Here's one for the new vault section of the site. It is an old, bad game from my childhood. I completed this run back in 2007 on an old version of FCEU, but I did not submit it because I felt it was greatly lacking in entertainment value. Recently, I saw that the site now has a vault section, so I quickly patched in a few improvements and I think it's good to go.
Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum
- Plays an abysmally bad game very quickly
- Beats the game without completing a single stage
- Takes damage to save time
- Uses death as a shortcut
- Uses (mandatory) warps
- Abuses programming errors
What is this game?
The story is that you're an agile and cunning Flash Gordon ripoff named Dash Galaxy, and you've been stranded in an alien habitat that looks like a giant rocket, I guess. The only way out is at the very top (??), so you have to navigate the 25 floors of this hostile environment in an effort to reach the exit before you lose all your lives. If your lives are depleted, there are no continues; you're just dumped back to the title screen.
Each of the 25 floors in this "alien asylum" consists of a pointless Sokoban puzzle room with 4 doors. Each door takes you to a sidescrolling action level, where you must collect blue beer cans (actually switches) to exit the room again. If you can do this, the door will lock and you will have completed the stage. It's not necessary to complete any level, and indeed you can just exit back through the "elevator" square in any Sokoban room to progress to the next floor, but sometimes there will be important items like keys and bombs in the levels, which are needed in the Sokoban rooms to unlock force fields and destroy blocks. So it's wise to explore the rooms on each floor and collect items. Sometimes, there will also be warp points which will take you to different floors. Some warp points take you forward, others take you back, and trial-and-error is the only way to figure them out.
In the action levels, there are various perils like pits and enemies. Pits will instantly kill you, but enemies will only suck away your oxygen. You will only die if you run out of oxygen completely, but your oxygen meter is refilled every time you enter a new stage.
So, why is this game so bad?
For one thing, the graphics. Just... look at this crap. The Sokoban rooms are okay, but the graphics on the action stages are hardly even good enough for Action52.
For another thing, for someone named "Dash Galaxy", he sure moves as stiff as a rock. The movement and jumping physics in this game are absolutely awful. Basically, Dash can walk slowly, or he can run if he walks for long enough. He has 2 different kinds of jumps: the high-jump, which can be activated if he is walking or standing still, or the dash-jump, which activates if he is dashing. The high-jump has ridiculously slow horizontal motion. The dash-jump has a very long range, but it cannot be controlled in mid-air at all (its path is fixed until it is done), and it only gets 1 block of height. So, the action stages become more like puzzles as you have to try to figure out which kinds of jumps you need to make from which positions to reach the desired items. And, as you can imagine, platforming games with such rigid physics are very frustrating to play.
Finally, while all that alone may have made the game "below average" but not "awful", there is one thing that pushes it through the edge: the nonlinearity. When you get to floor 9, you will find that the exit elevator completely disappears, leaving you to search for a warp point in the action stages that will take you elsewhere. The only available warp point takes you back to floor 3, and you will keep looping through those floors until you happen to find the warp point on floor 6 that lets you actually progress through the game. And it only gets worse from there; the warping puzzles create an evil, aggravating labyrinth that could invalidate hours of difficult work. At one point, you have to actually warp backwards in order to progress. Oh, and did I mention that warp points take away all your items, too?
This game is utterly awful. Good thing it can be stomped flat in about 6 and a half minutes.
Here is the route I took in the run, which I believe to be the fastest route possible through the game.
1. Exit floor 00 to floor 01.
- When exiting the elevator, there is a small delay before you are allowed to enter it again. This doesn't leave time to do anything but wiggle around a little bit.
2. Enter floor 01, enter the south-western level, acquire a bomb, then suicide.
- Lives are indicated by the heart count at the bottom-right of the screen.
- You can keep your items if you die.
- Running is faster than walking, but dash-jumping is fastest of all. However, every time Dash has to land on his feet, he pauses for many frames, so I must jump as little as possible. Therefore, when I must jump, I try to perform a dash-jump.
- There's a startling noise as I fall to my death; this is because I hit the suicide button that depletes my oxygen as I am falling. This is only for fun.
3. Re-enter the same level, acquire the same bomb again, and suicide again.
4. Use one bomb to destroy the force field blocking the elevator (BANG!!!!!!!!!!!). Exit floor 01 to floor 02.
- Normally, a bomb will kill Dash if he is standing next to it while it explodes. However, he seems to be immune to bombs while he is standing on the level number graphics. Also, I have to make sure Dash is turned diagonally before the bomb explodes; otherwise, it takes him a few extra frames to rotate himself in a new direction.
5. Exit floor 02 to floor 03.
6. Exit floor 03 to floor 04.
7. Exit floor 04 to floor 05.
8. Exit floor 05 to floor 06.
9. Enter floor 06, use the second bomb to destroy the force field, then enter the north-west level.
10. Open the warp door, and warp to floor 10.
- Warp doors are opened by collecting the "?" item on a level, then entering the orange door it creates.
- If Dash alternates walking left and right every frame, he can charge up a dash without moving. This is useful when I have to begin dashing with very little platform space.
- Most stages have trampolines. They are not difficult to optimize; every time you bounce on one, they make you jump back up at fixed heights based on how far you initially fell.
11. Exit floor 10 to floor 11.
12. Exit floor 11 to floor 12.
- I have to walk in a circle here, or the force field will fry me when it comes online.
13. Exit floor 12 to floor 13.
14. Exit floor 13 to floor 14.
15. Exit floor 14 to floor 15.
16. Enter floor 15, enter the eastern-most level, acquire a bomb, and suicide.
- On this floor, I only push one Sokoban box because Dash takes extra frames to change directions. So I minimized direction changes.
17. Destroy force field with the bomb, enter the southern-most level.
- I saved a few frames by beginning to walk to the next tile before the bomb explodes, so that when it explodes I am already halfway there.
18. Open the warp door, acquire an extra life, then warp to floor 20.
19. Enter floor 20, push some blocks out of the way, enter the eastern-most level, open the warp door, and warp to floor 23.
20. Enter floor 23, enter the closest door, use the floating platform to acquire the bomb, then suicide.
- The floating platform can be driven around, but it is temporary. Also, there is a funny and useful glitch: If you use the floating platform to go into the pit, Dash will wrap around to the top of the screen, but will immediately die the next he begins to fall down. I use this as a convenient shortcut and a quick suicide.
21. Destroy the Sokoban block with the bomb, then enter the south-western level.
22. Open the warp door, and warp to floor 21.
- Seriously. You have to warp backwards, and it's mandatory. I'm not joking.
23. Exit floor 21 to floor 22.
24. Enter floor 22, enter the north-western level, acquire the extra life, open the warp door, and warp to floor 24.
- There are a few other useful items on this level, but I don't take them because warping takes away all items.
25. Enter floor 24, enter the south-eastern level, acquire a key, then suicide.
- The platform-wrapping glitch comes in handy again here.
26. Enter the same level, acquire the same key again, acquire the extra life, then suicide again.
- Just for fun, I was one frame away from a GAME OVER here. I acquired the extra life one frame before using it.
27. Unlock both south-western force fields, then enter the south-western level.
28. Go through the warp door at the left side of the level to complete the game!
- This level is completely pointless. There are items scattered everywhere, but there's no point in using them because this is the final level. There are many extra lives floating there to tempt you to jump into the pit, where you will be trapped forever and you will need to press Select and suicide in order to try again. Also, this level is impossible to "complete", because the only beer-can switch is in that pit. You can open the entrance door, but you can't go back through it.
29. Sit back and witness the worst "victory music" you have ever heard coming from an NES game.
- Yep, you don't even get credits. It just gives you a lame ending then boots you back to the title screen!
- The entire game was beaten using only suicides and (mandatory) warps; not a single level was ever completed properly.
- There is no "Hundred percent completion" in this game; there are no collectables to acquire, and there are many floors which are "incorrect" to visit, because the only way back to the real game path is to take a large warp backwards. Also, the doors on floor 24 can't close, even if you complete them. Truly a masterpiece in level design, this game is.
The only ram value I watched while making this run was 062C, which is Dash's "Motion state", which tells you when you are standing, walking, running, falling, or whatever else. Otherwise, the game is not terribly complex, and I was able to just determine everything else by sight.
Special thanks go to:
- neskamikaze, who posted a real-time speedrun of this game on YouTube which inspired me to submit this TAS to the vault. Watching his run taught me that you are immune to bombs when you are standing on the floor number, a trick I used in floor 01.
- Josh the FunkDOC, whose route I compared mine to back when I first made this movie in 2007.
- Wilson Lau, who wrote the only guide for this game on GameFAQS, which was used for reference sometimes.
I hope this run has entertained some people who enjoy seeing awful games beaten fast, and I hope this makes a good submission for the vault!
Nach: Good run of an absolutely awful game. Accepting for vault.
Ilari: FCEUX NES... Going to try this...