Tool-assisted speed play of Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade, unlicensed action-adventure game for NES that divided the action and adventure into two main game modes.
- Emulator used: FCEUX 2.1.4a
- Aims for fastest completion time
- Does not use passwords
- Old PPU is probably better emulation, but both should work
To understand Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade, it helps to understand the first Linus Spacehead game and the kinds of games CodeMasters was known for. CodeMasters was a British game company that started out coding games for early budget home computers such as the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the Amstrad CPC, and the Commodore 64. Many games in that period were notorious for their difficulty, where platformers would quickly deplete the player's lives with one-hit kills on the many precision jumps throughout. When CodeMasters started coding for the Nintendo Entertainment System, this unforgiving style of game design was carried over into some of their early releases such as Quattro Adventure and The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy. Linus Spacehead was one of the games on the Quattro Adventure 4-in-1 compilation, a simple but challenging platformer wherein a space alien who looks strikingly like a human boy in a superhero outfit must journey from where he crashed in the depths of the sea all the way up to the top of the sky in order to send a faster-than-light radio signal to call for a ride home, all set to strange randomized background music. Click here to see how I pull it off without dying.
But it was Dizzy that was CodeMasters' real claim to fame in their early years, a game series which employed a combination platformer-adventure element: Rather than merely find objects and search for the places they belong, Dizzy had to find objects and dodge baddies and perform tricky jumps to reach the places they belonged. Many of CodeMasters' other early games copied that success with similar platforming-fetch-quest combinations, and so it was that Linus Spacehead was given a sequel that would turn it into a true action-adventure. And why not? Linus Spacehead had already borrowed concepts from Dizzy such as riding bubbles and sinking through clouds! But where Dizzy did platforming and adventuring at the same time, Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade segregated the game styles so that "arcade" areas with levels reminiscent of the original Linus Spacehead were gateways between "adventure" areas where Linus was indirectly controlled by a roaming cursor, with commands and an inventory in the style of SCUMM.
It's only in the arcade areas that Linus can die, and so they can end the game of any player who was doing all right in the adventure areas but doesn't have enough platforming skills. But in the vein of The Guardian Legend, once an arcade area is completed, it never has to be entered again; the player can then move between the two adventure areas freely, only having to watch a scene of Linus running that route on the planet map. This calms the gameplay down until the player figures out how to unlock the next area. A password system in the adventure areas allows players to easily continue their games after switching off the system or after losing all their lives, as after a Game Over the game will automatically enter the last password received on the Password entry screen.
So what's our hero up to this time? Well, Linus has returned to his home planet of Linoleum, where he finds that no one believes his story of discovering the planet Earth. Actually this doesn't make much sense to me, since we saw Linus get a ride from the moon, so you think he would have said "Hey, check out that planet I escaped from! It's full of advanced life! Let's swing by for a closer look!" And depending on which manual you read, Linus either saw a sign post pointing out Earth, or he read about it in his guidebook, so I wonder how much of this "legendary undiscovered planet" business is a retcon.
Anyway, although the game doesn't spell any of this out for you when you first turn it on, Linus's goal is to get off Linoleum with a new car and a camera so that he can revisit Earth and bring back proof and maybe entertain dreams of being a world-famous explorer, starting with nothing but his birth certificate. He has to visit many places both on-world and off-world and solve many object puzzles to reach his destinations. I would say the puzzles are easy enough that children could enjoy the game, but I have to wonder what kind of children's game has the hero gambling all his money, buying someone else's driver's license off the black market, and stealing parts to build a missile, not to mention giving the impression that "icing sugar" has anything to do with actual ice.
And so I decided that this game was fun and varied enough for a tool-assisted perfect play. While Linus doesn't have any fancy moves, the platformers are still exciting because of all the close calls due to Linus's weak jumping ability, and the general adventure is interesting due to the route planning and item management, plus I get to whip the cursor around whenever I'm waiting for Linus to catch up. Now I already discussed this a lot on the game's topic, but I think it will be brought up again anyway, so now I will explain:
Why I chose this version
CodeMasters is a multi-platform game developer, and Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade was chosen to lead their action-adventures onto 16-bit platforms like Sega Genesis alongside Fantastic Dizzy. In the process of making numerous ports, the game was updated in various ways and given the new name Cosmic Spacehead, just as Fantastic Dizzy was an update of Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy. Most of the same changes were made in a later NES version which I believe was only released in Europe. The first superficial differences are that Linus was given the new name Cosmic, and he was given a new look for the consoles that would support it, going from this:
to looking like this:
I think this guy looks kinda silly in the action stages with his big new sprite when the enemies weren't redrawn to match the new style at all, only given a bit more shading. (Fantastic Dizzy took the opposite approach and made everyone but Dizzy larger, so as to give them all cute cartoon eyes.)
There was a new 2-player combat arena that was largely irrelevant to the rest of the game. The "16-bit" systems also had the graphics completely redone for the adventure towns, with a new art style that exaggerated the alien cartoonishness even more, dedicating more space to the floor than the sky so Cosmic would now move up and down across the open floor space. I'm not sure the new graphics are totally an improvement; I tend to prefer the broad spaces and clear-cut corners of the 8-bit versions over the impossible angles and more outrageous coloring schemes. The action stages couldn't be changed as much of course, but the Genesis and Amiga versions received new backgrounds that scroll differently, platforms in some places such as Formica and Linograd had their elevations changed, and when Cosmic jumps and falls the foreground scrolls away from him. The Genesis version also adds a few more sound effects and a round window around the action areas, which I just find obnoxious. I also think the NES versions have the best music, evoking lots of emotions, while the attempts to port it mostly made the music blander. Basically what was impressive on NES felt mediocre on Genesis et al.
But the real reasons for version choice in my opinion have to do with difficulty. Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade has a huge difference from Cosmic Spacehead in the platform areas as Linus still follows the physics of his original game, where once Linus jumps, he can't change his forward velocity until he lands again, which means you have to plan your jumps carefully as you can't double back. Linus is also slipperier than Cosmic, possibly to allow for starting a jump at lower speed more easily. And in some versions, including NES, Cosmic Spacehead jumps significantly higher than Linus Spacehead, making previously impossible jumps possible. Finally, if you run Cosmic Spacehead on a PAL NES, Cosmic will run much faster in most of the action stages, though the rest of the game will be a bit slower as usual. I know some will argue that the version with the greatest speed and maneuverability should be preferred, but I think it's the poor maneuverability of Linus Spacehead that makes the game more interesting to play. Jumping over gaps and enemies has to be more precise to succeed, and finding the perfect jump speeds for when Linus needs to stop or turn back for a moment is an engaging puzzle for perfecting a TAS. I would think that players of the original Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade would be proud to see the same challenging game physics overcome in record time, rather than picking an easier version just because it's a little faster.
In some ways Cosmic Spacehead is more difficult: The passwords are now icons that can only be collected once, rather than a button code that can be used anytime. (But in either case they also function as the Continue after Game Over, as the game inputs your last password automatically.) In some versions the number of candies required for an extra life is bumped up to 15. And there may be different glitches in the adventure logic. But these are differences that shouldn't matter to a good speedrun.
Cosmic Spacehead on NES would definitely be a little faster than Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade just because of some other subtle differences: The cursor can move a little faster, Cosmic runs faster on the world map view, and the first choice of command to be selected with B was changed to Use, as it is the most frequently needed one. The 25% speed-up in the action stages in PAL mode might be enough to offset the 16% slowdown in the rest of the game too. But some of these changes only make me prefer Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade more, just because it's more of a direct sequel to the first game. Why should Linus's jumping become less realistic, and why should his speed change depending on where he is? Why would he change his name to Cosmic on all official documents, when he still likes using the word as a universal adjective and exclamation? Why ruin jokes like how the sign that says "STOP" in big letters plus writing that's too small to read matches its description, or remove cool details like the fireworks in Cape Carnival for winning something or the flying saucer in Linoville that confuses the satellite dish? I'm not just picking the "(U)" version, I'm sticking with the original story, rushed translations and all! PAL mode does make the flickering at the top of the screen go away though...
Starting the game
When you first turn on the game... Oh right, I didn't remember to try the CodeMasters logo skip for a long time. I actually figured it out right before I read Alden's explanation of how to do it in Dizzy the Adventurer. But even though I had already recorded half the game by then, I could still edit it in because the game is largely deterministic and randomness seems to be reset at the beginnings of levels. I choose English because... why not, all the signs in the game are in English too, and I doubt anyone will want a language change just to make certain verbs a bit faster to reach with the cursor because they're longer. So the first thing you notice is, they reproduced the whole box art accurately in the game itself!
That's pretty neat. It doesn't even use the same world map graphics from the game play!
Onto the first adventure area:
Old Lino Town
When starting out here, there's plenty to look at, but not much to do. (I don't think there's any significance to the discolored D on the post office sign...) There are two items lying in the street, but they can't be used yet. The Old Lino Town teleport key is used in the various teleporters around Linoleum, but as the telekey sets the destination, it can't be used in the same town. I skip this item anyway for reasons I'll explain later. There's a sub-area, the run-down-looking post office, but Linus can't afford its services yet. If we were to enter the area to the right, the way would be blocked by a large monster that we don't have a way to remove yet. If we go down the arrow to the kingdom of Formica, we'll get kicked out by the border control for not carrying a passport.
Thus I first go for the single Gold Lino Dollar. I can't spend it yet, even on the $1 machines in the post office, because the game won't let us run out of money and this is the only coin lying around on the whole planet. So I take it to the left for a way to multiply this cash. As you can see, while there appear to be many choices at first, you end up having to follow certain paths to reach a few goals, and the trick in route planning is coming up with the best intersection of those paths.
I should now explain how cursor movement works and point out that the way I picked up the coin was a little different in style from the habits I formed later. Linus can only ever run 1 pixel per frame, but the cursor will accelerate up to 2 pixels per frame if moved long enough, so it can eventually get far ahead of Linus without ceasing to guide him with just a bit of a head start. However, clicking anywhere with the A button or selecting a command with the B button causes the cursor to freeze for the next 2 frames, meaning that I can only repeat these actions once every 3 frames at the fastest, and clicking too much can cause the cursor to fall behind and Linus to stop running before the cursor has reached the destination despite its better per-frame speed. Usually when entering an area, the second frame I'm able to control the cursor is when I can get into a pattern of pressing A every 4 frames so that Linus keeps up precisely: He walks 1 pixel on all 4 frames, and the cursor travels 2 pixels on each of 2 frames. If I need the cursor to get ahead of Linus to activate something else, I'll let it advance one more frame before the first press of A.
This first adventure area is the only one where I have the awkward position of getting the cursor ahead of Linus while it's still in the 16 frames or so where it moves at only 1 pixel per frame. It takes up to 12 frames for it to go back to 1 pixel per frame depending on how long it's moved at the faster speed, so sometimes I let it decelerate to that for just a moment if I need to reposition the cursor by just 1 pixel. Usually I want it at the double speed at all times, and it's convenient that the double speed is remembered across areas--but only for the horizontal component. The horizontal acceleration and vertical acceleration are done separately, as you'll notice if you compare moving in a diamond shape to moving in a rectangular shape, and for some reason the vertical acceleration never carries over to the next adventure zone, but that's not too bad when we're mainly moving Linus left or right.
Finally, notice how the Lino dollar is at the "top" of the list, and the scroll button must be used to reach the birth certificate again, even though there's room for three items on the list. This always happens when new items are received and is important to remember for route planning. I should note that for clicking commands and objects in the graphic area, you can press A at the same time as pressing the D-pad again, but inventory items can only be pressed by A alone. Moving while pressing A even allows Linus to stand 2 pixels away from the actual hotspot of the object he's examining, but this usually only works with Pick Up; most other uses force Linus to stand in a specific spot every time no matter where the cursor was, which can be helpful in its own right.
Old Lino Town to Cape Carnival
And welcome to the first arcade area of Linus's world. "It's just like the regular world: The sky is purple, and the ground is always made of jagged rocks."
It's a nice touch how when you exit an area to the left, the platformer takes place right-to-left. I wish they would have put in a few vertical climbing levels like the first game for variety, but oh well. Here we see Linus dodging mechanical eggs on legs called Headcases and collecting Cosmic Candy. Cosmic candies give you a life for every 10 collected, which I don't need, but I made a little challenge of collecting as many as I could without wasting time to see what my final number of lives would be.
I finished with 12 lives plus a few candies, so that's about half the candies in the game collected without slowing down!
Unlike the first Linus Spacehead, where some enemies would only knock Linus backward and could be used to boost him ahead, every regular enemy in this game is lethal to the touch. "So this is gonna be our tip of the week on Awesome Video Games: Avoid everything on Planet Linoleum." All right that's enough Chet and Ace
It's worth noting that Linus only uses the running animation for jumping as long as I hold the D-pad, but I keep doing it for consistency and the peace of mind that I'm not slowing down even though I don't think that's possible during a jump.
Get it? Like Cape Canaveral, except... it's actually a carnival, just not a very lively one for what we get to see of it. This slot machine claims to have a "99.9% payout rate", but although you always win when you're down to your last dollar, you can actually lose a lot. But it's not random at all. Through extensive testing, I discovered that whether the Luk-E-Day machine pays out $50 depends solely on what amount of money Linus is currently carrying: At $1, $25, $30, and $35, he will win, and at all other amounts, he will lose. So the maximum amount of money is $84. They set this up so that it seems as if you win every 4 tries or so if you're spending your money appropriately, but with these dollar amounts, I found a slightly faster way to get the next payout than to lose 3 or 4 times.
I tend to use Give even when Use would work because it comes earlier in the cycle; if this were Cosmic Spacehead, then it would be the other way around. Oh, and most of the dialog in this game I skip through too fast to read, so I transcribed it for this submission text.
"Jackpot! 50 Lino Dollars."
The carnival attendant is helpful, but not in the way you first expect:
"Hi there! My name's Linus." "Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Win a trip to Detroitica!" "How do I do that?" "Why just enter our free bumper car race of course!" "OK count me in." "Do you have a driving licence?" "No." "Well you need one to enter but have this balloon as a consolation."
You need this balloon to reach the area where you get the driver's license, so it's impossible to have the license when you first have this conversation. I guess Linus must have lost his original license during the crash on Earth.
Old Lino Town
Yeah, I had to leave Linus standing still a couple times to get over to the scroll button and bring the money up again. It's annoying how the scroll buttons only exist on the far left side of the screen, although the items themselves extend all the way to the right. If I had gotten the balloon first, then I would have had to hit the scroll button to get the money to put it in the Luk-E-Day, so there was really no way around doing this at some point.
Old Lino Town Postal Service
The photo booth takes a while, but it's necessary for obtaining a passport.
"Neat snaps man!"
That and the SupaVend take 1 dollar each.
"Wow! Some gunpowder."
Yeah, they've got a gunpowder vending machine, don't ask me why. Anyway, this is the trick I referred to, where it takes a little less time to plug money into the SupaVend than into the Luk-E-Day, and either way I'm taking $1 off my total. Buying duplicate items does nothing to your inventory but change where it's scrolled to. If I'm going to the Enquiries office, it's fastest to buy gunpowder once on the way in and once on the way out.
The Lost Property Office doesn't let us have what we need yet, so it's onto Enquiries, which can be used for two different things in a row now that we have money.
"Hi there! My name's Linus. Can I have a passport please?" "Give me 2 passport photos and your birth certificate." "There you are." "And here is your passport." "Thanks dude!"
I think this "dude" was a woman in the 16-bit versions, I dunno.
"Hi there! My name's Linus." "Yeah, yeah. What do you want?" "Can you help me?" "If you want to buy something we sell notepaper and stamps. Period." "OK give me both." "That's 10 bucks pal." "Cosmic robbery!" "Thankyou for your custom. Have a nice day!"
The letter Linus writes is a non-specific plea for help from a "Cousin Linochev" from Linograd.
"I hope Cousin Linochev replies"
The reply isn't triggered by any event, it actually requires you to wait a few minutes in real time, so I tackle the next few areas and swing by the post office again later.
Old Lino Town to The Border
At the beginning is one of those times where I had to experiment with different speeds of jumping left before I could run right again. Also there's the first 1up I got, which I only dislike for restarting the music, a new enemy made of discs with eyes on top which is like the Headcases but doesn't jump when it turns around, and a final Headcase that was removed from Cosmic Spacehead.
The Border (Passport Control)
I think this was the first area I noticed where Linus will duck while the screen is fading in if I press Down, so I try to do that every time it works just to get more use out of the useless ducking pose.
With the passport, we receive access to two new areas.
"Hi there! My name's Linus." "Passports please." "There you are!" "Planet Earth! Planet Earth! You have a visa from an undiscovered planet!" "Pretty neat isnt it!" "Hmmmm. Well everything else seems to be in order. You may enter."
Actually I don't get how Linus has an "Earth visa" either, but meh. I like how you could Give Passport to start this conversation, but there's no point to doing that when you can just use Talk. Use usually works, but not in this case because they wanted to make a joke about how this official is totally incorruptible and will not be used.
The Border to Formica City
Time for funky music and colors and tree branch platforms like in levels 4 and 5 of the first game. One new enemy, the pretty blob, is bound to the ground like the others, but decelerates toward edges and accelerates away from them. The Flopters (flying fish) are the first of many enemies in the game to fly a vaguely sinusoidal path, slowing down at its predefined vertical and horizontal boundaries, but while they can end up in many places, I believe their motion is completely deterministic as well.
Oh uh, the jumping into the edge of the area doesn't do anything, I just do that for kicks.
Minor bug here, the telekey's hotspot is much longer than its graphic on NES. I guess the testers just never caught this. There's another wall off to the left that prevents Linus from exiting the city that way now, so I only came for that telekey.
The Border to The River Bank
Sometimes I have to miss a candy in order to set up a later jump at a better time, sorry. One cool thing added in the ports with the updated graphics was a series of invisible ledges at the beginning that allow Cosmic to stroll over a short section of the level on a higher path.
The River Bank
If you were to examine the bath tub, you would find that it has a leak, so the river can't be crossed at this time. All there is to do now is take the Icing Sugar, "perfect for toppings," and take advantage of Linus's running time to reposition the inventory.
back to Old Lino Town to...
An otherwise peaceful area is occupied by a one-eyed monster. Which may also be more peaceful than Linus thinks. Someone pointed out that it shouldn't be considered so scary when it doesn't even have a mouth, but to me it's scarier to wonder how it does eat. The solution to getting rid of it, which was given away by the title art, is to give it that consoling balloon from Cape Carnival. It's strange how the balloon can lift One-Eye into the sky but not Linus, who was able to ride similar-looking balloons and clouds on Earth.
The Wilderness to The Nearly Freezing Pool
I like to use the ducking ability during waiting periods, a move which I don't think is even helpful. You'll probably only notice it in the wobbly-run on a 60 fps display, though.
The Nearly Freezing Pool
Here we go, the infamous absurdity of using powdered sugar to make water colder, just because "icing" is called that because it resembles ice or whatever.
"The pool freezes over!"
Frozen Pool to Dodgey City
Spooky and annoying because you can only see what there is to jump on during lightning strikes. I think the NES version also tracks the mosquitoes further off-screen than some other versions do, another reason I feel it's more challenging and sophisticated. I recall I made a true pixel-perfect jump in one of these Dodgey areas, and some of the slowing down I had to do was so subtle it probably couldn't be seen with the naked eye.
Linus didn't want to spend long here! Just another Telekey grab. This place is already showing signs of the warped architecture from the 16-bit versions.
But you know what I find really absurd? That the water moved back into pointy waves again while it was frozen. Yeah, must have been simpler to always use the first animation frame...
No, picking up the Cool Pool didn't do anything, I just like to choose silly extra actions right when they can no longer be performed.
The Post Office
"Hi there! My name's Linus." "Good. I have a letter for you!" "Cosmic! Linochev has replied."
What the letter would have said was "Go to Cape Carnival, all will be revealed," but in this version we don't have to read the letter for Linochev's help to take effect, only receive it.
50 more Lino Dollars, and there's the Secret Tunnel Linochev arranged for us, but first a bit of explanation. The gimmick of the teleport machines is that each one has a different transmission flaw. Old Lino Town's teleporter causes Linus to sparkle brightly for a while
because he's a vampire. So normally you would go to another town to use that telekey to make Linus glow, then enter the tunnel to have a bit of light around him, in the one instance where something from the adventure areas affects how the action areas play out. But I didn't need to teleport to Old Lino Town in the route I chose, so I struggled through in the darkness by making another TAS from where I did use the glowing and copying it.
Cape Carnival to Linograd
There are no candies or enemies in this tunnel, only water pits of death to jump over. Do you notice how Linus's cape disappears sometimes? There are actually sprites hovering around him at all times to mask the background into a circle shape when you do have the glowing power, and with the long cape it will exceed the sprite limit.
It is a little baffling and boring to just watch Linus running and jumping in total darkness, so if you want you can download this TAS I made after using the Old Lino Town teleporter for reference. http://dehacked.2y.net/microstorage.php/info/1309042722/Tunnel.fm2
People think it must have been tough to build pyramids, but imagine building them upside-down. There's a big wall to the right, and this missile is not fully loaded, so there's nothing to do but journey to the left.
Linograd to The Caves
These almond-eyed pastel-colored Bob-Ombs explode into four deadly orbs that have random trajectories, but since I can jump them all it doesn't matter. It's not advisable to jump them in casual play, because as they stop to explode when you come near them, you need more precise timing to jump them when they're not walking under you. For once an enemy's graphic isn't enormous compared to its hitbox!
The 16-bit updated graphics made these more like cave paintings than Egyptian-style carvings, but this style is cooler because if you explore to the left a bit, you'll see the Linomen's eyes move around. And hey, it's Trevor the Toucan! I like these things they re-used from the first game, like the balloon you give to One-Eye or the moon in the ending. But the only item of use is the matchstick.
If you Look At the cave paintings, you're told they tell of an ancient time when Linomen explored the universe. I liked one fan's theory that all the really interesting people already left Linoleum to found new worlds such as Earth, leaving behind only a few boring bureaucrats who gradually forgot discoveries that had already been made. Linus Spacehead would belong to the former group, but he's a little slow and hasn't gotten out of this depressing place yet.
Huh, the Secret Tunnel doesn't lead to a map run. 'Cause you wouldn't see the little white figure if he's underground anyway?
Old Lino Town
Right, so I finally use the teleporter. It's... slow. "A million pieces take a long time to put together."
"Stress man! I'm locked in!"
Hah, the Dodgey City teleporter transports just fine; its flaw is that the door won't open. Maybe the door material went all stiff and couldn't bend to go up inside the top edge anymore. There just happens to be a key item inside the machine though, so it's necessary to teleport in to get it. You would think this rubber plug's hotspot would simply overlap the teleport machine's, but when I pick it up it actually leaves a hole behind, so the teleporter's hotspot extends further downward on the sides than in the middle.
Next time you're in Dodgey City, take a moment to notice how people and spiders peer through the windows whenever you stand still.
And immediately I take advantage of another teleporter. Although I decided to teleport to another city this time, it's interesting to note that if you simply Use Teleport Machine in Dodgey City, you will go back to Old Lino Town even if you never picked up the Old Lino Town Teleport Key. This is to prevent you from getting stuck if the only teleport key you ever picked up was Dodgey City's.
"Cosmic cloning! I'm seeing double!"
Great, two characters! The double can only stay in existence in this one city though, and you have to pull them both to the edge to escape. What's supposed to happen is that one Linus hits the first button to open the door, then the other Linus runs through to hit the other button which keeps the door open, because otherwise the door will close as soon as you leave the button. But due to a glitch, you never end up seeing the door rise, so people who fail to read these notes will wonder what I was even doing there. There's actually a lot of glitches that can be pulled off in this city, but the quickest one was to have the first Linus start to run to the first button, but switch to the other with Select in the middle of that, and this would make him think he had reached the other side or something? Oh well, what matters is it works, but I'm still not ready to proceed through.
The River Bank
Right, a logical enough puzzle, use the rubber plug from the Dodgey City teleport booth to plug the bath tub for a ride. There's no bathtub action stage to get to the next river bank even the first time you ride, so they almost didn't even need to make it a separate area.
Dodgey River Bank
It should have been faster to collect the surf board on the way in rather than on the way out because the cursor can get ahead while Linus is jumping, but then the bathtub turned out to be on a 2-frame rule so whatever.
Dodgey River Bank to Dodgey City
More darkness, with a slightly different palette! And now we learn that sometimes the music gets distorted if you grab candies at the right moments.
Linus wouldn't have been able to climb up here from the left.
Hoo boy, you miss a lot by missing this conversation.
"Excuse me sonny, can I help you?" "My name's Linus and I'm trying to get off this planet." "Why do you want to do that?" "So that I can discover a new planet!" "Which planet?" "The planet Earth!" "Earth! Ha! That place is only a legend." "It's not I've been there!" "You're mad sonny! But if you want to get off Linoleum you will need help." "Can you help me?" "You've come to the right place sonny! Shady Lionel at your service!" "How can you help me?" "Well I have a new line in used driving licences. One careful owner. Low mileage." "Can I have one?" "Sure sonny to you 50 bucks!" "50 bucks! Cosmic robbery!" "Well I have my overheads." "OK. Give me one."
Oh Linus, you say everything is cosmic robbery until you're the one doing the robbing.
So now Linus is eligible for that race, but I still need another 50 Lino Dollars for one more thing.
Dodgey River Bank
No I didn't really get to talk to the bath tub, because just touching it makes Linus get in and ignore all commands.
back to Formica City to...
This particular water requires a surfboard to cross. These bodies of water are picky.
Cosmic Coast to Foreign Soil
Ooh, surfing, the autoscrolling variation of the action stage! The freedom to move around is nice, I guess. But how cheap, that's just one frame of his jump animation on that surfboard. Another strange thing you notice with tools is that the fish's propeller-like tail fin isn't really spinning; instead all three parts vanish and reappear at the same time!
At some point near the end you're forced to move forward, which could make it so you couldn't go back for that last candy. It's also important to be far enough forward near the end, because it limits your speed then too.
Here's a cool glitch. If I Pick Up something first thing after clearing a message, I can receive the item and regain control of the cursor early. All I had to do was make Linus try to touch the water.
"Green water! Thats too grim to go in!"
Too bad I didn't find any other good place to use it.
This place is said to be a border of Linograd, but it isn't actually an entrance to there because a palette swap of Shady Lionel (or, in the 16-bit versions, your own internal monologue, I guess) tells you that you can't enter Linograd without a visa, and you can't get that visa. So from a gameplay perspective it's just a dead end.
I actually lost a bit of time selecting the surfboard because I had already obtained gunpowder before I needed it, but the time lost was less than the time gained by not losing to the Luk-E-Day.
Old Lino Town Post Office
"Hi there! My name's Linus." "Have you come to reclaim something?" "Yeah. What have you got?" "A cosmic joke book and a missile targetting device." "OK give me both." "First you have to prove you own them." "How do I do that?" "Well you look ridiculous so you can have the joke book. You seem to have everything needed to make a bomb so you can have the targetting device" "Gee thanks!"
Insert your own joke about how many things are wrong with this lost-and-found system.
The Cosmic Joke Book is useless, it's something you could have gotten at the beginning of the game, so no point in it clogging up the inventory until now. But you don't get the Missile Targeting Device until you collect the Match Stick, the Fuse Wire, and the Gunpowder, so that's why I've been putting this office off until now.
Old Lino Town
Before I forget to point this out, you lose a frame if the cursor is on top of your inventory when Linus reaches the exit. Yeah weird. A couple of times I move off of it just in time, tehee.
I know it's strange that you need a driver's license (or "driving licence", the British origin is showing through in phrases like this) just to ride bumper cars, but I remember from the original Quattro Adventure manual that Linus was planning to race his previous spacecar in a bumper car race, so I guess these people use the same cars to travel the universe as they do to participate in "bumper car races". So here comes an old conversation with a new outcome.
"Hi there! My name's Linus." "Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Win a trip to Detroitica!" "How do I do that?" "Why just enter our free bumper car race of course!" "OK count me in." "Do you have a driving licence?" "Yes! Here it is." "Are you Larry Flint?" "Yes." "Then go ahead. And good luck!"
Hey I remember Micro Machines the game! Or maybe this is based more on their BMX Simulator. This mini-game is a little annoying because it takes so long to accelerate, and because the other cars can't be bumped out of the way, they can only bump you, so you just have to give them room for a while. And the controls for turning only respond on 1 out of every 4 frames, which was just a cheap way to keep the car from spinning too fast.
The cars' paths are predefined, and so are the times when the shortcut wall opens, so there's only so much you can do to shave off time. It can be beneficial to just barely graze the walls of the track sometimes; although they'll slow the car's forward momentum a bit, they can also knock off the car's tendency to keep sliding off to the side during a turn. It should be noted that you don't have to beat the other cars to making 3 laps, only to make 3 laps in the allotted time, and I only used half of that time.
"Amazing driving dude! You've won a ticket to Detroitica!" "Gee thanks!"
So now at least Linus can visit a car factory, even if he's not in the money to actually buy a new car. But first we have to reach the bus stop that can take him there, which means clearing a path through Linograd...
The three missile parts can be installed in any order, but it's best to start with the one at the top to avoid button-scrolling because using up an item sends the inventory down to the next item on the list. The first two get you a
"Good move dude!"
"The missile is fully primed!"
Then a cool little automated scene where I can't move the cursor, but having it more to the right beforehand still helps.
While I'm thinking about it, I want to note that while you can choose to Give or Use an object in your inventory on another object already in your inventory, there's never any use for doing so that I've found. But if you try to use the Match on the Gunpowder or Fusewire, you get unique messages about how it's dangerous or wasteful, which is neat.
Linograd to No-Man's Causeway
Here's something convenient: If you hit the edge of a level after dying but before you finish falling off the screen, you won't actually lose a life. If you hit the far edge of the level during a death, you'll still get credit for completing it! So it was quicker to hit the last Banger than to dodge it, even though Linus gradually slows down during his death fall. Hitting the enemy on certain frames can make you enter the next room sooner than on others; I think it has something to do with a rapidly fluctuating jump power that I haven't fully deciphered, but have taken into consideration when necessary.
"Hoo-ray, and up she rises"
If I were to run to the right now, Linus would stop at a big gap and complain that he can't jump that far, so there's nothing to do but use this new teleport key.
to Old Lino Town to Linograd
"That was amazing man! I feel like I've got super strength!"
This super strength only lasts long enough for Linus to make that one jump he couldn't before, and everywhere else his jumping ability returns to normal. But he can keep jumping that gap as many times as he wants.
No-Man's Causeway to No-Man's Causeway
Wow, the levels that are the hardest to play also tend to be the hardest to TAS. These things with the long tongues force me to wait, and though the weird bird things move deterministically, the orbs they drop are somewhat random like the Bangers'. There's a time where it looks like I waited for a tongue thing when I didn't have to, but I was actually delaying my approach of the final bird thing to manipulate its bombing pattern into the one that was quickest to dodge. I had to wait anyway for it to drop low enough to jump over, so I think it turned out well.
The candies on the edges of the towers can be collected safely because there are invisible platforms certain distances below the top-right corners of the towers. I tried to leap directly to one of those on the first high tower once, but no matter what I did Linus couldn't make it.
No-Man's Causeway... the return of the revenge?
Okay, this is interesting. If you go to the area to the right, you'll get a new themed action stage which takes you into the next city, Linoville. But we already received the Linoville teleport key, and we need the teleporter's special effect anyway, so it's quicker to just go back to Old Lino Town's teleporter to teleport in to Linoville, skipping that first action stage completely. (Linograd's teleporter can't be used because it's "for incoming calls only", just to frustrate us.) This doesn't seem to have been disallowed in any other version of Cosmic Spacehead, so I guess the game designers didn't care that there was a little sequence break here, making it a reward for anyone who tries out their new items right away.
If you were to go back to the left of Linoville after doing this, you would go straight back to No-Man's Causeway as if you had already played the action area, but if you go back to the right after that, then you do get to play it. It wouldn't be possible to complete that stage backwards anyway, as like most action stages it features long drops which are impossible to climb back up.
The area I skipped featured even more of those secret platforms along the right edges of tall rock formations as in No-Man's Causeway, so that's something you could play around with there if you want. But since I made a movie of that tunnel thing, I decided to make a rough TAS of the skipped action area too, which you can download here: http://dehacked.2y.net/microstorage.php/info/512779693/Linoville1.fm2
"Crazy sensations man! I feel really unstable, like I'm not really here!"
The teleporter gives Linus to ability to... teleport! To any place the cursor points! This is another one-city-only power like Formica's cloning. It's necessary to jump to a camera shop which is located on the second floor but with no visible way to reach it. You could also warp onto the teleport machine you arrived in for the unique experience of standing on top of one of those things.
Not only are there cameras and films to examine, but trying to Pick Up or Use them will initiate the conversation with the shopkeeper as if you'd chosen him.
"Can I help you sir?" "You sure have some swell cameras here, how much do they cost?" "We have a broad range sir. Our Deluxe Model PLW4 costs 456 Lino Dollars. The Snapperman Deluxe Handy Holiday Camera costs 50 bucks including film." "I'll take the Snapperman." "Thankyou for your custom sir. Don't be a stranger now, please call again!"
I don't know why the cursor gets warped to the left after that. But now all the rest of the dialog in the game gets advanced by a timer so far as I know, so it's all slow enough to read and I don't have to transcribe any more!
Oh hey, if you want to see something funny, try re-entering Linoville for a third time on the left.
Linoville to Bus Depot
I like this minimalistic music with the arpeggios and the triangle color fades in the background, but the level is just your typical running and jumping past bouncing winged Voltorbs and crawling things. And here's the bus stop!
I played around with this a lot, as if Linus doesn't arrive at the depot with the correct items in hand, then the bus will not arrive to pick him up. It turns out the game checks for two things: The bus ticket to Detroitica, and the camera (plus film, so I guess it's really three things). Makes sense, since Linus needs a ticket, and he'll need a camera once he reaches Earth, so that's where our goals so far have come from.
I don't know where that "24 seconds" figure comes from, as the whole ride lasts much longer. I guess Linus's conversation with the bus driver distracted him so he couldn't drive as fast?
Enjoy the cutscene with the character portraits that vaguely remind me of Freakazoid. ...Wait a minute, weren't Linus's eyes blue in the manual artwork? Why are they green now? AGH
GET IT, IT'S LIKE DETROIT, ONLY WITH... OH FORGET IT
Detroitica Bus Depot
Looks like this won't be the friendly factory tour Linus was expecting. But he can still cycle through verbs to an old tune! There's actually an item you can pick up here, but I don't need it thanks to another sequence break.
Detroitica Bus Spot to Factory Reception
More cool spacey music that keeps it simple. And more back-and-forth flying things. I found this is one of the few stages where you really could run through it non-stop in real time if you memorized the right path. Strange how the entrance to the factory is a bunch of floating rocks with flap tops, with planet-like gravity...
Well, nothing going on here. The computer would be useful, but it can't be turned on without a key, and the key is in the next room.
Reception to Workshop
This zone's a little different. These welding robots don't kill Linus, but they do stun him and knock him onto the conveyor belt which takes him to the previous room, so it's like dying without losing a life. The first three can always be run past if you just run without stopping, as far as I know, but all the robots have some kind of rule to when they are able to fire, like one can only fire while moving left, and one can only fire while moving right. It is random when they actually stop to fire (or which side they fire from, I forget), so I had to luck-manipulate a couple of them by slowing down. The very last robot fires all throughout its path and is probably meant to be too difficult to dodge, so that's why there's a computer key you can collect before it, marking the one time where something from an action stage helps you in an adventure stage.
When you turn the computer on, you play a mini-game, one of those "Guess the password" games that works exactly the opposite of how passwords should work in real life. So the number of possible combinations is very small, the system tells you which parts you got right and which parts you got wrong, you get just enough tries to get it right if you know what you're doing, but if you fail, then the password changes, presumably without telling anyone who was entrusted with the original password. But if you succeed, then all those robots on the car line stop firing and you can pass through without trouble. It's all totally moot if you can dodge the last machine, but if you really want to see the password game, then stop the movie when Linus collects the key, get sent back to Factory Reception, and use it in the computer, it's not hard.
So what was with that face shape made out of cords at the end?
Here's the place where I would finally use an object if it weren't for the upcoming sequence break.
Workshop to Staff Room
AHH IT'S THE FINAL BOSS!! No, not really. It's just that right after seeing all those semi-realistic factory machines, we're suddenly confronted with GIANT MECHA-MAN "Vork" whose sole function is to use one hand to grab chunks of junk and toss them somewhere else.
This is another thing that was probably supposed to be unavoidable: Normally Vork is a good enough shot that the player keeps getting hit and knocked back, and after about five hits, Linus gets stunned and falls onto the conveyor again, which somehow brings him up to Vork's hand, which sends him into the Scrapyard adventure area. There Linus can find a Fire Extinguisher which will put out Vork's power source so Linus can pass him safely, but you need to find a bar in an earlier area which allows you to pry the extinguisher out of a car wreck first, and pass another action stage to get back to the reception area. (Hey, weren't there a couple of fire extinguishers on the wall of that car assembly line room? Too bad Linus couldn't reach one of those.) All this was skipped by careful jumping!
But if you want to see what the missing areas would have looked like, once again I uploaded a mini-movie. http://dehacked.2y.net/microstorage.php/info/1768915715/Scrapyard.fm2 I didn't bother to solve the puzzle to stop Vork, though. See if you can manage that on your own.
This was one time where it was really helpful to look up Linus's x-position in memory, as there's no scrolling, and how fast Linus goes varies in weird ways. So either running or jumping can be faster depending on whether Vork is moving forward or backward.
Nothing to do but try this button... Hey so that's where the staff went! Thanks for the free car! Hah, I didn't even shut down any robots for you this time. Have fun dealing with Colossal Chimp-Faced GutsMan, suckers!
Staff Room to Car Lot
A more normal action stage, but still a change of pace from all the roaming enemies. The safe way to play is to climb as high as possible before proceeding, but I'm obviously not about to go the safe way, but rather the non-stop way! Near misses all the way!
Holy wow, Linus has a speaking animation now! Funny, whenever he gets into an actual conversation with someone, he only sticks to choosing one of his four original idle animations.
When the starfield stops scrolling so fast, the asteroids appear. Now, you would get the impression that the goal is to dodge the asteroids, but in fact nothing ever happens if you keep dodging them; they just keep coming. So the actual goal is to ram into as many asteroids as possible as soon as possible so Linus will give up and go to the next scene. The car ends up with loads of damage marks that don't appear in the 16-bit ports--watch out that bubble dome doesn't burst! But then Linus claims the problem was he guzzled too much gas "dodging" the asteroids and needs to refuel, not repair the car, no matter how fast I filled the asteroid collision quota.
This makes for another annoying sub-game to TAS. The car is another vehicle that accelerates slowly, so you have to plan your moves ahead of time. What's interesting is the asteroids always push Linus to the left, no matter which side they actually hit him from, so it can be a good idea to let a clump of them onscreen, then come down on all of them from above or up from below.
The other annoying thing is the random element, where what asteroids are spawned where and when drastically changes depending on when Linus last hit an asteroid or the pause button. Yeah, hitting Start to pause in this game affects the few random things in it, but I don't like to resort to it because it restarts the music. I didn't manage to improve this, or the car robot area, or No-Man's Causeway with pausing anyway, but it's something to keep in mind if you're persistent enough to try to improve the TAS.
So the randomness can be annoying because as soon as you hit the asteroid that would have ended the game and started the next scene, a change in randomness could have caused another asteroid to spawn right before that, and the scene won't start until you remove every remaining asteroid from play. But another weird thing is that sometimes you can get away with hitting a lower number of asteroids than you're supposed to. I watched the memory address that counts how many asteroids Linus hit, and 10 is indeed the target number to make the asteroids stop appearing, but occasionally a single asteroid will count up 2 for some reason. I don't think it's because of two asteroids overlapping, because I've tried hitting the same asteroid in different ways from the same save state, and sometimes it awards 1, and sometimes 2. It usually happens when I hit the rock with the middle of the car while coming down on it vertically, and in fact two of the ones I hit in my movie gave double, so maybe it has something to do with the two sides of the car counting separately or something like that.
Anyway, I figured I got a pretty good outcome. Since the acceleration made it annoying, I ran small parts of the asteroid section at low speed many times and kept whatever gave me the lowest time for the appearance of the message, "That was a close one!" Then I went over the best runs with frame advance to try to whittle more time out. I found that slight movements upon hitting the last asteroid make a big difference, seemingly due to how Linus has to accelerate toward the center of the screen and overshoots it by less and less until he finally stops on it.
Space Station #59-C
Linus made it to a space station with a fuel pump, but it turns out they don't accept Lino Dollars in space! No, they take the currency from SpaceBalls instead. I bet we could find the exact amount of money Linus needs just lying around in the station somewhere too, but it won't be so easy this time!
Anyway, nothing to do but head downstairs... or, down a tube...
WAS YOUR TWIN BROTHER LAN
Six doors! They could lead anywhere! I don't have anything funny to say about them! But they have funny names!
Okay what's about to happen is, Linus is going to find an object at the end of each of these hallways that he will need to reach another object at the end of another hallway. Therefore, there is one correct order to complete them where you won't have to backtrack. Most of the hallways have some kind of variation in the physics of the action stage that makes them a little trickier to get through.
Hub to No.4 Wheres the Floor?
Yeah, if there are huge breaks in the floor, then how is everything staying safely inside the axle of the station like this? Oh well.
The actual gimmick of this level is the lowered gravity, so hooray for super floatiness!
Yep, this is the first one, because you can just walk up to the object without any assistance. This anti-gravity slide looks like a pink refrigerator box in the 8-bit versions, but was redesigned to look like a stack of three white rings floating in the air in the 16-bit versions, but in either case it "works like a ladder", sending Linus up to a platform in these areas where he has no jumping power, but only in designated spots.
No.2 and No.5 have hotspots, but you can also enter them just by reaching the edge of the screen. But the hotspot is a little quicker.
Hub to No.2 Hard to Get Thru
Oh geez what a chore. This head wind messes with all your velocities, somewhat similar to the Vork area. Linus can't run across one-block gaps anymore! Jumping is slower than running, and so now the fluctuations in jump timing have a major effect on when a jump will waste the least time. And these new enemies, living springs I guess, are randomized! It's random how far they jump as well as how long they wait to perform another jump, so I made a couple of unnecessary jumps just to manipulate them to get out of the way in time. With the lower speed, Linus can't even jump over the springs when they're on the ground. I tried pausing as a quicker alternative to jumping for luck manipulation, but although I saved a little time at first, I lost more time once I got to the end even though I was being very careful to watch the subpixel timing the whole way, so I gave up trying to figure out another improvement.
And I couldn't even get the first unnecessary jump to work when it would've gotten me another candy...
The trampoline bounces you a little higher than the antigravity slide, but you still can't use it in place of the antigravity slide, because each room has just one designated spot for each of the climbing tools you've received already. I went back and added a trick I discovered in the next room, where if Linus is falling onto the trampoline or antigravity slide and the cursor isn't guiding him beyond the point where he's falling, you can Pick Up that item in the middle of the fall and save some of the waiting for regaining control later.
Hub to No.5 Ordinary Really HEY THAT DOESN'T RHYME, SHUT UP KID
Yeah, no real gimmicks, just dodging more springs. I noticed that the stations arms which are 3 apart have the same kinds of enemies. Also this area has a new song, which is shared by all the odd-numbered arms, so... There are patterns to this place!
Here is the one time I ended up using pause, as I found it was the only way to make the last spring get out of the way in time. Sorry.
It's funny, you don't need the antigravity slide here because of the path that goes up and over the exit, so a lot of players don't know there's a spot where the antigravity slide can be used. It is faster to place it and retrieve it than to do all that extra running around though.
The bridge will fill in short gaps just as Linus reaches them, and then he will automatically step onto the middle of the bridge. No, you can't use the trampoline to bounce through the gaps instead; everything in its arbitrarily chosen place now!
You may have noticed that the screen faded out when Linus was merely running against the side of the door, when normally he has to stand on the center of it first. This seems to be an effect of falling beside a large block, then immediately choosing the exit. But this only works if Linus is already on the exact same level as the door, or he will complain that he can't reach it even though he's clearly already there. And so it seems I can only take advantage of this in No.5 and No.1.
Hub to No.6 Gravity Mix
The flashes of light indicate that the level of gravity has changed, from its normal level, to low gravity like in No.4, to high gravity like in No.1, and back to normal again. The gravity is lowered a bit more for all three settings in Cosmic Spacehead!
Uh... Here we get a blowpipe. Like the fusewire, it's long and thin and has its name written on it somewhere. You have to be careful to place the trampoline far enough down, or Linus will actually miss the platform when he bounces.
Hub to No.3 I Can't See
Here's an effect with random timing. Every so often, all the colors except the black in the sprites will change to one other color, so you can't see the ground under you. I BLAME YOU PAINT BLOBS! I almost hit one, but it was a little too far out in the exit.
This area takes the longest to work out. All three climbing items plus the blowpipe are needed, and there are decisions to be made regarding when to prepare the next item and in what order to pick everything back up. But my efforts were worth it, as when I tried to trick the trampoline into letting me bounce to the left instead of the right, I found a better glitch. Dropping right off before reaching the next platform caused Linus to fall all the way down, and clicking on anything demonstrated that he thought he was over on the far left, climbing stairs in what looked like thin air to get back to where he had been directed. It turned out to be a little faster to do that and collect the trampoline during the fall than just bouncing over to the left for the bridge and going back for the trampoline!
Here Linus uses the blowpipe... with his yawning animation... to blow down a box. But not just any box, a MONEY box! Hmm... Oh, and you really do have to be on that final step for the blowpipe to work; standing on the last pixel of the previous step won't cut it.
Wow, Linus barely had to walk at all to reach this next door.
Hub to No.1 Weighs a Ton
"Your jump is still not pitiful enough, Linus! Try this on for size!"
I got slowed down by the fuzzballs more often than I expected, but not for very long. Another death-finish was needed here!
THE MONEY IS ALIVE! Okay, I've heard of some strange forms of money, but I don't understand this at all. This little creature that likes to fall off a staircase is 10 Spacebucks, and we need a box to catch it in.
Using all three climbing tools again, but this time it's really easy because each item takes Linus right to where he can use the next one, so most of the time I'm just remote-controlling him from the inventory. I don't even have to pick up after myself because the climbing tools are no longer needed. Picking up the box is only good once the money has fallen in!
No sparkles for this version of the Gravity Trampoline, but it does flash colors!
This is it, the last action of the game. As with the Passport and Driving License, you could Give Money Box To Gas Pump, but Use is easier. I could have saved a few frames of input by not starting to lead Linus over early, but I prefer to time by when the ending starts.
I think this is really it! Linus Spacehead finally has everything he needs to make his big discovery! No more sudden run-ins with space pirates or whatever that could make him do another level! Time to get photographs of Earth!
New York City
Or just New York City I guess, but maybe he goes more places offscreen. I do hope New York City's airspace is better defended nowadays.
All right, that's The End! If you want you can use the secret Game Boy button code A+B+Select+Start to reset the game and play again.
Watch it online
I made a quick encode for YouTube in three parts if you can't be bothered to set up the emulator.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l-rPipDDy0 Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbZ2Yx43olg Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl2mHEHjfJo Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbZ2Yx43olg Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl2mHEHjfJo Part 3
A note to anyone who encodes their own movie: You'll probably want to turn off "Allow more than 8 sprites per scanline" in the Video settings because of some intentional hiding of sprites via that limit. But if you still want to use it selectively, know that I have found that this "range time over" or whatever it's called is used for the following visual effects:
- Whenever Linus enters a teleport machine; the sparkles and top edge of the door go behind the top of the machine.
- In the surfing section; the fish always emerge from the middle of the water graphic. (Think I may have forgotten this one for my encode)
- In the Linoville camera shop; Linus stands behind the entrance.
- In the Space Station 59-C hub; Linus disappears inside the gravity tube, and the near doors are given their proper corners.
Let me know if you see any other special effects from it! Enjoy!
Mister Epic: Added Dailymotion module.