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EMULATOR

  • Emulator used: Grrl (Linux port of Gens, should be Gens 9z/9.5b compatible)
  • Settings: 3-button controllers for players 1 & 2, sound rate set to 22050 (important!)

OVERVIEW

Fatal Labyrinth is an early Genesis turn-based dungeon crawler. It consists of 30 levels (which I'll call floors to avoid confusion), plus a final battle. The object of each floor is to reach the stairs that take you up to the next floor. Normally this involves lots of exploring, collecting equipment, and fighting with numerous monsters; but, this being a TAS, you don't see so much of that.
Fatal Labyrinth falls into a genre of games called rogue-likes. A key feature in a rogue-like is random content: the level layouts and item placement is generated at random. Items are usually listed by generic identifiers, often colours, and these identifiers change each play as well. This gives the game a high replay value, assuming you found it fun the first time.

CATEGORIES

  • Aims for fastest time
  • Manipulates luck
  • Takes damage to save time (mainly to manipulate luck)
  • Abuses programming errors

LUCK MANIPULATION

This run is mainly about manipulating luck. Virtually all aspects of this game are based around randomness, and many are not controlled by the same means as one another.

Floor Layout

The layout for the different floors is based on the time you leave the intro level (or bypass it with the start button), and is seeded once for the whole game. This includes all the rooms and corridors for each floor, the staircases, and any traps (none of which are seen in this TAS). This process also sets up the initial randomness for the items, monsters, etc. The layout of the 10th, 30th, and 31st (boss) floor are never randomized.

Start position

Obviously it is important to get a good starting position on each floor. Starting right next to the staircase every time would be ideal, but this is impossible for a few reasons. First of all, the start position for the next floor is influenced by most, but not all, aspects of combat. (Attacking an enemy from a distance and missing does not vary the start position.) Second of all, the randomness algorithms seem to prefer certain locations sometimes, i.e. given a large number of start positions it's quite likely most of them will be in only a few different rooms. The teleport scroll, which randomly takes you to another location on the current floor, seems influenced by the same things as the start position.

Item and monster distribution

Items and monsters are generally influenced by the same aspects (although not always in the same ways, something I never fully figured out). Combat is the primary means of changing the distribution of monsters and items on the next floor. Timing for combat doesn't seem to matter, either in terms of seconds or turns, but everything else does to an extent, including the weapon you're using and the position you attack from. Items and monsters on the next floor can also be influenced by the position of monsters on the current floor.

Combat

Combat seems to be based simply on results from previous combat. There's very little you can do to guarantee a hit against a monster, or to keep from getting hit yourself. Fortunately, I'm mostly concerned with combat as a way to manipulate items.

Monster behaviour

Monster behaviour is very predictable, and based entirely on your character's actions and position. If you are beside a monster, it will always follow you if you move away from it, and it will always attack if you do anything else that counts as a turn. Monster movement is generally based on trying to get near your character, though it's obviously not very smart.

Confusion

There are two ways for your character to get confused: by drinking a chaos potion, or having an enemy cast a certain spell on you. When confused, you get the message “You feel like dancing”, and your directional controls become randomized. The game remaps each direction every frame, and in doing so takes over the RNG that affects the start, items, and monsters on the next floor. Therefore it's possible to use confusion to change positions of things based on time. Confusion goes away after enough turns, or when you get to the next floor.

The butterfly effect

Because of the random nature of the game, what affects one aspect of the next floor will likely affect all aspects of all subsequent floors. This makes luck manipulation even trickier, since it's impossible to figure out the best result without often going a few floors deep. A very simple illustration of this is on floor 8. I shoot the insect (green bat) to change the monster layout on floor 9, however there's no benefit for floor 9 since I can make it to the stairs without any combat either way. However, I get a much better starting position on level 10 this way.

GLITCHES, TRICKS, AND OTHER NON-OBVIOUS THINGS

  • A very useful glitch exists in this game. When you equip a bow, your armour level often decreases permanently by 1. With two bows it's possible to get an underflow, bringing your armour up to 153 (though it reads 99). Note that this is still not enough to keep enemies from hitting you, particularly on later floors.
  • There are a few cursed weapons available in the game. Normally equipping these gives you a very low attack, and causes other ailments. However, using a weapon power-up scroll on them lets you wield them normally and makes you quite powerful.
  • Normally you gain experience by fighting monsters, letting you gain levels as per most RPGs. Collecting the Holy Goblet on floor 30, which you're required to do, gives you a ton of experience points, and so in this run I don't bother killing any regular monsters.
  • As long as you have food, your health will slowly replenish while your food supply slowly runs out. You continue to use food even if you're at full health. If you run out of food, then your health will slowly decrease until you die or get more food. Also, not seen in this run, this is the only RPG I know of where the character can die from overeating.

THANKS

Thanks to all the coders here who have worked on Gens, especially IdeaMagnate for making a Linux port.
Also thanks to ventuz and Aqfaq for posting in my WIP thread.

NesVideoAgent: Hi! I am a robot. I took a few screenshots of this movie and placed them here. I'm not sure I got the right ROM though. (I tried Fatal Labyrinth (JU) [!].gen, which was the closest match to what you wrote.) Well, here goes! Feel free to clean up the list.
https://files.tasvideos.org/autosnaps/1759_3.png]

adelikat: Good votes and interesting luck manipulation. Accepting for publication.
adelikat: Processing.

TASVideoAgent
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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #1759: plusminus's Genesis Fatal Labyrinth in 06:46.25
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Watching now, will edit after i vote. Question: is there a reason you did not use gens as your emulator, possibly easier manipulation (or something @_@) ? EDIT: What a great example of a "What the fuck?" ending. I was entertained by the movie, but had no idea what was happening... let alone why the main dude started to fly over villages... anyways, yes vote.
adelikat wrote:
I very much agree with this post.
Bobmario511 wrote:
Forget party hats, Christmas tree hats all the way man.
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stickyman05 wrote:
Question: is there a reason you did not use gens as your emulator
Grrl is Gens, ported to Linux. I guess I should clarify this in the submission? Thanks for the vote!
Mitjitsu
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I desperately hated this game when I was younger and its one of the worst games I can recall playing on the Genesis, but 6 mins wtf, must watch this later. Watching the run reminds me of all the frustrations I used to have when travelling around each floor for 5-10 mins and then get pounded by monsters who cast all sorts of spells on you >:D While it confusing as to why certain things were happening it became clear how obvious the luck manipulation was since you were geting placed close to nearby exits in the next level. Plus the run is a nice length so boredom didn't kick in, so I'll give this one a yes.
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plusminus wrote:
stickyman05 wrote:
Question: is there a reason you did not use gens as your emulator
Grrl is Gens, ported to Linux. I guess I should clarify this in the submission? Thanks for the vote!
Ah! thanks for clearing up my lack of linux-application knowledge, haha ;) Dont worry about clearing it up, I just suck at reading comprehension, evidently XD
adelikat wrote:
I very much agree with this post.
Bobmario511 wrote:
Forget party hats, Christmas tree hats all the way man.
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How dare you interfere with his plans! Having never played this game, I can only assume it was well-played. The luck manipulation is obvious, for sure. The game is finished very quickly, and the manner you accomplish this task is also impressive. However, the game itself was just plain boring to watch. I'd like to vote Yes on merit, but I think the only entertaining aspect was the music. Eh, I'll sit on this one a bit.
Kirby said so, so it must be true. ( >'.')>
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I liked all the very apparent luck manipulation you did here (particularly how you kept appearing near the exits of most of the floors when starting them,) the armor counter jumping to 99 for no logical reason (although documented in your description,) and the general weirdness that prevails throughout the game. (Evil moneybag? The hero becoming winged from a suit of armor and flying over the world for God knows why?) Plus, the run was short enough that none of it got boring. Yes vote.
- The Green Herring
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I've played enough Roguelikes to know that completing one in seven minutes is impressive, as must be the amount of luck manipulation that went into this run. Yes vote.
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AKA wrote:
While it confusing as to why certain things were happening it became clear how obvious the luck manipulation was since you were geting placed close to nearby exits in the next level.
I tried to explain that somewhat in the submission, but it's probably not really clear to anyone who doesn't play around with it. In fact much of the luck manipulation is still not entirely clear to me, it's just a whole lot of trial and error.
superjupi wrote:
The game is finished very quickly, and the manner you accomplish this task is also impressive. However, the game itself was just plain boring to watch.
That's fair, it really isn't the most exciting game. I find it fun in the way I find playing cards fun sometimes: simple and compelling, and not overly involved. I think it actually has it's roots in a Master System game called Dragon Crystal, which explains why the visuals look so unimpressive.
superjupi wrote:
I think the only entertaining aspect was the music.
Hah, the music is maybe great for a 7-minute run but in a normal playthrough that easily takes more than an hour, you find yourself wishing for some more variety. And when you're TASing it the sound drives you nuts in a hurry.
The Green Herring wrote:
Evil moneybag? The hero becoming winged from a suit of armor and flying over the world for God knows why?
Monsters disguised as gold have their roots in old Dungeons and Dragons games, and are actually in a number of RPGs. What's strange about this game is that collecting gold serves no function whatsoever. There's nothing to buy. So not much reason to risk picking up gold. The flying armour, on the other hand, I have no explanation for whatsoever.
Chamale
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When your armour underflows from bow equipping, why does it go to 153? It seems like it would make more sense for it to become 2^x-1, instead of 153. Yes vote for kick-ass luck-manipulation.
ventuz
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Nicely done.
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I'm glad someone else is finding Grrl useful, hack though it is. The movie was good. Luck manipulation was obvious (especially watching your input while confused and the curiously advantageous warping), plus the whole thing was too short to be boring. Well done, especially for a first submission.
ideamagnate| .seen aqfaq <nothing happens> DK64_MASTER| .seen nesvideoagent * DK64_MASTER slaps forehead
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Chamale wrote:
When your armour underflows from bow equipping, why does it go to 153? It seems like it would make more sense for it to become 2^x-1, instead of 153.
Indeed, this number makes no sense at all for a whole lot of reasons. My guess is they just put in an arbitrarily high upper bound to prevent overruns? Ram watch address is 0x9417.
IdeaMagnate wrote:
I'm glad someone else is finding Grrl useful, hack though it is.
Hmm, am I the only person besides yourself to have submitted a movie with it? I thought there were more Linux users on this site... In any case, every single release of Gens for Linux, including the non-TAS ones, has been a hack, you're just carrying on the tradition. ;) That said I made a fairly large list of little things that bothered me about Grrl that I think are within my ability to fix, so expect a bunch more small middling patches soonish. Thanks for all the comments and votes so far!
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I'm a huge fan of Rogue-likes and didn't even know this game existed. Excellent luck manipulation, though, it's amazing how quickly you fly through the floors. Yes vote. And maybe the story is like Doom where the game itself just assumes that you've read the manual and the plot makes little to no sense without it.
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plusminus wrote:
IdeaMagnate wrote:
I'm glad someone else is finding Grrl useful, hack though it is.
Hmm, am I the only person besides yourself to have submitted a movie with it? I thought there were more Linux users on this site...
I'm sure other people use it; most of them just don't post about it. It doesn't bother me either way. If it's useful people will find and use it. Otherwise there's always Wine.
plusminus wrote:
In any case, every single release of Gens for Linux, including the non-TAS ones, has been a hack, you're just carrying on the tradition. ;) That said I made a fairly large list of little things that bothered me about Grrl that I think are within my ability to fix, so expect a bunch more small middling patches soonish.
You are encouraged to do so. I'm a big believer in egoless programming, so if you've got a patch for something broken (or improvable) I'd love to see it. You could also get editor privileges from Bisqwit and add a "requested features" section to the Grrl wiki page.
ideamagnate| .seen aqfaq <nothing happens> DK64_MASTER| .seen nesvideoagent * DK64_MASTER slaps forehead
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IdeaMagnate wrote:
I'm a big believer in egoless programming, so if you've got a patch for something broken (or improvable) I'd love to see it. You could also get editor privileges from Bisqwit and add a "requested features" section to the Grrl wiki page.
Perhaps, eventually. For the moment I'm happy to find little improvements I can work on because I'm quite a novice coder and it's good practice.
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I eventually decided on a 'yes' vote. The merit makes the entertainment, especially if you've attempted to play the game.
Kirby said so, so it must be true. ( >'.')>
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The game looks like it sucks compared even to less popular PC rogue-like games, but it's played so well that the point never has time to really sink in. Yes vote for rogue-like entertainment
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Either the JU rom is different than the W, or this movie desyncs in 9.5B. Has anyone else had a desync issue?
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Post subject: Re: #1759: plusminus's Genesis Fatal Labyrinth in 06:46.25
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NesVideoAgent wrote:
sound rate set to 22050 (important!)
Maybe that's your issue? Now that I have helped you, please go and record the Genesis Immortal run with your TASing precision, thank you adelikat! :)
adelikat
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*adelikat dies.wav
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I also had a desync issue, but it was due to me running it in the "Sonic 3 & Knuckles map-dumping gens" by mistake.
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Sorry, I was stuck with markup so I couldn't use size=100 ;) But yeah the timing on the randomization is very finicky.
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I am unfamiliar with this type of game, but I can certainy appreciate the luck manipulation (my favorite TAS concept :P). Seems like an interesting genre for TASing since _everything_ including level layout is random. I vote yes and am accepting for publicaiton.
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:D Apparently are were a number of similar games for various Nintendo consoles using the name "Mysterious Dungeon". I don't really know anything about them, and they seem to be mostly Japanese, but if someone was looking for a similar game to TAS they might be worth checking out. There's at least one GBA game in English, that's also a Pokemon game, so that should be fairly popular. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysterious_Dungeon#Series_titles