This is, no doubt, one of the most thrilling boat racing games for the NES from back in 1991. There are several different kinds of segments in each race with slightly different ideas and camera modes. There is tuning and repairing your boat between goes, which is badly needed since damage is incurred from the various obstacles appearing semi-randomly along the course. Another thing to point out is the A.I. personalities reflected in your opponents' behaviour on the track to a somewhat noticeable extent.
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100%, Easy Difficulty: 0:37:34 by Steve 'Elipsis' Barrios
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Some general notes about running this game:
On the easy difficulty, which is also the 100% for this game, there are 9 opponents who must be defeated three times each. By and large the huge timesaves in this run come from employing _assassination strats_. This means that races can be ended early by reducing the opponents' boat's hitpoints to 0. This is primarily done by jumping on them with your boat, though there are other objects that can damage both boats.
Each race has multiple legs, the number of which is indicated at the top or bottom of the UI by dashes. The first leg is always the starting line, and everything else is either a chase cam or overhead cam section. With one notable exception, these always alternate. Most of the time saves are worked in during the overhead legs. There are three types of overhead legs in descending order of awesomeness as far as damage dealing opportunities
1. Ocean section
2. Swamp Section
3. River section
There are also two types of chase sections
1. Swamp section (only appears later)
2. Standard (ocean?) section
Unlike the overhead sections which are completely static, the chase sections are very RNG heavy. I did some TAS work for this game and discovered that both the nitro and log generation are inconsistent from game to game, and change wildly based on player inputs. Of these the two types, the later swamp sections seem to afford better RNG, which really just means more logs (which are maybe also alligators?)
Boat destruction is a bit of a fine art. There are 6 graphical states that tell you how damaged a boat is. This correspond to 0 through 5 bars of the boat's damage repair stat in drydock. However, hitting a boat with 0 repair points left will NOT sink it. Instead, it will reduce one of the other four permanent stats mid-race. It is not until ALL of these other stats have reached 0 that an additional hit sinks the boat. You do NOT always want to sink an opponent as soon as possible. This is because when they sink, they automatically come back to the next race with two bars in every stat. However, if you can allow them to finish a race with NO stats remaining, they will potentially be much more sinkable early in the next race. Part of the challenge of routing this game was determining which races one should go for an assassination on.
There are two gotchas to be aware of that needlessly waste time. The first is a false start, which happens if you accelerate too early. It is fastest to win the first leg of the race straight off the line, but it is second fastest to let the opponent win as soon as possible so as to not prolong the first leg any further than necessary. Mistiming a start will cause you to be fined $2000 and will restart the race for a four second time loss. The second thing to be aware of is a slow-mo finish (I thought these were the coolest thing ever when I was little and would cause them intentionally), but in a speed run it's just an 8 second time waste. They occur when you finish the race narrowly ahead or behind your opponent and are unskippable. While a slow-mo finish is still better than losing the race, they are to be avoided if at all possible.
Specific Race Commentary:
Seasick Sidney 1 - You can literally win this race just by holding A. Nothing to see here.
Seasick Sidney 2 - The only "trick" here is to be sure to pick up the money, which I did. I generally try to avoid damaging Seasick Sidney heavily as it will just make him spend more time in dry dock. There is a _chance_ that he will upgrade before the next race, but he didn't do it this time.
Seasick Sidney 3 - This is the first spot to reasonably go for a kill. In the second leg of the race RNGesus got a few hits in with logs, and I tightened up the distance between us to get some more in during the third leg. I actually missed the last hit of the quick kill and was saved from a reset when Seasick Sidney ran straight into an alligator.
Seasick Sidney split was 1:54 which was a few seconds slower than average. (Best segment is 1:42 when he sucked down an inordinate number of logs on the second leg of race 3).
Aquarius Rex 1 - There are two ways to route Aquarius Rex and it's really a toss-up which ends up being faster. (See routing thread on SDA) In any case Route A went out the window when I missed a few hits and Aquarius Rex made it to the last leg of the race. Optimally I wanted him to take two more hits of damage here, but races ending with overhead sections are always a bit of a gamble because it's difficult to control how much damage the opponent takes.
Aquarius Rex 2 - At this point I am trying to set up the quick kill and leave Aquarius Rex free of those pesky stat points. Because I was going for Route B, only a few hits were required before I went jetting off into the sunset, and I was able to conserve most of my nitros for optimizing his final appearance.
Aquarius Rex 3 - I had the perfect drydock and Aquarius Rex purchased no additional upgrades whatsoever. I managed to get stop this four leg race early into the second with a very good quick kill.
Aquarius Rex split was 3:04, best segment here is 2:56.
Vicious Vicky 1 - There's no realistic way to kill a rebuilt boat on this level, and so I just go for a clean finish. Not much to speak of in this race.
Vicious Vicky 2 - Gotta love Vicky's appreciation for speedrunning. This is the only one leg race of the game.
Vicious Vicky 3 - This is one of the few races where I save time here the old fashioned way, by finishing quickly. There are a lot of nitros to scoop on the third leg's overhead section, and so I chain a lot of my nitros together to save time and still finish the race maxed out for later.
Vicious Vicky split was 2:47 and my best segment for it is 2:39.
Surfer Bob 1 - This is the race where any% starts, but the 100% run is a drastically different experience. In this run, I actually get to approach this race with a substantially improved boat. The goal here is not to kill, but to set up for the quick kill in Surfer Bob 2. I didn't perform exceptionally well in this race though, and Surfer Bob managed to get away with 6 hits left on his boat that I was hoping to get rid of.
Surfer Bob 2 - This five leg race is a great opportunity for a huge time save. The second leg gave me a couple bonus logs, and the third leg is the same delicious overhead section from Surfer Bob 1. In a good run you don't even want to go past the third leg of the race. I made up for the weak Surfer Bob 1 here by handling the third leg damn near perfectly and killed him way earlier than most of my other runs.
Surfer Bob 3 - Surfer Bob comes back with the rebuilt boat mentioned before, but this race proves enough opportunity to sink him a second time. This race was Deja Vu from my any% run: The plan was once again to put him under early into the fourth leg of the race... instead he went down <s>midway through</s> early into the third. I got very heavy damage in during the second leg of the race and the boat was already nearly finished off before going into the third (chase cam) leg. All it took was one last log to seal the deal.
Surfer Bob Segment ended up being 3:17 which is extremely good. (For comparison my any% best segment is 3:19, although I once got a freakish 100% Surfer Bob segment of 2:53.)
Weird Willy 1 - I play this similar to Surfer Bob 1 with the quick kill setup. While the three leg race isn't really long enough to sink him most of the time, I absolutely could have here had I wanted to. Instead, once I had counted off the correct number of hits in the second leg I rushed to the finish (it's a huge gamble with the final leg of this race being a chase section). Weird Willy 1 went extremely well this time with a perfect quick kill setup, one more random log would have sunk him.
Weird Willy 2 - Usually Weird Willy goes into drydock for days here, and I was very fortunate in that he chose to spend his money on expensive engine upgrades instead of steering. This meant that he required fewer hits to finish off in this race. As usual Weird Willy forgets to accelerate off the line, and then the second leg is a fantastic early opportunity to get damage in. Even for a perfectly set up quick-kill, this one was FAST.
Weird Willy 3 - What started as a happy accident when I was running any% evolved into my intended route for 100%. While I could finish this particular race a few seconds faster if I were non-confrontational, I am indeed setting up the Mangler Mike 3 quick kill all the way back here and the time save later is well worth it. The damage I get in here is heavier than usual and that indeed pays off later.
Weird Willy Segment time 3:48, which annihilated all previous efforts. (Prior best segment was 4:10 in 100% and 4:12 in any%.)
Mangler Mike 1 - Similar to Weird Willy 3 there are not a lot of damage opportunities here, and it's one of the scarier races because the threat of a loss is real if you run out of nitros. I tried to weaken the boat as best as possible but this isn't a stage where I ever plan to sink the opponent. What I'm doing instead is trying to keep his stats under control until two races from now. (Look at the very end of the third leg of this race for possibly the greatest read of my Eliminator Boat Duel career. Something was telling me, "He's going to Nitro at the worst possible time and eff you out of this run." Urn saved by clutch nitro use.)
Mangler Mike 2 - This is where Manger Mike mysterious gains stats between races for no reason, without paying for them. The overhead ocean leg is insultingly short, and I raged on him here as hard as I could to try to get the quick kill ready. You're never going to get his stats all the way down for Manger Mike 3, you just need to get them low enough for a third leg kill.
Manger Mike 3 - Getting the third leg kill here is very hard even when you do a good job setting it up (and impossible if you don't). It's all over if he gets to the fourth leg because then he's probably finishing the race in one piece and ain't nobody got time for that. Here I went through nitros like they were water and employed berserker mode strats. It flew at him on some wild angles, but the end result was pretty fast.
Manger Mike Segment went underwater in 4:42, which is a very strong time save. (Best segment is 4:25.)
Veronica Alabaster 1 - Veronica Alabaster stands as proof that distinct AI personalities were coded into this game. She starts with 6 nitros and cannot stand when you are in front of her. She will usually burn through them immediately when you get ahead of her. My primary function in this race is to get that number down to 0 as soon as possible, but I made that more difficult on myself by being so aggressive with Manger Mike. This is much more of a problem on the chase sections where she will nitro to the front and get more nitros as a result. I managed to block her from having much success this time around, and by the fourth leg she was out of nitros from trying to stay ahead of me. I used the rest of the race to put a little bit of damage on and recoup the nitros that I had burned through earlier while trying to stay in the lead.
Veronica Alabaster 2 - The run goes way off script here. In summary, a big accidental time save takes place - which then hurts a future time save. It's difficult to ascertain if this route change was for better or for worse, but Veronica Alabaster wanted to determine her own fate. Normally Veronica Alabaster ends up with a maxed out boat here. This time she decided to forgo, of all things, durability. I calculated that I needed to hit her 21 times in this race instead of 25 to set up the quick kill in Veronica Alabaster 3, and counted myself fortunate for the seconds I would save not going after those last 4 hits. To quote my strategy thread "The biggest time save of the entire run is in fact the next race and it works much better if she starts with MinBoat. Leave her with a withered husk of a machine that barely floats, it's the only way to make her love you later." This is what I was going for, little did I know that Veronica Alabaster had the insatiable desire to go for a swim. I was making good pace on the target damage and so opted to leave her alone on the fourth leg, planning to see what the fifth leg did, and then make up the difference in the sixth and final leg for the perfect setup. What I wasn't prepared for was that Veronica Alabaster decided to smash herself into every log and every concrete buoy that she could get her face on. She sunk herself. While this saved quite a bit of time by eliminating the sixth leg of the race, I was still very unsure about it. For one if I had known that she was going to suicide I might even have been able to sink her in the fourth leg for a bigger time save... but more importantly she seriously jeopardized my quick kill in Veronica Alabaster 3. Sinking her anytime before the very end of the sixth leg is quite rare, and putting her under here is _seriously_ anomalous. I've never had it happen this early and I had no idea how it would work out. For sure it's a big time save, but it would also cut into the next race's time save.
Veronica Alabaster 3 - Thanks to the previous race, Veronica Alabaster required 8 more hits to sink than I was planning on, and this pretty much eliminated the possibility of a second leg kill with alligator(?) assists from RNGesus. I would have to take this into the third leg and put her down as quickly as possible. Fortunately I did a very good job of this, and still managed a very good time save on this race... just not the one it could have been if perfectly set up from the prior race. Then again, setting it up perfectly would have negated the prior race's time save. (Can you tell that I'm conflicted?)
For all the weirdness, the Veronica Alabaster segment beat my PB's split by 6 seconds. It was more like a 30 second time save followed immediately by a 24 second time loss - but it ended up that the early finish on Veronica Alabaster 2 just about evened out with the loss of the quick kill setup on Veronica Alabaster 3. The way the game works it's impossible to get both, hence all the fuss over routing. At any rate this Veronica Alabaster segment time was 5:43. (Best segment is 5:27 via quick kill setup route.)
Disaster Don 1 - This strategy is a total change of gears from the other four opponents. Disaster Don does not take damage like a normal opponent, and often times just ignores it entirely. Even when the game indicates that he has taken damage, his boat doesn't go as slowly as a damaged boat is supposed to. He's the boss of the game, and he cheats. Assassination strats go out the window here because near as I can tell he simply cannot be sunk, even in this monstrously long eight leg race. You really just want to do two things - finish the race as quickly as possible, and don't take damage yourself.
Disaster Don 2 - Not a lot to talk about here. Disaster Don has a flagrant disrespect for taking damage. Nitros are pretty sparse here so I tried to save for when it really counts.
Disaster Don 3 - The last race of the game features a special double chase cam finish (both the seventh and eighth legs). Unless you run out of nitros or sink yourself, it's a pretty straightforward win. (I once false started here during a WR pace run and decided to let Disaster Don go unopposed off the line.)
Disaster Don was finished in 12:18, best segment is 12:11.
Final time 37:37.
I'm really happy with this run overall and pleased to have turned in a run with 0 false starts and 0 slow-mo finishes. Besides the aforementioned Veronica Alabaster deviation, I met or surpassed all of my intended marks for assassination strats. The big stand-out segment relative to my other 100% attempts was Weird Willy, and pretty much every other segment went very well. There were definitely a few races (mostly quick kill setups and stat mitigation stages) that could have been faster, but even in those cases the following assassinations went off quickly and efficiently. While any given segment could be improved on with exceptional luck and skill, it is very difficult to line all of those segments up as this run managed to do in order to produce a good time, and having an opponent slip away from an overhead section into the next chase leg can easily cost minutes at a time. Don't take my word on it though - try some runs yourself! I would love to see others pick up this game, and hope that having these speedruns available will encourage others to look into this little known, but very fun, title.
Expert Difficulty: 0:28:34 by Steve 'Elipsis' Barrios
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