Took me a little while but here it is! An updated TAS with a lot more, albeit small, skips in it and using a superior form of movement that saves around 2 minutes from the original submission.
- Aims for fastest completion
- Abuses programming errors
- Takes damage to save time
- Uses Death to save time
Syncing Info: Make sure to use BizHawk 2.3.2 for movie playback since newer versions will cause desyncs, U+D/L+R should be set to priority, and the BIOS should be SCPH-5501.
Before I get into anything, I want to make this very clear. Everything before Manic Mines was done by lapogne36 who provided the input file for the Pirate levels and I wanted to make sure that I give them the credit for that, Manic Mines and beyond was done by me. This is going to be a lengthy read since there's a lot to talk about especially since this version of the game hasn't been submitted on here before. There's also a live commentary of the TAS done by Joester98 and me.
For any%/fast completion, the game only has one real requirement to access the final boss and that is to save all 6 of Pac-Man's friends. Normally you're supposed to complete every level since there's 2 barriers that prevent access to the later worlds until you've completed all of the levels, and with 23 levels (the bosses are counted as levels in this game) in total, naturally there's going to be some creative ways to skip any of the progression blockers and any levels that are deemed unnecessary for this run. 4 of the 16 mandatory levels in the run don't have a key nor a friend meanwhile 6 levels never get unlocked at all, therefore leaving only 12 levels in total that are required to go through.
This is an extremely difficult game to optimize, for example. If you were to improve even the fewest frames possible from a earlier level, if you try to copy the inputs of a later level, the chances of it desyncing are very likely and that's mainly due to the loading times. Heck, even the bootup can desync the first level... I only found that out once I had access to lapogne's TAS and comparing it with mine, but despite the difficult of TASing this game, I did my best to at least optimize almost all of it.
- Zigzag - By going in diagonals, you go more faster than just holding one direction or spamming rev-rolls, combine this with analog sticks and you'll get a lot more speed than just using the d-pad.
- Zipzag - When left and right is being pressed every other 2 frames, it'll make Pac-Man go extremely fast than regular zigzagging but this is only optimal for going right, it also helps with going slightly up and down but it's better to use analog zigzagging instead. It's a staple for TASes of this game to use this.
- Something worth noting is that pressing the opposite direction of where Pac-Man's facing when he's grabbing the ledge and then pressing jump 4 frames afterwards will let Pac-Man go in the direction you want him to without having him pull up from the ledge or butt bounce right away.
- Level Skip Glitch - In certain levels, I collect the 6 Pac-Man letters which are scattered throughout each level. Collecting them will take you to a bonus level and normally there's 3 intended ways to exit them but there's an unintended method to leave the bonus level, and that is by exiting through the pause menu, this will cause the game to think that you're still in one. As a result, entering another level and dying on purpose will trick the game into thinking that you have died in the bonus level for that level instead so therefore letting me skip the whole level.
- Wall Skip - There's a wall between the Space and Funhouse worlds that prevents the player from accessing the rest of the game until the player has beaten all levels in the Pirate, Ruins, and Space worlds which includes the bosses. Skipping the wall cuts a lot of time from having to do all the other levels.
- Gate Skip - Similar to the wall, there's a gate that prevents the player from getting to the Mansion world, except the requirement is only having the levels in the Funhouse and Factory worlds beaten for it to open unlike the wall. For this skip, you clip inside the railing and stay out of bounds while being inside the railing, get on top of the railing near the gate, and use a butt bounce to get around it.
- Smaller Skips - Majority of these aren't too complicated to explain but I do want to point it out regardless, there's plenty of times where I'll be going around either the lack of or really short invisible walls, sometimes I'll even abuse how the game loads the levels by chunks and use collision on some background props to my advantage.
I'll mostly be describing some of the stuff that happens in the levels and explain some level unique shenanigans.
Buccaneer Beach: Since this is the tutorial level, it's fairly straightforward and a good preview to what'll be coming up in later levels. There's a glitch where pressing the opposite direction while touching a wall that'll launch Pac-Man up into the air and allow him to move in any direction, this is used three times for this level.
Corsair's Cove: So after the first two jumps, using some precise butt bounces on the doors allow Pac-Man to get to the top of an unintended spot and go out of bounds to get behind the first strawberry door without needing to get the strawberry itself. Once the second letter is collected, there's a clip near the barrel enemies that can make Pac-Man clip slightly out of bounds and allowing him to head towards the area with the 3rd letter in it without needing to go up on the roofs. At the end, a cannonless route is taken by clipping inside the invisible wall and heading towards the wall, all of those out of bounds saves a lot of time than doing the intended way.
Crazy Cannonade: Shoutouts to the camera trying its best to keep up. At the end, pause buffering allows Pac-Man to build up even more speed to reach the ledge without having to get on the platforms from the cannons.
Manic Mines: After the first helivator in the level, damage is purposely taken to use the collision of the falling icicles to skip a very small portion of the level. There's a spider immediately after the first b-doing that is mandatory to activate since getting hit there wouldn't be good as this is one of those levels where using damage boosts is optimal for this level. I do a very large jump to skip a majority of the water portion and to avoid opening the door via green switch. Damage is taken again to get launched high and avoid backtracking to get the key. I leave the level with no health to setup a death for a level skip that occurs later on.
Space Race: No health and with lots of lasers throughout the level means they're a huge threat so I have to avoid them at all costs. So, if you haven't noticed by now, the game loads the levels by chunks which are activated by invisible triggers in the levels, I purposely avoid activating a trigger to get the 3rd letter without having to collect the cherry and saving a few seconds along the way, I do have to instantly go back to load the next chunk of level to progress. I damage boost at the end to get the bell without having to deactivate the lasers through the yellow switch blocked by the pink alien.
Far Out: I pause buffer for the jump towards the orange hallway which lets me butt bounce further ahead and save a few seconds, otherwise it's very straightforward. Shoutouts to the fact that activating the first blue switch locks movement, epic.
Wall Skip: Because this is aiming for fast completion, the level order is a bit different. Instead of heading into Clowning Around first, Perilous Pipes is entered first to skip it and unlock the next level right away since Down the Tubes has both the key and the friend therefore the first two can be skipped with no consequences. The downside of this means that there's a little more movement in the overworld but that shouldn't be too bad since I'm using faster movement now.
Clowning Around: In the beginning, I use the collision of the background prop to avoid collecting the cherry and get the first letter right away, otherwise it's pretty straightforward.
Down the Tubes: Bell Door Skip who? The Bell Door Skip is an RTA skip that I originally used in the original submission but thanks to the analog stick, I don't have to use the skip and I can just make a really huge jump towards the area with the key. Damage is taken to setup a death that'll be used later in the level and death is taken after getting the key to avoid backtracking which makes the water rise up and that for some reason, only in this specific screen transition can the player move therefore I can get to the cage early before the screen fully fades in.
Barrel Blast: I do a small pause buffer so that I can land on the purple rotating platform without interacting on the ledge. Damage is taken here to setup the death for Ghostly Garden. Similar to Space Race, I abuse how the game loads the level and go back to clip in-between the bell and banana doors just to get the key without having to get the bell the intended way, you can do the same for the last letter but it's much more ideal to get the key instead.
Spin Dizzy: The Casuals' least favorite level. A little bit of pause buffering in the beginning so that I can land on the platform, also, the flames/smoke has such a strange hitbox in this level that the only way I can actually progress is by butt bouncing over them, otherwise I die and that's not good since I have the level skip active. I have to go on the lower path after camera goes by the first purple curtain so that the game can load the next chunk necessary for me to proceed. So instead of going up the B-Doings, I instead butt bounce on the bumper car enemy to land on the platform and skip the hammers by using some precise jumps. A lot of the platforms in this level are meant to be spinning but due to the massive jumps and not hitting certain switches, they don't spin at all. Ok so a funny thing about this level is that well, I'll just say that the game didn't like me being too fast.
Gate Skip: Even in a TAS, this skip is still annoying to deal with, this is the only way to skip the gate sadly. If there was a way to clip into the railing faster, than that would pretty much make this TAS very good.
Creepy Catacombs: In the beginning, I do a variation of the underground skip which skips having to open the hole via a switch locked behind a peach door, the issue with this variant is that I have to butt bounce my way up to load the next chunk of level in order to progress and there's also a huge vertical invisible wall that pushes me away from entering the spot to load the chunk. Plenty of damage boosts here, I also have to pick up the health refill so that I can damage boost later in the level. This turned out to be my favorite level to TAS although the section with the crushers was annoying to optimize.
Grave Danger: Pretty straightforward level, using the skeleton at the beginning allows me to skip a few jumps, there's also a big jump that skips a good chunk of the level just to get to the end.
Toc-Man's Lair: For this fight, Toc-Man relies on RNG indicated through the number of steps he takes, so ideally less steps mean the faster the fight will go, for the third phase I can manipulate when he decides to roll by being far away from him in the arena and moving to the right. I also have to dodge the fireball attacks in phase one because getting hit at any point in the fight will cause Toc-Man to laugh which is only bad for phase one. The cutscene before the percent screen is skippable but for a faster TAS timing, no inputs are placed after the last rev-roll is charged, plus, it would've killed me if I didn't show the final cutscene which in my opinion, is unintentionally funny. There are credits in the game but it's found in the options menu on the title screen and doesn't play after beating the main game which is a bit bizarre but oh well!
Special Thanks to...
- Joester98: For informing me about improvements, providing me the notes for routing and the multiple skips including old and newer ones, informing me about the analog stick, and for premiering the TAS!
- lapogne36: For providing their input file and the lua scripts that they used which you can find here, and for also coining the name: Zipzag.
- Pac-Man Speedrunning Community: For finding the several skips used here, showing support towards the previous TAS that I made, and on the live premiere.
Without their efforts, the possibilities of a faster TAS wouldn't have existed.
Despite some of the stress from working on this, this was really fun to work on, again! Although having to work on this TAS while juggling some major and important irl stuff was annoying and it didn't help that I instantly worked on this a few hours after submitting the original. Also before it gets asked, yes, I'll be working on a All Levels TAS now. Typing all of this took me awhile too, having to revise and reword sentences and explanations to sound better was a bit of a pain but not by that much. Thank you for spending the time of your day to read all of this and I hope you get some entertainment outta this!
slamo: Claiming for judging.
slamo: Cutting off 4707 frames of blank input.
slamo: What is it about Pac-Man spinoffs that make such good TASes? As someone who has never seen this game before, I was highly entertained by the ridiculous superhuman movement. Everything looks really good here, accepting.