Submission #6079: tapioca's GBA Dark Arena in 05:04.60

(Link to video)
Game Boy Advance
BizHawk 2.2.2
Dark Arena (U) [!].gba
Submitted by tapioca on 8/25/2018 6:21:06 AM
Submission Comments
Dark Arena is a "Doom clone" First-person Shooter released for the Gameboy Advance. The game runs on a stripped-down port of the original Doom engine and features levels sourced from members of the community. Officially, protagonist Angelina Bradshaw is sent to kill every monster in the facility, but very quickly she realizes that the fastest way out is to spare them all and just walk through walls instead.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.2.2
  • Objective: Beat the game as fast as possible


A GBA FPS? Yeah, they made a handful of these, each one approached the genre a little bit different. These guys just cloned doom and called it a day, which honestly wasn't the worst approach given the weak 3D capabilities of the system.
This game is run on hard difficulty. Difficulty changes the number of enemies that spawn in levels as well as some map geometry, but none of that comes into play during the run. The real benefit of playing on hard is the ironic ending, which claims you killed every enemy in the game. In reality, I only killed the final boss, and shot at one slasher in level 7 so he'll get out of my way. This is accompanied by Rareware-style cast credits, which are hilariously out of place for an edgy first-person shooter.
Most of this speedrun is done out of bounds. The goal of every level is to clip out of bounds with the fastest setup possible in the most convenient place and then reach the exit pad. There are a few different methods we have for doing this, most of which revolve around getting "too close" to a wall in some way. Normally, walking at a wall will cause you to stop some distance before you walk through it, but if we can circumvent the collision detection and get closer than that distance, there are many ways from there to fully clip through the wall.

Shallow Angle

If you walk at a convex corner between two walls, and the angle formed by the walls is at least around 45 degress, running at the corner allows us to get too close to one of the walls. From there, walking along the wall with an angle just slightly "into" the wall will allow us to walk right through the wall. You will be kicked out of the wall if your angle is too steep, or if you get to the end of the wall you're walking along before clipping. Sometimes the wall is too short and I have to do it backwards too.
The angle and position required when running at the corner can be very precise, but some levels (1, 13) give us the perfect angle and position when starting the level.

Ledge Drop

By falling off a high ledge such that we stay as close to the ledge as possible, we end up too close to the wall forming the ledge. If you do this in a right angle corner, you can then use the ledge wall to push you through the other wall forming the corner. In level 3, I push through the other wall in the corner as I'm falling, without having to set up an angle.
The clip with the stairs in level 5 uses a modified version of this trick. Because the stairs start low enough that they don't stop your movement, you can walk along the side of the stairs and become "too close." Once the stairs get high enough that you can't walk onto them, you can use the stairs to clip through the back wall.

Short Walls

If one of the walls making up a right angle corner is short, sometimes you will get forced out trying to stand in that corner. You can use that push to go through the short wall. This clip only takes one frame once the angle is correct, making it the preferred method of clipping. The leniency of the angle depends on how long the short wall is.

Other clips

In level 11, the pillar is close enough to the wall that I can use it to get forced towards the wall, allowing me to walk through it much like a shallow angle clip, even though the room has nothing but 90 degree corners.
2D objects, like the bomb in level 12 and the pillar in level 15, have strange collision that is easy to use for clipping.
Also in level 12, after using the bomb to clip inside the locked door, I use the other side of the locked door to push through a wall. This is no different from the ledge drops used in level 3, but the inputs are different because I am facing a different direction.

Other comments

This game lags constantly and inconsistently, depending on your inputs and enemy movements. This made TASing it a real pain in the butt. Thankfully it's not too long ;)
Certain levels are a few frames slower than they would be on easy difficulty. The increased enemy count creates a lot of extra lag in some levels, and this throws off the precision of the controls making setups harder.

Memory: Judging
Memory: Replacing file with 261 frame improvement
Memory: Delaying while the author redoes the submission on hard.
Memory: Replacing with file done on hard that also improves by 268 frames.
Last Edited by adelikat on 10/27/2023 3:18 AM
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