Here is my 10th (and the 12th overall) TAS of NES Ghosts 'n Goblins. It is 257 frames faster than my previous TAS, which I submitted exactly 3141 days ago. My first attempt was this site's first submission.
This game is notorious for its extreme difficulty, and it is just as challenging to TAS it optimally. It is like playing a game of chess against an opponent so unforgiving that you always have to calculate seven moves ahead.
I documented in great detail almost every aspect of this game/TAS in the forum thread, but I'll summarize the improvements below. Thank you to everyone who followed my progress. A special thank you to AngerFist for encouraging me to try this game one more time.
I performed all of the input, but Alyosha provided some tips that were essential to the run. Before I started the run, Alyosha and I realized that the currently published version, which I made in FCE Ultra 0.98.16, starts from a reset instead of power-on. By starting from a reset, that version gained a significant advantage by manipulating the item-drop order on stage 1. It is not possible to get the torch or knife early in stage 1 when starting from power-on.
Stage 1: 21 frames faster. Optimized graveyard puzzle, improved pixel position, and a smoother boss fight.
Stage 2: 33 frames faster. Improved on the rising platforms and especially on the boss fight.
Stage 3: 6 frames faster. Small improvements throughout the level. If we don't manipulate the dragon's spawn, it will cost a few seconds, not just frames. I spent a long time looking for the best way until Alyosha suggested using the left-right move, which cost only 6 frames.
Stage 4: 6 frames faster. Slightly faster on the boss. Taking damage from the devil at the end is an intentional and necessary pixel-optimization move to save 3 frames.
Stage 5: 174 frames faster. The biggest improvement in the run is the optimization of the timing of the moving platform. I did a lot of research here, and Alyosha assisted with the last piece of the puzzle so that I could get perfect timing. Without manipulating the timing, this part could take up to 7 seconds longer.
Stage 6: 18 frames faster. Slight improvement in the zig-zag. Although I improved the boss fight by only 15 frames, it was a major breakthrough. At first, I struggled just to match my previous attempt, which I had thought was perfect. I've spent a lot of time analyzing this battle and it takes precise movement to make it work so beautifully.
Stage 7: 0 frames faster. I think the Astaroth fight is optimal. There's no better option than to wait for the first fireball to pass.
Nach: I've been watching these since the site started, and it's always nice to see the progress. This looks wonderful. Nicely done. Accepting.