Submission #6450: CoolHandMike, EZGames69's PCE Ninja Spirit in 08:51.14

Console TurboGrafx 16 Emulator Bizhawk 2.3.1
Game Version USA Frame Count 31776
ROM Filename NJSPIRIT.PCE Frame Rate 59.8261054534819
Branch Rerecord Count 9171
Unknown Authors CoolHandMike, EZGames69
Game Ninja Spirit
Submitted by CoolHandMike on 7/12/2019 1:53:40 AM

Submission Comments
Ninja Spirit is a 1988 platform arcade game by Irem.
There are two modes for Ninja Spirit. There is the PCE mode which is the standard console mode which features several points of health and some slight enemy variations. The other mode is the arcade mode which has less health and slightly different enemies. This run uses the PCE mode for a couple reasons. The PCE mode is the main mode that is used by RTA runners including myself. One of the main motivations was for this submission to be for the community of this game. By pushing the limits of the existing PCE mode should in turn promote faster times in the RTA community through better routing and more of the game.
The main challenges of the run were to find a good route, to reduce lag by keeping a minimum enemies and weapons on screen, and to make use of the ninja's health. The ninja's fastest method of movement is to run in the direction of the end of the stage. Jumping loses 4 frames every time.
The Ninja has four different weapons with different ranges, damage, lag effects. The ninja is able to freely switch between weapons every other frame. The ninja can also generate up to two shadow clones. There are four types of pickups in this game. A red pickup allows your weapon to have an extra effect. A blue pickup gives you an additional clone. The pink pick up is a bomb which continually deals damage to enemies on screen. The firewheel pick up is possibly the best one since it prevents enemies from damaging you mostly and instead kills them which reduces lag and prevents the need of you to jump since jumping has four frames that are lost each time.
Jumping and attacking is ideal to kill and avoid enemies since attacking on the ground has a much longer wait time. However pressing down while using the bomb is effective at several points. Pressing down while using the bomb will place a bomb on the ground or the ceiling. The ninja is able to walk on ground or ceiling. Walking on the ceiling is necessary at some points.



The sword is a good weapon for lag reduction, but its range is abysmal. It can also be used to parry weapons. There is a rapid fire technique with the sword, but its damag pales in comparison to the bomb. This weapon is used several times to parry weapons and destroy enemies on screen for lag reduction. The powered up version of this weapon is awesome at creating lag and was not used. The unpowered version is much superior.


Okay so the bomb is by far the best weapon in the game. It is a high velocity throwing weapon that detonates upon impact. And upon impact its explosions stay at the spot where it impacted. Unlike the other weapons the bomb will hit for multiple frames from 3 to 4 damage (and sometimes other strange value. The bomb range of its detonation is about equivalent to a sword swing. The bomb however needs to be used sparingly last it's many explosions cause more lag. A single bomb can do double-digit damage. Powered up bombs allows faster bomb usage. Which is used in the run. Pressing down while using the bomb is effective at several points. Also pressing down while using the bomb will place a bomb on the ground or the ceiling. The placed bomb will detonate after a short time or if an enemy is in range. This is used quite extensively after jumping to place a bomb from the Clone. The Clone will not incur the time penalty of staying still while placing a bomb. Note that the Clone must be on the ground to place it.


The kusarigama is an extremely high lag weapon to the point where even in normal use it makes the screen lag often. It is also extremely weak with doing single-digit damage over it's very long and man animation. In a single use of the kusarigama, it is usually possible to completely kill a boss.The powered up version of the kusarigama has an interesting Arc movement that it can move when you change direction after deploying it.

Ninja Stars

The throwing stars I found to be surprisingly laggy despite their simple seeming nature. They easily cause lag and also have a delay upon use. They are also quite weak with low single-digit damage . The powered up version allows 3 to be used at once.
The Ninja can get hiccups that caused him to generate a clone that Shadows the characters movements. These clones also perform the same actions in can attack enemies, but they themselves do not take damage. The Ninja can have up to two clones. One challenge was identifying a good number of clones to have. No clones would have the least amount of lag on all sections but would have a detrimental effect on crowd control and damage on bosses. Having too many clones would make the game lag much more. A single clone seems to have the best lag vs damage ratio.
The game limits weapon use especially using bombs and other projectiles like throwing stars. Often when there are too many sprites being used you are unable to use more weapons. Using more then four or five bombs usually results in a wait time until those bombs have finished exploding or have gone off screen. The game will use the attacking/throwing animation, but nothing comes out oddly enough.
I confess that I am not completely understanding of how the game calculates weapon damage. This is apparent on bosses where in Ram Watch the boss's health will sometimes take unexpected amounts of damage. In your favor or otherwise. I suspect this may have something to do with lag.
Amusingly one of the challenges was to avoid power ups. The bright orange ninjas are enemies that when destroyed will drop semi random power ups. Bomb pickups(not the throwing bombs) seem to be placed only at certain spots. The firewheel pick up is also a rare pickup and seems placed as well.
Randomness in this game comes in two forms. The amount of frames that you jump sometimes effects the enemies direction and load position. It is necessary on some points to have the orange ninjas load in a different direction in order to prevent acquiring power ups. When you have the firewheel what occurs is they will essentially suicide into you giving you the unwanted power up.

Level 1

This level is straightforward. Here it is important to decide what power ups you want to have, and how many clones you need to have since it is possible to get both extra clones and power up a couple of weapons.
Boss One interesting aspect of this boss is that it is possible to bring a bomb to the boss which kills it completely. Unfortunately the bomb pickup deals slightly less damage over time than your throwing bombs so it is slower. The weak point of this boss is its head. Here, you can see the extreme damage of the bomb weapon.

Level 2

Level two features these flying wolf enemies that cause lag often. They seem to cause lag more when they hit the ground and the game calculates where it should go next. At several points manipulating the direction the orange Ninja take is important to avoid both lag and Pickups. The firewheel pick up is basically the best one you can get on this level. It helps you not having to jump since the firewheel will kill enemies that are close. You can also see here that the collision detection of the firewheel is unnecessarily exaggerated to the left to your benefit.
Boss Finding the exact timing for accurate bomb use is not completely intuitive.

Level 3

Level three in the first section has a fire wheel pickup, but it came to be unnecessary since if you do not jump after the ninjas are spawned and while they are jump slashing you they will miss. The trick is to avoid unnecessary power ups in the first section while also avoiding the Phantoms that appear. Keeping the amount of enemies on screen to a limit where it does not lag was also important. The second half of this level has a water area where you want to minimize the time you are in it since it slows you down.
By having a clone offset from your character you are able to do more damage than if it overlaps your character.

Level 4

This first Mansion part is very lag heavy and aggressive clearing of enemies especially of the kusarigama enemies is necessary. Walking upon the ceiling in this section is not ideal since it would require falling later on to hit the checkpoint to progress. This second part requires walking on the ceiling since it is not possible to make the jumps by jumping. By laying bombs it is possible to kill oncoming enemies within the ceiling when they get near the bombs. The third section has some lag with the appearing ninjas, but requires a little finesse to avoid damage and lag. The sword can be used to parry these bombs to clear them out.
Easily the tankiest boss with a massive amount of health. Finding a good route for this boss took some time. At this point I was wondering if it was necessary to have the third clone come in, but with good placement it was deemed unnecessary. The idea is to destroy the cores on each side of the cubes. Each Cube has about as much health as the final boss.

Level 5

Ascending this cliff requires good routing to minimize walking, air time, and also avoiding random explosions on the platforms near the top. EZGames69 found and used an odd jump on the very last platform near the boss.
This kite boss is actually just the very center Ninja. So it also has a boss level amount of health but bombs again destroy it.

Level 6

The laggiest level of the game. Having two clones only reduces the lag noticeably on certain parts. Being very aggressive in clearing the enemies helps lag but you cannot attack too aggressively or you will produce more lag.
Boss The boss features Phantoms which will disappear after a set period.

Level 7

The first section here was done by walking on the ceiling. The ground is very jagged and results in the Ninja having short Falls in the terrain. There are also traps randomly generated around this first section. The section following this is the Infamous Pit of Death. Touching any of the Ninjas here results in death and it is impossible to reduce the number of ninjas since they spawn another upon death usually in the same place. Normally there is a single safe route on the far left, but EZGames69 takes a more entertaining route directly through them.
Bombs used on this boss takes it down pretty easily and quickly. I had used the Basic Bot on this boss to reduce the time a bit as a proof of concept originally.
Interestingly this boss is generated with more health the first time you get to it. Once you die and retry the boss, he has less health.

Further Optimizations

It might be possible to further manipulate the enemies to attack you from behind so that you can have more time until it hits you. This might result in less hits which would mean less jumps and perhaps less attacking.
There are frames improvements to be found on bosses besides the last one. I found this recently while experimenting with the basic bot. However, when you decrease the time of the level it requires remaking of all the levels after. Perhaps at a later date this run could be further optimized. The basic bot at this point is slightly bugged so using it is a little frustrating. The Basic Bot was finding unusual patterns on a couple of bosses I tested.
Another possible optimization might be to use the invincibility while getting hit to go through other sections. This is hypothetical since at this point I know of none.

ThunderAxe31: Judging.
ThunderAxe31: Un-claiming.
feos: Using my video I closely compared this movie with the published TAS, and it's interesting.
There's a lot more action in the current publication, and a lot more lag. It doesn't seem that all this action was necessary to reduce lag and to hack'n'slash through the game more optimally. It looks more like a style decision, which, I should admit, fits the game better than this submission.
But on the other hand, I can't say that all the visual superiority of the old run was inherently caused by harder game mode. In fact, in-game action that the game throws at you seems to be mostly the same, and the main difference is HP of the bosses, not how hard you have to fight. Sure it's harder to fight when you have no health to trade-off for time. But visual superiority of the old run is not inherent as I said, but is rather a playing style, or a trade-off for entertainment. And from its rating we see that it didn't help much.
We do have a guideline about difficulty choice, and it asks us to pick one that makes the movie more interesting, even if it's in Vault. But with this run, what makes the run made on harder difficulty more interesting is exactly what causes all the lag and slows the payer down.
It was mentioned that we won't be able to compare optimality across modes, but I noticed that even in identical situations this movie causes less lag by performing less actions, which I mentioned several times already, and it just has so many aspects. At the first glance you'd think this run is only faster due to difficulty change, and we won't be able to compare it with the old one, but this is not true. Each level, up to the boss, is completed in less time, within more or less the same in-game conditions. So I consider it a valid improvement.
And as I said here, I don't think we can or should just ban the harder mode for future. They both have value. Though based on my observation, a movie done on harder mode will have to be even faster in comparable segments than this run.
Dacicus: Processing...

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