Released in February 1994 by Sony Imagesoft, Skyblazer is a SNES platform game in which the hero must try to find Ashura, the Lord of War, and reclaim the kidnapped sorceress Ariana. Largely obscure at the time of release, it gained some considerable cult praise in the following years.
Best time: Single-segment 0:26:06 by Eric 'Omnigamer' Koziel on 2012-05-30.
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Special thanks to Bablo, Blechy, and Dooty for finding many of the major tricks and routes in this game. Bablo and Dooty were the TAS authors, and discovered many of the zip techniques and other oddities. Blechy put in a lot of effort to research and test the forced drops throughout many of the stages, which greatly helped to bring the time down to this level. He also pushed me to optimize bits and pieces of the run beyond what I had initially routed. Also thanks to all of my stream viewers for keeping me sane during these runs. Finally, thanks to all the other Skyblazer runners for tips and optimizations as well.
I discuss a lot of the tricks in my audio commentary, so I'll leave this space to summarize potential improvements to the run.
Beginning: Damage boosts and lag reduction were OK, could have been better. Can possibly save .2 seconds more.
Faltine's Woods: Missed the "magic jump", so one frame is lost. Darn.
Temple Infernus: Didn't crouch all the way at the entrance to the shortcut. This and faster zips could have saved .3-.5 seconds.
Cliffs of Peril: is autoscroller.
Tower of Tarolisk: missed only one of the early zips, and took the last zip slightly slow. Not too bad. With some other tiny movement optimizations, probably .3-.5 seconds to save here.
Petrolith Castle: Went mostly perfect. Tighter timings on the boss and a little less hesitation on the platforms can save a quarter of a second.
Falls of Torment: No problems here.
Lair of Kharyon: Missed the lever the first time, and a bit of hesitation picking up the standing magic before the final maze room. All this and tighter timings on the boss can save .3 seconds.
Fortress Shirol: Didn't get the lucky magic drop, which loses 1.5 seconds. Dang.
Gateway of Eternal Storms: Other than not having enough magic to perform the full shortcut, something odd happened with punching the first wall of blocks, and as a result I didn't hit the damage boost after. This probably lost .5 seconds overall.
Storm Fortress of Kh'lar: Other than some hesitations, this stage and boss went great. A couple tenths of a second can possibly be saved.
Caverns of Shirol: Got stuck on the first zip a bit, which ate up a second. Didn't hit the instant jump out of the lava to get the magic in the last room either, which lost half a second. Getting hit and repositioning on the boss lost another half second, for ~2 seconds lost here.
Dragonhill Forest: Move along, nothing to see here.
Great Tower: Perfect up until the samurai elevator. For whatever reason I missed my timings and didn't get the forced drop as I should have. This forced me to improvise later on, and cost at least 2 seconds worth of comets. I also screwed up one hit on the dragon and as a result had to go through one more cycle than usual, which is ~40 frames. A perfect dragon requires only 9 cycles, but I've only pulled this off once. Probably 3 seconds lost here overall.
Raglan's Citadel: No major mishaps until the Tarolisk re-fight. Lost .75 seconds to getting hit on its last hit. For Raglan, messed up the cycle slightly after the second Heal, and fell off the arm. This cost another 2 seconds.
All together, about 8 seconds were lost due to mistakes, with another 1-2 seconds possible to save with frame-perfect movements throughout. So that sub-26 run is possible, but would be pretty difficult to hit every trick and boss perfectly. I would like to see it happen, but I need to move on from this game to other endeavors. This run alone took me more than 1000 attempts, but I encourage others to try their hand at it. It has come a long way since I started running it; I never thought it would be able to get this low. There is still the potential for several other areas to be improved; for example, guaranteed magic drop at Fortress Shirol, or a pattern to get through the Ice Crusher one cycle early, or even a way to zip right. In any case, I had a lot of fun doing this run, and I hope it's an enjoyable watch.
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