Released in 1996 for the SNES, Whizz is a Flair Software puzzle-platformer. In a tale apparently inspired by Alice in Wonderland, you play as a bunny in a very big hurry. Bounce through all the levels, collect a bunch of stuff, and then go riding off on your hot-air balloon into the metaphorical sunset.
Best time on Hard: Single-segment 0:15:51 by '__sdfg' on 2014-09-14.
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Hey, everyone! Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for watching. This is a speedrun of Whizz for the SNES. It's an obscure game, but it's fun to play and hopefully fun to watch! Since most people haven't played or even heard of this game, I'll do my best to explain what's going on, so everyone can understand what happens in the run and what was going through my head as I was recording it.
I first of all need to thank PJ DiCesare for introducing me to this game and for his work on running it. I definitely would not have known this game existed if not for him, and I borrowed a lot from his runs when I was researching routes and practicing. PJ also did an amazing job with the comments for his SDA runs of this game and I can only hope I described everything as well as he did.
I also want to thank my stream viewers for supporting me and giving me someone to talk to during my attempts so I didn't slowly go insane from all the time spent watching a cartoon rabbit jump around.
Whizz is one of three games Flair Software released for the SNES in 1996, though it was originally released on the Amiga a couple years earlier. As one would expect from a late SNES release, it has pretty nice graphics even if the art style is on the goofy side. It was also ported to DOS, the Saturn, and the PlayStation. I haven't played any of the other versions, but from what little I've seen, they don't look too different.
The goal of Whizz is to guide a rabbit in a top hat to the end of each of 10 levels, so that he can steal (?) hot air balloons and race his rat nemesis to a giant carrot in a cup. There obviously isn't much to the story and it has no bearing on the gameplay. The only two important things to know are that the rat is named Ratty and the rabbit really is named Whizz.
Whizz is an isometric "3D" puzzle-platformer. All you technically need to do to beat each level is get to the goal rope at the end. However, the path to the goal is obstructed by a series of increasingly durable doors. To break these doors open, you (supposedly) need to collect "door breaker" powerups scattered around each stage. Each door breaker you collect strengthens your spin attack so you can break the next-strongest level of door. The sequence is ice, wood, something that isn't named in the manual (it looks like cobblestone/Styrofoam/different ice), brick, and then iron. You lose your powerups between levels, so you are expected to collect a new set every time.
I said, "supposedly," and, "expected," because there are a couple ways to get by doors without collecting the appropriate breakers. In some cases, you can jump over a door by using a nearby enemy or powerup as a steppingstone. The best examples of this are in 4-2. Jumping off powerups is actually pretty cool: they're normally supposed to disappear when you collect them, but PJ found that if you jump on the exact frame you land on one, you jump off instead of falling through. Getting a frame-perfect jump might sound difficult, but since you can buffer jumps by briefly letting go of B in midair, it's actually really easy!
The other way to skip the door breakers is to take advantage of a bug in the spin attack. On the medium and hard difficulties, you lose a health point every time you spin (check the mushroom in the lower-right of the HUD to see this). I think the idea was to make the game more challenging by punishing you for spamming spin attacks. The game designers decided to be nice, however, and refrain from killing you if you spin with 1 HP. Instead, they put a cooldown on the spin attack, so you can only spin once every few seconds when you're out of health. The code for the 1-HP case apparently doesn't check which of the door breakers you've collected, so if you grind your health all the way down, you can break any door you want!
Because of the 1-HP bug, the fastest way to complete many stages is to strategically shed health and then hope you don't get hit on the way to the exit. The spin cooldown makes this more difficult because it limits how many enemies you can kill efficiently. However, it saves a lot of time and makes the game a lot more fun to run! The best application of this trick is in stage 1-2, which normally requires collecting 5 door breakers, but can be beaten efficiently without any at all! Also, the trick provides an extra disincentive against playing on easy, since the bug doesn't work on that difficulty.
There are some places where it is really inconvenient to avoid taking damage, so this trick is not used to skip every door. For example, the first door breaker is a little out of the way in 4-2, but there is an unavoidable bottle of poison that you have to jump over later on, so reducing yourself to 1 HP to skip the first breaker would require you to later farm enough health to get from the potion to the antidote. Because of that, I'm not sure if it would even be faster than the normal route, and it would definitely be harder. Anyone who wants to experiment with it is welcome, though!
Apart from the various bugs, everything in this game should be pretty intuitive. The red and white enemies in each level and the chess pieces in World 4 are immune to damage, but all of the other enemies can be taken out with one spin. The hourglass pickups extend your time, and you need them in some stages, especially on hard. The controls are a little slippery and the camera bounces around, but you get used to it. One thing worth mentioning is that while you can reverse direction in midair, you can't turn left or right. The game also has a weird bug where if you try to jump too soon after turning, you sometimes do a really short jump and other times go shooting off in directions you aren't supposed to be able to move. So, you have to be careful to pause slightly if you need to change direction and then jump. It's best to avoid turns in general, though, since you have to rebuild your momentum after each one. Finally, while the game gives you points for collecting flags and setting off rockets, the points don't do anything, so there's no reason to go out of your way for them in a run unless you're trying to establish a 100% category. >_>
That should give you an idea of what it's like to run this game. Since there aren't a lot of resources out there about running or even just casually playing the game, though, I'll give a level-by-level breakdown and go into more detail.
This level is straightforward and a good introduction. It's actually still easy to get lost and run out of time if you're new to the game, but with practice, anyway, it's pretty simple.
The only thing I do here that's different from the "intended" path is to jump off the health potion about 2/3 of the way through the level, so I can reach the upper level without waiting for the moving platform. I do want to point out, though, that I actually use a slightly slower strategy at the beginning of the level than PJ did in his run: I jump over the disc guy when coming back from the door breaker, while PJ walks past it, along the edge of the tile. The reason for the change was that the time difference is very small and I kept messing up PJ's strategy when I tried it. >_> But it is nevertheless a small time loss.
Strategy aside, this level went pretty well in this run. I've made it to the exit with a 9 on the in-game timer once or twice, so this wasn't my absolute best, but a high 8 is still a solid time.
This is where the run gets a lot more interesting. It's also where I usually reset. >__> I use the lizard at the beginning to run my health almost all the way down and then skip all of the door breakers. The part after that is a little precarious due to the tight spaces and the enemies running around, but I've found that as long as I wait for the spin cooldown to expire so I can kill the second lizard, this strategy isn't too bad. Throughout the rest of the level, I try to jump over most enemies so I don't have to worry about spinning. PJ came up with a good route for doing that and I just emulate what he did.
Because I ignore the door breakers, I skip a bunch of alternate paths and even some backtracking. I also get through the stage comfortably without collecting any time extensions, which is normally impossible. It's a pretty big difference in time.
There is one other thing I should mention: PJ found that if you buffer a jump off the platform near the end as it falls, you don't have to wait for it to rise back up. This saves a little extra time.
This stage also went pretty well. I've gotten a 9 once before, but the mid-8 I got in this run is about what I'd expect from this route.
You get a ridiculous amount of time to finish this stage, even on hard. I suppose it could take a while to navigate in casual play since there are multiple paths and it isn't obvious how they all connect. However, I finish with 45 in-game seconds left, so it seems silly in the context of a speedrun.
Anyway, I get the door breaker at the beginning so I don't have to slow down when going past the disc guys and other enemies in the middle of the stage. Also, there aren't any convenient ways to lose health before the first door other than running into the starfish and the door breaker is right next to that. Instead, I spam Y for a while to get my health close to 1 later in the stage without having to sit and wait for enemies to damage me. This lets me get through the rest of the doors without collecting any more powerups.
PJ found a really interesting trick near the end for jumping onto the platform that you activate with the yellow button. You normally have to wait a cycle to get onto it. However, if you align yourself with the correct pixel when jumping over to the button, you can barely catch the edge of the platform and jump onto it the first time it goes up. The apparent reason is that the platform is one pixel bigger than a typical tile (don't know why).
Because of how movement works, it's more difficult to line this trick up than it sounds. You have to get on the right pixel before you push around the wall to get to the button. You can't just run into the wall next to the button, even if there is technically still a pixel or two between you and the wall. As a result, I'm not particularly consistent at getting onto the platform. I got there in this run, though. The trick saves a couple seconds, so missing it is somewhat costly.
This level was a little sloppy in this run, but I expect a 45 when I get the platform trick and I got one here, so I don't think the sloppiness cost too much time.
This is the first of three snow levels. Fortunately, only a few short parts have snow/ice physics.
As with the normal doors, the key doors do not have an invisible wall above them, so you can jump over the door near the beginning without picking up the key. It was really helpful of the game designers to put an enemy there.
There are a few neat things about the lake in this level. The main one is that if you get a running start, you can jump almost all the way across without falling in. Another fun thing is that if you spin while falling into the water, your spin state gets stuck, so you can kill enemies and break open doors just by running into them. The effect continues until you die or use your spin attack manually.
One more interesting thing is that one of the pillars around the lake has a weird hitbox, and if you jump against it wrong (right?), you can really mess up the camera and even crash the game! I don't normally try to crash the game during my attempts, though.
The second half of this stage has one of the most fun parts of the run. After the cliff with the three moving platforms leading up it, I jump onto and off another moving platform, run under a door full of spikes, and then jump off a snowball and a flag to scale another cliff. All of those things spawn offscreen, so if I mess up any one part of the sequence, the rest of it falls apart. It's a lot of fun when everything comes together, and it's a few seconds faster than the obvious route through that section.
The last thing worth mentioning is that I run my health down to 1 at the end of the stage so I don't have to pick up the last door breaker. The door breaker is really close by, so this only saves a second or two, but it also doesn't really make things any more difficult, so there's no harm in going for it.
This stage went okay in my run. I think I've gotten a 40 on the in-game timer before, so I guess the movement could have been a little cleaner, but I don't think I did too badly given the length of the stage.
This stage puts the only door breaker you need right in front of you, so you get a welcome break from running your health down. There's not too much going on at the beginning. I pick up the key so I can go through a door later in the stage. I do miss one minor trick early on: it's possible to jump directly onto the yellow button and I don't quite get there this time (I think the jump has a 4-frame window). I don't lose much time to missing it, though.
The first key door I pass leads to a side area that has some flags for points. Since this isn't a score run, I just run by it. I use the game's weird physics of pushing around walls to avoid having to jump on the islands in the lake, which makes that part a lot easier/faster. Getting a clean fall onto the spring just before the lake is a lot more difficult than it seems it should be, but I managed to do so in this run. >_<
It's a little faster to take the second key door than follow the normal path even when you account for the time needed to pick up the key, so I do take it. I messed up another minor thing here, though: if you face down or left when you enter the door, you can jump downward on the way out – which is the direction you need to go – while if you go in facing up or right, you can't. In this run, I didn't turn myself around in time while going into the door, so I lost a slight amount of time coming out the other end.
The sled at the end of 2-2 is... something. For some reason, the game doesn't set a boundary at the bottom of the iced-over area while you're on the sled, so literally all you have to do to slide out of bounds is hold down and avoid bumping into any flags. This is actually faster than riding the sled normally because it skips the animation of Whizz jumping off the sled. It's important to pay attention to where you go out of bounds, though: if you go out early on, the game lags a bit more as you cross the finish than it does if you exit later. Also, going out early makes it possible to go too far out of bounds and miss the exit!
Aside from the two errors I mentioned, I think this stage went pretty well in this run.
I hop over the time extension at the beginning because I don't need it unless I make so many mistakes that I'd want to reset anyway.
This is another stage where jump buffering makes a difference. At the beginning, it makes it faster to hop up the terrain. In the middle of the stage, though, it lets you jump off the bottom platform in the cliff face just before it retracts, so you don't have to wait for the next cycle to start. This is another trick PJ found. It feels good when it works and kind of sad when it doesn't.
The reason I don't run my health down in this stage even though I have to go slightly out of my way for some of the breakers is that the horizontal "door" just above the spring isn't affected by the 1-HP bug for some reason. Also, keeping my health up lets me get boosted by the cone guy after the platform cliff a bit, and means I don't have to worry about getting bumped by the other cone guys later on. So, I don't mind having to get the door breakers too much.
I think this stage went decently well aside from some of the jumps near the end. I find the bump jumps over the lake in this level to be a lot harder than the one in 2-2. I don't really know why. In this run, I got stopped by both posts rather than sliding around them. I managed to avoid falling in the water or getting stopped by the cone guy, though, so it could've gone worse.
There is one more thing about this stage that I want to bring up. The game throws a bunch of door breakers at you near the end, in really obvious places. However, the last couple doors are ice and wood, the two weakest doors. This has made me wonder if there's an alternate path that lets you skip the door breakers earlier on. However, I've never been able to find such a path and I don't know if one exists. >_< My guess is that the designers had considered adding such a path at one point, but either changed their minds or never got around to it. It also could've just been a mistake in the design. I don't think I'll ever find out...
This is the tensest stage in the run. The reason is that while PJ was working on this game, he discovered that if you die while or after crossing the finish line, the game takes you to the next stage *and* skips the end-of-level animation. PJ also found that if you conserve your health, you have barely enough time to get from the poison bottle to the end without picking up the antidote, and furthermore, if you skip all of the time extensions and play really cleanly, you can cross the finish while you die from running out of time. So, the preferred route for this stage is to skip the hourglass and antidote, avoid spinning wherever possible, play really aggressively with the beach balls at the end even though they constantly whittle away your already fading health, and make very sure you don't make any significant mistakes. If you take too many hits or waste too much time, you'll fail to cross the finish and your run will be over. "Too much time," means maybe a couple in-game seconds in this case, so your play has to be really tight.
It is possible to cross the finish without even seeing the checkerboard in front of it. However, those who make it far enough will discover that the surfboard is secretly also a hot air balloon.
Incidentally, this stage can be made much easier by simply setting off one of the first couple mines in the stage and waiting for an hourglass to fall from the sky. That costs a couple seconds, though, and also means you have to rely on your HP to kill you while crossing the goal. Also, it lets you get away with sloppier runs, which is not always a good thing...
One last tip: you can get through the door after the trampoline by holding Y after Whizz does his first bounce on it. You don't have to time your spin to match when you hit the door. This stage got easier for me after I figured that out... >___>
This stage is also pretty scary, at least at the end. Getting down to 1 HP before the third door saves several seconds because the third door breaker is a little out of the way. However, after that, you have to jump over a bunch of fast-moving beach balls to get to the exit. Fortunately, it's not too hard with the proper setups.
It is possible to get through this stage without collecting any breakers by using the beach ball to jump over the first door and then cutting your health to 1. However, I'm not sure it's actually faster than the route I used in this run. The problem is that the mines just after the wooden door have really messed-up explosion hit boxes and they take off a bunch of health if you're pretty much anywhere to the left of them when they go off. So, to get through with 1 health the whole way, you have to stop and wait for two mines to explode. It's possible that route is still slightly faster, but I don't think it's worth it.
The last "fun" thing about this stage is that sometimes, the game doesn't spawn the bouncy castle just before the submarine ride. When this happens, it becomes completely impossible to go forward or backward in the level, and you have no choice but to either reset or wait for the timer to run out. It's probably the worst thing about running the game. >___< Fortunately, it doesn't happen very often.
For the first 8 stages, everything in Whizz is deterministic, so your time depends only on your skill and whether the 3-2 bouncy castle despawns. The last 2 stages introduce gambling mini-games, however, so your reward for fighting through near-death in 3-1 and 3-2 is a random time loss/gain of 20+ seconds! Pretty cool.
I should explain how the mini-games work. The first is a hi-lo game. The game shows a card, and you have to guess if the next card will be higher or lower. Aces are low, and for some reason, the only cards in the deck are ace, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, and king. If you guess right, the game adds some chips to the nearby stacks, eventually allowing you to jump up to the next level. Fortunately, you don't lose anything if you guess wrong. In addition to the cards being random, the time it takes to bring up the next card varies a lot, so you can get a pretty wide range of times coming out of this game. I actually think I got a little better than average luck in this run, going by the in-game time, but better luck could still have saved a few seconds.
The next mini-game is slots. For each slot machine, there are three coins you can collect. When you insert the first or second coin, the machine randomly may or may not give you the jackpot and open up a bridge to the next section. The third coin always opens the bridge, but the machine takes a little while to spin and the coins can be somewhat out of the way, so waiting for the third coin costs a lot of time
4-1 has two slot machines. The coins for the first machine are pretty far away. I normally pick up the two most accessible coins and leave the third, which saves a few seconds if the machine activates on the first or second coin, but costs a bunch if I have to go back for the last one. Fortunately, in this run, I got the jackpot on the second try, so it wasn't an issue. At the second machine, it's easy to grab the second and third coins in one go, so I normally try with just one coin first. I ended up needing two. So, more time could be saved here with really great luck, but things definitely could have gone worse!
One important trick in this level is getting through the chessboard without having to wait for any pieces. If you run toward the bottom of the chessboard and then over to the exit without bumping into anything, you can just barely get past the bishop before it moves into the corner. If the bishop beats you there, though, you have to wait a few seconds for it to get out of your way. It's not too tricky, but you have to practice it a bit and it's still something that can go wrong if you're not careful. Of course, with the way this stage works, you can make up all the lost time if you get really good gambling luck, but in this case, I got the skip and didn't need it...
The rest of the stage isn't too different from the earlier levels in terms of mechanics. Getting from the poison bottle to the end without the antidote is pretty easy if you manage your health throughout the stage, and saves time in the end-of-level animation in addition to what you save skipping the antidote. In this run, I picked up one more health mushroom than I needed and unfortunately wasted a little time in the end-of-level animation as a result, but it wasn't too bad.
This stage has a lot going on, which I guess makes sense given that it's the last level in the game.
Near the beginning, there is a knight moving around a mini-chessboard. Normally, you have to go around the right side of it, but if you get a clean enough climb, you can jump past on the left. This saves a second or so, but it looks pretty silly and costs time if you go for the jump and miss it. Thankfully, I got it in this run.
The next tricky part is jumping over the wooden door. If you time it right, you can buffer a jump off the last flag and clear the door at full speed. The timing is pretty tight, though, so it's kind of a scary jump. If you miss it, you can still use the red-and-white bouncy ball enemy to get over the door, but that's a couple seconds slower and isn't as much fun. So, I was happy to get the jump in this run.
This stage throws another round of slots and hi-lo at you. I again got the jackpot on the second try, which saved a few seconds since there's no convenient way to pick up the third coin. The hi-lo machine kind of messed with me – it took a really long time for the ace to come up – but I've gotten much worse luck here before, so I'm content with what I got this time.
The end of my run is one of the more unfortunate parts. >_> While the second and third have nearby enemies/flags that let you jump over them, the last couple do not. So, you need to spin your health down to 1 HP to reach the end. Because of this, you have to be really careful with the last couple enemies. They are too close together for you to kill both of them without having to stop and wait for a while, and it isn't possible to jump over the playing card, so avoiding the jester and killing the card is pretty much the only option.
If you get a really clean jump up to the platform with the jester, you can quickly run by him and then take out the playing card. However, I choked a bit and completely botched the jump up to the platform, so I had no chance of doing that. I ended up using the backup strategy where I wait for the jester to move to a place where I can jump over him and then go after the playing card. It doesn't look too bad, but it's a couple seconds slower than the strategy I wanted. This bugs me quite a bit because I think I could've gotten a 15:4x instead of a 15:5x if I'd executed properly. >_< It's definitely something that can be improved in future runs.
Overall, though, I'd say this run went pretty well. There is room for improvement, but most of the stages were clean and I got all of the tricks I went for other than running past the jester at the end. In the first three worlds, I was never more than a second and a half behind my best time for each level, and I was within a second on most of them. I didn't get the best mini-game luck, but it was still quite a bit better than it could have been – compared to this run, I've lost 10+ seconds to bad luck on 4-1 or 4-2 individually in past attempts! So, I think this is a good example of how to play Whizz quickly.
Thanks again for watching the run! I hope you enjoy.
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