Submission #7353: GMP's GBA Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time in 28:37.38

(Link to video)
System Game Boy Advance Emulator BizHawk 2.7.0
Game Version USA Frame Count 102575
ROM Filename Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time (U) (M3).gba Frame Rate 59.7275005696058
Branch Rerecord Count 13668
PowerOn Authors GMP
Game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Submitted by GMP on 3/14/2022 3:29:18 AM

Submission Comments
This is a TAS of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the GBA 'demake' of the PC/PS2/GCN classic. All the known glitches and sequence breaks known as of making it are used.


Co-commentary by toca_1

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.7 (mGBA core v0.8)
  • This is a any% / no restrictions TAS
  • The objective of the game is to reach credits after defeating the Vizier (final boss).


History of the game

Despite being one of the more obscure games in the franchise, this game has actually had one of the earliest properly documented history starting with the 2008 TASes by none other than 'theenglishman'. The game wouldn't see any activity for another 8 years though, until he returned to do a 100% TAS, and it was showcased at PoPRuns. This sparked an interest for the game in the RTA community, and eventually lead to the discovery of the game breaking "Death Duplication Glitch (DDG)" by 7eraser7.

About this TAS

While an improvement of this branch was due for quite a while now with the new tech found by 'theenglishman' during his 100% TAS journey, my interest in it was purely based on one specific skip - Griffin 2/Absorption skip. This game is a pseudo-metroidvania and a new power that is hidden behind a boss is required to access a new level. "Absorption" is one such power and it is used in the run a grand total of just 3 times in the entire run, so naturally it was the best candidate for completely skipping it. The progression of this skip is itself a whole another story. It seems like 'theenglishman' has put quite some reasearch in the movement tech in the game, especially in his 100% TAS, so it helped me immensely to have it as a reference to know about all the latest tricks and mini-sequence breaks. I was able to find a couple of new parkour skips but the main show is at the "kill rooms" where I can skip large parts of the room and slow fighting required for some enemies using DDG.

Stage by stage comments

I will name the levels as per the same naming convention used in the previous submission. I highly recommend going through atleast the "tricks" section of that submission and the 100% TAS submission comments.


R1 - This is a tutorial-esque stage, was able to save 3 frames over the previous run and on par with the 100% run which as far as I can tell after extensive test with TAStudio, is optimal.


R1 - Little Time is saved here by jumping over the sawblade after the door opening, which once again can also be seen in the 100% run.
R2 - This is where we pull our big guns and skip having to kill the archer in the top floor by duplicating the scarab kill.
R3 - This is where some planning was required. The room itself is nothing special, but it contains a life potion that takes about 200 frames to collect. It would enable us to perform the zombie glitch at world 1 itself. This would have definitely been worth if not for the fact that it is reset at the start of world 2. The glitch itself requires some time to activate in the first place but it starts to slowly save time over the course of the rest of the world. However, its not nearly enough to compensate the timeloss involved in getting it. It was worth in 100% TAS because obviously it has a lot more stuff to be done, but not here. Right now health management is not that much of a concern thanks to very timely heal points that can be found later.
R4 - This room has a lot of potential for timesave if a way to skip one of the lion statues is found, but right now it's physically impossible so we do the room normally.
R5 - This is where it zombile could have been activated if it didnt waste too much time to set it up, but we just do a normal 9/9 jump to skip the lizard and just peace out.
R6 - This is a puzzle room featuring some minor movement improvement from 100%.
R7 - Another normal room, the noteworthy things are the pillar skips, and that trick where we skip the get up animation from a ledge is quite the staple in the run.
R8 - The second room with DDG, makes it straightforward in the most literal way. Also we get some of our precious health back.
R10 - The objective of this room is to kill whip lady and get the invisiblity which is need to exit the room. Again I am taking damage left and right because the health management does not matter much at the moment.
R11 - This is a kill room where DDG is not possible as all the enemies are absorbable enemies. So we just kill the 2 enemies, and get the upgrade as well, which might have lost time here but overall it turned out to be a good thing as I was just leveled enough to fight the upcoming boss on par with the previous TAS. Also we get the last life heal flare until the end of not just this, but the next world.
R12 - Some serious health management starts here. The goal is to not have to waste anytime to refill our health anywhere until we get into a position where are comfortable to activate the Zombie glitch without having to worry about losing it. It might be weird how having said that, I take like 5 hits in this very room that are quite avoidable, but the thing is, if I waste a couple of frames to save damage from those fire things at the start, I end up losing it anyways to the bats as their cycle is important. So effectively we would lose a couple of frames to save like 5 damage or so, but considering almost everything does like 7 damage or more, its not really worth.
BOSS - This is basically a combination of the strategy from the previous any% run and the 'celebration' from the 100% run, with some minor tweaks to avoid damage from the falling rocks at the end. The boss is tied to a cycle so there isn't much room to save/lose time here.
R12a - Another big planning required here. First of all, I do a jump that loses a couple of frames but saves 10 damage. And second, there is a sand bag in the room, that takes 200 frames to collect and is useful against the later boss fights, but I will elaborate down the line why this one is not worth to collect. And that brings us to the end of this world.


R1 - The life potion in this room is collected as its the fastest one to get. It is required for the zombie glitch later. And then we proceed to finish the room without Farah using some skips.
R2 - This is room is full of Farah skips. Luckily they dont take damage to perform either. Switching characters after opening a door skips the door opening cutscene, so we do that.
R3 - We do a intential death abuse in the room to bring Farah to our checkpoint. We rewind for short while to skip the "death jingle", a trick once again found during the 100% run. Rest of the room is just about clearing it damageless.
R4 - Some ceiling hop action to get to the platform with the box. After reaching the part with the 2 buttons, we switch to Farah and bring her there as well to open the door to next room.
R5 - This room all about rotating characters to skip cutscenes. Prince press a button, Farah hits a gong, Prince exits room.
R6 - This room was all about damage planning, avoiding some damage without wasting too many frames. We survive it with HP that is not enough to survive even one more hit.
R7 - Here the main thing is the gong skip where both Prince and Farah are able to barely skip the spike platforms by abusing the faulty collision on their far ends. Just like before we bring Farah to the double button door and exit the level.
R8 - This room has a huge sequence break. We can once again skip the spike platform and directly reach a room that is supposed to be reachable only much later.
R11 - Once again a death to bring Farah in, and then we do the "puzzle" and exit the room.
R12 - Here we once again do Farah's job and hit the gongs ourself, although this isnt a sequence break, it helps speed up Farah's descent later quite a bit.
R13 - Here we just setup buttons and bring Farah to hit the final button. I hope you liked the time with her because we will never see her again (well atleast not in gameplay I suppose). We collect a sand bag as well which is do worth this time.
R14 - Quite a normal room till the end, where we do a triple jump to get over the lion statue. For a second he would have thought he got us because going in contact with those loses HP. Little does he know that he immortailized us for basically the rest of the game. We activate the life potion at the exact frame of death and it renders us immune to damage from traps and enemies alike. All the health management we had to go through comes together at this very moment, as we need to worry about it no more! Also lets not get distracted from the main picture, we just skipped a boss that grants a mandatory power, so what are we going to do? Lets move to the next world to find out.


R1 - This room is similar to S1R10, with the only notable thing being the way rolls are setup at the very end to get an extra roll in the next room.
R2 - A straightforward room especially with the setup from the previous room.
R3 - Another DDG room with big saves. This is the first time in the TAS where being under-leveled is kinda felt, but it really helps that all we need to do is kill a single enemy. This room is home to some really annoying enemies like the spear guys, the genies and so on who have really extended periods of invincibility, but luckily we do not have to deal with them at all. This room also features the clipping glitch which is surprisingly easy to do. Wouldn't be an Ubisoft game without things like this.
R4 - Another room using the clipping glitch allowing to exit it pretty much from the beginning.
R5 - Kill room, DDG, normal platforming. Moving on.
R6 - This room is full of platforming. One thing that needed planning here was whether it was worth to collect the freeze ring at all. And the answer is yes, for a grand total one use in the entire run. More on that later.
R7 - This room has a new skip from the 100% run that features the everyone's favorite air hopping glitch.
R8 - Another normal room where can just bruteforce our way to the end.
R9 - The moving platform is caught at an early cycle with the help of everyone's favorite glitch.
R10 - There was actually a faster strat for the previous room involving the freeze ring, and it would have been worth if not for the fact that this room also requires some sand to traverse.
R11 - Alright here comes one of the big boys. This room normally requires the absorption power to traverse. The second lion statue normally takes damage only when the other statue is destroyed using the absorption power. But by doing this weird specific movement, it can be "tricked" and damaged early and then its just a matter of using DDG to double its kill.
R12 - This room doesn't look like much but it features one of my own new finding at the end where I used the sword glitch to skip the pillars completely. Also we collect the free sand bag there.
R13 - A room full of traps but it doesnt matter since we have the zombie glitch. So its a straight path to the boss fight.
BOSS - This is the only boss which differs in terms of leveling from the previous TAS. All the precious collectibles we collected so far is just for this boss. The main problem with it is that it moves around out of our attack range way too often. It takes 2 cycles and 500 frames more to kill the boss without any freezing action, but it takes lesser time to collect these 3 items and just one-cycle the boss.
R13a - The exit to this room is straightforward, but more importantly we get a sand refill flare as a bonus. I cannot overstate how much it simplified the routing.


R1 - Normal room. Nothing much to talk about here.
R2 - This is a kill room where DDG unfortunately doesnt come to our rescue because both the enemies have to be absorbed. Luckily there is just 2 of them and leveling-wise I think we are as under-leveled as we can be, as in so low that some sort of minimum damage cap is hit, because our damage is somehow on par with the old TAS for the rest of the run.
R3 - This room is just another normal day in the office for the most part except for the medal piece collected towards the end because this is a mandatory medal to progress, talk about good game design.
R4 - An absurdly short room thanks to the skips and improvised even further in the 100% run.
R5 - No funny glitch in the gong room this time, but it doesnt take too long to complete anyway.
R6 - A platforming room with lots of small skips and some airhopping action.
R7 - Probably my favorite moment in the TAS as we can see DDG in action very clearly. Also the door opening cutscene is skipped presumably because we are too far from the door.
R8 - Another normal room with the second medal piece, which we promptly collect and peace out.
R9 - In this room we use the platform near lion statue to get to the third medal piece and just get out. And just DDG the one near the exit to open the door.
R10 - Normal room with some airhop action to avoid slow movement through the ledges.
R11 - The music is glitched here and for some reason the medal room's music plays. Oh well, I like that one better anyway lol. Also again DDG comes to the rescue.
R12 - We rollin, we triple jumpin to catch cycles, we airhoppin, and room is done.
R13 - We are supposed to activate the "music mode" to make the red and green spike traps "dance" so we can traverse them. But a) we can skip them due to their rather poor collision normally and b) we have the zombie glitch, so we dont have to do any of that. As a side note I recommend listening to "melody of the passage" track from theenglishman's soundtrack rip of the game.
R14 - This is room again basically a red carpet to the world's boss as far as we are concerned.
BOSS - This boss moves around quite a lot just like the previous one, but, I realised something. He isnt out of our attack range for too long. And turns out, using freeze ring ring on this guy is not only worth, but actively loses time since it takes a while to activate. It should be noted that this is the case only because we have the zombie glitch so we can ride along with Griffin and keep hitting him in the air to decrease his health real quick. At the end, I had to wait a bit because unfortuately he is not in a state where he can take the "final blow" for a bit. Overall the fight saved time without the use of any collectibles!
R14a - Basic movement to the end of the world.


R1 - World 5 is by far the one to benefit the most from DDG and it shows right off the bat.
R2 - Platforming maze kind of stage, little tricks here and there to speed up things.
R3 - Puzzle kind of room featuring a little improvement guessed it.....the 100% run.
R4 - Another platforming stage, some casual airhopping action and zombie glitch comes in real handy at the end at those fast moving saw blade section.
R5 - Here comes the last obstacle to absorption skip. Turns out we can just skip the lion statue with airhopping. Apparently theenglishman knew about it, but he was limited by the fact that it was a mandatory kill room. But we have DDG in our bag, which we prompty use at the final lion statue of the room, and we are free!
R6 - Another room with DDG and it helps, a lot of branches and go straight to the end.
R7, R8, R9 - A normal rooms with a pretty straightforward paths to the end thanks to some small skips.
R10 - A DDG room. I found a faster way of setting up the airhops in this room, but it is a more a product of the fact that I didnt have to kill the sand zombie than anything else.
R11, R12, R13 - Nothing special. More of the same tricks to clear the room as fast as possible.
R14 - Despite the fact that we have skipped an entire boss fight, this room is the biggest timesave in the run due to the sheer number of branches one has to go through doing the room normally. But no more of that thanks to DDG, and that one enemy in the very bottom part of the room, a shiny red carpet is rolled to the endgame.


S5BOSS - Some sub-optimal RNG cost some time over the previous run. I have not put too much effort into RNG manipulation, but the good old technique of waiting for a few frames didnt help much. Oh well, atleast I really liked how it ended up looking visually.
S1R1a, CAVE - A small improvement here where the charge attack is used midair out of a jump to break the trick. A trick which is definitely not stolen from the 100% run. And then its just normal movement stuff to the final boss.
FINENC - I was able to improve this fight a little by deflecting his second projectile back at him just as he withers his shield away. Even though our zombie glitch has weared off those literal zombie enemies aren't too much of a problem so we just ignore him and finish off the fight and reach credits. And finally, this version is once again proven to be faster than PC version of the game. Checkmate!

Other Comments

I really enjoyed working for this game, and I am really happy to have achived the sub 30 goal especially under time pressure to make it in time for our self-organised marathon. Given that I try my best to focus on the run quality and also how much I tend to procastinate it feels like a bit like a miracle honestly. I would like to thank 'theenglishman' first and foremost. I would not have been able to pull this off without the base that he has worked hard to build. Special thanks goes out to '7eraser7', 'toca', 'Smathlax', 'DevilSnake74' and the RTA PoP speedrunning community in general, and ofcourse, to the TASVideos community here, who were very encouraging about this project right after my previous one. One of the things that was different about this project compared to the previous ones is the fact that I have neither played this game casually nor have done RTA speedruns of this game, not very extensively anyways. So I was a bit too cautious at the start to make sure I wasn't missing anything obvious due to my lack of casual knowledge of the game. As the project went on however, it got used to the game mechanics and it became just like my previous projects, perhaps even more comfortable thanks to amazing features presented in the BizHawk emulator.
Suggested Screenshot - Frame #95404

Big Fat Statistics Table

All numbers are given in number of frames. I compare everything with the re-synced version of the previous TAS. It doesn't make much difference anyway since I am excluding the lag frames in the comparison. Speaking of which, all comparisons, start from the first non-lag frame of the room and end at the last non-lag frame. 99% of the time there is a lone lag frame, followed by a non-lag frame, followed by bunch of lag frames at the room transition. The tally stops at the non-lag frame, and hence includes the lone lag frame mentioned, just to clarify.
Segment 2123S (old TAS) 7353S (this TAS) Save/Loss (-/+)

feos: Claiming for judging.
feos: Great job, especially given how more accurate loading times cost you more than 1 minute! Accepting over [1214] GBA Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time by theenglishman in 36:17.73.

EZGames69: Processing...

Last Edited by feos on 4/3/2022 4:44 PM
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