Released in November 1988, Blaster Master is the US version of the Japanese run-and-gun Famicom game Super Planetary War Records: Metafight. The US version features a completely different (and somewhat nonsensical) plot while playing exactly the same. Combining both side-scrolling and bird's-eye-view gameplay, Blaster Master distinguished itself as a classic for the Nintendo.
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0:38:49 by Benjamin Cutler
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Four years ago when I did my initial Blaster Master runs for the site, if you'd told me that some day I'd be getting a sub-39 in a deathless run I'd have demanded to know what kind of witchcraft you were wielding. Yet here we are, 25 years after the game's release, and new tricks are still being found. The new skips in Area 4 and 5 save just over two minutes just by themselves, and the extra hover fuel that the skip in Area 4 facilitates helps shave off little bits of time here and there in the second half of the game, and nearly completely removes hover drops as an RNG factor. Sadly, I still screw up the door trick once in this run, but there's a new twist to it. I won't spoil the surprise, but it's in the overhead section of Area 5. There's a handful of dumb errors, including at least four examples of That's Never Happened Before(tm), but nothing that costs more than a couple of seconds each. Overall the run went extremely well, setting four new split records and thoroughly trouncing what I thought was a realistic goal of low 39.
Times next to each section are listed in this order: This run, my best time for that segment that I have on record, and the previous run. Best segment times are very, very difficult due to the game's propensity to lag up due to random factors, but are included for reference anyway.
Start -> Hyper: (1:55.8/1:54.5/1:55.5)
Meh. A bit on the high side for this section but it's within acceptable parameters. 1:56.0 is my limit. RNG enemy spawn patterns and movement can sometimes make me reset this section for half an hour, so I have to draw the line SOMEWHERE.
Hyper -> Area 2: Overall - (2:40.5/2:39.2/2:39.2) Section - (0:44.8/0:43.7/0:43.7)
Gate guard trolled me a bit here, not dying in two missile volleys, which usually means he fired right as I did and at least one missile collided with one of his shots instead of him. Lost a bit of time to that.
Area 2 -> Crusher: Overall - (5:36.6/5:33.3/5:37.0) Section - (2:56.1/2:53.8/2:57.8)
Not much to speak of in this section, had pretty good navigation and luck until the last room, when I got mashed by a big lag spike and missed the last jump by a bit. Still decent. Got one hover drop from the skeletons. This is the first place the route diverges from the death warps run, since in that I skip the skeletons since any hover I'd gain would be lost at the end of Area 3.
Crusher -> Area 3: Overall (6:32.5/6.29.7/6:33.1) Section - (0:55.9/0:51.1/0:56.1)
So I don't know what the fuck happened in the first room on the way back out, That's Never Happened Before. As in the death warps run, this section is incredibly difficult to get an optimal time on due to all the lag. The overall execution is completely identical here.
Area 3 -> Hover: Overall (10:25.1/10:23.2/10:28.7) Section - (3:52.6/3:52.6/3:55.6)
Despite losing a bit of time to the first kettle climb just like in the death warps run. The route is slightly different than death warps due killing a couple extra enemies for hover drops. The fantastic boss fight to cap it off really helped, setting a segment record here by about half a second. Worth noting is that I got absolutely insane hover drop luck in this run, I don't think I've ever seen 6 after Area 3. 5 has happened a few times. 4 is what expect and/or hope for.
Hover -> Area 4: Overall (13:42.1/13:42.1/13:46.1) Section - (3:17.0/3:17.0/3:17.4)
Missed a missile shot by about a pixel, but it ended up not mattering since the enemy in question didn't end up spraying any bombs anyway. For some reason I have a real problem remembering to switch to Homing Missiles on the way back to Area 1, which indirectly results in the second instance of That's Never Happened Before, where I turn around instead of entering the first doorway in Area 1. I was holding left so that the weapon would switch during the brief moment the pause screen is up. Due to the extra hover I improvised a slightly faster hover climb, though I could have started it even earlier and saved another half second or so. I believe the old 44:09 run from Megafrost used something like it, but it had never come up for me so I didn't remember where to start it precisely.
Area 4 -> Key: Overall (16:04.7/16:04.7/16:36.6) Section - (2:22.6/2.20.2/2:50.5)
This part contains the first example of where this run hugely diverges from the old run. Thanks to Twisted Eye from the TASVideos forums for discovering that you can actually reach the boss by going in the wrong tunnel and using the water skip to get into the correct area. The short hover I do before the big drop actually saves time by conserving my downward momentum better, because landing on one of the ledges delays you very slightly. I lost a bit of time on the way in due to some hesitation on my part, taking an extra cycle to do the final skip, but the timing on that skip is probably the third hardest trick in the run, the hardest two being the quick kill on the Area 7 boss (the fire frog), and the first lava skip in Area 7. Messed up the timing on the quick kill slightly, but I can lose more time just to random lag so I'm not too upset about it.
Key -> Area 5: Overall (17:47.2/17:47.2/18:41.1) Section - (1:42.4/1:41.8/2:04.5)
When Twisted Eye first discovered the new water skip, he initially thought that you wouldn't be able to get back to the tank without dying, but I was able to figure out a route very quickly when I went experimenting. The three skips all require getting shot by a robot, which makes the timing on them trickier, but thankfully they seem to be very reliable with their timing so it's not as difficult as it might appear at first. Before you ask, it's not possible to clip that final corner by damage boosting off the robot, you run out of invincibility too fast and fall in. I got trolled by a Sputnik and the door skip takes me a bit longer than usual, but still a good trek. Picking up the hover in the overhead section leaves me with a lot of extra hover, which I can use for some small skips in the latter half of the game.
Area 5 -> Dive: Overall (20:30.0/20:30.0/21:29.1) Section - (2:42.9/2:27.8/2:48.0)
Due to the new skip on the way to Area 6, I can leave my tank in a different area and save some time with Jason's much faster sinking speed. I'm not sure how much time it saves but I estimate it's about ten seconds. Area 5 is easily the most random section of the game. The swimmers shot patterns are completely unpredictable, you can't always take a "safe" path without wasting time, and health drops can be a bit of a troll, and the actual boss fight is the single most random element of the game. I'm not completely sure of this, but from what I've been able to figure out from memory watching in an emulator, the RNG has 256 different states it can be in when you enter the room, and the only things that change the RNG once you're inside are the movement patterns of the boss. Meaning in theory it's possible to learn all 256 of his movement patterns. Good luck with that. (Pun not intentional.) This fight went a bit better than normal, but it just goes to show you how much difference luck can make here, because my best segment time is effectively 25 seconds faster due to the insane boss luck I got. If you dig up my old 42:27, you can see what I mean.
Dive -> Area 6: Overall (22:23.2/22:23.2/24:30.6) Section - (1:53.2/1:50.7/3:01.5)
This part is the other example of where this run diverges from the old run. After posting about getting back to the tank after picking up the Key in Area 4, Brother Mojo, the person responsible for the new Blaster Master NTSC TAS, posted a helpful new skip involving the tile offset trick (http://tasvideos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=336676#336676), similar to what I use to get into the depths of Area 5 without the tank, just working in the other direction. This saves over a minute, especially once you factor in me being able to leave the tank in a higher spot, allowing me to take advantage of Jason's faster sinking speed. Similar to the death warps run, thanks to Dugongue for his demonstration of a much faster method of doing the door setup underwater. I do bump my head on the way up, but it's a minor mistake. Most of the time I lost was due to trying to pick up some extra health for the skip setup, and bad swimmer RNG.
Area 6 -> Wall 1: Overall (26:03.2/26:03.2/28:17.0) Section - (3:40.0/3:40.0/3:46.4)
A good chunk of the time I gained here was from utilizing some of the extra hover that the new sewer skip lets me keep, though I did mess up the climb at the end a bit. No major mistakes in the rest of the level (missing that one jump in the second room does not count, that is extremely difficult, and I'd rather save hover for other spots) and having an excellent boss fight adds up to a new segment record. Though I did have another example of That's Never Happened Before by rubbing up against the final wall more than necessary.
Wall 1 -> Area 7: Overall (29:36.1/29:36.1/31:51.3) Section - (3:32.9/3:32.9/3:34.3)
Not really anything to say about this part, other than it must have gone very smoothly considering I got a new segment record. No difficult tricks here, just precision maneuvering. If I ever do revisit this run I'm going to have to remember to try out using homing missiles in a couple spots to see if it saves time, since I keep forgetting. I remembered as I was approaching Area 2.
Area 7 -> Wall 2: Overall (33:03.6/33:03.6/35:23.3) Section - (3:27.5/3:26.9/3:32.0)
Nothing much to say about the tank section, though I have finally gotten over my fear of doing the first two lava skips the slightly slower, slightly safer way. In probably the most nail-biting moment of any of my runs ever (yes, I'm including the Area 8 part of my old 42:27 here), I manage to pause the game two frames before a fireball hits me. Two frames later and I would have been dead. Sadly, due to the bad timing on the quick kill I missed a segment record here, but I still rank it as the most difficult trick of the run, so I'm not too upset.
Wall 2 -> Area 8: Overall (36:01.0/36:01.0/38:19.7) Section - (2:57.4/2:54.1/2:56.4)
Sadly, escaping Area 7 looks pretty ugly due to some corner-sticking screwups, but I didn't lose all that much time to it so I'm not too upset here either. Sine fliers are out for blood but thankfully they miss this time. I actually have more hover going into Area 8 than I intended to, because one of the spots where I screwed up escaping Area 7 is a spot where I use some of the extra hover to save time. Entering Area 8 with full health is always nice, though.
Area 8 -> Complete: Overall (38:48.962/38:48.962/41:16.8) Section - (2:47.9/2:47.5/2:57.1)
You'll notice I'm timing the old run at 41:16. Well, that's because at the time I didn't have the recorder set properly, so it was recording at a slightly slower framerate than it should have, so I lost several seconds to that. I could probably dig up the original audio before I "fixed" it just to prove it, but it's immaterial at this point, since the new run replaces it anyway.
In any case, having a bit of extra hover lets me skip a couple of annoying jumps. The spike room was almost perfect, though I did take the slightly safer path by trekking across the first ceiling. Messed up a bit in the intestine room, but nothing major, just a bunch of little things. I had the most ridiculous luck on the penultimate boss. I've never seen the orbs disappear that quickly, which means the boss hardly lags at all. So that's another That's Never Happened Before moment, but in a good way. Sadly, the final boss trolled me by whipping right as he died, which makes him not die as fast as he should. Cost me maybe a second. I wasn't trying to push him against the wall, I swear!
As before, thanks to the following additional people:
SDA - See my death warps comments. This site never ceases to impress me.
T3KL3R - If it weren't for my brother I don't know if I'd ever have found out about this game, since it was one of his friends that introduced us to it.
Twisted Eye - As in the death warps comments, he discovered the new sewer skip that is one of the two major reasons I decided to do this improvement.
Brother Mojo - His most recent TAS of this game, which saved almost five minutes off the old run, was a joy to behold. If he hadn't pointed out the other huge route improvement to the deathless category I'm not sure how long it would have been before I did this improvement.
Dugongue - If you hadn't beaten my old death warps run I don't know how long I would have sat on this route improvement before trying for it.
My Stream Viewers - These things are always better with an audience, even if you guys do get distressingly quiet sometimes.
Anybody Still Reading - You're the reason I do these things. Sure, the satisfaction of a record is nice, but first and foremost I enjoy creating things that people want to watch. I hope you found the comments entertaining and informative, and I hope you stick around for my future projects, and for speed runs in general.
With deaths: 0:31:46 by 'ShiningDragoon'.
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Blaster Master Notes
UraniumAnchor's run has been up for a long time. I didn't want to post anything till I had a high time save over the old run so here it is.
Start -> Hyper 1:56
For the UFO spawns I got lucky with them not dropping any health and for me shooting them at the correct time. However I got a little bit of bad luck with the sidewinder spawn at the start of the game causing some lag before the first door due to a position where you can't shoot it easily. But otherwise this area went fine and I got the good boss pattern but walked a little too far to the left losing a hit or two.
Hyper -> Crusher 3:43
Overall good area. Got a little trolled in the final room before dungeon area and almost rolled into lava nothing too special. I take extra damage in the dungeon to die before area 3 to use up one more death. From my calculations it saves .5 secs or so but that is slightly debated, either way I like doing it :P.
Crusher -> Hover 5:02
Pretty good split overall, nothing horrendous stood out as a time loss. I only need to take one death after boss due to death in dungeon 2. Only problem came at the start of boss where I take extra damage and lose out on boss killing time.
Hover -> Dive 5:27
Made 3 mistakes in jumping going up in that second area 1 section, all due to stupidity one due to lag. But I got 2 hover doing the death strat and got a third hover exceedingly fast making that hover farm great. Crab fight itself went pretty good but I had some hesitation and managed to go right when I meant to go left which slowed the kill. I also wasted time killing enemies trying to prepare for a crab glitch that never happened but the time loss was minimal.
Dive -> Wall 1 4:59
Overall this area went fine. A few enemies trolled and hit me where I would rather not have, like the bomb dropping enemies in that 3rd room. I accidently went a little too far in the second vertical jumping area. Also I did not shoot the blocks before the boss properly. However I managed to get two quick deaths in the dungeon allowing for two one hit deaths on the spikes. Reducing time when I needed to deathwarp in area 4 to get past the keydoor which we can't unlock. Well other than the part where I went towards the door before I deathwarped due to slight confusion.
Wall 1 -> Wall 2 6:08
Other than a death in the dungeon, and failing to hit the boss at the first possible moment this area went very well. You may notice a music glitch in area 7 it's pretty subtle.. the sprinkler was spinning, the enemies were jumping, and I was shooting. This lasts until I accidently die doing a lava skip due to being too late trying to hit the second enemy. Even with the death however it was a pretty good area.
Wall 2 -> End 4:28 (overall 31:47)
This area went very well as well and only lost about .18 seconds over my gold for the area. I could have gotten a gold if I had either made the jump over that single spike pit without falling into it; Or made a little glide avoiding a jump in the second screen in area 8. However the area itself went very well and the final two bosses died fast. Other than the fact I took two hits on the final boss losing some frames probably, was a great end to the run. Thus beating my other sda submission by 12 seconds.
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