Game objectives

  • Emulator used: Bizhawk 2.8
  • Primary objective: speed

Game mechanics

Background

I did real-time speedruns of the U-version a few years ago and now planned to start playing it again. As a first step, I decided to create a TAS to see if I could get a better understanding of the game mechanics and to see how low I could push the time with perfect RNG-manipulation (which is not even remotely close to being possible in real-time). And also simply because I wanted to see what a TAS looked like for this version.

Note about the regional differences for Dragon's Lair

The three regional versions of Dragon's Lair for the NES (NTSC-U, NTSC-J and PAL) are all quite different from each other. While there are also many obvious similarities between them, they are in my eyes more like ports for different platforms than regional adaptations for the same platform. For an interesting analysis of the code differences, the following video is recommended: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoW6ydYMc8E& .
The U-version is arguably the worst version of the three. Many will probably even rank it as one of the worst officially released NES-games/versions ever. That's not to say it's not interesting in its own right though. I enjoyed learning about the game and got to discover some new TAS tools and techniques in the process.

Comments

Since the game is very slow-paced and mostly straight-forward, I think a viewer will easily grasp what's going on without detailed level comments. For those interested in what goes on "under the hood", details about relevant aspects of the game that were used in this TAS have been documented in the link in the Game mechanics section above.

Credits

Many thanks to SBDWolf for providing feedback to this TAS and for bringing up improvement suggestions that I otherwise might not have fully explored. Some of the route optimizations in level 4 that he found when working on a real-time speedrun last year can also be seen in this TAS.

Samsara: Claiming for judging. Also, bugfixed file replacement.
Samsara: The differences in speed, execution, and the need to fight the final boss are enough to warrant a separate publication for the US version, and the optimization is definitely up to par. Signing off on Darkman's review and accepting to exist alongside the Japan version run.

EZGames69: Processing...
Samsara: Setting to Delayed, pending a last minute improvement file.
Samsara: The file has been replaced with a 75 frame improvement. Re-accepting.

EZGames69: Processing...

TASVideoAgent
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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #7804: ktwo's NES Dragon's Lair in 06:34.12
Darkman425
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This one is an interesting case of how regional and technically revision differences for a game can change how it's played. Review: Another helpful link for regional differences, as well as a good video about how some of the game code was developed and how it works can be found here: https://tcrf.net/Dragon%27s_Lair_(NES) The run for the JP version that I'm doing my comparisons will be with the recent submission: #7805: ktwo, MESHUGGAH & Kirkq's NES Dragon's Lair in 03:50.70 To properly compare the gameplay portions of the game, I had to have videos side by side but adjust one video's speed to match the gameplay FPS as listed from the SDA Knowledge base. More specifically, I just ran the JP run at 60% speed to match the US frame rate. That way it's more possible to make stage by stage comparisons. Stage 0 The US run is behind by frames. The US run does a jump over the broken-when walked-on part of the drawbridge while the JP run breaks that part early. Stage 1 The second snake despawns in the JP run before Dirk can walk into it which leads to that version being roughly 2 seconds faster. Not sure if the US version can do the same or not. Also worth noting that this marks the first point that some factors, in this case the gates, have different timings between the versions which accounts for some slight timing differences and approaches. Stage 2 Again the timing differences for the pillars and the boss patterns are different. Due to movement differences possibly due to control reasons, the JP run gets through the stage area faster. However due to the JP version moving the screen position and the player when the boss spawns, as well as different boss patterns, the US version is faster here and the runs are close by frames. It's close enough that it's hard for me to tell which is the faster one overall in this case. Stage 3 Another case of timing differences with certain parts of the level. The big one is a moving platform that has a different timing in the US run that both requires another jump to make a gap rather than walking across as well as the unavoidable extra gold that has to be collected. The extra gold results in a slightly longer results screen duration. While overall slower for this stage, the US run has a much faster boss fight due to a different floor layout. Without pits, Dirk can just waltz up to the boss and jump up for fast strikes for the quicker kill. The JP run has to do some extra avoidance of projectiles and pits which makes for a slower fight. Stage 4 The JP run through the stage is slightly faster for two reasons. One is just better movement, possibly due to control reasons. The other is that the JP run does not have to worry about skipping the dagger pickup at the end. Since the final boss can be bypassed in the JP version, weapon choice is not a worry. Since this isn't an option for the US run, an extra jump has to be performed to skip the detrimental weapon pickup. The US run then proceeds to fight Singe which seems clean in execution. Overall, when put side by side and with adjusted speed to compare the two the JP run is comparatively faster but not by that much. A lot of the differences are likely just by virtue of player control differences and level pattern differences. The US run having unique strats not seen in the JP run also makes it a unique experience outside of the gameplay speed.
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Minor improvement found: https://tasvideos.org/UserFiles/Info/638049216706166771 (corrected version needed) Before submitting, I noticed an error message popped up at the end when playing back my three recently submitted movies. I assumed this was related to the emulator (first time using bizhawk 2.8) and didn't investigate further. I can see in the decision that this was also noticed and the submitted movies have been replaced with corrected versions. Is there a setting I should change on my end to avoid getting this error message? Darkman, I agree with pretty much everything in your review. Since I worked on both the U- and J-TASes in parallel, any movie differences should be due to version differences. I'll just add a few comments below: Stage 0 If you try to turn around on crumbling floor in the U-version, you will fall. So the solution in the J-version doesn't work. Stage 1 The snake despawn doesn't work in the U-version. I haven't investigated exactly what's going on in the J-version, but I'm guessing you somehow manage to get behind the snake's despawn point (enemies are despawned as you move past them). Stage 2 The last set of pillars can be passed without stopping in the J-version. Trying the same solution in the U-version will result in Dirk getting hit and a forced wait is instead needed. It's very close though and doesn't look like Dirk is more than a pixel away from clearing the gates. Stage 4 Your comments made me think through once again why exactly the Lizard King spawns need to be different in the two movies. There are differences between the versions that can't be circumvented, but this exercise still helped me find a faster solution.
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. ---- [4957] NES Dragon's Lair (USA) by ktwo in 06:34.12