Relased in December of 1993, Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge was one of the few games released for the SNES's SUper Scope peripheral, and of those few one of the only ones generally considered to be worth owning. Players weild their large, unruly plastic bazooka and take aim at a wide variety of enemy mechs called Standing Tanks in an attempt to gun them down before they can do the same to you.
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Falcon normal difficulty 0:03:21.44 by Zakkie Starres, done in 12 segments.
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Metal Combat has always been one of my favorite games and one that more than makes owning a Super Scope worth it. I remember when I first played the game I was just struggling to get through it. Then I was trying to complete it without having to continue. So after succeeding at the last goal, what was there left to do? Well, logically the next step was to try to see just how fast I could complete the game.
Unfortunately, something I was well aware of was that there wasn't a wealth of information available. And any strategies I did find were just how-to strategies for defeating each opponent. Not to be discouraged, I took on the challenge and I found myself surprised at just how quickly I could defeat opponents. To this day I continue to be surprised. Every time I think I've found the quickest strategy for an opponent, I always seem to discover something else.
This run is a result of that fact as it's actually the second segmented run with the ST Falcon that I have submitted to SDA. When I did my first segmented run, it wasn't perfect, but I thought it was pretty good. I went ahead and submitted it. Then I began practicing for a single-segment run as I wanted to practice my strategies so I could execute them consistently. In the process I decided to experiment and discovered a strategy for a tough opponent that was not only easier than the strategy I had been using, but even quicker. I knew, at that point, that one day I would want to go back and do a segmented run with the Falcon using that strategy.
With my first segmented run going through the verification process, I moved on to running the game single-segment with the Falcon. I was using my new strategy in my attempts and couldn't help but think about the fact that once I had a successful single-segment run that it would have a different and quicker strategy than my segmented run against that tough opponent. I kept putting it out of my head, but curiosity got the best of me and I had to ask if any of the verifiers had responded to my run yet.
Only one verifier had responded. I declined to view his comments because I wanted to wait until the verification process was complete, but I had been provided a general idea of what the verifier had said. He had said the run was quite good, but could use improvement in a few places. I agreed with that thought and definitely knew that I would go back one day and improve it. Then a specific example was mentioned. It was Viscount, that tough opponent I'd developed a new strategy for. That thought struck me and it was because not only did I know it could be better, but I had done better when attempting my single-segment runs. I then knew I had to go back and improve on what I'd done, regardless of whether my current run was still good.
So, driven by the need to improve upon my first segmented run I took up my Super Scope and took on the role of gunner again. My first segmented run had taken me a week to finish, but with the fire lit inside of me I completed this segmented run in less than six hours. More importantly, though, I had succeeded in my goal and improved on my first run by 7 seconds. Not only that, I had also bested my times over the first run on all but three opponents and set new personal bests on seven of them!
So how did it all play out? Keep reading to find out, but first some important thanks and notes about this run.
Notes About Running Metal Combat in Segments:
The method necessary for running Metal Combat in segments seems rather unconventional. The game saves your progress when you're on the map screen, at the "Ready?" screen right before a battle, and when you fail a battle. However, the minute you start the battle your data is erased. So in order to retry an opponent it is necessary to purposely lose the battle to save your data. This results in the following:
As the game keeps track of all time spent in a battle, including failed attempts, it considers your total time for a battle the sum of your failures and your successful attempt. This is reflected when the game displays your totals after the credits and when retrying battles, the total time you've spent battling that opponent prior to the current battle is displayed over the current battle's elapsed time.
The ST's pilot giving you hints, getting on your case for having failed a previous attempt, both (although I think only Mike, the Falcon's pilot, gets on your case), or no dialogue at all instead of the opponent taunting you.
Obtaining items you would not normally obtain. Technically, I should not have any items beyond (B)ombs and one (V)-System, Bombs being the normal sub-weapon and one V-System being given to you as part of the game's plot. But the game determines the items you get based mostly on total time spent battling and not the time of the successful battle. As such, I did not use any of those extra items.
Hopefully that will help explain anything that might look strange as a result of running the game in segments.
I use the ST Falcon in this run. It's one of two tanks you can play through the game using. It's an average tank and the one you're required to use on your first playthrough. Completing the game unlocks a second tank, the ST Tornado, which has much weaker armor, but is much more powerful offensively (10 charge levels instead of just 3).
I chose the Falcon here because in virtually all the videos I've seen, the Tornado is being used. I wanted to show off what the Falcon can do (though I am planning a segmented run with the Tornado).
Most damage taken is intentional. Weaker bullets that don't all hit at once or one right after another don't usually reset your shot power level. I use this to my advantage and take the damage to give the shot gauge the opportunity to reach the power level I need it at.
You may also notice that my pilot refers to me as "Zakkie". Normally your pilot calls you "Partner", but it's more fun to have your pilot call you by your own name. I used the game's name change code to adjust that. The code only changes the name the pilot calls you by and doesn't affect anything else.
America - Neo New York: Garam2 - 0'06"13
He didn't give me the best pattern he could have, so I had to intentionally take damage. It didn't cost any time, though, and I finished with a time just .05 seconds off of my personal best and .17 seconds faster than my average time and time in the previous run.
Oceania - Borneo: Siamang - 0'08"31
Just when I thought I couldn't finish this battle any faster...
My personal best was 0'08"41 coming into this battle and in my previous run it was 0'08"48. Everything went better than planned and I hit his tail dead center both times.
Asia - Mongolia: Wong - 0'05"95
When resuming your game from a save, Wong will always dash off of the right side of the screen at the start and then erratically dash back on. The fastest way to defeat him is to destroy his arm joint to reveal his head, then destroy his head, bomb him, and fire a level 1 charge shot. Usually I can do this the moment my gauage reaches the first chargle level. However, when he dashes off the screen to the right, it costs time, and makes it extremely hard to shoot the joint the moment the charge level is right. I still finish him off pretty quickly here and everything goes as planned. A very slight improvement of .04 seconds over my previous run.
Babel - O.R.S. Babel: Griffin - 0'13"13
Everything went as planned here. I delayed the second Treble Shot (full charge shot) slightly so that it would destroy some of the bullets. If too many bullets hit me, my gauge will reset. Not only will that cost me time, but my gauge also won't charge in time for me to fire the finishing shot. This is the first of only three battles where my time in this run wasn't faster than in the first run. I was .47 seconds slower than my previous run's time here.
Moonbase Luna - Moonbase Luna: Viscount - 0'18"85
This battle was the main reason that I decided to redo my segmented run. Armed with a new strategy I take Viscount out almost 3 seconds faster than in my previous run, much more cleanly, and without taking any damage!
Mars - The Surface of Mars: Thanatos - 0'21"11
This battle ended up going almost exactly how it did in the previous run. I discovered that whenever he rears back with his hand to fire a shot off from where he is in this segment, that his shot will always miss. Knowing this, I didn't have to delay my Treble Shot so that it would destroy his shot. My time here was .15 seconds faster than my previous run.
Jupiter - Orbiting Jupiter: Arachnus - 0'19"36
Is it me or are Jupiter and Arachnus spelled incorrectly on the map screen?
Ah anyway...everything went as planned here and I bested my previous run's time by .27 seconds.
Saturn - Epsilon-Ring: Cobra - 0'21"05
Everything went as planned. This was also the second of three battles where my time wasn't as quick as my previous run. In this case I was behind it by .29 seconds.
Uranus - The Methane Sea: Groken - 0'30"38
This battle went better than I thought. I'm particularly pleased that I managed to properly time my shots to destroy the snakes virtually as soon as it's possible to. I was worried slightly about the timing of my bomb, but luckily it turned out fine. This time was a little more than 2.5 seconds faster than the previous run's time.
Bombs usually don't pack much of a punch, but I was surprised how much of one it packed in this battle when I first took the suggestion to use it as I did. That must be some weak point.
Segments 10 & 11
Eltoria - Inside the Space Fortress: Virvius
Unlike my first run, I used a segment for each form. Since there is no map screen displayed in between the forms, I didn't think the game would save your progress. However, I have since found out that the game does save your progress when you reach the "Ready?" screen, so I ended Segment 10 at that screen after selecting my sub-weapons.
Also, it's really funny when Rola decides to refill your energy gauge despite it already being full.
First Form - 0'18"58
A definite improvement over my previous run. Strategy perfectly implemented, no damage taken here, and almost 1 second faster.
Second Form - 0'08"23
This went as planned. A small improvement of .13 seconds over my previous run's time.
Last Stage - Space Fortress Core: Giga-Desp
First Form - 0'17"66
Unlike my previous run, I kept the gun equipped after using the bomb. As long as your gun isn't charging when his three flashing bullets are heading towards you, he will charge up his instant-kill attack. Leaving the gun equipped forces me to rapid fire to keep it drained, but rather than taking the damage from his three flashing bullets, I use the rapid fire to destroy them and stop immediately after the last bullet is destroyed. This will give me enough time to charge up so that I can fire a Treble Shot at the soonest possible time for it to finish him off. It worked nicely and my time ended up being a little more than half a second faster than my previous run's time. It also was a new personal best time.
Second Form - 0'12"70
So, let's see. Rola saved my life twice, gave me the invaluable V-System, and refilled my energy gauge (still thoughtful, despite it already being full) and what do I do? I heartlessly kill her right at the start of the battle. Not what I'd prefer to do, but it doesn't seem likely that there's a way to finish off Giga-Desp just as fast without killing her. Oh well.
As for the battle, everything went as planned and this was the third of the three battles in which my time was not faster than my previous run. In this battle I was only .02 seconds slower!
Total Time - 3'21"44
I'm really very happy with this run. It's 7.11 seconds faster than my previous run and I feel like the quality of the battles is a lot better.
Thank you to all who watched and to all who read through all of my comments.
I really enjoyed running this game and hope you enjoy this run!
Tornado normal difficulty 0:02:22.53 by Zakkie Starres, done in 13 segments.
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Having completed a segmented run with the Falcon, I wanted to get back to work right away and try to run it single-segment, but I'd run out of energy and motivation. So instead I decided to take a break. After my segmented run was accepted, I decided I wanted to get back to running. The only question was what I wanted to do next. In the end I decided to do a segmented run with the Tornado. The segmented run with the Falcon was fun and I certainly wanted to complete a single-segment run with the Falcon, as well, but it had been a while since I used the Tornado. Plus, the Tornado kicks ass.
Note: Like with my Falcon segmented run, I end up with more items than I would normally have. I should only have bombs throughout, so I only use the bombs and never bring anything else into each battle.
Segment 1 America - Neo New York: Garam2 - 0'03"05 One shot kill. When using the Tornado, Garam will often jump without provocation right after the battle starts, exposing his weak point right away. Once he does here, the battle's over.
Segment 2 Oceania - Borneo: Siamang - 0'08"50 Not much to say here. Same general strategy as the Falcon run, except it's level 6 shots with the Tornado. I execute perfectly here firing off each shot as soon as I can.
Segment 3 Asia - Mongolia: Wong - 0'05"20 For the Tornado, it's fastest to fire off a level 5 shot at the joint and then a level 2 shot at his head. It's a rare battle where the Tornado isn't faster than the Falcon. Everything went right to plan here.
Segment 4 Babel - O.R.S. Babel: Griffin - 0'10"86 He tried to do what Wong did in my Falcon segmented run and stick to only one pattern and not the one I wanted him to use. After I figured that out, I found a way around it that didn't cost any time. All it required was a tough first shot, but once I made it, everything fell into place from there.
Segment 5 Moonbase Luna - Moonbase Luna: Viscount - 0'10"00 The Tornado can make Viscount look so weak it's not even funny.
Segment 6 Mars - The Surface of Mars: Thanatos - 0'09"45 I discovered the strategy I used here by accident. My prior strategy had been to hit one of his shoulders, bomb, and hit the same shoulder again to destroy it before bombing again and taking out the other shoulder. When I was practicing the battle, I mixed it up and shot one shoulder, bombed, and mistakenly shot the other shoulder. I didn't think anything of it until I followed with the second bomb. It turns out that by hitting both of his shoulders once with level 5 shots and a bomb is enough to allow another bomb to take out both shoulders at once, causing enough damage that a simple level 3 shot will take him out. He gave me as perfect a pattern as you can get for this strategy and I took advantage.
Segment 7 Jupiter - Orbiting Jupiter: Arachnus - 0'08"16 This was one of the most frustrating moments in this run, causing many, many, retries, but in the end one of the most satisfying. Arachnus is so random that I don't think I ever had the same pattern more than two or three times. The stage is also very random, as well. There are asteroids scattered about and sometimes you'll be flying around them and sometimes none will be in sight for a while. These both are important factors when you battle Arachnus with the Tornado as there is a glitch that can be used to finish Arachnus fast if both factors are right.
The asteroids can be shot both by either Arachnus or you and they explode and often cover the screen with a few explosions. That on its own causes a little flickering, but combine that with bullets, and a powerful shot and unusual things happen. Shots and bombs can disappear and if you time at least a level 7 shot with the Tornado right, it immobilizes Arachnus and causes him to lose his energy.
That's exactly what happens here.
Thanks to Mike Uyama for the link to a video of the glitch when I first posted my intent to run this game. I wouldn't have known it existed, otherwise, and it became a critical part of this run.
Segment 8 Saturn - Epsilon-Ring: Cobra - 0'10"88 The Tornado made this battle extremely easy. Cobra's energy vacuum doesn't suck up your stored energy, so you can fire off a single bar shot to trigger the vacuum and then keep charging. You can also use a bomb to destroy his shield. Doing both of these together is lethal to him. I trigger his vacuum by firing a single bar shot when the gauge reaches 5. Then when the gauge reaches 6, I fire off a bomb. This allows me to charge the gauge to 9. One level 9 shot to the top part of his weak spot and he's finished.
Segment 9 Uranus - The Methane Sea: Groken - 0'26"33 There's a lot of time between destroying the two tentacle ends and the first snake's emergence. It's enough time to charge a full level 10 shot, fire it off, and charge a level 2 shot fast enough to destroy the first snake quickly. Since I have that time and a level 10 shot from the Tornado can pierce Groken's armor and cause damage, I fire one off at the lower part of Groken. I do this as it does the same amount of damage no matter where it hits and because it still reflects. Firing the shot down there causes it to reflect back when that portion of Groken dips off of the screen, thus preventing me from taking damage from it and losing charge levels.
As a result I have to take damage from the first bullet attack, but that's better than getting hit by the reflected shot as those shots are scattered enough that it won't cost charge levels. Since the same holds true for the second bullet attack, I take the damage there, as well, to charge my gauge. I launch a bomb at level 9 to take out the last snake and once the charge level on my gauge is maxed out, I fire and take Groken out.
Segments 10 & 11 Eltoria - Inside the Space Fortress: Virvius Like in the Falcon segmented run, I split this into two segments, especially since the quickest strategy for defeating the second form doesn't seem to work all the time.
First Form - 0'11"30 This battle took way longer to get right than the Arachnus battle. It just seemed like everything was working against me for a while. First, pattern luck was very bad. I needed him to follow a specific pattern and while he'd do so, he'd frequently do it once and then force quite a few retries before he'd do it again. Then on the few times he would do it, I'd either miss the shot, I'd mess up the timing, or the Super Scope would misbehave. Add to that the fact that I retried a few times because I felt like I was being too slow. To be honest, I thought it took way more tries than it actually did.
Once everything did go right, it went perfectly.
Second Form - 0'10"36 The strategy I used here doesn't work consistently. The idea is to fire a bomb off when your charge gauge is at level 4 to fend off the first batch of bullets and then charge your gauge to level 9 and fire at the center mouth. Sometimes it takes him out, but for me it took many attempts before it worked.
I'm really not sure how it works, I only know that it does sometimes. I probably wouldn't attempt this in a single-segment run as, if it fails, if you haven't already lost the battle, you more than likely will. Even if you don't, it doesn't look pretty.
Thanks to Strymon for both Virvius strategies that I used.
Segments 12 & 13 Last Stage - Space Fortress Core: Giga-Desp Unlike with my Falcon run, I split this battle into two segments.
First Form - 0'17"13 Hmmm...interesting arrangement of those first three items in the inventory... That aside, everything went to plan and I even fired off the finishing shot faster than expected.
Second Form - 0'11"31 I carried out my strategy perfectly here and it didn't feel like I could have timed my shots better than I did. Sorry again, Rola.
Total Time - 2'22"53
I had a lot of fun with this run despite the Arachnus and Virvius frustrations and hope it shows off really nicely the devastation the Tornado can cause.
Thanks again to Mike Uyama, Nate, Strymon, the staff and runners of SDA, and, of course, my partner.
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