Submission #7569: Chamale's GBA River City Ransom EX "alternate final boss" in 10:09.75

(Link to video)
Game Boy Advance
alternate final boss
BizHawk 2.8.0
River City Ransom EX (U). gba
Submitted by Chamale on 7/2/2022 4:03:04 PM
Submission Comments
River City Ransom is a side-scrolling beat-em-up where Alex and Ryan fight gangs of evil high school students. It also contains RPG elements, where the player can defeat opponents to earn money and upgrade his fighting techniques. This run unlocks the secret 4v4 final boss fight, and wins, as quickly as possible. This is all thanks to winning the lottery and spending the money on swords and the powerful martial art of bashing people with improvised weaponry.

Gang Fights:

Areas generally contain 10 enemies that must be defeated to trigger a boss fight. Four enemies will spawn at a time, about 30 frames apart, out of view of the player. Defeated enemies drop a coin 120 frames after they are knocked unconscious. When this coin is picked up, a new enemy spawns. Movement when entering a new area may seem slow, because waiting to cause enemies to spawn together lets them be defeated quicker.
If an enemy runs away, that counts as defeating him. A new enemy spawns as soon as the retreating enemy leaves the stage (not simply when it goes offscreen). Throwing an enemy into a pit also counts as defeating him. These methods may be faster because there’s no wait for a coin to spawn. The Entrees and Generic Dudes are the most cowardly gangs.
The gangs, from lowest to highest HP: Generic Dudes, Entrees, Frat Boys, Dragons, Jocks, Rockers, Rejects, Home Boys, Eagles, Gamers, Mob, Locals, Internationals, Cowboys, Plague.

Boss Fights:

Bosses have a lot of Hit Points and Stamina. When a boss’s hit points are reduced to 0, he will gain HP and lose stamina equal to the damage from the hit that took his HP to 0. After this point, any hit will knock the boss down. An enemy flying through the air after being knocked down can’t be damaged, and a downed enemy takes half the usual damage. Therefore, it is usually better to fight a boss with weaker attacks until he reaches 0 HP, and then start hitting him with the strongest attack, Grand Slam.
Moose, Rocko, Thor, and the four final bosses can be thrown into a pit or thrown outside of the level to kill them instantly. To throw a boss outside of the level, it is easiest to have Alex jump backwards into the wall, and throw the boss with perfect timing so that he will escape as Alex’s arms are moving the boss backwards. By holding down the attack button for about 30 frames while standing still, the player can deliver a charged punch that is guaranteed to knock down the boss if it hits.

Items Used:

The Lotto Tix can win prizes of $100, $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000. The RNG is influenced by the X positions of the player, allies, and enemies, and possibly other factors as well.
Rocketeers significantly increases running speed. Excalibur increases Kick and Weapon by 10 each. With more money, buying up to 11 of them would be worthwhile. (Alex starts with 16 Weapon, and the max is 128) Grand Slam teaches a powerful attack that swings a weapon four times.
Most weapons deal the same amount of damage, but their swing speeds vary. The chain can be used to hit a downed opponent, which deals some damage at the cost of Reputation. For that reason, I spawn an enemy with a chain after recruiting Ivan, because reputation no longer matters after recruiting him.

Possible Improvements

The RNG for this game is poorly understood. Most possible improvements relate to better luck manipulation.
  • Manipulating a lottery ticket faster. The current run takes about 15 seconds to manipulate a 3rd prize win, while ideally it'd be possible to win 2nd prize with as little delay as possible.
  • Manipulating weak enemies to run away more often, or have the cowardly Entrees gang appear more often.
  • Manipulating our AI allies to attack more often. There is an option to change their strategy on the pause menu, but they still don’t attack nearly as much as player character.
  • Learning more about Reputation, where it's stored in memory, and how much we need to recruit Ivan. Fighting dishonorably can be faster than fighting while to maintaining a good reputation.
  • Experiment with kicking weapons against grounded bosses
  • Finding a more efficient death warp after leaving Merlin’s. If found, look into recruiting Conan instead of Ivan.

Alex’s final fighting log:

  • Close Range: 1.000
  • Normal Range: .000
  • Far Range: .000
  • Punch: .037
  • Kick: .000
  • Jump: .000
  • Run: .059
  • Special: .602
  • Weapon: .209
  • Weapon Throw: .091
  • Accuracy: .397
  • Foul Play: .317

Useful Memory Addresses (EWRAM, two bytes)

  • 000454 Money
  • 000F16 Blade HP
  • 000F14 Blade WP
  • 000DDE Turk HP
  • 000DDC Turk WP
  • 000D42 Mojo HP
  • 000D40 Mojo WP
  • 00068E Ivan HP
  • 00068C Ivan WP
  • 000556 Randy HP
  • 000554 Randy WP
  • 0005F2 Andy HP
  • 0005F0 Andy WP
Thank you to tom_mai78101 for help with routing and finding memory addresses.
ROM CRC-32: 8686436E

Samsara: Claiming for judging. Too busy with life at the moment. Resetting to New.
Samsara: Judging this and the counterpart run was quite a unique experience. On one hand, the other run has a faster time and some better early movement. On the other hand, this run has the better overall route choice in the latter half of the run. On a mutated third hand after that accident at the chemical plant, the "routing" in both runs would most likely improve each other. Both strategies should be able to be combined into a run at least 30-40 seconds faster than either run, perhaps upwards of a full minute using additional discoveries made during the judgement of the runs. At the same time, it doesn't quite make sense to reject either run for optimization issues, because neither run is outright poorly executed. They just "complement" each other in the strangest way, particularly by both being on the workbench simultaneously.
The bigger issue is the goal choice. It's not going over quite well. The goal is, basically, to get a full gang together as fast as possible, triggering a more difficult version of the final boss fight. This, to me, doesn't feel like quite enough to differentiate it from a pure any% run. There's a lot of weird stuff in this game, lots of altered fights and secret scenes and things you can do with gangs, so the runs kind of straddle this weird line just above any% but not quite up to the level of any other reasonable category. What kills the category for me is the final boss fight itself, as the run uses a bug to instantly take out every boss with little to no effort, essentially making the run feel like a long detour for no real payoff.
Ultimately, the judge team decided we can have both of these runs in Playground. Despite being the same category, they tackle it in different enough ways that it's worth having them both available for reference and study. The branch of this run has been updated to reflect the change made to the other run. Whew.
Last Edited by Samsara on 10/2/2022 1:32 AM
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