Submission #1603: FractalFusion's GBA Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell in 36:04.70

Game Boy Advance
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (U) (M3) [f1].gba
Submitted by FractalFusion on 6/18/2007 2:00 AM
Submission Comments
FractalFusion's Splinter Cell GBA in 36:05. Roughly based off the hit XBox stealth action game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, this game is more of a pure action game with stealth elements.
This run uses VBA v19.2, but should work on v20.
If this run desyncs but does not desync on Acmlm's run, you have the more popular [f_5] ROM, instead of the [f1] ROM. Use the following patch to convert from [f_5] to [f1]:;7812795;;/fileinfo.html


  • Uses no predefined saves
  • No death (i.e. mission failure)
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Abuses programming errors in the game
  • Takes damage to save time
I chose no death for esthetic reasons. Dying refills health, which can make some parts late in the run faster. Also, I did not manipulate luck.

Programming errors abused

  • Turning on night vision with the lights on makes the view turn white, but makes cameras unable to see you! It really makes no sense, but it occurs in this game. Unfortunately (fortunately for entertainment reasons), the game will only let you use night vision when you are supposed to need it (i.e. you can turn off the lights in these areas). It is necessary to turn back to normal vision to access computers.
  • Entering an elevator and warping out of an area just as the alarm bar times out will freeze the alarm bar and allow you to move around without mission failure. There are some frames where you also become frozen but there is one after those frames where you don't. It is necessary to turn it off later since you can't access locked doors with the alarm on.
  • Grabbing something (pole or ledge) after falling will cancel fall damage.
  • Bumping Sam's head on any ceiling will cause him to run in midair for a few frames. If done underneath a ledge, you can run out from under the ledge and jump (essentially simulating a double-jump). This allows reaching a pipe or ledge that is normally out of reach.
  • In the first level, one floor can be skipped by falling through and barely avoiding what should be an instakill zone.
  • There are other little glitches but they are not so important.

No death

Death is defined as the red fadeout screen with "MISSION FAILED" (or its language equivalent) splashed on it, followed by warping to a checkpoint. It does look a bit funnier in Spanish mode. :)
Death refills health, thus making some parts (especially with turrets) faster.

About the game and the run

This game, although a version from a stealth action game, is more of a platformer. It is just as easy to run around and hit them from behind or shoot them down, and alarms don't matter if you can find an alarm panel and access it.
The fastest way to terminate an enemy is to drop from a height onto his head or shoot him (wobbling to cancel the gun-drawing animation). If that is not possible, then on levels where the enemies have guns, it may be possible to get them to shoot each other (friendly fire). Otherwise, you must whack them from behind, which is very easy to do. For multiple guards which you can't shoot, a smoke grenade is useful, but the opportunity rarely arises.
As part of the stealth feel, guards detect you even if their back is turned if you run at some close distance behind them. This can be circumvented just by jumping towards them, since jumping is just as fast.
There are a few ways to set off alarms in this game:
  • Let an unarmed worker run to an alarm panel and use it.
  • Let any "window guards" see you.
  • Let any "window guards" see a guard which saw you.
  • Walk in view of a camera (the sticky cam view shows the camera's view).
  • Exit a room with a conscious enemy around which saw you (except in T'Bilisi).
  • Mess up lock-picking or safe-picking minigames (except in T'Bilisi).
  • Touch the infrared lasers (in later levels).
  • In Nuclear Plant, let an unarmed worker see you.
By the way, these "window guards" (not necessarily in windows, but are background guards in general) may have rather bad blind spots, and may only see to one side, even though it doesn't appear that way.
When an alarm goes off, an alarm bar appears at the bottom and the bar decreases:
  • From Police Station to the first computer room in Nuclear Plant, letting the alarm bar run out will result in mission failure.
  • After then, letting the alarm bar run out will send SWAT members and a general alarm for a long time, after which it turns off by itself.
  • Setting off any alarm while in building exterior scenes or entering these scenes while the alarm is going will result in automatic mission failure or your character being frozen permanently.
Health is also a very important part of this run, particularly at later levels. Sam has 10HP maximum. Here is a list of what causes damage to Sam:
  • Fire - 2 damage (very short recovery)
  • Guards that stab/shoot/kick/throw grenades - 3 damage
  • Guards with firebombs - 4 damage
  • Damaging fall - 4 damage (ignores recovery)
  • Guards during sniper minigame - 4 damage
  • Turret fire - 5 damage
  • Fiery explosions/mines - 5 damage
  • Landing on a sea of fire/meat processor belt/any instakill zone - instakill
  • Falling off the bottom or side of the screen - instakill
  • Lethal fall - instakill
I frequently take damage from a guard to avoid more damage from a turret. Fall damage only counts if you land on ground. If you grab something, there is no fall damage.
Finally, there are some camera scoping/sniping minigames which are fun, especially sniping. You don't have to be that accurate and holding A speeds up the reticule. Whatever that thing is that looks like a wall you can't shoot through, you can shoot through it.
For those who care, here are the statistics that the game gives you after clearing the level:
LevelClear timeSafesBulletsAlarmsScore
Police Station1:3404280%
Defense Ministry2:5615665%
Caspian Oil Refinery2:4018175%
Nuclear Plant4:2510560%
Abattoir 15:48020075%
Abattoir 24:52117355%

Run notes


  • Not much to comment on because this level is so straightforward. There are no alarms in this level.
  • There is a shortcut where, by causing the floor to break and then going down and right, you can skip a floor. The game is supposed to kill you if you hit the instakill zone just above the fire, but by pressing right, I avoid it. I must grab the nearby pole to avoid taking fall damage.
  • There are other minor shortcuts by taking damage to save time. Not much since fire damage has very short recovery.
  • If you leave the last guard, you get stabbed right before accessing the locked door.

Police Station

  • I carefully choose setting off the alarm to when I exit the elevator. If the alarm goes off before then, it makes it hard or impossible to access an alarm panel, since the elevator action has long delay. Remember that if the alarm timer runs out, the mission fails.
  • I access the computer right away and let the camera catch me. Anytime you enter an area with nearby window guards while the alarm is on, it chases them and you don't have to worry about them after turning off the alarm.
  • Major glitch: Wearing night vision goggles in bright light turns off cameras! I must turn it off to access the computer.

Defense Ministry

  • Just run through. Turn off alarm panels when necessary. Sometimes, it is possible to delay when the alarm is set off if you keep running.
  • I set off the fourth alarm after exiting the elevator, so it cancels the alarm that would result when leaving a room with conscious guards around. I have to wait to turn off the alarm; otherwise the nearby worker turns it back on.
  • It just so happens that the fifth alarm (with Lambert's message) coincides with the green keycard safe, so I don't need to wait for the card. This is vital as I barely make it back to the alarm panel.
  • Another major glitch: First, I access the computer and the camera sees me. Then I run right to the elevator. If you warp out of a room just as the alarm timer runs out, it will stay on with no mission failure, and you can move (although if off by a frame or two, you can't move). Then, I can run by everything. I am forced to turn off the alarm in the third last room because you cannot access locked doors when the alarm is on.
  • The night-vision goggles trick gets by the last camera.


  • No bullets in this level. So I rely on melees, or friendly fire.
  • A trick I used back in the first level can be used here. Basically Sam Fisher dies if he falls too far and lands, but it he breaks the fall by grabbing something (the ledge), he takes no damage at all. I do this for the first fall, saving time instead of rappelling down. However, I can't do it on the second fall since there is nowhere to grab.
  • During the exterior building missions, if you let anyone see you, [lambert] the mission's over [/lambert]. This includes parts of later levels. So I can't just run by them.
  • Double friendly fire!! I have to fiddle with the camera view a bit to make it work. It's better than tossing a smoke grenade.
  • There is a notable lack of alarm panels later on (after the room with the yellow keycard), so I can't set off alarms.
  • The camera scoping minigame at the end is easy, but I didn't know about speeding up the reticule (for the last shot) until I did part of the next level, so I corrected it. I would not even have figured out until much later if I didn't casually attempt to beat the last level (yes, I started TASing the game before I beat it). Speaking of the camera shots, they can be very inaccurate and the game will still count them as good.

Caspian Oil Refinery

  • There are no alarm panels in this level. That is not to say that there are no alarms. If you leave an area with a conscious guard around, the alarm goes off. And you fail, unless you are so close to the end that you can beat the level first.
  • Guards throwing firebombs on an oil rig? Sam Fisher isn't the only insane person in the world.
  • There are two turrets in this level, and since turrets take half health, I can only run by one of them (the one which I can't disarm before taking a long route). Dying to refill health may be faster.
  • I save one shot for Piotr. This guy picked up a huge speed boost over the console-to-handheld transition and takes four shots to kill. The one shot plus three in the nearby ammo box are just enough.
  • A glitch that is useful is to bump Sam's head on a ledge ceiling while jumping. This causes Sam to start running in mid-air for about 6 frames, whereupon Sam can jump if he runs away from the ledge ceiling. This shortcut skips some unnecessary acrobatics on pipes.


  • In case you don't know, this shipyard is a reference to the Vselka sub missions which are XBox bonus missions (via XBox Live). This doesn't refer to the shipyard in Pandora Tomorrow (Splinter Cell 2), although Pandora Tomorrow GBA has a mission also called "Shipyard" referring to that.
  • No alarm panels in this level, but there are alarms.
  • These guards shoot like crazy. Also many opportunities for friendly fire, which I abuse.
  • For the two guards near the elevator, I land on one and shoot the other. I can make them shoot each other, but it would be slower.
  • Jumping from near the top of the ladder would result in fall damage, so I slide down partway first.
  • When the sub floods and Sam is underwater, it is faster to jump than run.
  • The glitch I used in the previous mission can be used here.

Nuclear Plant

  • This level is a reference to the Nuclear Power Plant mission in the PS2 version (exclusive).
  • I don't start with any bullets and ammo is too far out of the way.
  • The guys in orange suits automatically set off alarms if they see you. There is also one part where an alarm always seems to go off, if, in the previous room, you let the technicians see you.
  • After I exit the room with the objective computer, no longer in the game does the mission fail if the alarm timer runs out. Instead, you get SWAT guards running around, and after a long time, the alarm ends. You can't turn off the alarm if it times out.
  • I wait in the part before the elevator due to problems avoiding another alarm after entering.
  • I take damage from a guard to avoid more damage from the turret.
  • The acrobatic part in the last third of the level is rather boring to me. After the health pack, there seems to be no way to avoid taking damage from the steam things.

Abattoir 1

  • abattoir = slaughterhouse
  • In this level, bullets and health are at a premium. I rely a lot on friendly fire.
  • Three exterior building sections, and you fail if they see you. Also, if you exit a building to enter these areas while the alarm is on, you fail or get stuck. It's boring, but what else can I do? Note that it is possible to avoid failing by entering the building in time after they see you, but there is no good place to set off an alarm in this level. I can't access turrets and locked doors, and if I try to untie hostages or use the health pack, I get shot.
  • In the parts with the meat hooks (yes, this is literally a slaughterhouse, and this part is cheesy), it is possible to jump backwards or forwards on the hooks (but not both). In the first part, I can't go forward more than one for some reason, so I must go backward. In the second part, I can go forward, but not to the second hook from the right which has meat on it. In all other parts, I can go forward as I please.
  • The room with the long vertical drop and slots in the walls is the laser room. Infrared lasers (which appear as dots in thermal vision) are in the slots. If Sam touches these dots, an alarm goes off. Since I don't want that to happen, I avoid the dots. It is also necessary to grab a pipe; otherwise Sam dies from a long fall. I rescue the hostage in this section first, then go back for the other hostage, since I need health.
  • In the next meathook section, I drop a smoke grenade because I am out of bullets and I must stun the guards (or else the alarm goes off when I exit, resulting in mission failure).
  • Some crazy sniping action. It does not matter how many armed guards I shoot; the only thing that matters is the suited guys running up from the bottom of the screen towards the car in the middle. They start visibly hidden behind the "wall", but not only can you disable layers to see them, the "wall" isn't really a wall at all, and you can shoot through it. You can't shoot them until they're activated, though.

Abattoir 2

  • They really bent the storyline from the console versions and had the ark in the abattoir, rather than the Georgian Presidential Palace.
  • In the minefield part (mines show up in thermal), I can skip the "Use your thermal vision, Fisher" message from Lambert by jumping correctly.
  • More slots means more lasers. I can't get by them so fast.
  • I took a long alarm here. Even though I had to wait to access the locked door, I had fun knocking out guards, and I don't need to use ammo to get more ammo from these guys.
  • Some other meathook section here. Same as previous level. I don't have one more shot for the last meat. I have to disarm both turrets here.
  • Final part of the game. I snipe the 12 guards very fast. Note that you cannot snipe them when they are running. After that, I snipe the pilot's window 3 times. It is faster to snipe the guard closer to the helicopter last (so the reticule gets to the copter faster). Clearing the message sooner does not make it any faster.

Closing notes

I'm considering doing a TAS of SC Pandora Tomorrow GBA, although the game has quite a different style.
Thanks to the following who helped:
  • nitsuja, for identifying the ROM problem and encouraging me to use GoodGBA.

Truncated: If anyone wonders what's taking so long, both me and adelikat have failed to find this ROM, so the submission is on hold until that clears up.

adelikat: Both of use have the means to view this submission now, so no reason to have it on delayed anymore.

adelikat: Good enough response, accepting for publication.

adelikat: Encoding.
Last Edited by TASVideoAgent on 8/18/2012 9:05 PM
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