Tuesday, June 29, 2010 by dex
You Are In An SDA Update, Max
Our next run is also one done on a third-person perspective game, though this time said game is much more stealth oriented. Michael 'Tigger77' Welle decided to improve some old Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory individual level runs on the Expert difficulty - and by 'some', I mean 'all'. Tigger77's mastery of this game must be very high indeed, for his improvement of Sam Fisher's adventures in all ten missions totals 15 minutes and 13 seconds, yielding a time of 1:01:21. You can find the per-level rundown of the times on the game page. The runs were done on the PC version of the game, and are definitely a very enjoyable watch, so go fetch them.
Monday, June 21, 2010 by Breakdown
Glitching and Garbage Blocks
Next we have a run for yet another one of those games I feel has been criminally overlooked previously by the speedrunning community. While fairly popular back when it was released, Wizards & Warriors is one of the many games of the NES era to fall into obscurity over the years, but here today it gets a taste of the limelight once more thanks to the efforts of runner Aleksi 'Bablo' Kanerva. Making use of a glitch that lets him completely bypass the game's last few stages, Aleksi tears through the original installment of this largely forgotten series in a very quick 0:13:05. Once you see this particular glitch in action it should be clear this qualifies as a major break, and as such will be tracked as a separate category, so should someone in the future want to go toe to toe with Malkil the door's still wide open.
But the first game in the series isn't the only one where the programmers let a huge, game breaking glitch slip into the final product. The sequel, Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors 2, also contains a trick to completely bypass the intentions of the programmers as evidenced in today's final run. Runner Marko 'Master-88' Vanhanen is the first runner in quite a long time to make a serious attempt at this notoriously difficult title, and while the glitch he employs to keep his elemental spell and magic power at the end of each stage does mitigate that difficulty to an extent, the game is still hardly a walk in the park. Through practice, perseverance, and a little bit of luck he was able to blaze his way through the game's five stages in a time of 0:10:56 with deaths. Again, this particular glitch merits its own category, so Tom Votava's existing run produced way back in 2004 still has a home on the site.
Thursday, June 17, 2010 by Breakdown
Why So Serious, Dood?
Our second run today offers two things that have been fairly common sights on the front page as of late: a Castlevania game, and a Sir VG run. Yes, Nicholas Hoppe is at it again, this time around charging his way through the WiiWare title Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth. Playing single segment and taking control of Christopher Belmont (who really sets himself apart from the rest of the Belmonts featured in Castlevania games over the years with the amazingly unique trait of being named Christopher), Sir VG cruises through the game's branching paths and familiar enemies with purpose, finishing the game's easy difficulty in a time of 0:20:26.
Finishing things off today we have our first run for the Disgaea series, though the game in question is probably not the first one most people think of when they hear the series mentioned. Undoubtedly, the entry of a platformer into the SRPG franchise came as a bit of a surprise to fans, but that was exactly what they got with the PSP's Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero? Since its release this game has garnered a reputation for difficulty, but despite this runner Kevin 'xarugas' Areopagita truly makes even the game's hard difficulty setting look easy in this fantastic set of individual level runs. The level times are as follows:
Sunday, June 13, 2010 by Breakdown
Save The Animals, Put Them To Work
Next up we have something for all the Pokémon fans out there. Runner Stephen 'Toothache' Stafford chose quite a massive project for his first full game run. Simply finding a quick and efficient way through the main story of the Gamecube's Pokémon Colosseum would have been quite an undertaking, but he decided to take things one step further and go for 100% snags as well. Considering he dubbed his own test run of over 10 hours "pretty fast" it's really quite remarkable he was able to bring his final time down as low as 7:17. There's obviously a lot of optimization to be found in the 33 segments he used, so be ready to see just how quickly you can catch them all with a little concentrated effort.
Finishing things off today we have a two man effort on an individual levels table several years in the making. Runners Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe and 'Persona' have pooled their best efforts over the years for the Time Attack mode in Castlevania Chronicles. The times are as follows:
Also of note at this time is that our friends over at The Speed Gamers are currently in the middle of yet another marathon. This time they're playing through as many Mario games as they can get their hands on and raising money for the autism charity ACT Today. As of this posting they are about 48 hours deep into a week long event, so there's still plenty of action to see. While they may not burn through their games with the same fervor you see displayed at SDA, they do put on quite a show and are offering a multitude of prizes and have several special guests and events scheduled over the course of the week. So go check it out and maybe give a little money to a good cause while you're at it.
Saturday, June 5, 2010 by Breakdown
Fire and Octane
Next up we have a new run for the Mega Man series with a somewhat unique twist to it. As followers of the site no doubt already know, we have a ton of Mega Man runs available for download, and one thing all these runs have in common is that they all have the player controlling either the Blue Bomber himself or one of the other hero characters introduced over the course of the series. Today, however, thanks to a feature in the PSP's Mega Man Powered Up it's one of the robot masters who gets his day in the sun. Piloted by runner Michael 'MAS8705' Solseth, Fire Man gets his chance to play the hero, and while he doesn't quite stack up to the likes of Mega Man and Proto Man he does show he's got what it takes to get the job done efficiently. Michael gets the once-villain through the game and achieves the good ending with a time of 0:26:07.69.
Finishing off today's update is a significant improvement to a run I personally thought was pretty solid to begin with. It's been quite some time since a serious attempt has been made at the original Castlevania. In fact, the run we've been hosting has stood for over four years and has received much praise in that time. You will note, however, the use of the past tense in that last sentence, as today we present an improvement to this long-standing run. Runner Aleksi 'Bablo' Kanerva took it upon himself to push this game closer to its limits, and by changing some strategies, tightening the execution, and forcing a few lucky breaks along the way he was able to chop nearly a minute off the incumbent time, bringing it down from 0:13:13 to 0:12:21. While it should go without saying, fans of the game and the old run should rush to check this one out. It truly is quite a treat.
Thursday, May 27, 2010 by Breakdown
Sneak, Swing, Smash
And for the second update in a row our first runner is also our second. Master-88 is at it again with another run for a classic NES title. The game in question keeps with the military theme set by Metal Gear, but rather than overhead maps he's now guiding his character through a platformer filled with spike pits and tall towers. Pretty standard fare for a sidescroller, but made much more interesting when the player is deprived of a jump button. Yes, we have a new run today for Bionic Commando. Going up alongside Jeff Feasel's any% run is Master-88's new 100% effort, collecting every weapon, item, armor, and translator the game has to offer in 0:26:57. Fans of the game will no doubt enjoy seeing the game's many optional levels blazed through and those less familiar with the title still get to see the Hitler look-a-like's head explode at the end. Everybody wins with this run.
Wrapping things up today we have an inaugural run for a superhero title. The Genesis version of The Incredible Hulk offers an interesting gameplay feature in that the titular character can actually revert to his mild-mannered alter ego, the brilliant scientist Bruce Banner. Now this might actually be useful if the game were subtitled something like "The Dastardly Differential Equations," but fortunately for your entertainment purposes such is not the case. The developers did, however, also include a feature on the other end of the spectrum where the Hulk can be even more superhumanly strong and fast, and it is this state you will see a lot of in runner Troy 'Hellfire7777777' Spence's run of the game. Playing on Arcade difficulty he pilots the big green behemoth through in a time of 0:19:35.
Monday, May 17, 2010 by Breakdown
Stop Me If You've Heard This One
First up we have a run for a game that doesn't put on airs. With a title like Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers you'd expect to get a game that has scantily clad women slicing up hordes of zombies, and that is exactly the experience that it delivers. No lengthy exposition scenes, no moral choice system, no bizarre mini games that have nothing to do with the plot. Just hordes of the shambling undead, crazy acrobatic swordplay, and over the top outfits. For its debut on SDA we have runs for two different characters courtesy of Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe. Playing on the game's easy difficulty for both runs, Nicholas hacks and slashes his way to a time of 0:23:16 for Aya and 0:16:46 for Saki.
But Sir VG's skill at killing hordes of the undead with female characters isn't limited to just one game, oh no. He's also providing us today with a run of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood which prominently features the game's secret character, Maria (though that Richter guy does see a little screen time too). Unlike his previous 100% effort, in this run he simply strives to complete the game in as direct a fashion as possible, and accomplishes just that in 0:23:31.
People watch these speedruns for a variety of reasons. Some know whatever game they're watching inside and out and want to judge for themselves how good the run is, some might barely know the game at all and just like watching skillful play regardless of their own familiarity with it, and some like to see a game that frustrated them to no end as a player get its ass handed to it. For me, today's final run falls into that third category. Robo Warrior is a game I owned when I was younger, and one of the few that, despite putting many hours into it, I was never able to beat. Fortunately, this is a problem not shared by runner John 'chessjerk' Kearsley IV. Making the best of the game's random factors and having a solid plan for everything else, he was able to charge through the game with a final time of 0:36:12. And while I doubt it was a motivating factor for him, I would like to personally thank the runner for getting a little revenge for my childhood.
Friday, May 7, 2010 by dex
Speed Demons Archive
Of course, that little inconvenience can't and won't stop me from giving you another batch of runs to enjoy. The first upstanding gentleman to provide us with speedrunning material to savor today is Eli 'Smilge' Chase, who decided to improve his earlier run of the isometric perspective RPG many would agree to be BioWare's best to date (I certainly would), Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. And improve it, he did, managing to somehow come up with over 18 minutes of timesavers in what was already a well run game. The new time of 0:23:09 was achieved using 26 segments, which is nine more than what was previously needed, but considering the improvement comes close to bordering on halving the earlier time, I think we can let that little 'transgression' slide. Check it out, it's great (if that wasn't evident already).
It seems the famous female adventurer, one Lara Croft, is making many frequent appearances on the main page lately - clear evidence how crowded the Tomb Raider speedrunning community is. This time we follow her hasty exploits in Tomb Raider: Legend, thanks to Jarek 'j.calling.2bad' Hanzelka's speedrun on the hard mode of the game. Even though the hard mode run by Shaun Friend is slower than Jarek's creation, it will continue to stay up on the page (am I the only one noticing the accidental innuendo in this paragraph?). Why is that, you ask? The reason is simple, Jarek's run uses an airwalking glitch, which lets him cut off insane amounts of time. The advantage this glitch brings is significant enough to warrant a new category. In any case, the new run uses the glitch and 24 segments to bring the time down to 0:37:32. Good show, good show. (late note: it appears I forgot to mention this run includes an audio commentary - all the more reason you should go download it. Sorry for the omission.)
Finally, as a sort of a dessert, to follow the isometric RPG and TPP platformer, we have an FPS run. As it usually is the case with desserts, it's quite short, but also very tasty. Albin 'quadrazid' Sigby and Daniel 'rayv3x' Babik made a Half-Life Hazard Course run to tease your palate. The run is segmented (8 segments, to be exact), and manages to beat the single segment run by 9 seconds. The time is 0:02:45, and while 9 seconds better than the single segment doesn't sound breath-taking, I assure you the SS time is rather optimised, which makes the improvement that much more impressive. HLSP Bunny and scripts were used.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010 by Breakdown
Run Bomb II: The Revenge
Sparking the fuse today is a run from SDA regular Andrew Gardikis, owner of some of the more high profile runs we have on the site. So what did he choose for his next project? None other the massively popular NES title Pro Wrestling. Who doesn't remember performing knee drops from the top rope with Star Man, chomping on their opponent's head with Amazon, or unleashing the fury of the Back Brain Kick with Fighter Hayabusa? Likely, it's most of you who don't remember, which is a shame really as this was a great title back when it came out. But one thing which should be a given is that with andrewg at the controls the time of 0:06:00 is very close to the limits of what's possible for this title.
And for the meat of the update we have SquareEnix yet again proving that their fantasies aren't always final. As the name implies, the Wiiware title Final Fantasy IV: The After Years takes place a few years down the line in the same world as Final Fantasy IV, giving players a chance to revisit familiar locales and characters as well as some new ones. In addition to a new main storyline, many of the characters are given their own scenarios as well to help further the plot, and it is around these scenarios that the first batch of runs for this game revolves. For starters, runner Thomas L. Mallory Jr. offers up segmented runs for every single character specific scenario the game has to offer. The details are as follows:
And if that weren't enough to keep fans of this title busy, we do also have a single segment effort of Edge's tale performed by Patrick 'messenger' McElwee clocking in just a couple minutes behind the segmented run at 0:28 with an embedded audio commentary included. With all this attention paid to this game by the speedrunning community, the only question that remains is who is going to tackle the full game run? Whoever it may be, these runs certainly lay the ground work for them very nicely.
While on the the subject of Final Fantasy, it seems a truly fitting time to unveil our newest piece of non-speedrun content. With runs on three games in the series under her belt, Kari 'Essentia' Johnson has amassed quite the fan base around the site as well as the title of "The Destroyer of Final Fantasies." Now, those who may be curious can gain a little insight on how she got into speedrunning, her thoughts on her own runs, and other interesting tidbits of information through this interview.
And as long as I'm knocking the dust off our Features page I may as well announce a few other additions to it. First off, this page will now become the permanent home of the link to our collection of videos from our charity marathon Classic Games Done Quick. Also, while its inclusion on this page is more for archival purposes down the line, it is certainly worth mentioning here that it is once again tournament time on the SDA forums. Longtime SDA member mike89 is playing host to the 6th SDA Tournament which will feature five games over the course of five weeks, with each playing week focusing on either speed, score, or survival. As of this posting the third week has just begun, but there was no formal registration and anyone is welcome to join at any time. While there is a competitive element (I mean, it is a tournament after all) the focus of these is more on discovering new games and having a good time. So come check it out, I personally guarantee a good time or your money back!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 by Breakdown
I have some fond memories of playing Final Fight in the arcade. Some friends and I would huddle over our respective joysticks and charge through the game with what we believed to be the undeniably best strategy possible: $10 worth of quarters and no regard for our own safety. At that time if you'd have tried to tell me skill could be applied to such a game I wouldn't have believed you, and I would have balked at the notion of getting through it without dying. Currently, I don't see the feat being quite nearly as ludicrous, but it's still quite impressive to see Jeremy 'DK28' Doll perform it at speed. Playing on the GBA's port of the game entitled Final Fight One, Jeremy pilots Alpha Cody through the game's very easy difficulty in a speedy 0:21:39. Now, I'm sure some of you watching will have questions about what's going on, and foremost among them will likely be what would possess a man to eat a turkey he found in the remains of a chandelier that had just fallen from the ceiling. Answers to this and other puzzlers are addressed in the embedded audio commentary.
And our next run deals with what everybody associates with a bunch of guys punching their way through members of a street gang one by one: vampire hunters. Yep, that's an obvious and not at all random progression. OK, granted it makes no sense, but this fact doesn't take anything away from the newest edition to our Nintendo DS run catalogue. Runner 'Serris' incorporated a couple glitches and some extensive planning into his normal mode run of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. The final result is a time of 0:57:25 in 29 segments and makes for a very entertaining and, thanks in no small part to his recording rig, surprisingly good looking run (which when you consider that this is not just a DS game, but also one that requires some touch screen inputs, is higher praise than it initially seems).
Saturday, April 17, 2010 by dex
Run Payload Enabled
The first run today is another installment of the adventures of everyone's favourite female Archaeologist Who Would Undoubtedly Lose The Job In Real Life, this time in a quasi-expansion pack for the third game in the Tomb Raider franchise, Tomb Raider III: The Lost Artefact. Familiar to those that follow the Tomb Raider speedrunning attempts should be the runner, Shaun 'MMAN' Friend, who decided to run the pack after running the original game. However, contrary to that original run, this time he uses the full potential the glitches in the game offer in order to speed through the expansion levels in just 0:16:31. Since the whole pack is so short, MMAN only needed 6 segments to complete it. Very nicely done!
It would seem Jānis 'Pendrokar' Lukss has acquired powers unavailable to mere mortals, as evidenced by him giving us another amazing run after his mind-blowing Morrowind playthrough. This time he blitzed through the third-person triple perspective game with real-time strategy elements, Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Pendrokar shows no mercy to the game and plows through the 34 segments using a huge amount of various boosts, tricks and glitches, finishing the stories of all three characters in just 1:21:35, a time that (according to his comments) surprised even him. It remains to be seen if he'll continue to submit quality runs at this frequency.
Finally, to round the update off, we have a run of a Tom Clancy game. Of course, since many a game bears his name, that's not really saying much. Right now we focus on the third worldwide release in the Rainbow Six series, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. The game focuses mostly on meticulous planning and careful, tactically sound attacks, but runner going by the name of 'Berry' only takes the first one under advisement. Specifically, he plans the routes of his teammates so as to wreak havoc in the ranks of the terrorists as fast as possible, and does so very well, since this 15 segment run on the easiest, recruit difficulty is only 0:11:37. A pretty short time to end a terrorist crisis, don't you think? Of course, such a low time first required a lot of failures, and Berry provided us with a bloopers reel, as well.
Saturday, April 3, 2010 by Breakdown
On the subject of familiar faces, I think there are few among the SDA faithful who aren't familiar with the name Nolan 'Radix' Pflug. For those of you not in the know, Radix is the founder of SDA and the one responsible for the site's move from Quake only to all games about 6 years ago. He also produced a fair number of runs himself, and while probably best known for his often referenced yet long since obsoleted Metroid Prime 100% in 1:37 (+1), several of his runs have endured for years on the game list. Today, that number decreases by one. Pikmin 2 is the subject of a massive improvement courtesy of runner Charles Griffin. Through the use of more streamlined strategies and tighter execution Charles was able to chop over 2 hours off the incumbent run, finishing with the best ending in a time of 3:10 over 128 segments. These have been combined into 8 files, one for each game day, for easy downloading.
Finally, a series that has been notably missing from the game list gets its first run on the site. While RPGs are far from the most common games picked up by speedrunners we do have a fairly healthy stock of runs for the genre on the site. Earthbound? Got it. Chrono Trigger? Got that too. Final Fantasy? Got a bunch of them. But before now we've been lacking a run from the series that paved the way for the JRPG as we know it today. That, however, all changes today thanks to the efforts of a runner known by the screen name 'Darkwing Duck'. Careful planning and a healthy dose of luck went into his run for the American release of the Dragon Quest series' third installment, or more succinctly put Dragon Warrior 3. Making use of 12 segments he makes his way through a game notorious for requiring heavy amounts of grinding in an impressive 5:14. If you can't tell, I'm very happy personally to see this series finally have a home on the site, so a special thanks from me to the runner, and hopefully we'll see some other installments in the not too distant future.
And for those of you all set to start downloading the new Dragon Warrior run, you may be interested to hear about an upcoming event. Starting on April 8th the group Bonus Stage Marathons will be attempting to run through all eight games in the main Dragon Quest series in a 72 hour period, and while they're at it they'll be collecting donations for the charity Frisky's Wildlife Sanctuary. While this event is in no way affiliated with SDA, those familiar with this series will recognize that if they are to meet their time goal it will require some truly speedy play. So check it out, see how they do, and donate some money to a good cause while you're at it.