Beware! Your being chased by a Dinosaur!
Bongo is an obscure 1983 arcade game that's rather popular and meme-y in some circles. I recently have absolutely fallen in love with it, and become, according to the Bongo community, their "lead Bongo-ologist". I've developed multiple tricks and strategies for the game, both speedrunning and for gathering score, and found the definitive killscreen. Allow me to explain all of them!
This run is a high-score TAS, to try and find the definitive highest score you can possibly obtain in Bongo. Emphasis was on entertainment and score, though trying to go as fast as I can at the same time, I didn't focus as hard on it. Score in Bongo is raised by three means: Moving to the right, grabbing bonus items left on the ground, and obtaining 6 bonus items without dying. This bonus skips the current level you're in. There are 27 screens where you need to run and jump away from a dinosaur. The final screen has a cage, which you need to touch in order to drop on the dinosaur when it's directly below it. Afterwards, the game loops. In loop 2 and beyond, you move slightly faster (you move a tick every 6 frames in loop 1, and every 4 frames every other loop). The dinosaur consistently moves faster, until he cannot be stopped. After all, your being chased. Also for some reason on "down screens" you still move every 6 frames and not 4? It's weird.
So, the strategy was to simply get all the bonus items we could, survive, and get to the kill screen. The kill screen is Loop 7 Screen 7, or 7-7. You can't just pick up all the items you can, because sometimes screens have multiple items. In this case, I prioritized the higher scoring bonuses. This means I had a definitive route that stayed the same until Loop 6, where the dinosaur that is chasing you is moving so fast that you can't get some items, or you need to skip specific screens that are impossible without using the bonus screen skip.
Tricks implemented in the TAS
- Jumping movement: You move faster as you jump. We didn't know this originally, so we thought the first down screen on loop 6 (6-7) was the kill screen for a while, until I found out the correct speed pathing to get through it as fast as you can via jumping. On jumps where you need to fall down from your current height, you need to go nearly the full distance to take advantage of the speed increase, because you fall slower then.
- Offscreen jumps and moving past bonus items: Basically, you get score as you move to the right. Sometimes, jumping over an item and nearly leaving the screen, then going back to get it, can net you a lot of points. And on some screens, you can jump off the screen to the right and get more points than you would just trying to reach the exit. I take advantage of these as I can, but in later loops this gets difficult because you can't escape the dinosaur fast enough.
- Dino jumps: The entire reason loop 6 is beatable, I theorized this strategy from a fever dream after spending 3 hours trying to TAS beating the end of loop 6 without it. I'm not kidding. It's simple, you simply... jump over the dinosaur. It's a tight jump, but absolutely humanly doable. This allows you a bit more time to do things in later loops. You need to be on a platform above the dinosaur for this to happen, I've tried everything to find a way to do it on even ground, but no dice. If someone finds out you CAN, PLEASE LET ME KNOW, I want loop 7 to be beatable SO BAD!
- Intentional deaths: I take intentional deaths at the end of loop 6, jumping off the far right side to gain as much right-moving score as I can. This is the best place to grind score, because it's the farthest right-side score you can get, and you don't need to worry about score-bonuses on the final screen, because they reset as soon as the loop ends.
There are several small speed tricks that I implement as well, each with their own names and history of the people who discovered them, like the "Chuboh Jump", but this is a score TAS and not a speed TAS, so I'll just focus on what can increase the score.
With all this work, I've determined that the highest score possible is 1,252,050. Something fun to note is that the score rolls over do you don't see the 1 million, but it DOES still save the info, because I tried getting a 260,00 score and it didn't claim it was a high score. This TAS was lots of work, but I'm proud to dedicate so much time and energy to Bongo Science! If you want to see my Youtube video showcasing the TAS, I'll show it here:
feos: It was an exciting ride, and this movie made us revise out rules on Maximum points, so now this goal is acceptable for Vault. But as explained in this post, optimality of this run is not up to our standard, and I personally feel it's more of a "human theory TAS" than actual superhuman speedrun. As said in the rule, "Don't be lazy. We will try and beat your movie. We should hopefully not succeed. See the Guidelines on how to make a movie that meets the site's standards." In some cases we can allow insignificant improvements that would be hard to implement, but with this run, it was as trivial as jumping an different frames, so not only is this run easily improvable, but also quite significantly so, since those jumps are the primary gameplay here. Rejecting, and better luck next time!