Submission #7603: tapioca's GBA Dark Arena in 04:55.48

(Link to video)
Game Boy Advance
BizHawk 2.5.2
Dark Arena (U) [!].gba
Submitted by tapioca on 7/18/2022 5:36:04 AM
Submission Comments
Dark Arena is a Doom-style FPS built from levels submitted by members of the community in 2001. Our protagonist Angelina Bradshaw receives a distress signal from a space station and decides to investigate. She quickly determines that her best chance of survival is to skip everything and go straight to the end, ignoring all enemies and solid walls along the way.

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.5.2
  • Beat the game as fast as possible
  • Play on Hard difficulty to get the best ending
  • Only kills enemies which would otherwise block the player or are required
  • Frequent use of out-of-bounds glitches


There are a many different ways to clip through walls in this game, and most are used during this run.
  • Running at a corner that's around 45 degrees, then continuing to run forward along the wall with an angle slightly "into" the wall until you're through it
  • Standing in a door frame, finding the right angle, and then strafing into the door will clip you into the doorframe
  • Static 2D objects have cylindrical collision which is abusable if the object is close to a wall
  • Dropping from a ledge at low speed will put you close enough to the ledge that you can use it to push you through another wall (Stage 3)
  • Some gaps between walls are the perfect size to just push you out of bounds for some reason (Stage 10)
The game will crash if you run farther in one direction than the farthest level element in that direction (i.e. once you clip out of bounds, you are stuck in the "quadrant" of the level where you clipped). With all this in mind, the general approach is to find a clip with a fast setup that's as close as possible to the optimal, straight-line path from start to finish. Sometimes multiple clips are required to get into the right quadrant or to cut corners (Stages 3, 14).
The final stage is unique because it ends when the final boss is dead, not when hitting the level end pad. The boss takes 100 hits from the energy cannon and is killed from far out of bounds to prevent his AI from activating. This is the only required enemy in the game, aside from the stage 5 boss which is meant to be required but is skipped.

Other comments

This is a redo of a cancelled Dark Arena TAS I attempted several years ago. The game is constantly lagging, and every input changes that lag and RNG in a way that causes the rest of the movie to desync. If you find a faster way to complete a stage, the entire rest of the TAS must be redone from that point. This very quickly becomes very annoying.
Optimizing 3D movement is quite difficult, and I am admittedly a novice. There are definitely more frames to shave off some of the levels. However, this game also has features like turn speed acceleration/deceleration and inconsistent lag that often make doing the theoretically optimal movement not possible. Some of the clips require enough precision that strange things must be done to wrestle your character into the right spot with the right angle and speed.

Memory: I'm honestly shocked to see this on the workbench. Claiming.
Memory: Replacing file with 18 frame improvement.
Honestly I'm really happy to see this submission on the workbench. I felt your previous submission I might have been a bit too tough on and I'd never see it again but lo and behold here we are. I still like all the oob tricks used everywhere. Accepting.

despoa: Processing...
Last Edited by despoa on 7/26/2022 12:22 PM
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