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Ninja Spirit is a 1988 platform arcade game by Irem.
There are two modes for Ninja Spirit. There is the PCE mode which is the standard console mode which features several points of health and some slight enemy variations. The other mode is the arcade mode which has less health and slightly different enemies. This run uses the PCE mode for a couple reasons. The PCE mode is the main mode that is used by RTA runners including myself. One of the main motivations was for this submission to be for the community of this game. By pushing the limits of the existing PCE mode should in turn promote faster times in the RTA community through better routing and more of the game.
The main challenges of the run were to find a good route, to reduce lag by keeping a minimum enemies and weapons on screen, and to make use of the ninja's health. The ninja's fastest method of movement is to run in the direction of the end of the stage. Jumping loses 4 frames every time.
The Ninja has four different weapons with different ranges, damage, lag effects. The ninja is able to freely switch between weapons every other frame. The ninja can also generate up to two shadow clones. There are four types of pickups in this game. A red pickup allows your weapon to have an extra effect. A blue pickup gives you an additional clone. The pink pick up is a bomb which continually deals damage to enemies on screen. The firewheel pick up is possibly the best one since it prevents enemies from damaging you mostly and instead kills them which reduces lag and prevents the need of you to jump since jumping has four frames that are lost each time.
Jumping and attacking is ideal to kill and avoid enemies since attacking on the ground has a much longer wait time. However pressing down while using the bomb is effective at several points. Pressing down while using the bomb will place a bomb on the ground or the ceiling. The ninja is able to walk on ground or ceiling. Walking on the ceiling is necessary at some points.

Weapons

Sword

The sword is a good weapon for lag reduction, but its range is abysmal. It can also be used to parry weapons. There is a rapid fire technique with the sword, but its damag pales in comparison to the bomb. This weapon is used several times to parry weapons and destroy enemies on screen for lag reduction. The powered up version of this weapon is awesome at creating lag and was not used. The unpowered version is much superior.

Bombs!

Okay so the bomb is by far the best weapon in the game. It is a high velocity throwing weapon that detonates upon impact. And upon impact its explosions stay at the spot where it impacted. Unlike the other weapons the bomb will hit for multiple frames from 3 to 4 damage (and sometimes other strange value. The bomb range of its detonation is about equivalent to a sword swing. The bomb however needs to be used sparingly last it's many explosions cause more lag. A single bomb can do double-digit damage. Powered up bombs allows faster bomb usage. Which is used in the run. Pressing down while using the bomb is effective at several points. Also pressing down while using the bomb will place a bomb on the ground or the ceiling. The placed bomb will detonate after a short time or if an enemy is in range. This is used quite extensively after jumping to place a bomb from the Clone. The Clone will not incur the time penalty of staying still while placing a bomb. Note that the Clone must be on the ground to place it.

Kusarigama

The kusarigama is an extremely high lag weapon to the point where even in normal use it makes the screen lag often. It is also extremely weak with doing single-digit damage over it's very long and man animation. In a single use of the kusarigama, it is usually possible to completely kill a boss.The powered up version of the kusarigama has an interesting Arc movement that it can move when you change direction after deploying it.

Ninja Stars

The throwing stars I found to be surprisingly laggy despite their simple seeming nature. They easily cause lag and also have a delay upon use. They are also quite weak with low single-digit damage . The powered up version allows 3 to be used at once.
The Ninja can get hiccups that caused him to generate a clone that Shadows the characters movements. These clones also perform the same actions in can attack enemies, but they themselves do not take damage. The Ninja can have up to two clones. One challenge was identifying a good number of clones to have. No clones would have the least amount of lag on all sections but would have a detrimental effect on crowd control and damage on bosses. Having too many clones would make the game lag much more. A single clone seems to have the best lag vs damage ratio.
The game limits weapon use especially using bombs and other projectiles like throwing stars. Often when there are too many sprites being used you are unable to use more weapons. Using more then four or five bombs usually results in a wait time until those bombs have finished exploding or have gone off screen. The game will use the attacking/throwing animation, but nothing comes out oddly enough.
I confess that I am not completely understanding of how the game calculates weapon damage. This is apparent on bosses where in Ram Watch the boss's health will sometimes take unexpected amounts of damage. In your favor or otherwise. I suspect this may have something to do with lag.
Amusingly one of the challenges was to avoid power ups. The bright orange ninjas are enemies that when destroyed will drop semi random power ups. Bomb pickups(not the throwing bombs) seem to be placed only at certain spots. The firewheel pick up is also a rare pickup and seems placed as well.
Randomness in this game comes in two forms. The amount of frames that you jump sometimes effects the enemies direction and load position. It is necessary on some points to have the orange ninjas load in a different direction in order to prevent acquiring power ups. When you have the firewheel what occurs is they will essentially suicide into you giving you the unwanted power up.

Level 1

This level is straightforward. Here it is important to decide what power ups you want to have, and how many clones you need to have since it is possible to get both extra clones and power up a couple of weapons.
Boss One interesting aspect of this boss is that it is possible to bring a bomb to the boss which kills it completely. Unfortunately the bomb pickup deals slightly less damage over time than your throwing bombs so it is slower. The weak point of this boss is its head. Here, you can see the extreme damage of the bomb weapon.

Level 2

Level two features these flying wolf enemies that cause lag often. They seem to cause lag more when they hit the ground and the game calculates where it should go next. At several points manipulating the direction the orange Ninja take is important to avoid both lag and Pickups. The firewheel pick up is basically the best one you can get on this level. It helps you not having to jump since the firewheel will kill enemies that are close. You can also see here that the collision detection of the firewheel is unnecessarily exaggerated to the left to your benefit.
Boss Finding the exact timing for accurate bomb use is not completely intuitive.

Level 3

Level three in the first section has a fire wheel pickup, but it came to be unnecessary since if you do not jump after the ninjas are spawned and while they are jump slashing you they will miss. The trick is to avoid unnecessary power ups in the first section while also avoiding the Phantoms that appear. Keeping the amount of enemies on screen to a limit where it does not lag was also important. The second half of this level has a water area where you want to minimize the time you are in it since it slows you down.
Boss
By having a clone offset from your character you are able to do more damage than if it overlaps your character.

Level 4

This first Mansion part is very lag heavy and aggressive clearing of enemies especially of the kusarigama enemies is necessary. Walking upon the ceiling in this section is not ideal since it would require falling later on to hit the checkpoint to progress. This second part requires walking on the ceiling since it is not possible to make the jumps by jumping. By laying bombs it is possible to kill oncoming enemies within the ceiling when they get near the bombs. The third section has some lag with the appearing ninjas, but requires a little finesse to avoid damage and lag. The sword can be used to parry these bombs to clear them out.
Boss
Easily the tankiest boss with a massive amount of health. Finding a good route for this boss took some time. At this point I was wondering if it was necessary to have the third clone come in, but with good placement it was deemed unnecessary. The idea is to destroy the cores on each side of the cubes. Each Cube has about as much health as the final boss.

Level 5

Ascending this cliff requires good routing to minimize walking, air time, and also avoiding random explosions on the platforms near the top. EZGames69 found and used an odd jump on the very last platform near the boss.
Boss
This kite boss is actually just the very center Ninja. So it also has a boss level amount of health but bombs again destroy it.

Level 6

The laggiest level of the game. Having two clones only reduces the lag noticeably on certain parts. Being very aggressive in clearing the enemies helps lag but you cannot attack too aggressively or you will produce more lag.
Boss The boss features Phantoms which will disappear after a set period.

Level 7

The first section here was done by walking on the ceiling. The ground is very jagged and results in the Ninja having short Falls in the terrain. There are also traps randomly generated around this first section. The section following this is the Infamous Pit of Death. Touching any of the Ninjas here results in death and it is impossible to reduce the number of ninjas since they spawn another upon death usually in the same place. Normally there is a single safe route on the far left, but EZGames69 takes a more entertaining route directly through them.
Boss
Bombs used on this boss takes it down pretty easily and quickly. I had used the Basic Bot on this boss to reduce the time a bit as a proof of concept originally.
Interestingly this boss is generated with more health the first time you get to it. Once you die and retry the boss, he has less health.

Further Optimizations

It might be possible to further manipulate the enemies to attack you from behind so that you can have more time until it hits you. This might result in less hits which would mean less jumps and perhaps less attacking.
There are frames improvements to be found on bosses besides the last one. I found this recently while experimenting with the basic bot. However, when you decrease the time of the level it requires remaking of all the levels after. Perhaps at a later date this run could be further optimized. The basic bot at this point is slightly bugged so using it is a little frustrating. The Basic Bot was finding unusual patterns on a couple of bosses I tested.
Another possible optimization might be to use the invincibility while getting hit to go through other sections. This is hypothetical since at this point I know of none.

ThunderAxe31: Judging.
ThunderAxe31: Un-claiming.
feos: Using my video I closely compared this movie with the published TAS, and it's interesting.
There's a lot more action in the current publication, and a lot more lag. It doesn't seem that all this action was necessary to reduce lag and to hack'n'slash through the game more optimally. It looks more like a style decision, which, I should admit, fits the game better than this submission.
But on the other hand, I can't say that all the visual superiority of the old run was inherently caused by harder game mode. In fact, in-game action that the game throws at you seems to be mostly the same, and the main difference is HP of the bosses, not how hard you have to fight. Sure it's harder to fight when you have no health to trade-off for time. But visual superiority of the old run is not inherent as I said, but is rather a playing style, or a trade-off for entertainment. And from its rating we see that it didn't help much.
We do have a guideline about difficulty choice, and it asks us to pick one that makes the movie more interesting, even if it's in Vault. But with this run, what makes the run made on harder difficulty more interesting is exactly what causes all the lag and slows the payer down.
It was mentioned that we won't be able to compare optimality across modes, but I noticed that even in identical situations this movie causes less lag by performing less actions, which I mentioned several times already, and it just has so many aspects. At the first glance you'd think this run is only faster due to difficulty change, and we won't be able to compare it with the old one, but this is not true. Each level, up to the boss, is completed in less time, within more or less the same in-game conditions. So I consider it a valid improvement.
And as I said here, I don't think we can or should just ban the harder mode for future. They both have value. Though based on my observation, a movie done on harder mode will have to be even faster in comparable segments than this run.
Dacicus: Processing...

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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #6450: CoolHandMike, EZGames69's PCE Ninja Spirit in 08:51.14
nymx
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This clone power up is really neat. You should just let him do all the fighting. :) Looks amazingly optimized and has a really good show of techniques and movement. Also, I like seeing the ability to quickly demolish bosses in any game. This does that well also. Yes vote.
SOYZA: Are you playing a game? NYMX: I'm not playing a game, I'm TASing. SOYZA: Oh...so its not a game...Its for real? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Anybody got a Quantum computer I can borrow for 20 minutes? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ BOTing will be the end of all games. --NYMX
Post subject: Needs more opinions
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Please, vote to this submission and write about why you found it entertaining or boring.
my personal page - my YouTube channel - my GitHub - my Discord: ThunderAxe31#1512 <Masterjun> if you look at the "NES" in a weird angle, it actually clearly says "GBA"
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NES TAS of 2011
This kind of "run right for justice" games gets old after a few minutes, so it was really hard to keep watching the same thing after 1/2 of the movie. And after having watched that, there's nothing new in the second half either, aside from falling for a while and then an epileptic blinking screen. Voting No.
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!
Post subject: Please discuss: PCE Mode vs Arcade Mode
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From what I can see, the PCE Mode and Arcade Mode are actually difficulty settings, rather than game modes, so only one should be allowed for publication. And we already have a published movie that uses Arcade Mode. Now, while using the hardest difficulty is often preferred, it's not a strict rule but rather a guideline, for which we decide preference on a case-by-case basis. See more below:
Difficulty Guideline wrote:
When a game has multiple difficulty levels, it is preferred to play on the difficulty that would make the most interesting and entertaining run. Usually, this is the hardest difficulty, and as such it is the most preferred choice for a TAS. However, there are cases where harder difficulties do nothing but add repetition to runs, such as only giving enemies and bosses more HP, where the extra work required to kill them is uninteresting. In these cases, it is preferred to use an easier difficulty in the interest of reducing repetitive actions which do little to entertain upon frequent use. Good reasons to use the hardest difficulty are:
  • More stages, such as Contra III
  • More interesting boss fights, such as new attack patterns, and new variety of methods used to whittle down their HP
  • More overall action without repetition, such as more enemies in a game that are interesting to kill
  • Miniscule time differences between difficulties
  • If you're unsure, always go with hardest
Good reasons to use easier difficulties are:
  • More health for damage boosts
  • Less boring enemies leading to less lag
  • Faster bossfights on repetitive bosses, especially if their lower health can lead them to be one-cycled, and they are not interesting to fight for longer periods
Note that every game is judged on a case-by-case basis, so these reasons do not always apply. For example, if a bossfight only requires an extra hit or two because of higher health, that may not be repetitive enough to warrant using a lower difficulty.
From my personal point of view, the fact that in PCE Mode the player gets hit multiple times and the bosses have much less health gives an obvious feeling of "easiness" which in my opinion brings only demerits for the entertaining value. On the other hand, I think that having less health for the player and more health for the bosses results in a more challenging and interesting routing for a TAS, similarly for Shinobi Legions (less player health) and Metal Slug games (more bosses health). I think that the fact that the easier mode is preferred in the RTA community doesn't change these facts. Is there anything that I'm missing? Does PCE Mode feature any particular merit for entertaining or technical value that Arcade Mode doesn't?
my personal page - my YouTube channel - my GitHub - my Discord: ThunderAxe31#1512 <Masterjun> if you look at the "NES" in a weird angle, it actually clearly says "GBA"
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If there's actually more variety in boss fights, not simply "more of the same", and if less player health means more dodging (since there's no damage boosts here), hardest difficulty has value. But the game is boring either way, so for me personally difficulty changes nothing.
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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feos wrote:
If there's actually more variety in boss fights, not simply "more of the same", and if less player health means more dodging (since there's no damage boosts here), hardest difficulty has value. But the game is boring either way, so for me personally difficulty changes nothing.
Even if the entertainment could end up being perceived unchanged, we still have to take a stance, as we can't accept submissions made with both difficulties. If we accept this submission today for obsoleting the current publication, and in the future a new Arcade Mode movie gets submitted, which features superior optimization but longer final time due to mode differences that can't be overcomed by optimization alone, what would we do? Since we can't really compare technical quality of movies made with different difficulty modes, we instead have to decide which one of the two difficulty should be used for any acceptable movie made for the specific game. This also means that if we decide to allow a different difficulty mode than the one from the current publication, it means that we declare the current publication as invalid, as we can't objectively compare optimization made with different difficulty modes. I'm not saying that we should never change our stance about the preferred difficulty for a published movie, but rather I'm saying that we can't indiscriminately accept submissions made with any difficulty mode just because it has a shorter movie length. We need to take a stance for each game on a case-by-case basis, looking at which difficulty mode features more entertaining merits (IMO technical merits should be also considered). For cases where it's unclear which difficulty mode is better, we go with the hardest one, just like the guideline suggests.
my personal page - my YouTube channel - my GitHub - my Discord: ThunderAxe31#1512 <Masterjun> if you look at the "NES" in a weird angle, it actually clearly says "GBA"
CoolHandMike
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Well I was leaning more for the RTA community as was pointed out. The Arcade mode does have less health, more health for bosses, and I think one different enemy in one section(?) over the PCE mode. However making use of the extra health to try and squeeze out a shorter time appealed to me in a TAS setting. With that said it is now up to the judges to make a decision. Better or for worse it was fun to make and seems to already be appreciated in the RTA community.
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I feel the same as feos about this run, but I would hate voting no, so I'll just vote meh.
Yeah it's me. TAS is my passion. Can't live without a year doing so.
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The previous submission wrote:
There is 2 main reasons to use the arcade mode over pce mode in this movie, first the difficulty, most boss have less hp in pce mode and you can get hit (6 times per life), then secondly the "true" ending only appear after beating arcade mode.
As a result, I think both modes have value, but I can't say we should force Arcade mode even for future submissions of this game, as gameplay advantages don't look convincing to me. You get a better ending, but you don't get a lot of variety in gameplay. As for comparing optimization, there are always similar areas that can be compared directly, and slightly different areas that can be checked on their own, nothing terrible.
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!
Experienced Forum User, Experienced player, Site Admin (971)
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NES TAS of 2011
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!
Post subject: Movie published
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This movie has been published. The posts before this message apply to the submission, and posts after this message apply to the published movie. ---- [4036] PCE Ninja Spirit by CoolHandMike & EZGames69 in 08:51.14