Mega Man X3 "Best Ending, 100%" in 43:52.33 by Noxxa
Production of this TAS started on 7 January 2011 and is finished on 3 May 2011, almost 4 months later.
- Emulator used: snes9x-rr 1.43 v17
- Best ending, 100% completion (gets all items EXCEPT Z-Saber, which forces bad ending)
- Contains speed-entertainment tradeoffs
- Manipulates luck
- Takes damage to save time
- Abuses glitches
About the game
Mega Man X3 is the third game in the Mega Man X series, and the last one to be released on the SNES. This time, the story is about Dr. Doppler, a Reploid scientist who formed his utopia, Doppler Town, but then turns Maverick and causes mayhem. Of course, it's up to Mega Man X to stop Dr. Doppler and his eight goons, and also Sigma while he's at it.
As always in the Mega Man games, defeating a major boss allows the Mega Man incarnate to take the boss's weapon. This game is no different. The weapons will be listed in the order they're obtained:
Tornado Fang (Tunnel Rhino)
- Uncharged: Shoots a drill forward, which stalls for a moment and then moves forward. Pressing shoot quickly again releases another two drills in a spread fashion. The drills don't do much damage, but keep drilling enemies every 30 frames (half second) for several hits. Usually though, this takes too long to kill something with it. Tornado Fang has another trick, which is that whenever an enemy is drilled by it, it stops doing collision checks for 15 frames, allowing X to completely dash through an enemy unharmed if it's hit by Tornado Fang. This is abused several times throughout the run. Tornado Fang can also be used to break some walls in the game, such as the ice blocks in Blizzard Buffalo's stage and the wall hiding the X-Buster upgrade in Neon Tiger's stage. Bosses weak to Tornado Fang include Volt Catfish (although his stun time is much longer than it's worth the measly 2 points of damage), Byte, Press Disposer (Doppler 1 boss), and Vile's Goliath Ride Armor. Tornado Fang doesn't work on any other boss.
- Charged: X's Buster turns into a drill arm, drilling into anything that dares to be right in front of X. The drill arm has mostly the same properties as the uncharged drills, except it does more damage. Like the uncharged drills, this can also be used to dash through enemies unharmed. Charged Tornado Fang also allows X to cling into walls without moving downwards, but this isn't really used in the TAS. One very convenient property of this is that it's a charged attack that can be held out as long as you want (or until weapon energy runs out). This is especially helpful on the bosses that are weak to it; especially Byte and Press Disposer, as they take 5 points of damage for every hit from charged Tornado Fang. This allows me to beat them pretty quickly.
Frost Shield (Blizzard Buffalo)
- Uncharged: Contrary to what the name implies, it's not a shield. It's more like an ice arrow of sorts. It shoots out an ice arrow, which moves at a really slow speed for a couple seconds, and only after that it starts to speed up. When this weapon destroys an enemy, it releases an ice spike, which will fall and stick onto the ground, and eventually break. In the water, a bigger ice spike is formed. The main advantages of this weapon are that it does a lot of damage to normal enemies, killing most regular enemies in one hit and some larger ones in two or three hits, and that its slow movement allows for delayed hits on bosses. You can notice this especially in the Bit fight. Bosses weak to Frost Shield include Bit and Toxic Seahorse. Toxic Seahorse has an invincibility bug with Frost Shield, which allows me to defeat him very quickly with Frost Shield.
- Charged: Forms an ice spike on the X-Buster. It takes a while for the spike to get its hitbox up, which makes this too slow to work on Toxic Seahorse, but it can be used for some other bosses like Bit. The ice spike will stick around for several seconds, then the ice breaks. This functions more like a shield, as it's able to absorb several attacks, such as most minor projectiles from enemies, Bit's paralyze rings, and even Neon Tiger's Ray Splasher. Unfortunately, unlike charged Tornado Fang, this weapon does disappear when hitting something it doesn't kill right away.
Ray Splasher (Neon Tiger)
- Uncharged: X releases a spray of small Ray Splasher shots from his arm. The Ray Splasher shots shoot forward in a fan pattern and do average damage. Since this weapon goes on for 60 frames (1 second), it's a very useful tool for delayed hits. Ray Splasher is also a very fun tool to try to destroy as many enemies as possible with one use, because of the seeming randomness of the shots. It also works on some stronger enemies, that are just out of reach for other weapons, by hitting it with multiple shots from different angles. While you may notice in the any% run by FractalFusion that many bosses are weak to this, I only use it on one boss here as a weakness weapon: Gravity Beetle. This is because I don't fight Godkarmachine O'Inary, the Doppler 1 boss, and Byte and Vile are better fought with their other weapons (Tornado Fang and Spinning Blade, respectively).
- Charged: X releases a glass pod upwards, which shoots Ray Splasher shots in all directions. It's slow, stops X for a moment and the Ray Splasher shots don't do any more damage than uncharged Ray Splasher shots (only the glass pod does, which is hard to hit with), so I never use it to attack. Instead, I just use it to decorate Wireframe Sigma.
Gravity Well (Gravity Beetle)
- Uncharged: X shoots out a gravity pod. This is by far the most useless weapon in the game. When the gravity pod is shot out, it moves forward for a bit, opens up, and doesn't affect enemies until several seconds later. By the time it affects anything, it's already far offscreen. After the wait and having done what it does, it slowly returns to the user, and you can't do any attack until it's returned. There's only one boss affected by it, which is Blast Hornet. I didn't bother using it on him, because the weapon is way too slow. While FractalFusion gave it at least the honor to cover up wireframes during some spare time in his any% X3 TAS, from me it only gets the honor of, in two occasions, covering up the corner of the screen.
- Charged: Equally useless as uncharged. X shoots a gravity pod upwards (same slow and movement halting animation), and when it's off the top you'll see some admittedly awesome graphical effects and enemies will fly upwards. That is, if they're affected by the move at all. Even worse about it is, that X will continue holding his shooting up-pose for several seconds while it's active. Admittedly, it still brings a cool effect the one moment where I use it, which is during the rising lava part at the end of the game.
Acid Burst (Toxic Seahorse)
- Uncharged: An useful weapon, X shoots out a glob of acid in an arc forward. This weapon can also be aimed to shoot straight up and straight down. If this weapon does not hit an enemy, but hits a floor, wall or ceiling, it'll split up into multiple smaller shots. This weapon does a lot of damage and is also very useful for delayed hits. However, it's tricky to switch out of because if the acid hits, there's a short animation while the acid dissolves during which you cannot switch weapons (you also can't switch before this because of the acid glob onscreen). Aside from several bossfights where it's used for delayed hits, such as Blast Hornet's first fight, Volt Catfish' fights and Neon Tiger's second fight, it's also used on Tunnel Rhino and Dr. Doppler, who are both weak to it.
- Charged: Similar to the uncharged version, it shoots two bigger globs of acid which bounce around and do more damage. When it bounces, it leaves pools of acid behind for a short while which can also damage enemies for good damage. This is used against the miniboss in Blast Hornet's stage, which is weak to Acid Burst, and can be defeated in only four hits using charged Acid Burst, hitting three times with one charged use. The charged version is also primarily used against Tunnel Rhino and Dr. Doppler: the former because just using charged Acid Burst repeatedly was faster than any other option, and Dr. Doppler because he tends to be either invincible or behind a healing shield most of the time. However, charged Acid Burst is not as effective to regular enemies, so it's rarely used against them.
Parasitic Bomb (Blast Hornet)
- Uncharged: An odd, multipurpose weapon. It shoots out a rather slow-moving bomb. Against larger enemies, it'll simply explode. Against smaller enemies, it traps them in an odd cage or sorts, which explodes after a short while. Some lighter, flying enemies will, when trapped, suicide fly into other enemies, exploding both. (This even works on missiles from some enemies). Since it's a pretty slow moving weapon, it's also useful for delayed hits in bossfights. Only a few bosses are weak to this weapon. Blizzard Buffalo is traditionally weak to this weapon, and is stunned when it explodes on him; Gravity Beetle takes two points of damage from this weapon, but doesn't get stunned, which makes this initially the fastest option against him, as can be seen in the boss refight. Unfortunately, since Blast Hornet has a minute long ship-block sequence if Gravity Beetle is done first, I can't use it against him. Furthermore it's effective against Vile's Goliath Ride Armor, but since that one is also weak to Tornado Fang and that one's better to use on him, I only use Parasitic Bomb for the last hit.
- Charged: Four aiming crosshairs appear around X, on the bottom left, bottom right, top left and top right of him. These home in to nearby enemies (if they can be affected), and once it's homed into X will shoot a homing hornet towards it. Doesn't do much damage and is slow, so I never get around to use it. It's only used at the very end of the game, because it's the only thing that remains active while X walks forward during the cutscene, as long as the Y button is held.
Triad Thunder (Volt Catfish)
- Uncharged: One of the more powerful weapons in the game. This attack summons three electric orbs which form a triangle around X, then form electricity between each other, and then all three orbs discharge their electricity in weaker straight beams directly away from X. If X mashes the shoot button before the beams are shot off, the orbs will shift position vertically to form an upside down triangle, at the cost of 1 weapon energy. This can be repeated as long as X has Triad Thunder energy. The triangle "shield" is a very powerful weapon that destroys most regular enemies, and it allows X to move on without losing time shooting. However, it tends to cause lag during busy moments in the game, and after using it, or hitting an enemy with it without killing it, the orbs slowly fall down, and you can't do any attack or switch weapons until these are off screen. Despite the strength of this weapon, only two bosses are weak to it: Bit, who I don't use Triad Thunder on because I don't have it yet, and Crush Crawfish, who has an invincibility quirk which allows me to completely dominate him thanks to this weapon.
- Charged: An unusual move, X punches the ground, causing a shockwave that hits everything attached to the ground. After the shockwave, two large energy balls are released in both directions from the ground. This attack is required to break down a floor in Crush Crawfish's stage, where the Hawk Ride Armor module is hidden, and the hanging boulders in Tunnel Rhino's stage, which block access to Tunnel Rhino's Heart Tank and the Head upgrade. This attack is furthermore mostly impractical because it immobilizes X for several seconds while the shockwave is active. This doesn't matter in Crush Crawfish' stage because the floor has an equally lengthy break animation, but in Tunnel Rhino's stage I have to pause to switch weapons to cancel the move, which costs time. Outside of these stage elements, this attack isn't used because of its immobilizing effect on X for several seconds.
Spinning Blade (Crush Crawfish)
- Uncharged: Shoots two spinning blades forward, that reverse direction and go backward. One of them arcs above X, the other goes under X. This weapon does good damage because it has two decently powerful hits, but it's very hard to switch out of this weapon because whenever hit, the blades explode into shrapnel that has to be off the screen until X can switch weapons or shoot charged Spinning Blade again. The backwards arcing effect is also very useful for just hitting behind X, such as with the miniboss in Doppler 1, or delaying hits for charged Spinning Blade, which I use in the Vile and Sigma 1st bossfights. The other boss that's weak to this is Neon Tiger, but the relatively low damage isn't worth the stun time the move gives. It's only useful on him as the last hit in the boss refight.
- Charged: X shoots forward a giant spinning blade, attached to him with an energy cord. The spinning blade is held out until it hits an enemy it can't destroy or a boss, which causes it to fly off wildly, or it will retract if X keeps it out for too long. While it's out, it's also possible to make it spin around X by pressing up or down, which makes the blade do a circle around X in that direction. After this, it'll also retract. This weapon is used a couple times on Vile and Sigma 1st, because it does a whopping 5 points of damage on it, which makes using delayed hits with Spinning Blade on him worth it.
Also in the Mega Man X games, there are various upgrades to be found. These range from Heart Tanks (+2 maximum health, there is one in every Maverick stage), Subtanks (essentially spare lifebars), and Dr. Light capsules, which give various bonuses. These will be listed here, again in the order they're obtained.
Leg Upgrade (Blizzard Buffalo)
The leg upgrade in this game allows X to air-dash once in the air. Continuing on the otherwise identical upgrade from Mega Man X2, this upgrade now also allows X to airdash straight up once. While it only goes about half as far as a ground dash, it's still a very useful tool, which I'll be using a lot throughout the game.
X-Buster Upgrade (Neon Tiger)
The X-Buster upgrade adds two levels of charge to the X-Buster. Without the upgrade, X has only three levels of charge for his X-Buster: Uncharged, which shoots out small pellets which can be shot three at a time, blue charge which shoots a slightly stronger, bigger green-colored shot, and yellow, which shoots a large shot that deals a lot of damage.
With the X-Buster upgrade, two additional levels of charge are added onto the existing three: after yellow there's now also a purple level, which allows X to fire one cross-charge shot and a green (like the blue charge) shot. The cross-charge shot functions mostly like a charged shot from the yellow level, except it moves slower, and limits X's movement while being fired (the latter thing also applies to the second shot). Conveniently, the movement limitation allows X to airdash again through a slight glitch, even if an airdash was already used.
The final level is the red level, which shoots two cross-charge shots, with the second shot looking more like the yellow-level shot. If both shots of the red level are quickly fired in succession, they'll merge into a huge shot that does a lot of damage and adds lots of graphical effects. Unfortunately, the cross shot is not practical, and whenever I charge to the red level it's only for the two fully charged shots provided.
Body Armor Upgrade (Volt Catfish)
As with all body armor upgrades, the first effect of this upgrade is that damage is cut in half whenever hit by an enemy, and the stun effect when hit is slightly reduced. As a secondary effect, in this game when you're hit, a blue shield appears around X, which reduces damage by an additional 25% for the next hit (so there's a 62.5% decrease overall). This shield stays around and disappears either after taking another hit, or after having the shield up for about 5 seconds. Annoyingly, the reduced stun and the shield effect cause invincibility to be a little shorter than usual, which comes to bite me during Crush Crawfish's battles, where I have to move behind Crush Crawfish to avoid being hit just before invincibility ends, and in the vertical spike wall section in Doppler 2, where I had to adjust some strategies, using the airdash.
Head Upgrade (Tunnel Rhino revisit)
This upgrade is completely useless in a speedrun, but as this is a 100% run, and it's also a requirement for the Golden Armor, I need to get it anyway. At the start of a maverick stage, the head upgrade causes the screen to darken and displays a grid map of the stage. Also, on the stage select screen, you'll be shown in every stage what items you got and how many items there are still waiting to be found. Because I get this upgrade at the end of the last stage revisit, and I only do the Doppler stages from this point on, no use is made out of this upgrade other than it being a requirement for the Golden Armor.
Golden Armor (Dr. Doppler 1)
As with the earlier SNES Mega Man X games, there's a secret hidden in one of the stages, which can only be obtained after collecting all other items (EXCEPT for the four bonus enhancement chips). Unlike the Hadoken in Mega Man X(1) and the Shoryuken in Mega Man X2, though, it's neither a one-hit-kill weapon nor is it a Street Fighter reference. Instead, it's just an upgrade consisting of all four hidden bonus enhancements in the game. These four bonus enhancement chips are usually located in special pink Dr. Light capsules in four of the Maverick Stages (the ones that don't have a regular blue upgrade capsule). However, X can only have one of these active at once, and if he has even one of them active, he can't get the Golden Armor anymore. Therefore, 100% is defined as getting none of the enhancement chips and instead getting the Golden Armor, since the Golden Armor has the effects of all four enhancement capsules already. Here are the four enhancement chips that X gets with the Golden Armor:
- Leg chip: X is allowed to airdash twice in a normal jump, or once in a dashjump. This is a significant addition to mobility, and especially allows me more than enough freedom to work in the air with, especially during bossbattles. It also allows for skipping some sections much easier, such as the last part of the spike shaft near the end of the second Doppler stage.
- Arm chip: Gives X the Hyper Cannon. This works much like the Giga Attack from the previous game, where you have to take damage to fill energy for the attack. However, unlike the Giga Attack it's not one large hit, but it's rather a permanently charged arm cannon, which takes two units of energy for every charged shot. Other properties of the Hyper Cannon are that it can only be used when switching it in while it's full, and it can't be charged while it's being used (I'd need to switch weapons, but I couldn't use it until it's filled completely and switched again). I only use the Hyper Cannon during the final bossfight with Kaiser Sigma, because he has no other weaknesses.
- Body chip: This replaces the blue protective shield with a red protective shield. The red shield absorbs an additional 50% of damage (for 75% damage reduction total), and lasts for the full 5 seconds, regardless of how many hits X takes during this time. This makes it more effective at reducing damage, but doesn't really change anything else.
- Head chip: While standing still, after several seconds X will slowly regenerate health, and if his health is full, slowly refill his subtanks, if of course these aren't full as well. The regeneration is very slow, and only goes with single health points every couple of seconds. Of course, this is a speedrun, so I don't have time to stand still, so this is not of any use at all to me.
There isn't that much to say about this stage. It's short, the miniboss (Mac) who kidnaps X is simple (Zero finishes him in just one shot and a slash), and the intro boss is a typical case of how bosses are fought using the X-Buster in general: by alternating uncharged shots from as far away as possible and charged shots up close. Expect to see this pattern turn up many more times during the run.
This stage feels like it goes on forever. This stage is picked first because the boss gives Tornado Fang which is needed for some other items, such as Blizzard Buffalo's heart tank and the X-Buster upgrade. Two of the three items in Tunnel Rhino's stage require Volt Catfish's weapon and the X-Buster upgrade, which means I must revisit this stage for its upgrades anyway.
Fortunately, this stage doesn't have much problems crossing through with just the X-Buster. I could have grabbed the subtank already, but I decided to wait until the revisit because it would be faster using the airdash, which I don't have yet. Therefore, I get no items in this stage. I only get the boss's weapon.
About two thirds through the stage, a miniboss appears in the stage. I dash up to it rather than dashjumping up to it so I can get more bullets in in the first jump. Since most minibosses like this one have no invincibility, they tend to be defeated rather quickly just by forcing them to eat loads of bullets in a short time.
Tunnel Rhino's AI is really monotone. He just charges back and forth into the wall, with the occasional fake charge. Since the fastest way of using the X-Buster is to alternate an uncharged shot from as far away as possible (preferably the other end of the screen) and a charged shot from up close, this comes in conveniently most of the time, where there's almost or no time between Tunnel Rhino's invincibility wearing off and me shooting a charged shot.
However, after losing 2/3rd of his health, every other charge he will do a flash charge, where he flashes into several colors, moves faster, is invincible, does more damage and also happens to bring up a lot of lag when hit. Because of its invincibility, I have to avoid making him do it. The only way this was possible was to let it keep doing fake charges, because if it reaches a wall it will always do a flash charge. However, this required quite a bit of luck manipulation, which I can only do by hanging off a wall. Because of this I have to take damage and have one gap of no invincibility time for Rhino seem larger than normal. Also, because Rhino is now mostly in the center of the screen, I can't make perfect alternations of charged and uncharged shots anymore. Nevertheless, this is still faster than making him flash charge even once.
This stage contains slopes of ice, which slide you down quickly if you stand on them and even faster if you dash down them. If you dashjump off them, you keep the large speed while in the air until you land.
The first item I'll be getting in the game is the Heart Tank in this stage. It's covered under several layers of ice blocks, which have to be broken down with Tornado Fang. I made sure to optimize the movements while waiting for the Tornado Fangs to break the ice so that none stay active for longer than needed, and are scrolled offscreen as soon as they're done.
Furthermore the stage is pretty straightforward, until I get the subtank which is on a ledge on the left wall of the final section, and the leg upgrade on the top right of the same section, which require tricky jumps. The leg upgrade allows X to airdash once. To set itself apart from the leg upgrade in Mega Man X2, it also allows you to airdash straight up once. It's a very useful ability which I use a lot in later stages.
Shortly after getting the leg upgrade I meet the boss, Blizzard Buffalo. Blizzard Buffalo has an AI exploit that makes his pattern even more monotone than Tunnel Rhino's. The exploit is that whenever X's vertical position is slightly higher than Buffalo's, Buffalo will always turn around and charge into the wall. Abusing this, Buffalo's fight becomes pathetically easy. The exploit also allows for easy perfect alternation for charged and uncharged shots, which is the most important reason why I even bother using it here.
Now that I have defeated two mavericks, a cutscene shows up showing Dr. Doppler sending out some stronger goons, Bit and Byte. You can expect to see these coming not much later. There's also another "mysterious person" out for X, although if you know the series a little you'll see fairly quickly who he is. I'll also get back to him later.
This stage is long. It isn't even that the stage is that long in itself, it's just that a lot of things happen in it. I get a subtank which is quite out of the way (or at least, means I can't take a sizable shortcut through the stage), get the X-Buster upgrade which means another dr. Light conversation, fight a miniboss which has a regular boss's explosion animation (which takes a long time), fight aforementioned Bit, he blows up as well, and get another heart tank. All in that order. Oh, and of course there's also Neon Tiger himself. All of these factors make this the longest of the initial eight stages in the game.
So, I get the X-Buster upgrade in this level. It allows me to charge up all special weapons like every Buster upgrade in the series, although these take a rather long time to charge (140 frames, or 2.333... seconds), which limits their usefulness somewhat. It also allows the X-Buster to charge two levels further. X starts with three levels of shots: uncharged, small pellets which don't do much damage, blue charge which shoots green shots that are bigger and slightly stronger, and yellow charge, which shoots a larger shot that does a lot of damage. The upgrade adds cross charged shots to this. It adds a purple level, which allows you to shoot one cross charge shot (which functions mostly identically to a yellow charge shot, but it moves slower), and it ends off with a red level, which allows you to shoot two cross charge shot. If you quickly shoot both at the same time, they'll merge into one giant shot with particles covering half the screen. It looks awesome and does big damage, but it's usually too impractical to work with. Whenever I charge to the red level, it's just for the two charged shots rather than the cross charge.
The miniboss is weak to Frost Shield, Blizzard Buffalo's weapon. It blinks when hit, but doesn't have actual invincibility when hit. This means that, despite its blinking, it's taken down very quickly. In fact, its explosion takes several times longer than the fight.
A little further into the stage I also meet Bit. He's also weak to Frost Shield. Bit's pattern is for the most part to throw a paralyzing ring, jump and air dash across the screen when he reaches X's height. I nullify the ring with a charged Frost Shield, and pelt him with Frost Shields until he explodes. Making him explode is part of a speed-entertainment tradeoff: finishing off both Bit and Byte with their weakness weapons (Frost Shield or Triad Thunder for Bit, Tornado Fang or Ray Splasher for Byte) causes them to explode rather than flee. The explosion takes much longer, but if you destroy both this way a different boss will be fought in the first Doppler stage. There aren't any other differences, but public opinion preferred this speed-entertainment tradeoff.
Next up, there's Neon Tiger himself. He has an invincibility quirk, which makes his invincibility drop whenever he starts a move from the ground. This makes the tactic to him more or less to luck manipulate him to keep spamming Ray Splasher from the ground. Another feature from Neon Tiger is his ability to block shots: When he's not busy attacking, he'll block charged X-Buster shots. Fortunately he doesn't block charged Frost Shield, which does as much damage as an X-Buster shot, so I start with that. The rest of the fight I just use X-Buster because I don't have his weakness weapon (Spinning Blade) yet, said weakness weapon does too little damage to him anyway to have much effect, Tornado Fang is useless and I've run out of Frost Shield (because of the miniboss and Bit for the most part). The last shot may look like unnecessarily delayed, but it's delayed because otherwise he'd block the charged shot.
This stage is done next, to remove a minute long ship-block event in Blast Hornet's stage, and Blast Hornet's stage is needed for some other stages. However, to get the Heart Tank in this stage, Blast Hornet's stage needs to be done, because otherwise there are some blocks in the stage that prevent me from reaching the Heart Tank. Either way, this is another straightforward stage. By now I have a decent variety of weapons to use on enemies, and I made sure to use all of them more or less evenly: Tornado Fang, Ray Splasher, Frost Shield and the X-Buster all got their use.
You may notice that I use the stairs in one area, while up to this point I used to walljump up stairs instead. If you were wondering why, it's because I now already have both the arm and the leg upgrade, and having both makes climbing up the stairs faster than going up them the usual way.
In this stage, I get the first Ride Armor module. At this point that doesn't mean anything yet, but once I get the Ride Armor in Blast Hornet's stage, it means I have the option to pick another type of Ride Armor on a Ride Armor platform. This particular module contains the "Frog" ride armor, which you could say is a bit like the Frog suit in Super Mario Bros. 3. It hops and is generally useless on land, but it works best in water. Anyway, this is just another upgrade that's stuck on a ledge to the left wall on one point, that requires a very tricky jump to get at. Well, at least this time they made the surroundings and the background pleasing to look at.
Then later on there is an vertical elevator shaft and there are more vertical shafts, which means wallclimbing. Wallclimbing is not my favorite aspect of Mega Man X TASing, as it tends to be more tricky to optimize than regular forward movement. Anyway, I still pass through mostly smoothly, using all X has in his arsenal.
Gravity Beetle is the first boss here in this run that I actually use his weakness weapon on; Ray Splasher. There is a faster option to defeat him in Parasitic Bomb, but I don't do that because of the ship-block segment that would otherwise happen in Blast Hornet's stage. Instead, alternating X-Buster and Ray Splasher works as a nice substitute. I start off the fight with two cross charge shots from a red X-Buster charge, so that his pattern falls nicely into place. After he has lost about half of his health, Gravity Beetle will send a large Gravity Well onto the top of the screen, which selectively reduces gravity as it doesn't really effect X, but it does increase Gravity Beetle's jumping height. This works well with another invincibility bug in the game (yes, there are a lot of invincibility bugs in this game), which causes Gravity Beetle to lose his invincibility to Ray Splasher when he does his flash charge attack. Usually, because of Gravity Beetle's low jumps, this means he's still invincible right when he starts doing it, but with his heightened jumps, he loses invulnerability while still in the air, and right after that he hits the ground, allowing me to hit him with Ray Splasher. This way, the second half of the fight goes a lot quicker than the first.
More wall climbing. This makes this another stage that's rather annoying for me to TAS, especially because it's also filled with enemies and irregular shapes, which makes deciding the fastest route to navigate through all of the walls and floors tricky. I occasionally have to use an airdash as well. Of course, what I also had to keep in mind was to defeat as many enemies as possible and use as many weapons as possible without wasting time. The heart tank is just a small climb up from the end of the first vertical corridor.
After the first vertical corridor and some doors, I reach the water part of the stage, which also doubles as the open sea area of the game. It's not as open ended as Launch Octopus' stage in Mega Man X or Bubble Crab's stage in Mega Man X2, but that doesn't really matter, I guess. The second Ride Armor module I get here, the "Kangaroo", can be reached using either the "Frog" Ride Armor or charged Frost Shield. I use the charged Frost Shield, simply because I don't have the Ride Armor unlocked yet (I get that in Blast Hornet's stage), and because it's faster to use the ice anyway. The module is on a ledge on the left wall of the area... seeing a pattern yet? Capcom really lost some creativity with some of those item placings.
Now, from the top left ledge of the area, there are two ways to go to the door to the next area, on the bottom right of the area. One option is to go down, under the underwater platform that has spikes under it, and the other option was to move across the water (jumping off the water and using airdashes), and passing through the jet stream that otherwise blocks you from going that way. I tried out both routes, and the first route ended up being slightly faster. Behind the door, I meet another miniboss. It's weak to Frost Shield, so I pump it full of it because like other minibosses it doesn't have invincibility, and finish with a couple of X-Buster bullets from further away, making X end up right next to the right door. This saves me time from having to dash to the door after the miniboss explosion.
After the miniboss, there's another vertical section. This one was even harder, because there are less close walls, which meant I had to use more airdashes. Fortunately, it's not as long as the other vertical section.
Toxic Seahorse himself suffers horribly from another invincibility glitch. It's like almost every boss in this game has them. However, this time the invincibility glitch is far more destructive than on the other bosses so far. When you hit Toxic Seahorse with Frost Shield from a certain height or higher, he'll have two invincibility periods, and between those periods he won't have any invincibility at all. This allows me to mercilessly pump him full of Frost Shields during that time. However, because the period of no invincibility is very short, I still need to do this in two rounds before I can finish him off. Nevertheless, this is one of two fights where a boss invincibility glitch makes the fight very short.
Now that I got Acid Burst from Toxic Seahorse, I wanted to show off some of it to show that I just got another useful weapon. Then I ended up using a little much of it because it's that useful of a weapon. It just does good damage to a lot of things, and can be aimed into multiple directions. Well, at least it got the point across of showing that it that it is indeed an useful weapon.
There isn't much notable of the first part of the stage to mention: there's an elevator shaft that oddly resembles the one in Gravity Beetle's stage, there are conveyor belts like in Tunnel Rhino's stage, and there are of course several enemies to be blown up. Then there's a miniboss, unique in that it does have invincibility, unlike several other minibosses. However, it still falls to charged Acid Burst in just a short time. You may notice that I use the charged Acid Burst from an extremely odd angle. This is because to defeat the miniboss in four hits, I need to hit it three times with one charged Acid Burst. This way the shots also follow up in a decently optimized manner. The miniboss falls quickly, and unlike FractalFusion I don't Gravity Well a wireframe, but instead just spray more acid on it. For fun, I also made X use the "shoot up" animation during the door entrance, just because it looks silly (as if passing through by standing perfectly still wasn't silly enough by itself).
When I come outside, there are more enemies there. There's actually almost some lag here just from the enemies alone. So I blew most of them up, using just the X-Buster, since that's the least laggy weapon in the game. I also use it to destroy some crates, which allow access to where the Ride Armor "Chimera" is hidden. To get inside the building, I need to use Tornado Fang to drill through. Then, after they drill through I scroll them offscreen as long as possible, because otherwise they linger around the screen and prevent me from blowing the crates up that allow access to the tunnel below, where the Chimera is hidden. Unlike the Ride Armor modules, Chimera isn't a collectable module, but it's a full Ride Armor, held by an enemy deep under the floor. To collect it, I just need to destroy the enemy. It dies from Ray Splasher, while I'm still in the vertical part of the tunnel, and it's barely even onscreen. You can just take my word for it that the explosion sound meant that I destroyed the enemy and collected the Ride Armor. The Chimera allows me to use Ride Armors at all in the Ride Armor platforms scattered throughout all stages. You'll see these into action in the next few stages.
After getting out of the tunnel, blowing up some more crates and openings into buildings and collecting a heart tank while sticking a Gravity Well into the corner to show it off, I meet Byte. Byte's pattern is even more simple than Bit's. He just throws a repel magnet onto the wall, then charges into it, turns around, and repeat. The problem with him is primarily that he's huge, and his hitbox sticks out much higher than Byte himself, even: You could probably put X's sprite between the top of Byte's visible sprite and the top of his actual hitbox. This formed a problem, because Byte is weak to Tornado Fang, and I can keep charged Tornado Fang as long as I don't get hit. However, if I hit him twice before jumping up the wall, I get hit because of Byte's massive vertical hitbox. Therefore, I had to resort to hit him once, jump over him way earlier, and then continue hitting him, which looks like it costs some time but it really is the fastest way. For fun, I get hit just before Byte himself dies, and because Byte does damage in multiple parts, I take one hit when Byte is actually already finished. This allows me to move around while Byte does his death speech, which is somewhat humorous in itself. The bullet I shot at the very end isn't actually as useless as you may think: it allows me just enough time to charge up for a charged X-Buster shot on the next enemy.
Not much later, after blowing up even more piles of crates like they're nothing, I finally meet Blast Hornet. This was one of the most annoying battles in the game to plan, because there were wildly different strategies possible to defeat him. I tried out a strategy which uses Gravity Well (gasp!) and cross-charged shots, since Gravity Well easily allows that much charge time, and I tried simply alternating charged and uncharged shots (with several special weapons substituting for most of the charged shot). The latter strategy ended up being slightly faster. Instead of just X-Buster, I use several weapons now to substitute for the uncharged shots, because usually delayed hits could be done better with them. The special weapons I used were Acid Burst, Ray Splasher, Frost Shield: everything that Blast Hornet could be hit with, he was hit by. Finding out which different special weapon to use for all the situations made this otherwise annoying fight a little better. I made sure that when Blast Hornet died, he was as low as possible so he needs to fall as little as possible, so he explodes fastest.
The first half of this stage is filled with elevator shafts. Fortunately, they're straight lines unlike the other elevator shafts and other vertical sections, which made them more convenient to go through. Unfortunately, one of these is filled with wall spikes and also contains a path to the Heart Tank to the very top. Here's where I threw out another glitch, which allows me to airdash upwards multiple times, even though I don't have the leg chip yet. To do this, I just need to release a cross charge shot (any shot from purple level or up works) right after an airdash, and then airdash up again as soon as possible (and repeat if necessary and if I have a second shot ready). This way, I can skip the slow-moving elevator entirely and still get the Heart Tank.
After some more enemies and annoying lasers that tend to hit you as you go under them, I reach another elevator shaft, and to the left there's an elevator that can't go up by itself: it needs charged Gravity Well to function. However, I skip using Gravity Well altogether and instead use the same air dash glitch I used to reach the Heart Tank. Now, I get the Body upgrade, which reduces stun slightly, cuts damage taken in half, and now also projects a shield around X when he gets hit, cutting damage by another 25%, for 62.5% damage reduction total. Annoyingly, the slight drop of mercy invincibility because of the upgrade just happens to bite me during the Crush Crawfish fights, and also forced me to change my strategy a little in the Doppler 2 spike shaft. Oh well.
Now, you can finally see how Ride Armors come into action in this game... and then see it being ditched five seconds after its appearance, after only about two screens' worth of moving with it. I only need the Ride Armor for breaking a floor below, and I don't use it any longer than I need to. I picked the Chimera, because it's the first selectable option and therefore also the fastest to pick. After breaking the floor, I get the Subtank down there. Then I go up again and show how charged Frost Shield, when used correctly, can plow through entire stage parts like nothing. Not much later, I'm finally done with the stage.
Fighting Volt Catfish was not much different from fighting Blast Hornet. The only difference was that I needed to manipulate him to do specific attacks, so that he would keep off doing his desperation move (which he starts doing when he loses half of his health, and it's invincible to everything but Tornado Fang, which stuns him for a long time) until he has only 2 health left, so Tornado Fang kills him. When he starts his desperation move, his invincibility to Tornado Fang also resets, making it in fact even faster to let him do it at this point. Again, I use as many different weapons as possible, using everything that was also used against Blast Hornet.
The start of this stage is one of the most alinear parts of the game, when collecting items is involved. I start at the top left of the area, then charge up right away while dashjumping down and to the right, break the floor and get the "Hawk" Ride Armor module that's hidden under the breakable floor (I don't cancel the Triad Thunder animation because the floor's explosion takes as long as the Triad Thunder animation, so it's useless to pause), and then go back to the left to use the Ride Armor platform because I need a Ride Armor later. This time, rather than selecting the standard Ride Armor, I went with the freshly obtained Hawk Ride Armor, which can hover and shoots missiles. The hovering makes it more maneuvrable, which saves time overall. The missiles are also fast, which also helps. I use the Ride Armor until the path's too small for the Ride Armor to go through.
The rest of the stage is pretty simple. There isn't much of note other than the existence of a peculiar enemy on the submarine, who takes damage differently but is otherwise identical to its counterparts. It has to be destroyed to move on. I destroy it with a combination of Parasitic Bomb and Triad Thunder.
After that, there's just a small section with more conveyer belts and a miniboss door which reveals... the submarine's reactor. Which is completely immobile and there's nothing to attack you. And it dies in a shot and a charged shot, after which it massively explodes. I have no idea why this is even in the game, because it's almost completely pointless.
After blowing up the reactor, the screen will flash white, and the stage will have tilted over. Which means that the horizontal stage now became a vertical stage, which means that there'll be more vertical climbing. There's not much else to see here other than just a few enemies.
Crush Crawfish is the second boss to have an invincibility quirk that allows defeating him very fast, next to Toxic Seahorse. What happens in this case is that whenever Crush Crawfish is hit by Triad Thunder, he'll at some point, while continuing to blink, lose all of his invincibility for a lengthy period of time. This period is in fact long enough to autofire him to death with just the X-Buster. However, some steps still need to be done until I can safely autofire him away. I take damage, so I'm temporarily invincible, I jump up, so Crush Crawfish won't grab me through my invincibility, and I also have to get behind him, because otherwise I'll still be hit by the blade he fires. Once all is set, however, he goes down fast.
Gravity Beetle revisit
I have to revisit Gravity Beetle's stage, just to pick up the Heart Tank in this stage. This is because there are some blocks in the stage, which are only removed if Blast Hornet is defeated. These blocks will prevent X from reaching the Heart Tank if Blast Hornet is not defeated yet, therefore it can only be obtained after Blast Hornet is defeated. However, if I do Blast Hornet before defeating Gravity Beetle, there will be a ship-block sequence in Blast Hornet's stage that takes at least a minute. Therefore, I need to either go through the ship-block sequence, or revisit Gravity Beetle for the Heart Tank. The revisit is significantly faster. In fact, the revisit only takes about 30 seconds overall.
With the new weapons I got since the last time I went through this here, I wanted to use some different weapons this time around. However, I still used Ray Splasher against the first enemy inside. For the other enemies, I used Crush Crawfish's weapon, Spinning Blade, just to show off the newest tool I'd got. After getting the Heart Tank, which is located fairly early in the stage, I exit immediately because there is nothing else to look for here.
Tunnel Rhino revisit
This is a larger revisit, because the stage is fairly lengthy by itself and I don't just need to collect a Heart Tank, but I also need to collect a subtank and the Head upgrade. Also, unlike in Gravity Beetle the items aren't in plain sight now. (Well, the Subtank is, but it started out that way. I didn't collect it the first time because I didn't have the airdash back then, and it's faster to collect it using an airdash).
One key difference between the first visit and the revisit is, rather obviously, that I had 1 weapon the first time around and have 9 weapons now plus the ability to charge all 9 of them. Obviously, this means that there are way more opportunities to blow things up with different weapons now, and don't just kill everything through rapid fire with the X-Buster.
The first item I'm getting is the Heart Tank, which requires charged Triad Thunder to get. Obviously, since I had neither the X-Buster upgrade nor Volt Catfish defeated, I couldn't get it the first time. And since the X-Buster alone requires Tornado Fang to obtain, there's no way I could possibly avoid a revisit to get the Heart Tank. This also counts for the Head upgrade later on, which also requires charged Triad Thunder. When I use charged Triad Thunder on the boulders that block access to the Heart Tank and Head upgrade, I make sure to "fire" it as soon as possible, so that the boulder is just barely onscreen on the first frame of the shockwave, so it breaks as soon as possible. One frame after the start of the shockwave, I pause and select another weapon (Parasitic Bomb, which is just above Triad Thunder in the menu), so the rest of the Triad Thunder animation is skipped and X can move again.
For the subtank, I found a strategy involving using an airdash to be the fastest. Fortunately, I held off the subtank until now, instead of getting it on the first visit. Using an airdash saves about 20 frames (0.333 seconds) over the fastest method I could think of that didn't involve an airdash.
After getting the Heart Tank and the Subtank and breaking another hanging boulder with Triad Thunder, I get the Head upgrade. X's helmet will shine, the screen will darken and a grid map of the stage will be displayed. This animation would play at the start of every maverick stage, and it would waste several seconds. Because of this, I saved getting the Head upgrade for last: I don't enter any maverick stages anymore from this point, so I never get bothered by the grid map animation again. Again, I quit as soon as I get the Head upgrade.
Dr. Doppler 1
Since the first fortress stage officially marks the point where the player has all weapons ready, this is essentially where I have to show the weapon variety that X is running around with at this point. I tried my hardest just to destroy everything while using as many different weapons as possible. Unfortunately, in Mega Man X3 this does not work as well with charged special weapons, because the charged weapons tend to have their downsides. Charged Acid Burst varies very little from the uncharged version, charged Parasitic Bomb and Gravity Well are completely useless, charged Triad Thunder and Ray Splasher halt X for a period of time, and charged Tornado Fang doesn't destroy anything. Charged Frost shield also has problems when there's anything it doesn't destroy right away. This leaves only one charged weapon worth using: Spinning Blade. I use charged Spinning Blade in this stage, because it just looks magnificent, especially when it's handled well and you can see it plowing through several enemies. Fortunately, the uncharged weapons fare a bit better in this regard. All weapons except for Tornado Fang and Parasitic Bomb on anything it doesn't imprison tend to kill enemies quickly. This means that there's still a large amount of weapon diversity throughout the stage. This is essentially what Mega Man X TASing is about: destroying enemies with a large amount of weapon variety.
In this stage, there's a miniboss that's rather easy. Zero shows up to stop the ceiling from slowly dropping, making the fight easier - although that really wasn't necessary, since the battle is over in three seconds anyway. Not that the boss doesn't have invincibility, since it does unlike most others, but it still just dies in a single charged Spinning Blade and an uncharged spinning Blade. Since X will walk forward slowly for the next cutscene, I need him to be as far to the right as possible when the miniboss dies. Fortunately, Spinning Blade also has the neat ability to fly backwards, which means I don't even need to turn around to hit him, which also saves a frame or two. However, to get past him, I do need to wall jump off him, which requires me to take damage. This is slightly inconvenient, and I'll mention soon why.
After the miniboss and some more stage, as well as blowing through several enemies with a single spin of a charged Spinning Blade, the Golden Armor capsule is hidden near a bottomless pit, below. The requirements for having the Golden Armor capsule include having all items, but none of the enhancement chips, but also being at full health. This is a slight problem, because as mentioned above I just took damage in the miniboss fight. Fortunately, I could just snatch off a big life refill off the last enemy before reaching the Golden Armor capsule, so I still have full health and it appears.
While the Golden Armor in this game has the same requirements of collecting everything and having full health when you approach it for the hidden capsules in the past two games, the Golden Armor is far less destructive than the Hadoken in Mega Man X or the Shoryuken in Mega Man X2. Instead of a one-hit kill weapon, the Golden Armor brings the effects of all four hidden enhancement chip capsules in the game, which otherwise X could use only one of at any time. The four enhancement chips allow X several upgrades. The Leg chip allows him to airdash twice in one jump or once from a dashjump. The Arm chip gives X the Hyper Cannon, of which you get the energy to use it like the Giga Attack in Mega Man X2, but it functions way differently. Instead of one powerful attack, the Hyper Cannon functions more or less like a permanently charged X-Buster, which takes two points energy for every shot fired with it. The Body chip replaces the blue shield of the body upgrade with a red shield, which reduces damage by an additional 50% while it's active (for a reduction of 75% to damage total) and doesn't disappear when X is hit. It only disappears when five seconds have passed after activation. Finally, there's the Head chip, which causes X to slowly regain health, one health unit every couple of seconds, if he stands still for several seconds. This can also be used to fill his subtanks. Unfortunately, this is a speedrun and I don't have time to stand still.
Now, after X gets his shiny golden armor and goes through what's left of the stage, you may notice that the door is higher than it may have been for you, if you have played the game. This is because if both Bit and Byte are defeated, X will fight a different boss, Press Disposer, rather than the transformation of Bit and Byte, named Godkarmachine O'Inary. Unlike Godkarmachine O'Inary, who is weak to Ray Splasher, Press Disposer is weak to Tornado Fang, which really helps since charged Tornado Fang can be held out as long as I want, provided I don't airdash, I don't get hit and I don't run out of Tornado Fang energy. However, Press Disposer has some other problems. For one, he's primarily situated in the top right of the screen, where it's very hard to reach with charged Tornado Fang. Secondly, it has an acid burst attack which causes massive lag, and I can't stop him from using it because he uses a set pattern. This pattern consists primarily of just shooting his acid burst and dropping down and moving back up, while on the left side of the screen there periodically drops a junk block onto the floor, and there's a conveyor belt sending the blocks (and you) to the right of the screen. His pattern only changes if you destroy the trunk it has, which causes him to drop down for his next action and fill the entire bottom of the room with a pool acid which continually damages you if you touch it. So I start the battle walljumping on the left wall, jumping at the exact height required to hit him in the face, because the rest of his body is invincible. At the same time, I also luck manipulate for the junk dropper at the left to drop a nice square block, so I have an extra stepping stone later on so I can hit him easier later on. Then he drops down, and I continuously hit him with charged Tornado Fang here, doing 5 points of damage every hit. Thanks to the junk block, I could just barely get another hit off. In the meantime, I also destroy the trunk, so that the next action of Press Disposer is to drop down again to fill the room with acid. Fortunately, I can finish him off with Ray Splasher (which does 2 damage) before the acid does any damage. Ultimately, this boss is defeated very quickly, despite it traditionally being known for being a notably hard boss otherwise.
Dr. Doppler 2
This stage is one of the most obnoxious stages in the game to TAS, for two reasons. One, there's a spiked wall section, which you're usually supposed to get past with wall-crawling snails, which move about as quickly as their appearance implies. Fortunately, it's possible to skip this sequence with taking damage and walljumping the traditional way across the spikes, but it's still one of the more annoying sections to TAS through, especially when you happen to have body upgrades that reduce stun just enough that the tactics from the any% can't be used directly and have to be tweaked somewhat. Fortunately, having two airdashes allowed me to skip a sizable chunk by just airdashing up to the first stretch of proper wall on the top.
The second reason that makes this stage annoying to TAS is that without defeating Vile, the enemy layout is changed, for the worse. The stage is just filled with dozens of the same hard to kill enemy that's also partially invincible, making it tougher to hit with e.g. Triad Thunder because Triad Thunder's orbs stop working and fall down if they just hit the invincible part. Also, no special weapons kill it without enough X-Buster support. Even Frost Shield requires a bit of X-Buster to kill it in less than three hits. After some fiddling with X-Buster and Triad Thunder, I just mostly said heck to it and threw out Tornado Fang and just drilled through them, something I realized I hadn't done in quite a while since usually I could just blow up whatever was in front of me. Not that I didn't continue on destroying more of them, but far from all of them could be destroyed.
Eventually, after some more of the same enemies over and over again, you'll notice the massive spiked wall shaft. To get up, I take damage from the first wall-crawling snail you see, while also hitting him with Triad Thunder. When these enemies take enough damage, they'll turn into horizontal poles that can be used to stand on (or wall jump from), but still don't go any faster. I wall jump off the pole onto the other direction and take damage from a missile from one of the flying enemies, so that I still don't die from the spikes. I also take damage from the next snail and another flying enemy, and eventually reach a sufficient height to just airdash straight up twice and reach the non-spiked wall. After this, I reach the boss corridor, which leads to a large, empty room, with another boss door. Here, I fight the next boss, Vile, because I haven't met him in an optional stage, because there isn't a reason to with the current goals.
Vile shows up in his "Goliath" Ride Armor here. Unlike his "Kangaroo" Ride Armor when you fight him in an optional stage, his Ride Armor doesn't share the same weaknesses as himself. The Goliath is weak to Tornado Fang (again) and Parasitic Bomb, while Vile himself is weak to Ray Splasher and Spinning Blade. Since Tornado Fang can be held out as long as I want, it's once again the quickest way of defeating the boss. Unlike Byte and Press Disposer, however, charged Tornado Fang doesn't do 5 damage, it only does 3. This makes his fight a bit longer in comparison to the other Tornado Fang-weak bosses aside from Volt Catfish. It doesn't stop me from defeating him pretty quickly with it, however. "Goliath" Ride Armor Vile's pattern is pretty simple, with only three moves: charging up and shooting a powerful shot, charging across the arena, or launching three objects which then forms walls, and then charging forward. I manipulate for him to to the last move of these three twice, because the first move makes him invincible and the timing comes out best with this pattern. For the final hit, I shoot a Parasitic Bomb away from him to give X some time to charge up Spinning Blade for the second phase of the fight, with Vile himself.
Against Vile himself, I use a tactic utilizing both uncharged and charged Spinning Blade. First, I hit him with a charged Spinning Blade since that's faster, thanks to the chargeup time I get at the end of the first phase of the fight. After this, I do a pattern where I shoot Spinning Blade into him while right next to him, and then immediately shoot Spinning Blades in the other direction (or, if possible, hit him with one Spinning Blade of the two launched per use, then have the other Spinning Blade hit him when his invincibility turns off; this is faster, but not always possible), which hit him by the time Vile's invincibility from the first Spinning Blades has already worn off. This way, Vile is invincible from taking damage the majority of the charging time. Using charged Spinning Blade is worth it because it does 5 damage to Vile, and uncharged hits do only 2 damage. After doing this a couple of times, Vile is quickly defeated. At least now he won't return until as late as Mega Man X8.
Dr. Doppler 3
In this stage, the obligatory boss rematches happen. As with every game in the Mega Man series, the eight standard bosses are all fought again in the fortress stages. And as with most games, here you're locked in a room with eight teleporters, each leading to one boss. After every fight there's an opportunity to get some healing items to help you out. And usually after all fights, there's another boss waiting for you. This is also true in this case.
There's a small bit of stage before the boss refights, with some minor enemies around. I tried out something that would defeat them all, but I deemed Triad Thunder too boring and overused, so I used Spinning Blade instead. Because of Spinning Blade's shrapnel that disallows switching weapons, though, I had to continue on with Spinning Blade for all enemies. Well, it's still better than Triad Thunder again.
Now, about the order I do the boss refights in: The first boss has to be Blast Hornet, because his teleporter is closed to the starting door and also furthest away from the start point after finishing a boss. Every time a boss is defeated, X will be teleported to the same location in the middle of the room, on top of a weird container of sorts which drops powerups when attacked. Since Blast Hornet's teleporter is on the far left of the teleporter room, and when first entering the room X goes through a door on the far left side, it's fastest to go for Blast Hornet first. The rest of the bosses can be done in any order. I had several ideas, including going by alphabetic order, or by boss weakness order, but in the end I decided to go with reverse boss weakness order. The usual boss weakness order is Blast Hornet > Blizzard Buffalo > Toxic Seahorse > Tunnel Rhino > Volt Catfish > Crush Crawfish > Neon Tiger > Gravity Beetle > Blast Hornet. Doing it in this order shows a boss first, and then the weapon he gets will be used in the next fight. However, I instead went with the reverse order, Blast Hornet > Gravity Beetle > Neon Tiger > Crush Crawfish > Volt Catfish > Tunnel Rhino > Toxic Seahorse > Blizzard Buffalo, because this way you see a weapon first, and then the boss that uses it. I do this to foreshadow the boss that gets fought next. Also for more foreshadowing, I used the boss weapon of the boss fought next right before going into his teleporter. I thought it looked nice, especially when some weapons cause some fun effects such as Triad Thunder when going through the teleporter.
Now, as for the bosses themselves, I'll start with the first one: Blast Hornet. In the first time, I used the X-Buster and various special weapons against him. But now, I have a better weapon against him: Spinning Blade. Spinning Blade does two damage for an uncharged hit, making it faster to use against him than the charged X-Buster. Using just Spinning Blade, Blast Hornet gets defeated, quicker than the first time. Not much else is of not about this fight, other than the fact that I again made sure that when Blast Hornet dies, he's as low as possible, so he falls the least amount of distance before exploding.
The next boss on the line is Gravity Beetle. Ironically, while I went with reverse boss weakness order, the most effective weapon against Gravity Beetle initially is Parasitic Bomb, Blast Hornet's weapon. Like Spinning Blade to Blast Hornet, it does two damage to him for every hit, which makes it faster than alternating Ray Splasher and X-Buster. However, this changes halfway through the fight. I manipulated him to jump and fire a single Gravity Well twice, so that he does his giant Gravity Well as quickly as possible, like before. When I do this, I can do the Ray Splasher invincibility trick on him again, which is faster than Parasitic Bomb. Thus, again, the second half of the fight is done faster than the first half.
Then there's Neon Tiger on next. Spinning Blade, his weakness weapon, does only 2 damage in him and puts him into a long invincibility period, and he does not have any other weapon that does two damage to him uncharged, so I have to get back to using the X-Buster, like in the previous fight. Unlike back then, though, I now have several other weapons to help me out, such as Acid Burst, Frost Shield and Parasitic Bomb. Otherwise, the fight is mostly identical to the first fight, with lots of abuse of his invincibility glitch that removes his invincibility every time he does a move from the ground. The only difference is that Neon Tiger doesn't block Spinning Blade, which means I can land the final hit as soon as possible.
Next up, Crush Crawfish. The battle now is completely identical to the last time I fought him. I hit him with Triad Thunder, take damage, jump up to stop him from doing his grab that would hit me during invincibility anyway, and get behind him to so I don't get hit by the shooting blade anyway. Then I rapid-fire him to death again. This time, I tried for some variety to go inside him and turn him around (and I go back to where I was), rather than me going all the way through him, but it cost me one frame so I decided not to use it.
The next boss is Volt Catfish. There are no real tactics changes here, because Tornado Fang is still not worth using on him except for the last hit. There is one difference, though, which is that there's now no red charge to start the bossfight with. This means that I have to hit him on different times of his otherwise identical pattern, which combined with luck manipulation and pattern manipulation by being on a certain side of him, required me to take a hit because I had to be between him and the wall, and he was already next to the wall. However, the initial time loss from not having red charge doesn't matter in the end, since the time loss is just taken off the extra invincibility time Volt Catfish has between the second to last hit and the final hit with Tornado Fang. You'll notice the Tornado Fang hitting much earlier now, which is because Volt Catfish loses invincibility to Tornado Fang at that point, which is actually at the same time as in the first fight.
Then there's Tunnel Rhino. For some reason, it appears like his pattern is tweaked from the first fight because he tends to do things that don't just involve charges much more often. You can actually see him use his own Tornado Fangs now. As for how to defeat him, this has changed radically since last time. Charged Acid Burst does 5 damage to him, which is enough to just go use exclusively on him, aside from an opening uncharged Acid Burst. Not having to deal with invincibility time, which, while more than usual because Acid Burst stuns him, is still quite a bit less than the charging time, made this fight a little more convenient to me. I did have to make sure that his pattern didn't hinder me from firing the Acid Burst at him a couple of times, though.
Toxic Seahorse, like Crush Crawfish, is fought more or less completely identically to last time, aside from me making a couple of different moves which doesn't really change anything. I just stun him with Frost Shield in the air, pump him full with Frost Shields, and repeat once until he's defeated. There isn't much else to say about him, though.
The final boss in the boss refight cycle is Blizzard Buffalo. Parasitic Bomb is his weakness, but charged Parasitic Bomb, besides being completely useless otherwise, does the same damage as uncharged Parasitic Bomb, so I can't do the same thing on him I did with Tunnel Rhino. Instead, I alternate Parasitic Bomb and charged X-Buster. When he's stunned from Parasitic Bomb, it's not possible to trick him like in the first fight to charge into the wall continuously. However, I still tried to look this fight like he's completely dominated as much as in the first fight, even if the fight is completely different. You may see me make some unusual movements during the fight, especially during the second half: this is for luck manipulation. Blizzard Buffalo relies mostly on your movements to decide his next move. When I do this luck manipulation, it's usually to avoid him from using his ultimate ice beam, which turns him invincible for a long time. Instead, he's just stuck with the same two basic moves of charging forward and throwing ice spikes, which I also destroy for extra effect.
After all eight bossfights, there is a small bit of stage remaining, including some lasers from Volt Catfish's stage and one enemy, right before the boss door. I use Triad Thunder here, to allow me some charging time for the next boss: Dr. Doppler. Unlike all other bosses with invincibility, Dr. Doppler doesn't have 60 frames of invincibility, but he has 96 instead. This means that even when I can hit him as fast as possible, there's still more time inbetween the hits. However, Dr. Doppler tends to be invincible a lot. He likes to throw out a shield which absorbs damage and heals him. Since this is obviously detrimental to fighting him (unless it's the last hit, when it just destroys him anyway), I can't hit him until he takes his shield off. I could also wait until he doesn't decide to use the shield, since he only does that when you attack, but that would take even longer and I can't surprise-hit him, he'll be healed by the shield anyway. So, the first thing I do at the start of the fight is to turn around and shoot charged Acid Burst (his weakness weapon, which does 5 damage charged) into the wall, leaving it to bounce off the floor until it hits him by the time he already takes his shield down. After that, he throws some energy balls. I just avoid these and hit with an uncharged shot, then charge while he puts his healing shield up again. Then he does his third attack, where he engulfs himself in an invincible flame shield and dashes forward, jumping at X's height if he's higher than he is - sort of similar to Bit. However, I just stand in front of him and hit him through the shield, as he barely turns vulnerable when Acid Burst reaches full charge. Then just some more Acid Bursts ensue, aside from when he puts up the shield, during which I charge. You may notice I miss some shots here: this is to make sure he puts up his shield. After eating enough acid, he's defeated and tells X that he built another body for Sigma. Let's destroy him as well while we're at it.
Dr. Doppler 4
There isn't much to see in this stage. There's one corridor filled with enemies, which all get defeated by a single Triad Thunder, there's a short cutscene with Zero, who's going to destroy some power reactor (or so he says) like usual, just to show you that he's still alive, and then there's just some wall climbing up to Sigma's room. I charge up for a charged Spinning Blade in the meantime. Sigma's weaknesses are Frost Shield and Spinning Blade. I use Spinning Blade for this fight, because like with Vile, charged Spinning Blade does 5 damage. Frost Shield isn't as useful as Spinning Blade here.
Sigma's first form is fought much like Vile as well, except Sigma moves less and spams with way more shots. I start with a charged Spinning Blade to the face, because Sigma also has a shield which blocks most direct attacks. Then I use the exact same trick as with Vile: I shoot a Spinning Blade from up close, turn around and shoot another set of Spinning Blades as soon as possible, which hit him when his invincibility is already over. At the same time, I charge up for a charged Spinning Blade. Repeat a couple of times, and Sigma's first form is defeated. I take damage near the end because X has to walk to a certain position for the cutscene before the next fight, and this position overlaps with Sigma's hitbox.
However, Sigma has another form, Kaiser Sigma, which is a massive robot suit with Sigma's tiny head in there. Sigma's head is the only thing that can be hit, and then only by charged X-Buster shots. Here's where I throw out the Hyper Cannon I got with the Gold Armor. However, I need to hit him with 16 charged shots, and the Hyper Cannon only provides 14. Because of how the Hyper Cannon's usage works, it's not possible for me to extend this amount without losing more time. When Hyper Cannon is active, it can't gain energy unless it's switched out, and when it's not full when it's switched it, it can be charged, but not used. So I have to fit in two regularly charged shots: one for the first hit, and one for the very last hit. This fight was hard to get right, because Sigma's damagable hitbox, the head, is very small, and not to mention covered up for a good part by the armor itself. I take a lot of damage in this fight just to get the shots in right optimally. Fortunately, thanks to all the damage reduction by the body armor and body chip and all of the Heart Tanks, I can still just take it for the most part. Kaiser Sigma goes down eventually.
After Kaiser Sigma, Sigma's wireframe viral form appears, and he wants to possess X. X tries to shoot a charged Ray Splasher inside him, but it doesn't work. X then has to escape from a rising lava sequence, which from the looks of it was caused by X using charged Gravity Well. This section is an autoscroller, so it doesn't matter how long I take about climbing up everywhere. I just have to make sure that I'm on the top right on the floor as soon as possible when the wall ends, so X continues moving on the floor as fast as possible. After this, some more cutscenes play, and after this the credits roll. Sigma is defeated again (but will come back by the next game), it's fated that X must destroy Zero, blah blah. I'm done here for now.
- FractalFusion, for his very useful any% TAS of this game, which has helped me out on several occasions with tactics.
- Anyone who watched and commented on my WIPs in the Mega Man X3 100% thread.
- Anyone who watches the full run, whether it's the encode or the original SMV.
- You for reading all this.
Enjoy the run!
: Added YouTube module.
: Words cannot express how good this run is, anything I could say would only diminish it. Accepting as an alternate route run for Mega Man X 3.