Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
- plays on hardest difficulty
- takes damage to save time
- (uses death to save time)
- light glitch abuse
About the game:
Developed by Wayforward, who've previously made two other Barbie games along the same lines for GBA. These rank among the finest Barbie games in existence according to my research.
About the run:
Due to a popular request, here's the full run of this game, but optimized. I saved a bit under 5 seconds from the last full run by revisiting 1-1, 1-3, 1-6, 1-7, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-5, 3-6 and 3-7, fixing the most glaring examples of unoptimized jumping, finding new tactics for three parts and re-using the last levels from the password run. After hexing it all together I still had to redo the last boss, and managed to slip in one last surprise in there. Hope it was worth it...
About GBA/DS differences:
This game was first published on GBA and only later on DS. I picked up the DS version for this run because of a few factors: first, I wanted to make a DS TAS. Second, the DS version of this game has one unique level (1-7) and new fire obstacles here and there that you have to blow out. It's basically a fuller, more difficult version of the game. Third, DS has a stylus menu for switching between your skills, which is very convenient - on GBA you only have one button for it. The stylus menu also allows some light glitches during the run. Fourth, DS has a far better music quality, which is nice because the game has quite good music.
About the structure of the game:
The game begins with a prologue that is a few rooms long. Then you get to a central hub through which you access the game worlds. There are six worlds in total, you get a new power from each, and after that there are still two separate levels Clock Tower and Mirror Room. Then, final boss.
My password run went straight to the sixth world because that's where you get the running skill and the gameplay of the run speeds up drastically.
The player has the option to choose between easy and normal modes, but I think there's no other difference between the modes than Genevieve's life. On easy she never dies, on normal she dies of three hits.
It's a difficult game in the sense that you'll likely die some times playing through it if you're not careful. Genevieve's hitbox is big and enemies are either fast or numerous. The game also posits enemies in situations where you can't see them clearly or where you can't defend against them easily.
About your powers:
Yellow dress gives you the butterfly net. Small enemies die of one hit, but larger ones are unaffected. One of the most useful skills.
Blue dress gives the stilts. This allows you to walk over some areas where there'd normally be a chasm.
Purple dress gives you the string ability. You can lift up temporary diagonal platforms at places indicated by a sign.
Pink dress is the mallet. You shoot croquet balls to flip switches for the most part. Using it can also manipulate boss behaviour, which is useful.
Deeper blue dress is the pile of books. A small pile of collision that you can use to get higher or further than usual. Unfortunately only one pile can be out at the same time.
Wine red dress is the running dress. Best thing ever, I want a dress like this too.
About tricks & glitches:
Jumping is some sub-pixels faster per frame than normal walking, so I jump all the time. While running it is equally fast to run and jump, although it is slower to run up stairs than jump over them.
Jumping with lesser power in places with low ceilings makes your jumps longer, and thus you are able to visit ground less often. I think this trick is not utilized everywhere it could've been.
There's some surface to the edges of platforms that take more jump power to land on, as if that area was slightly higher. Counter-intuitively, it's faster to land on these edges regardless if you continue moving sideways afterwards. Genevieve moves so slowly that it's worth it to land a few frames slower than to move more horizontally...
Sometimes you can also land quicker if you press jump one frame longer than the minimum it takes to land on a platform (depends on the height).
By dropping towards stilts-surface and equipping the stilts at the last possible moment, Genevieve falls two frames longer than normal. At best this saves subpixels and lets you visit ground less times during a level, although it mostly doesn't help. Just done for the sake of doing it, and it becomes obsolete once you can run.
It usually saves 2 frames to walk into a cutscene rather than jump into it.
If you hit with the butterfly net right as you walk off a ledge, you fall down extra quick and can also jump again mid-air. This is used for a TAS-only tactic in 3-7 for example.
It's best to activate string locations from as far away as possible to have Genevieve instantly move closer to the location - saves a little bit of time each time. This can sometimes also displace the string collision. You can see it happen during the library world for example - because the collision is more to the right than it should, I can jump to the upper level a bit earlier than normal.
While you can control the power of the croquet mallet using the stylus, you can't control the angle of the shot. Targeting takes time, so I usually get to a position from which I can do the shot without having to target at all. Also, shooting with the mallet has the power to manipulate A.I.
You can switch dress through the stylus menu while you are using your skills. This allows some DS-only glitches like running with any dress active. Also, if you switch to the yellow dress (butterfly net) while placing books or lifting strings, the object you are placing actually gains offensive properties and kills enemies it touches(done for fun at least once during this run).
You can make some chasms zip you to a wrong direction, saving time. It's in fact the fastest way to move in this game.
You can pass through retractable walls/floors by taking the camera to a far away location using L, then letting it return. If Genevieve is touching the surface before moving the camera, the trick won't work. This trick also respawns most enemies to their initial location (but not Brutus, the monkey).
It's possible to zip up walls using the books in a correct circumstance, but I didn't find any locations where this would actually save time, so it's not done in this run.
I know a few ways to go OOB in this game, and two of them are used for entertainment in the run. However, it's unclear if OOB could be used for something useful in this game. There is some room to move there, and even ways to get damaged. However, without a camhack it's not possible to see anything and thus testing is not easy at all.
You can do small corner boosting if there's some collision above you. It seems to be useful extremely rarely (only once in this run, in the fifth world).
Getting hit by an enemy in air has two advantages. For one, your falling momentum resets, allowing you to do a slightly longer jump (not useful in this run). Second, in some places getting hit by an enemy when under a platform allows you to do a jump as if you were standing on that platform already. This is done once, in the fourth world, but there may still be other undiscovered locations where this trick could save time.
About the new trick at the end of the run. Basically, you sink inside ground if you face left and drop a book at the same time you get killed. This is pretty much the only location in the game where this comes in handy.
Run highlights and level-specific commentary:
1-1: I use a specific jumping tactic to slow down Brutus the monkey.
1-2: the tactic for avoiding the bird while jumping up the platforms might be TAS-only, at least it needs very good timing.
- in general, the first world is more interesting than average because of health management needs.
1-5: at the end, using the quick falling trick proved very slightly faster than jumping down normally.
1-6: the strategy for the three plants is quite precise as well. Later on in the level there's a series of jumps that are TAS-only, unless you slow down at some point.
1-7: the most interesting level in a long while. This is the DS-only special level and has a sudden increase in difficulty and complexity in comparison to the other levels before and after. Due to my route I don't actually have to blow any fires out (although Genevieve stops to warn the player at the start of the level), and this is the first time I can use "chasm zipping", especially nice since I'm still stuck at walking speed. I take one hit less during this level because I realized I can simply walk under one of the spiders. Then there are lots of gates to slip past.
3-5: the trick for jumping after taking damage in air is used at the end of the level.
3-7: a delightful TAS-only strategy in the last level. I actually improved passing the gate floor by walking through it instead of jumping.
4-4: damage abuse while lifting a string can save some time.
4-5: I think the tactic for avoiding Brutus the monkey in this level is pretty creative. If you just try to jump through the corridor without cares, you get slaughtered.
4-6: in this level Genevieve kills an enemy by rising the string, and it's a result of a glitch.
- fifth world also has the theme of damage planning going on during parts of it.
5-3: you can skip meeting the sister on this level by going by the lower route... an interesting overlook by the programmers. You still get the new power for the next level, though.
5-6: you could do a great shortcut if you could jump higher and longer from near the start of the level, but alas.
5-7: in this level you can see the use for "displaced string collision" and corner boosting. At the very end you can drop through the floor and skip the last part of the level entirely - another strange overlook.
- some more comments on the last parts in the previous 12 Princesses submission. I'll copypaste the most important stuff here.
"6-1 and 6-2: The solution to those ant swarms wasn't obvious. I found a way to deal with them without having to stop to walk at all only after beginning to make this abridged version."
"6-3: Zipping saves a decent amount of time. While making this version I found a faster way to do the trick, saving more time."
"6-4: Zipping again saves some time, this is actually a new location I use this trick compared to the first version."
"6-7 (boss): This guy is crushed in TAS conditions. However, his behaviour changes depending on what frame you enter the room, so I actually had to waste about 5 frames to get this outcome... which isn't even optimal." To elaborate, this boss could be at least 7 frames faster with perfect cooperation from the A.I.
"Clock tower: While waiting I show a small glitch in which I run with blue dress on and can stay on stilts surface although the usual stilts graphics are missing. You can conveniently set up books while waiting for the platforms to move. Running and jumping like this actually skips many individual sections of the rooms down below."
"Mirror room: I had a few zipping strategies in mind (using the books) for this area, but none of them either save time or work like they should." The long camera movement is for doing another wall passing trick, you can see the wall in the mirror.
"Rowena 1: If you jump on her side and whack the mirror she summons, you actually skip phases of this boss fight and get right on to firing her damaging projectiles back at her."
"Rowena 2: She starts the fight with another projectile you send back at her direction for damage. Then she always casts three enemies. Then she may either teleport uselessly or try to do her projectile which you send back to her for damage. In her last phase she will summon Brutus the monkey, and after that either more enemies or the projectile which'll kill her. Some manipulating was in order, which was annoying."
- dying at the very end and shoving yourself in ground skips the last dialogue box of the boss for some reason.
- new tactics and tricks.
- better precision in spots I still missed this time around.
- new jumping strategies so that you'd have to visit ground even less.
- maybe try another health management tactic in world 5... take damage from the flames instead.
Hopefully I'm not forced to play any more Barbie after this in a long while... I've learnt my lesson.
Winx Club, however...
Mukki: Response to this one is largely positive. Accepting for publication.