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

Submission #6940: SBDWolf's Genesis Donald in Maui Mallard in 11:10.3

Console: Sega Genesis
Game name: Donald in Maui Mallard
Game version: unknown
ROM filename: Donald in Maui Mallard (Brazil)
Branch:
Emulator: Bizhawk 2.3.0
Movie length: 11:10.3
FrameCount: 40166
Re-record count: 102927
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: SBDWolf
Submitter: SBDWolf
Submitted at: 2020-11-19 03:44:42
Text last edited at: 2020-11-27 21:38:57
Text last edited by: Samsara
Download: Download (26073 bytes)
Status: decision: delayed
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A little over a year ago, I was inspired by the then recent Steam re-release to do real time runs of this game's PC port. At the time, no one had done runs of it yet (bar from the SNES version which is so different it can be considered a different game entirely), but I did stumble upon a never finished WIP TAS from 2014 by r57shell and Dooty. This TAS and the game's forum thread on this site were what I used as a reference to get a first route going. Now, over a year later and with a new zip glitch being found by RTA runner Jistuma, I wanted to make a full TAS of the game. This is my attempt at it.

Donald in Maui Mallard is one of Disney Interactive's earlier works, released in 1995 for the Sega Genesis only in Europe and Brazil. As such, this movie uses the Brazilian version since it's the only version that runs at 60Hz. In this game, Donald Duck assumes the role of private investigator Maui Mallard and gains the ability to transform into his ninja form "Cold Shadow". I'm not touching on the rest of the story.

There are three difficulty settings: Practice, Normal and Hard. I went with the default Normal mode. Hard mode is completely identical to Normal mode outside of the life count and the continue count (3 and 1 for Normal, 2 and 0 for Hard). I didn't feel like bothering to switch to that difficulty was worth it so I decided to stay on Normal to save some frames. On the other hand, Practice mode gives Maui 200 HP at the start and makes hazards that would normally deal 25 HP of damage like spikes, lava etc. only deal 10 HP. This actually makes it possible to skip the lightbulb bug in 1-2 by continuously dboosting off the water piranhas and save a few seconds, but I decided to still go with Normal mode for this movie.

Overall, I'm happy with how this turned out, it's a very fast paced game with a ton of tricks which I think is ideal for a TAS.

Here is a stage-by-stage breakdown of the whole movie. Every time there's a transition with a black screen, I'll be considering it a new stage.

Level 1 Mojo Mansion

1-1

Running is faster than jumping, so whenever jumps are necessary they're usually performed as short as possible.
The clip at the elevator is done by jumping on the first frame it gets touched, then trying to land back on it. For some reason Maui just falls through. This also works on a few other platforms in the game but I haven't found another practical use for it.
Normally when damage is taken on the ground Maui goes into an animation that stops him in place. This animation is cut short if damage is taken in the air, so every time damage is forced it's taken in mid-air. Rest is pretty self explanatory.

1-2

I make sure to collect the bomb bugs in the water room which are going to be useful for the boss. The corner clip in the next room skips an entire room and a half and saves about 20 seconds.

1-3

I collect some extra lighning bugs for the boss. Firing a shot upwards right before landing on a hole during the organ climb makes Maui jump a little higher and allows for some jumps to be skipped. There's also 1 frame to perform a regular jump from certain holes and save some time from lower jumping.

1-B

Bombs can double hit under certain circumstances, but it can be very finicky: performing any actions at the wrong time, including switching weapons, can unexpectedly prevent the double hit from happening. I don't understand this mechanic very well, but I found a sequence of actions that achieves 3 double hits right at the start of this boss fight. All grounded shots can be crouch cancelled which allows for faster firing.

Level 2 Ninja Training Grounds

2-1

There's normally an animation that plays during the transformation to ninja form, but it can be skipped by crouching. I head left instead of right where you're supposed to go to setup a ceiling zip: it works by simply jumping as ninja into a ceiling and running out of ying yang coins mid-jump, which automatically transforms back into Maui and results in a zip. This skips almost the entire stage.

2-2

There's a spot near the beginning that allows you to wedge out of bounds and skip most of this stage as well.

2-3

Swings on this screen are on a global timer. Unfortunately in this movie the last swing was on a pretty unfavorable global timer so I had to waste some time right before it, ugh.
Another clip towards the end because if you haven't figured it out by now walls are mostly a suggestion.

2-B

Ninjas here can be damaged in mid air. They won't display a damage animation but the hit will still register. Anyway, each phase is based on a frame rule system so there's not much that can be done to optimize this fight for a TAS. Although, I did notice that doing almost any action at the end of the fight would delay the fadeout, except for a single jump which saved 1 frame for this movie. So the end-of-stage dance here is a single jump. Yay.

Level 3 Muddrake Mayhem

3-1

This stage has the first double jump of the run. When a jump is initiated as ninja form and ying yang coins run out in mid air, there's a frame window to perform a double jump as Maui. In this stage it skips a bit of backtracking and a small section. I turn back into Maui to preserve coins and because he's the only one who can climb the rope in 3-2.

3-2

With a fairly precise double jump, it's possible to get over the wall at the top of the slide and go straight to the end, which skips the entire huts section.

3-3

Pretty straightforward stage. I collect bombs to help with the boss.

3-B

This is another frame rule based boss fight, so I mix up the kills a bit. It is possible to instantly kill a totem with a single bomb + lightning bugs shot, but it appears to be very finicky and sometimes just refuses to work in certain screnarios. Luckily it is not needed to meet the optimal frame rules.

Level 4 Sacrifice of Maui

4-1

Right at the beginning is the first subtle use of the turnaround trick. By flicking the opposite direction of where you want to go on a specific frame after a hit, you can get some extra distance on the damage boost.
I take a small detour to collect bomb bugs for the boss. At the end you can dash on the bubble and get launched at high speed by coming at it as it's spawning.

4-B

Phase 1 was quite the PITA to TAS. This boss goes in different directions depending on how and when exactly it's hit. I tried a few combinations and this one wound up being the fastest out of what I tried. It's very possible this fight could be a faster but it's hard to figure out the absolute fastest way.
Phase 2 is why I took the detour to get bombs. Combining all 3 bug types makes a screen nuke which instantly kills all enemies on screen. Normally bosses are immune to it, but for some reason this boss's phase 2 is vulnerable to it.

4-2

The escape. Quick hook regrabs are used throughout it; letting go of a hook and regrabbing it from the other side is faster than going through an entire swing animation and turning around that way. Also, how exactly updrafts are approached makes a difference: on one of them, a hook can be grabbed more quickly by jumping into the updraft on certain frames.

Level 5 Test of Duckhood

5-1

This stage's whole point is to climb up, bungee jump down and back up from low enough so that you can get higher up. The damage boost at the end skips one of said bungee jumping sections (though it's a much more precise damage boost than it looks).

5-2

There's a zip midway through this stage that can be done by jumping off the pole at a certain spot, holding right and switching to left right at the end.

5-B

You have to stuff the frog's mouth with 4 bombs per side to kill it. On the right side, shooting an additional seemingly pointless time actually reduces Maui's hitbox which allows for closer positioning and a slightly more optimal kill.

Level 6 The Flying Duckman

6-1

There's two spots in this stage where clipping is possible and some portions of the stage are skipped. Actively holding the direction where you're shooting towards gives Maui more distance, which I didn't know about until I was halfway done TASing this level and had to redo it all. Speaking of which, this whole level took me the longest total time to get done, probably at about 20-25 hours.

6-2

Trying to figure out how to take all these corners optimally took forever, and I'm not even 100% without a doubt sure this is the fastest way still. In fact, the level 6 in my first draft of this TAS is slightly faster, but I couldn't quite take all the corners in the same way due to some slight variances (more on that later).
There is one piece of tech with upward shots: holding the direction opposite of where Maui came from horizontally on certain frames can result is a huge boost in that direction. This can even be chained multiple times. I used this tech on the bomb bug pickup but otherwise it's not that useful, it's mostly a cool visual effect. Oh yeah, I pick up bombs to help with the boss. Guess it's sort of a common theme now.
There's also a small clip into a wall before breaking a barrel which sames a few frames.

6-B

This is normally a very tough boss with a ton of health.
It dies from one single bomb.
I have no idea why bombs are such a big weakness to this guy. I suspect it's the same mechanic that makes the double hits happen on the level 1 boss (maybe overlapping hitboxes?). I have no idea if this is how it actually works though.

Level 7 The Realm of the Dead

7-1

Skips upon skips in this stage. First of all there's a big double jump at the start to skip an entire section to the left and back to the right. The shot that gives you hyperspeed right after is what I like to call the lunar launch, done by turning to the right immediately after shooting to the left at the edge of that gooey green thing. Then there is an extremely precise jump as Maui over a wall which skips a fairly big section. This allows ninja form to be kept for double jumping over another wall for a more minor time save. Then, one single coin is collected and all others are avoided to set up for a faster ceiling zip a little later (same principle as 2-1 zip). Finally, performing the turnaround trick on the pit damage boosts towards the end actually makes it barely possible to make it to the first hook in two boosts instead of three and save some extra time.

7-2

Normally an autoscroller/escort mission, the intended way to do this stage is to protect the jar from the flames and wait for it to slowly rise to the top which triggers the end of the stage. But, there's an end-stage trigger just on the left on the top of the tower. Whoops. But hey, this skips an autoscroller, I can't be mad.

Level 8 Mojo Stronghold

This final boss took me a long time to figure out. I experimented with different routes, until I found out that picking up the left side bugs, using them for the first cycle, then going to the right side for the second cycle actually results in bug duplication on the right side! This means 20 bugs of each type can be picked up as opposed to 10, which allows for the second cycle to be completed with Maui only and results in it being the fastest way to go through the fight. Again, the duplication occurs if the left side bugs only are picked up, then used. It doesn't work the other way around.
Anyway, this means that for the first cycle the shaman has to be finished off as ninja. The second cycle itself was the hardest thing in the fight to optimize. The shaman gains a bit of invulnerability after each hit, which is simple to work around with a straight linear shot like the lightning bugs, but more complex with an auto-homing one. There's a particular mechanic that makes this especially hard: if the B button is held, the fire delay is much shorter than if the B button is released and repressed. In the former case, the fire delay is too fast for the shaman's invincibility, while in the latter case it's too slow. I played around with different combinations and got help from a double hit tech, where having two shots collide with the boss on the same frame can hit at the same time, saving some invulnerability period. This is the fastest sequence of actions I found for the pattern the shaman gave me (which I think is based off of a global timer also).
For phase 2, 3 hits can be performed at a time. If Maui's too close to the shaman after an attack he'll shield and waste time, so the player needs to periodically back off to bait him into attacking again. Do this for three cycles, and that's the videogame.

Improvements

As I briefly mentioned during the stages' breakdown, I had done a first version of this movie that's about two seconds slower than this submission. I then noticed a few improvements and decided to redo the movie to fix those mistakes. I found myself pretty surprised by how many spots were turning out to be improvable just by approaching them again with a different mind and I ended up saving much more time than I thought. Despite this, version 1 of this movie has faster levels 6&7 than this current submission. The movie would just refuse to sync for long after going back and making a small change in a previous stage, so I couldn't just use those levels from v1 as-is. Subpixel jank (I suspect) made it so I couldn't play some sections exactly the same and had to make some small sacrifices. I'm sure if I decided to re-do this movie from scratch and take some slightly different decisions in certain spots, it would change how things would play out in later stages and it could very well affect the final time by a lot. Global timers such as in 2-3 could also allow for bigger improvements, as well as possibly further optimizing some of the more complex segments such as the level 4 boss.
Playing on Practice mode would also provide a small time save.

Conclusions

I consider myself an RTA runner first and foremost, but TASing is always very fun and a great learning experience. Shoutouts to r57shell and Dooty for being the authors of the 2014 WIP TAS that taught me a lot of things about this game, Kirthar for being the only other person to have run the PC version aside from me, and Jistuma/FrancisJAM for currently being the only runner of the Genesis version and for having found the ceiling zip glitch and a few other tricks and pieces of information about the game. I hope this TAS was entertaining.

EDIT: Jistuma just found a considerably faster way to do 2-1 skip, and as such I feel obligated to update this TAS to include it. I'll remake the TAS and update this submission when ready.


feos: At last!!! Judging...

Samsara: Setting to Delayed, pending the improvement mentioned above.


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