Action Man: Search for Base X in 23:08.54 by Noxxa
- Emulator used: BizHawk 1.4.1
- Aims for fastest time
- Plays on hardest difficulty
- Takes damage to save time (a lot)
- Manipulates luck (only in the bossfights later on)
About the game
Action Man: Search for Base X is a game based on the Action Man license, developed by Natsume and published by THQ on 2001. The game’s plot involves Alex Mann, alias “Action Man”, having to search for Dr. X’s base, and then, of course, beat the crap out of Dr. X. However, just to get to Dr. X’s base, Action Man needs to fight his way through various locales to discover useful items, uncover clues and pass through dozens upon dozens of Dr. X-brand robots which are all out to destroy Action Man.
Initially, the game works somewhat similarly to Mega Man, in that there are multiple stages to choose from, they can be done in any order, and after going through each stage, you finish your mission and you get an item. These items are in turn required to uncover new paths and areas in the stages and finish more missions and get more items, etc. etc. The game starts with 4 stages available, which hold 10 missions total. After finishing these 10 missions, Action Man will discover and go through Dr. X’s hidden base...s in a more linear way (similar to the Dr. Wily in the Mega Man series, again). There are three “Base”s in the game. Which one of them is supposed to be “Base X”, I don’t know.
As for the gameplay, for each mission, Action Man gets to bring two items, a suit and 6 hit points. Besides that, he has the ability to walk, jump, crouch and crawl. One of the more interesting facts in this game is that when Action Man gets hit, there’s no knockback animation at all - if it weren’t for the fact that Action Man’s hit points are very limited - the game has no pickups of any kind, so there’s only 6 per stage (excluding death/checkpoints). This turns every stage into a puzzle of finding out what the largest damage/time savers are in each stage, and utilizing damage to its fullest potential each mission, so every mission ends with 1 HP.
- This game’s Hard difficulty mode is absolutely ridiculous, with loads upon loads of deadly enemies everywhere. It’s like Mega Man cross Bullet Hell. Some of the later stages I’ve found practically impossible to beat without health cheats or tool-assistance.
- This game has really good music. Unfortunately, the TAS goes through the game far too fast to do the game’s soundtrack justice. It’s a shame that the background music restarts each time the player progresses a section in the stage. The full soundtrack can be listened to here.
- This game has no lag, no luck (other than the boss battles near the end of the game) and no subpixels. However, some enemies do have frame-rule timing, so hexing does not always work seamlessly.
- This game has received mixed reviews, generally considered decent, though criticism points were its difficulty level and generally being similar/inferior to Mega Man.
Most enemies don’t have hitboxes; only their projectiles do. (The rolling enemies are one exception). Despite that, it’s generally still not safe to be inside an enemy, since most of them will just fire projectiles which instantly hit Action Man anyway. But this fact is used a lot to pass through enemies mostly unharmed.
Robot line-of-sight abuse
The large robot enemies will only fire shots if your hitbox is at equal level with their head. This means that if you crawl towards them, they won’t fire, but will instead only walk backwards. Sometimes, crouching for just one frame can make them momentarily stop firing.
Most enemies which don’t die in one shot will stop firing for a short while if they’re being hit. This is quite helpful if I need to get past one quickly without losing time crawling instead. If you see me shoot an enemy without killing it, it’s for this reason.
The bosses have another version of this trick: if they take damage on the exact frame they’re firing a projectile, their projectile will not appear. This is very useful on both boss battles in the game, as it leaves much less projectiles for Action Man to deal with.
Disarming Device skip
Normally, the Disarming Device is required to clear Mountain Mission B. However, with some careful jumping, it’s possible to avoid having to use the Disarming Device there. This is useful, because not requiring the Disarming Device opens up an item slot, allowing Action Man to bring the EMP Gun along and making the mission significantly easier.
If there is a ladder below Action Man, pressing down will move Action Man to its position if he is close enough. If Action Man immediately jumps off in order to continue moving, it saves a few frames over just walking over.
When on a ladder, repeatedly pressing A to jump off the ladder while holding up to regrab the ladder will cause Action Man to zip up the ladder quickly, allowing for very fast climbing. Strangely, there are a few stairs in the Mountain area that do not allow Action Man to jump off when he's near the top of the ladder, which is why some of the ladders are climbed normally for a short time.
General physics notes
Action Man moves at 1 pixel/frame horizontally when walking or jumping and holding a direction. Crawling happens at 0.5 pixels/frame. When Action Man is falling, he falls at a rate of 1 pixel/frame vertically. When jumping, for the first part Action Man will gain height by 1 pixel/frame, then by 0.5 pixels/frame.
Every state change for Action Man stops horizontal movement for 1 frame, e.g. walking>jumping, jump rising/falling, landing/walking, or jumping/firing the gun. Because of this, for example, a jump costs 3 frames, and a jump with one shot fired costs 5 frames. Because of this, jumping and shooting (even in the air) need to be minimized for optimal movement.
Does not appear to do anything in the game. This is Action Man’s default suit.
Allows Action Man to dive in bodies of water in the Jungle and Ruins, which is required to complete some side missions. This is the only suit in the game that actually affects Action Man. Available from the start of the game.
Causes a staircase to appear near the end of the first section of the Mine stage, which can be used for a shortcut and is required to do Mine Mission B. Obtained by clearing Ruins Mission A.
Causes a staircase to appear near the end of the first section of the Mountain stage, which is required to do Mountain Mission B. Obtained by clearing Jungle Mission C.
Causes a staircase to appear near the end of the first section of the Secret Base stage, which is required to do Secret Base Mission B and Secret Base Mission C. Obtained by clearing Ruins Mission B.
Allows Action Man to go outside in Moon Base 1, which is required to do Moon Base 1 Mission B. Obtained by clearing Moon Base 1 Mission A.
Action Man’s dinky laser pistol he starts out with. It makes Mega Man’s pea shooter look amazing by comparison, and yet it’s still by far the most useful weapon in this game. Action Man can fire this while crouching, standing, or jumping in the air, and can also be fired diagonally up while standing. The ability to shoot it while in the air makes it very useful, as it’s one of the few ways to shoot while not losing time standing still.
This is one of Action Man’s starting items.
This is the most useless weapon in the game, although it’s required for two missions which also require Action Man to not bring his pistol. Doesn’t do any more damage than the EMP Gun, fires much slower, and can only be fired while standing. Required to hit a target for Jungle Mission B and Jungle Mission C.
This is also one of Action Man’s starting items.
The second best weapon in the game, although that doesn’t say much. Does twice as much damage as the other weapons, but can only be thrown while standing still, and is slower than the EMP Gun. It can be thrown with two possible arcs, arcing mostly forward or arcing mostly upward. Sometimes useful for the damage output.
Obtained by clearing Jungle Mission A.
Does as much damage as the Sonic Explosion, but takes some time to pull out, has a really short range and requires getting close to the enemy. Required for some obstacles in Mountain Mission B and Ruins Mission B. Obtained by clearing Mine Mission B.
One of few weapons that can be used in the air, but suffers from a short range like the Drill. It’s supposed to be used in Mountain Mission B to disarm a mine, but I manage to avoid having to use it, so the Disarming Device is never used in the run. Obtained by clearing Jungle Mission B.
Having this item causes a staircase to appear near the end of the third section of the secondary route in the Mine stage. Required to pass Mine Mission B. Obtained by clearing Mountain Mission A.
Causes the screen not to go dark when attempting to enter the cave in the Jungle stage, allowing Action Man to access the cave. Required to pass Jungle Mission B and Jungle Mission C. Obtained by clearing Mine Mission A.
Allows Action Man to get access through a door inside the Ruins. Required to pass Ruins Mission B. Obtained by clearing Mountain Mission B.
Allows Action Man to get access through a door inside the Secret Base. Required to pass Secret Base Mission B. Obtained by clearing Secret Base Mission A.
Allows Action Man to blow his way through another door inside the Secret Base. Required to pass Secret Base Mission C. Obtained by clearing Secret Base Mission B.
This route aims to minimize item switches in the equip screen, because each switch there costs about 7 frames. Other than that, I make sure to bring time-saving items along as much as possible, like the EMP Gun as well as the Sonic Explosion later on in the game.
Jungle Mission A
"Destroy the radar facility located in the jungle!"
Equipment: Camouflage Suit, EMP Gun, Long Bow
Get: Sonic Explosion
- I consider the second section of this stage to be already a fairly good example of how ridiculous the bullet storms in this game can get. The bullets cover a significant amount of the screen at once.
- It's faster to swing from a vine, so I do it in the first section. In the second section, I don't use the vine, because the jump would leave me in a bad position.
- I use a ladder boost in the third section.
Mountain Mission A
"Find where the scientists are being held captive!"
Equipment: Camouflage Suit, EMP Gun, Long Bow
- The knight enemies' attacks can often be dodged by jumping at the right time. For one of them, the landscape prevents me from doing that, so I shoot it instead, forcing it to pull up its guard and allowing me to go past.
- I forego a ladder boost in the first section because the jump would put me right in front of the next knight enemy, and cause me to get hit.
Ruins Mission A
"Destroy the defense facility located in the ruins!"
Equipment: Camouflage Suit, EMP Gun, Long Bow
Get: Climb Suit
- I do the Ruins before the Mine so that I can use the Climb Suit in the Mine stage.
Mine Mission A
"Identify what is being mined in the cave!"
Requirements: None, although Climb Suit and Sonic Explosion are used for a shortcut
Equipment: Climb Suit, EMP Gun, Sonic Explosion
- I equip the Climb Suit and the Sonic Explosion here so I can use the alternate route in this stage to take a shortcut.
- The alternate second and third sections actually aren't any shorter than the main sections, the advantage is just not having to wait for the moving platform at the start of the fourth section to go back and forth. This saves a few seconds overall.
Mine Mission B
"Climb the cliff wall and take a picture of Dr. X’s secret base!"
Requirements: Climb Suit, Camera, Sonic Explosion
Equipment: Climb Suit, Camera, Sonic Explosion
- This is the first gun-less mission in the run. Two items (and a suit) are needed here, which means I don't have room to bring my EMP Gun along. Because of this, there's a much larger focus on dodging enemies instead of destroying them. The Sonic Explosions are mostly only used during wait times.
Jungle Mission B
"Find the hidden cave entrance and destroy the power plant located deep within the dark cave!"
Requirements: Flashlight, Long Bow
Equipment: Climb Suit, Flashlight, Long Bow
Get: Disarming Device
- Like the previous mission, I again don't get to bring the EMP Gun to the stage. The Long Bow is even slower and weaker than the Sonic Explosion, and used only when waiting or when required.
Jungle Mission C
"Find the hidden cave entrance and destroy the fuel tank located in the waterway deep within the dark cave!"
Requirements: Diver Suit, Flashlight, Long Bow
Equipment: Diver Suit, Flashlight, Long Bow
Get: Winter Clothes
- This is mostly similar to the previous mission, though some parts needed to be redone because otherwise the run wouldn't sync. About half of the same stuff in the stage is hexed in from the previous mission.
- Underwater, Action Man can't attack - not even with his gun.
- This is the first appearance of the robot shark "boss". The robot shark has to be defeated by making it slam into the next doorway four times. Its hitboxes are pretty odd, which allows me to do some quirky dodging maneuvers.
Mountain Mission B
"Rescue the captured scientists from the COLD fortress! Penetrate the obstacle blocking your path and disarm the mines along the way!"
Requirements: Winter Clothes, Drill, Disarming Device (or at least, it's supposed to be)
Equipment: Winter Clothes, Drill, EMP Gun
Get: Security Card
- I do a bit of a sequence break here. Normally, you're supposed to use the Disarming Device to disarm a mine in the second section, which will otherwise blow up a platform and prevent Action Man from reaching the next section for Mission B. However, by using a precise jump, it's possible to jump over the mine without triggering it, land on the platform, and then just jump on to the next part, skipping the mine altogether. This is very convenient, as it means I can bring the EMP Gun along, even though I shouldn't be able to use it for this mission.
Ruins Mission B
"Find the ancient blueprint inside the ruins! Lower the platforms by winding the contraption that controls them and find a way past the security door!"
Requirements: Drill, Security Card
Equipment: Winter Clothes, Drill, Security Card
Get: Ninja Suit
- In the second section, I use the drill to destroy a knight enemy. I have to do this, because otherwise, during the next drilling sequence he'll gleefully stab me to death.
- In the third section, there's a small drill "enemy" which needs to be "escorted" through the section so it can drill through walls and make for a platform to jump to the exit. I trigger it as soon as possible by walking forward, then backward under the dropping rocks - if I just walked forward even further, the third rock would kill me, and it wouldn't save any time anyway.
Ruins Mission C
"Find the secret path in the waterway and infiltrate! You must have completed all other missions from each of the first four areas to have enough information to find the secret door."
Requirements: Clear all previous missions, Diver Suit
Equipment: Diver Suit, EMP Gun, Security Card
Get: Access to Secret Base
- I skip a fair amount of the stage at the second section. Normally, you're supposed to surface, defeat the enemies above, and destroy a switch which will deactivate the underwater lasers. However, I can just skip that by just passing through the lasers, taking 4 damage in the process.
- The underwater spike enemies have really odd hitboxes, which makes them tricky to avoid. Near the start of the third section, I have to take damage from one of them because I can't pass it otherwise (without having to wait until it retracts again).
- There's another robot shark "boss" here. It goes down the same way as the first.
- I can't crawl under the pole at the end, as there's an enemy right behind which would kill me otherwise.
Secret Base Mission A
"Enter the secret base and take Dr. X’s miniature computer!"
Equipment: Ninja Suit, EMP Gun, Security Card
Get: Miniature Computer
- This is the first of the final stages. Like Dr. Wily's castle in the Mega Man games, that means there's a noticeable difficulty leap here. There are significantly more enemies in the way.
- I equip the Ninja Suit in advance here, although it's not necessary yet.
Secret Base Mission B
"Enter the secret base and hack into Dr. X’s mission control. Only if you are stealthy will you be able to find the entrance."
Requirements: Ninja Suit, Miniature Computer
Equipment: Ninja Suit, EMP Gun, Miniature Computer
Get: Special Explosive
- The first section of the stage is mostly hexed from the previous mission.
Secret Base Mission C
"Capture Dr. X before he can get into his rocket! Stealth and a ”special” something will get you through this mission!"
Requirements: Ninja Suit, Special Explosive
Equipment: Ninja Suit, EMP Gun, Special Explosive
Get: Access to Moon Base 1
- The first section, and a part of the second section, are again mostly hexed from the previous mission.
Moon Base 1 Mission A
"Acquire the spacesuit located in the moon base!"
Equipment: Ninja Suit, EMP Gun, Sonic Explosion
Get: Space Suit
- I consider this the most ridiculous stage in the game, as far as enemies are concerned. (Then again, this is the last stage in the game without a boss, so it isn't surprising).
- I equip the Sonic Explosion here for use in later missions. I don't need any secondary items anymore anyway, so I can keep it until the end.
Moon Base 1 Mission B
"Follow Dr. X who escaped to the outside of the moon base!"
Requirements: Space Suit, any weapon
Equipment: Space Suit, EMP Gun, Sonic Explosion
Get: Access to Moon Base 2
- Most of the first section of this stage is hexed from the previous mission.
- There's a boss battle at the end of this stage. It has 32 health. Gun shots do 1 damage and Sonic Explosions do 2, but for some reason, reflected shots from the mirrors up above do 4 damage to the boss, allowing me to defeat it rather quickly.
- In my opinion, the boss music here is one of the best themes of the game. It's a shame that the boss is already defeated before the theme's intro ends.
Moon Base 2 Mission A
"Stop Dr. X!"
Requirements: EMP Gun
Equipment: Space Suit, EMP Gun, Sonic Explosion
Get: End of game
- There's a short stage section at the beginning, followed by the two-phase final boss.
- The first phase of the final boss is a rather typical "core-and-turrets"-boss, with two turrets descending from the sky, which respawn if killed, and Dr. X in a corner controlling the turrets and serving as the "core". I shoot him as early as possible, which means from as far away as possible, to the point he's not even on screen when I fight him. I deal with one of the turrets by destroying it with a Sonic Explosion, and whaling on Dr. X while it spends time respawning. The other turret doesn't even spawn because I'm so far to the left. Dr. X has only 5 HP, so the battle is over quite quickly.
- The second phase of the final boss, Dr. X in his airship, has 32 health, with gunshots again doing just one point. This makes this battle significantly longer than the other boss battles, although it's still not that long. I occasionally use pauses to change Dr. X's attacks, and use the shot interrupt trick to cancel out many of his attacks, preventing me from having to take too much damage or having to dodge.
Thanks for reading this and/or watching this run!
: Accepting for Moons and publishing...