Released in June 1990, Rescue Rangers featured bright, colorful graphics that stayed true to the cartoon, and 2-player coop gameplay. In this game the Rescue Rangers are helping their neighbor Mandy find her lost pet kitten. Could Fat Cat have something to do with this?
Best time: 0:10:13 by Jeff Feasel on 2011-05-15.
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This is a fairly straightforward platformer. Fast-paced gameplay with nice responsive controls. You attain maximum horizontal speed simply by holding right, so speedrunning is just a matter of planning your jumps and memorizing enemy spawns, trying to minimize the amount of stoppage. The enemy spawns and behaviors are based on screen position and character location, rather than any kind of timer or random factors. In 1-player mode the lag doesn't start to become noticeable until there are 3 enemies on the screen, so there aren't really any spots where i thought it was worthwhile to kill enemies for lag-reduction. The bosses have a fixed invulnerability period, so optimizing boss fights is usually a matter of timing your shots so that the red ball is on top of the boss when he becomes vulnerable again. A few of the bosses have random patterns, so a good speedrun pretty much depends on having these fights go well (in particular the bosses of the 2nd and 3rd level, as well as the final boss).
The main challenge in routing the levels is deciding how to deal with the spots where you can't simply avoid the enemies. You have three options: hesitate briefly to get the enemies into locations where they can be avoided, damage boost, or kill them with a box. Damage boosting is pretty simple: when hit you are always thrown opposite from the direction you are facing, so the trick is to jump into an enemy and change directions a split section before getting hit. You boost at the same speed you would normally walk, so the only time lost from a damage boost is the time between changing direction and taking a hit. Picking up a box and then throwing it both have an animation associated with it, so a small amount of time is lost here. Throwing a box upward while in mid-air doesn't cost any time, and grabbing a box while in mid-air doesn't cost any time, so i try to take advantage of this when possible.
First Area - In order to get zipper (the green fly that gives you invincibility) to last long enough to kill the final robo-dog, you need to touch the box on its top-left corner. The upper floor requires some stoppage, and there are a number of different ways to do it. I wouldn't be surprised if someone does it faster in the future by attempting more difficult boosts or simply shaving frames off of what i do here. At most, though, we're talking about 0.5 to 1 second.
Area B - The faucets that are ground-level can be hit most efficiently by walking up to the edge of them and rocking left-right. In the third section the way the flies behave (and whether you get just 1 or many spawns) depends on the timing of your jumps. In the doppelganger section some hesitation is required to adjust their positioning. The boss of this level is random, and the pattern you get makes a huge difference in your time. I had to reset many times due to a bad pattern. The pattern i got in this run is the best possible, allowing for two double-hits. Note that the TAS uses off-screen hits, which are possible on console though not predictable enough to be useful in a run.
Area D - This level requires some combination of block-throwing and damage boosting. I spend some time picking up a health refill because it allows for more time to be saved by additional damage boosting. In the last section i pick up a box as i change from going up to going right, because it saves a few frames to cut that corner off the path. The boss's behavior is random, and ideally you want him to charge all the way to the left so that you can get at least one double-hit on him. The pattern i got in this run is one of the best.
Area F - It is possible to damage boost through two of the falling cannonballs, though this trick is extremely difficult and i didn't find it consistent enough to be worth trying in a run where random boss luck kills so many attempts anyway. In the second section the trick is to scroll the screen vertically as early as possible, as there are certain key points which must be passed in order to begin the cycles of some of the platforms.
Area G - The only thing worth commenting on in this level is that in the third section you need to jump at a particular time in order to fake the fly into charging early (and prevent further flies from spawning). The boss has a 1-pixel safe-zone where you can hit him without taking damage, however you can greatly widen this zone by throwing the ball upward from its initial position and then taking advantage of the fact that you can walk left a half square and then re-throw it from mid-air without changing the ball's horizontal position.
Area H - Nothing notable about this level. Why doesn't it have a boss?
Area I - The fans are fun. The pelicans are jerks. The boss can only be hit once on the first cycle, and twice on subsequent cycles (for 5 total). The only thing i do to save time (a split second at best) is to set up the 4th hit so that the ball contacts the boss as low and to-the-right as possible, thus you can deliver the last hit as early as possible. There is an alternative strategy that involves delaying your first hit until the boss crosses the center line and then delivering 3 hits on the first cycle, however i did not find this to be reliable enough for use in my run.
Area J - Such good music. The second section requires some rather difficult jumps and boosts. In particular i am very happy with the two boosts through the axes. This is probably my favorite section. The final boss has a safe spot that works for 2 out of 3 positions of his cigar. So there is a substantial chance of losing the run here.
In general there is still some room for improvement. There are two places i pointed out where a few seconds could be saved by using riskier tactics (Area F, and the boss of Area I). Other than that we're mostly looking at sub-second time savings. In particular: tighter damage boosts and hesitations, shaving a few frames off of jumps in the vertical sections, possibly some lag reduction. Hopefully eventually someone will attempt this, but for now please enjoy my run of this great NES classic.
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