Submission #7020: Winslinator's INTV Tower of Doom in 06:51.15

Console Intellivision Emulator BizHawk 2.4
Game Version any Frame Count 24636
ROM Filename Tower of Doom (1986) (Intv Corp).int Frame Rate 59.92
Branch Rerecord Count 13145
Unknown Authors Winslinator
Game Tower of Doom
Submitted by Winslinator on 2/2/2021 9:14:00 PM

Submission Comments
Explore winding corridors! Collect magical treasures! Battle vile monsters! Escape perilous traps! You are about to face the greatest challenge any mortal has ever known -- the Tower of Doom. Surviving the Tower of Doom requires quick reflexes and quicker wits. You must learn for yourself how to use many of the items you will find. You must decide when to fight a monster, and when to trade treasure for your life. You must maintain your strength, increase your stamina, and develop your diplomatic skills.
Tower of Doom was originally set to be the third AD&D title on the Intellivision with the working title "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Mystery". The game was only half complete when Mattel Electronics folded in 1984. INTV Corp resumed work on the game in 1986. Not wanting to pay for a renewed D&D license, the game was released under the new name, "Tower of Doom".
Objectives
  • Uses hardest difficulty
  • Uses a suboptimal character
  • Heavy luck manipulation
  • Genre: Action/Adventure/RPG
Resources
Difficulty Selection
Grail Quest was selected as the instructions manual claims it's the hardest adventure. I tend to believe this as you'll very rarely come across any good magical artifacts, unlike some of the easier difficulties. Wizard Hunt and The Catacombs also have 32 levels but only Grail Quest allows the player to instantly win if they find the Holy Grail on Level 32. Other than what the Instructions Manual states about each of the adventures, I can’t confidently elaborate on how else they differ from each other as I haven’t tested it enough.
Character Selection
The Waif was selected as he is the hardest to play as. The Waif starts out with six health, strength, stamina, and diplomacy units. His only starting item is the boot which is practically useless. Compare these stats with the other characters and you'll see why the Waif is clearly the weakest. Even the instructions manual admits it.
If we wanted to go strictly for the fastest time, we would select the Novice as he starts out with two throwable items and a Bottle of Haste, which gives a 2x speed boost for one level... but that wouldn't be as much of a challenge!
RNG
The curious thing about adventures which the manual claims are "different each time" is that while each level is random, they are not procedurally generated. This means the maze geometries and what enemies, items, and traps will appear in each room for levels 1-32 were set in stone the frame I confirmed the Waif character.
However, the exact locations of enemies, items, and traps within each room are not set in stone and can be manipulated by entering the room on different frames. This type of manipulation is done extensively in the run. Note that object locations in the first room of a level cannot be manipulated.
In this mode, item colors are randomized with their order being preserved as explained here. There was a -3 color shift factor in this TAS, meaning the weakest items are brown and the strongest are orange.
Traps also have some random properties worth pointing out:
  • Transporter - touching this on different frames will change the location you teleport to. If there is one of these in a level, it is essentially used as instant access to the stairs
  • Paralysis - paralyzes the player for a random amount of time. This was touched once in Level 3 because waiting for a better placement of the orb and bracelet in that room would have taken longer. In this instance, I was able to get the orb to freeze me for the minimum amount of time.
  • Confusion - reroutes all controller inputs to random directions for a random amount of time. This was touched on Level 23 because the game had me spawn into the level atop of one and a Beholder. There is no way to avoid this one. Luckily, the stairs were close by so I was able to stumble my way out of the level with careful manipulations of the random directions.
The amount of damage an enemy takes from a weapon hit is also randomly-determined by the frame. Attacks are therefore meticulously timed to max out their damage. Whether a weapon will downgrade to a lower color is also frame-dependent and is sometimes given consideration.
Weapons and Inventorying
Hand-to-hand combat in this game is slow so we opt for long-range attacks only with whatever we happen to find along the way. The weapons used ended up being the 2nd and 4th most resilient darts.
It is fastest to equip an item from the second slot in your pack, so careful manipulations were made such that all three items used in the run were placed in that slot when picked up.
Using the Holy Grail while in an encounter causes half of the castle door on the ending cutscene to flash due to a glitch and I was glad I was able to showcase that here.
Improvements?
Since all 32 general level layouts are determined from character select, I did not bother experimenting with any other start frames as investigating all that would be way too much work. I decided on the specific start frame that I did because it was the only one that beat Level 1 close to that quick.
Suggested Publication Notes Explore winding corridors! Collect magical treasures! Battle vile monsters! Escape perilous traps! You are about to face the greatest challenge any mortal has ever known -- the Tower of Doom. Surviving the Tower of Doom requires quick reflexes and quicker wits. You must learn for yourself how to use many of the items you will find. You must decide when to fight a monster, and when to trade treasure for your life. You must maintain your strength, increase your stamina, and develop your diplomatic skills.
Winslinator selects the hardest character/adventure combination, playing as the Waif to beat the 32 levels of "Grail Quest" in record time.

arkiandruski: Judging.
arkiandruski: Good optimization. The movie is rather repetitive and lacking in any sound. Also the audience feedback says it's not very entertaining. Since the talk about whether other runs on different difficulties or with different characters can also be Vault worthy, it doesn't have any bearing on the fate of this submission so I'm accepting this to Vault.
As for whether a Novice run would be acceptable: based off of what I can find regarding difficulty levels, my gut says that they are difficulty levels rather than separate modes. It's possible that you can say the set map makes enough differences, but for me, that comes down to whether or not you know the map ahead of time, which doesn't really make that much difference in a TAS where you can cut out any wandering. I'm not going to say it's unacceptable, though. I invite you to make a post about it in the Ask a Judge thread.
Zinfidel Processing...

Last Edited by admin@tasvideos.org on 1/1/2022 6:14:01 PM
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