Released in February 2004, Metroid Zero Mission replaces the original 1986 Metroid in the Metroid universe as a "retelling" of that chapter in Samus's history. The layout and enemies are true to the classic Metroid, but then there's more to the game once Mother Brain is defeated!
Runs on easy are not accepted as it's not different enough from normal. Similar for the low% category: 10% on Hard is actually less than 9% on Normal (4 vs 5 missiles). 9% Hard is possible on the European version.
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0:27:40 by Andrew Brockmann, done in 3 segments.
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First off, I would like to thank a few people. Thanks again to ajbolt89, transience, and GameCube04 for some speed tricks. Thanks to nate for capturing the run. Thanks to the SDA staff for hosting the run. Thanks to everyone at Metroid2002.com for help and moral support. Last but not least, thanks to my friend Josh for giving me his GBA SP to use as a controller when my SP's shoulder buttons stopped working.
Unfortunately, this run had to be rushed. I completed the first two segments in two days, while the last segment took several days over the course of the next few weeks. I had originally intended to improve the last segment to get about 27:30, but never found the time or the motivation, so a few months later I finally chose to submit the 27:40. Because the run was rushed, I made numerous mistakes, but 27:40 is still a good time that I am proud of. Besides, when I started the run, I wasn't expecting to get a time much better than 27:45.
Segment 1 started off well, with only minor inaccuracies. The hive room was likely the sloppiest room in this run, but 1:54 after the hives is still a fine time, so I kept going. I still haven't regained the ability to double bomb jump, so I had to settle for a slow single bomb jump in the power grip pit (which is still better than no bomb jump if you ask me). I didn't start to make significant errors until Norfair after the power grip. These errors continued almost until the end of the segment. However, I was more than happy to go with this segment because it only took me about an hour of attempts to pull off.
Segment 2 also started off rather well. My first major mistake was immediately before the acid worm skip. I jumped a little too soon and missed the first 2x2 block. I was glad to pull off the acid worm skip afterward. Also, with some extra missiles, it's possible to power through the side-hopper room before Kraid without stopping to avoid the enemies, but I fail the timing of it more often than not, so I opted to skip it. Kraid died in about a second. I made a few mistakes en route to Tourian, but they weren't large enough to warrant a reset. I had wanted a sub-15 time in Tourian, so seeing 15:04 on the clock was somewhat discouraging. I chose to continue playing on the off chance that the metroids would give me good refills. They did. To understand just how unlikely this is, I believe you would need experience trying to get a fast metroid segment. I'll just say that I almost felt like I had won the lottery; killing two birds with one stone (acid worm skip and metroids) and even getting a good time (I expected no better than 16:20) was too pleasant a surprise for me to care about the mistakes in the segment. (You can see my surprise at the end of the segment when I pause for a few long seconds before saving.)
Segment 3 was by far the sloppiest, although it was also the longest. There is no good excuse for my mistakes before the Mother Brain. However, the Mother Brain fight and escape were both quite fast (it looks to me like the escape was about 1:32.90). The suitless sequence was almost flawless, with only a few mistakes. Unfortunately, the suit boss presented me with slow diagrams, making for a slow fight. It wasn't a total loss, though, since it gave me plenty of time to hop around like a rabbit. I made numerous minor mistakes after the suit boss, but eventually pulled myself together. Besides almost dying, it was smooth sailing until Mecha Ridley. The Mecha Ridley fight, however, was awful (though it mostly wasn't my fault). It didn't want to give me a claw swipe immediately, and I ended up wasting a super missile. When it finally did swipe, it also shot some missiles. With only 24 health, I couldn't afford to be hit, so I had to destroy those missiles instead of trying to fire more super missiles. If this fight had gone perfectly, I could easily have saved 5 seconds or more. I was hesitant to submit this segment almost solely because of Mecha Ridley. Fortunately, the escape afterward was one of my fastest (about 3:45:7X remaining).
I believe a sub-27 time might be humanly possible on console, although I'm not sure it could be done with this route. I hope to someday try to improve both this and my 28:42 single segment with a Kraid first route or perhaps even Dragonfangs' Ridley first TAS route, although that won't be for quite some time (if ever). Enjoy.
Single-segment: 0:28:42 by Andrew Brockmann.
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Huge credit goes to transience, GameCube04, and ajbolt89, because I used tricks from each of their any% runs. I would also like to thank nate for capturing the run and the SDA staff for hosting this run. Last but not least, I would like to thank the guys at Metroid2002.com for moral support.
I had originally planned to do an any% segmented run, but I was too rusty when I started recording to achieve a sub 28. Single segment runs are an excellent way to regain one's skills, so I chose to do an any% single segment run first. My first few runs were around 29:30. As I became accustomed to the game again, my times dropped to about 29:00 on average.
I decided I would try to beat transience's 28:50 in a single segment run. This proved to be much more difficult than I had originally thought. The metroids can easily cost about 20-30 seconds in single segment runs, and it's very easy to make crucial errors at the end of the game (the Chozo boss, Mecha Ridley, and the escape shinespark all come to mind). Many of my runs were killed by the Chozo boss, who is easily the most random boss in this game (although that isn't saying an awful lot).
After about two weeks of doing single segment runs every other day, I finally got this 28:42. Although it's nowhere near perfect, I was starting to feel rather frustrated with my single segment attempts, so I'm perfectly happy to go with this.
Some points of interest in this run are as follows:
Overall, I am rather pleased with this run. It is certainly improvable, and I might try to beat it sometime, but I most likely won't, so this might be my last single segment run for a while. However, I will try to take about a minute off of this time in a segmented any% run.
Hard mode: 0:34:00 by Andrew Bolton, done in 8 segments.
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Route help/credit goes to Radix, who basically told me flat out what would be the best way to go about doing this would be. The main differences in this run and the Normal mode run, are that 1) I did Kraid first. This meant I didn't have Power Grip, and had to do a Horizontal Bomb Jump across the acid pit... that's one of the highlights of the run, as few people can do that. I'm pretty proud of it, actually. Anyway, 2) I got Screw Attack. The main reason for this was that I already had Speed Booster, and getting it after killing Ridley was an excellent time... it was also more or less on the way, and made Chozodia much faster, as well as Mother Brain and Robot Ridley both easier. I don't know whether or not it would be faster to do a run without it, but instinct tells me that it wouldn't be.
In the last couple segments, the run sort of goes downhill. I saved too frequently and didn't really go for perfection, although I still did pretty good. I could have also easily gotten a 0:33:59 or ever a 0:33:55 or something, but I didn't really care at the time. I'd taken about a 3 week break before doing the segment that starts before Mother Brain, and I really just didn't want to finish the run. So yeah, that's where the :29 or so Tourian escape time came from. Just the same, I hope you enjoy the run, and as it's only the first run of its kind in this category, it's likely to be beaten without too much effort by someone.
Single-segment 100% 0:50:58 by Andrew Brockmann.
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I wasn't originally going to submit this run, but kirby (that is, kirbymastah) prompted me to do so recently when he mentioned that he was considering submitting his own 52:05 run if I don't submit this one. I have no reservations about submitting this run; I didn't submit my 26:43 segmented any% or 27:24 single segment runs soon after finishing them because I thought they weren't good enough (and, incidentally, both have been beaten now :P), but this is one that I can proudly send in. The main reason I haven't done so already is that I had intended to continue improving this category soon after finishing this run. But... it's been a full year since I finished this run, and it seems unlikely that I or anybody else will improve it soon, so I figure kirby is right to try to give the SDA run an update.
Zero Mission 100% has changed a LOT since Dragondarch did his run a little more than nine years ago. Most of this change happened during the first half of 2013. I was taking a break from running this game, as I do periodically, and when I returned to the m2k2 forums I saw numerous unfamiliar faces (or avatars/usernames, whatever). This was due in part, I think, to speedrunslive bringing some new interest to the game, and to speedrunning in general. But in any case, m2k2's Zero Mission runners, old and new alike, were discussing and testing 100% route changes. My contribution to this process was fairly minimal; route testing and timing isn't something I enjoy much (my excuse is that this is much easier to do on emulator with save states, and I play much worse on emu than on console. But I'm also just lazy :P). I was perfectly content to sit back and watch the ensuing changes before eventually implementing them in a run myself. And that's exactly what this run is: an implementation of the route devised by the MZM speedrunning community during the first half of 2013. I dare not try to list all of the individuals involved for fear of forgetting someone, but I think they're probably all represented somewhere on the MZM leaderboards on m2k2 as well as in the "New 100% Route" topic if you want to check. My thanks go out to all of these folks, as this run certainly wouldn't have happened without them.
The process of finding the ideal route was an arduous one. Tons of different routes were considered and tested in terms of relative speed, relative difficulty, ammo conservation, ability to skip refills, and other related factors. This was further complicated by the fact that certain routes may be faster in real time but slower for in-game time, and vice-versa. For a while, I was hesitant to run 100% too seriously for fear of getting too attached to any one route; things were changing so quickly that a route might be deemed to be optimal before being rendered obsolete a few days later. Once the smoke cleared, though, the result was the extremely difficult "YOLO" route used in this run. On a macro level, this route is pretty similar to the old route (Kraid is fought first, Ridley's lair is cleaned up during the first visit, there is a long item cleanup at the end, etc.), but on a more micro level, this route and the old route are completely different.
Since I mentioned real time vs. game time, I should briefly explain a few things. Firstly, the in-game time is what a majority of the MZM community focuses on, but plenty of runners keep track of the real time on their runs too, and several even focus primarily on real time. Both have their merits, and I have no desire to launch into a discussion here of which one is "better". However, I focus on the in-game time myself, and that's why you'll see me pause at various points throughout the run to check my time. This is something I'll try not to do in the future; pausing is slightly distracting, whereas real time splits will work just as well in almost all cases, even for someone focusing on game time. Pausing to check the game time as I have often done also makes it difficult to compare runs optimized for real time to those optimized for game time. The real time on this run is roughly 1:12:54, but it "should" be faster by some unknown amount of time due to the time I spent on the pause screen.
Secondly, while this route is optimized for game time, there exists a faster route for real time. In particular, the route in question (known as the "glass tube" route) involves a different route for the long cleanup at the end. The route is some 5 seconds slower in game time, but is actually about 7 seconds faster in real time due to there being fewer room transitions. The glass tube route is cool, but since it's slower as far as the game's ending screen is concerned, I would personally opt for the route used in this run. There's still plenty of coolness to be seen here, don't worry. ;)
And without further ado, here is my commentary for the run itself!
The first noteworthy thing about the run is the charge beamst fight. Similar to double core-X shots in Fusion, hitting the beamst with two missiles on the same frame will do damage for each missile, thereby shortening the fight to two rounds instead of three. The amount of time saved by this trick is roughly either 4 seconds or 10 seconds, depending on whether the beamst would have shot thorns at you after being hit for the second time. I failed the double shot on my first attempt and only hit it for one missile's worth of damage, but I was successful on my next attempt, resulting in a fight that's only negligibly slower than optimal.
My luck with missile refills in the next room was pretty bad, though, so the hive room was slow. Ideally, you'll enter the room with 4 missiles, so that you can kill each hive with three missiles and two beam shots. Instead, I entered the room with only 2 missiles. My performance in this room was essentially perfect given my missile shortage, though; falling in front of the second hive was intentional, as I've found that it makes it easier to time the damage boost onto the platform with the last hive.
The aforementioned bad luck with refills was then effectively neutralized by good luck with the acid bugs both right after getting bombs and in the room next to the varia suit. Several of the bugs right after the bombs will sometimes wait for a while before hopping down to where you can kill them, and the bugs by the varia suit will take a variable amount of time to eliminate the two barriers in your way. Both sets of bugs were quite cooperative in this run. Also, for any of you who aren't already in the know: grabbing the varia suit is unnecessary, even in 100% runs; if you skip it, then it is still given to you later on when you get the gravity suit. You might worry about a run not being a "true" 100% run unless the varia suit is explicitly obtained, in a way other than this odd game mechanic. The MZM speedrunning community has only ever cared about the item collection rate displayed on the game's ending screen, though, so I only venture to the room near the varia suit to grab the E-tank that can be found there.
The next few minutes of the run contain two of the three really silly looking mistakes in the run. The first occurred when I went near the hive room again to grab a missile tank that can be found below the floor. I don't know what went wrong with me here, but it's fairly painful to rewatch. The other mistake occurred in the room in Kraid right before the first unknown item, when I failed to get into the morph ball tunnel at the top of the room and then fell to the floor. I lost about 5 seconds in this room, as opposed to about 6 or 7 in the previously mentioned room. In the grand scheme of the run, I suppose 11 to 12 seconds lost isn't all that bad, but I really wish I hadn't made these mistakes because they look ugly. ;(
Those few minutes of the run aren't all bad, though, since they do contain a couple of points of interest. Firstly, anyone who watched my Kraid fight in my (ancient) 53:56 run will likely notice that my Kraid fight was actually good this time. While it wasn't quite a perfect fight, it was done within two rounds, which is optimal for a fight without super missiles (even for TAS, incidentally).
The second and more major point of interest is that I "skip" the acid worm via a horizontal bomb jump across the long acid pit. Over the years, several people have theorized that it might be a good idea to do this with the intent of returning and clearing out the acid worm area during the final cleanup portion of the run; the advantage of doing this is that with upgrades such as the space jump and plasma beam, that northeastern part of Kraid can be cleared more quickly. These clever theorizers were more or less shut down, however, when it was pointed out that delaying the acid worm would also delay the collection of a certain missile tank near Kraid until the final cleanup, due to the ziplines being inactive. And so, for years, acid worm skip was thought to be useless for 100%, since going far out of one's way to collect this missile tank during the cleanup was "obviously" not worth it. Well, someone should have actually timed this earlier on, apparently; collecting the missile tank in question during the item cleanup is quite fast, due to the player having substantially more power-ups than they would have collecting the missile tank earlier in the run. Thus, ZX (that is, ZX497) found that delaying this missile tank until the late game was faster by 3 in-game seconds, even with all of the backtracking (though it is slower by some 10 seconds in real time, due to this route having many more room transitions). This wasn't even counting the time saved by having more upgrades for the acid worm area, so it became clear that an acid worm "skip" route is ideal for 100%. (In particular, taking this route saves some 15 in-game seconds, assuming my memory is good.)
The fun doesn't end there, as delaying the acid worm until later in the run means that refilling one's ammo before Kraid is unnecessary. In past runs, people would use 30 missiles on the acid worm and 20 on the giant sidehoppers several minutes afterward. With this acid worm skip route, both are dealt with near the end of the run, so it's actually feasible to have enough ammo to skip the refill. This does, however, require one to keep close tabs on their ammo count. I had 25 missiles as I entered the Kraid fight, but had I been less conservative in the sidehopper room before Kraid (as I plan to do in the future), I probably would've entered the fight with 22 missiles instead, which is a pretty typical amount. Entering the fight with any fewer missiles than this would make me somewhat uncomfortable. Kraid can be defeated using as few as 16 missiles, but at least a few missiles will usually be wasted either due to bad shots or Kraid's claws getting in the way. For reference, even with my pretty good Kraid fight, I ended up using 19.
After this, the run is mostly standard fare for 100% until partway through Norfair. I believe the only thing worthy of further explanation in this part of the run is a certain missile tank which would usually be grabbed right after grabbing the power grip and taking the elevator back to Norfair. Instead of traveling downward from the elevator to grab this missile tank now, I returned to the beginning of Norfair with the intent to grab this missile tank later. This is because other route changes see me returning to this area later, at which point I can grab the missile tank more quickly with a spaceboost. Using the route showcased in the old SDA run, grabbing this missile tank during the cleanup would require a gargantuan detour that is, without a doubt, slower.
The next noteworthy thing in the run is that I don't refill on the screw attack chozo statue. The route used in this run is actually centered in large part around being able to skip this refill. In the old 100% route, the player would reach Norfair during the final cleanup by traveling through Kraid's lair again, at which point the player returns to Chozodia by backtracking through Kraid. Probably the largest oversight made by the MZM speedrunning community prior to 2013 is that at this point, it is actually faster to return to Chozodia by proceeding through Norfair rather than by backtracking through Kraid. Thus, during the early stages of 100% experimentation in 2013, several of us speedrunners started using a cleanup route that simply continued through upper Norfair.
I discovered (more or less accidentally) that it was comfortably possible to skip the screw attack refill and still survive the heated rooms that followed shortly afterward. The advent of the acid worm skip route screwed this up a bit, however, since leaving the Kraid ziplines inactive meant that a certain energy tank in Kraid couldn't quickly be grabbed until much later in the run. Without this energy tank, refilling at the screw attack statue became necessary. ZX solved this problem by proposing a cleanup route that ventured through lower Norfair instead of upper Norfair. Using this route, the heated rooms soon after screw attack were dealt with late in the run. Consequently, the refill at the screw attack could reliably be skipped, even without grabbing that extra E-tank while leaving Kraid for the first time.
The lower Norfair cleanup route is actually some 6 seconds slower than the upper Norfair route, at least in the short term, but it ends up being worthwhile for console runs for two main reasons: the first reason is that it makes it possible to skip the screw attack recharge (which wastes some 7 or 8 seconds), and the second reason is that it gives the player an extra super missile tank earlier in the run. This super missile tank is quite helpful, expecially at parts like the cocoon fight, which would otherwise be a few seconds slower due to the delayed collection of the ice beam. Put in other terms: the lower Norfair route amounts to a race track that takes 6 more seconds to clear, but the "faster" race track requires a 7-8 second pit stop along the way (and also leaves you with less firepower early on).
By the way, the third of the three really silly mistakes in this run happened on the way back from grabbing this early super missile tank. I had an inordinate amount of difficulty jumping upward through a one block wide opening. This cost me some 3 or 4 seconds.
At this point, the run started being fairly standard fare for a while again. I honestly don't know if using that shinespark during the cocoon fight was a "good" idea, as far as speed is concerned, but it sure looks cool. :P (At worst, I think this strat is only slightly slower than what could be done otherwise.) The common theme with this route is that you just barely have enough health and ammo throughout the first half of the run, and I think this is demonstrated best by checking my ammo as I take the elevator down to Ridley's lair. 17 missiles isn't THAT few, really, but 35 health and 1 super is cutting it quite close, especially considering that that super is used almost immediately after entering Ridley. (At this point, the health isn't a problem, since I get a health refill when I grab an E-tank soon after entering Ridley. Still, the fact that I got as low as 35 health should demonstrate just how easy it is to lose a run when you use this route.)
There isn't much to say about most of the run through Ridley, since it's mostly the same as past 100% runs. I would like to point out, however, that I used both of the diagonal shinespark tricks. Neither trick is all that difficult, but using both of them is pretty gutsy because they are quite easy to mess up, and failing either amounts to a huge time loss. (The reward for success with either trick is much less than the penalty for failure.) In future runs, I'll likely use the long shinespark across the long room along the bottom of Ridley's lair, or at least do a short shinespark with an intentional bonk soon after getting the missile tank. I elected to do neither because I noticed that Dragonfangs' 100% TAS WIP at the time didn't shinespark at all, but after watching this run Dfangs informed me that not bonking only saved 1 frame for TAS. Using a shinespark (long or short) removes some potential for errors. Also, in future runs, I'll probably simply run through the sidehopper room near Ridley instead of shinesparking through it; traversing it without a shinespark is apparently about half a second faster and also creates more opportunities for super missile drops, making it easier to skip a recharge on the chozo statue before Ridley.
That's about all there is to say about the actual run through Ridley. Before we leave Ridley, however, I should mention another route change that some runners use: namely, early Imago. For TASes, it's faster to take the elevator out of Ridley immediately after entering and then kill off Imago before proceeding through Ridley. This can be done in console runs too, at least as long as you use mostly missiles rather than supers against the cocoon. (3 supers remaining after the cocoon is enough to finish Imago with human reflexes; 5 supers is more comfortable.) Finishing Imago early this way saves a chunk of real time because it requires fewer room transitions. It doesn't immediately save any in-game time, but even for those who care primarily about the game's clock (such as myself), early Imago offers an advantage: it allows the player to conserve some super missile drops obtained in Ridley for Tourian, rather than blowing all of the spares on Imago. The main reason I didn't fight Imago early, then, is that I didn't have enough ammo. Even if I'd used my ammo ideally and grabbed a few missile drops from spores after killing the cocoon, I still wouldn't have been able to finish Imago without resorting to the charge beam. (Without a doubt, this would be eons slower. Unlike in Fusion, the charge beam is not very powerful in this game.) It's conceivable that I could make a few minor route changes to allow me to do early Imago, but I doubt this would end up being worthwhile; the 20/6 ammo I had entering the cocoon fight was at the upper end of my typical ammo range at that point, and any changes I make to have more ammo at that point would probably slow me down by an amount greater than what early Imago would save.
Not doing early Imago did mean that I only had 88/8 for my ammo count upon entering Tourian, however, and at that point it's hard to say whether or not it's better to refill on a chozo statue before Tourian. I chose not to refill, and I think I was probably right to skip it in this case, but skipping the refill is riskier and only saved me a small amount of time at most. (But it's noteworthy that I could've had 10 supers instead of 8 had I used fewer supers on Imago. I killed it quickly with 8 supers in this run, but I learned afterward that it doesn't matter how quickly you kill Imago as long as it's done in the first round of the fight; it can be done just as well with 6 supers and 10 missiles. This is the least amount of supers I feel comfortable using in this fight, since I have to cease firing to push the select button mid-fight.)
There are two more things I think I should mention briefly before proceeding to Tourian, and both are minor route changes over Dragondarch's old run. The first is that I finally grab the ice beam soon after leaving Ridley. Delaying the collection of the ice beam does slow things down and makes things harder at a few parts, but the ice beam area is completed much more quickly with the screw attack, hi-jump, etc. When all is said and done, this route change saves something like 5-10 seconds (I forget the exact figure that Dragonfangs arrived at). The other route change regards the collection of the long beam. Similar to the ice beam, delaying the long beam makes things a bit harder at a few parts, but overall this route change saves some 5 seconds or so. Grabbing a few missile tanks in eastern Brinstar early in the run also means that one can proceed straight from the long beam to Tourian, using a neat (but minor) shinespark in the process.
After entering Tourian, there's hardly anything of interest to say for... a while. Tourian is always just boring, and the suitless part of the run is always the same regardless of category. For those who haven't run this game much, I make sure not to drop below a super missile count of 4 while destroying metroids because that's the least number of supers with which the brain fight can be done efficiently. There's a part in the suitless sequence where I leave a room and immediately enter again; this is done to reset the searchlights, allowing me to proceed through the room without waiting. Also, due to a trick ZX found with the chozo ghost boss (known within the MZM speedrunning community as Charlie), it's questionable whether skipping a health refill at the beginning of the suitless sequence is really worthwhile (especially for single segment runs, in which the prospect of dying just by touching a pirate is particularly scary). I guess my skipping the recharge looks kind of cool and/or skillful or something. :/
The run doesn't differ significantly from past 100% runs again until much of the way through the final cleanup. One thing in this portion of the run merits mention though: on the way to the first power bomb tank, one of the mother ship workbots deflected one of my super missiles. This had all of us scratching our heads. There's no apparent reason for this, but I found later through tool assistance that this robot (and probably the others too, though I didn't check) will occasionally deflect shots as if they were nothing. It does so in a consistent pattern, but not in a way that console runners can really manipulate; I just happened to hit the stupid robot on a bad frame. In any case, this cost me some 3 or 4 seconds. In objective terms, this was no worse than losing a few seconds to bad luck anywhere else in the run, but this occurrence annoyed me more than most bad RNG I encounter.
Seeing the acid worm area in Kraid cleared out with all of the upgrades I have at this point is, in my opinion, quite cool. The acid worm can be finished off in TASes before it returns underground, though I'm not sure if anyone has managed to do this through a modified method on console yet. At any rate, the acid worm fight in this run is at least as good as one should expect in a single segment run. Also, I made a couple of unfortunate mistakes during the rest of the Kraid cleanup that cost a total of roughly 5 seconds; these should be easily avoided in the future, since my fellow speedrunners gave me a nice visual cue and an alternate means of execution that make these tricks quite consistent.
I don't think the route changes seen in the Norfair cleanup require further explanation, since I explained these route changes in some detail earlier in this commentary. I would like to call your attention to a ballspark and a spaceboost near the end of the Norfair cleanup, though. Both tricks look pretty cool (and the spaceboost is reasonably tricky).
Unfortunately, even with all of the cool route changes that 100% has gotten, we still don't have a way of avoiding the huge detour required to get the power bomb tank in the chozo ruins. ;( Probably nothing barring early power bombs will eliminate this detour. (And although early power bombs HAS happened with this game now, it's not really useful for anything outside of NBMB since you die immediately after grabbing them.) There isn't much to say about the remainder of the run; it had a few mistakes but was mostly quite clean.
And there you have it: a fairly optimized run that uses an extremely difficult route all for the sake of saving a few seconds here and there. Acid worm skip has finally been implemented in 100%, all non-mandatory chozo statue recharges have been eliminated, the final cleanup is substantially more efficient, and my health and ammo are just barely enough to get by without slowing down throughout the first half of the run. This run IS improvable, and with all of the small tricks not used in this run and fewer nontrivial mistakes, we might even see sub 50 happen someday. It will, however, be incredibly difficult to do. This is easily one of my best runs of this game to date, and I'm still quite proud of it, even a full year after having done it. For what it's worth, at the time of this writing, this run has a full minute lead on the next fastest known 100% time. Enjoy!
Hard 100%: 0:55:25 by Andrew Brockmann, done in 9 segments.
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After doing a few 100% normal runs, I was curious about what time I'd get in 100% hard. After getting 57:16 in a practice run, I decided I should do another run and record it. Many thanks to my 100% hard predecessors (namely Red Scarlet, ajbolt89, and Kridly). Their runs basically taught me how to speedrun 100% hard.
Segments 1 and 2 were nearly perfect and there isn't much room for improvement in either. Highlights include a two round charge beamst fight and an outstanding acid worm fight. In the sidehopper room at the end of segment 2, I chose to jump over the sidehoppers to save my missiles for Kraid. There were only a few errors throughout both segments and even those would be difficult to eliminate.
Segment 3 was honestly pretty sloppy and is littered with small mistakes. The Kraid fight could also be up to three seconds faster if Kraid cooperates. Even if this segment is performed flawlessly, though, the random factors in this segment could still cause you to lose a lot of time. For the most part, this segment's random factors were favorable, so I was willingly to accept this segment.
Segment 4 was quite good. I made a few silly looking mistakes but didn't lose much time. There are a lot of items in Ridley that are difficult to get, and fortunately I was able to get them all without trouble.
I made no attempt to end segment 4 with full super missiles and instead chose to recharge before Ridley. I don't think I lose any time by recharging; although it takes a few seconds, I gain time by having an extra super for Ridley and not having to go out of my way to pick up super missile refills. Even if I do lose time here, it isn't a significant loss.
Segment 5 was excellent, and I don't think there's much room for improvement in it. The Ridley fight was fast, and I got a one round fight against Imago. This segment is one of the shortest and is probably the easiest overall.
Segment 6 was weird for me because I'm not used to the positions of the metroids in hard mode. I was very conservative with my super missile use in the last room because in 100%, you can afford to end the segment with many fewer missiles than you start with. (I start the segment with 84/7, but only have to end it with 49/7.) For all I know, this segment might not be very optimized, but it seems plenty fast to me.
Segment 7 was very clean, especially considering how long it is. The Mother Brain fight and escape were fast; the suitless sequence was nearly perfect; the Chozo fight was good; almost everything else went well, and probably about half the time I lost was because of the random pulse bombu. I just wish it wasn't necessary to go far out of my way to refill my power bombs.
Segment 8 had numerous small mistakes but was still quite fast for a long segment. There were many neat shinespark tricks in this segment, including a particularly long speed boost near the beginning of the segment. I was annoyed at how often it was necessary to refill power bombs, but I suppose that can't be helped.
The final segment was short and fast. The Mecha Ridley fight could be faster with a little luck, but I'm not too concerned about it. The Chozodia escape was remarkably fast, especially considering I didn't have any super missiles for shooting the robot. In fact, my escape was roughly as good as my best 100% normal escape, in which I did have extra super missiles. This segment was a terrific finale to the run.
Overall, I believe this run is great. The single largest mistake in the run cost about two seconds, which is excellent in my opinion. My 55:25 beats my 57:16 practice run by almost two minutes and Kridly's 58:24 run by about three minutes. This time could definitely be beaten, although I don't think I'll ever try to improve it unless something really motivates me to. I'm now curious about how low I could get in 100% normal, so I'll probably try that someday. For the time being, however, I feel like taking a long break from speedrunning this game. Enjoy.
Hard 10% 0:45:42 by Andrew Bolton, done in 10 segments.
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Ekarderif from M2K2 recently started recording a technical demo of a 9% Hard run of this game. Watching the first few segments, I was initially rather put out, mostly because I felt I could never do any of the tricks he could and that people wouldn't appreciate cart runs anymore. After talking about it in M2K2's IRC chatroom, I decided to try some of the tricks shown in his run. I think that was really all I needed; as with anyone, I was very rusty at first, taking MZM back after so long away from it. I couldn't even do some of the tricks that, while difficult, I had down very well in my prime, when I did the predecessor to this run. After playing around for a bit, I managed to get back most of what I had before dropping the game, outside of enemy damage and the like. Having decided earlier that 9% Hard on the cart was something currently outside the bounds of my patience, I looked to something that I could potentially handle, and use as a way to bring back my overall confidence in my Metroid: Zero Mission speedrunning skills as a whole. 10% Hard was my very first thought, because a while back I had attempted a 10% Hard run that used the same route as the previous world record run, and had surpassed and ended with a time that, if memory serves, was around the 46 minute mark. However, I didn't want to recycle the same run as I did last time, out of fear of boring both the viewer and myself. I had also never tried a 10% Hard run that used a Super Missile as the tenth percent, but had only heard about them. I took it upon myself to do a quick trial run, which had many mistakes but ended with a time 0f roughly 50 minutes. Considering that that was not more than a minute longer than my previously optimized 10% Hard run, I knew that if I optimized the Super Missile route I could easily surpass the older run, and maybe even the better 4 missile run I had previously completed, but not recorded.
The main reason this run is faster than the older run is because of how far MZM speedrunning has come as a whole, not simply because I've increased my personal abilities. If it weren't for all the little tricks discovered by the MZM speedrunners as a whole, I would not have beaten my old time by really all that much at all. However, I'm curious as to whether or not the old route could beat this one, and that's mostly because of the enormous amount of time saved in the zebetite/Mother Brain room due to the use of Super Missiles. That's something for someone else to try though, at least for a little while.
The segment commentary was written after each segment was completed, one at a time. It more or less just expands on what happened in the segments and gives a little bit of insight into what I was thinking while running.
Segment 1: Start -> Norfair - 00:00 -> 06:06
This is all the same as most runs, for the beginning. I fell in the acid after the first missile and I didn't get any missile refills from Charge Beamst OR the geemer before the hives; I tend to draw attention to whatever is bugging me, hence tapping R. The room after the Hive Room is where this run changes from the others: I didn't get the missile tank in there, obviously because I'm getting a super missile tank later. I had, however, messed up a couple times earlier on, so I felt I needed to play it safe. I kind of got screwed on the bugs after bombs, as well, but it's cool. I didn't use my last missile on the way back through the hive room, which made it take a little longer, but also left me with max health heading down the elevator to Norfair.
Once inside, I sort of wasted my missiles, and neglected to get the one refill I saw at the end of the room because it was too far out of the way.
In Crateria, I did everything the same as usual, but after the Power Grip I chose to leave Crateria as Ekarderif does in his 9% Hard Tech Demo, by returning to the Power Grip room and bombjumping across the gap, then leaving the way I came in. I'm not actually sure if this is any faster, but... well, anything to make the run seem new and exciting is ok by me.
Back in Norfair, I shot all the flaming droppy-type baddies and fortunately got a missile refill, which I then used throughout the room to take out those red floaty fish thingies. I hate those guys.
Saved with 6:06 on the clock, full health/missiles. Probably could have been faster, but I can deal.
Segment 2: Norfair -> Ridley - 06:06 -> 09:44
I had to redo this seg a lot, mostly because I'd run out of missiles or something like that in the room before the larva. Everything went fairly smoothly this time however, I even got the first shots off on the larva where you aim straight up and hit the very edge of the vine. I did, however, take some damage, which had to be remedied at the bug pipe right inside Ridley.
I also had a little bit of trouble with the dessgeegas right before the super missile, mostly because I was in a rush to finish the segment and became reckless. In any case, I took a hit, then saved without max energy.
The main reason I decided to just save instead of restarting is because I can refill anything I'm not max on at the chozo statue before the Ridley battle, which doesn't take all that long anyway.
Segment 3: Ridley Battle - 09:44 -> 11:37
It's fairly rare to get a super missile refill on Ridley as it is, so I didn't want to strain myself and try to get a good battle, while still continuing the segment beyond the battle itself.
Going right into the battle, I unload what I've got, then take out his fireballs. The basic strategy here is the same as in a 9% run: try to get as many missile refills onscreen as possible, then use them one at a time (as in, pick one up, shoot both missiles, then get the next one). This obviously allows for the maximum amount of shots to connect in a single volley of his fireballs.
However, it makes a huge difference where he is when he shoots the fireballs, as far as how many shots I'll be able to get off. If he's just turned around, I have a max possibility of getting 8 missiles off on him. However, if he goes halfway across the room and shoots them at the wall right in front of him, they all end up bunched together against the wall, so I have no choice but to get them all at once.
As this is a super missile run, though, I wouldn't accept any battles where I didn't get a single super missile refill; I want it to look like it's actually helping. As I finally got one off at the end there, I was satisfied with the battle as a whole, and chose to accept it. It should be good enough, in any case.
Segment 4: Ridley -> Kraid - 11:37 -> 18:29
I found right away during practice runs that holtz likes to give out super missile refills if you kill him with a super missile. I did need to leave Ridley with one though, as I find it hard to get them outside of it and didn't want to refill.
Once back in Norfair I proceeded as always through the shaft back to the top, then rolled left through that room. I was one missile short of full at that point, but the little polyp spewers on the ground always leave a missile refill, but take a missile to destroy... obviously that works out pretty well. I took a hit before leaving but...
The first room here in brinstar has three pipes, which are nice for refilling on the move, which I did. On down to Kraid's area.
Once in Kraid, I proceeded on to Acid Worm as per usual. I would normally have saved before him, but the last segment was so short, and Acid Worm is the main reason I lose time on this run, because he refuses to give super missile refills. That means that every time he comes up the max damage I can do to him is 2, and while I start with a 7 damage hit (rather than 4 as in a 2 missile run), that obviously doesn't make up for what little difference there is.
After killing AW, I went back to the beginning shaft, then down and left, moving onward toward Kraid himself. I fortunately received a super missile refill, so I didn't have to refill at the unknown item statue. In the room with the sidehoppers and rios, I made a point of not killing every enemy, as that takes a lot longer and isn't necessary.
Saved before Kraid, because this segment is already long enough and the Kraid strategy for this run is difficult to perform consecutively.
Segment 5: Kraid Battle -> Tourian - 18:29 -> 21:01
Because the Kraid battle has different stages, the last of which involving him going nuts and destroying my platform, I figured it would be best to save my Super Missile for the last hit.
However, because the game defaults to super missiles when I run out of normal missiles, I had to press select every time I collected a missile refill. This is the main reason the battle is difficult, just making sure I press select when I need to.
The battle, in terms of missile volleys, looks something like this: 2, 3, 3, 7.
After the battle, I proceeded as normal, but took damage from the googly-eyed sonofabitch due to carelessness.
Back in Brinstar, I hurried up the purple shaft, putting my power grip to good use, the refilling at the chozo.
Saving obviously makes sense just inside Tourian, as the Metroid are next. :(
Segment 6: First half Metroids - 21:01 -> 24:33
I sorta got screwed on the super missile refills, but this segment was solid enough I chose to roll with it. It's also incredibly difficult to get off right, so even when I would get super missiles I'd get all excited and use it, then just plunge into the three other metroids I assumed would die from the first super. *cough*
That bit at the end was... pretty awesome, as far as playing goes. I love when I get surrounded and manage to come back beautifully, always feels rad.
Segment 7: Metroids, Zebetites - 24:33 -> 28:05
Once again, super missiles = no. I wasn't feeling too good about this seg as I got to the end of the Metroids, pretty much to the point where I don't want to talk about it... but at the same time I was so frustrated with it I stopped caring.
This is what led me to include the zebetites in the same segment; I felt that the 7 seconds saved by not saving would, hopefully make up my poor metroids a little bit, but only if I got lucky refills on the zebetites.
Which, I feel, I did. I didn't really want to make them their own segment in any case, since it would be short and boring, so that was another reason for me to do it. After the third zebetite, when I got hit three times, I was cursing my luck, but I got insanely awesome refills off the rinkas so I was cool with continuing from there.
The last little bit went pretty well too, considering it was tacked onto the end of the Metroid segment. Overall, not a perfect segment, but a good one to be done with.
Segment 8: Mother Brain -> Post-Stealth - 28:05 -> 35:57
Because the last two segments weren't exactly of supreme quality, I felt it more or less necessary to extend this segment beyond the save point just inside the Mothership, as I did with my 100% run (although, the main reason for doing it there was so I didn't need to recharge... but that's beside the point).
The Mother Brain battle itself was, I felt, pretty sweet. Lots of neat avoiding turret fire and the like.
As far as the escape goes, I have no idea what was wrong with my hand but I was NOT getting those walljumps off... really sort of embarrassing. Sorry guys.
In the Mothership, I managed to skip the map, which is always nice. I did get unnecessarily detected in the... third pirate room, where I missed ANOTHER walljump, but not too much time was lost by avoiding it where I did. I also got detected, obviously intentionally, by the eye-scanner thing on the wall, which gained me a bit of time since I don't have to sit around anywhere waiting for them to get off my tail.
Overall, a successful segment. While no super missile refills on MB, they're rare to the point where I don't care. I'm pleased I managed to top the Mother Brain segment from my 100% run (or anyway, I feel like it's topping it, so that's good enough).
Segment 9: New Suit -> Pre-Iron Ted - 35:57 -> 41:27
Initially I figured a segment that was just the new suit, and nothing else, would be a waste of time (just like having a zebetites only segment). I figured it wouldn't be to hard to include it in the same segment where I reach the final save point. Looking back on this segment though, I can confidently say this: I was wrong.
While not the most frustrating segment of the entire run (that would be either of the metroid segments), it was definitely a difficult one. This is mainly because, when separated, the Chozo Test (as I call it) and just getting to the last save are fairly easy, but the frustration of the occasional messed up Chozo Test tacked onto the initial difficulty of just making it to the last save point was a little bit stressful.
In review, the segment turned out about as good or bad as it could have; I could have been more lucky on the Test, as far as when it lit up, but that's just luck. I could also have probably moved faster through a few rooms, but as a whole this whole part is fairly straightforward. I do like the room where the paths of this run and the 4 missile 10% run split, and I go down, mostly cause I just burst into the room, fall right in front of the pirate and just blow a hole in the ground.
I was having a little bit of difficulty with the very last couple of rooms, mostly the vertical shaft below the save point I ended in.
As for the time, in comparison to the test run I did before this recorded run (which I finished with a time of 45:49, 3:24 faster than the previous world record of 49:41), I'm 23 seconds ahead here at the last save, meaning at this point my goal of a time around 45:3x seems achievable. Hope this works out.
Segment 10: Iron Ted + Escape - 41:27 -> 45:42
Alas, not quite a 45:30 run, but... well, I'm not too concerned. I killed Iron Ted on my first battle attempt, so I was willing to go with it, if only to avoid further stress from this run... I wanted to leave this experience feeling good about speedrunning again, and it seems to have worked.
Right into the battle with Iron Ted, I seemed to get really lucky as far as where he was shooting his laser (after his chest cavity had been blown open, of course). It's really rather random, as far as what order he goes in... there's four directions he'll shoot the laser: Up at a slight angle, straight across, down at a slight angle, and down at a sharper angle (45 degrees). The pattern he usually sticks to (as in, about 80% of the time) is across-across-down slightly. If he's in that pattern, he'll also occasionally go nuts in the last bit of his life and shoot four times, with the fourth shot being down at a sharp angle.
Another of his patterns that I've noticed is just up-up-up, which he'll occasionally switch up by shooting one slightly down, but more or less tries to blow open the ceiling for some reason. I'm not really sure what exactly causes him to fall into one of the patterns, but I always more or less rejoice when he decides to play dumb and shoot up the whole time, as he did in this case.
Getting the super missile there at the end was a sweet way to finish him, as well as allowing me to leave the battle with 2 missiles to shoot the stupid robot with.
As for the escape, I did fumble around a bit in the room after the very first pirates, as far as shooting the blocks goes, but the rest went relatively smoothly. In the room connected to the save point, I dropped down on top of a pirate and my shot hit him probably about 1 frame before I would have hit him, which was really rather neat.
I didn't get shot by the bombus at all either, which was nice, because while I can take a shot from them before dying, I usually get a little tense after the first one. Overall, the escape went nicely, and I ended the run with a quick mid-air morph into the ship. I didn't mean to. It just sort of happened... but I don't really mind.
Overall, this run was an enjoyable experience. I'd like to thank SABERinBLUE for the moral support, as well as Nate for capturing it and Radix for hosting it, and the rest of the Metroid 2002 community for making the Metroid series as a whole worth my while, to this day. I hope you enjoy this change of pace, as far as MZM runs go. I certainly know I did, and it's nice to feel good about MZM again, rather than bashing it every chance I got.
The end time was 45:42, only seven seconds faster than my practice run's time, which means I obviously lost... a lot of time in that final segment. While I could go back and redo it literally right now, I won't simply because I want to leave a little leeway for both myself, if I want to do another run of this type in the future, or for anyone else who might be "insane enough to try it", as the m2k2 kids like to say. Good luck to any competitors, because there are definitely several places where this run could be cleaned up.
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