Submission #7312: Superposition's GBA Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith "warp glitch" in 10:39.19

(Link to video)
Console Game Boy Advance Emulator BizHawk 2.7
Game Version Europe Frame Count 38177
ROM Filename Star Wars - Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (E) (M6).gba Frame Rate 59.7275005696058
Branch warp glitch Rerecord Count 38788
PowerOn Authors Superposition
Game Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Submitted by Superposition on 1/26/2022 8:46:29 PM

Submission Comments
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is a side-scrolling beat 'em up with charming sprites and beautiful animations released in 2005 for the GBA and the NDS. Since this was one of the games I loved playing in my childhood and it had a huge potential due to a huge skip I decided to make a TAS for this game, and a few RTA viable skips and tricks have been found along the way.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.7
  • Fastest Completion
  • Uses death to save time
  • No impossible inputs (no left+right and no up+down)

Basics

Items and HUD

There are three types of items in this game: Bacta Tanks to fill your health (orange), Force Shadows to fill your force bar (blue), and Customization Points to buy abilities (green). The health and force bar can be seen at the top with the Focus bar for Obi-Wan or the Fury bar for Anakin, respectively. The Focus bar can get filled by using force abilities or deflecting shots. The Fury bar can be filled by hitting enemies (or by using the Absorb ability).

Attacks and Abilities

The character can sprint by double pressing left (L) or right (R). Enemy attacks can be blocked by holding the left shoulder button (l). Enemy shots can be deflected with a timed block.
There are strong and weak attacks in this game. Most of the time one will either see the up (U) attack (U+B), or the backward attack. The direction depends on the direction the character faces, but for simplicity, I will only call it the L+B. Chaining two L+B is the fastest option to deal two strong hits successively. Some moves are either weak or slow and will not be represented in this run. One example is Obi-Wan's down attack (D+B) that brings enemies to fall, resulting in a time-loss due to the tripping animation.
There are six force abilities for each character but only two are represented in this run, namely force push and force pull. They can be used at the cost of lowering the force bar. The can be used by holding the right shoulder button (r) and pressing one of the direction buttons (L or R).
Special attacks can be performed by filling the Focus/Fury bar. The only represented are
Knights slam
Uses 25% of the Focus bar (L+R+A)
Obi-Wan sense
Uses 100% of the Focus bar (hold B)
Vader's wrath
Uses 100% of the Fury bar (hold B)

Stage by stage comments

Pregame

The GBA version comes in two flavors: The American version and the European version. The seemingly only difference is a larger amount of languages in the European version. The language of choice is Italian because it has the least amount of text boxes, resulting in a time-save. The ranking of the languages goes as follows (compared to Italian)
LanguageText boxes (RTA)Text boxes (TAS)In the American version
Italian+0+0no
German+1+8no
English+4+12yes
Spanish+4+12yes
French+8+15yes
Dutch+14+21no
The RTA timing ends before the TAS ends, thus I list them separately. One can see a large discrepancy between the amount of RTA and TAS textboxes. That is because in the end the birth of Luke and Leia is shown in all languages instead of Italian. Here, the game just ends after Darth Vader's operation.
A small waiting time before starting the game ensures good enemy patterns where it matters first (see Level 1.1) and minimal loading times.

Spaceship Hangar

Level 1.0

Nothing to see or optimize here. Pressing R as hard as you can to ensure optimal speed! To describe the levels I divide them into parts, separated by wipe transitions.

Level 1.1

All items show a descriptive text box while collecting them the first time in the first level. That is why they will be avoided for now.
The gameplay consists of different screens that have to be cleared before moving along. Many screens consist of different waves. When enemies fall from the roof the patterns are almost always random. The last screen in this part seems to be the only exception.

Level 1.2

Here we have the first random screens. By random, I mean that the enemy positions will change depending on the time you enter the screen. The number of droids does not change, only the position where they fall. Some screens do not have strict waves, instead, the killed droids will get replaced. In these cases, it is important in what order we kill them. The droid that gets replaced more often mostly has the highest priority to get eliminated. Also, one can see that strong attacks can destroy multiple droids at once. The setup for that is a bit special. If one hits both of them at the same time, only one gets destroyed. For both, there has to be some time between the hits, e.g., one gets hit at the beginning of the motion, one at the end of it.

Level 1.3

The first phase of the vulture droid mini-boss can be beaten in one cycle by performing a double-hit when it flies low over the ground. In an RTA run the exploding bombs can be used to time your attack (jump when the third bomb explodes). Force pushing the bombs builds up some Focus for later use. Hitting the vulture droid once while it is off-screen skips the first damage animation of the second phase. It is possible to damage the vulture droid and get hit at the same time. This does not save time.
At the end of the level, we can upgrade Obi-Wan. We do not want more health to speed up the death-skip later on.

Spaceship Corridors

Level 2.0

We can now collect items without triggering a text box. We also want to collect Customization Points throughout this level, so we have at least 30 at the end. I decided to show the Customization Points that can be collected without time-loss as it is useful to know for RTA runs.
One trick used to optimize this part of the level is something I would call block-jumping. Jumping one frame after blocking skips the blocking animation and allows moving and attacking. The speed while being in the air after block-jumping is the normal walking speed, not the sprinting speed. This makes this trick very situational.
The first use of the Obi-Wan sense can be seen on the last screen.

Level 2.1

The combo to destroy the blue super battle droids coming through doors can be seen several times in this level. This was the most optimal combination I was able to find.

Level 2.2

With our collected 30 Customization Points we can now upgrade the Force push ability. This upgrade allows us to push two enemies at once. Somehow, the ability also gets stronger and allows to one-hit droids as well. With the last screen, the Focus bar gets filled to 100% to use in the next level.

Duel Darth Tyranus

The double L+B attack is faster than the double U+B but equally strong. This is useful in this duel, but only if Dooku does not use a force attack prior. The blocked hit by Dooku after our attack is intentional. It will shorten the idle time between Darth Tyranus' attacks. His attack patterns are always the same. The use of the Obi-Wan sense skips the force lightning attack that has a pretty long animation. It also deals a great amount of damage.
After the fight, we obtain the Knights slam. Exiting the game and selecting Obi-Wan again with Jedi difficulty gives us two lives less, which allows us to go game over faster. Enemies will have more health which is pretty irrelevant for the next two levels due to the upgraded Force push ability.

Spaceship Bridge

Level 4.0

The following elevator section is random. A good pattern is crucial for a good run. It consists of many waves, that sometimes have enemy replacements as well. Luckily, the upgraded Force push will help to save a lot of time. In the end, I show off all the moves that are not used in this run.

Level 4.1

This part of the level has some time-saving tricks. When stopping at a precise point, two green super battle droids that come from the left explode. Going to the right and moving back allows spawning the brown droid to spawn earlier. The next green super battle droids get their finishing hit using the explosive barrels.

Level 4.2

Catching one death here is faster than dying three times in level 5. This makes this level a bit slower but speeds up level 5 by a lot. This saves about 3 seconds. Without the blaster hit at the beginning of this part, one would barely survive the three explosions. Notice how the last explosion throws Obi-Wan to the right to reduce traveling distance.

Level 4.3

This part is mostly a hold right simulator again. The rest of the Focus bar can be used for two Knights slams to efficiently kill the droideka.

Utapau Control Center

This level is all about dying fast to perform the death skip. The fastest way to die in this level is by using the moving laser bars. Holding r while taking damage results in more damage than normal. After taking damage one enters a small invincibility state. Therefore, the character gets damaged in waves. The hit on the first screen allows dying in one wave less. Moving with the bars in the invincibility state speeds up taking damage a bit by optimally positioning Obi-Wan.
If you go game over in a level (it does not matter where you die in the level), a small screen pops up with the options to restart the level, change the level, or exit the game. Normally, if you change the level, you can not end the game. You have to enter a level at first. But if you previously die, you can press B to exit. Now, we can select Anakin. Somehow, the game thinks the progress made with Obi-Wan should be applied to Anakin as well. And because we unlocked a level with Obi-Wan, which is unobtainable for Anakin, the game thinks that every level has been unlocked, thus we can just proceed to the final boss fight. Sadly, this trick only works with Obi-Wan. If we do the trick reversed by starting with Anakin and selecting Obi-Wan after dying in the fifth level, we can only enter the fifth Anakin level with Obi-Wan and we get soft locked. This trick skips about 2/3 of the game and has been named warp glitch.

Duel Obi-Wan

Level 6.0

The attack patterns of Obi-Wan will always stay the same. Moving towards Obi-Wan in the start of each phase results in an earlier attack from Anakin. The dodging is only for showing off but it saves no time. Doing an intentionally blocked hit as seen in the Darth Tyranus fight is slower. The combination of two L+B, one U+B, and two L+B again is the fastest method to chain five strong hits consecutively. The good thing is that these strong moves do not bring Obi-Wan to fall which would make him invincible until his next attack. One can not hit Obi-Wan more than five times. Somehow the animation from Obi-Wan's last attack gets canceled if Anakin does a small left-tab. The used D+B attack is weaker than the strong moves but faster and strong enough to go over to the next phase.

Level 6.1

The special move Vader's wrath is used to skip the longest attack animation. The attack pattern before using it is slightly altered since the attack gets activated faster if the previous attack was a double U+B instead of a double L+B.

Miscellaneous

Possible improvements

I was able to find small improvements in Level 1 and 2 by optimizing some fighting screens (all of them add up to less than half a second). They have not been added since they result in different cycles. The changes in Level 1 obsoleted many parts in Level 2. The improvements in Level 2 gave horrible enemy patterns in the elevator section, resulting in a time-loss. Redoing Level 1 and 2, eventually by using a different starting time for better enemy spawning could allow a better time.
For the same reason, timing the text boxes for all languages is a bit of a hassle (different times mean different enemy patterns). That is why I only have counted the number of text boxes. The amount of text boxes does not directly have to be the amount of text, so other languages could potentially (but unlikely) be faster. When dying one could potentially change the language without losing much time, so language combinations could be considered as well.
Different starting times could be used to get more optimal enemy patterns overall. But the most critical part is by far the elevator section in Level 4.

The timing predicament

The RTA time starts on frame 1260 and ends at frame 37083. This adds up to an RTA time of 9:59.77. One may wonder why this ending time has been chosen since inputs are made afterward. It is in fact hard to define when the game ends, thus we rely on a convention. Early speedruns ended after the final hit has been delivered, later runs have used the white flash after the fight as it is a nice visual indicator. This is the current convention. Technically, this is not the point of loss-of-control. This point is hard to define as well. For example, the scenic images after Palpatine's appearance disappear faster by pressing A but will disappear on their own. The ending is also hard to define since it could be the congratulation screen, when successfully saved, or when the credits appear.

GBA vs NDS version

The main reason I have chosen the GBA version is nostalgia. The warp glitch can only be done in the GBA version. For reference, I will list the differences between both versions that I have found.
The NDS version has
  • a redesigned menu
  • slightly up-scaled artwork
  • a high-quality soundtrack
  • an overview and buttons for the special attack on the bottom screen
  • 3D flight sections in some levels
  • a different Co-op game mode, replacing beat 'em up sections with the 3D flight sections
  • missing enemies at very few positions (e.g. in Level 1.2)
  • a slightly different movement for some attacks (e.g. Obi-Wan does not move while using the D+B combo)

Unrelated trivia

After playing through the game some may wonder why 50 Customization Points are missing. One can gain them by playing the Co-op levels. The Co-op missions are in fact a small prologue to the Clone Wars.
The game uses some dialogues that are not present in the movie with gems like
Quoting General Grievous
I have been trained in the art of Jedi combat by Count Dooku.
Quoting Obi-Wan
That's good because I trained the Jedi who KILLED Count Dooku.

ThunderAxe31: Claiming for judging.
ThunderAxe31: Hello and welcome to TASVideos, Superposition! I really liked this movie, as it remembered me of when I TASed Tekken Force. I can tell there is a lot going on with RNG manipulation and fighting strategy.
We usually put a branch label for movies that skip more than half of a game due to a glitch. So, in accordance with feos, I'm adding the "warp glitch" label to this submission. Note that this is a glitch in all aspects, since the game doesn't record the Anakin progress in SRAM when you get the game over with Obi-Wan, and you need to change character without exiting from the save file, otherwise you lose the glitched progress for Anakin.
I just want to add that there seem to be many possibilities for extra branches for this game. Movies that only use one playable character would both be acceptable for Moons, as they would both feature enough differing contents. Additionally, there is this fascinating idea on gamefaqs about a "Lightsabre-less Challenge", which kinda reminds me of the published Zelda movie "Swordless Challenge". I want to remind here that accepting a movie for Moons also depends on how much entertaining it results to watch, so it would need to gather some reception after submitting, or even better during work in progress.
Meanwhile, accepting this movie for Standard.
fsvgm777: Processing.

Last Edited by Superposition on 2/13/2022 5:52 PM
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