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Introduction

Kid Icarus is a classic platformer for the NES. It has some stages that scroll vertically, some that scroll horizontally, and some fortresses that are designed to be mazes. It's known for being a challenging game, so it's fun to optimize.
I've been speedrunning this game for a few years and I've learned a lot from watching the 2015 TAS, so I decided to make my own. The run hasn't changed drastically since then, but I managed to save about 27 seconds. The biggest time save is a different setup for the Medusa fight, which saved roughly 12 seconds (see notes below).
I created this using FCEUX 2.2.3.

Game objectives

  • Beat the game as fast as possible
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates luck
  • Glitch abuse

Miscellaneous notes

  • When Pit gets hit by an enemy, he gets boosted 4 pixels to the left. When he gets hit by a projectile, he gets boosted 4 pixels to the right. These small boosts can save time if you're already moving in that direction, and I found a jump in 1-3 that requires a damage boost.
  • Pit's health doesn't refill between stages, so we have to be mindful of our health and plan ahead for damage we'll take in later stages.
  • Enemy patterns can be manipulated to a certain extent, but a lot of this is invisible to the viewer.
  • The TAS makes heavy use of the rapid fire trick introduced by Celeri in 2007. Ducking resets the shot cooldown, so we alternate shoot and duck to fire rapidly. This is most apparent in the 1-4 and 2-4 boss fights, but it's also used throughout the run any time we want to fire a quick burst of arrows.
  • Lava, thorns, and other environmental damage will only hurt Pit once every 32 frames according to a timer. If you know the value of this timer, then you can jump in and out of lava without taking damage. This is abused on stages like 2-3.
  • Killing enemies awards points which take time to tally up at the end of the stage, so it's usually better to avoid killing things. Exceptions to this include stages 1-2 and 2-1, where Pit needs to kill enough enemies and collect enough hearts to earn strength upgrades.

Stage by stage comments

1-1: 14 frames saved
Most of my time save on this stage was from getting 3 more damage boosts than the 2015 TAS.
1-2: 34 frames lost
I found this to be the most complicated stage to TAS. We need to farm enough enemies/hearts along the way to get the strength upgrade. I lost some frames here, but I made up for it in the next stage.
1-3: 200 frames saved
Small time saves here included better movement around frame 12600 and a new jump at 13500. Around 13900 you'll see I hesitated for a moment - this was to manipulate the moving platforms in an upcoming section. This platform section (roughly 14800-15400) was the biggest time save in the stage. I was able to make a new jump thanks to a damage boost, and then I did a small hop to force the last platform to bonk into the thorns; this made the platform turn back earlier (thanks to Rumbleminze for helping me understand how this works).
1-4: 144 frames saved
I found a new route through this stage. At around 17600, I did a wall clip and touched the door from the wrong side. This warped Pit one room to the right. I also tightened up the wall clip around 18000 and saved some frames in the boss fight.
2-1: 5 frames saved
This is another strength upgrade stage, so we need to kill enough enemies and collect enough hearts. I did various jumps and ducks to manipulate the falling rock patterns. I took a damage boost from a projectile around 23060, so it was convenient that I had just enough health.
2-2: 24 frames saved
There's not much time that can be saved on this stage, but I did a more efficient screen wrap at the start. Around 34300 I did a "double jump" for fun.
2-3: 31 frames saved
Again, there's not much time that can be saved here. I knew I wanted to maintain full health throughout this stage, so I manipulated frogs and killed two of them. I took the lower route at 38800-39600 just for fun, because we always take the upper route in speedruns.
2-4: 153 frames saved
AiSnake and I found a faster wall clip for the lava room around 44500 (you'll see this again in 3-4). I also tightened up the other wall clips, damage boosted through an eggplant wizard, and saved some frames in the boss fight.
3-1: 75 frames saved
The health underflow glitch is in effect during this stage, so I had 0 health. At around 48600 I did the pause trick from Randil's 2009 TAS, but I managed to get the jump with fewer pauses.
3-2: 24 frames lost
We have to do a lot of waiting for platforms near the start of this stage. I experimented with it, but in the end I just couldn't find time to save here. Notice my health refills at around 52800 due to the health underflow glitch.
3-3: 152 frames saved
I found a new route through the rooftop section at 58700-59400.
3-4: 145 frames saved
I optimized the wall clips and did the AiSnake clip in the lava room (also seen in 2-4). I played the stage as an eggplant just for fun.
4-1: 722 frames saved
The biggest time save in the run comes from the Medusa fight. Basically, if you shoot on an odd frame in 4-1, you'll actually shoot two arrows. Typically only one will deal damage, but we can get both arrows to hit Medusa if we're close enough. This finishes the fight in 26 shots instead of the usual 51. This fight has an interesting history. Sleepz first showed off a similar setup for their 2004 TAS, but they took a lot of damage and only survived because they had 3 bars of health. Subsequent TAS videos and speedruns only had 2 bars of health, so players backed off and played it safer. Years went by, and Sleepz's method was forgotten. Recently, TMR experimented with fighting Medusa up close, and he found a safe spot where Pit could deal damage up close without getting hit. This made it possible to get double hits regardless of how many bars of health we have. Darkwing_Duck_sda perfected this method and Rumbleminze helped figure out how it works.

Special Thanks

Big thanks to Alyosha, Arc, and Randil who made the 2015 TAS. I didn't copy any of their inputs, but I learned a lot from watching it. Also thanks to the runners who routed the game back then: badbrakes, Darkwing_Duck_sda, Jorf, Kyrsimys, and others. Shoutout to the Stratusphere.

Samsara: I've fallen into this Pit and I need to judge my way out!
Samsara: Welcome to the site!
I have to say, between this and the recent Castlevania Legends TAS, this is a wonderful time for new TASers providing runs of amazing quality, and let me just say: I am absolutely here for it. Shaving off nearly 30 seconds from a game that's been TASed pretty extensively over 16 years would be a remarkable achievement for a TAS veteran, let alone someone's very first project, and it's even more impressive that there was time saved in pretty much every single stage. It's an incredible level of optimization. Have I said that yet?
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more TASes from you! But first, let me complete this big welcome by accepting this as an improvement to the published run. Fantastic work!
Samsara: Oops, uh, file replaced with an identical FM2 file for ease.
Zinfidel: Processing...

TASVideoAgent
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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #6876: fruitbatsalad's NES Kid Icarus in 19:26.41
EZGames69
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Oh nice, an improvement to this game. Was hoping to see one someday. Do you have a video encode available somewhere?
[14:15] <feos> WinDOES what DOSn't 12:33:44 PM <Mothrayas> "I got an oof with my game!" Mothrayas Today at 12:22: <Colin> thank you for supporting noble causes such as my feet MemoryTAS Today at 11:55 AM: you wouldn't know beauty if it slapped you in the face with a giant fish [Today at 4:51 PM] Mothrayas: although if you like your own tweets that's the online equivalent of sniffing your own farts and probably tells a lot about you as a person MemoryTAS Today at 7:01 PM: But I exert big staff energy honestly lol Samsara Today at 1:20 PM: wouldn't ACE in a real life TAS just stand for Actually Cease Existing
Challenger
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Woah a new TAS of this game! 1-3, 1-4, 3-3, 3-4 and Medusa fight surprised me. Nice research and yes vote.
My homepage --Currently not much motived for TASing as before...-- But I'm still working.
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Hey, thanks! I'm new to TASing, so I'm going to keep a close eye on the discussion here in case there are any questions. Here's my temporary encode: Link to video
nymx
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Heck yeah on a yes vote! This was an absolute favorite of mine, when it came out. I'm surprised that time is still being cut from this. Great job!
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
EZGames69
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SNES TASer of 2021SNES TAS of 2021Exotic platforms TAS of 2021TASer of 2020SNES TASer of 2020Sega TASer of 2020TASer of 2019Sega TASer of 2019Exotic platforms TAS of 2018
The author submitted this using the fm3 movie file, here is the same movie as fm2: http://tasvideos.org/userfiles/info/65929844238321813 I also made a better quality encode, however I replaced the default pallet for FCEUX with the one bizhawk uses because I think it looks better than FCEUX's. Link to video (I was already in the middle of encoding this as the author posted theirs)
[14:15] <feos> WinDOES what DOSn't 12:33:44 PM <Mothrayas> "I got an oof with my game!" Mothrayas Today at 12:22: <Colin> thank you for supporting noble causes such as my feet MemoryTAS Today at 11:55 AM: you wouldn't know beauty if it slapped you in the face with a giant fish [Today at 4:51 PM] Mothrayas: although if you like your own tweets that's the online equivalent of sniffing your own farts and probably tells a lot about you as a person MemoryTAS Today at 7:01 PM: But I exert big staff energy honestly lol Samsara Today at 1:20 PM: wouldn't ACE in a real life TAS just stand for Actually Cease Existing
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Wow, I would never have thought that there was still so much improvement left in Kid Icarus. Excellent work, and yes vote.
xxezrabxxx
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Hello fruitbatsalad, welcome to TASVideos. And for A NES platformer from 1987, 27 seconds is absolutely insane, I love what you did and how you improved it. Yes vote, obviously.
I like to comment on submissions and look around the site. You have probably seen me before (if you have been around for a while) either on the site, Discord, or any other social media. I recently took up making temporary encodes for new submissions. Also, I never forget to greet Tompa wherever I find him! "when resyncing stuff sucks it's called Resuccing" - EZGames69 “If an emulator stops being accepted to the site it should be called an emuLAMEr” - EZGames69 "oh no discord, everything I say will now be logged forever, sdfsdf, time to hide" - Masterjun "just had to give therapy to a taxi with daddy issues" - psx Current Projects: Mother 3 (Streaming entire process live!) https://twitch.tv/xxezrabxxx
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Yes vote. The boss fight and intentional death in 2-4 are hilarious to me. A question: Has a detailed analysis been done to determine whether a third arrow upgrade (acquired in 3-1) would save time? I realize this would really only be helpful on Medusa, which already has a shorter battle now. But how much time would it take to get this, and how much time would it save on the boss?
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dave_dfwm wrote:
A question: Has a detailed analysis been done to determine whether a third arrow upgrade (acquired in 3-1) would save time? I realize this would really only be helpful on Medusa, which already has a shorter battle now. But how much time would it take to get this, and how much time would it save on the boss?
Good question. The previous TASers looked into this, and I also did my own time comparisons now because the Medusa fight has changed. We both concluded that 2 strength upgrades is optimal. I'll explain. Pit's arrows start off doing 1 damage, and each strength upgrade increases that by 1. This means the damage goes 1->2->3->4->5. Going from 1 damage to 2 damage is very noticeable! But going from 3 to 4 isn't a big deal. Medusa has 150 health, but it actually takes 1 additional shot after her health reaches 0. Assuming we use the double shot trick, we spend 34 frames on each shot (otherwise, it's 33). Here's how the new fight works out: * With 0 upgrades: 76 shots * 34 frames = 42.5 sec * With 1 upgrade: 39 shots * 34 frames = 22.1 sec * With 2 upgrades: 26 * 34 = 14.7 sec * With 3 upgrades: 20 * 34 = 11.3 sec * With 4 upgrades: 16 * 34 = 9.1 sec So the first 2 upgrades are very valuable, but the later ones don't help much. The 3rd upgrade would save 3.4 seconds during the fight, but it takes longer than that to get. Even the 2nd upgrade seems like a borderline case when the above numbers show it saving only 7.4 sec on the Medusa fight. It takes about 12 seconds to get. It's a close call, but I think it winds up being worth it when you factor in the other places where it helps (certain enemies and the 2-4 boss). Now that I'm thinking about it some more, maybe that 2nd upgrade just breaks even. It would be really close.
Kung Knut
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Very impressive and entertaining indeed. You are a great TASer, Mr Fruitbatsalad. Thank you. It would be very interesting to hear about (and watch) your 1-upgrade-run-comparison if you attempt this, even if it ends up being slower. (and even better if it's faster!)
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Nice improvement! There might be some techniques you could use in my test run (only stage 1) I made before. http://tasvideos.org/userfiles/info/26991170519151961
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Thanks, Kung! I'm not planning to TAS this anymore for now, but maybe again someday. Takanawa, thanks for sharing your TAS. I did a quick comparison, and I see that your 1-1, 1-2, and 1-3 are exactly tied with the 2015 TAS by Alyosha, Arc, & Randil. You did 1-4 faster than them, because you had a very nice boss fight! But it looks like my 1-4 was still 68 frames faster than yours. Stage 1-4 is interesting. When the player enters the boss room, the boss will be walking or standing still depending on the value of the stage timer (at memory address 0014). If you get there on a typical pace (like the 2015 TAS), then he'll be standing still. If you get there faster (like Takanawa), then he'll be walking which speeds up the fight because you don't have to walk as far. But if you get there even faster (mine), then he's standing still. Overall mine was faster, but I like seeing the minor differences we all come up with. There's so much flexibility in this game for different play styles.
Alyosha
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Nice run, yes vote. It's good to see expert knowledge put into a TAS like this. A lot times I go into games like this with only superficial knowledge and inevitably miss things that I would only ever really know from time and experience. This TAS really shows the difference those things can make.
Post subject: Movie published
TASVideoAgent
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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. ---- [4291] NES Kid Icarus by fruitbatsalad in 19:26.41
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Thanks everyone!