#1982: Aqfaq's Genesis Madou Monogatari I in 15:29.05

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Lots of luck-manipulation and cute elephants in three different sizes!
Madou Monogatari I (1996) is a Japanese dungeon crawler RPG with puzzle-flavored level-design and cute graphics. The main character is a little girl called Arle, who is on a quest to pass a final exam of a magic school. The exam consists of going through a tower, which is filled with riddles, monsters and many tasks to solve. This time Arle does not want to spend too much time solving the riddles and other optional tasks to get a good grade from the shool. Instead, Arle goes through the tower as fast as possible. The fast time is achieved by a good route plan and extensive luck-manipulation. Only 17 battles are fought in the whole game: 4 necessary boss fights and 13 intentional random encounters to collect rare item drops, money and EXP.
Here is more info about the game series to those who are interested.
I had no intention to make this TAS for real, but it was a nice little project after it started spontaneously. There are not many this type of TAS movies in existence, so it was a good experiment. I think this movie shows that dungeon crawler RPGs can be at least moderately entertaining and surprisingly fast-paced, even though some repetition is to be expected. Hopefully the movie is not too confusing. Feel free to ask anything and I'll try to clarify things that seem strange. I provided some maps to help understand the route. If you are interested in the details of the battles, use the memory watch to display enemy HP. The fights look easy, but they are actually very hard due to the under-leveled character and the nature of the randomness.
I have no idea what this movie looks like for somebody who doesn't know the game, but I have the feeling that there might be some funny parts.
Thanks to N. Harmonik, paul_t, maTO and mz.
Note to those who watched the previous submission: This movie is otherwise the same, except that the floor 4 sliding puzzle was completed using a faster route, with less bumping into the walls. The movie does not look different, but hopefully everyone will enjoy it a bit more now. I'm sorry for the double-submission inconvenience.

About the Game

Fighting

The battle system has both turn-based and real-time elements. The spells are cast in real time by using different button combinations, like down-left-up-right. There is also a simple melee attack, but it was never used. All enemies have a set timing when they perform one of their actions randomly. So the battle is not turn-based in the ordinary sense, but the enemies act at constant pace. Bosses are usually faster than other enemies and they also have a wider selection of attacks.

Player Statistics

One interesting feature of the game is that none of the player stats (except gold) are displayed in numbers:
  • Player hit points are indicated with facial expression of the character. Happy face means good HP condition.
  • Experience points are displayed as blue pearls that accumulate as decorations on the golden ornament thing.
  • Available magic power is shown as a smiley after a spell is cast: :-) :-| :-(

Spells

There are many different spells and items in the game. Only the ones used in the movie are described here.

Fire & Ice

Two basic attack spells are available in the beginning of the game. The fire spell is faster, because the projectile stops when it hits the enemy and a new one can then be fired earlier. However, the white-haired girls are weak to ice attack, so ice is used more.

Power-up Spell

This spell increases magic power temporarily. It is learned when the character level-ups twice. This spell was needed in level 3 to get past a fire, but ohterwise it was useless.

Random Effect Spell

This spell has 30 different effects! The varying effects can do harm or benefit to either the player or the enemy. Also, many of the effects have no direct influence, except funny animations, like the yellow game mascot running around. The random spell can be used once in a fight. Luckily, one of the thirty effects, which I call the ELEPHANT STOMP, causes huge damage to the enemy. It seems to be a very rare effect of the spell as the other effects occur more often. Anyway, I managed to get an elephant stomp anytime I wanted and the luck-manipulation is barely visible, but at least you know it when you hear the partial pause sound.

Ascend Spell

This spell can be used to ascend to next floor. It won't work in all locations, but when planned carefully, it can be used to save time in walking. If used during fights, it has a chance of producing a "black hole", which expels the enemy, but no EXP is gained. This black hole effect is used four times in floor 11 to avoid getting unnecessary EXP from the broom girls.

Other Spells

Three other spells were collected to open sealed doors in floor 12. One of these spells was also needed for the person in floor 7. There are more spells in the game (like a healing spell), but none of them were acquired.

Items

Little Elephant

This is a pocket-sized elephant that can be thrown at the enemy. It causes some nice damage. Luckily, these little elephants can be acquired as rare item-drops from a certain type of enemy, the white-haired girl.

Wall Creation Tool

It creates walls. It can be bought from the shop in floor 3.

Bag

This gives more room to the inventory. I need to buy one from the shop to fit all the black orbs in.

Light Ball

This is needed to get light in floor 9. It is not possible to walk in the dark.

Black Orb

This item is the random spell equivalent! It produces one of the 30 different random spell effects at random. I get 6 of these as rare item-drops from a certain type of enemy (the broom girl) to get some elephant stomps in the final boss fights.

Magic Restoration Potion

This restores magic power. One of these is right on my route in floor 9.

The Fastest Walkthrough

The tower has 12 floors, each of them 10x10 squares. The final boss is behind four sealed doors (look at the provided map to see the sequence of doors in floor 11). These important doors are opened by destroying magical gems, which I call the "seal gems". So, the route consists of destroying the four gems and getting good items in the process for a fast finale. My way of doing it is described here:

Floors 1-2

  • Drink magical water to get key for the basic doors. (Necessary.)
  • In floor 1, search for 40 gold from a wall.
  • During the two first floors, encounter 7 white-haired girls to get 7 little elephant item-drops, 350 gold and some necessary EXP. Also, level-up twice to learn the power-up spell that is needed in floor 3. (The level-uping is done without any effort in this movie, because I also collect the little elephants and money during the process.)
  • In floor 2, search for 100 gold from a wall.
  • Defeat the skeleton boss with 2 little elephants. Got a key to floor 3. Manipulate the skeleton to also drop an item, so that it can be sold in the shop.

Floor 3

  • Visit a shop to buy a wall creation tool (cost: 500) and an extra bag for more inventory space (cost: 100). So far, I had 440 gold from the enemies and 140 found from the walls. Then I sell the item that the skeleton boss dropped for 20 gold. So after the shop, I have 0 gold. This money usage (like all the other parts of the movie) went very nicely.
  • Use ice spell to get past the small fire.
  • Use power-up spell and then ice spell to get past the large fire.
  • Talk to the purple blob guy to learn a spell.
  • Puzzle: Walk through the room so that all tiles are stepped on.

Floor 4 - The Slippery Rooms

  • Collect two spells from the chests and press a switch to open all the green doors. This requires planting some walls with the wall creation tool, because the floors are slippery and only the walls stop the sliding. This required some planning where to plant the walls to get shortest possible routes to the chests. (Note: An unskippaple message is constantly displayed when I take a step on the slippery floor.)

Floor 5 - The Button Maze

  • Puzzle: Step on the buttons to move the maze walls.
  • Get the random effect spell from a chest, yeah!
  • Then climb to floor 6 briefly to defeat the clone boss. Don't blink here (around 8:10) or you'll miss the fight. The ascend spell is learned from the boss.
  • Backtrack to floor 5 in a spot where the ascend spell can be used. Then ascend to floor 6.

Floor 6 - The Mirror Maze

  • Destroy the first seal gem.

Floors 7-8

  • Use ascend spell in good locations to save walking time.
  • Get the "star key" from a female (?) person.
  • Get a light ball from a chest.
  • Use ascend spell twice in a certain spot to reveal a ladder to floor 9.

Floor 9

  • Use the light ball to illuminate the hallway.
  • Open chest to get magic power restoration potion. This item can't even be avoided, because the next seal gem is behind the chest. (Surprisingly, this little blue potion that was forced into my inventory turned out to be useful, or even necessary!)
  • Destroy the second seal gem.
  • Ascend to floor 10 near the travel service.

Floor 10

  • Use the travel service to travel to floor 1, use ascend spell to go to floor 2 and destroy the third seal gem. Then travel back to floor 10.
  • Use ascend spell in a spot that is close to the floor 11 music puzzle.

Floor 11

  • Manipulate 6 broom girl encounters and make all of them drop a black orb. Get exp from 2 broom girls, but defeat all others with a spell that gives no EXP (because no more is needed and EXP count-up wastes time).
  • Solve the music puzzle (press four buttons in a certain order) to open a door and destroy the fourth seal gem. All four doors that lead to the boss room are now opened.
  • Defeat the giant bird boss with 1 black orb, 1 random spell and 1 little elephant.

Floor 12

  • Defeat the final boss with 5 black orbs, 1 random spell and 4 little elephants. The luck-manipulation in this fight is tremendous. (Make a savestate before the fight and try it in real time for fun.)
  • Then escape the tower within a time limit.
  • There are three doors that have magical seals. Without the magic power restoration potion (from floor 9), I would run out of magic power to open all these doors. Also, with one less level-up I would have not enough magic power to cast all three spells (so this is why the two broom girls were defeated differently than the other four, to gain EXP). I was surprised how well this route worked. Everything went brilliantly.

Other Stuff

About the Luck-manipulation

A forward step takes 11 frames to perform and any input between the steps affects the randomness, so I used this to avoid all unwanted random encounters without losing any time. No time was lost in item-drop manipulation either. But the battles themselves are harder to manipulate, because every move changes the RNG and there are many possible strategies for using the spells. The enemies have many different attacks, so those need manipulation too. This movie turned out to be much more polished technically than I originally intended. I managed to do all the necessary luck-manipulation in a very short time. I estimate less than 6 seconds luck-manipulation was wasted in total in the battles. But the game is full of different items and strategies, so maybe even minute-scale improvements happen someday.

Oddities

There are some minor bugs I encountered.
When turning and then walking as soon as possible, the step counter increases by 2 instead of 1. This is why I need to delay some steps for 1 frame in floor 2, because after a number of steps, a certain door is closed.
When trying to escape a battle and failing, Arle falls on the ground momentarily. This can be used to avoid almost any enemy attack. It was not needed in this movie, because luck-manipulation was enough to avoid stuff.
Switching the inventory on and off very fast produces invulnerability. The enemy animation has time to progress, but the hit has no time to register between the inventory pauses. This trick was not needed either.
One more strange thing is that the little elephant weapon causes permanent invulnerability to the player and the boss, if it is used as a final blow between the transformations of the final boss. If this bug did not exist, it would have been faster to use the little elephants and black orbs in a different order. There are many items in the game, so there probably exists some more bugs too.

Technical Stuff

Movie Tags

  • Aims for fastest time
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates luck!
  • Genre: RPG
  • Genre: Puzzle
My score in the end is 8/100. There exists a different ending, but it requires a significant amount of more effort, backtracking and riddle solving. I'm not interested doing it, but I will be glad to help, if somebody wants to try it out.

Memory Addresses

Player HP: 00FFF9D1
Enemy HP: 00FF890D
EXP: 00FFF988
Step Counter: 00FFF813

Maps & Route

The floors in the image are ordered like this:
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6
7, 8, 9
10, 11, 12
There are additional underground floors too, but they were not visited in this movie.
Some important coordinates are marked white.
The game begins in the first floor at location {2, 10}. Ask for more coordinates, if you want to know some location.
I really hope I didn't forget something this time... Anyway, enjoy the elephants in this very short RPG movie!

Screenshots


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 Madou Monogatari I (J) [!].gen, which was the closest match to what you wrote.) Well, here goes! Feel free to clean up the list.

adelikat: Sorry, but I am going against the grain here and rejecting this movie. I just don't think the game is TASvideos material.

mmbossman: This submission has been given another chance at publication. If you feel it should be published, instead of returning to the grue, please post WHY in the thread. Similarly, if you do NOT think this movie should be published, post WHY.

mmbossman: While I still don't like this game, a lot of other people seem to find it entertaining. So, I'm going to go ahead and accept this.

Sp00ky: Encoding...

TASVideoAgent
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This topic is for the purpose of discussing #1982: Aqfaq's Genesis Madou Monogatari I in 15:29.05
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This video is disturbing, from the weird Gensis music to that creepy old lady at the start plus the white haired girl enemies that are IN PIECES. yes vote
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HI, I'M NESVIDEOAGENT. IT TURNS ME ON WHEN GIRLS CLOSE THEIR EYES. UNF.
http://girlyyy.com/ The El Viento TAS is the only decent thing I submitted here.
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josh l. wrote:
HI, I'M NESVIDEOAGENT. IT TURNS ME ON WHEN GIRLS CLOSE THEIR EYES. UNF.
I vote yes to make this one Nesvideoagent's default signature.
No.
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Nice visuals, short and overall fun to watch, yes.
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Awesome run. Yes vote. BTW, you should write the criteria: * Aims for fastest time * Manipulates luck * Colors no dinosaurs * Records elephants
<klmz> it reminds me of that people used to keep quoting adelikat's IRC statements in the old good days <adelikat> no doubt <adelikat> klmz, they still do
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hmm, gonna have to give this a strong YES. Overall, I had no clue what was going on, and, generally speaking, any TAS that makes me motion sick gets a yes vote. Luckily, this TAS did just that :P
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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Sorry, ol' buddy, this just didn't do it for me. The first 14,000 is the same fight being repeated over and over again, the action that is present only shows of 3 or 4 moves, and this game has to hold the record for the worst use of screen real estate ever. Really, a simple HP bar or number, a small compass, amount of gold you have and the "gems" in the gold ornamental things are the only ideas being represented, and they take up 80% of the screen. On the plus side, you did get to readjust some spines with a giant elephant, but overall I just found it boring.
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josh l. wrote:
HI, I'M NESVIDEOAGENT. IT TURNS ME ON WHEN GIRLS CLOSE THEIR EYES. UNF.
You are not NesVideoAgent.
DiffCalc .NET Frameworks 3.5 required.
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Naohiro19 wrote:
josh l. wrote:
HI, I'M NESVIDEOAGENT. IT TURNS ME ON WHEN GIRLS CLOSE THEIR EYES. UNF.
You are not NesVideoAgent.
He is aware he isn't. He is mocking the agent however, don't get confused :P
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I have to vote no. This game has no action, a lot of japanese text, and some girls? I can't follow it, and don't think most viewers would either.
It's hard to look this good. My TAS projects
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I've got to respect our judges who have the patience to review even the movies that are boring to them. I sincerely hope you enjoy being a judge as much as I enjoy recording the occasional (crappy) movies for you to judge. :D
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Strangely, for being in Japanese, this game actually had a story that I was somewhat able to follow. The cute animations and characters are vibrant and active enough, that its easy to see that one of the game's "bad ass witches" spends most of the time chasing the hero around, trying to give him cooties! Also, with lots of the attacks being silly elephants being thrown around, or really large elephants beating things up, its visually appealing. The actual dungeon crawling disappears fast enough, to keep the run from getting too boring. Also, frame 41926 would make a great screenshot!
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I'm glad that you enjoyed the elephants, DarkKobold. They are great animals.
Post subject: Returned to "new" status
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As you can see, this movie has been returned from the grue for another shot at publication. Please post what you think about the movie, and why it should be published, or why it should remain rejected. Poll votes will not be considered, only responses in the thread. This submission will remain on the workbench for one month to gather further opinions, then a second judging decision will be made.
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Everything in my other posts still stands. This is a Yay for publication.
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This is awesome. I can't believe this has been rejected once. The game is a well picked cool game, with cute girls and weird animals, not to mention the good soundtrack. The TAS is very well done, appears to be optimised and entertaining as well, I was actually disappointed when the movie ended, I was hoping there was more and more, I can't get enough of this stuff. Don't do the same mistake again, this should be published and get a star too.
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Yeah, I found this movie "too short", too. However a star could be too much. Actually, this movie is not hard to follow at all. The actions on graphic indicate the main clue.
<klmz> it reminds me of that people used to keep quoting adelikat's IRC statements in the old good days <adelikat> no doubt <adelikat> klmz, they still do
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Posted: 2008-06-05 12:34:17 Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post hmm, gonna have to give this a strong YES. Overall, I had no clue what was going on, and, generally speaking, any TAS that makes me motion sick gets a yes vote. Luckily, this TAS did just that :P
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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Like a lot of games full of moon language, there's the problem where the game may be a little too arcane for a TAS to be enjoyed, but this one comes across okay, in my opinion. This is just one of those videos where you kinda watch in bewilderment as stuff is happening. And despite that you can see the work that was put into it. That is why I voted "yes". I'd also like to take this time to say how much I miss the Agent's screenshot system.
http://girlyyy.com/ The El Viento TAS is the only decent thing I submitted here.
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me too!
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This could probabally do well with some subtitles explaining what the hell is going on.
IST
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Does this work in the latest Gens?
IST
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I hate to bump this. >.> but does anyone know if the movie file works properly in the latest gens? I'd try it myself but I dunno if it would desync and cause odd stuff to happen, things I wouldn't recognize as being off having never played the game before.
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It still works in Gens11a, yes.