Hello everyone, and welcome to my TAS of Battletoads for the Gameboy!
I got the idea to TAS this game while watching AGDQ and seeing a runner speedrun Battletoads for the Gameboy. I went to TASVideos after that to see if the game had been TASed before, and found that it had been TASed in 2010 by a TASer named Cardboard, but the video was very outdated, since it didn’t use an out of bounds trick that skips most of level 5. As such, I decided to create a new TAS for the game, and also one which could be played on BizHawk (the archaic format of the old TAS doesn’t lend itself to being played on BizHawk).
Before I get into all of the timesaves in this TAS, I’m going to first list some boilerplate technical background for this submission:
- I take damage to save time
- I use the Nintendo Gameboy World Bios
- This movie was made on BizHawk 2.3.2/BizHawk 2.3.3 (it syncs on both versions)
However, there’s still one more thing I’m missing: a summary of the game’s story of course! Which I will now provide here:
After a long day’s work, the three Battletoads Rash, Pimple and Zitz decide to head on over to Las Vegas. However, all of a sudden while they are there, the Dark Queen appears and ambushes them! Rash and Pimple are captured by the Dark Queen, while Zits manages to escape. Now Zits needs to travel to the planet Armededa, which is where Pimple and Rash have been taken prisoner. However, they are located deep within the planet, and are guarded by the Evil Queen’s henchman, the genetically engineered Robo-Manus! In the quest to save his friends, Zitz will need to make use of all of his varied skills, such as jet-packing, punching enemies with his giant fist, and leaping over giant gaps. If Zitz cannot rescue his friends, then there will be nobody to stop the dark queen from conquering the universe!
Fortunately for the Battletoads however, Zitz is able to rescue Pimple and Rash in a mere 9 minutes, putting a damper on the Dark Queen’s long thought-out plan…
In this game, if you punch while jumping, you can keep moving forward, which makes this the fastest means of attacking enemies. Most enemies can only hurt you when they are in their attacking animation, so you can walk through enemies without taking damage. However, in order to advance to the next screen in a given level, you need to kill all the enemies on screen first (with the exception of the auto-scroller levels).
Now then, onto the timesaves:
In this level, I punch each enemy as soon as possible to kill them as quickly as possible. This enables me to save small bits of time over Cardboard throughout the level. Additionally, in the section right before the cliff, I kill the two enemies on screen in the opposite order of Cardboard, which also saves a little bit of time. All told, through better movement I am able to save approximately 2 seconds on this level.
This level is mostly an autoscroller, though I somehow saved about 4 frames over Cardboard in the autoscroller portion of the level (possibly from killing the mini-bosses that appear slightly sooner). On the level boss, I save about half a second over Cardboard by getting close to the boss as quickly as possible so that my shots will hit him faster, and by firing slightly quicker as well.
This level is pretty short and straight-forward, so the level is not too different between me and Cardboard. I do save a little time at the first rope grab by hitting the pig before grabbing the rope in order to kill him faster. Additionally, I save about a second at the boss fight by jumping up and hitting the boss and turning around in midair (before landing), unlike Cardboard who runs to the left after landing on the ground before jumping in order to avoid getting hit by the boss (in my case, I can jump immediately upon landing on the ground after hitting the boss, which saves time).
I save about a third of a second over Cardboard before the autoscroller portion of the level by having faster movement. During the autoscroller section, due to this slight time difference, in my comparison video of our TASes, it looks like the logs are rolling off of Cardboard’s screen and onto my screen, which is an unintended benefit of putting my TAS on the left-side of the screen.
I save about 2 seconds during the boss fight of this level by getting in more hits on the boss per jump and not moving away from the boss as much during the fight.
This is the level where most of the time difference between me and Cardboard comes into play. In Cardboard’s TAS, he takes 1 minute and 42 seconds to beat the level. In my TAS, I clip out of bounds and fall to the finish line, which lets me beat the level in a mere 25 seconds! So long, rolling brain!
One timesave that I employ throughout the rappelling level is that I kick enemies that are below me as I’m descending, which saves time over Cardboard’s strategy of lowering down to the same level as the enemies and punching them. Using kicks repeatedly and faster movement allows me to save one and a half seconds before the boss fight. I save one and a quarter seconds during the boss fight by jumping up and hitting the boss without moving backwards to the left, as well.
In this level, you are running around on wheels, which spin counterclockwise when you hold right, and clockwise when you hold left. It turns out to be fastest to jump as soon as you land on a platform when you have full speed, since this lets you keep your momentum. Also of note is the fact that there are several places where you need to slow down to avoid hitting the beyblades, but you can only take 2 hits (the third hit would kill you). As such, I had to prioritize where the most time-saving places to run through the blades were. The first place I got hit was the same as Cardboard, since even if you dodge this blade, you would still have to wait for the next blade to avoid getting hit.
After this, I perform some precise jumping which allows me to avoid taking damage a second time while only losing a few frames compared to running straight forward. After that, I am able to make it through the second set of blades with only about 6 frames of not moving right, which allows me to save a lot of time over Cardboard. All told, I reach the boss 2 seconds faster than Cardboard did in the level. I also save another one and a half seconds during the boss fight by getting in more hits per jump and doing a better job of juggling the boss in place.
In this level, you are flying up on a jetpack, avoiding obstacles. It's fastest to fly straight up without moving left or right, so I try to avoid holding left or right except when necessary to clear an obstacle or enemy. I took damage from different places in the level than Cardboard did, and ultimately finished the level around 10 frames faster as a result. Cardboard’s level 8 was pretty optimized, so there wasn’t much time to be gained here.
The final showdown with the Robo-Manus! In this level, I hit Robo-Manus as his left cannon is pausing its fire. As such, after getting hit once, I am able to quickly destroy the left cannon without stopping. I then hit the Robo-Manus twice in the face before destroying its other cannon. Then, I go to the middle to destroy its face, trying to avoid moving for missiles as much as possible. Whether it was due to better optimization on my part or better RNG, I beat this boss a little over a second faster than Cardboard did in his TAS.
And with that, Pimple and Rash are saved, the Dark Queen is defeated, and peace is restored to the universe once again! Praise Zitz!
Difficult Segments to TAS:
The complexity of movement in Battletoads makes optimizing movement in the game very difficult. Namely, that you can only run by pressing right twice (or left twice), and that all of your attacks have to come in midair to avoid losing time. It took a lot of effort to figure out the fastest way to kill each enemy on each screen of the game, especially in level 1! Additionally, figuring out what the best places were to take damage in level 7 required a bit of testing. Lastly, the Robo-Manus fight took me several hours to TAS because I kept getting hit twice and dying only a few seconds into the fight! If you ask me, the developers really went overboard on this boss: There isn’t one safe spot to stand on at the start of the fight where you can attack the boss without getting hit (unless you wait for the cannons to completely stop firing), and you can only take 1 hit (2 hits will kill you here). To top it all off, you only get 3 lives and 3 continues to beat the game, and the boss takes 64 hits to kill. Is that really necessary?!?
I’ve never been a fan of arbitrarily increasing the difficulty of games just to increase playtime without making the game more fun. In my opinion, they probably did this to make sure that kids wouldn’t beat the game too quickly, at the cost of lowering the quality of the game. But hey, this game came out in the 90s, so complaining about it now would be like digging up a dead horse to yell at it…
Well, in any event, now that my side rant is done, let’s get back to this submission! I made a comparison video which shows my TAS on the left and Cardboard’s TAS on the right for comparison. I synced the first frame of each of my levels with the first frame of each of Cardboard’s levels for ease of comparison, and I also synced the first frame of the second level boss fight for both of our TASes, since the loading zone between the autoscroller section of level 2 and the level 2 boss is substantially faster on the emulator that Cardboard was using than on BizHawk.
I hope you enjoy watching this movie!