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Beware! Your being chased by a Dinosaur!
Bongo is an obscure 1983 arcade game that's rather popular and meme-y in some circles. I recently have absolutely fallen in love with it, and become, according to the Bongo community, their "lead Bongo-ologist". I've developed multiple tricks and strategies for the game, both speedrunning and for gathering score, and found the definitive killscreen. Allow me to explain all of them!
This run is a high-score TAS, to try and find the definitive highest score you can possibly obtain in Bongo. Emphasis was on entertainment and score, though trying to go as fast as I can at the same time, I didn't focus as hard on it. Score in Bongo is raised by three means: Moving to the right, grabbing bonus items left on the ground, and obtaining 6 bonus items without dying. This bonus skips the current level you're in. There are 27 screens where you need to run and jump away from a dinosaur. The final screen has a cage, which you need to touch in order to drop on the dinosaur when it's directly below it. Afterwards, the game loops. In loop 2 and beyond, you move slightly faster (you move a tick every 6 frames in loop 1, and every 4 frames every other loop). The dinosaur consistently moves faster, until he cannot be stopped. After all, your being chased. Also for some reason on "down screens" you still move every 6 frames and not 4? It's weird.
So, the strategy was to simply get all the bonus items we could, survive, and get to the kill screen. The kill screen is Loop 7 Screen 7, or 7-7. You can't just pick up all the items you can, because sometimes screens have multiple items. In this case, I prioritized the higher scoring bonuses. This means I had a definitive route that stayed the same until Loop 6, where the dinosaur that is chasing you is moving so fast that you can't get some items, or you need to skip specific screens that are impossible without using the bonus screen skip.

Tricks implemented in the TAS

  • Jumping movement: You move faster as you jump. We didn't know this originally, so we thought the first down screen on loop 6 (6-7) was the kill screen for a while, until I found out the correct speed pathing to get through it as fast as you can via jumping. On jumps where you need to fall down from your current height, you need to go nearly the full distance to take advantage of the speed increase, because you fall slower then.
  • Offscreen jumps and moving past bonus items: Basically, you get score as you move to the right. Sometimes, jumping over an item and nearly leaving the screen, then going back to get it, can net you a lot of points. And on some screens, you can jump off the screen to the right and get more points than you would just trying to reach the exit. I take advantage of these as I can, but in later loops this gets difficult because you can't escape the dinosaur fast enough.
  • Dino jumps: The entire reason loop 6 is beatable, I theorized this strategy from a fever dream after spending 3 hours trying to TAS beating the end of loop 6 without it. I'm not kidding. It's simple, you simply... jump over the dinosaur. It's a tight jump, but absolutely humanly doable. This allows you a bit more time to do things in later loops. You need to be on a platform above the dinosaur for this to happen, I've tried everything to find a way to do it on even ground, but no dice. If someone finds out you CAN, PLEASE LET ME KNOW, I want loop 7 to be beatable SO BAD!
  • Intentional deaths: I take intentional deaths at the end of loop 6, jumping off the far right side to gain as much right-moving score as I can. This is the best place to grind score, because it's the farthest right-side score you can get, and you don't need to worry about score-bonuses on the final screen, because they reset as soon as the loop ends.
There are several small speed tricks that I implement as well, each with their own names and history of the people who discovered them, like the "Chuboh Jump", but this is a score TAS and not a speed TAS, so I'll just focus on what can increase the score.
With all this work, I've determined that the highest score possible is 1,252,050. Something fun to note is that the score rolls over do you don't see the 1 million, but it DOES still save the info, because I tried getting a 260,00 score and it didn't claim it was a high score. This TAS was lots of work, but I'm proud to dedicate so much time and energy to Bongo Science! If you want to see my Youtube video showcasing the TAS, I'll show it here:

feos: Judging...
feos: It was an exciting ride, and this movie made us revise out rules on Maximum points, so now this goal is acceptable for Vault. But as explained in this post, optimality of this run is not up to our standard, and I personally feel it's more of a "human theory TAS" than actual superhuman speedrun. As said in the rule, "Don't be lazy. We will try and beat your movie. We should hopefully not succeed. See the Guidelines on how to make a movie that meets the site's standards." In some cases we can allow insignificant improvements that would be hard to implement, but with this run, it was as trivial as jumping an different frames, so not only is this run easily improvable, but also quite significantly so, since those jumps are the primary gameplay here. Rejecting, and better luck next time!

TASVideoAgent
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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #6443: Lizstar's Arcade Bongo "maximum score" in 23:43.39
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The actual final max score you have is 1,252,050 - you forgot to add in the ones you got from the movement on the final screen. :) Also, it looks like you could get past 7-7 by deliberately skipping the bonus item on the previous screen and triggering the screen-warp bonus with the cross on 7-7. Did you try that strat?
c-square wrote:
Yes, standard runs are needed and very appreciated here too
Dylon Stejakoski wrote:
Me and the boys starting over our games of choice for the infinityieth time in a row because of just-found optimizations
^ Why I don't have any submissions despite being on the forums for years now...
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Oh, thanks for catching that! Yeah I think I goofed and recorded my score from my final save state, not from final death. Fixed it now! As for getting past 7-7, here's my findings on that, cause I spent hours trying: 7-6 is impossible to get past just by moving. You can't even get to the second to last platform to try and jump over him in time, the dinosaur will reach you. This is because if you're falling down from a higher platform, you fall slower than normal jumps. The only way to get past 7-6 is by using the bonus, thus making 7-7 impossible. If we can find a way past 7-6, that'll fix it, but like I said, I spent hours. I literally make a spreadsheet on what I called "death wobble". Basically, depending on the frame you die on, the Dinosaur can respawn slower, giving you an extra 6 frames or so to try and make it to the higher platform so you can jump over him. It still wasn't enough, and either way, you'd need to die so you can't actually beat 7-7 anyway. Good question though!
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Lizstar wrote:
Basically, depending on the frame you die on, the Dinosaur can respawn slower, giving you an extra 6 frames or so to try and make it to the higher platform so you can jump over him.
Hmmm... it sounds like the dinosaur spawning follows some kind of frame rule. Maybe if you can figure out what it is, you can figure out if there's any possibility of a spawn that is delayed long enough that will allow you to skip the bonus item on 7-6.
c-square wrote:
Yes, standard runs are needed and very appreciated here too
Dylon Stejakoski wrote:
Me and the boys starting over our games of choice for the infinityieth time in a row because of just-found optimizations
^ Why I don't have any submissions despite being on the forums for years now...
Lizstar
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See, that was actually my original idea! Oh, I take notes in this spreadsheet, find how the frame rule works, and can take advantage of it. Unfortunately, it seems to make no actual logical or mathematical sense. It's not like Mario, where oh it's every certain number of frames. It genuinely seems to make no sense. I recorded the numbers for a dozen or so frame counts, and found no correlation whatsoever. It genuinely seems random. I'm terrible at math though, so if you see a correlation in these numbers, please PLEASE do let me know. The reason I recorded mostly on even frames is because, if you die via falling, you die on an even frame. If you die via dinosaur, you die on odd frames. It's really strange.
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NES TAS of 2011
Guys please post feedback and vote for this movie. Is it entertaining to watch several loops of this game with slightly increasing pace, with this kind of music and visuals, for 20 minutes?
Warning: When making decisions, I try to collect as much data as possible before actually deciding. I try to abstract away and see the principles behind real world events and people's opinions. I try to generalize them and turn into something clear and reusable. I hate depending on unpredictable and having to make lottery guesses. Any problem can be solved by systems thinking and acting. If TASing is meta-play, TASVideos Movie Rules are meta-meta-play!
Lobsterzelda
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feos wrote:
Guys please post feedback and vote for this movie. Is it entertaining to watch several loops of this game with slightly increasing pace, with this kind of music and visuals, for 20 minutes?
It's not a very entertaining game to watch, though that's a result of the game's developers rather than any issues with this TAS itself. Would this game be acceptable to the vault? It doesn't seem to have a definitive ending like most vault-able TASes, or an absolute maximum high score. Instead, the TAS gets the highest score it can get before game overing, without reaching the maximum score that the game can store. If this is an acceptable choice for the vault, then I would assume that there needs to be a definitive way to prove that it's impossible to get past the stage that the author dies in in his movie. This would be more difficult to establish than a game like Pacman, which has a definitive kill screen that makes it impossible to progress to the next level. To me, it seems kind of arbitrary to consider this to be a complete TAS, since it's possible that somebody could discover a new glitch that lets them continue for 20 more loops, which would completely obsolete this despite being much longer/slower. In other words, time is less important for a high score branch like this than score, which in my opinion should prevent this from being accepted.
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NES TAS of 2011
Yeah I don't expect this goal to count as full completion, because for that one has to be sure that it's actually full and can't be fuller.
Lobsterzelda wrote:
It's not a very entertaining game to watch, though that's a result of the game's developers rather than any issues with this TAS itself.
It's how it works: we assess entertainment value of game+movie. Sometimes a game can't be made more entertaining, and then the movie can't reach Moons.
Warning: When making decisions, I try to collect as much data as possible before actually deciding. I try to abstract away and see the principles behind real world events and people's opinions. I try to generalize them and turn into something clear and reusable. I hate depending on unpredictable and having to make lottery guesses. Any problem can be solved by systems thinking and acting. If TASing is meta-play, TASVideos Movie Rules are meta-meta-play!
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NES TAS of 2011
Lizstar , do you know if this game has increasing difficulty aside from the dino moving faster? Also is it known whether his speed increase is limited anyhow? Maybe if you just cheat the loop count to get past this movie's ending point, the dino will start moving backwards at some point and then reset its speed to normal? If that's the case, we don't have to play until unavoidable death, even tho that'd be a valid ending point. If difficulty isn't coded to ever cap out, we only need to represent all unique content that the game has to offer. Now, is there any content in later loops that's not present in earlier ones?
Warning: When making decisions, I try to collect as much data as possible before actually deciding. I try to abstract away and see the principles behind real world events and people's opinions. I try to generalize them and turn into something clear and reusable. I hate depending on unpredictable and having to make lottery guesses. Any problem can be solved by systems thinking and acting. If TASing is meta-play, TASVideos Movie Rules are meta-meta-play!
Memory
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Honestly, I found this TAS surprisingly enjoyable. Sure the game is fairly simplistic but I found the jumps off screen to be really clever and enjoyed some of the routing, including the jumps past the dino which given how the game glitches out afterwards, is clearly something the developers didn't expect. It was kinda comical how fast it got towards the end as well. The jank probably added to the charm for me but to me this is the kind of superhuman play and out of the box thinking I like to see on TASVideos. To be honest, I'm not sure that I like that high score isn't a valid option for Vault. It seems to me that Vault is heavily biased in favor of speedruns and against other competitive forms of superplay. TAS doesn't stand for Tool Assisted Speedruns, it stands for Tool Assisted Superplay, yet our Vault policies don't really reflect this. Sure for some games it'd be trivial but same is also true for speedruns.
[16:36:31] <Mothrayas> I have to say this argument about robot drug usage is a lot more fun than whatever else we have been doing in the past two+ hours
[16:08:10] <BenLubar> a TAS is just the limit of a segmented speedrun as the segment length approaches zero
ViGadeomes
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high score is only valid if we prove that it's the highest score reachable on the game accepted as a full completion/100%. If we only get high score it will be what ? 50% ? 75% of the game like for example the SM64 70 TAS that have been accepted to the moons because it was enough entertainning, but it's not a full completion, it's a 56,33%. The only way for it to be accepted is to be enough entertainning but for me the game can't be entertainning at this point. I like that every game has a TAS but it will be hard to prove that this is the higest score reachable. Meh vote for me...
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What an absolutely bizarre game choice. What an absolutely bizarre game to have a dedicated community around it. Boggles my mind! The TAS itself is surprisingly watchable (disclaimer: as I keep running out of free time, I've ended up watching almost all videos—not only TASes—at the highest speed that still allows me to understand what's going on, in this case 1.75x), although you only really need to watch loops 1, 6, and 7 to get the full experience in my opinion. It felt rather basic at first but the constantly increasing speed of the dinosaur adds some intrigue: will the character be able to outrun it on the next screen? Will they have to change their route this time? Not that it made it very interesting, but at least I did watch it to the end. Now to comment on the goals: this is an arcade game, and the vast majority of arcade games are made with scoring in mind (because having a scoreboard on the cab is one of the principal ways to get you to challenge them upon beating the game, so you keep spending coins), so going for score is definitely not a misguided choice in this case—and neither is looping the game until the kill screen. Moreover, what made me watch this TAS in the first place was the fact that it was presented as a bona fide research project rather than something picked up to get another publication on the site. It shows genuine care and intellectual insight into the subject matter—and, game choices aside, that is exactly the approach I think we cherish the most here, in principle. A person who is actively seeking the game's limits out of love for it is the person most likely to end up with a superior result. This raises an interesting question: whether we can accommodate high score completions into the Vault for the games that warrant them (read: mostly arcade games and their ports) the same way as regular any% runs if they don't meet requirements for a higher tier. It feels like it would open up some doors for fresh and high quality content brought as the result of such a research. Rejecting a run like this—and this one in particular—on a technicality would feel quite counterproductive to me because it's evident there is at least some audience for runs like this (I mean, even this game actually has its own community...), and considering the diligence involved, we would be very glad to have this run without having to ask extra questions if only the policy did account for the goals in question. So I'm with Memory on this matter.
Warp wrote:
Edit: I think I understand now: It's my avatar, isn't it? It makes me look angry.
CoolHandMike
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I found the first couple minutes dead boring, but once the pace started to pick up about half way through I started to like it. What a horrific game where the poor man is ultimately forced to be run from an ever-evolving inescapable predator that the player can never outrun, ultimately ending up being caught and eaten. On a another note it kind of looks like you could jump over its head on 7-7 at the start. it looks like the bugger does not quite adhere to physics very well as he is floating in the middle of the platform. I also suspect that because the dino moves so fast he very well could glitch through you due to his high rate of speed if you position just right. Also on 7-6 with the two platforms right above each other, instead of jumping off to the right, couldn't you jump down and around the dino? Meh because the first half was really boring.
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Regardless of whether this submission is published, it's good to see a lesser-known game generate constructive discourse. Thanks for making it, Lizstar!
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TO the best of our understanding there is a finite amount of ponts available in the game, and a specific level is the kill screen. this makes maximum score a valid goal. If someone finds a way past this screen (or past the previos one without bonus skip) but discovers that a later screen is deadly, then a tas that goes to that screen should obsolete this. a tas that scores more than this one and reaches the same screen should also obsolete it. Any% (reaching killscreen as fast as possible) is not likely to be any more entertaining at all, and the extra scoring tricks add to the entertainment. Additionally, even reaching the current kill screen is not trivial. I think this is definitely a valid TAS. If it is discovered that there is no kill screen, than a tas should go until there is no new content and no new difficulty increase, and obsolete this. But i see no danger of that happening. No one has been able to beat 7-6 without bonus, and no one has been able to beat 7-7 without it either because it's not possible to get bonus on two levels in a row. it seems absolute. but feel free to work on this. :) it LOOKS like you should be able to back jump on the starting platform of 7-7 and let the dino pass under, because it seems to start sunk into the floor, but i'm guessing this doesn't actually work.
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Such a lively conversation over ole Bongo. I stayed up extra to watch and boy what a ride. I ain't been on tasvideos forums in ages but I had to remember my password to post this! - I liked the "kissing the wall" technique - The dinosaur becoming the chased and then warping space time was also great. And yes, there's a growing "Bongo community" among classic arcade aficionados on the Twitch retro category. I heard about this tas from a Bongo stream chat, no less!
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My honest (and not really important) opinion is that Vault should stay really objective with clear accepted goals. You could add possible goals, but yeah, if it's not clear, every single possible TAS would be accepted, for every possible category we can imagine. That being said, nice TAS. Not the most entertaining to me, but seems fun :)
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NES TAS of 2011
Posts about High score in Vault were moved to the TAS and scoring thread.
Warning: When making decisions, I try to collect as much data as possible before actually deciding. I try to abstract away and see the principles behind real world events and people's opinions. I try to generalize them and turn into something clear and reusable. I hate depending on unpredictable and having to make lottery guesses. Any problem can be solved by systems thinking and acting. If TASing is meta-play, TASVideos Movie Rules are meta-meta-play!
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I was going to vote no. But then I saw those rad dance moves between levels. Bro has some serious game!
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NES TAS of 2011
I made a test movie that's 36 frames faster on the first 36 seconds of the game. Simply by jumping with different timings. It took me more rerecords than in this entire submission. So I should say this submission is quite sub-optimal. http://tasvideos.org/userfiles/info/57972995472661546 I used this script to disaplay inputs: https://github.com/TASVideos/mame-rr/blob/0.139/mame-rr/input-hud.lua Interestingly, it's rotated, because that's how mame displays vertical screens.
Warning: When making decisions, I try to collect as much data as possible before actually deciding. I try to abstract away and see the principles behind real world events and people's opinions. I try to generalize them and turn into something clear and reusable. I hate depending on unpredictable and having to make lottery guesses. Any problem can be solved by systems thinking and acting. If TASing is meta-play, TASVideos Movie Rules are meta-meta-play!
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om, nom, nom... *burp*!
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Based on the experience of feos and reading LizStar's spreadsheet, I have conjectured that something happens regularly every 5 or 6 frames that can affect the timing of other events in the game. The only culprits that make sense are the music and score display - perhaps there's something similar going on to the effect music and score value have on lag in Super Mario Bros. 3 that was discovered during the warps run last year?
c-square wrote:
Yes, standard runs are needed and very appreciated here too
Dylon Stejakoski wrote:
Me and the boys starting over our games of choice for the infinityieth time in a row because of just-found optimizations
^ Why I don't have any submissions despite being on the forums for years now...
Lobsterzelda
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I wonder if somebody will ever make an optimized TAS of this game that can be published? As an aside, is better timing of jumps able to allow you to get any further in the game, or is the max score in this submission still the best that anyone can do?