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Sunday, May 1, 2016 by LotBlind

The Days of Grades

The acronym "EGA", given to a certain strain of graphics processors for vintage PCs, stands for - and this is straight from the reference manual titled LotBlind's Liberties - "Enough Good Art". It was very much still the hype in '89 when your fresh Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero (EGA) floppies passed from your titillated palms into the recesses of your neon green backpack. You'd get a 16-color 640x350 picture where any of the 16 colors were swappable with others from a full palette of 64. The most sophisticated software of the era could do that shizzle on the fly. At least that's true of the CGA... which in turn comes from the words "Cringy Graphics Always". I think the CGA was a direct influence to that 80's fashion in general. If you want to learn more about old-timey computing (with less bogus mixed in), 8-bit guy's is a channel I would primarily recommend to you. After finishing this update of course.

So you do indeed want to be a hero? You'd best have trained your dex, cause you're gonna need to type in all the commands with your own ten buttery fingers. Wurn't so with the wuss mode VGA runs we were proffered earlier. Having returned from a later EGA "Quest" with a similar text parser, Paul 'The Reverend' Miller was able to outdo olden records on the fighter (0:05:35) and the thief (0:05:32). The magic user's route is the same as the thief's, but to make him feel a tad bit better, PR utilized his special magecrafts to blast a hole into the fabric of the plot-time-continuum so as to fish forth a time as low as 0:02:09.

As for us, we can use the same plot-time warp point to enter the dimention of DRAGON FIRE! No that's not corny hair metal, it's Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire. Oh wait, looks like Mr. PR made it here before us. What's that he's waving? It's a package that reads "large-skips NG+ in 0:06:06, deliver to SDA please!" Well I'll be damned if it didn't turn out the series' last iteration was about as broo-ken as the first. Although if you have to check a megabyte of links before one of them gives, it's probably not fair to use a word as... judgmental.

As per the runner's words: "It's nice to know that QFG will now has all five games represented on this site.  Now to work on a proper Any%." Sick stuff! Or more like... sic stuff.

The critical reception for the since waning flight sim series' fourth entry, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, was about as roaring as the jet fighters' engines themselves. On the surface, it gives a very peculiar impression of a mash-up between Star Fox and a bona fide balls-to-the-windshield flight sim like what Microsoft's house team had a knack for when I last saw this type of game being sufficiently mainstream to get reviewed alongside the hot stuff. The full Earth-like graphics are what make me feel a little uneasy with the idea of enjoying it as just a piece of airheaded (!) virtual entertainment. My friend 'Tolarus', on the other hand, isn't quite as squeamish, auto-locking on all kinds of airborne and stationary targets for a lengthy 2:19:47 on very easy mode. Make sure you can handle Mach 3 for this one!

If you CAN'T handle Mach 3, I've got just the thing for you. Your lack of safety is being severely compromised by 'adeyblue' exhibiting his niche pastime of deus-ex-machina-ing stranded strangers from candid dangers. That is to say he's been pecking at Air Ranger: Rescue Helicopter, also on the PS2, and proven to himself and everyone else it's possible to complete within 0:31:26. If you're not downing either of the two aerodyne emulators on offer today, you're not into aviation period, because aside from the terrain (or should I say air space) these two are covering, there's basically nothing left but balloons. And what do we know about balloons? That's right: Balloons is for kiddy-winkies! Seriously though, you can still submit balloon simulators too, so long as there's a finish line somewhere beyond that cerulean draw distance horizon.

Sunday, April 24, 2016 by LotBlind

Why is 7 afraid of 8?

Because it's bigger and more badass.

According to the boards above the tracks, "Mario Kart", as in Mario Kart 8, is one word somehow. Perhaps that's why Jose 'UchihaMadao' Karica felt it imposed on him to do this 1:40:24 in one sitting. Much like if you were to initiate a conversation with me about the most interesting characters in Disney movies since the last millenium, I'm at a loss as to who it is exactly jockeying the runner from easy win to easier win in a setting where the other racers might as well be enjoying their siesta, just periodically issuing mushrooms and thunderclouds down the track to make it look like they're putting in work. She does sound exactly like a female Mario though.

The categories for the run are -- and this might be the last time I'll ever say this -- All Tracks, DLC, Frantic Mode, 200cc, and Hard. I haven't been checking runner bios as of late, but Uchida's YT page looks well-cared for. It's the banner and the playlisting. Whenever you have a runner whose work you're enjoying just look them up here and see if they've given links to streams etc.

Here's a monster improvement for American-Russian Sabre Interactive's best-received shooter TimeShift. Much juice trickles down runner Robin 'Ekelbatzen' Schönborn's arm into the citrus press' juice-containing bit (juice jar?) where a 0:43:06 can be made out amidst the pulp. Running on casual difficulty allows more focus on exploiting eponymous time-bending mechanics to effect various skips, albeit not in every single area. The principle behind most of them is simple: if you can shoot an object to send it flying through the air in an arc, just reverse time and ride it back up leaving you flying in an even higher arc. Or just really far. I think I'll leave the rest of the run's peculiarities for those rearing to take a sip at the lemonade themselves. There might... just... be... an... OOB or two somewhere in there. It's really quite dope whether you have or as you haven't played the game, fast-forwarding the few autoscrollery bits.

Alien vs. Predator is an arcade-only beat'em'up taking place in what was probably meant as San Dorado in Arizona (near Tucson), or for all I know El Dorado in Nevada (near Vegas). The combined sci-fi vista that should rightfully be called AlienS vs. PredatorS vs. People doesn't let you play as the foremost mentioned race unlike the PC game that forces us to include the platform in question in the game page title. As for the 0:27:32 bursting out your virgin chest today, Sean 'MURPHAGATOR!' Murphy felt a kindred spirit in the Predator warrior out of the four playable characters. Seeing who it's by, you betcha this ugly, sharp-fanged baby comes with audio commentary awaiting your tensed ears on channel 2. Him and his buddies could as well have been spotted converting coins into continues at the local 'cade in '94 when the A Vs. P cabinets first got installed. Continues look like something we've critically outgrown since then.

Wait, isn't that just a marvelous idea? If you can still find gaming arcades somewhere, tell them you wanna do a showcase run for one of their games that they can video or market a bit. Might someone be interested? They could even pay you something I'm sure. Don't tell 'em you'll 1-cc it though :P

If you thought Lolo and Ms. Lolo ever got to enact the staple "you jump in the evildoer's wagon and get ready with your lipstick and hair bow, I'll be finishing with this here cold one and get set for the long haul" narrative only three times, you're dead wrong! If you were shrewd, and looking in the right general direction, you might have spotted them going at it multiple times between 1985 all the way to the year 2000. The series as a whole is known as "Eggerland", which aptly describes the game world in which you're certainly nounifiable as an "egger". Most of them appeared only in Japan or Japan and Europe and ran on PCs or Famicoms.

Still, this here is definitely the same The Adventures of Lolo 2 you "non-international" readers, and certainly le me, might recognize the smell of. The last outing for Lolo 2 on SDA was before the site had turned 1, soooo you'd expect some form of improvement right? That improvement measures around 5:33 and lowers the time to 0:23:41. To manage this, 'DonkeyKongGenius' paid our friends at a visit and received a detailed guide for how real bots run the game that thankfully behaves deterministically when following a half-step precision plan. So yeah it looks like a TAS now. Let's all press-gang the "genius" to repeat the feat in 1 and 3!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 by LotBlind

Silent, Buster, and I'll Tell You a Tiny Secret: "Ninja Crusader"'s an Oxymoron

After you've seen this 0:04:46 through Ninja Crusaders (Ninja Gaiden Gaiden), you will be left mulling over the question "how in the name can this be a 1:05 improvement?!" It looks so simple and easy. Looks can deceive though, especially when we consider the ninjas. This may be the run that has the largest percentage of frames holding down right even amongst all the pancake "NESformers". It's inanely precise, the runner 'WhiteHat94' estimating it could only be frames faster.

The next improvement comes in from 'Crow!', again. He put his mind on a game he already held an SDA record for, Secret of Mana, that is unusual for having actual competition in the goofy "one-P-two-C's" category. He didn't have any friends or extra controllers though, so it's a solitary escapade lasting much longer than if he did but it's still 19:03 better than what it was, down to a 2:57:21.

Those wishing to hear rather than read the rotund notes may see the fully narrated Twitch highlight here. Also we should all think that I summoned this run into existence by invoking it in my last update.

Like in the world of children, in the world of Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose!, the porkies always get picked on. They've got a rigged wheel'o'fortune that always stops on his mug and then he always gets to be the one to do the minigame - one that gets abruptly interrupted (something like Lucy with Charlie Brown) before it's even become apparent what its ostensible rules were. The rabbit gets all the real action. D.J. 'Akiteru' Rideout can't look himself in the mirror but can boast a 0:07:32 on the Japanese version. Well worth the trade.

If I ever get confused which one Silent Hill 3 is, remind me it's "the one where you fight an incomplete, playful anatomy mannequin that can't decide if it's a biped or a quadruped". That or the word "deivomous". Abigail Lee runs through mists, malls, hospitals, subways, museums and things, away from bad dreams on easy mode in an improvement of 4 and 10 in basically world-recordey 0:36:57. Up to you whether this game or Blood had the better Dark Carnival.

Saturday, April 16, 2016 by IsraeliRD

At night, nobody can hear you scream!

Despite making a censored version of Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, the game was still refused classification and effectively banned in Australia. They probably would not have liked the original Uncut and Uncensored! edition of the game where the fun never stops. Runner Andrew 'Bigmanjapan' Bondarenko skips every cutscene he can and plays the mini-games very quick-- I'm sorry, he actually wimps out every single one of them. Somehow it is still fine and he beats the game in 0:29:26, Single Segment.

After surviving the events of the Ishimura, Isaac finds himself in an asylum on the Sprawl, now sporting almost no population figures thanks to the Necromorph outbreak, to which Isaac is awaken to. Not the best way to wake up, I suppose, but that's how Dead Space 2 begins. Sahail 'Jehuty' Niemeyer is a familiar name in the Dead Space series, and honestly he doesn't let go with that near-perfect aim. Always a pleasure to watch, and this Hardcore Single Segment run in 2:08:42 is no different.

Onto the Individual Levels now, I have three of them for you in two games. The first is Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, a game with sometimes too much RNG. Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare revisits the original levels as Simon, running in Hard difficulty in New Game Plus settings. Chapter 2 has been improved by 0.22 seconds and Chapter 5 by 0.49 seconds, and the table time is now 0:07:36.56. In addition to that, he also ran the DLC levels, including two very long ones where he settled with 'good RNG/play/some frame-perfect tricks', to bring us a new table running at 0:14:36.77, also on Hard/New Game Plus.

Lastly we have Alien Swarm, which I thought the runs we had were impressive. Maik 'Onin' Biekart decided that the levels were not broken enough, and to make amends he now returns with an insane 90 seconds improvement, totalling a new table time of 0:10:53. The improvements are to three levels as follows: Landing Bay in 1:04 (previously 1:10), Cargo Elevator in 0:56 (previously 2:06) and Timor Station in 2:49 (previously 3:03).

Friday, April 8, 2016 by LotBlind

Just Realized Their Names Are Instruments Durr

I think we haven't been confused enough by names translated (more like reimagined) from Japanese as of late. Squaresoft's Game Boy Final Fantasy Adventure from 1991 is, first off, a Mana game. Like Secret of Mana. This can be fathomed - it started as a spinoff to an already-popular series, was then made into an independent series at which point the whole thing got renamed. Its Japanese release saw light as "Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden". I.e. 'Biopsy Folklore: Final Fantasy Foreign Telegram' or 'Holy Sword Story: Final Fantasy Tale' as an alternative reading. In Europe it released as Mystic Quest (before any "Fantasies" had come out in Europe) and is NOT Final Fantasy Mystic Quest for the SNES. Final Fantasy Adventure also had a remake in 2003 called Sword of Mana with all the vestiges from FF removed.

Anyway the game plays a lot like its descendants only with up to one computer-aided companion hanging along. In the first moments you're introduced as a showfighter under averse employment of the Dark Lord, who [spoiler]isn't a sweetheart[/spoiler]. After that the game kind of stumbles a bit in preserving the dire atmosphere when one of your ill-fated comrades, lying in a puddle of their own blood croaking their dying words, is called Willy. ("Willy! Willy nooooo!!") In the next unintentionally comical scene the Dark Lord has been told there's a mana tree above a waterfall right next to his own castle and his reply is "How do I get to it? Up the falls?".

Runner 'Crow!', who is improving on his own record in the "warpless" category by 7 minutes and 44 seconds, has used the logical technique of reworking the old notes instead of starting from scratch but didn't highlight what's new so it's up to me to be arsed in this case. Do I strike the kind that's frequently arsed? Like, on the regular? What's really interesting and kind of unusual is there's two different but both competitive builds for your character when running this uncannily Zelda-esque game, one going physical attacks and the other, as seen in Crow!'s 2:03:04, for magic-based offense. I think "holy sword" could imply either.

You traipse into a medieval castle across a creaky drawbridge that starts to hoist itself up as you pass, you enter the first courtyard where a fence so wide-spaced it's pointless erects from the fertile loam on the side, you hop up a thin thin staircase, crack out your whip and let it snap at a sly-looking human skeleton that explodes into a flurry of spinning tibia or possibly femurs and then... then you realize you're not really doing any of this, you're just playing Super Castlevania IV. Or possibly just watching this 0:31:55 submitted by someone called 'Furious Paul'. The verifiers are singing this 3:18-minute improvement's praise in what's at least forte if not fortissimo. I'm left short of breath just from listening. Someone also nominated the run as one of the best they've seen, which is a prerogative you're usually okay to assume.

Expect to see more damage boosts than the career of Steve-O. Expect to see bosses annihilated like matter and antimatter. There's at least one Sonic-esque zip. Oh and that jazzy moonwalking! Truly teh urn right here. Even if you didn't wanna watch-it watch-it, you could use the classic Castlevanian music as a soundtrack to your LAME.

Then there's this 0:52:59. It's for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which apparently is the fourth part in a series of open-world action-adventure games by an American team called Rockstar North... just kidding.

Now, it's been a good long while since I last gave attention to the GTA scene, which it kind of needs to be in my "profession". I really appreciate, and surely I'm speaking for a lot of people, when these popular-game runs surface for us of more casual interest in these immaculate packages with some amount of commentary thrown in. I single out popular games because they tend to attract more runners and time is getting chipped off like a colony of beavers on double espressos (hot coffee anyone?). This is why it doesn't appeal to any of them individually to submit their runs because (and I hypothesize) a) it's going to be old news when it hits OUR headlines and b) it probably feels a bit pretentious in such a setting, and c) you might feel discouraged by seeing even better times up the ladder - but that's just how it goes. Of course WHEN a run's finally knocking on our door doesn't matter at all because if you weren't already following those developments you won't have had it on your mind anyway.

Long story short, the submitter here is 'Mhmd_FVC', whose run is every bit as flawless as the one I hyped above. If you didn't get it already, 0:52:59 is INSANE for a game that only a few years ago (several eons in speedrunning time) could've boasted records like 1:30. Major glitches cut off lots of time, and this new run is done on the Japanese language edition, but sadly there was no explanation about how any of it worked attached to the run. I did find this playlist by the runner which is exactly what I wouldn't have minded seeing pointed at in run comments. Just to further emphasize, this run ALSO rocks socks off in sheer execution and I'm sure that's simply the level it's scaled up to over the course of time.

So, have you ever met tons of people who all want you to go collect things for them so as to receive access to new areas in return?

I couldn't think of how to follow that sentence up so I panicked and started a completely new paragraph instead. Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge is a 2003 handheld platformer textured by a whole lotta trifle-cumulation and minigames as per the SM64 mold. The premise is one of forestalling: not letting series antagonist Gruntilda to separate the verbally merged entity (but a hyphen tells them apart) of Banjo and indeed of Kazooie. In order to prevent preventing Grunty from taking over the world you return back in time yourself and explore a version of it predating what was seen in the 1998 original. It's along those lines anyway.

Hunter 'Blazephlozard' Davidson's routing especially got lauded in verification. It is, after all, a pretty sizable version of the Traveling Salesman's Problem, and because you can then exchange what you've collected for new abilities including such (I'd imagine) that affect your rate of movement, the potential complexity grows and grows. Maybe. Blaze took a game he felt underappreciated and lacking a truly solid run and DIY'd this 0:46:04 himself. Gotta say, if your run is 46 minutes long and your golds sum is 10 seconds faster than your record, it's not a bad record :D

Sunday, April 3, 2016 by LotBlind

Serpent in the Stagnated Paradise Was Lost Until it Finally Red the Postal FAQ

...and was able to get its parcel through to Peter Jackson. Here's that FAQ.

There's a specific subset of the otherwise highly diversified CRPGs ('C' for Computer) that includes titles like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights where players control an isometric party of adventurers from mellow hearth-side conversations to calculated start-stop combat with hands typically left largely unbound as to which avenues to pursue in which order. It seems weird to name a genre after a platform (why aren't there SNES-RPGs or SMS-RPGs?) and for some time the system you were playing on would have been somewhat interchangeable, but later on a mouse-based complex UI precluded porting thus justifying the term also from the non-historical point of view. Classics like Ultima IV and Sanitarium were expanding narrative into whole new dimensions making the generic high fantasy theme feel critically less stuffy. Those attracted to these games weren't deterred by lower-detail graphics, block-built worlds, or fragmentary voice acting because this allowed the developers to focus on coding in more logic and writing more dialogue.

This is the tradition in whose footprints Serpent in the Staglands sets off wandering. Well I guess you're technically not wandering if you just... Anyway, the game combines elements of Baldur's Gate and Fallout making your character, if not their backstory, a perfectly blank slate. You cannot carve that slate full in just 0:27:51, but you can complete the main quest in a single segment with resets, as proven here by 'Varstilone'. When the game is so open-ended, you know the speedrun will double as the low-level challenge and every fight will be... bestrewn with copious parmesan. Anyone interested in the run might also want to see Matt Barton's interview with the 2-man development team who are actually husband and wife. SHE does the coding btw.

Speedrunning isn't always rosy. Sometimes it can get downright grueling. Sometimes runners will inflict it upon themselves by entering the difficulty selector, tapping down as far as it goes, staring the game straight in the eye saying "I don't care how hideous, unfair and untested it is, I'm not here to have any sort of fun!", and smashing enter with oxen ferocity. When they've been force-fed their swollen and rather prickly egos, they'll close their bloodshot eyes for a minute, run to the first junction they managed to scurry to - with actually positive counts of health and ammunition - within the first 500 or so attempts... and call it segment 1.

Whatever else you do with your FPS, please make there be at least one weapon with perfect accuracy. Having struggled to land badly called-for headshots we have Zach 'Duane Jones' R who wouldn't take "impossible" difficulty to mean something he cannot do in Red Faction, that 2001 scenery destruction simulator of which I can't immediately tell why it received noticeably better reviews on the PS2 than the PC being the platform here (probably the park was less crowded). The game's USP was the Geo-Mod engine that implemented areas possible to be tunneled through along with collapsible structures. This 0:59:15 will discover at least a few exploity uses for it all as well as several other glitches and just plain stupid luck that stupid people will need to finish their stupid runs. Lord knows I'm one... The run comes fully equipped with audio commentary, but it's a separate video right here. Take your pick, miner!

Now enter Final Fight for the Arcade, the collection for which looks lacking one or two character categories. We get one step closer to rounding it off with proliferating Sean 'MURPHAGATOR!' Murphy who mistakenly chose an inferior character (Guy) for his run but thought "what the heck!" and made it his new record-setting 0:23:03. Inferior in the sense that Murph couldn't quite squeeze Cody's time out of this Guy guy despite the run looking damn-near flawless.

As you know if you're a regular reader, this is the game whose arcade cabinet allowed you to despawn your adversaries much more readily than the other consoles that saw the title, at least the GBA. As for other insights, get it straight from the horse's mouth (what?), the horse here being represented by the merry band congregated around the mic for the audio commentary track. You'll learn how to score attack the game as well as time attack. You'll learn how to survive the perils of rampant fire. You'll get the low-down on the fabled "ass-smash" technique of yore. It's just much better than anything I could come up with. I feel like they're having too much fun though. We gotta make up a rule against that.

1:18:50 is awfully long for a segmented FPS run! Even on the "very hard" setting. You got me right, you're being doled out a second helping of boom-tiddle-tiddle-bang today, but this time it's something you're not likely to want to bring up around the dinner table, not even when there's no-one else around. By the 10-minute mark the protagonist, who's just awoken from coma and needs to regain his bearings, has seen wild dogs savaging the townsfolk, witnessed an animal rights activist being buried in elephant poo, and met up with a guy called "Wise Wang". It's the video game equivalent of South Park with [numerically] less funny voices. There's something not-run-of-the-mill about the real-life premise of Postal 2: Paradise Lost too, which is that it's an expansion from last year for a game that released in 2003. The only thing developer Running With Scissors did in-between was the first expansion to Postal 2 and some Linux conversions, hence the joke about coming to after a 12-year coma.

To get back on the run for a minute, looks like Nikita 'NWill' Abramov wasn't able to glitch his way out the cutscenes though a few other seams do get torn. This makes the whole video a lot longer than 1:18 hours because the in-game speedrun timer, which testifies for RWS's appreciation for our refined art, pauses for their duration. The game is interesting in the sense that it plays out in a single contiguous fleshed-out location, as did the "mother game", like some kind of smallish sandbox you move both back and forth inside. The series also isn't quite as random as, say, Goat Simulator, because it clearly has a continuity with characters and story and you may well pick up some social commentary vibes if you want. So with the intact cutscenes this should make a good watch for FPS fans who play for the story more so than the action (Kappa) despite the average pace being on the sluggy side. Or if you just want to weird yourself out some.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by LotBlind

Blasting Through the Darkness

Sooooo SDA may just have broken down a little bit last week. The dynamic duo of radical Radix and plainly named nate took their godlike powers and transferred both the site and the IRC over to pastures greener and hopefully less error-prone. The new IRC channel is #sda on Quakenet. With site functionality restored (all hail our benevolent overlords!), it's time to return to updating the front page.

Bad news first, eh? There's a grating background drone left from recording in this new low-time dash down the frog hole in Yoshiaki Iwata et al's classic Blaster Master. You may have to lower the volume a bit to compensate. Good news is it cuts off over a minute from the obsoletee which should more than justify getting involved in it. It occured to me today that the more famous the game, the wilder the verifier crowd will go (and go they went) because of two things: one - it always takes chops to play on the level required; two - they'll actually have an appreciation of how precise and difficult everything is, not like patzers of my kind. It's us you gotta butter up with self-aggrandizing run comments.

One thing that makes running hardware-pushing games like Blaster Master fun is the lag: yeah I said that - because this gives you an extra thing to keep you engaged, trying to land every shot as early as you can. If you miss, doesn't matter all that much. Well, it's gotta be more fun than RNG! This run is in the "deaths" category and was submitted by 'ShiningDragoon' who says he specifically wanted a big time save before sending it out. It shaped up into a blazin' 0:31:46. BTW, if you really strain your ears you can make out a subtle music glitch in area 7.

It may not have been Simba's pride yet in The Lion King, the original, but I'm sure Simba's proud all the same! And the pride is proud too. On "difficult" mode this SNES game deflates your damage output or possibly inflates enemy health and I recall it proving prodigiously challenging to get past all the devious obstacles as a kiddo just on easy (circle of life? more like circle of strife! and misery!). Our second man of the day D.J. 'Akiteru' Rideout takes a load of TAS strategies and gets the finish line ahead of existing SDA runs regardless of category with time to spare. The improvement from the old hard mode run is 40 seconds into a 0:14:21 and everyone gave positive respondage, so what're you waiting for?

What you're waiting for is some trivia. First thing that caught my eye doing my usual rounds was that the Disney music was arranged (or probably just digitized) by Frank Clepacki who I recognized as the main Westwood music man. Then I saw Westwood was actually the developer too. This was highly surprising seeing the company had broken to fame with mostly RPGs and dungeon crawlers, adventure games and perhaps most iconically, Dune II and the Command & Conquer series. I guess they were just such a go-to high-visibility quality-assuring player back in 1994, several years before any major North-American AAA gaming corporations starting with the word that refers to being operated by a running current assumed control.

I could say other interesting things about Lion King, but I shan't, because gluttony is a SiN, though the second least-worrisome one according to Dante. This FPS from 1998 used the Quake II engine that seemed to see use with multiple shooters that sort of fell under the radar more so than other contemporaries - sometimes, as with Sin and Daikatana, owing all too much to a buggy experience out the box. Many of those games having been patched into consummation are now mewling for my attention on my undoubtably-overambitious backlog, Sin ever more so after reading about its near-future dystopian setting with some resemblance to Deus Ex.

Soldiering (officering?) on after initial rejection, 'nobody_important' packs the wicked affair in with this 0:39:24. "Officer" is indeed the level of difficulty here and the run was done in 28 segments, each more klutch than the next. The run also comes with AC. Audio commentary that is. I always go "Yay!" for those. I even more so than before want to play this now so I can watch the run without spoilers... if the runner takes 40 minutes surely a guy called "LotBlind" can blind it out in something like 45.

I've now literally d/l'd and started playing SiN, which is less dangerous than it sounds because it's not like some JRPG. A first person shooter of SiN's era you expect to rapidly save-scum through if nothing else. Before I get too sucked into it though (and I think I've already found sources of improvement :P), I should introduce you to another who definitely shouldn't get sucked in at all in her latest SDA adventure, Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness. Wow, I'll bet a few psychoanalysts would like to lay hands on her after that... if you sea what I mean! Michael 'arglefumph' Gray scores a two-in-two (worth 3 points) with this peril-filled maritime voyage that unexpectedly takes place, for the majority, on dry albeit frozen and slippery land. Not one but two runs passed verification not long ago, so the score has been settled on both "Amateur Sleuth" (0:33:38) and "Master Sleuth" (0:33:37). Just like the vikings settled Iceland. They ALSO had to solve lots of logic puzzles although I think most of them involved brewery, vintnery, and distillations. Argle segmented these runs to ensure the barman gets his order right every time.

Monday, March 14, 2016 by LotBlind

Awake from the Dream about Awaking from the Dream Also

If I for some God-forsaken reason had a Megaman-related nightmare one night, I think it might take the form of this 0:18:47 through Mega Man II for the Game Boy. I'm sure I'm going to be repeating the same points over and over with every GB submission ever destined in one of my posts, but... it's all just so terribly off by that same dreamlike tendency. With this game in particular, you just about recognize musical themes but they sound as if they didn't want exact reproductions for fear of lawsuits or something. It's an official Capcom commission though so what gives? The game also recycles most of its other material from two existing installments anyway, from II and III. Prepare to turn down the volume for this aurally grating run by Daniel 'Tremane' Schwab, but otherwise it will remind you of the other games in the series: there's a boss AI abuse thing, and a screen wrap effect that are both used for the first time, which along with many optimizations brings the old time down by 1:20 minutes.

In the treasure trove world of Lara Croft, precise acrobatics are what makes life worthwhile! From China, where lust for all-power (the noun from "all-powerful") proved the doom of some hapless Italian chap, she engages her next destination in the Bering Sea: a small island harboring a non-secret Soviet project to unearth an evil artifact as they would. I say "non-secret" because their facilities bear their insignia on every other square inch of metal and other slow-to-degrade materials. I'm also not entirely convinced we've avoided violating timelines (isn't Tomb Raider II modern-day?) within or without the franchise if Lara was a full-grown woman back in or before 1991 where this presumably is taking place, unless the operatives within the base are all just feeling a bit nostalgic.

Since this is the inaugural entry for this Tomb Raider II expansion that only appeared on the PC, it's fitting 'RadxxRyan' has went "all secrets" (which is the de facto 100% for these games) and "glitchless" so as to give us the proper wall to wall. Its duration is 0:31:53. Then, as an after-dinner mint, you can see the bonus unlockable level pulled off in show style - because it's in Vegas - under the same stipulations right here.

It's quite the shame SDA was initially selective about the genres allowed to embellish the Halls of Hustle (Gallery of Gallops?). There's nothing wrong with sites dedicated to accommodating a single strain of runs, but is it just the European in me wishing to see them all united under one banner? NOW things are different of course but I find runners understandably indifferent to re-doing the classics that got filed away on between 2006 and whenever our site opened that particular entrance. This should only be interpreted as sentimental drivel, however, because new titles and series are always showing up to thaw our frozen hearts and oil our rusted minds.

Speaking of, Awakening: The Dreamless Castle from 2010 represents an already-long-running series by oddball developer Big Fish Games (strictly speaking Big Fish Studios) whose massive oeuvre is centered around casual and mobile gaming, which is probably why it's so massive. It's the first of seven such titles heavy in sundry puzzles and lush hand-painted panoramas that will elicit the same dazzled wonderment the Kyrandia series did in those who share my memories of it. RNG is ever-present and fast solutions require unfloundering mouse usage, hence the segmented-ness of the 0:25:32 by Michael 'arglefumph' Gray of Nancy Drew fame. In verification he said something about doing some pirate game next... but I really don't know what he meant. STILL... be hype!

Finally, here's another game you're likely not to have heard of: l'Abbaye des Morts offers a retro style platforming experience in the vein of Manic Miner and other ZX Spectrum classics. For the lot of you for whom those words might as well have been written in Arabic, I'll proffer that you're a defenseless monk being ferreted out during a religious purge that actually occurred in history in the 1200s. No that's not the plot of Manic Miner... but the idea of being somewhat clueless in this otherworldly maze you're exploring with a short inscription underneath informing each room is carried over verbatim. And everything kills you. Kills you dead. It's so retro someone even ported the game, sans music, over TO the platform it harked back to.

Because you've given a number of lives to work with, from lives there follow death warps, and from death warps there follow faster speedruns. This one's by 'wōn' who brings the narrative to its macabre denouement in but a 0:03:30. Probably divine guidance. Or game knowledge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by LotBlind

If You Try Forcing the Link Enough, a Totally Smashing Creative Assembly of Words Will Fall Out

Someone quickly do a new Fallout run to justify the headline. Well technically in Smash Bros you fall out of the arena...

17 years ago, in January of 1999, one of Nintendo's innovations broke through and became one of their better-selling franchises. Yup, it's the first of the bunch, Super Smash Bros. that steps in through the gates of glory today for not the first time obviously. We welcome Captain Falcon, whose forehead glisteneth not after just 0:03:13 (in-game time) of focused dishing out of best-suited abilities. Following suit after previous runs, Jeremy 'DK28' Doll continues the "very easy" rampage in Classic mode. An audio commentary spreading some game knowledge was recorded so look for it in on track two. Do we have Falcon Punch you ask? Yes, I believe we do have Falcon Punch.

DYK?: HAL Laboratory whose work the Smash series is is the same one behind Kirby and the Mother (Earthbound) games. Not a connection I had learned to make.

Onto a second Smash Bros title. I hate to say it, but it seems consoles are about as much hassle today as they specifically were meant to let you avoid back in the day. I'm not in the newer consoles business much myself but from what I've heard the underhanded patching nightmare, as experienced by Jordan 'Greenalink' Greener, isn't the only quandary arising from industry standard protocols on the consoles these days, although I appreciate speedrunners aren't a major cliantele, and that automatic patching is not where the dilemma lies for most. In order to realize his outlandish run-through of Super Smash Brothers for Wii U, "Glink" had to disconnect the Wii U from the network completely after fortuitously catching a glimpse about a new patch the bugger would have instantly downloaded had he not been vigilant.

In any case this fiercely convoluted category name - "Classic Mewtwo Intensity 0.0 Custom Moveset Glitched" - springs from a peculiarity of the 1.06 version where Mewtwo... seems to have went wrong somehow. I think Ness' forlorn "No, no, no, no!" is the most summary encapsulation of the inordinate amounts of pwning face you're about to witness if you get yourself a copy of this 0:00:22.92 smack fairy visit today.

The genesis of Spartan: Total Warrior is fairly interesting and worth recounting: developer Creative Assembly had prior to Spartan always been known for unraveling historically accurate battle scenes where thousands of units would clash whether for Caesar, Napoleon, or one of their buddies. However, these fights would be overseen from a lofty airborne perspective. When they wanted to try their hand at converting the idea to the consoles of the time, the PS2 pertaining to this 2:19:06 I saw already in verification, they soon found it was impossible due to sheer memory limitations. In the end they'd still managed to turn up with a game sporting the most impressive crowd scenes on that generation of consoles where your player agency had been limited to etching your zorro marks all across the enemy battlers as just a mug in the mob. This was enough for 'Soliduz Znake' who went far and beyond to deliver the people of Greece from bad bad Romans in the time I rather awkwardly already mentioned.

Thinking of how the pun in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is more than likely lost on the Japanese, you shouldn't gawk at what its sub-title was for them: Triforce of the Gods. Seriously, stop gawking! So it's ma homeboy Zlenka at it again, and we are indeed doing this run in that onoraburu ranguwiiduzu ofu ze Faaru Iisutsu (= in Japanese). I wonder if the few native "Nihon-jins" who do frequent our lovely but decidedly Western oasis of goal-oriented (gold-oriented, as in gold splits) fast LPs see the recent trend, led to by a global rules revision, of ordering Japanese cartridges that yield us systematically better finishing times, as simply a nod towards that bristling creative force their gaming companies foster amongst hard-working hirelings in search of new advancements in the medium? Cause I know I would. But then I'm incredibly self-centered.

Looks like we're taking necessary detours to meet the 100% criteria, which are conveniently cited right on the game page: "getting all items on the subscreen, all heart pieces, and max level of equipment except the bomb and arrow upgrades". The same game page is telling me (but will no longer be telling you) that the last 100% submission was 10 minutes 19 seconds slower. 'Xelna''s rather laconic written commentary "track" gives you what the highlights were even if you have no time to stay for the entire 1:42:24.

These few Nintendo-heavy updates made me think a thing I saw on Jimquisition was relevant enough to share with you. Here's the thread.

Saturday, March 5, 2016 by LotBlind

There's Always a Reason, They're Always in Season

"Well, quitting this game doesn't last long, does it?" quips the Mike 'mike89' McKenzie and whacks his latest opus, an 0:11:40 for Sonic the Hedgehog, on the tidy front desk at the International Sonic Speedrunning Bureau, which happens to have a branch right here on SDA. Though Mike is probably one of the best-recognized names when it comes to those classic Sonics for multiple marathon appearances and... Australians are a bit rare (?), the video you should already be downloading should be thought of as the pinnacle of the iceberg that needs most its mass to lie underwater in order to achieve its majestic stature. This is an aspect well covered by the run notes themselves.

"It's a good thing nobody likes Marble Zone, because it barely exists any more." The download should be finishing about noowwww. I'm not even going to tell you by how much it improves on the last SDA record because MRRYAAAGGHH!

I believe we established last time the hero[ine] in The Legend of Zelda is Zlenka, the androgynous Polish Green Goblin-wannabe. Because the game is fairly well-known, let's just focus on the run time for a minute. 0:29:56 is...

a) a 1:29 improvement over Darkwing Duck's previous SDA record from just 3 years back
b) 4 seconds below a round figure

Conclusions I'd like to be able to draw: there's gotta have been new skips found since; the runner is through with the game for now. However, there have NOT been any new skips. It's just sh*t getting intense down the coliseum as of late. Take a brief look at this page here and I need not say more. Un-amazingly the very same guy who submitted this run, 'LackAttack24', holds the top of the leaderboard there. I feel you should be awarded even more points for SDA accepts...

"If it bleeds, we can kill it". "Kill" is not something you could say in a family-friendly Nintendo game back in 1991, even if said game was about a maniacal killing MACHINE called "The Predator". Instead, the blurb reterms that "destroy". I'd have went with "bandage" or "test for diabetes". 'Slaughterhouserock' takes A. Blacknegro's (literally what "Schwartzenegger" means: Go Austria!) bulging physique and completes this not entirely popular NES shoot-at-things game in a time of 0:17:22. The run looks like Rambo getting bitch-slapped by audacious animals every-the-wheres during his usual morning hike through endless reaches of untamed wilderness. Because this game has not been seen before on SDA, I guess this is a pre-dat-or for any and all future runs.

I can't think of a time when I've been left feeling more hoodwinked by a run claiming it's multiplayer than this: it just so happens in Super Mario Kart, if you choose 2p mode and leave the other controller on the sofa until you've finished, by thumbing in the 2nd player's forfeit during the race end cinematics, you skip about 5 seconds of them. You also get less obstacles on the course - possibly because they had to slim the CPU load a bit, or maybe they just felt having a human opponent was challenging enough. This 0:20:25.91 is the run that taught me the Bowser music from I Wanna Be the Guy is the final race theme from this game. 'KVD' tells us he's "honoured and thrilled" to have been inducted. Well, we'll be honored [because I default to US spelling] and thrilled if you submit another one!

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