Submission #809: nitsuja's GBA Ninja Five-0 in 18:06.90

Console Game Boy Advance Emulator VBA
Game Version USA Frame Count 65214
ROM Filename Ninja Five-0 (U).gba Frame Rate 60
Branch Rerecord Count 53785
Unknown Authors nitsuja
Game Ninja Five-O
Submitted by nitsuja on 9/7/2005 5:38:38 AM

Submission Comments
  • Aims for fastest time.
  • Takes no damage (thus, saves all hostages)
Emulator used: VBA-rerecording-10
Description:
Joe Osugi is a ninja who's decided to become a detective to stop an evil terrorist organization and save the hostages they've taken. Apparently he's not a very good detective, because all he seems to do is fly around and kick everyone's asses with his amazing ninja skills. This game is really all about non-stop ninja action and acrobatics.
Joe has a ninja sword for slicing things, an infinite supply of shurikens/fireballs/lasers for blasting things, and a grappling hook used for swinging all over the place. There are lots of ways to move around - he can crawl, walk, slide-dash, ledge-climb, grapple-pull, grapple-swing, grapple-wall-kick, and grapple-jump. He can throw shurikens/magic in either direction even while swinging around, and swinging his sword in midair gives his jumps an inexplicable boost. He also gains ninja magic power from each enemy he kills, which can make him invincible or destroy all enemies onscreen if it's built up enough.
I end up using every single move and ability that Joe has (except for his detective binoculars) to get through the game as quickly as possible. The controls are very good and responsive, giving full access to Joe's arsenal of abilities, although it takes superhuman reflexes to put all of the moves (especially with the grappling hook) to their fullest use.
Despite how much power the game gives the player, this game is quite challenging, and not overly short either. Playing through it normally can take a several hours even for a skilled player, and getting through without any Game Overs (much less without taking damage) would be miraculous. Since this run is under 20 minutes, and doesn't really skip any part of the game... well, that means there's a lot of stuff going on very quickly here.
There are 15 main levels and 5 bosses. Each level is a bunch of large rooms connected by doors, many of which are locked and require a key of a certain color to open. The goal of each level is to rescue all of the hostages (usually by killing their captors when they let their guard down), find the red key, and exit through the red door. Shuriken powerups and ninja magic carry over between levels, but they reset after every boss. Each boss is crazy in its own unique way, but they all just need to be thoroughly beaten up.
This is an improvement of 4 minutes and 13 seconds on KaitouKid's run of Ninja Five-0. That was already action-packed, so I didn't think I would be able to improve on it so much. I should note that KaitouKid's run was very helpful for making this, especially with routes and basic strategies. The improvement comes partly from playing with greater precision (this game is NOT easy to play precisely, as evidenced by the number of rerecords per frame), and partly from better planning of when to use invincibility, but most of the improvement comes from a bunch of tricks and a few shortcuts I discovered:
  • A mid-air spinning sword slash (the strongest and fastest attack) usually causes a small delay after landing, but this delay can be cancelled by pressing the grapple button at the exact moment of landing if the slash was timed such that its animation will end before reaching the ground.
  • A mid-air spinning sword slash can also be instantly cancelled, even at the very start of the (damage) animation, by grabbing onto a ledge. When an enemy is standing on a ledge, this can be used to get in a powerful extra attack much faster than is usually possible.
  • Found that using the R button to retract the grappling hook moves you a LOT faster than normal control of the grappling hook, which leads to insanely high grapple-jumps when combined with frame-precise timing.
  • Jumping from a grappling hook resets the delay between shurikens you're allowed to fire, so the long delay between throwing two powerful laser shurikens can be eliminated by throwing the first one while on the grappling hook, then jumping off, then immediately throwing the second one. I use this most noticeably on the Airport dragon boss and the Airplane level.
  • Slide-dashing lets you move through enemies without taking damage if the dash doesn't start or end directly under any enemy.
  • Human enemies won't damage you if you pass through them exactly when they're playing a getting-hit animation (so throwing a shuriken lets me pass through some enemies while swinging). Also, large armored enemies sometimes won't damage you if you pass through part of them while damaging them with a spinning sword slash.
  • The high speed of a slide-dash is offset by a long-ish delay at the end of each dash, but that delay is entirely cancelled for a dash that goes off the edge of something, so I usually dash off of platforms for some free extra speed.
  • If an enemy is high enough off the ground, doing a high jump and shooting two laser shurikens per jump deals out damage very fast because each jump also resets the shuriken firing delay (and a laser shuriken does as much damage as a spinning sword slash). I use this to defeat the cave bat boss a lot faster than before.
  • In two of the cave missions, the level designers assumed that it was impossible to go straight up a narrow passageway, but I found in both cases that it's just barely possible to wedge yourself under the passage and grapple+wallkick+retract+jump to launch up just high enough to reach the ceiling with a second firing of the grappling hook. This let me skip part of a room in the first cave stage, and it made it possible to completely change the route in the second cave stage to minimize backtracking.
  • The final boss follows a set pattern of attacks with increasingly long periods of having to dodge fire while the boss is invincible in-between, but part of the pattern can be skipped by doing more damage than he's supposed to be able to take before teleporting out, so I'm able to skip the longest of his extremely long fullscreen attacks and kill him early.
(most of these are new, although some may have been known before but weren't used much)
Other notes:
  • The final room in Base 2 with all the ninjas is time-based until the one with the key spawns, that's why I fool around with those ninjas for so long before killing them.
  • If I turn on invincibility for apparently no reason, it's to avoid having the magic meter fill all the way up which would would force me to use the usually-time-wasting kill-everything magic attack before I'm able to use invincibility again.
  • This game apparently does not have any randomness at all to abuse.
  • This game is very well-programmed (and well-made in general). As for bugs, the only bug I found was a weird teleportation caused by getting hit in certain places in the Base levels, which I didn't include in the run because it teleported me backwards in the level in both cases, and I was aiming for no damage anyway.
  • Usually I don't go for no-damage runs, but taking damage is rather unhelpful in this game and often requires interesting/skillful things to avoid, so I made this run under the same set of rules as KaitouKid.
  • Making this run: I used frame advance for almost all of it. Some combinations of actions were too complicated to input like this initially, however, because of overlapping unknown timings of different buttons required, so for those actions I recorded short segments at 100% speed a few times, took the fastest resulting one, then re-entered that input somewhat optimized using frame advance. This run was definitely more challenging to make than any other ones I've made, 2-player ones included.
That's all - enjoy!

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