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Sunday, August 13, 2017 by LotBlind

Shockingly Pink, Shockingly Tasty

The times are extremely interesting for the retinue of cyberpunk masterpiece System Shock and fans of so-called immersive sims in general. If you've been buying once-lost adventure and RPG titles from GOG recently, there's a chance you've been enjoying enhancements coded in by a certain Night Dive Studios and their sub-contractors (contractees?). Modern resolutions and compatibility, bug fixes and improved UIs all spring from company founder Stephen Kick's desire to make the sequel, System Shock II, legally available again after having been limboed between two rightholders since the venerable Looking Glass Studios tapped out in 2000. Since then, Night Dive has updated a large variety of games and is even giving the first of the Shocks much more than the standard doses of electrotherapy having set out to completely rebuild the game from ground up. They're collaborating with old Looking Glass staff on it so definitely not looking like another Thi4f. Nor is the unrelated System Shock 3 in the works by Otherside Entertainment, an unbelievably qualified superteam dedicated to leapfrogging "immersims" of the past and delivering us from the dark ages of triple-A stagnation for good!

Now that you know something about Night Dive, whose handiwork System Shock: Enhanced edition, too, is, let it also be known that it's officially been given the treatment, abusing every inch of the mousepad now that mouselooking is a thing. We have 'PvtCb', the runner behind the old "classic" System Shock run as well, doing the honors. The game is on my to-play list and so I don't wish to delve into its secrets too deeply, but in a nutshell, you embody a hacker whose audacity and superior know-how incur an involuntary assignment aboard Citadel Station, where it is the station's central A.I., the unforgettable Shodan, he will struggle to outwit. The run is with deaths and resets, in single-segment mode and on the default difficulty. The mouselook makes it much smoother and enables new tricks so it's only 0:10:37 long where the classic version ran on for half an hour.

Sam 'Samtastic' Locke is one of our frequent-er frequenters when it comes to run submissions. He's been systematically chewing through the valid categories for the two main Oddworld titles in a pleasantly esthetic, necklace-like pattern: Oddysee, Oddysee, Exoddus, Oddysee, Oddysee, Exoddus, and his latest two for the remaster Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty!. If we wanted to project some into the future at conscious and malicious risk of putting him on the spot, the logical continuation would be either reeling back with Exoddus, Oddysee, Oddysee etc. OR going for the other remake, Soulstorm, then N'n'T, N'n'T, and one more for Soulstorm. Seeing as Exoddus' remake is yet to emerge from the Oddworld processing facilities, this would force the cessation of activities until given the opportunity to tick it off later down the [Monsaic] line... but it's one of those two options... or letting everyone down. Everyone.

Speaking of being let down, if your childhood memories are particularly photosensitive, them being exposed to the cold steely light of reality an immensurable disaster, you might have been distraught at the sight of Sam's last New 'n' Tasty into-pulp-stomping. Here's your spiritual Aloe vera: an 0:54:46 effort of a far more normal-looking (but exactly as mis-Mudokon-ic) glitchless category played on Hard.

Meanwhile, in the anthropomorphic discolored cartoon corner, pink being the color of passion (just ask Steven Tyler), more and more unseemly debris has eroded off Pink Panther Pinkadelic Pursuit level times under siege from 'wesen''s oceanic swell. The land mass of this 2002 platformer has now shrunk to a profile not unreminiscent of a well-cared-for bonsai tree. All but two levels (The Railway Line and The Stone Age) have been updated bringing the table to 0:10:58 with the pile of snipped leaves on the side amounting to well over a minute converted rather alchemically into time. The runner *thinks* they might be done with the game, or at least the PC ILs now, so who knows where the ebb and flow will continue its inexorable work at cliff-polishing, or bonsai-pruning depending on which analogy appealed to you more. Unless hydraulic shears are a thing.

Friday, August 4, 2017 by Anonymous

Was the Third Dimension Invented Before or After Color?

(this update was requested to be published anonymously)

Catapulted back to pop culture fame by Toy Story, the line of generic action figures endearingly called Army Men garnered enough attention for 3DO to license the toys for their own video game series that continues to this day. Utilizing strange tactics such as rolling through minefields and sidestepping tank rounds, 'ZEN_Ivan' combats Army Men 3D on the PlayStation in just 0:24:00. The game is actually a remake of the first title in the series released on the PC and the Game Boy Color, and follows the fate of Sarge as he seeks keys to open a portal to the unknown while saving POWs along the way. Controlling a lone veteran soldier battling against the entire beige army may seem daunting, but thankfully this soldier can take a rocket or two to the face.

Team Ninja, formed from Tecmo game developers, seemed destined to reboot the classic Ninja Gaiden series. Known for Dead or Alive, they used their expertise with 3D fighting games on home consoles to re-imagine Ninja Gaiden as a 3D hack and slash similar to Devil May Cry. It was decided early on to tie the game, simply titled Ninja Gaiden and released exclusively on Xbox, into the Dead or Alive universe while maintaining its lineage as a prequel to the NES storyline. A year later it was remade for the Xbox 360 as Ninja Gaiden Black, with improvements to the engine and additional content. It's in this definitive edition that 'JTB123' takes on the role of Ryu Hayabusa to slice and dice his way through numerous foes. The game's 16 chapters are cut up into 33 segments for a total time of 1:34:43. This being the PAL version we'd normally see it placed alongside the NTSC run already on the site, but given the drastically lower time it gets to stand alone (next to the single segment run).

Speedrunning lends itself more towards certain genres; however, rather than limit the hobby, it's encouraging to see runners engaging in games rarely explored for speed. Rome: Total War incorporates real-time tactics in a turn-based strategy game, and sports epic battles supporting thousands of individual units. Foregoing those with an auto-resolve option we're left with a display of menuing prowess, making the game look more like an entry in the Civilization series. Ignoring Rome completely for 0:03:11'AntonioPeremin' commands Greece in a short campaign where the goal is no longer to take the city but be first to control any 15 provinces while fending off Macedon and Thrace.

BTW: The bloopers reel for Ikari Warriors was never actually published... because this was felt to be appropriate for a bloopers reel! It's right here now.

Sunday, July 30, 2017 by LotBlind

99.99% Fail Rate Means You Did It

...and it only took you 10 000 attempts!

In that childish and annoying race to be first at all things, Jordan 'Greenalink' Greener makes a semi-continuation appearance with Blaster Master Zero, a 0:08:26 run that forced us into drastic renovations (i.e. digging out a new virtual room for Switch runs). In Zero, you're given that old supertank Sophia III of every adolescent's daydreams, playing as either Jason or one of additional DLC heroes, in what'd pass for a 16-bit version of the same game (although on the SNES it would have been called Super Blaster Master for sure). The new features feature buttons and levers, more powerful weaponry, more bosses, and Green's choice of Unlimited Mode that unlocks everything from the get-go. 'Cause race to be first. In his comments, Greenalink not only describes all the speedrun-informing gameplay adjustments made by Inti Creates (known for Shantae, Mega Man Zero, Azure Striker Gunvolt... and Mighty Number Nine), but also curses the flippancy of random boss patterns so you don't have to!

First to write about a Switch run.

The name "Knytt" suggests cognacy with Knut or Cnut, and perhaps it had that in Tove Jansson's mind. She, the famed author of The Moomins, introduced him in Vem ska trösta Knyttet? ('Who Will Comfort Toffle?') as an existentially-socially anguished antihero whose perpetual confinement is only dismantled when he overcomes his misgivings and takes matters into his own hands. Ever since, Knytt has represented anything small and fearful. Believe me, it has. Ever since Niklas Nygren's first Knytt game, he has also represented another one in a long line of similar 2D-platformer protagonists. Ever since Knytt Stories, he has no longer been that de facto protagonist having been usurped by another character from the same universe (I think), Juni whose name translates as 'June'. Stories supported and encouraged modding while launching with only the tutorial and one full story called The Machine. It is The Machine that is today raged against for 0:14:24, on a PC, by a feller called 'Gliperal'. Best ending. All's best that ends best?

First to write about the Machine story.

My cohort 'ktwo' is not entirely unknown in the three realms of slick, speedy, and swimming speedruns. Of the three, this clearly belongs to the swimming camp... which is a kind of summer camp where they specialize in teaching you all the different strokes. A stroke is what you'll have when you realize what kinda game this is and what the bastard's went and done to it: it's like watching one of those brutal heavyweight knockouts on pay-per-view. There's people proud of having completed the game PERIOD. There's those who'll place beating it ON ONE CONTINUE highest up on their ludological resumes. Then there's the speedrunner who realizes what a waste of time death really is, lose you your powerups and all, and decides to shed mortality instead of the mortal coil.

Ikari Warriors was bullet hell before bullet hell was a thing. A labyrinthine mess of enemy spawn locations and unsympathetic drop RNG. Loads of grenades and suddenly changing music tracks. It's a game that never went all-out on either [NES-grade]-realism or total abstractness either so the ef-dup helicopter sprite isn't so jarring in the end. Also not jarring is ktwo's recording which seems to have none of that static buzz that I've grown to expect of all NES videos. Clearly he's playing through an emulator! Unlike in the arcade, you can only aim in the direction you're moving, thus the imperative to minimize oblique gunfire, thus the limitless opportunities for riskier and rewardier strategies. Really what we need to take from all of this is whenever someone throws out a categorical "impossible", they probably won't be the one to do it in 0:27:26.

The run comes complete with audio commentary. AND there's hardly anything the Strategy Guide won't tell you. AND there's a bloopers reel. AND I'm the first to write about it on the SDA front page.

Do you see that below this paragraph? It's the absence of a dislike button.

Monday, July 17, 2017 by Worn_Traveler

SBD for You and Me

Hello friends. Do you need more teleportation in your life? Have you grown weary of walking in the light? Do you yearn to hide in the shadows and find your way through testing chambers, risking certain death if you are seen? Are computers and moving platforms your only friends? If any or all the above apply to you, then please sit down and watch the following instructional videos on how to optimize your clone-life experience. These training videos are from the Stealth Bastard Deluxe Clone-Life Instructional Video Series. These vital instructions have been prepared by Vincent 'Badaxis' BILLET. The preparer has updated previous training videos and created new training content as well. Even more importantly, these videos are considered top of the line and are for a large part world records too.

The first test video series is of the basic, ordinary, NG-ish type of video that can be viewed in 0:53:42.40. These brief instructional videos are updates to our training and encompass your basic existence. We have a lot of testing chambers here and it is easy to get lost so be sure to know your way around with these excellent tours of the facility.

Have you gone through these chambers already and crave something new? Try using some content that you can add to your basic form. These downloadable additions can be viewed in a fast 0:09:10.28

Still not enough? Grab your item carrying unit of choice and try out the equipment tour. Want to know more about this special package or what the equipment does? Please watch these videos in a smashing 0:25:05.13.

We hope you have enjoyed these courses on clone-life existence. Perhaps someday you will meet whomever you are a clone of... Or will that just be another clone too?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 by LotBlind

Just an announcement...

Here is an interesting survey for speedrun fans and runners created by some members of the greater speedrunning community. If you have the time, please help them out with your thoughts and opinions! Note that the deadline is this Friday, the 14th.

The second thing happening this Friday is there will be some server downtime due to shifting the physical server location. No need for panic! Any more than usual at least.

Actual updates coming soonish...

Monday, May 22, 2017 by LotBlind

The Stragglers

Daylight had broken. Almost. The last fading embers, transformed from a youthful, pale birch into gaudy, poignant shades of the upper tiers of rainbows; sizzling in the extreme, a devilish red; now softening ang graying like the twilight of man; committed their nightly act of untroubling, lay unstirred, eagerly prepared an un-ceremony for a final self-effaced donation to that which remained. Here took the nightwatch measured sips of sanguine vintage, reflecting on how much bogus philosophy was actually warranted by eighteen "cartfuls" of runs, laden three abreast and issued four times a fortnight, but deciding that like the wine, the night's accomplishments deserved to be relished a tad longer. Switching sides, the man peered leaned a benumbed foot against the age-rounded crenelations of a castle built on swampy grounds, and slowly swept along a merlon as swept his tongue against those in its cave. Unsure how much of the illuminating scene was allegorical, how much of it sheer bogus, eyes shifted from the open terrain down towards the moat and the drawbridge, whence emanated the familiar creaking of the windlass as one last trolley was being released on its dusty way.

Then he died or something. Look, it's not like the mood wasn't about to get trampled flat anyway by the final batch runs from 2017's Big PushTM where dreams became reality. Very select ones at least. If you squinted while rapidly flicking the lights on an off. One of the runs has a JRPG-type vaguely olden times high fantasy setting but the other two, by Jove!, could hardly be pneumatically compressed into an artefact of the pre-Renaissance.

I don't even know where to begin. I'd best get Steve 'Elipsis' Barrios's offering of The Typing of the Dead: Overkill's Bitch difficulty premier (in 1:17:27) out of the way first. Sega published the fifth House of the Dead in 2009. I hadn't even heard there'd been a fourth one at any point, but that's because the fourth never got home-ported until 2012. The year after there was Typing: Overkill, a kind of conjoined head where the mutants (don't say the Z-word!) wear nametags that you type on your portable keyboard to put them down. The dev team for this one was founded by two virtual entertainment luminaires and Fellows of the Royal Society of Arts, the Oliver Twins... except their company filed for bankruptcy before they were finished; Sega, however, granted a continuation licence and funded the new team called Headstrong Games which then rounded the second Typing game off. The art direction was defined by a new wave 2007 exploitation film called Planet Terror which itself imitated the 70's Grindhouse B-theater tradition. The grotesque, the shocking, the repugnant were the order of the day. One of the boss fights is against a semi-decayed ton-and-a-half mutated stripper still wearing, barely, her old "uniform". Bare-ly. The original rail shooter and its edumicative twin are anathema to all things right and priggish in their use of language as well: they shared with the South Park movie the Guinness record for most swearing in its medium for some time until dethroned by Mafia II. And there's a very handy link to...

The original Mafia from 2002, many a "Patsy's" favorite of the series. A taxi driver called Tommy Angelo, law-abiding shuttle for law-abiding fare between the districts of Lost Heaven – a combination of the Frisco and the Windy City of the 1930's – runs into a couple of mobsters fleeing from thugs serving a competing family. After tearing them to a safe turf, he's fed some dough and offered work on the basis of his skills at the wheel, but he's scared of the thought and declines. Not long after, Tommy finds the same goons on his tail and turns to his new-made friends for protection. Thus begins his ill-omened allegiance with the dark side of society. It's a pretty poignant story with a typical arc and familiar characters but what the game really nailed was its mimesis. Despite being pretty leisurely most of the time starting from a languid cinematic intro set to the dramatic orchestral main theme, the environment, the people roving the streets, the bootleg unlicenced copies of the authentic "boilers" of the era (a T-Ford by any other name is still a T-Ford), and the accent we've grown to expect, all make the joyride a titillating one. A joyride, in fact, is something you might not oppose to taking a few times between missions just to see what you've missed.

Even in a speedrun, a lot of that atmosphere is kept listening to the car radio and the guys "beating their gums" as they plan how they're going to send a hapless louse's mother flowers, but achtung! It's in German today. Handling many missions with more elegance, showcasing a few new discoveries, and further distilling car RNG some, 'Chris-X' puts the run to its "big sleep" 13:17 faster than the previous segmented record in 2:42:43. This, by my count, would make the fourth such SDA run, the first having been aired in 2005. That was ALSO by a German runner by some coincidence. I'll leave reading things into that to our home audience.

Wait a second. This is by a German TOO. A guy called...  Chris-X? Where have I heard that before? If I tell you this used to be the longest run (Dune 2000's run times are erroneously added together to make it longer in the per-length listing), would you be able to guess that it's a JRPG? I would. Grandia. It's Grandia. It's a large oven-heated pizza that comes in three different styles, and don't you dare just slap it in the microwave cause it leaves it soggy and anyway it's your responsibility. Seriously though, the name evokes the exact right image: it's a super-buffed traditional PS1 sample from 1997 and it goes on and on and on... There's typically a lot of fighting so if you don't like that, or if you're actually paying the writing that's adequate on the macro scale but ear-rendingly cringy on the micro (as was par for the course in earlier translations between Jap-Eng and actually also Eng-Jap) any heed, here's your exit now! Run! Run while you can, from this biblical 10:25:05 behemoth. A run like this can contain major detouring or grinding that all pays off in the end, but there was just the one really obvious one. It's pretty good if you wanted to treat it as a let's play, a massive 3:06:57 faster than before. That's what it was for me when I did the Pre-Release Check for it: I couldn't find it in me to finish the game but now I'm entitled to have opinions about it. ;)

So the Push comes to a close... Lastly, I would like to announce a new section of our Knowledge Base created by the industrious Greenalink: a comprehensive guide to getting imported, ostensibly incompatible cartridges and discs to run on Western versions of their consoles. He's put in lots of effort, and so I wanted to wait until this update so more people are likely to catch the news. You can see the link for this directly on the Knowledge Base front page with a neat picture to boot. Right next to it, there's another guide to hacking the console for better/different A/V output formats, in the works, being compiled by the same benefactor. It's like Christmas come late! (I got nothing! *futile fist-shake*)

Updates will resume their normal pace in a few weeks' time. Until now and then! Cause that's the normal pace. Every now and then. It was funny before I wrote it.

Friday, May 19, 2017 by LotBlind

Quest for Glololollololory

I've long since unofficially dubbed (and will officially, once elected Head of Enough Many Things) the less monotone version of Robin Hood from the Quest for Glories "Trollface". It's cuz of that win screen... I say less monotone because of the clothing but also for the blank sheet of a perfectly malleable RPG character. I've written on the series before so I'll just summarily summarize it as: choose class, choose skills, build skills, apply skills, win the day. The writing each time became more vivacious and deep. In Shadows of Darkness' story, a Lovecraftian summoning ritual is undergoing preparations in a remote, secluded land of Mordavia. Trollface is striving to machinate a good outcome pressed between two powerful wizards. He will meet strange fantasy creatures specifically from Slavonic myths this time. The fighting also made progressively more sense game by game. By the time we got to Quest for Glory: Shadows of Darkness that was meant to be the 3rd game but was ultimately deemed too arduous an ordeal for the protagonist at that phase of his character development (no joke!), we had a significantly less arcane system of sliders (like a manager sim) for marking out just the general strategy for each fight.

Not partial to one or the other, Paul 'The Reverend' Miller tackles the adherents of Chernobog as every one of the four classes. All but the Paladin have existing entries; however continuing the high-percents streak from a few updates back, we collect all the "you're doing it right" -points along the way, which are given for completing a set of side quests that is unique for each class. This extends the standard Mordavian tour to:

0:43:05 for the Thief (stealing your time),
0:38:44 for the Wiz Kid (the antwerp maze is like a pinball machine)
0:38:09 for the Paladdin (one of Aladdin's pals)
and 0:43:11 for the Fighter, whose karmic onus for being boooriiing is a kill bill encompassing the entire bestiary, including monsters only encountered at random.

Just so we're not overwhelmed by Trollface's noticeable but ultimately narcissistic chivalry, we might as well hark back to the kind of games he's remembered for in 'Gametown' (Spielburg of Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero): Bribing a bear with sweeties that are certain to induce cavities (that's why they live in "caves", which is cognate); dismissing one of his own troll kin twice (no piety!); eavesdropping like a real bitch; running around with a dagger in his pocket, roguishly; "confuse-a-catting" a minotaur; trespassing, vandalism, inflicting injuries, and being generally suspicious for allocating so many points into "stealth". And that all happens before the popcorn even has popped if your microwave is old, in 0:03:43. The 31 seconds are saved in dealing with the minotaur and in better execution. The minotaur skip was actually first discovered in the EGA version of the same game, whose major-skips time is suddenly down to 0:01:35, which is before that old microwave's done more than spin the bag three or four times. Again, we wave goodbye to another 34 seconds playing as the magic user.

Lori and Corey Cole's new title, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, is not long from release according to their blog. Last chances for those pre-order discounts!

Monday, May 15, 2017 by theseawolf1

Tactical Espionage Action... in plain sight.

Some believe it is a point of pride to remain anonymous while causing change, to be in the shadows unseen while molding the fate of the world. The ninja, the commando, the guy who decides every few years that eggs are good for you, then bad for you, then good again…

But there comes a level of ability in the world of subterfuge that you can literally overflow into bold and brazen action and still be successful. I think back to the first video game heroes of this concept: the White and Orange ninja of the Ninja Gaiden prologue. They simply don’t care about the sneaking portion of being a ninja because they are so good at all the other aspects of the art. I present to you four runs filled with blatant acts of “infiltration”.

First up is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, wherein Sean Conn… I mean Big Bo… no wait, Venom Snake is trying to exact revenge on the ones responsible for his near death in the previous game. Despite the subtitle of “Tactical Espionage Operations”, it seems that the 9 year coma that held Venom Snake led to him becoming… impatient. Horses of fire, air strikes, dragging people away with balloons and running headlong into walls while riding a bipedal war machine might not be subtle, but they certainly are quick (so quick, in fact, a mission ends before Miller can detail it to you, resulting in rather funny dialogue as his intel team corrects him). 'Tigger77' navigates Kojima’s winding story in the New Game + category (rather unsportingly I might add) in 1:48:20, then he retreats to the shadows to prep for Metal Gear 1. I think. Maybe. I dunno. Kojima.

:HIDEO screen pops up, whilst I prepare the next material:

What happens in Vegas, usually stays in Vegas. In the case of our next 2 games there’s a lot of media coverage, betrayal and explosions, so word gets around about Tom Clancy’s terror-fighting regiment. Back in the original game the Rainbow Six team could not jump because, as per the manual, “once you were in midair, you no longer had control over your next actions, therefore jumping was too risky and not allowed by operatives”. Physics engines have evolved a bit in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, and thus Tim 'Judgy' Kedge gets to lead people who jump from helicopters, jump into buildings and jump into action! All the tangos get taken down on Normal difficulty in 1:09:02, but will there be a resolution to this novel story? Speaking of novels, read Judgy’s notes. Holy Gonzo.

:Pulls a slot machine while waiting for his next flash bang to go off… and hey its 7-7-7. Guess I know what’s next…:

The Six team loved Vegas so much that the rest of the crew went back for another go in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2! The 7th installment set in the land of 777 has a few improvements from 'Tigger77'. The team’s normal loadout is mocked by the protagonist, as he skips the full body flak armor for a beret, tank top and more grenades than bullets. He’s also as subtle as a rhino: chucking flash bangs everywhere, throwing smoke grenades in all the non-smoking areas and running around manically with a pistol to accomplish the goals of the Rainbow Squadron. Tigger chops off some IL times on Casual difficulty, his gambling on not being shot to death while running to and fro bringing it down to 1:11:51.

:This slot machine has a mini game on it… wait, there’s people in there. I’d better go save them:

More than a few games had the “trapped in a video game” theme, and Kid Chameleon does it on a grand scale with 103 levels of transmogrifying madness, tiki heads of doom and stylin’ shades. A game noted for multiple paths, constant platforming and enough of a fan base that is was rereleased on several consoles, it’s a staple of the old “Genesis doing what Nintendont”. A plethora of attempts and optimization (the warp zone might have helped, too) by Ryan 'TheWinslinator' Winslow leads to a STAGGERINGLY short time of 0:01:32. Man that boss always freaks me out.

:Exits stage left, cape over face. Sneakily. (So sneaky):

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by LotBlind

A Secret Splinter Update

For the record, the Mega Man X run from last update wasn't the WR (an error that owes to differences in timing), but the latest WR is held by the same person anyway.

We know James Earl Jones is not Lord Vader's body, just his voice, and so the rest of the cast had to keep a straight face playing off David Prowse's angry West Country farr-mer in filming. We've all seen hilarious footage of Andy Serkis loping about making faces in a costume befitting an asylum-dweller to give filmgoers a credible Gollum. It's the end result that matters, right? I feel this is a necessary preamble (you'll understand) before letting loose a slew of inductees all from the same cloak-and-dagger series by Ubisoft. At first they would pay Tom Clancy royalties for team-based tactical simulators titled Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon. After testing the waters some more with another splinter line of games called Splinter Cell, the company had by 2008 been convinced (by all the massive skrilla, perhaps) that they should just buy Clancy's name outright for use in all future entries out to eternity. And Mr. Clancy, who died five years following, agreed.

It is indeed games from the last of the three series that appealed to today's runners the most. In Splinter Cell you act out the will of a hush-hush arm of the real but probably not quite as exciting National Security Agency. It's all gadgetry and stealth, stealth and gadgetry from start to finish. The series' icon, the three-lensed visor, bestows thermal and night-time vision on Sam Fisher, the man of the hour. 2005's Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory introduced a third view mode in which players could scout around for sources of electromagnetism, along with numerous other enhancements, including lethal options which have earned it, and every one of its successors, an M-rating. Stealth-oriented games' runs have in common the dynamics of minimizing the stealth side of it – an especially salient dilemma when playing on Expert and dunking that 100% like Michael 'CotySA' is doing here. 0:58:26 makes it faster than the any% run by Tigger77, however that one's in ILs and so foregoes the benefits of segmentation. The 100% means not only avoiding all alarms, but also completing all kinds of extra objectives so it's a pretty creamy soup from Coty.

Where it's your highest imperative to stay unnoticed, doesn't seem someone called "'triblast55'" could be of much help, but these code names are designed to deceive after all. The man's kept busy with Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, a game with a split personality (or maybe it's a double agent itself and one of them's just a cover identity). These runs I've seen and they certainly tie in with the whole mimicry idea I opened this with: when you see Fisher lurching around, shrouded in gas from a grenade that's behind the wall, you can't help thinking every guard is having the same difficulties as the cast of Star Wars pretending they can't see him or hear him talking to his transmitter. It's like this is the behind-the-scenes footage before they've done another CGI pass on Fisher's black suit that's going to turn him completely invisible. Or give the guards blinkers that cover almost the whole face. Or fashion said face with that vacant George W. Bush expression with a goofy "huh?" every time they think they've heard something. There's two runs for the Shanghai version, both getting the good ending with the usual Hard difficulty and 100% stealth. The PC finishes a minute and nine seconds faster at 1:33:33. The Xbox 360 – a whole nine minutes and six seconds at 1:36:29.

Ubisoft's Montreal team, responsible for Chaos Theory as well, are the progenitors of the Xbox version of the same game. Except not quite the same: the plot branches out with a slightly different set and order of missions. It's not even built on the same engine actually. You're still a Princess Peach -tier professional two-timer, your pretense at ethics wearing thinner and thinner with every passing compromise to not be compromised yourself. It is not the single-segment campaign I should be talking about though: 'triblast55' & 'Tangibility' makes two guys. SDA doesn't host "two-players-one-controller" schenanigans so we must be looking at the co-op storyline instead. In a different take on "double agent" two spies acting together, but independently of Fisher, perform covert actions in the same locations as the big chief. In one mission, for instance, they blow up the geothermal facility after Sam's just been extracted. Because we're all perfectionists (percentionists) here, the pair still scores all one hundred of 'em in 1:01:56, with stamps of approval from both Judgy and me. Trust our Judge-me-'nd.

Saturday, May 6, 2017 by LotBlind

There's a semi-clever pun in here somewhere that's not in my hand

The Teen provides versatility as a video game character: there isn't much a teenager couldn't conceivably effect in the world of material objects and their interactions – as an adventure game – yet possessing the better (worse?) half of his naivete so as to lend a subject to silly slapstick and floundering failure. You'll recall Ron Gilliam's Threepwood was one at a more-or-less canonical 17 years of age. There's typically a contradictory relationship between the teen and his environment, those ingrained into their social functions or hierarchic standings, which results in an easy conjuration of motives as the teen strives to establish himself and his rightfulness in a more or less direct mimicry of the natural scenario. Yet nothing bars a teen from pursuing romantic interests instead, as is the case with "Guy.brush". The teen is even fully capable of provocative double-entendre and plain audacious amorality (Simon the Sorcerer springs to mind), leaving a window open for this aspect of comedic writing.

...or so I have been told. With this introductory note in the limitless vacancy of our pockets, we may recognize much of the same in the voyage of Mark Hopper, the "Teenagent", through the straits and narrows of immaculate object allocation, spotless spotting of clues, and communication efficient enough to please the office 4G router. The development team, Metropolis Software, cut this 0:11:09 some 20 minutes shorter just by throwing at prospective runners, the Trilby-and-Final-Fight guy 'Soulless' for one, the succulent tibia of "make everything about five times faster". Well, evidently that's just three times so if maths are to be relied on, but when are they ever? If you wanted to be so meta as to slow it down again by a factor of one-and-a-half, you'd have the essence of a Let's Play but with a mellower soundtrack, and I think you'd appreciate the Polish humor this thing is bathed in. There's a scene where Mark cooks a hunk of meat by placing a burning piece of paper inside a refrigerator. Because it's a GAS FRIDGE! Or then I give up.

Mega Man X has often been lauded for its design. The first level I've seen brought up as the perfect tutorial, seamlessly integrating story, establishing characters, and plying its tutoring trade without fungi-post-precipitation text boxes. Like with Super Mario 64, the players had more abilities to gain mastery of, making movement a treat. There's even this Satchbag's Goods comparison between those very games despite varying dimentionality – indeed it attempts to encapsulate what went wrong with 3D Mega Man later down the line. But hey, I'm not just idly musing on the topic: we've been fired an extra-powerful dash'd bullet at and I don't know what kind of job we've done in catching it. 0:31:12 only makes this the bleedin' WR, which no-one bothered to point out in verification. Shows how jaded we've become to record-setting running apparently. Playing X1, runners like D.J. 'Akiteru' Rideout are not quite safe from the gusts and squalls of RNG... but count your blessings I suppose. That's the way I feel about having any commentary to accompany this 1:45 improvement. Speaks for itself?

The notion of the passing of memories, by one of multiple definitions, from generations past to generations future has had some wind blown in its sails in recent times. There are two forms of memory-relaying given the psychological interpretation: non-specific and subconscious, and specific memories that can under some circumstances be recalled by the conscious mind. While the former has (based on a very brief review of some Wikipedia articles) some credence seeing as e.g. traumatic events can produce a similar response in one's offspring by epigenetic means (i.e. not inherited through genes), the latter holds no broad purchase in modern science. It has been toyed with in some works of fiction though, and popularized by the Assassin's Creed series that saw daylight in 2007. In it, the main character straps themselves into the Animus: an amplifier of some sort that facilitates the review of lifelike memories (like VR really) of the occupant's direct ancestry. In a tapestry of Dan Brown -esque blown-up myths and conspiracies, along with many strains from historically accurate Renaissance Italy, Assassin's Creed II delivered a to-date unparallelled simulation of the life of a (fictional) assassin, Ezio, concerned with things like upholding family honor and vying against the power-hungry Knights Templar.

Runs for the open-worlded titles of the franchise are lengthy, even without the total synchronization of memories – the game's version of the 100%. Fran├žois 'Fed981' Federspiel, known for engrossing in these far-reaching reveries across four different AC games for the PC, finds 41:47 worth of additional short-cuts in leading the story to its incomplete completion at the 5:10:31 mark. That's using the not entirely accurate in-game timing but seeing how much of the game is cutscenes, it's a pretty healthy amount! Fed has left a 5-minute showreel of his works right at the portico-nestled front doors of his YouTube channel complete with an obnoxious Euro-trance soundtrack that probably constitutes an unacceptably major desync in in-game terms (read: he's clearly godmoding it).

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