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

Submission #6998: Winslinator's INTV Thunder Castle in 02:04.57

Console: Intellivision
Game name: Thunder Castle
Game version: any
ROM filename: Thunder Castle (1982) (Mattel).int
Emulator: BizHawk 2.4
Movie length: 02:04.57
FrameCount: 7464
Re-record count: 3627
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: Winslinator
Submitter: Winslinator
Submitted at: 2021-01-15 00:34:39
Text last edited at: 2021-01-27 05:21:00
Text last edited by: fsvgm777
Download: Download (3068 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:
Thunder Castle is a whimsical medieval fantasy game. You're the knight in shining armor on your quest for survival. Your journey takes you through the enchanted forest where three dragons wait with heated breath. Then, through a castle maze with six wicked wizards. Finally to a dark and dreary dungeon where the nine demons present your final challenge!

Along the way, you'll find creatures that energize your knight when touched, giving you the strength to slay your enemies. Keep your eye out for treasures too as they can grant other special abilities!

(Link to video)

Genre: Action

Goal: To complete one loop of the game's three stages. This was submitted in light of a recent rules change regarding games which loop.

AI Manipulation

Enemies always try to take the shortest path towards the player, with a left/right bias over up/down. When the player is energized, the AI seeks towards the furthest location from the player. These rules are abused to lure the enemies into traps. You'll notice some disappearing/reappearing walls scattered throughout the stages; the AI is never aware of the state of these walls so they can be manipulated to get stuck on or in these walls and be picked off easily.

Subsequent enemies only spawn in one location per maze layout. This fact is abused in all instances, with all yellow and red enemies being instantly slayed.

The rat in level 2 generally runs away from the player but can also enter phases in which it either freezes or walks back and forth in cycles. Dashing towards the rat at the start of one of these cycles before it reverts to running away was done here.

Luck Manipulation

There are three different maze layouts possible for each of the three stages. To get each most optimal layout, I wait a few frames before slaying the final enemy of each previous stage.

Bats in level 1 can start from and fly towards varying locations. In this movie, the first bat touched is the earliest possible time at which a bat can be touched, resulting in the earliest dragon kill. The second bat touched is manipulated to fly right towards the spawn location of the subsequent dragons.

Skulls in level 3 also spawn in random locations and are easily manipulated by several actions of the player. Therefore, all skulls spawn in convenient places.


Suggested Publication Notes

Insert first two paragraphs in these submission notes here

Winslinator completes one loop of the game's three stages in record time.

feos: We fixed the rule on difficulty loops in games without an ending, but this submission challenged the same rules once again!

It was unclear what to do with games that have randomized content. The letter of the rule wants all new content to be exhausted, so the simplest solution would be to demand that all layouts are displayed and completed.

But it gets more complicated with games where layout variations don't have a hard limit, or even worse - layouts are generated dynamically. A good example is NES Bomberman: it generates destructible bricks according to some algorithm, and exhausting all those variations would not result in unique challenge, only in much, much more of basically the same gameplay.

Blindly demanding literally all content to be displayed, even if it has to be luck-manipulated, even if that manipulation may not be easy to do, only to see more of the same in the end, is not a great solution to this dilemma.

Disregarding content that doesn't naturally appear as you just play further, also doesn't feel like a helpful approach, because people may be interested in the challenges and aim for more completeness, and that's basically encouraged for enging-less games! More complete movie obsoletes less complete.

Adding a hard ruling on where to draw the line exactly - when to demand all randomized content to be displayed and completed, and when to completely disregard it - feels like investing a lot of mental effort into something that may not be future-proof in the end. And even if it is, there's still very little gain really in forcing one hard borderline.

For games like this one, it'd be cool if the players had an official option to play through all the layout variations just for completeness. I know it's not an in-game option, and the rule wants all available levels to be played if that's an option. So we've had a talk among the judges and admins, and agreed to give those options to TAS authors, somewhat similar to difficulty loops, where one can aim for either shortest movie or most challenging gameplay.

So if there's a run of this games that exhausts all the difficulty and plays through all 9 layouts, it'd obsolete this run.

In terms of entertainment, since enemies are killed almost instantly, there's very little movement or chancing, and this game is already somewhat simplistic compared to what usually goes to Moons. So all you're left with is staring at the level layout and listening to music. Well, and enemy screens before levels too. Since movement and action is only a minor part of this run, and even that it rather sparing, I'm accepting this run to Vault.

fsvgm777: Processing. EZGames69 is handling the encodes for this one.

Similar submissions (by title and categories where applicable):