Submission #6242: Fred's GBA Super Ghouls'n Ghosts "Arrange Mode" in 09:24.80

Console Game Boy Advance Emulator BizHawk 2.3.1
Game Version USA/Europe Frame Count 33734
ROM Filename Super Ghouls'n Ghosts (USA, Europe).gba Frame Rate 59.7275005696058
Branch Arrange Mode Rerecord Count 9465
Unknown Authors Fred
Game Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts
Submitted by Fred on 1/24/2019 11:22:27 PM

Submission Comments
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (GBA) (Japan: Chōmakaimura R) is a port of the infamous Super Nintendo game with the same title, featuring a new game mode - the Arrange mode which adds stages based on other entries in the Ghouls series. Being even crueler than its SNES predecessor and with the difficulty locked to maximum, Arthur once again sets out to get princess Prin Prin back in record time.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.3.1 (mGBA core)
  • Bios: "Bios (World)"
  • Default emulator settings
  • Complete Arrange Mode as fast as possible
  • Takes damage to save time


This is a TAS of the game's Arrange Mode. Between each stage, we get to choose between three stages: A normal stage from the base game, a new stage based on other Ghouls games or a more difficult version of the base game stages. The arrange stages are the shortest path through the game conveniently enough for your viewing pleasure. Also... the developers decided to lock the difficulty to professional in this mode, as if the stages weren't evil enough already!
Some basics:
  • Arrange mode is a one loop playthrough, unlike the base game which is of course a two loop game.
  • Which stages we can select on the map screen depends on armor status. Green armor is enough to go the middle route (arrange stages) and gold armor is needed for the top route (hard variation stages). Anything less and we're forced going the bottom route (normal stages).
  • Jumping is faster than walking, so we'll be doing that as much as possible. Arthur's double jump has the same speed as walking, however.
  • Jumping from a crouching position carries some properties from the crouch into the jump. For example, shots come out lower and Arthur's hitbox is smaller for sprite collision purposes (but not for collision with terrain).
  • Chest contents depend on Arthur's current armor (or lack thereof).
  • The Goddess' bracelet, which is necessary to finish the game, is obtainable from the start in this mode.
  • Bracelet damage tapers off over time. Better armor makes it faster, essentially letting you pack a punch even at longer ranges.
  • Although the ported stages tend to lag less than the SNES game, some of the arrange stages have incredibly laggy sections.

Stage by stage comments

Stage 1 - Haunted Graveyard (Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts)

We want to get the Goddess' bracelet right away in stage 1. The competitor, the dagger, loses out for a few reasons:
The bracelet takes time to spawn and there's a spot in stage 1 where I have to wait anyway.
The dagger has been indirectly nerfed in Arrange Mode. The new bosses have a few i-frames on hit, which really hurts the "2 damage / frame" magic cast.
The bracelet is also just really strong and decimates the new bosses before they can take many actions.
I also take the opportunity to lose my shield for lag reduction while getting the bracelet. Other than that, this stage is rather straight-forward.
Boss: Cockatrice
This boss's hitbox is not what you'd expect. I take this to my advantage and stand right under his head and fire. The shots hit his neck and disappear faster, making me able to re-fire quicker.
Remember to hold up on the d-pad for the enthusiastic "Nice Catch!" message!

Stage 2 - The Village of Decay (Ghouls 'n Ghosts)

The turtles here seem to be based on your movement rather than the RNG. In any case, the bracelet makes short work of them. The quicksand area is the first area where we start to run into issues firing the bracelet - it tends to create lag due to its fancy appearance. Careful usage or even simply avoiding the enemy is preferred. After the quicksand we enter the fire windmill section. These babies burn plenty o' CPU cycles to keep running!
Boss: Red Arremer Joker
He looks super cool! He can also really get out of hand if you let him (he can summon regular arremers...). Fortunately, we can stuff his advances rather quickly.

Stage 3 - The Entrance of the Demon Realm Castle (Ghosts 'n Goblins)

A very short stage. We traverse some vertical moving platforms and end up on a lava bridge. Very straight-forward again.
Boss: Dragon
As long as you stay close to this boss, he won't shoot you. One of the few nice considerations the devs hands out in this game! Which leads us to the next stage...

Stage 4 - From the Graveyard to the Forest (Ghosts 'n Goblins)

The game goes all out and throws everything and the kitchen sink at Arthur here. The moon comes crashing down without warning. You have to cross water by jumping on platforms... but wait, there's more! The platform are in fact petrified burritos! These tasty, leek tossing enemies come to life when stepped on, so move quick. Oh, did I mention that Flying Knights and Bats randomly spawn too?
A truly twisted stage from a truly twisted dev team. I love it.
Boss: Unicorn Cyclops
A goofy looking jump is all he gets to do before the bracelet finishes him off.

Stage 5 - Water cave (The dev team meeting room of infinite evil, i'm guessing)

Another very laggy and cruel stage. Halfway through, I take an intentional hit and go for the green armor. More on this later.
Boss: Demon Fish
For whatever reason, the bracelet can do double hits on this particular boss. The fish's early pattern is set in stone and he never gets to continue with the ridiculous damage output of the bracelet.

Stage 6 - Castle of the E- HOLD IT!

Recall that stage availability depends on armor status. With the green armor equipped we can go the middle route - which doesn't have a stage 6! Onto stage 7!
I have no idea if this is intended behavior or not. The devs maybe never tested it because they probably couldn't beat the previous stage with any armor at all.

Stage 7 - The Demon Corridor (Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts)

Hard mode variation of the vanilla stage 7.
The initial climb is a damned if do, damned if you don't situation. Leave enemies to lag the game or shoot them, which also lags the game. Ended up leaving most enemies alive which worked out well enough.
Side note: the crumbling pillars after the wall mounted bird heads are the Built In America™ kind of crumble pillars. They cannot be passed until they visibly start crumbling, unlike their Made In Japan® counterparts.
Boss: Astaroth & Nebiroth
These dudes are just off the handle on the professional difficulty setting. Thankfully I'm able to land triple hits per jump in a TAS setting!
I damage boost off Nebiroth's flames to demolish him from inside his hitbox.

Stage 8 / Boss: Samael /Sardius

Sardius is a real pushover, but he's built like a tank! On professional difficulty he has 255 HP - the maximum this game allows.
Through some nimble jumping I was able to take him down in one platform cycle however! I had not expected this fight to go so well.

Closing remarks

I made this TAS in a short span of time, progress went ahead rather smoothly which felt good. The TAS is just ~10 minutes and not the most complex game to optimize, of course.
I am sure there are improvements to be had but I can't think of any major ones that didn't make it in. I felt I did a pretty good job optimizing out lag frames and optimal jump lengths and am very happy with the result.
Thanks to:
  • PJ for suggesting the early bracelet pickup.
  • Malcome for pushing the SNES version to its limits. Much of his knowledge transfers over nicely to the GBA port and I took full use of his arsenal of strats.
  • Professor F for creating the original game. Perhaps the most evil man in the game business!! The GBA dev team's creations border on kaizo territory in his absence... he's evil alright, but not kaizo evil. Remember, games can be difficult and not be I wanna be the guy at the same time!
Suggested screenshot frame: 19653

feos: Great job, that's a super high quality version, and a very worthy mode. Nice TAS, up to the GnG standards. Accepting to Moons.
fsvgm777: Processing.

Last Edited by on 1/1/2022 6:13 PM
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