him over to the right edge of the room and then execute the quick kill. At the end of the stage, there is finally a flash weapon. I am 100% certain that flash is worth getting. I’m still 17-18 seconds ahead of hisatoki.

10: Going forward, MP management becomes more important than HP management. Since I don’t need to preserve HP for bosses, I can take more damage boosts. The stages will all be the large Metroidvania style through the end. This stage is especially long. The boss fight is the major bottleneck of the TAS. Lucia must kill 50 nomajis to advance. I completed the fight more than one second faster than hisatoki despite having three disadvantages: (1) the sword needs 3 hits instead of 2 to kill a nomaji; (2) I have enough MP in reserve for only 2 flashes instead of 3; and (3) I need to collect 15 orange jars instead of 10 to reach 2500 MP. (I end up one short.) I used a different approach in the fight by forcing blue jar drops to refill my MP so I could keep using flash to take out large groups of nomajis. This method required heavy luck manipulation, since blue and orange jar drops appear on only 1 frame in every 256-frame cycle. After the boss fight, there are still vertical shafts to climb. There are two Zado Flies that spawned in the worst possible spots in the shaft. By the end of the stage, I’m about 20 seconds faster than hisatoki.

11: This stage is “Metroid on Ice.” It is another large level. The main difficulty is another vertical shaft. The boss is the second incarnation of Bunyon. This time it breaks up into smaller pieces after it gets destroyed. Without Flashsword, this fight would be a nightmare to TAS. But with Flashsword, I can just keep going right while dealing damage. The damage boost from Suneisa at the end of the stage is too appealing to pass up despite losing 400 HP. I’m still about 20 seconds faster than hisatoki when the stage ends.

12: Players say that this stage is the most difficult. It is a large cavern, like stages 3 and 4, but there’s a lot of upward movement. In a TAS, it’s fairly straightforward because there’s no risk of falling. During the climb, I got pretty good timing on a flash that let me pick up one last orange potion to get my max MP up to 2500. I’m glad Flashsword exists. The boss—Byforce—would have taken 26 hits with the sword. I tried to keep Byforce on the screen as long as possible so viewers could see it before it dies. I don’t expect many damage boosting opportunities coming up, and so I take a couple of boosts in the last corridor. My lead over hisatoki is about 21 seconds.

13: It's the hot pink stage. There is a different kind of climbing on this stage. Instead of the Metroid shaft, there’s a large shaft with staircases. It’s a large level, but it goes pretty quickly if Lucia goes through the right doors. The boss is a giant bug named Bospido that would take 26 hits to kill with the sword. He shoots fireballs that take away only 200 HP (compared to 800 HP if Bospido touches Lucia), and so I take advantage of another opportunity to damage boost. Again, I keep the boss on the screen as long as possible to get a good look at him before I Flashsword him to death. At the end of the stage, I’m about 21 seconds ahead of hisatoki.

14: This stage is large, but most of it goes unseen because Lucia doesn’t fall off the platforms. The game rectifies the unfortunate Zado Fly placement on stage 10 by offering a friendly boosting Zado Fly here. Lucia makes a straight run to the boss—the third incarnation of Bunyon. This time, there are two of them, and each one has 3 phases. Thus, it should take 6 Flashswords to beat it. This boss is the last major bottleneck of the run. hisatoki killed the boss with only 2500 MP (5 flashes) because his first hit was a double kill. It looks effortless, but I have not been able to replicate it. The reason could be the difference in sword levels or just luck. Therefore, I use my backup plan, which is blue jar drops. Even if the double kill is possible, the “miracle” blue jar drop at the ideal time in the 256-frame potion cycle is a legitimate speed/entertainment tradeoff. But since I didn’t get the double kill, the fight took a little longer. I’m still about 20-21 seconds ahead.

15: There are a lot of doors on this stage. It’s a big maze, but it doesn’t last too long if Lucia picks the right doors. The boss of this stage is Byforce II, and again the only question is how to present the fight aesthetically. The major remaining challenge of the game is planning the damage boosts efficiently. 770 HP allows me to plan to take boosts from 2 eggs and 1 nyuru (or 3 eggs) the rest of the game, since I won't get any more HP refills. On the way to the exit, I get a perfect nyuru boost. That leaves me with 2 egg boosts on stage 16.

16: The final stage is not any more intimidating than the previous stages. It starts with platforming, where I use the 2 damage boosts from eggs on the higher ledges where there's more headroom. I don’t know why hisatoki totally gave up on damage boosting. There is one last vertical shaft full of nyurus. The Wing of Madoola causes an MP glitch; even though I have 0 MP left, I am still able to use one more flash. I could have preserved the extra 500 MP if I needed it, but I wanted to show the glitch. Darutos has 2560 HP, but Flashsword kills him instantly. The game ends when Lucia enters the last door. The final time is about 23 seconds ahead of hisatoki.

Overall, this game is exceptionally fun and compares very well to Zelda II. It is challenging but not frustrating because the game is well-made. The game almost never lags. It is truly a hidden gem. The time of 16:01 further encourages me to look at the game again in the future to try to get the time to 15:XX. But there are certain parts that I dread redoing—mainly the bosses on stages 8, 10, and 14. Also I cannot say for sure whether there are any improvements because any temporary gains can later be lost to differences in damage boosts and other RNG.

Screenshot

Credits

hisatoki for his TAS.

odino for gameplay stats.

StrategyWiki for maps.


ThunderAxe31: Judging.


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