Rockman EXE WS in 11:24.95 (8:55 in-game time) by Noxxa
A WonderSwan Color spinoff of the Rockman EXE/Mega Man Battle Network series, Rockman EXE WS is a platforming game in which MegaMan.EXE jumps, guns, and slides through stages like his classic alternate universe counterpart.
- Emulator used: BizHawk 1.11.6
- Aims for fastest time
- Any% (beat the game once)
- Manipulates luck, a lot
- Takes damage to save time
About the game
Rockman EXE WS was developed by either Bandai or Capcom, depending on what source you use, and was released in early 2003 in Japan for the WonderSwan Color, putting its release at around the same time as Battle Network 3. Unusually for the series, this game is a platformer instead of an RPG, which means MegaMan.EXE gets to jump, gun, slide, charge, and defeat bosses like classic Mega Man. The game still adapts several Battle Network staples - features such as obtaining battle chips from enemies, using battle chips as special attacks, obtaining Style Changes, upgraded versions of bosses, and the familiar cast of characters and mooks are all adapted to the platforming gameplay of this game.
Unconventionally for a platforming Mega Man game, you don't get to directly choose the stages you go through. This game has six stages (up to seven on a second playthrough) and you go through each of them in order. However, many of the stages have different branches, with different environments and different bosses. This mean that running this game still has an element of routing, deciding in each stage which path is cleared faster, which gives access to useful battle chips, which has a more convenient boss battle, or which has an exploitable weakness. At six stages, this game is quite short, but the game is designed for replayability, with harder difficulty options and newgame+ options that can be used to traverse the different possible paths across multiple playthroughs, and use certain chips to reach secret areas to obtain more chips.
The plot of this game: I have no clue. I haven't read any of the dialogue or cutscenes or other such information, and while a translation patch of this game exists, I have not looked at it at all. All I know is MegaMan.EXE is jumping, gunning and sliding through stages and defeating bosses and other things that get in the way. I do know that the game takes its set of enemies and bosses from Battle Network 1 and Battle Network 2 (mostly 1), and the plot kind of takes its elements from there, so something something WWW something Life Virus something something yeah I don't know. Life Virus gets destroyed and the end.
About the run
As mentioned, the game has six stages, most of which (four) have branches. There's a seventh bonus stage, but that only applies to second playthroughs, so it's not counted for any%. The six stages (with boss names) evaluated in this run are as follows. Bold boss names are bosses fought (so the route taken) in this run.
- ColorMan.EXE or ElecMan.EXE
- PharaohMan.EXE or MagicMan.EXE
- BombMan.EXE or SnakeMan.EXE
- FireManV2.EXE or ElecManV2.EXE
- ProtoMan.EXE and Life Virus
The reasoning here for the routing in each stage is as follows:
- Stage 1 has no choice. FireMan.EXE is always the first boss.
- ColorMan.EXE's stage is shorter than ElecMan.EXE's stage. The difference is approx. 600 frames.
- PharaohMan.EXE's stage has the very useful BodyBurn battle chip, which is used everywhere for faster movement and dashing through enemies unharmed. PharaohMan.EXE is also weak to it, and it is a reasonably powerful attack in general although its use for boss battles is situational.
- BombMan.EXE has a faster bossfight than SnakeMan.EXE, who likes to spend a lot of time in an invincible jar.
- FireManV2.EXE has a faster stage than ElecManV2.EXE. The difference is about 750-800 frames. Defeating ElecManV2.EXE would net the ElecBrother Style, which increases movement speed, but its speed is only marginally faster than BodyBurning everywhere and it's unlikely that it would save enough time to be worth it in just the final stage.
- Stage 6 has no choice, you fight ProtoMan.EXE midway through the stage and Life Virus at the end.
Besides routing stage branches, there's another much more complex aspect of strategy in this run - gathering battle chips for use in boss battles. I get a lot of random chip drops throughout the run, in order to use them to speed up boss battles. I get several ShockWaves, SonicWaves, Cannons and M-Cannons from minor Mettaur, Canodumb, or other enemies, and Atk+20 or Atk+40 chips in later stages, all to be used in boss battles to serve as filler weapons while charging the buster, or in the Atk+ case, just to reduce the number of hits to take down a boss entirely. After all, every attack that's stronger than an uncharged buster shot helps towards reducing the number of hits to defeat a boss, and most of the time, every hit saved is a 32 frame gain.
The chip usage is also carefully planned to use every chip at its most efficient point. M-Cannons are used to do just the bit of extra damage to make a boss take one hit less to defeat, Atk+ chips are used to beat bosses fast before they use time-wasting attack patterns, etc. Some work is also made to work around the limit of 4 active chip types at a time, which can get tricky especially later on when the BodyBurn is permanently fixed to a slot, and the WideSword's overall utility is also often too good to miss out on.
All the chip usage makes the run quite annoying to plan, especially with the given fact that some drops are quite rare, and the RNG is tricky to manipulate. For instance, the odds of a Canodumb to drop an M-Cannon are 3%, Atk+40 from the DeathFire in stage 3 and Fishy2 in stage 6 are 7.5%, Atk+40 from Buffy are 10%, and those are some of the most crucial time-saving drops in the run. Sometimes I need to delay a few frames for some of these, but the boss hits they save make them well worth it.
Tricks and notes
- Framerate note: as with other WonderSwan games, the game runs at 75 frames per second. Therefore, frames here refer to shorter time units than in most other games.
- Bosses have 32 frames of invincibility after getting hit. When a character gets stunned from a particularly strong hit (only during certain attack patterns), this is raised to 76 frames of invincibility.
- Boss lifebars appear to use bars, but bosses actually have hitpoint counts that usually are not integer divisible by the bars (for instance, Life Virus' lifebar shows 32 units of HP, although it actually has 500HP). This means that the lifebars don't always accurately depict damage taken, with the same attack doing different lifebar points of damage, or weaker shots sometimes not visibly affecting the lifebar at all.
- Walking and jumping have a speed of 1px per frame.
- Sliding lasts for 40 frames and has a speed of 1.5px per frame. The game has no concept of subpixels, so the game actually just alternates traveling 1 or 2 pixels depending on the animation frame.
- At the end of a slide, MegaMan.EXE continues to slip for another 6 frames at 1.5px/f, during which he can freely jump, slide, or walk. Pressing back for 1 or 2 frames while sliding also triggers this end-of-slide animation.
- BodyBurn has a 12-frame charging period at 1px per frame, and then 40 frames of invincible dashing at 2px per frame. It cannot be cancelled in any way.
- There's a glitch where it is possible to jump after a BodyBurn in mid-air, if the BodyBurn has made contact with the ground at any point while active. This is used in a few places for its gain in horizontal movement, such as to get the WideSword in stage 4 without requiring a death, and to skip part of a disappearing block section in stage 6.
- Charging the buster takes 116 frames, and does triple damage.
- With AquaCustom style, charging takes 90 frames. Other style changes have other rates, but those are not relevant for this run.
- It is possible to charge the buster while using battle chips, but only with single-use chips, not toggle chips. So one can fire ShockWaves or Cannons while charging the buster, but selecting a Sword will cancel the charge. This is used for a few boss fights, where charged shots are used but other weapons can be used to hit bosses while charging up.
- Buster slide cancel: Normally it takes 10 frames to fire successive buster shots. However, this can be done faster by firing a shot, sliding, cancelling the slide, and then it is possible to fire a shot immediately again (taking 4 frames in total). This is the fastest way to deal continuous damage to something without mercy invincibility. However, since most enemies follow mercy invincibility anyway, this is only useful in one instance - breaking the Life Virus' shield.
- Weapon damage notes for the weapons used: uncharged shots do 10 damage, charged shots do 30 damage, ShockWave and Cannon do 20 damage, SonicWave does 30 damage, M-Cannon does 40 damage, and WideSword and BodyBurn do 30 damage. Elemental weaknesses do double damage, which is used against PharaohMan.EXE (weak against fire) and FireManV2.EXE (weak against aqua).
Stage 1 - FireMan.EXE
- Of note is that MegaMan.EXE gets a small default folder of chips at the start of the game. These include one Cannon, one ShockWave, one LilBomb, and one Damage-20. The former two see use in the ColorMan.EXE fight, the other two remain unused throughout the game.
- I get ShockWave battle chips from all the Mettaur enemies (four in total). These are relatively easy to luck-manipulate for. They're all used in the ColorMan.EXE battle at the end of stage 2.
- I also get two M-Cannon chips from the Canodumb enemies here. These are much rarer drops, but due to their positioning I get plenty of time to manipulate the drop out of them.
- I don't use any chips for the FireMan.EXE battle, because it takes time to set them mid-stage and the chips are just as well used in the next boss battle. So I beat him with just charged and uncharged buster shots.
- FireMan.EXE has 300 HP.
Stage 2 - ColorMan.EXE
- I get an Atk+40 chip in this stage. It is pretty much in the way, and it's used in the PharaohMan.EXE battle.
- I get two Cannon chips from the two Octons in this stage. One of them is used in the ColorMan.EXE fight, the other hangs around for a few stages but is unused for the entire game. I could've gone without it, but opted to leave it in so as to not affect further drops or sync. It doesn't lose any time anywhere, anyhow.
- Most of the chips collected up to this point are used in the ColorMan.EXE fight. By barraging him with battle chips, I can consistently damage him while charging the mega buster, so that no uncharged shot needs to be fired.
- ColorMan.EXE has 340 HP.
Stage 3 - PharaohMan.EXE
- Normally, a real-time run would collect the Sword at the start of this stage for later boss battle usage. However, I skip this, because with the Bodyburn jump trick I can collect the WideSword in the next stage, which has better damage (30 as opposed to 25) and vertical range. The Sword wouldn't have seen any usage in this stage, anyway.
- I do follow the real-time runs in collecting the Bodyburn chip, which is incredibly useful for just about every part after this point. Faster movement and passing through enemies make it crucial for going fast.
- I do delay equipping the Bodyburn for a brief while so that I can charge a shot and fire it at the DeathFire, and destroy it to get an Atk+40 chip, and equip that chip as well. This is used in the PharaohMan.EXE boss fight.
- I also get an Atk+20 chip from a NinJoy enemy, for the final stage.
- PharaohMan.EXE has a quirky pattern. He starts by raising a coffin from the ground, and only when it's destroyed, he becomes vulnerable. Then when hit, he teleports to the other side and drops a block from the sky. Hitting him then will have him teleport back to the right and repeat the pattern. The coffin is one-hitted by BodyBurning into it, which also positions MegaMan.EXE nicely to attack him from the right side, so the Bodyburn moves him back center to hit PharaohMan.EXE again once he's teleported. I use two Atk+40s in this boss battle to save a few hits from this time-costly attack pattern.
- PharaohMan.EXE has 260 HP.
Stage 4 - BombMan.EXE
- I get the WideSword in this stage. Normally, because of how the stage is laid out, getting it requires either AirShoes or dying afterward. However, with the Burnbody jump glitch, I can get it without dying. The WideSword does 30 damage per hit as opposed to the Sword's 25, so it saves a few hits in most upcoming boss battles.
- I get some more M-Cannons and an Atk+20 throughout this stage.
- BombMan.EXE is defeated mostly with WideSword. One M-Cannon is used to save a hit.
- BombMan.EXE has 340 HP.
Stage 5 - FireManV2.EXE
- I equip the SonicWave here, because I'll be using it in the boss fight.
- I get an extra SonicWave and M-Cannon throughout the stage for the bossfight.
- FireManV2.EXE is defeated by a combination of charged Aqua shots, which do double damage to him, and a few M-Cannons and SonicWaves. This uses up just about all the chips I've collected in the previous stages, other than the Atk+20s and one stray Cannon that didn't find any use anywhere.
- FireManV2.EXE has 420 HP.
Stage 6 - ProtoMan.EXE & Life Virus
- This stage is filled with enemies that can drop Atk+40s. I get four in total in this stage.
- During one part, I defeat two Fishy2 viruses and a Buffy, but can get only two Atk+40 chips. This is because it's impossible to have three chip drops on screen at the same time.
- Now with two Atk+20 chips and four Atk+40 chips, I use all of them against the Life Virus, and none against Proto Man. The reason for this is that Life Virus needs them all, as will be described later.
- ProtoMan.EXE has an annoying, reactive attack pattern. He also likes to backdash after certain moves, during which he is invincible. I can't really avoid him backdashing in his attack pattern (not without losing further time to not being able to hit him) so there is a slight delay between two hits of 8 frames, but that's the best I could really manage. It could have been avoided with a lot of Atk+, but those would save more time against Life Virus.
- ProtoMan.EXE has 220 HP.
- Life Virus' shield has 120 HP. It is destroyed by an aerial sword slash started before the shield is up, a series of slide-cancelled buster shots, followed by another sword slash for the final hit.
- After the shield is destroyed, it takes a few seconds before Life Virus becomes vulnerable to damage. Its attack pattern then is to fire a laser blast, preceded by a small light sphere. With proper spacing and timing, it is possible to sidestep the sphere, jump over the laser, and continue to hit Life Virus without any delay.
- Life Virus eventually starts reforming its shield, but this is avoided by the Atk+ chips mentioned earlier. With a combined bonus of Atk+200 over two hits (a single hit is capped at +160), the second part of Life Virus' lifebar goes down very fast, ending the fight right before it gets the chance to regenerate its shield.
- Life Virus has 500 HP.
There are a few theoretical ways of improvement regarding luck manipulation. The RNG is not very manipulatable in this game, so sometimes a few delays were required. Theoretically it'd be possible to improve on that, but this is the best I have been able to manage so far.
- Potential strategies to get an Invis drop from one of the Spooky enemies in stage 1, so that the temporary invincibility would save time in some otherwise damage-heavy areas. However, the odds of a Spooky dropping one is 0.5%, and I wasn't able to get one at all within a reasonable timeframe. Supposing I would be able to get one without heavy time loss, it could save potentially ~100 frames in an area such as the one with several Spikeys in stage 2.
- Potentially better luck manipulation in other parts, like getting another M-Cannon drop in stage 4 without time loss, or getting DynaWaves instead of SonicWaves from the Mettaur2s (this would require multiple 1% drops). Probably not quite feasible, but just noting it anyway.
- Tterraj42, for sharing ideas and comments in the forum topic, and for his real-time record runs of this game
- lilxXfatkidXx, for hosting my stream when I TASed this game and helping out, and also for his real-time record runs of this game
- Invariel, Masterjun, Samsara, Tremane, and everyone else who regularly watched and chatted in the small handful of TASing streams I did (if I forgot your name, let me know and I'll add it to the list)
- adelikat and others on IRC to whom I got to ramble about this game and the process of TASing it
Thanks for watching!
Samsara: Still glad the WonderSwan exists. Judging.
Samsara: Thoroughly enjoyed those TASing streams and it made me appreciate the final product that much more. Accepting to Moons.