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News from January through March, 2017. [ Older]

Thursday, March 30, 2017 by LotBlind

I think my Hyde is just me in the mornings

Batman... no. Potter... no. MacGyver... yeah! Bond... no. Luke... no. Rambo..? very much so! Sorry? What I'm doing? I'm listing some of the best-recognized heroes of popular fiction and determining whose legacy includes a well-established phrasal construct. You can imagine one for each of them, but in TL;DR form I think only the really straightforward "one-trick ponies" (me and that expression are going to have words later on) can survive as verbal memes. Or is this just what those memes have reduced them into?

As interesting (just keep nodding) as this question is, I must now hurry to justify the tangent by revealing that which it is a tangent to. Any viewer of the attached will be able to attest that along the curve joining Rambo: The Video Game, 'GrassHopper' the runner, and the 1:31:09 run, one "goes Rambo" a lot. Now let me perhaps surprise you with a year of release: 2014. If you're from the part of Europe that for irrelevant reasons didn't air one called John Rambo (in parts just Rambo) in 2008, the last time you could have met his stony (or should I say... rocky) face in the dark of a multiplex was around when I was being touched off at the secret and awesome Master Race assembly plant a full twenty years previous.

Basically our "sounds like they're from Metal Gear Solid" companion GrassHopper makes Rambo: The Video Game look like Rambo: The Whatever You Please, playing on the lowest difficulty without making use of fancy-schmancy bonus items. Much more on the run itself in the gracefully provided second track audio commentary! It's honestly more nuanced than you'd expect of a rail shooter.

The original name for the Super Famicon game was Paneru de Pon (LotBlind BS Translations ltd. translation: 'Panel Bang'), but it had an original, generic story with mincy little fairies and wasn't selling too well, so Nintendo wanted to link the international release to an existing franchise. Hence Yoshi's Island lending a "cast" to Tetris Attack. The Tetris Company, gatekeeper of all things that resemble Alexey Pajitnov's derivative-of-existing-things-even-in-1984 concept in any shape (such as the shapes of the pieces or the play field, no kidding!), agreed to licence the name to Nintendo's new release only to ultimately regret it since it's too far-removed from Tetris as we know it.

Thus Tetris Attack isn't really the same discipline as those world-famous world championships are held in. It's still sufficiently involved to run though, as 'CardsOfTheHeart''s XXL power-fertilized comments will convey with some degree of adequacy. Your pattern-spotting faculties had better be keen! Despite the inevitable amounts of competition, 0:03:37 (42 seconds off previous SDA time) stands up high like a garish naïve art mosaic flag in Cards' back yard, still representing the only sub-4 within single-segment, very hard, versus mode runs.

Doshin, the Love Giant, and to a lesser degree his "Hyde" side Jashin, won over as many hearts amongst the younger audience at a game exhibition in Japan in 1999 as he garners in-game from the clinging populace when 'PvtCb' takes him for a spin (a tumble really). In what amounts to a slightly twisted god sim, Doshin the Giant, a player mixes and matches from one of two approaches: be very nice, or very VERY naughty, and watch the lil'uns substantialize their likes and dislikes as large monuments dedicated to whatever emotion the Giant has predominantly given rise to in them. Doshin/Jashin will also grow in size having been thumbed up or down enough, affecting the field of possibilities.

One half of a god sim is the "sim" - the tribesmen act on an untractable A.I. and the player can only try as best they can to facilitate the desired (positive) kind of monuments to be built without accidentally leveling a church with the equally untractable controls. It really is one of those games where no plans can be plotted, only high-level strategies. Throughout the single-segmented 1:34:12 on the more complicated GameCube version, PvtCb is seen terraforming, combining trees into flowers, introducing the villages to one another (to prevent inbreeding of course), and destroying finished monuments to stave off hubris. Yeah it's a bit weird but at least all that amounts, as you'd expect, to getting to launch a rocket into space.

Sunday, March 26, 2017 by Worn_Traveler

PJ Wins and Loses (Part 1)

Sometimes a runner ends up with a bunch of games on the queue. I noticed this recently as did some of the other updaters and it was decided to split the runner's runs into two updates. There are two reasons for doing this. First, the runner has fourruns ready plus one of his current runs has been beaten by someone else. Second, these game are speedruns from PJ and posting all of the runs at once could seriously cause damage to the internet and our brains due to PJ's selection of games. In order to get the "worst" out first, we've decided to go with the two longest runs in this batch of PJ runs.

I had heard of Lagoon prior to AGDQ 2011 but I had never seen the game in action before. While Lagoon made it's debut at AGDQ 2012 as part of "Awful Games Done Quick", Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare was kind enough to bring a copy of the game with him the previous year at AGDQ 2011 and I'd be very surprised if there was anyone at the event who did not see Lagoon in action at some point. I'll be honest: I liked what I saw and heard. When I returned home I sought out a copy of the game and bought a cartridge within a few days. I have yet to make it past the first boss. Thankfully, PJ is better at Lagoon than me and he has beaten his 1:28:52 deathless run and ends Lakeland's drinking problem in a Thor crushing 1:22:11. It's always bittersweet for me seeing an already improbable run improved but it has happened. PJ and friends provide commentary for this shorter edition of Lagoon. If you are interested in the AGDQ 2012 run then please go here.

ActRaiser is a hybrid game that has platforming and simulation segments interspersed throughout the game. For some reason, the simulation sequences are not in ActRaiser 2. Regardless, PJ has spent years on ActRaiser 2 and we finally get a run of this beautiful game. The gameplay may be punishing, the visuals somewhat disturbing, and the AI more than usually devious but PJ fights the good fight against the seven deadly sins and Satan in a blistering 0:41:54 on Hard Mode. Make sure to check out the commentary track on this one, even if you are familiar with the game.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by ktwo

NES part 1

All of the runs this time involve NES-games from a certain runner going by the name Steve 'Elipsis' Barrios, so the theme and common denominators are self-explanatory.

The first game that has been blessed by Elipsis' gentle touches on the D-pad is Eliminator Boat Duel. You can win either by racing your opponents or by sinking them. Our speed guru of this game obviously chose the latter whenever possible. This led to a time of 0:29:22 on expert difficulty. The improvement over the previous 0:30:26 (also by Elipsis) was done through some tighter execution and better strategies for pulling the opponents' plugs.

The second game is Marble Madness. While Eliminator Boat Duel was a NES-only title, Marble Madness has been released on more platforms than I care to list. The NES port has a long speedrun history, which has inevitably resulted in a very high level of optimization. Today, Elipsis brings us a top notch run that is currently the fastest run out there. The time is 0:02:45, eclipsing the previous SDA-run by two seconds (also done by Elipsis).

The third and last run is a 2p-run by the current two top players of Marble Madness, Steve 'Elipsis' Barrios & 'Toad22484'. While it's a short game, I can attest to how treacherously challenging it is. A 2p-run even more so with marbles getting in each other's way and navigating parts of the levels with the marbles off-screen. The difficulty of the run combined with getting the logistics to work for a 2p-run make this category quite inaccessible. However, our two runners decided to give it their best shot during an intensive session at this year's AGDQ. In the limited time they had together, they achieved a 0:03:17.

See you soon in NES part 2!

Friday, March 17, 2017 by LotBlind

The Arcane Art of Steeling Oneself for the Tentacles

Okay, this is it! No more fun and games! Welcome, ladies and gentleladies to 2017's Big PushTM where dreams become reality. Very select ones at least. Watch the updates getting actually regular for this short, beautiful time.

One of the great Internet personalities and auteurs of our time, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw is responsible, among other things, for a moderately colorful suite of adventure- and action-oriented games. His most famous recurring character, and perhaps the closest semblance of an alter ego, might be found in Trilby, Gentleman Thief, tracing the untraceable footsteps of such memorables as Simon Templar ("The Saint"), Sir Charles Litton (from the Pink Panther movies I brought up earlier), and - inevitably - Dennis Moore (riding through the night!). These kinds of characters tend to either respond, in earnest, to stimuli from the temporo-parietal junctions or maintain lofty self-imposed standards in their lawless pursuits. Keeps life satisfying, and, in the less sociable types, bolsters an allaying sense of superiority.

Keeping vicariously in line with this 'leet larcenist's reputation, 'Soulless' tonight makes me the proud inductor of Trilby: The Art of Theft into the underhandedly amassed trove with his masterfully planned and executed 0:20:21 that starts from a completely fresh file and leaves no [precious] stone unturned [into hard liquid cash], ending up with a 100% all Trilby-ranks completion, all in one long bated exhalation. This is probably the most harrowingly difficult category, because even one alarm or alert poisons the hat man's finicky ego, and with every near miss you can just feel the air getting more and more saturated with perspiration and stress hormones... your own, that is.

From one story-verse to another - there's wicked, cool things afoot AT the foot of one of H.P. Lovecraft's fictitious but, at the time, uncontradictable concoctions: The Antarctic Mountains of Madness. If you don't let the opening sequence, wanly suggestive of a B-grade military comedy flick, divert your mind from the utter [thitherto undebunked] horror of those austere final frontiers of mankind's earthly promulgation, you might just fall for Prisoner of Ice - a 1995 point'n'click "flick" and sequel to Shadow of the Comet from two years earlier. It was credited for graphics and story if nothing else. I'm not sure if it's part of the artistic vision, but these characters do look like Thunderbirds dolls and might just have been rotoscoped for that smooth-ass smooth feel.

So they're on a sub and they've just picked up a couple deep-frozen crates and a semi-living man from God knows where. The crates obviously have tentacle monsters in them and the crew are NOT to let them thaw. Well guess what thaws and snatches helmsman Roberts before fifteen clicks in... What clicks those were though! According to the Yours Truly from verification, the 0:23:58 has execution on the universally vaunted "blitzkrieg-level", by the saying of which I've inadvertently added to this whole warry scenery. We're talking maxed-out exemplary action by this young rating! If you're intrigued but don't like gaming on the PC like Wilson Luiz 'Chaser' Oliveira does, there WERE ports for the PS1 and Sega Saturn but sounds like those were in Japanese, though retaining the English voice acting, and had loading times greater than a thousand of those infernal crates... Imagine all those asinine tentacles grasping at all kinds of struts and rails and bolts and things as you're trying to shove them into the massively, unbelievably Faustian cargo hold!

From the icy sea to 'igh fantasy. 'Daegon' today jolts the magicko-mechanical world of Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura into fleeting but lively animation, like casting a coin into the open trunk of a mime doing the statue act. "Jolt" is also one of the spells, but apparently it's even better to go with "Agility of Fire" which I like to picture as lighting two unsnuffable flames under you soles to bring out the cheetah in all of us. "Cheetah" is what is sometimes cried when one does the Sisyphean start-rewind shuffle, i.e. splits it up (into sixteen, say) to streamline it (by 1:04 into a 0:05:50, say), but not here on SDA it ain't! If you're not sure what to think of segmented runs, dear Reader, just consider Glenn Gould, one of the most singular classical musicians of modern times, whose celebrated joy and pride was to mix takes after a whole day of recording into one flawless routine to demonstrate what was meant, not what was mustered.

Look at the HQ encode of the run from a medium distance, at 00:07 when the runner shows his settings: it kinda looks like the difficulty is set to "Low" not "Easy". This gave me palpitations because it would have meant that the run's stat screen was WRONG.

Friday, February 24, 2017 by theseawolf1

Love is in the Air~~

It’s the Valentine’s Day season (just pretend this update made it out in time!), and love is in the air. All the sweet trimmings of the season are upon us: chalky hearts with semi-correctly spelled sweet nothings, cards with googly-eyed otters cuddling with puns amid a rosy pink color scheme, Cadbury eggs with cute bunnies telling you to… HEY WAIT!!!! Stupid, impatient megamarts…

Anyhoo, love means not saying, “You know what? Screw-a you princess! Go and-a save yourself this-a time!” Our boy Mario is a man of infinite patience, and thus proves his love again in New Super Mario Bros Wii by charging headlong through the land to save his beloved Kamek… I mean princess. And so he runs. Full bore leaning forward, head-down and arms-back Naruto ninja running across the land to face Bowser once again in the name of love. Lava? Doesn’t care. No platforms? Got a fancy hat for that. Under the steady hand of 'Auchgard', our perennially purloined princess and our stocky Sicilian are hand in hand at the 0:25:14 mark, 17 seconds faster than last time. (Be strong, Luigi. You’re still my favorite.)

:this broomstick is pretty handy, maybe if I sprinkle some Kamek dust on this Sonic 06 file, something good will happen… YES!!! This’ll do nicely:

There’s lots of love for the Sonic series, and despite his love for chuckles, Knuckles is no joke. His penchant for collecting large shiny objects is undeniable, even without a Valentine guilt trip from Tikal walking past a Swarovski store in the mall. In Sonic Adventure DX he proves that he will go as far as to punch Sonic, Eggman and even water to satiate his desire for emeralds. To his surprise the water punches back this time, but even in spite of its hydr-hate-tion Nelson 'Sonikkustar' Martinez properly restores the Master Emerald in 0:14:15.

:reaches over to find his document full of love puns… and it’s missing. Huh, I’d better send someone to find my document...:

I love knowing where things are, and Cat and Frog Industries are like me in that regard. As such, I see no issue in sending a cute office worker into a deathtrap-laden sewer to find an important document. Pink Hour, a standalone demo to Kero Blaster, places 'makermatic21' in this odd predicament and he receives the bad ending in 0:01:33. Will he find the document? Will there be puns in the future? I really REALLY kero-bout this outcome!

Advice from this old codger: if you have love, then be sure to show it every day, not just on February 14th. And now, I wait for my preferred holiday. February 15th… Cheap Candy Day!!!

See you all next time!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by Worn_Traveler

Grime and Punishment

     Sometimes beating a game is not enough. Sometimes beating a game quickly is not enough. Sometimes the runner wants to do more with the game than just sitting down and making a crisp any% run on the default difficulty. I tend to 100% games when I play them, and I've always preferred watching 100% and low% runs. Before we get to three runs where the runner goes for more, I'd like to direct you to a more traditional run.

      Vectorman 2 is, in my opinion, a more challenging game than its predecessor. The atmosphere is more tense, the enemies seem more aggressive (it took me a long time to beat the Dream Snakes), and the world is a darker place. That doesn't stop Ryan 'TheWinslinator' Winslow from blasting, skating, dirt breaking, bug exterminating, and tanking through this game in 0:10:52 on the Cool difficulty. This run is done on the Sega Smash Pack collection for the PC so if you hear sound effects that don't sound exactly like what was coming through your TV speakers in 1996, that's why. The Vectorman games are fun to play and watch so give this one a shot if you haven't.

     When people talk about Rare, the conversation usually doesn't include Killer Instinct, or at least not the conversations I've had. I'm not good at fighting games though I do enjoy watching them being played well. Killer Instinct now has a run here. 'Reverv' doesn't just pick a character and fight his way through the other combatants. He does so on the highest difficulty level. This six star run (stars=difficulty) in 0:10:10 uses TJ Combo to use a variety of combos to punch his way to victory. Be prepared for some combo breakers too!

    While being chased around in a horror game by some monstrosity is pretty standard now, this next runner tries to do something about it in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Instead of running away whenever Nemesis appears, 'JulianManuelR' decides to stick it to Nemesis literally in this All Bosses, Low% run played on the hardest difficulty in 1:06:47. Low% means knife only so there's not a lot of killing going on here. Thankfully Nemesis is kind enough to leave briefcases after practically every encounter so our intrepid runner can keep the characters healed throughout this run. I'm not too familiar with the series so I won't say much more on this game, though I do want to play it now after watching the run.

    I am a bit more familiar with the Wario games though. I've always enjoyed the series, or at least the platformer ones with their emphasis on exploration, item collection, and in some cases having to backtrack to the start of the area. Wario Land: Shake It! allows for all of this and in this 100% run from Alex 'kirbymastah', we get to see just how complicated and convoluted achieving 100% can be. Contradictory objectives abound here, meaning multiple visits to some levels but fear not! This segmented run in 3:58:35 is worth the watch, not only to see a good game done quickly but for the strategic routing that getting 100% includes.

 

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The SDA staff would like to call for any and all old PRC people to help with clearing a large batch of runs entering this stage of the process. New people also welcome! PRC is the final QA pass before runs are deemed ready to publish in which anything like audio desyncs or missing footage are caught insuring we never have to pull back already published runs. It doesn't require any special skills, just some time for watching the runs. Send LotBlind a private message to receive instructions.

Once these runs have passed PRC, the only thing left is to write the updates themselves! We'd like to invite anyone who's written updates in the past to see if they have the opportunity to write even just one update for the upcoming Big PushTM. All this will directly impact how long the delay from submitting to publication is for runs coming along after.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by LotBlind

Real Men Ride Tanks to Boxing Rings

There's a kind of inverted uncanny valley-esque slot right between "this fan game shows too little effort" and "this fan game is trying too hard to be the game it was inspired by" where it becomes impossible to criticize stuff like Mega Man: Square Root of Negative One. We're not straying from the basic guiding principle when making any form of sequel though: old foundations, new house. In this case, it's either a crazy house or a haunted mansion, I can't tell. The story: The city gets attacked and "Obviously Wily is behind this". The assets: stolen (as they should be). The "Men": very very scary all of them really. I gave it a spin and fought through the only slightly campy Plant Man's stage on about 3 non-laggy frames-per-second (and my compy can run The Lemmings on Full). The boss itself would have required hopping on moving 1-block-wide platforms at peril of getting bubble transformed by those trademark Hanoi tower spikes below. I don't feel too-too bad.

'peter afro' seems to have dallied in this dale of discerning derivation (how DOES i derive actually? It's something boring like 0 isn't it?) for no longer than 0:02:31, abusing some kind of Easter egg warp teleport. Slick run all in all. Skip only doable in v. 1.2 though so don't miss your exit!

From the realm of "Men", as e.g. Metal Man, to the realm of Metal Max, the Returnage. As in Metal Max Returns. As in Metal Max Returns Returns... urr... returns to the front page today, in the same quality. Well, higher quality. More fast. Dammit, can a Man really not watch The Barber of Siberia at 2.30-o'-clock the same time maintaining flowing verbal expression at the dead-on angle? Who invented this?

The sacrifices made in order to let you know Marcus 'crazedlink00' Duchow got bored of the numbers 4 and 11 and done did improved by exactly blackjack seconds to 0:03:50. In this curveball JRPG-meets-heavy-track-vehicles, the less ambitious of us can conclude their shooting star careers (in whatever the tank was for) earlier than the Beatles were to innovations in the studio, presumably heading off to Liberty City for a bit of a rampage instead.

In a game series cool enough not to be ridiculing itself in including two, no more, no less, exclamation marks in every title's name, there was fierce competition at one point, in both Individual Levels and Single-Segment runs. Today, that's only true for one of the two. Along came 'Summoningsalt' to demonstrate to these old-time has-beens they really just needed to be paying attention. Finishing only about 43 in-game seconds ahead of any human being ever, continuing today, the living daylights are being knocked out of not just all the mangy rope-groping amateurs in the game itself, not just the has-beens, but factually every single person ever having touched an NES controller within a ten-mile radius of a copy of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, including moms wiping the dust. Not that the controller should have had any on it. This 0:15:12.14 recorded in one glorious go will wipe off any self-complacency about whatever you count as your proudest achievement faster than the spring clean at the Incredibles.

I cannot over-emphasize the blasphemous amounts of stupid the run really is. I'm actually going to directly quote sinister1's verification comment to try to get it across:

"This runner has contributed to many new and exciting strategies in this game which made an insanely low time like this a reality. After a steady progression of runs after first beating Matt Turk's original 16:59, this runner developed the highest level of consistency ever seen in this game. He has ended more runs with sub 2:30 Tysons than is conceivable. Those are big parts of the reason he has this time. This game is extremely punishing and when you get a rare opportunity when the stars align and luck like this occurs you have to be mentally strong enough to be unfazed and have the technical skills to execute at the highest level. This runner did that like a true MTPO champion.

No run is unbeatable, but this one is about as close as it gets due to the extreme luck required (I would estimate 1 in 50,000) and need for 20 or more frame perfect inputs at the very end knowing what is riding on it."

A run like this could really fill an update all by itself...

Finally, let me explain why the "ey" in "odyssey" had to be changed to the "ee" in Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. It's rather a long story. It all started when... and that's why! What? Oh sorry, this is with large skips! It skips all opportunities at fraternal solidarity too, stomping hapless mudokon slaves into the muck AND BEYOND. (Bad ending? How dare they?! I was going to come right back for you guys!). The heavily glitchy 0:13:15 by the famtastic Sam 'Samtastic' Locke still complements rather than supercedes existing runs by virtue of being on the unwieldier PlayStation version. Read the betrayer's comments for a break-down of techniques used and for his shameless shout-outs to fellow conspirators.

I'm always happy and grateful to see people, doubly so new ones, crossing the threshold into the chamber of verifications! This is, as always, something you can do after e.g. having had a run accepted yourself. Takes some effort (in some cases not really) but remember that the runs in public verification really are for anyone to take a look at.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by Worn_Traveler

Party at Count Dracula's

     Simon and Julius Belmont were standing around the throne room of Dracula's castle, waiting for the vampire of vampires to ressurect again for the umpteenth time. "It will be a new year soon and it is time to fight again" said Simon. "You are right. It is a good thing that we can now join forces with disregard to the centuries between us to stop this maniacal demon." The clock chimed thirteen times. Julius and Simon found themselves transorted to various parts of the castle. Here beigns their adventures, in this update at least. Simon Belmont has been around since Vampire Killer/Castlevania and he gets to fight again in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. 'Wizdaddy' plows through the DLC portions of the castle in 0:13:45.07.

     Julius Belmont theoretically has a better chance to survive in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair as he may have run into many of these enemies and bosses in Aria and Dawn of Sorrow'Wizdaddy' gives us a double shot of whiplashing Julius action, utilizing New Game+ to power through the original part of the castle in 0:07:16.00 and the DLC portion in 0:13:41.24

     Meanwhile in another world, another character is rolling through another maze like world. Remember Kula World? There's more to the game after you beat it and 'adeyblue' has rolled through these extra levels in 0:09:29 using the PAL version of the game. 

    Awesome Games Done Quick starts this Sunday, with the first game starting at 12:00 PM EDST. Make sure to catch some of this week long event if you can. You can watch live at the AGDQ wesbsite