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

Submission #815: TheAxeMan's NES Final Fantasy in 1:12:59.52

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Final Fantasy
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Final Fantasy (U)
Branch:
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 1:12:59.52
FrameCount: 262771
Re-record count: 25044
Author's real name: Frank Amoroso
Author's nickname: TheAxeMan
Submitter: TheAxeMan
Submitted at: 2005-09-15 02:05:33
Text last edited at: 2005-09-17 00:26:02
Text last edited by: DeHackEd
Download: Download (11969 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
This run completes the original Final Fantasy in 1:13:00, which is 17:48 faster than the current version by Mookish. That's longer than most movies on this site! Has any movie ever been obsoleted by as big of a margin? Anyway, my general strategy is completely different, and many new techniques are used.

Despite being faster, this is still a pretty slow-paced run. However, I think it should be much more interesting as the battles are even more lopsided than before.

At some point I save my game, turn the power off and reload it. So of course that will blow away any save data you had. The save data doesn't seem to be able to cause a desync, so don't worry about deleting it before playing the fcm. But anyway, I think I'm the first to do this in a timeattack.


New techniques

  • NPC movements are manipulated to keep bats out of my way, while others I need to talk to are closer.
  • No armor is ever used. This actually works out in my favor, as an unarmored fighter evades enemy attacks at a pretty high rate.
  • I only acquire four weapons throughout the game:
    • Short Sword
    • Silver Sword
    • Flame Sword
    • Bane Sword
  • I never visit an inn. Houses and cabins are used so that I don't have to go into town. I buy them all at once and use them in only two different spots. The first round of 4 cabins is used for the power cycle but also to give me enough hp so I can take a couple hits from the Blue Dragon. The house used before entering the Temple of Fiends gives me a little hp to work with in the final dungeon.
  • With only one character alive, everything is faster. I can flee from battles faster, but also fight more effectively because there are fewer variables to manipulate. But even better, I only need to find weapons for one character.

Enemy encounters

  • The enemy groups follow a pattern which can be broken down and analyzed (though it's a little complex.) This is done to avoid fights which can't be run from.
  • An easy way to avoid no-run fights is to simply pace around in a previous area where that spot on the list gives you a runnable encounter. But it takes extra time for all those steps, not to mention the extra encounters which need to be run from. I try to avoid this, but it's still a very helpful technique. In the end, I manage to reduce pacing significantly and fight fewer battles. This is particularly obvious in the Sea Shrine. However, in Earth Cave I have a couple wizard battles which Mookish avoided.
  • Encounters happen after a certain number of steps. However, some squares do not count, providing a way to move encounters around without taking extra steps. These squares are very valuable to push back encounters in some situations, but I avoid them when I want to advance the list. Free squares include damage areas, docks, towns and doors.
  • I actually save my game, emulate a power cycle, then load my game and continue. I don't think any other runs do this. Anyway, this is done to reset the encounter order, avoiding some fights which I can't run from.
  • When I do fight an enemy group, I manipulate them to be the smallest group possible. For example, the wizard fights in Marsh Cave and Earth Cave give you 2-4 wizards and I always get the 2. In the final dungeon I have to slug it out with the Phantom in order to get 2 Zombie D's in the next battle. It seems that every instance where the bane sword works leads to a full house of four Zombie D's which is a little more than I can handle. Besides, it gives me a chance to show off my 3-hit power with the flame sword.
  • There are 184 'random' encounters total. Of those encounters, five are no-run fights, and there's the one fight where I opt to beat the geist. To contrast, Mookish has 200 'random' encounters, of which nine are no-run, and he opts to fight two battles near the beginning for some reason.

Avoided fights

  • The geist I smash after leaving Marsh Cave was not a no-run fight. This is done to get the rest of the cash needed for the silver sword.
  • There's only a very small chance to avoid a surprise attack from shadows. In order to manipulate this, the previous fight has to be either a single enemy or a preemptive attack. And this is just for the 3-7 shadow groups outside of Earth Cave. The 2-4 shadow groups in Marsh Cave always get first strike, but I avoid them. Even for the 3-7 groups, I can't get two fair fights in a row, so I make sure that doesn't happen. Many thanks to Mookish for finding out that this is possible at all.
  • Two wizards is an easy fight, but three is much tougher. So I put up with the battles in Earth Cave and avoid fighting them in Ice Cave.
  • If I left Earth Cave just after beating Lich, I'd run into those annoying shadows. To manipulate a fair fight, I would have to add an extra turn to Lich. Instead, I pace a bit to avoid the shadows. I am looking to move up the encounter list at this point anyway, so taking the extra steps fits in very well.
  • Before getting the airship, the extra sailing actually avoids a fight. Why? Some spots on the step list are only land battles while others are land and dungeon battles. But only a few are land, dungeon and sea battles. So sometimes extra sailing can actually avoid a fight.
  • I avoid another ghost fight in the Sea Shrine by only four steps. If I would have paced to avoid the first group of ghosts, then I would have to fight another group later. This is also mainly why I skip the Mage Staff. With only one guy who can only fight, the 9-sahag fight is out of the question, but 2 ghosts are actually not that bad.
  • The power cycle avoids Zombulls on the way to Lefein.
  • If I had taken one more step in Gurgu, I would have been stuck fighting Fires. It's really a shame because in Gurgu I could just avoid some lava to add the steps without adding time. Instead, I land the airship at the optimal spot to give me the steps I need.

Points of Interest

  • I activate the ghost door graphical glitch by pausing on a door.
  • I finish the game on level 16, though less experience is earned than the current run, which ends at level 11.
  • Warmech makes an appearance when I cross his domain on the top floor of the Sky Palace. He's a super-enemy who is just about as powerful as the baddest bosses in the game, so you can imagine why I just run. :)
  • Those who have played all the Final Fantasy games will recognize the names of my 'extra' characters. Vicks and Wedge first appeared in Final Fantasy 6, (USA's FF3) where they survived the entire first scene. Biggs appears as a minor character in some of the later games. It's speculated that Square's source material for these names is the first Star Wars movie. In a pointless scene restored to the extended version, Luke meets up with these old buddies before lauching for the Death Star battle.
  • In the Kraken fight, his INK attack never manages to blind me. However, I wouldn't mind if it did, as blindness is actually completely meaningless in this game due to a bug. Slow actually works, but since I'm only capable of one hit anyway when I fight Astos, I don't care either.
  • There's a glitch with levelups that you probably won't see much outside a timeattack. In this run it's an annoyance that I live with. Basically, you're only allowed one levelup per battle, no matter how much experience you get. You'll never lose experience, but you will catch up on the next fight. On this run, it comes into play in two places:
    • Beating Garland with 4 survivors isn't quite enough to reach level 2. Then beating the pirates with two would take me to level 2 with enough experience for level 3. I get around this by letting Garland take out one of my guys so that the survivors reach level 2. Then I reach level 3 after beating the pirates.
    • Astos gives me enough experience to reach level 6. However, after beating the Vampire I actually have enough for level 7. So I'm not really caught up until the first wizards fight in Earth Cave.

From a technical standpoint, timeattacking this game is very different from most runs on this site. Planning is everything. Reading up on the guts of the encounter system is part of it, but it's also critical to just know the game well. There are many, many variables which need to be managed simultaneously and it really takes a miracle to get things working out right. The encounter list and step counter are always running. Of course a lot of the same skills which help timeattacking other games apply here too.

This is definitely improvable, but not by another 17 minutes unless some major shortcuts are discovered. I have ideas for improvements in a few places which probably only total a few seconds. I've also been working on a program to compute enemy groups on a given path, which may lead to discovering an even more optimal path. I may be able to tweak the manipulation wait times in some places, particularly when it takes over 400 frames to get my bane sword kill. However even if everything works out amazingly well, I can't see more than a few more minutes coming off.


Thanks to

  • Previous timeattackers, for solving many of the game issues for me. :) Like getting gold for the bottle and using the bane sword effectively. Particularly Mookish, who produced the first reasonable full runs.
  • Everyone who contributed in the forums. I thought I knew this game pretty well, but to make this run I had to reach a whole new level.
  • The gamefaqs masterminds who have dissected this game very well. In particular, I relied quite heavily on the almighty 'character list' compiled by Patbuns17.

Run details

  • As fast as possible, after spending a few seconds entering interesting names.
  • Manipulates luck, but only a little bit ;)
  • Uses glitches
  • Uses an emulated power cyle

DeHackEd: Encoding!

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