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News from January through March, 2016. [Newer | Older]

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by LotBlind

Blasting Through the Darkness

Sooooo SDA may just have broken down a little bit last week. The dynamic duo of radical Radix and plainly named nate took their godlike powers and transferred both the site and the IRC over to pastures greener and hopefully less error-prone. The new IRC channel is #sda on Quakenet. With site functionality restored (all hail our benevolent overlords!), it's time to return to updating the front page.

Bad news first, eh? There's a grating background drone left from recording in this new low-time dash down the frog hole in Yoshiaki Iwata et al's classic Blaster Master. You may have to lower the volume a bit to compensate. Good news is it cuts off over a minute from the obsoletee which should more than justify getting involved in it. It occured to me today that the more famous the game, the wilder the verifier crowd will go (and go they went) because of two things: one - it always takes chops to play on the level required; two - they'll actually have an appreciation of how precise and difficult everything is, not like patzers of my kind. It's us you gotta butter up with self-aggrandizing run comments.

One thing that makes running hardware-pushing games like Blaster Master fun is the lag: yeah I said that - because this gives you an extra thing to keep you engaged, trying to land every shot as early as you can. If you miss, doesn't matter all that much. Well, it's gotta be more fun than RNG! This run is in the "deaths" category and was submitted by 'ShiningDragoon' who says he specifically wanted a big time save before sending it out. It shaped up into a blazin' 0:31:46. BTW, if you really strain your ears you can make out a subtle music glitch in area 7.

It may not have been Simba's pride yet in The Lion King, the original, but I'm sure Simba's proud all the same! And the pride is proud too. On "difficult" mode this SNES game deflates your damage output or possibly inflates enemy health and I recall it proving prodigiously challenging to get past all the devious obstacles as a kiddo just on easy (circle of life? more like circle of strife! and misery!). Our second man of the day D.J. 'Akiteru' Rideout takes a load of TAS strategies and gets the finish line ahead of existing SDA runs regardless of category with time to spare. The improvement from the old hard mode run is 40 seconds into a 0:14:21 and everyone gave positive respondage, so what're you waiting for?

What you're waiting for is some trivia. First thing that caught my eye doing my usual rounds was that the Disney music was arranged (or probably just digitized) by Frank Clepacki who I recognized as the main Westwood music man. Then I saw Westwood was actually the developer too. This was highly surprising seeing the company had broken to fame with mostly RPGs and dungeon crawlers, adventure games and perhaps most iconically, Dune II and the Command & Conquer series. I guess they were just such a go-to high-visibility quality-assuring player back in 1994, several years before any major North-American AAA gaming corporations starting with the word that refers to being operated by a running current assumed control.

I could say other interesting things about Lion King, but I shan't, because gluttony is a SiN, though the second least-worrisome one according to Dante. This FPS from 1998 used the Quake II engine that seemed to see use with multiple shooters that sort of fell under the radar more so than other contemporaries - sometimes, as with Sin and Daikatana, owing all too much to a buggy experience out the box. Many of those games having been patched into consummation are now mewling for my attention on my undoubtably-overambitious backlog, Sin ever more so after reading about its near-future dystopian setting with some resemblance to Deus Ex.

Soldiering (officering?) on after initial rejection, 'nobody_important' packs the wicked affair in with this 0:39:24. "Officer" is indeed the level of difficulty here and the run was done in 28 segments, each more klutch than the next. The run also comes with AC. Audio commentary that is. I always go "Yay!" for those. I even more so than before want to play this now so I can watch the run without spoilers... if the runner takes 40 minutes surely a guy called "LotBlind" can blind it out in something like 45.

I've now literally d/l'd and started playing SiN, which is less dangerous than it sounds because it's not like some JRPG. A first person shooter of SiN's era you expect to rapidly save-scum through if nothing else. Before I get too sucked into it though (and I think I've already found sources of improvement :P), I should introduce you to another who definitely shouldn't get sucked in at all in her latest SDA adventure, Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness. Wow, I'll bet a few psychoanalysts would like to lay hands on her after that... if you sea what I mean! Michael 'arglefumph' Gray scores a two-in-two (worth 3 points) with this peril-filled maritime voyage that unexpectedly takes place, for the majority, on dry albeit frozen and slippery land. Not one but two runs passed verification not long ago, so the score has been settled on both "Amateur Sleuth" (0:33:38) and "Master Sleuth" (0:33:37). Just like the vikings settled Iceland. They ALSO had to solve lots of logic puzzles although I think most of them involved brewery, vintnery, and distillations. Argle segmented these runs to ensure the barman gets his order right every time.

Monday, March 14, 2016 by LotBlind

Awake from the Dream about Awaking from the Dream Also

If I for some God-forsaken reason had a Megaman-related nightmare one night, I think it might take the form of this 0:18:47 through Mega Man II for the Game Boy. I'm sure I'm going to be repeating the same points over and over with every GB submission ever destined in one of my posts, but... it's all just so terribly off by that same dreamlike tendency. With this game in particular, you just about recognize musical themes but they sound as if they didn't want exact reproductions for fear of lawsuits or something. It's an official Capcom commission though so what gives? The game also recycles most of its other material from two existing installments anyway, from II and III. Prepare to turn down the volume for this aurally grating run by Daniel 'Tremane' Schwab, but otherwise it will remind you of the other games in the series: there's a boss AI abuse thing, and a screen wrap effect that are both used for the first time, which along with many optimizations brings the old time down by 1:20 minutes.

In the treasure trove world of Lara Croft, precise acrobatics are precise...ly what makes life worthwhile! From China, where lust for all-power (the noun from "all-powerful") proved the doom of some hapless Italian chap, she engages her next destination in the Bering Sea: a small island harboring a non-secret Soviet project to unearth an evil artifact as they would. I say "non-secret" because their facilities bear their insignia on every other square inch of metal and other slow-to-degrade materials. I'm also not entirely convinced we've avoided violating timelines (isn't Tomb Raider II modern-day?) within or without the franchise if Lara was a full-grown woman back in or before 1991 where this presumably is taking place, unless the operatives within the base are all just feeling a bit nostalgic.

Since this is the inaugural entry for this Tomb Raider II expansion that only appeared on the PC, it's fitting 'RadxxRyan' has went "all secrets" (which is the de facto 100% for these games) and "glitchless" so as to give us the proper wall to wall. Its duration is 0:31:53. Then, as an after-dinner mint, you can see the bonus unlockable level pulled off in show style - because it's in Vegas - under the same stipulations right here.

It's quite the shame SDA was initially selective about the genres allowed to embellish the Halls of Hustle (Gallery of Gallops?). There's nothing wrong with sites dedicated to accommodating a single strain of runs, but is it just the European in me wishing to see them all united under one banner? NOW things are different of course but I find runners understandably indifferent to re-doing the classics that got filed away on adventure-speedruns.com between 2006 and whenever our site opened that particular entrance. This should only be interpreted as sentimental drivel, however, because new titles and series are always showing up to thaw our frozen hearts and oil our rusted minds.

Speaking of, Awakening: The Dreamless Castle from 2010 represents an already-long-running series by oddball developer Big Fish Games (strictly speaking Big Fish Studios) whose massive oeuvre is centered around casual and mobile gaming, which is probably why it's so massive. It's the first of seven such titles heavy in sundry puzzles and lush hand-painted panoramas that will elicit the same dazzled wonderment the Kyrandia series did in those who share my memories of it. RNG is ever-present and fast solutions require unfloundering mouse usage, hence the segmented-ness of the 0:25:32 by Michael 'arglefumph' Gray of Nancy Drew fame. In verification he said something about doing some pirate game next... but I really don't know what he meant. STILL... be hype!

Finally, here's another game you're likely not to have heard of: l'Abbaye des Morts offers a retro style platforming experience in the vein of Manic Miner and other ZX Spectrum classics. For the lot of you for whom those words might as well have been written in Arabic, I'll proffer that you're a defenseless monk being ferreted out during a religious purge that actually occurred in history in the 1200s. No that's not the plot of Manic Miner... but the idea of being somewhat clueless in this otherworldly maze you're exploring with a short inscription underneath informing each room is carried over verbatim. And everything kills you. Kills you dead. It's so retro someone even ported the game, sans music, over TO the platform it harked back to.

Because you've given a number of lives to work with, from lives there follow death warps, and from death warps there follow faster speedruns. This one's by 'wōn' who brings the narrative to its macabre denouement in but a 0:03:30. Probably divine guidance. Or game knowledge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by LotBlind

If You Try Forcing the Link Enough, a Totally Smashing Creative Assembly of Words Will Fall Out

Someone quickly do a new Fallout run to justify the headline. Well technically in Smash Bros you fall out of the arena...

17 years ago, in January of 1999, one of Nintendo's innovations broke through and became one of their better-selling franchises. Yup, it's the first of the bunch, Super Smash Bros. that steps in through the gates of glory today for not the first time obviously. We welcome Captain Falcon, whose forehead glisteneth not after just 0:03:13 (in-game time) of focused dishing out of best-suited abilities. Following suit after previous runs, Jeremy 'DK28' Doll continues the "very easy" rampage in Classic mode. An audio commentary spreading some game knowledge was recorded so look for it in on track two. Do we have Falcon Punch you ask? Yes, I believe we do have Falcon Punch.

DYK?: HAL Laboratory whose work the Smash series is is the same one behind Kirby and the Mother (Earthbound) games. Not a connection I had learned to make.

Onto a second Smash Bros title. I hate to say it, but it seems consoles are about as much hassle today as they specifically were meant to let you avoid back in the day. I'm not in the newer consoles business much myself but from what I've heard the underhanded patching nightmare, as experienced by Jordan 'Greenalink' Greener, isn't the only quandary arising from industry standard protocols on the consoles these days, although I appreciate speedrunners aren't a major cliantele, and that automatic patching is not where the dilemma lies for most. In order to realize his outlandish run-through of Super Smash Brothers for Wii U, "Glink" had to disconnect the Wii U from the network completely after fortuitously catching a glimpse about a new patch the bugger would have instantly downloaded had he not been vigilant.

In any case this fiercely convoluted category name - "Classic Mewtwo Intensity 0.0 Custom Moveset Glitched" - springs from a peculiarity of the 1.06 version where Mewtwo... seems to have went wrong somehow. I think Ness' forlorn "No, no, no, no!" is the most summary encapsulation of the inordinate amounts of pwning face you're about to witness if you get yourself a copy of this 0:00:22.92 smack fairy visit today.

The genesis of Spartan: Total Warrior is fairly interesting and worth recounting: developer Creative Assembly had prior to Spartan always been known for unraveling historically accurate battle scenes where thousands of units would clash whether for Caesar, Napoleon, or one of their buddies. However, these fights would be overseen from a lofty airborne perspective. When they wanted to try their hand at converting the idea to the consoles of the time, the PS2 pertaining to this 2:19:06 I saw already in verification, they soon found it was impossible due to sheer memory limitations. In the end they'd still managed to turn up with a game sporting the most impressive crowd scenes on that generation of consoles where your player agency had been limited to etching your zorro marks all across the enemy battlers as just a mug in the mob. This was enough for 'Soliduz Znake' who went far and beyond to deliver the people of Greece from bad bad Romans in the time I rather awkwardly already mentioned.

Thinking of how the pun in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is more than likely lost on the Japanese, you shouldn't gawk at what its sub-title was for them: Triforce of the Gods. Seriously, stop gawking! So it's ma homeboy Zlenka at it again, and we are indeed doing this run in that onoraburu ranguwiiduzu ofu ze Faaru Iisutsu (= in Japanese). I wonder if the few native "Nihon-jins" who do frequent our lovely but decidedly Western oasis of goal-oriented (gold-oriented, as in gold splits) fast LPs see the recent trend, led to by a global rules revision, of ordering Japanese cartridges that yield us systematically better finishing times, as simply a nod towards that bristling creative force their gaming companies foster amongst hard-working hirelings in search of new advancements in the medium? Cause I know I would. But then I'm incredibly self-centered.

Looks like we're taking necessary detours to meet the 100% criteria, which are conveniently cited right on the game page: "getting all items on the subscreen, all heart pieces, and max level of equipment except the bomb and arrow upgrades". The same game page is telling me (but will no longer be telling you) that the last 100% submission was 10 minutes 19 seconds slower. 'Xelna''s rather laconic written commentary "track" gives you what the highlights were even if you have no time to stay for the entire 1:42:24.

These few Nintendo-heavy updates made me think a thing I saw on Jimquisition was relevant enough to share with you. Here's the thread.

Saturday, March 5, 2016 by LotBlind

There's Always a Reason, They're Always in Season

"Well, quitting this game doesn't last long, does it?" quips the Mike 'mike89' McKenzie and whacks his latest opus, an 0:11:40 for Sonic the Hedgehog, on the tidy front desk at the International Sonic Speedrunning Bureau, which happens to have a branch right here on SDA. Though Mike is probably one of the best-recognized names when it comes to those classic Sonics for multiple marathon appearances and... Australians are a bit rare (?), the video you should already be downloading should be thought of as the pinnacle of the iceberg that needs most its mass to lie underwater in order to achieve its majestic stature. This is an aspect well covered by the run notes themselves.

"It's a good thing nobody likes Marble Zone, because it barely exists any more." The download should be finishing about noowwww. I'm not even going to tell you by how much it improves on the last SDA record because MRRYAAAGGHH!

I believe we established last time the hero[ine] in The Legend of Zelda is Zlenka, the androgynous Polish Green Goblin-wannabe. Because the game is fairly well-known, let's just focus on the run time for a minute. 0:29:56 is...

a) a 1:29 improvement over Darkwing Duck's previous SDA record from just 3 years back
b) 4 seconds below a round figure

Conclusions I'd like to be able to draw: there's gotta have been new skips found since; the runner is through with the game for now. However, there have NOT been any new skips. It's just sh*t getting intense down the coliseum as of late. Take a brief look at this page here and I need not say more. Un-amazingly the very same guy who submitted this run, 'LackAttack24', holds the top of the leaderboard there. I feel you should be awarded even more points for SDA accepts...

"If it bleeds, we can kill it". "Kill" is not something you could say in a family-friendly Nintendo game back in 1991, even if said game was about a maniacal killing MACHINE called "The Predator". Instead, the blurb reterms that "destroy". I'd have went with "bandage" or "test for diabetes". 'Slaughterhouserock' takes A. Blacknegro's (literally what "Schwartzenegger" means: Go Austria!) bulging physique and completes this not entirely popular NES shoot-at-things game in a time of 0:17:22. The run looks like Rambo getting bitch-slapped by audacious animals every-the-wheres during his usual morning hike through endless reaches of untamed wilderness. Because this game has not been seen before on SDA, I guess this is a pre-dat-or for any and all future runs.

I can't think of a time when I've been left feeling more hoodwinked by a run claiming it's multiplayer than this: it just so happens in Super Mario Kart, if you choose 2p mode and leave the other controller on the sofa until you've finished, by thumbing in the 2nd player's forfeit during the race end cinematics, you skip about 5 seconds of them. You also get less obstacles on the course - possibly because they had to slim the CPU load a bit, or maybe they just felt having a human opponent was challenging enough. This 0:20:25.91 is the run that taught me the Bowser music from I Wanna Be the Guy is the final race theme from this game. 'KVD' tells us he's "honoured and thrilled" to have been inducted. Well, we'll be honored [because I default to US spelling] and thrilled if you submit another one!

Monday, February 29, 2016 by LotBlind

Fox Hunter Superstar Dies Before His Time

^^ I bet it's still a thing in the Britain.

If time as a psychological phenomenon is born of memories and as a physical phenomenon is synonymous with changes of configuration, to say the era of dinosaurs was experienced in a "The Land Before Time" isn't quite correct. If you mean no calenders then sure. The 2001 GBA release does poorly in the few reviews people wrote about it pointing at generic levels that are also too challenging for the target audience. 'CardsOfTheHeart' proves he's no pansy by hopping across all kinds of unnatural platforms in ways dinosaur legs shouldn't furnish whatsoever, although I think one of the characters is a duck. This run that introduces another game into the collection only lasts 0:09:47 but contains at least one frame-perfect trick and isn't quite as arid as you're suspecting. Well, technically the desert levels are, and even more so. One part has the runner hiding from falling boulders behind an outcrop in one of those blessed pinnacles of artful game design: the safe autoscroller. Trivia: the game was picked up for someone else to run in a Mystery Race at SpeedRunsLive, but after finding the first glitch, couldn't be parted ways with so easily.

Star Fox 64 never played a big role (hee hee) in my life but it surely does in Zack 'Zallard1' Allard's. Spending most of their time pitted inside the badly-romanized-though-infringement-avoiding "Arwing" doing what aren't actually barrel rolls (those go round in a massive corkscrew), our top ace finishes every mission in expert mode within 1:18:51 for the new 100% SDA record. The trick you're looking at is an aileron roll named after the part in the wings that you can tip so as to cause the drag to inflict a non-symmetric force on the wings making the plane bank. See, that's why the unyieldingly hopeful leporid called Peppy keeps asking you to do something actually impressive... Well, I guess improving the record by a full 6 minutes is impressive enough in a game that's large parts autoscroller... but that just shows you how little I actually know what I'm talking about: in order to complete a 100% expert run you don't just finish every mission in a flying ice sculpture, but also are required to get all the medals for each of them, which can only happen if you shoot lots of ducks super-fast and none of your allies die. You also have to have been prudent with your routing. Anyway, "Where LotBlind's ramblings end, the run comments start" as they say. As I say.

NES shmup Super Spy Hunter is one of those action-packed instant good mood inducers that the NES "got" and got lots OF. Those distinctive 8-bit sounds are simply some of the most iconic for gaming ever. New kids don't see more realistic doesn't mean more interesting, and this can surely be said of the instruments employed by gaming composers: the kind of experimentation inherent in tweaking sine waves to sound like... something is kinda out the picture now unless you really have your mind set on doing something unique. I also feel the composers back then used to have better training on average, seeing as they couldn't have come from the non-existing gaming industry itself. Another thing this game has going for it is the unusual effect created by the shifting sprites when the road you're speeding down curves, similar to the tunnel escape sequence in FFVI. While the run might look pretty self-propulsed (to find a synonym for autoscrollery), you actually do have control over how fast the level progresses. Even outside pedals impinging on metals, plenty of time is saved by being mindful of lag sources, by which we mean destroying them on sight. Or before. Oh yes, the runner here is 'Zakky the Goatragon' and the 6 levels are cleared in 0:26:05.

Somehow this title won GOTY of some gaming magazine called CRASH in 1990. It just outstripped Rainbow Islands and NARC (all three by the same company) in the poll. I suspect it was the ZX Spectrum or Amiga version people were thinking of because the NES one was still under works by Ocean, that hyper-active licence hack developer that somehow pushed out several dozen games across various platforms every year between around '85 and '98 until forced to sell out to Infogrames. These games include multiple you'd recognize from the "Awful Games" segments at the 'thons, but many of them also met high praise, sometimes even the very same ones! The reason I sound incredulous about RoboCop 2 deserving first place on any platform in the year given is simply because it looks a bit generic, even for the times. And it's pretty short though it's said it's tough to beat. I think we can see why the same magazine received most votes for "lack of software" as the worst thing about the year. You as Robocop have a quota to stem 60% of the violent crime in the area and to destroy 61% of all the nukes. Apparently this is perfect efficiency: the other 40% have to be left loose to spread the word. Aaaannd everyone knows 39% of all atomic devices are duds. The elated-to-move-on runner 'WhiteHat94', whose name seems to keep popping up, starts our game page for Robocop 2 with a 0:11:57.

Monday, February 22, 2016 by LotBlind

Lay Six Tons of Manna Inter the Galactic Baking Oven

No, you're not going to find the words "baking oven" in any of the titles of the games today. I was stuck bad. :/ Is it my fault?

"Casual" is both the difficulty setting for the first run of tonight AND the air surrounding the two guys, 'TaktikalZef' & 'Ozu', who took it upon themselves to extend the Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 game page into a new category: co-op on the Xbox360. 1:09:04 seemed an awful lot quicker than the 1:48 Individual Levels table for the PS3 (which I reckoned was the closest comparison) and so it was to no surprise when I found out about multiple glitches and exploits the multiplayer mode in the unpatched 360 version sports. When I say multiple I mean there's a lot of them, compared to other runs of this game at least. These flashbangin' thugs are breaching every rule and safety limit to make things go swiftly, if not logically. I swear some of those deaths were on purpose too... Anyway run notes are exuberantly detailed.

What's this about Vegas 1 being run co-op next WINK WINK? Maybe we'll all finally get to see the first Vegas next. Not sure if Vegases get better or worse with each repeat.

But wait we're not actually done with this! I stand corrected on the PS3 version time, because it's been lowered by another minute for a 1:47:35 by our regular, 'Soliduz Znake'. I seem to have partaken in the verification (we're starting to get confused with this game) so I can aver they're good! The improvements are for missions titled Old Vegas, down 16 seconds to a 14:51, and Theater - 43 seconds to a 20:46. The game affords more and more risky strategies to be attempted approaching zero success rate, so this might well not be the end of it.

It seems a lot to cut off a third from an existing run in the same category but not so much if said run is from 2006. Game's called Zen: Intergalactic Ninja and it's an NES platformer. Zen, its protagonist, was born in a test tube, got shot into space as a wee toddler, was taught The Ways by the serene Omnians, and can EAT WITH HIS MIND. Dylan 'Jorf' Beauchamp passes a sword through many deserving victims to achieve zen-vana in no time. Well, more like in a time of 0:12:30. Don't try to watch the runs side by side, their routes diverge instantly. Even if you sync them on a spot, it'll still feel like they're doing different levels :P

Did you know? One of the 5 composers was Kouzou Nakamura who did the soundtracks for TMNT I-IV. This is because people recur.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village is the only wholly new inductee in this litter. I knew nada about it, udda dan it's anudda piece o noddle fodda fo yo mudda an yo brodda fo da brain an fo a bidda bedder budder... I'm sorry I temporarily lost my mind there. It's fo da... umm for the DS and mobiles and represents puzzle adventuring. It was Japanese RPG developer Level-5's (best known for the recent Ni No Kuni) first fully independent production and it - along with the entire series - was well-received with over 4 million units sold worldwide. One of those units went to 'Mindez'. They did the right thing and solved it in a neat 1:26:26. As Layton and his companion Luke approach mysterious St. Mystere somewhere in somewhere, we are disclosed that the two are after the unclaimed inheritance of a local Baron. The opals go to whoever solves a particularly knotty teaser involving a golden apple. They work their way towards this end goal by taming a variety of cranial conundrums along the way.

After the initial shock about how Bart Simpson was voiced by a woman, I've been envenomed by the fact men never seem to be slated as females. Well, maybe it's payback from Ancient Greece... In case you didn't guess it (she's in every game you've ever played), Lani Minella does Luke's American voice, but because "I don't understand what they're saying", you can you choose British English at which point it's a different woman, Maria Darling. This is, apparently, a widespread phenomenon. It's also why we can't have nice things. JUST PICK ONE YOU NIMWITS/MORONS!

Alright, let's break this one off with the legacy-upholding Legend of Mana. I found it tough to get into a lot of the PSX era JRPGs myself, but I wouldn't scoff at someone inviting me over to play this one: the advancements in hardware capacity weren't dumped into any form of primitive 3D instead beautifying hand-painted sprites yet further in this series celebrated for its artwork. There are, as expected, multiple branches of the main story to explore but the overabundance of sub-plots was also the game's Achilles' heel for many critics. Regardless, I'd imagine the speedrunners, including Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe, would have received the challenge of routing it with zeal. The Dragon scenario is now 4 minutes faster, down to 1:45 in-game time.

I'd like to extend a warm thank you to everyone who's been participating in verifications as of late! The threads themselves tend to be pretty focused and so we don't necessarily learn much of each other there but having basic people checking them is vital so advanced people like me can continue writing unrestrained bull (!) as we do very much enjoy to do.

Thursday, February 18, 2016 by IsraeliRD

The Sole Hunter

It is pretty easy to note that Wolfenstein (2009) should have appeared in the last update, but I decided not to. The plot for said game is something along the lines of "kill Nazis, save the world". Though thanks to the sequel we know the second part hasn't happened, we do get to see Zach 'Duane Jones' R hold the lines just a bit longer for us. Said run clocks in at 1:12:38 on the Uber difficulty, and is composed of 31 segments.

Turning out attention to home-grown terrorism, we have an update to Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Runner 'triblast55' complains that this port to the PC is extremely terrible, and very glitchy. Somehow he hasn't played the PC port for Arkham Knight. While his recent Homesick run was recorded in 4K, this one is *only* in 1440p. Anyway, this update runs in at 1:34:42, which is 7:38 minutes faster, and uses 72 segments, 34 less than the previous one.

Somehow still having eras where jumping into haystacks is normal human behaviour, making its way to the site is Assassin's Creed: Unity. Longtime series runner François 'Fed981' Federspiel takes us to Paris during the French Revolution (not a very romantic place to go to), and also ends up climbing the Eiffel Tower during the Nazi occupation, where jumping into haystacks at least isn't a thing... yet. Completing it in 46 segments, the final time is 2:30:28.

Monday, February 15, 2016 by IsraeliRD

Zombification

The first game in today's update would have had nothing to do with the title, if it wasn't for the run having deaths in it, so the fact that Faith from Mirror's Edge comes back to life makes her, by technicality, a zombie. A very fast one too, so you don't want to meet her on the Zombie Apocalypse. I just noticed that we have a run with deaths and resets, and one for resets only; and thanks to 'Req' we get a run for deaths only, on Easy difficulty clocking in at 0:37:01, single segment.

Time to flip the table, and see some blues blasting zombies. If you're familiar with Biohazard 2 then you don't need any more lame jokes, so let's get to it. 'guitarjunky' chose the PC as the platform to play on (faster load times = faster kills per minute?), and beats the game in 0:49:39 as Leon A, Single Segment.

The last game probably has zombies in it, but thanks to Wikipedia having little information on it, you will have to find out yourself by watching the speedrun. BloodRayne: Betrayal is the third game in the main series, this time taking place as a 2D game over the previous 3D entries. Helping vampire hunter femme Rayne is 'Thaan', who flies (literally at parts) through the game and beats anything that is thrown at him in 0:56:21, played on New Game Plus and single segment.

Friday, February 12, 2016 by IsraeliRD

Sequels, Remakes and Inspirations

Riven is the sequel to Myst, and its storyline is also set immediately after the events of Myst. After rescuing his sons, Artus now asks you to free his wife from his power-hungry father, Gehn. 'frenzied_coder' travels throughout the world of Riven and gets the best ending in this swift 0:08:42.

It was teased as 'Coming Soon!' since Abe's Oddysee and at long last it arrived! Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! is... Abe's Oddysee, slightly bigger. It has 299 Mudokon slaves to free (RuptureFarms grew a bit), and overall it looks new and tasty (sorry not sorry). Needless to say Sam 'Samtastic' Locke is a master at this series, so it is unsurprising to see the finish time at 0:22:16, on the Hard difficulty using deaths and resets, but still single segment.

Inspired by the Infinity Engine and game series Baldur's Gate among others, Pillars of Eternity is a diverse and excellent RPG with the classic isometric view. Running on the Unity engine, it has less glitches than the Infinity Engine, yet it didn't stop 'Jiseed' from beating it in 0:24:35, single segment using the Easy difficulty with Large Skips and Resets. The comments provided explain the run in great detail.

Saturday, February 6, 2016 by LotBlind

Home on the Safari

Have you ever tried to eat an entire banana in one go? That banana is the analogy of Town & Country Surf Designs 2: Thrilla's Surfari and you trying to chomp through that whole title without pausing or wondering why. And that's precisely how to speedrun. That link was contrived, but I think 'WhiteHat94' at least gets it! I introduced the game (that we abbreviated to Town & Country II: Thrilla's Surfari) in what I see was my very first update as a surprisingly varied NES platformer involving a 90's-type gorilla (the Home & Country company's mascot) going ape over surfing and skating. Imagine that, a gorilla going ape. To achieve a 0:14:15, WhiteHat found some additional seams with tears large enough for a full-grown primate to slide through. Hence the minute and 15 off.

From Gorillas to developer Guerrilla Games. I know this guy 'Soliduz Znake' well enough to let slip I wasn't exactly thrilled when the first things I learned about Killzone 2 - and I wasn't surprised with such a... vulgar and humorless name - were cover-based shooting and code named weapons. Yes, it's a realistic shooter. Not being a critic whose job entails wading through as many games fitting that description as you wade through Japanese at an onsen, I was full happy to give the game a chance. Speedruns often change the gameplay anyway. The amount of sole hero these games want you to feel is as contrary to the idea of a trained military as a harpoon is to wildlife protection. Or is that just the easiest difficulty setting manifesting itself? The damage spatters on the screen amount to more than 15 litres of blood over the course of the 1:57:27 run but nothing can stop a white guy.

I think Doom fans will find this amusing.

If I tell you this game appeared just 9 months ago and the run oozed its way through the creaky SDA machine having probably been available for posting some 15-30 days ago, you'll know the game is neither lengthy nor especially complex. Homesick is more of an atmosphere piece with a slow, sullen progression. Gameplay is unremarkable with a few simple puzzles strewn about, but clearly that's not the point. If the run time came to anything shorter than 0:10:26, you couldn't make out the story at all. And that's what this genre is called according to the reviewer at Kill Screen, a story exploration game. It must have made an impression on 'triblast55' or why else would he have went back for the snack-sized speed-run-through? This run is in 4k XQ (lolQ) if you plez.

BTW, the timer's queue is empty so you need to send in more PC runs quickly to get him off his laurels.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 by LotBlind

The Silence of the Hills

With all of the Mario games out there, please excuse me for thinking I'd already written about Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars in the none-too-distant past. Seeing the old run was from 2011 I became mighty confused AND baffled until concluding '0xwas' has handed over a wholly different assignment for us to correct and assess. Not that there's much to correct in this 2:38:01 which obsoletes the preceding by some 20 minutes. The game was also run in the AGDQ of '13 which is the one I reviewed in its entirety over the course of rather a long time (worth!). If you have a game you run that was played during AGDQ '13 and you haven't gotten round to submitting it our way yet, know that if you do, I might pick it up and mention that it was played that year. LITERALLY no other difference.

But not to leave you in suspense with the run itself, I'd have to know a bit more about it.

***

Okay okay, now that I know a bit more about it:
-the game has an active scene in Japan where the runner harks from (I'd love to see a chart of nationalities represented amongst SDA users and runners!)
-the Japanese version, which he had, is about 10 minutes faster, so 10 minutes-ish is also the real improvement
-no dropping of super jumps happened, which is probably really prolike.

Arigatou gozaimasu!

Speaking of Japan, looks like all the games I elected for today are from thereabouts. Take Silent Hill 2 for instance. Another, more defining defining quality it has is it's Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's favourite game or close to it. He's a critic so he should know. The run inherits part of ITS definition from the runner being none other than Andrew 'Bigmanjapan' Bondarenko who slams this dunk with even more style than the previous time he did the same category (PC, on normal), shaving off just under a minute to bring about a 0:43:23. I'm scanning the largely unaltered run notes to see what's new: apparently you rotate to cancel dialogs faster. I think Andrew must have been doing a really great job, because the game itself keeps telling him he's saved it from being forgotten about by the speedrunning universe.

Hideo Kojima was really in the zone (in the end zone?) when tasked with producing the non-HD original of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner HD back in 2003, in times before Konami's great swoop. In his vision, left undiscovered by the broad audience, the player was given more weapons to toy with with less non-combat gameplay to detract from the straightforward 3D-shooter experience where mechs battle each other over... well my eyes can't seem to focus on the plot synopsis on Wiki, it's that elusive and unnecessarily complicated. Another trademark of Japanese imports, the sub-par English script and voice acting ("Pay attention to your back, too.") will set you either in tears or in guffaws according on your natural inclinations. I've no doubt 'AllTheHighwinds' is nodding his head. I always feel guilty if I've been unable to say a few words about the run's gameplay. With games in 3D, and especially when the play area extends along the Z-axis, it's considerably more difficult to follow all events. Let's just say stuff gets targeted and swatted down like a photonic fence powered by cold fusion. 0:59:34 is seven minutes off the previous too with changes in strategy here and there. Played on normal with vanilla Jehuty on the PS3 (or possibly 360 because you don't deserve to know).

Friday, January 22, 2016 by LotBlind

Fantasize About Being Kula Than the Blue Bomber

The Blue Bomber is back! Wait, the "Azure Striker" is back! That's what he was always called right? Azure Striker Gunvolt, the "ring-any-bells?" 2-year-old series from Inti Creates (makers of the Mega Man Zero games, Mega Man 9 and 10, Shantae and other similar franchises) replaces robot masters with "Adepts" and one evil corporation with another. It does also explore a remixed combat system that forces you to first tag enemies, then use another ability to actually berid of them. A high emphasis is placed on skilful play with a score multiplier ticking up every time you've been cool.

Availing himself only of a few automatically acquired bolts and eschewing the upgrades system entirely, Jordan 'Greenalink' Greener does the maximum of hop-hopping, dash-dashing and walljump-walljumping to bag the bad ending within an in-game time of 0:49:13 motivated by jpop and anime and Japan in general. Played on the 3DS.

Also exuding eastern esthetics, it's Epic Battle Fantasy 2, one of seven (give or take) currently existing entries into the flash JRPG series borne in 2009 (give or take) by Matt Roszak alias Kupo Gaming. I say "give or take" because there were a few games that foreboded the progressively more well-defined series proper. In the second game the format is still one fight followed by another with some softcore... umm... level-upping taking place every here and again. We see 'Crow!' take down a tankier than average tank on "epic" difficulty within just 0:22:16.

If you don't think the aforementioned game is a show of high craftsmanship, you first need to see one of the author's older works and I think you'll find things have moved in a rather agreeable direction since then! Honestly, though, there's a hand-made feel through most of the game and it's quite funny at times.

Verifier respondage got me extra hyped for this next one: "a very impressive achievement and a role model submission" I read. The first word in Kula World isn't just "more cool": 'kula' is Swedish for 'ball'. The development team WAS Swedish so we may assume that's a pretty solid theory. I don't know what the most direct predecessors for this type of ball roll simulator are aside from Marble Madness. It predates [Super] Monkey Ball by three whole years you see, and is more puzzle and less arcade. Maybe it IS one of those venerable granddaddy trailblazers! If that is the case, 'adeyblue' is surely honoring its stately dignity. 157 levels divided by 0:38:37 means just short of 15 seconds per level. There's 15 levels per world. MORE ADEYBLUE SPEEDRUNS CONFIRMED! Give the audio commentary a listen to hear what those blue and purple pills do, and why Adey thinks he made a mistake when choosing this as his first speedrun...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 by LotBlind

Beat'em'up to the Punch

...or they'll beat YOU up with THEIR punches instead.

Beat'em'ups were one of the essential genres of the arcade era. Something arcade machines could portray that home console publishers wanted censored was graphic violence and mature themes in general. Thus Battletoads Arcade is the Battletoads where you drill and decapitate things. Don't get me wrong, it's not Mortal Kombat! It's corny, it's cartooney, it's fine! The point I was making is when no-stranger-to-the-genre Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare takes each of the boys in turn on a walk through the six arduous levels, Pimple (0:40:22) goes hard, Rash (0:40:20) goes hard, and Zits (0:39:38)... is all out of fly-paper. All the runs come with audio commentary on track 2 that I recommend despite PJ himself being awfully quiet.

Oh, did I say they go "hard"? My bad, they go "hardest". Here's a few words from the verifiers:

-"Getting 1cc's on this game is idiotic, and doing it on hardest is even more idiotic. All these runs are stupid as hell. I'm not really sure whats wrong with PJ to make him do this."

-"Still can't believe what PJ has done. I mean one of the bossfights on this difficulty is literally designed to be impossible (so they could get more coins from you)."

I gotta add I wasn't going to but just couldn't stop watching one of these ridiculous runs through.

Here's a game series named after the last few minutes of gameplay... Final Fight. The original Capcom title was released for the arcade in 1989 and had a Game Boy Advance port in 1994 amongst others. This was called Final Fight One, took its graphics from the earlier SNES port but returns a cut stage and supports more enemies on screen. I don't think this changes also-no-stranger-to-the-genre Jeremy 'DK28' Doll's modus operandi at all: you just want to assist everyone onto the same side of the screen so you can start infinity-ing their multicolored health bars away in an orderly fashion. You also devour all food sighted in trash cans, barrels and cardboard boxes cluttering Metro City, and realize collecting weapons can only ever hurt your Damage-Per-Second.

The last time DK ran Final Fight, the runs were on "very easy", so it's very easy to assume running on "very hard" was... very hard? It's also a little bit hard to make out the run commentary but it's there so just crank the volume!

Alpha Cody
0:31:09
Alpha Guy
0:39:06
Haggar
0:38:19

I actually also have a run for the aforementioned arcade version of Final Fight, this time by also-also-no-stranger-to-the-genre Sean 'MURPHAGATOR!' Murphy. The version differences may be seen in your increased chances of despawning enemies just by jumping/backflipping the scene, the two female bad guys (bad girls?) Roxy and Poison, the graffiti in the open-air bathroom shack and the usage of the non-kosher phrase "OH! MY GOD!!". 0:22:53 is the time elapsed when Murph decided to do just one casual attempt one morning before work playing Cody. The runner's understanding of the value of keeping the combo running extends to keeping our audio commentary combo running through the entire update. Check it out for more detailed insights!

I wanted to think the name of Final Fight: Streetwise referred to the fact that you're generally always moving along the road left-to-right in beat'em'ups, not across it: Street-wise, that is. Sadly, this PS2 title bursts my bubble bursting Metro City into freely explorable 3D. It stars Kyle Travers, the brother of Cody from the first game but features the other main characters too.

The again present audio commentary with the same runner, Murphagator, and friends on track 2 of the 1:01:55 tells you more than you need to know. Just realize it's not at all a bad watch despite its terrible ratings. Vice versa. In large part because enemy names look completely randomly generated. Again, I saw the whole thing instead of just spot samples.

Moral of the story? Audio commentaries retain customer interest.