(Link to video)

Introduction

Recently, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined was released as a new entry in the series. I got that urge to finally making a TAS of the GBA game since it was short and there was a fair amount of info already available for use thanks to kalimag. Pocky & Rocky with Becky (also known in Japan as Kiki Kaikai Advance) follows the titular characters as they seal the ghosts that have escaped after a century in their prison. The GBA game plays more like the arcade Kiki Kaikai games rather than the SNES Pocky & Rocky games, so movement options are more limited. Despite that, the game can be completed rather swiftly.

Run notes

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.8
  • mGBA core
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates some enemy formations
  • Plays on Extra Mode, which is essentially the hardest difficulty
The ending sequence actually happens at 11:19.469 (frame 40583) but I wanted to input my initials after the credits.

Techniques and mechanics

Version Choice

The US version has a password system and lets the player have 2 HP, while the Japanese version has no passwords and is a 1 HP game. Both versions have the Extra mode. I chose the US version since I only take damage on the Gasha fight to speed it up slightly and otherwise would be similar to playing on the Japanese version.

Character controls

The shot button fires off ofudas/leaves whose type and power is determined by the color pickups found throughout the level and from enemy drops. The gohei wand/tail swipe is a melee attack that knocks weak enemies, some projectiles away, and picks up some items sooner. There is a bomb button but it both freezes the player in place and cannot be used by bosses, making them useless for speed purposes.

Character choice

There are three characters to choose from. Each of them have a unique shot type when picking up the purple ofuda. Japanese names will be in parentheses.
Pocky (Sayo)
Specialty: Exploding
Pocky's special shots explode on contact with an enemy and is the second strongest of the unique shots. Her special shot is great for crowd control and safer ranged takedown of the more aggressive bosses in the game. A solid choice overall but is outpaced by Becky in terms of raw DPS potential.
Becky (Miki)
Special: Multi-directional
Becky actually originated from the FDS only game Kiki Kaikai: Dotou-hen as the player 2 character. This means she isn't just a 2000s sprite comic recolor of Pocky made for the game but still a weird choice for a third character. Anyways, her special shot is essentially the spread gun from Contra and has the best DPS in the game. Thus, Becky is the character of choice for absolute speed though for RTA it requires a lot more risky play and heavy mashing. It can be rapid fired quickly though there is variable time between shots. For some reason when rapid firing, the shots that are still on screen slow down their movement and linger on screen longer which may explain how the Nue boss fight worked out.
Rocky (Manuke)
Special: Enemy Seeking
Sadly, Rocky got the short end of the stick with his special shot. His special shot is shooting multiple homing shots that chase down and hit enemies. The number of homing shots is 2 per purple ofuda level. Unlike the bootleg Mo Jie Qibing, bosses don't have i-frames after getting hit so having shots hit the boss after a certain time isn't really useful compared to absolutely aggressive play with other shot types. Even worse, Rocky's homing shots see a reduced benefit from blue ofuda boosts compared to the other shot options which is bad due to the item rank system. While a perfectly fine character for first time players and more cautious players, for damage Rocky is probably better off with the red ofuda shots.

Item pickups

Item pickups can be spawned by either using a melee attack at certain lit lanterns, taking down a group of red orb groups with either elusively melee or exclusively shooting, or shooting at certain hidden spots.
Mostly the item drop will be a colored ofuda with varying effects. Getting multiple colors in a row level up that shot type up to level 3. Purple ofuda give the unique character special shot. Red ofuda give a piercing red shot that pierces through enemies. Yellow ofuda give shots that go across the screen but are otherwise much weaker than other shots. Blue ofuda adds extra damage to each of the shots currently equipped and can be stacked up to level 3 alongside another color.
There are also non-ofuda pickups to keep in mind. Yellow orbs grant an extra bomb for enemy screen clearing. Extra lives can rarely be dropped by the red orb groups that do exactly as they say. There are also pickups that grant temporary invulnerability or a temporary CPU controlled assistant. The key is found out in the open in a static location and are required to spawn the boss. The invulnerability and assist pickups come with a lengthy animation so they are avoided to save time.

Life system

The game starts the player out with 3 lives. They can be either be dropped rarely from the red orb groups or earned by points. The notable point thresholds for the TAS is the 20,000 point line and the 50,000 point line.

Game rank and boss fights

Since this game hews closely to the arcade Kiki Kaikai a ranking system apparently was implemented. There are two systems in play: item rank and life rank. Item rank goes up by 2 for every pickup collected including keys. Life rank is dependent on the number of player lives in reserve. These directly affect how much HP bosses have and apparently also affect their AI patterns. I avoid earning points throughout the game so that the final boss has less HP without having to die.
If a player dies, item rank goes back to 0. At item rank 0 the basic shot actually does more damage than normal. In some cases it's better to fight bosses at basic shot rank 0 rather than picking up certain ofuda pickups after a death.
kalimag made a helpful spreadsheet of how item and life rank affects boss HP here.

Red orb drops

Red orb group spawns are determined by spawn trigger areas and are dependent on where the center of the screen is located rather than where the player's location. This collision check is done every 72 frames and it's possible to walk through spawn triggers without having a successful check. kalimag made a LUA script that shows where the spawns are triggered as well as their timers here.

Extra Mode

A code is entered at the title screen to enable Extra Mode. This works as a 2nd loop for the game. Stages are filled with many more aggressive enemies and adds unique ones to the mix. The bosses also see pattern change ups and increased HP across the board. While not relevant to the TAS, apparently there's more invulnerability pickups in Extra Mode for some reason.

Enemy spawn manipulation

Some enemy spawns can be manipulated by player and screen position. This is used for more ideal enemy groups to avoid in certain areas, and to get an ideal red orb group spawn location in Chapter 4.

Potential improvements

There's probably some finer stage movement and more aggressive boss strategies that I'm not seeing to save some time. There's also the potential that delaying or foregoing the purple ofuda level 3 upgrade could speed up some fights.

Special thanks

  • kalimag is by far the MVP for finding out the mechanics for this game. That info saved me a lot of guesswork for making the TAS.
  • Smight and authorblues for hosting Speed Bump, which is when kalimag found this info for RTA players to use to the fullest. This was where I got to see how the game is played for speed in the first place.
  • The runners Erix33 and Moonberry2 for their RTA runs with Becky.

Suggested screenshot

As much as I'd want to say the screenshot should just be the words "Smart Boy" on screen, my actual suggestion is the Giant Snake fight section with the four snake heads.

arkiandruski: Claiming for judging.
arkiandruski: Everything looks good. Accepting for publication.

despoa: Processing...

TASVideoAgent
They/Them
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Posts: 14842
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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #7474: Darkman425's GBA Pocky & Rocky with Becky "Becky" in 12:37.89
Patashu
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Joined: 10/2/2005
Posts: 4012
Short and sweet! Needle threading and boss melting. Can't complain about that!
My Chiptune music, made in Famitracker: http://soundcloud.com/patashu My twitch. I stream mostly shmups & rhythm games http://twitch.tv/patashu My youtube, again shmups and rhythm games and misc stuff: http://youtube.com/user/patashu
Skilled player (1649)
Joined: 7/1/2013
Posts: 433
Bex rex!
Post subject: Movie published
TASVideoAgent
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Joined: 8/3/2004
Posts: 14842
Location: 127.0.0.1
This movie has been published. The posts before this message apply to the submission, and posts after this message apply to the published movie. ---- [4690] GBA Pocky & Rocky with Becky "Becky" by Darkman425 in 12:37.89