After watching the amazing speedruns on TASvideos from afar for a long time, I decided it was time to buckle down and make my own tool-assisted speedrun. And what better place to start than my favorite NES game ever, "Super Dodge Ball"? God knows how many hours I killed on this game as a kid. I even wrote an FAQ about it (you can find it at GameFAQs, although some of the content is not correct).
For those who have not played the game before, here's a brief synopsis: it's an imaginary form of dodge ball played at a professional level. Each team is made up of six members, and before each match you can choose which members will play point in the inner court, and which members will guard the opposition in the outer court. The object is to knock out all three of the opponent's point men.
Players in the inner court have the advantage of being able to employ "Power Shots", which are akin to the special moves of fighting games. Each character has two Power Shots; one ground and one aerial. Both require you to run briefly before throwing the ball, but aerial Power Shots only require one running step, while ground Power Shots require as much as eight steps depending on the character.
This speedrun plays World Cup mode in Difficult, which means the AI will sometimes throw Power Shots and have a higher accuracy rate at catching the ball. As I found, the AI is very difficult to manipulate, and much of their actions seem to depend on which frame the match begins; some matches take longer as a result, particularly Iceland.
World Cup mode forces you to play Team USA, which is a little disappointing considering the wide variety of teams; it doesn't detract from the entertainment value of the game, though. The best players are easily Sam and Randy; Sam has the best ground Power Shot on his team (and arguably in the game), and Randy has the most powerful aerial Power Shot. However, you start with Sam, John and Mike, the latter two of which are not so good. However, since the CPU takes forever to change its roster, I wait until India to switch to Randy/Sam/Steve, for reasons I'll get into below.
The timing on each match is counted from the frame you gain control of your team to the frame the damage indicator for the last opponent's character appears.
ALL-STARS - 1047 frames
The brief walk downwards at the beginning of the match is to target Fred, who can be killed with one jumping Power Shot. At the end of the match, Steve can throw the ball four frames earlier than he does, but doing so will inexplicably leave Tom alive.
ENGLAND - 870 frames
This is pretty quick as-is, but is hampered by a lot of dead ball time. It can't really be avoided, as it's not possible to hit both James and Henry with a Blaster at this angle. It's still the quickest match in this run.
INDIA - 1199 frames
I use luck manipulation to get Swami off the team at a cost of 211 frames. This is worth it because Swami has the highest vitality in the game; even the strongest Power Shots only do two points of damage. Also, a glitch with Steve's Uppercut Power Shot is showcased.
ICELAND - 2204 frames
The AI of Iceland combined with the ice making it impossible to do precision runs made this fight a little frustrating for me. Things that look like they make the fight last longer are actually required because either Power Shots won't aim correctly or the AI will catch my attack.
CHINA - 1085 frames
This team's low vitality makes for a quick match. There are several points where I have to pause or do things slower than I could because of screwy AI, particularly towards the end where I pass the ball from one outer fielder to the other in order to get my point men to come closer to the divider.
KENYA - 1460 frames
Taha's vitality is annoyingly high, so I once again use luck manipulation to get him off the team. I also switch Steve for Mike; Mike is much weaker than Steve, but the reason will become clear in a moment. In any case, Kenya's alternate roster is a pushover; not even the slow sandy arena is much of an issue in this speedrun. Watch out for the overkill on Eyo.
JAPAN - 1780 frames
Another match where high vitality is problematic, Sato can't even be manipulated off the team regardless, and the AI will never put Sato in a position where you can get the ball of a rebound. You also can't let Japan get the ball ever, because they're the slowest team in the game and they'll always pass the ball to Fuji, the slowest character in the game. Fortunately, unlike Kenya, Japan are suckers for Sam's Blaster; unfortunately, that makes for a fairly uninteresting match. Your mileage may vary, though; I know I loved knocking people around with the Blaster all day when I first started out.
USSR - 3657 frames
This team has the most consistent AI in the game in terms of catching, which is why I throw the ball twice at USSR with the intention of the ball being caught and returned. They also have ridiculously high energy and vitality, which means this match is going to take a long time regardless of what I do. I manage to finish off Pavel early in the game, though. I've got that going for me, which is nice.
TEAM SHADOW - 3242 frames
A clone of Team USA. The AI here is pretty much the most annoying things about Japan (always passing to the A guy and throwing power shots) and USSR (catch most everything), plus they have pumped up vitality and agility. What this means generally is that none of my tricks to make matches quicker and more entertaining will work, so I'm forced to use Japan's strategy again. Fortunately, since I have Mike on point, he's also on Team Shadow and he has the weakest vitality of them all.
adelikat: Good response from viewers. Accepting for publication