Submission #9172: Lars_Hendrick & Ready_Steady_Yeti's GBA Santa Claus Saves the Earth in 30:07.51

Game Boy Advance
Santa Claus Saves the Earth
BizHawk 1.11.6
107958
59.7275005696058
3250
PowerOn
Santa Claus Saves the Earth (Europe).gba
Submitted by Lars_Hendrick on 7/8/2024 8:01 PM
Submission Comments
I was going back through some older user movie files and encodes on my YT, when I happened upon a TAS that I and another player named ReadySteadyYeti had worked on years ago and completed, but failed to submit on the site for judging. This TAS was originally worked on in 2017. We intended some further minor optimization but figured the game wasn't notable enough nor was the optimization enough to warrant going back with a fine-toothed comb. A fully descriptive set of notes written out by RSY, which can be found on the userfile submission page here https://tasvideos.org/UserFiles/Info/43842684315417604 . Below is a copy-paste of said notes from the userfiles page.
This is a testrun of Santa Claus Saves the Earth. It goes over pretty much everything that will be in the route for the TAS. This is mainly meant for users who have suggested to co-op this TAS with me to see, but others may too obviously. I am pretty excited to TAS this game because of all the cool strats and glitches that can be shown off within the run, despite being such a notoriously terrible game. One thing to note is that, while some parts are optimized, at least somewhat, the majority of the run is not. It is still pretty damn fast for this game, but many portions of this run are either not frame-perfect, turboed through for convenience, done without frame advancing, and screwed up slightly on purpose.
  • About the run itself:
General notes: This run takes high advantage of a ceiling glitch that I found. It's similar to the one used constantly in my Sabrina: Potion Commotion TAS. This glitch is used to save massive amounts of time throughout the run, sometimes to skip quite large portions of levels. There is also a ladder glitch. So, in this game, you're not supposed to be able to jump while on a ladder, at all, like you would in most games. So, being able to jump off the ladder at a very specific frame right before falling off it is a glitch indeed. This glitch allowed for the new yellow key glitch route in Area 3 and in a few other parts of the game too. Yeah...and about the ladder glitch. Because I found this glitch, it will probably be used to continuously jump up very tall ladders to save time, kind of like in TASes of the Donkey Kong Country series for instance, except slower than they do it. It's used to jump from ladder to ladder quicker, to jump from a ladder to an adjacent platform corner, etc.. I don't go out of my way to do this as much as I could have in this test TAS. It's probably one of the sloppiest points of the run. I got tired of TRYING to do it at some point and just went up the ladders normally for the most part after that point. You can't collect any unnecessary amounts of green, blue, or red dots (which are useless except for gaining points and scores and for getting extra lives if you collect enough of them, which are all completely useless for speedrunning). In the end screen, it unavoidably counts these up. For every one you collect, it wastes a frame at the end of the level. So the objective is to collect as few as possible, and I certainly don't go out of my way to get any.
At the end of Area 9, I unexpectedly ran out of snowballs. That wasn't a big deal. Area 10 had a shit ton of snowballs. In the final TAS, I'll take more time to route out which snowball cans I do or do not get (each one contains 5, and there are quite a few we get along the way). Also, sometimes, in this run, I take a few shots sometimes that are unnecessary, but hard to avoid honestly. If you turn before taking damage on spikes and some other things, you'll take damage facing the opposite direction, which makes it so that damage doesn't WASTE time. If you jump on top of a keyhole at a certain position, Santa will insert the key on the opposite side, thus teleporting Santa from position to position. This is a minor timesaver that will be used a lot in the TAS.
Similarly, if you flick a switch at a certain position, it teleports Santa to the other side of the switch. Sometimes, you'll see me flipping a switch for seemingly no reason. Well, that's the reason. Those damn cheetahs are hard to kill in a single shot!!!! This isn't the worst game I've ever seen. After playing and beating both any% and 100% of Barbie Horse Adventures: Blue Ribbon Race (GBA), I think SCSTE is heavenly.
  • Stage-by-stage commentary:
    • Area 1: No notable skips, nothing special
    • Area 2: No notable skips, but I'm proud of myself for discovering that you can get the invincibility pouch that's out of the way and get back to the elevator in time, thus saving yourself from taking damage at those crusher things. Also, a music glitch occurs at the end of this level due to the fact that I completed it while still having on a powerup (and the powerup time being almost over).
    • Area 3: This level is full of skips. First off, getting the yellow key early is not the only thing I intended to do there, but normally when you get the yellow key you have to go all the way back around that part of the level, i.e. go all the way up the elevator and stuff too. This new route saves you from having to do that, and allows you to do the trick to use the superjump on the second elevator, which in itself is essentially skipping many seconds of waiting on a stupid elevator. In the second room of the level, you normally have to go through a whole lot before you can get to the green key, but with the ceiling jump all of that can be skipped. This saves about a minute of time, actually.
    • Area 4: There are actually two ways to complete this level; one with no yellow key required, but it's WAY out of the way of any reasonable route so we definitely don't take that one. In this route, we take the yellow key door. I do a fairly decent skip in the yellow key sequence where I get up to an area that was only intended to be reached with superjump OR dropping down into that part of the level from above (on the crowbars). The reason I go to the left rather than the right during that skip though is because otherwise the cheetah would have knocked me back off, wasting time. At the end, I also do the music glitch from Area 2 again.
    • Area 5: Just a basic boss battle, nothing really more to say. Actually pretty unoptimized, but it gets the point across. We just have to shoot snowballs at him, and make sure he's on screen the frame that his blinking stops.
    • Area 6: The first thing we do in this level is a ceiling shortcut straight to the red key. There are a ton of other minor skips done with the ceiling glitch here too, but you can see those for yourself.
    • Area 7: This doesn't really have anything to do with the ceiling glitch itself really, and I can't believe I didn't actually find this before, but by getting the superjump that's around the beginning of the level, one can already do a shortcut where they get to the switch to turn on the elevator to the red key door. That in itself is a pretty major shortcut. A pretty obvious one, too, so I can't say whether it's an overlook by the developers or whether it was intended to be done that way. There certainly isn't much else of a place to use the superjump in this level. Anyway, to extend on that shortcut, I don't even need to flick the switch at all, because, try to guess...yes...the ceiling glitch. Already skipping about a third of the level, this saves even more time than that here. The rest of the level is pretty straightforward though.
    • Area 8: This level is where I get the "candy cannon" ammunition (yes, the manual calls it that). This is used later in the run, in Area 10, the second boss, in order to defeat the boss much quicker. And, yeah, I use the ceiling glitch to save a lot of time again right at the beginning of the level. I skip right to the red key. It only saves about 10-15 seconds or so, but still is cool. Everything else is pretty straightforward, though. Although, at the end, where the elephant head is where you have to climb the ladder, I use the ladder jump glitch to take damage and then land right back on the ladder. Previous routing required me to take damage with him twice before I found this glitch.
    • Area 9: There really aren't any special shortcuts in this level. The switch for the door to the level exit is right next to a huge wall, on top of which sits the final door. Unfortunately, you have to go ALL the way around the level to get to it. I tried to get up there with the superjump and the ceiling glitch combined even, but I did not succeed to get up the wall (I was close though! Damn!). Currently, there does not exist a glitch that allows you to skip up there. If only it was just a little lower... Anyway, yeah, average level otherwise
    • Area 10: Other than the fact that this boss is pretty freakin weird as far as movement...and appearance...it's just an average boss battle again. In previous routing for this game, I just threw snowballs at him until he was dead (it took about 5 I think). The current routing relied on my idea to use the "candy cannon", the most rare and powerful type of weapon you'll find in the game, to beat him quicker. It actually WOULD save time in the first boss too, except that there don't exist any candy cannons until Area 6. It didn't really take much routing to figure out how I would get enough ammunition for Area 10; I only need one shot of it, and there are several instances throughout the game where candy cannons sit there right where we're walking. I picked Area 8, since it wastes no frames at all in that instance actually. Anyway, about the battle, there's no sense really in using the cannon twice; you can use it once and then use the snowball. It doesn't matter either way, though, two cannons or one cannon and one snowball, it still kills him in 2 shots.
    • Area 11: This level is extremely sadistic in so many horrible ways. And I'm only gonna describe it in this way: Unavoidable damage. When I say unavoidable, I don't mean really difficult, no I literally mean UNAVOIDABLE!!! What were these game developers thinking with this level? It's one of the worst levels in a video game I've ever seen. Anyway, aside all that, gameplay is pretty average, no real skips except for minor timesavers. Just sitting around on that side elevator getting hit by lasers you can't avoid is depressing... Most of the level relies on side elevators and where they are and what they're doing.
    • Area 12: In around the middle of the level, you notice I drop down to an elevator I went on before, go up, jump on a platform with spikes on purpose. Well, actually, this is a pretty big shortcut. Before then, you noticed that I flicked one switch. That switch was the switch to the door into the second room to open. Well, there's another switch the developers WANTED you to press, but I don't to save time. That switch gets rid of the spikes on that platform, making it easier to get across. Well, screw conveniences, this is a TAS.
    • Area 13: There aren't really any notable skips here either. There are quite a few times when I take damage through plains of spikes to save just a little bit of time though.
    • Area 14: It'd be really nice if there was a skip right to the end for this long, drawn out level, but unfortunately there isn't. Instead, you've got to go through this level full of timed bricks that you have to wait for sometimes. These developers really know how to torture players.
    • Area 15: The last level, the final boss. I didn't just switch to the pack to save time or something during the fight; no, the fight doesn't allow you to use your normal weapons, just the pack. That doesn't make any SENSE!!!!!!!!!! Anyway, to defeat the "wicked fairy Nilam", you have to hit certain parts of her body, which weirdly change according to where she is on the screen and stuff. I have a RAM address for Nilam's health. If you hit her in certain ways, you can hit her multiple times in one swing. In this run, I hit her 2 times most of the time, but towards the end I did some triple hits. You know, it would have been nice if the developers at least gave the bosses a health bar, so that you could see if you were actually doing damage or not without having to know how to search for RAM addresses on an emulator. Again. What. Were. They. THINKING!!!!
Last Edited by Lars_Hendrick 5 days ago
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