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Sunday, July 25, 2021 by LotBlind

Temporary Temporal Distortions in Confined Quarters


Never less a staple than last update's Quake III in global esports circuits, Starcraft also provides a much-liked one-player campaign for the introvert to enjoy. Earlier, I created this thread to discuss the "ideal RTS" as the highest skill cap game in speedrunning. Not every mission fits that pattern but there's certainly a little bit of it in two of the missions that are getting obsoleted today, Zerg 3 in 3:20 (down 1:27) and Zerg 4 in 1:28 (down 0:03), which are essentially more optimized abusings of some witchcraft that results in invulnerable and ill-tempered zerg workers. The third one, Protoss 6 in 1:58 (down 0:16), is an intestinally tortuous corridor, and an exceptionally torturous "Mor-ri-dor". Escorting of your tiny squad through all the nibble-happy zergdom would constitute a fine final exam at the Extreme Shepherding Academy in case that's a thing. These are from runner 'Plissken2097''s backlog but are, at a glance, more or less state-of-the-art, even by some margin. The new total is 2:27:04.

I noticed Freezard and Zergreenone created a nifty guide for this game in our Knowledge Base earlier. It's a good example of how to present and preserve such useful information in an organized and freely editable way. Starting a guide is simple. Wink wink! ;)

Chopin as Chopin in Chopin-land? I think every composer gets sucked up into their mind, like a leper messiah, when in the process of composing. It's the source of that endless etude, that infinite fugue... that Eternal Sonata. And so this game is a take on what Chopin's final biographical "movement", in part based on events from his life, in part specific compositions of his, dressed as an otherwise fairly traditional JRPG might have looked like. I got sucked up into thought myself, as I rested my eyes on the alternately resplendent and splendiferous visuals, about whether the names assigned to the characters and places were mostly quite logical, or to some degree whimsical and arbitrary. Like what makes the Chorus Plains "chorus" exactly? Maybe it's an area that you return to lots of times in regular play? And what connection do choruses have with Chopin who never composed choral works, or pop music for that matter? Glissando Cliffs I can see: the motion up and down the ropes is a smooth sliding one. And Forte City is big and pompous while "Ritardando" suits a peaceful small town. "Xylophone Tower", which is a tower made of xylophone parts, seems accurate enough. Can anyone explain to me "Mandolin Church" on the other hand? I think it's made of... church parts? There's a chick called "Falsetto", and the female falsetto actually is a thing, at least physiologically, and can cause female singers to be misclassified, with a potentially ruinous effect on many a promising faux soprano I'd imagine. The Adagio Swamp ('slow') really forces a subdued tempo on the runner, at least on the day of recording it did. "What do we call the mountain area?" – "Urrm... they're kinda jagged aren't they... Sharp Mountains?" The Wah Caves were named after... the wah-wah pedal?! The hot air does make everything visually undulate in that area, akin to what the pedal does to sound. If that really is the idea, I'll give you I would never have thought of that.

The routine fights in Eternal Sonata are from the Earthbound school: voluntary, or tantalizingly close to it. Herein lies the key, or if you will, the clef to fine-tuning run times, as 'valor' has here from his own 2:55:12 to a more concordant 3:51:01. If you can tell the new time is actually more than the old, you have nearly the same remarkable sense of arithmetic that valor needed when whittling away at the buff bosses, since tri-Crescendo made the ballsy move of completely scraping the health bars off enemies. Maybe the game needed all the bars it could get elsewhere in its musical design? Anyway, the trick here is the PS3 version simply has extra content compared to that of the PS2, hence the run time – and the number of barely dodgeable encounters – increasing. While the legibility of text boxes we speedrunning fanatics are, as a self-inflicted punishment, denied the joy of, we are not denied the joy of the voice-overs, which I find hilarious in parts. "Let us celebrate and be satisfied." I'm sure valor both celebrated and was satisfied with his run.

Compared to the other shooters we've gotten to relish recently, in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, it's less cozy arenas with an inordinate abundancy of leg- and headroom, and more a 3000-meter steeplechase event inside an office building that shifts between normality and horrid vistas of a plane of eternal condemnation (so an office building), with a hurdle every five meters, water hazards, sharks, and lasers on the sharks. Any wonder then 'lekolega' decided to re-stack the odds back in his favor, isolating the numerous problem areas and tailoring a solution to each, for just short of 50 segments in total? His sweat-and-tears 0:26:57 incorporates some boosts so subtle I couldn't really even visually confirm them while watching, but I think it really is more about not getting snagged by any of the myriad spikes and thorns, such as those growing from all the, you know, frothing denizens of hell.

But wait! Again, we have a very short-lived mystery at hand... What causes this run not to obsolete the existing one despite the upped difficulty? Isn't this kind of stuff like going back in time to murdlerize your own thoroughly unsuspecting grandfolks, damn the causative torpedoes? Again, the universe protects us from unseemly grandparent-doxes. There's no obsoletion because on "Nightmare" your endeavours are aided by the unlocking of all the three superpowers from the get-go instead of one by one after various tests and trials. (Like how those progressively more inclusive driver's licenses should work, I tell you!) That seems awfully kind given what nightmares the original two games' "not even remotely fair" highest setting left the Marine hounded by till the early hours when military types gotta get up and report for duty. [An almost continuous] "Resurrection of Evil" describes those games better than this one, surely. What's that? "The Marine takes 350% of the base damage. All medikits are removed from the game, and the player's health steadily drains until it's 25 or below." Well the kids are alright then!

Blinding News Flash

An upcoming Japanese speedrun marathon has been spotted on the curved horizon of the Earth we share. That event is called RTA in Japan, will take place between August 11th and 15th and please see this thread for info past that.

Friday, June 25, 2021 by LotBlind

Direct Connections to Delight


Fu! Fu! Ya! Chippu getto! Three peppy huffs for Phillip 'ZELLLOOO' Shanklin for keeping a difficult-to-keep promise. I made sure to highlight Mega Man Network Transmission's many complexities in a January update likely not yet to have tumbled into the oubliette behind the front page "black"... Well, things have only gotten more tangled-up since: the devious Professor's machinations are now getting undone in 2:00:42 while taking a more scenic, and decicively more OCD, road to get there.

Ain't no joyride on Route 100%! As I mentioned before, even the drops you get are meritocratic, with plenty of rare but compulsory pickings only available to men of swift and precise action. Not only that, a lot of the collectibles have at least some vague situational use, and thus have some kind of ripple effect after picking them up. A system of non-finite uses of special skills is akin to some early Final Fantasy games, cued in turn by AD&D CRPGs of the west. It causes ZEL to have to economize on even the lowly (more like highly?) double jump, something many other games treat axiomatically. That and there are tons of these cycling abilities – offensive, defensive and utility – the more of which you've gotten to grips with, the more fallbacks and redundancies you have for scooping from. Of the platformers, this must be Mega Man at its smartest. My belly tingles with joy!

There is a grind section but even that part's not as monotonous as they often get. Then there's another shorter gu-whack-a-mole and nacho intermission, which looks like it rewards fast reaction times. Anyway, not a run to miss, Miss!

But wait, where have YOU been all my life? We have an elephant-sized omission in the otherwise perfectly respectable gamepage list around the letter 'Q'. For a site that cut its mighty fangs on nothing but Quake for years, it's taken an awful long while for a showcase to surface of Quake III Arena. Now that has multiple reasons which I would enumerate as follows:

  1. The game always had significant online competition.
  2. The game is a big RNG fiesta.
  3. Grinding an FPS is rough on the hands.

Point one is a poignant one: Whenever the primary metric for skill is play against other people, self-confidences deflate like blown-out tyres, and no-one tends to have the balls to get the ball rolling. There's always a bigger fish with their latest recammed frag movie taking names on a server you're not even allowed to join. This is to some degree true of all speedrunning: we generally tend to only get what are WRs at the time (as many, though not all, of these runs are) even though it's not strictly compulsory. Still, the effect is more noticeable when skill metrics exist outside of the speedrun prowess itself. The most obvious of those would be universal typing speed tests vs. running the likes of The Typing of the Dead. So it's not a surprise the one to finally break this highly influential shooter for us is 'fearZZz', someone with experience in very high tier team deathmatch play especially, with those requisite recammed frag movies to testify.

Point two is poignant too: All your times are at the mercy of bot spawn locations. This initial 0:15:49.777 ILs collection is on the "You Can Win!" setting... More like "You Can't Lose!", actually. Quite uniformly, the more bots a-herpin' and a-derpin' around in your vicinity, the faster you reach the frags target that gradually goes up in increments of five. On the higher settings you could actually get overwhelmed as the bots will start to fight back. So this is, at the end of the day, a very long parade of prodigious skill and propitious RNG, more so than anything, but also of intelligent planning (just read the per-level comments) and good judgment calls. That makes this one required viewing also, or you're NOBUD. No bud o' mine, anyway.

Monday, April 26, 2021 by Akiteru

Community Column: Akiteru's Advice on Assumptions

Hi everyone!

I'm Akiteru, and I have been a member of SDA since late 2012.
My main speedgames have historically been Mega Man X and The Lion King (SNES), though I have ran other games at lower levels
of play as well.
Given that this article is associated with my 12:25 submission of The Lion King Difficult, I figured I would talk a little bit about
the game's progression and how important it is to experiment and think outside the box.

In late 2015-early 2016 I went on a pretty intensive grind to lower the Difficult record to a point where I was comfortable
submitting to SDA. I ended up getting a 13:48, the first 13-minute run in the world, which I was very happy with and
submitted shortly after. This run stood for over 2 years with no competition and no desire for me to lower it myself.
That was, until speedrunner Veo found a major skip in the Genesis version utilizing a leopard clip to skip nearly the entire
stage Be Prepared. Of course, since SNES and Genesis share a very similar engine, the skip worked in SNES as well.
I played the game on and off over the next few years, but eventually ended up with the 12:25 I have today. Had it not been for him,
I may not have touched the category again.

Veo did not have a history of running the game before finding the skip and grabbing the Genesis Easy world record.
It was an instance of a new set of eyes taking a look at the game and seeing a new opportunity. We had already been
using leopard clips to skip barriers one stage prior, in Simba's Destiny. At the time, I would have never considered
this new use of the tech. I was comfortable where I was in my grind and it had never crossed my mind to try it.
I was certainly impressed by this find. It came totally by surprise.

To this day, I keep it in the back of my mind when I'm working on optimizing a new game. It reminds me to never stop being
curious about what is possible. If you come up with an idea, it may be easy to convince yourself that someone must have
already tried it, but clearly that is not always the case. Give it a try anyway just to make sure.

I hope you enjoy watching my run of The Lion King. There is still some room for improvement but overall it is pretty solid
and I'm happy with it.



(LotBlind's addendum)

Didn't expect an improvement of over a minute for The Lion King, that 1994 animation tie-in platformer that's not exactly run-of-the-mill – for starters, it's super-tough for a kids' game as a response to the lesser cash-in-ability of a game that could be mostly completed during a rental. Take it from this guy. At the same time, he's saying it's not that much tougher than other platformers of the time? Maybe it's the cute guise provoking naive expectations then. Many of us never made it from "Scrub Cub" to "Neo Leo". Many of us are forever scarred by the villain's unopposed domination over the languishing lion nation. Be prepared... for real life, eh? Aside from bricks-tough it was also bricks-state-of-the-art in animation wizardry owing to collaboration with Disney's own artists. And similarly the music inherited from the movie OST like Simba, after some tribulations, from his dad. I did notice the Pride Rock fight and some other Scar-starring scenes, esp. "King of Pride Rock", are accompanied by a less subtle use of the classic "Dies Irae" theme than the movie, which seems to only have had a few individual quotings here and there.

As for speedrunning, this game has several SNES/60Hz frame-perfect tricks according to 'Akiteru''s run comments. It's also precise spatially as you can tell in a few of the stages, with some tricks of the trade making it all a bit more manageable. The 0:12.25 is also also precise RNG-wise. It's tamed some aspects of it kind of like wicked man used to tame the lions themselves. Where is that King of Beasts in its khaki kingdom? They're not called "prides" for nothing you know! Take a look at that golden number one next to that victorious smirk at the end and you'll understand how it feels to be firmly seated in the all-encompassing Circle of Life. I call for all to pay respect to the Panthera leo, our maned main man!

Waylaid by weariness? Waterlogged with wanton work? Well don't waste your weeks with wishy-washy woodledoo, wishlist the wacky and well-wadded-out Waladdin and The Why-oh-why-on Wing by wese wellas wover were. And wire ME to woo your WARKETING for woo! Weez, I can wange! This compilation really is worth mentioning though, with extras of the kind usually loaded into DVD releases of films, including a Mufasa-ton of mood-mellowing cheat options. An exemplary effort in software preservation AFAICS.

Saturday, April 10, 2021 by LotBlind

Gringeworthy Pilferama

I realize not all of our audience are native speakers, just judging by who's submitting runs. For that reason, I started this thread for asking questions about these updates if there's something you didn't quite understand, or you have a correction to make. Now onto today's update...

"Then I Wallie Kickflip Mctwist onto the pipe and 50-50 Madonna into a 360 Japan Air for the max score" is a completely believable utterance in the rad realm of digital skateboarding. The spirit of the sport is there: doing whatever you and your low-friction plank feel like doing like wherever you and your low-friction plank feel like doing it, effortlessly in a manifold mastery of motion. Like parkour but less focus on translocation. Getting that "whatever, wherever" sorted out is a good way to start gaming the judges in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater to make not just a big impression but a quick one as well. Obviously, the games in the series have also always followed their own arcane/arcade logic that contrasts with more realistic alternatives like Session and Skater XL. Like what the ... is going on with the combo at 2:08?! The more you push it, for speedruns or superplays, seems all the more abstract the relationship between the game and IRL shreddin' becomes.

Scanning the skateparks for lean lines we have 'Nami', inhabiting a skater called Rune. "Ruiner". That's not part of the categorization but felt critical to point out nonetheless. The old record is certainly in ruins, 0:03:19 all that's left after well over a third has been grinded away. It's the N64 version but using in-game time, as we do, the different consoles are equivalent anyway. I have no doubt this run will be particularly flocked to at the metaphorical airport (with deference to corona restrictions) given its short length and self-evident quality. I can tell not a lot of concessions were made to practicality on the runner's part.

BTW: I'm personally quite excited for the olympic skateboard event to be held in Tokyo in August – fingers crossed – especially in the midst of this prolonged dry spell in live events. Cringe. Grind-ge. Gringe.

The next game has less stops unpulled than there are full ones in this paragraph. What WAS stopped short of was making it run on period hardware and disincluding cheat-like options (though back in the day you could still have some sort of secret God password or something). The great gospel of Ladder-Game Saints is preached with plenty piety in The Adventures of Elena Temple. It was made to play like a platformer from the early 80's – and before "platform game" became the staple, there was at least one reviewer who tried calling them "ladder games" instead, according to Wikipedia. I think this one just has ropes though, so I think the right choice was made. The game window is framed with an old machine of your choosing, and even the machine is lined with comfy scenes that I think also emulate the 80's experience – at least I'm not seeing fancy smartphones and tablets disgracing those domestic sets. Escapism was in its infancy...

You can't see those props in the run itself since the game allows zooming to trim the trimmings. That sounds an awful lot like speedrunning to me! The inaugural run for this ladderless ladderer was run in 0:01:49 by 'riccTheThicc'. It completes one of the three separate merrily ransackable temples that the game comes with, while using NG+ options for some safety in a fundamentally hostile environment. No harm done. Not even to that frail-lookin' crockery. You'd expect things to smash a bit more. Gringe.

Saturday, March 20, 2021 by LotBlind

None of this Would Pass a Safety Inspection

Here's a gamepage from a prodigiously early layer of SDA's ecumenical era – that is from when Quake hasn't been its entire gig – with some very dusty runs on it as well. The oldest ones remind us how far we've come in recording technology in our race into the singularity, but you can just about make out a run time. By contrast, 'Pokemonmaster888''s 2009 video wasn't due for a replacement because of eye cancer prevention, but many other evolvements do inform his new 0:00:27.10 Classic Mode Ganondorf Very Easy record by about 5.5 seconds. Super Smash Bros. Melee is a fighting game but what's the subgenre called exactly? Effectively you've just opened up the arena more vertically and done away with guard rails. I picture there's a 50-gigavolt electric fence running all around it, doling out vehement punishment upon those who try uncourteously to drag the camera too far. The bully's logic, I know...

Should you choose wisely, to watch this run that is, you'll be in very good hands between a full audio introduction alongside the normative written comments. The runner has to challenge pairing RNG as well as the hare-brained easy AI so a solid next-to-WR like this can't be taken for granted.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz was originally for the Wii only, though now having joined the evergrowing list of games reanimated (and presumably retextured) for a second round of commercial distribution, including for the first time for this series on the PC. <very broken telephone>Apparently surgeons play these games to cut patients more precisely</very broken telephone>. Today, we cut more precisely with 'BeastlyBro26' for 0.08 seconds off in one of the bonus levels, the Monkey Island (not that Monkey Island) one, from 14.81 seconds down to 14.73. You can't deny this run is less bumpy than the old one, by two bumps to be exact.

From now on out, when submissions are this minimal, their introductions will be likely to be matchingly minimal.

Suggesting a class struggle doesn't inform Abe's Oddysee is like saying jazz didn't inform David Bowie. There's the classical Marxist milieu of a factory for starters, and it's pushing out soylent turquoise... Despite potential appearances, I'm not, in fact, particularly well-read or well-watched, other than in speedruns. I largely base my writings on what research I'm able to do within the confines of the vaguely monthly schedule. Thus quotes like this, on an as-of-yet unreleased animated movie the developer Oddworld Inhabitants had on their agenda, work overtime for me: "Citizen Siege was based in a near future where the policies of recent White House administrations continued onward unabated; ultimately landing us in a dark totalitarian landscape where people have been reduced to pure commodity." Yeah, they're guys inspired by the political landscape, alright. At least one writer has done us the service of any kind of analysis of Oddysee / the remake played here, Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty!, a few missed spellings notwithstanding.

MY GOD listen to Sherry McKenna in this part of this short feature on the making of Oddysee from presumably around '97 or '98! She's being a superhero avatar CEO in these times when "people [in the AAA games industry] HAVE been reduced to pure commodity". The rest of the commentary breaks down the process of making the organic animations for those very inhabitants of Oddworld. The most populous of those, by the way, aren't the Sligs, the Slogs, or the Mudokons either... it's actually the Zips, as evidenced in Sam 'Samtastic' Locke's latest touch-up of an existing run of the fastest category, slicing off about six seconds of delicious chops with a few new strategies despite (PUN ALERT) difficulties on the tough last leg. The new run time is 0:21:31.

Sunday, January 24, 2021 by LotBlind

Aren't the Flame Ones Kind of the Default?

'ktwo' has provided massively followable per-play notes with time stamps for this efficient 0:09:43 demo of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dragons of Flame for the Famicom. What's the polar opposite in followability is the story, because no official international release exists and so everything is a jibblie-inducing jumble of kana. (Kind of like the jumble of musical scales in the theme heard in the second overworld section. Very unlikely running into an effect so garish in a new soundtrack.) The game's overseas chances faded with poor JP sales, I'm assuming, so this cover art was never used. This theory, not all that unfollowable, is corroborated with how the next two tabletop modules were combined into one game that, two years later, further only released on PC systems, with a noticeably more advanced gameplay loop than this or the other one; having a kinship with the more famous Eye of the Beholder series of 1st-person dungeon crawlers.

The story is still followable by proxy through the second tabletop module and the latter half of the first Dragonlance novel, actually. Based on the run alone, we get that one variable sprite, representative of all the eight of the goodie-two-shoes-es (that's sixteen units of footwear in total), makes sure to counter-offend an offending Draconian army in the most pinpointed possible way, skimming past all low-ranking ranks into the filthy innermost dens to smack down another pretentious dragon (I'd be aghast if there wasn't one), free some prisoners or something, then fish-slapping-dance away a warlord who's left cursing the utter inadequacy of its AI routines. Then more kana happens and everyone intersubjectively verifies the power of friendship in mirthful, let's suppose, banter. It's a classy though straightforward run that doesn't quite represent everything the game has to offer... something about gearing up to increase defense (increase what?), more fancy-schmancy spellcasting (what you were promised is dungeons... and dragons...), and I dunno what else. Moving on...

Still furious, still battle-bound, still ktwo... it's Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road. All the characters are scaled up so this is graphically like going from 2 to the x bits to 2 to the x+1 bits even though it's not. It's still got the odd garbled sprite we remember from IW1 to help us orient ourselves now that the forlorn warzone setting has been replaced with a... nother setting. There's now randomly a menu to visit like it's your granny. The music doesn't use the same exact themes but is reminiscent nevertheless. Couldn't find out if the composer was the same one or not but the two arcade cabinets seem to have come out the same year of 1986 (why?) so probably could be, why not? Also, for an NES game an extensive use of voice samples is present. They recall the age-old question "English or Narglish"?

The run, stretching across 0:07:52, looks so simple and easy it's difficult to appreciate what "the problem" is with a layman laying down the same run like train tracks across levelled plains, but that's obviously quite specious. The changes from the previous 2014 record are small (6 seconds' worth), and in large part owe to profound TAS-ploration of the niceties* of the game mechanics. I gotta say, that stuttery half-diagonal walk is kind of lascivious... hypnotic... I'm okay, I'm okay! Another run firmly entrenched in unscoffable territory, then.

*This is my revenge on the word "niceties", which I admit to once having used wrong. It was its fault.

This game that we know as Mega Man Network Transmission, in Japan was known as "Rockman EXE Transmission" what where why? EXE as in .exe, an executable file. There's a Rockman/MegaMan.exe on kid Lan Hikari's computer who he uses as a personal incarnation (or "NetNavi" in the game's terms) in the virtual space that society has relegated many of its functions to. This space is dipped in an out of with generally crimefighting thoughts on Lan's mind. On kid Phillip 'ZELLLOOO' Shanklin's mind are thoughts of RNG- and tardy-movement-fighting. The incarnation of his adamancy about making them exert the least possible influence over Lan's online life is a 0:55:38 that's trodden the mill for another 55 seconds lost on an already slim run, making it a WR by a fairly wide margin. I hope it goes without saying all of ktwo's submissions have been WRs since time immemorial.

The puffing and sweaty run notes for the Rockman game are similar to before but not a total dejavu. What's brand new is at least the precise damage maths for the whimpering starting weapon that you can, and should, Cinderella to its ultimate state. "MP", I've been told, stands for "memory points" which makes sense given what it does, and the Custom Gauge is something that charges up with time and it filling to the max is the cue for getting a fresh set of Chips. Those are the special attacks and abilities Zelllo is talking about.

Multiple parallax graphics mirror the multiple parallel layers of strategy, with health, MP, the Custom Gauge and money all demanding attention like the open mouths of a hatch of hungry fledgling birds. Or the open mouths of a hatch of speedrunners hungry for games like this? Even the way in which you kill enemies affects what they'll drop... it's 5-D chess with bullet time controls. Execution is always present, too, between the text box mashing and the constant slide jumps, with no small amount of luck improvisation in demand as well. We sense the full spectrum of emotions from a gold split to a near-death experience. I wonder if ZEL remembered to check above the cabinet for the hidden word the nurses left there? Maybe the word was "enough"... seeing as it sounds like it will be Zel's last dabble in this gabble, where gabble is the any% category. What might he be planning next? Kitto nani ka aru! Shirabete miyou!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020 by LotBlind

Demarbled Monk Cosplay Show Went Down Well

Not long ago (in SDA time), we had a total sweep of a particular Quake table and now we're overhauling another full haul of fame. The submitter, formally, is our timer Matan 'IsraeliRD' Weissman, but looks like the workload was split over a dozen runners, with 'Nature Freak', 'Xedron' and 'Xelna' tugging the hardest. This is in a game where the appeal comes solely from emergent complexities of the physics instead of story or visuals. You control a ball with timely jumps and by applying spin. If you're on the ground, this makes you roll. If in the air, it makes you bounce in the appropriate direction off the next surface you touch. Tapping into the full potential of the greatly elastic collisions increases the skill cap exponentionally. There's several extra gimmicks and glitches to add some zest.

I am, of course, talking of Marble Blast Gold. Even though I hadn't actually seen any runs before, I can tell there must be route changes in the mix given how jumbled some levels are. Specifically a particular sub-strain of gravity-twisters that crop up here and there. I think solving them was supposed to be a little bit of a puzzle to begin with when the game left the proverbial oven at the Garage Games kitchen. Looking these people up in an effort to understand the game's legacy and popularity, the studio was founded by four merry Dynamix alumni marooned by their overlords at Sierra. Jeff Tunnell (whose massive resume is lined with the likes of Heart of China, Red Baron, The Incredible Machine and Betrayal at Krondor) held the helm when they decided to respond to the rising costs of competing in the games market by cobbling together an engine that could facilitate the ambitions of smaller development houses at an affordable price point. A lot could be said about the engine's evolution since then: seeing as this was the same tool that Tribes, a rather famous FPS predecessor to games like Planetfall, was developed on, it's evident Marble Blast Gold was either just an early roadside billboard for the product, a fun side gig, and/or might Steve Jobs have actually paid them for rights to package it with various Apple systems?

Be that as it may, the IL table now has a "0:13:23.508" where it used to say "0:14:04". 40 seconds off therefore, and an average of 0.4 seconds of fat burned per level (as the plentiful run comments explain, a certain glitch that made some old runs faster was banned, so the actual increase in run quality is greater than indicated by that figure). Note the existence of blooper reel files and two (!) audio commentary tracks as well!

Pretty sure this isn't corroborated canonically, but in a moment of all-too-much charity, I though the "Knight's Chase" is supposed to be the (Anglicized) name of Time Gate: Knight's Chase's main romping grounds, a sordid monastery residing temporally in 1329. Sounds more like a fort, actually? Maybe it's called that because the protagonist, who ancestral recalls as a KNIGHT Templar, is CHASING after the antagonist's buttocks for profuse kicking? It's accurate if not exactly that exciting. This is a game that doesn't really even try to backdrop his main motivator in any way: they took yer doll, bud... aren'cha gon' do som'n boudit? What we do own their in-house team credit for is the work put into historical accuracy, quite prevalent here and instantly incrementing the score among the retrophiliacs. And composer Philippe Vachey's score is unscoffable too, as usual.

Aside from the high learning curve just to feel comfortable navigating a world of piecemeal perspectives, especially when playing the smutty non-SVGA version (the only one supplied by the digital storefronts) it's very easy to miss points of interest. That and you'd better have smuggled a modern GPS tracker down the time well to position yourself correctly in front of them (alongside some satellites of your own I guess, depending on the flightfulness of your conspiratorial fancy re. what Templar technology was like). I noticed there's also some bizarre and regular glitching of the polygons that's non-existent in the first several games... and the fighting techniques, in a speedrunner's hands at least, look like chi projection more than appendage projection. All in all, while I can only imagine this a relatively strong (and perhaps the least well-known) entry into the broad Alone continuum, it's evident Infogrames should probably have let Raynal lead the polygonal adventure charge he had single-handedly bugled (French horned?) up in a direction of his choosing, but that's simply not how Infogrames ever was. Hey, got it out for Christmas again, didn't they!

None of this bears any relevance to the age-old question of "to speedrun or not to speedrun" as the stalward 'arnaud33200' has taken it upon himself to do! The game, and certainly this run, has its charms. Speaking of, this is arnaud's 3rd time braving the verification high security gate. The second was confounded by unfortunate A/V issues, but this time he's making headlines on his roundabout 300th Single-segment attempt at the game, cleansing the corrupt cloister in 0:19:57. Run comments give glimpses into that invisible matrix of other possibilities.

'kazn' hasn't relented with anime button-and-facial bashing in the framework of Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code, either. The character is the same as last time (Tohno Shiki), but the run still looks quite different, owing to the sequence of fights ramifying based on RNG. This, with the same proficient keyboard manipulation (i.e. execution), results in a 33 seconds scrunched time of 0:06:17.01 in the same Arcade mode, Hardest difficulty category. And it does NOT look like chi projection! As before, the run comments are bilingually English and Japanese.

Monday, November 16, 2020 by LotBlind

This Update Has Been Here for Like a Month It's Just So Well-Concealed...

It's a funny word, "spank", as things go. The jolliest form of physical abuse; generally very tame, and to tame. Just sort of a goof, at the end of the day – or whenever strikes your fancy, Nancy. Now when you tack "death" onto it, questions arise. Is this an episode of history; perhaps the doings of Ivan the Terrible? Is this an episode of "Kenny vs Spenny" midway season 3? IS this... an episode... of the chimerical mind... of the Ron Gilbert?!

Like so many legends of interactive entertainment, Gilbert started out in obsessed reverse-engineering and not entirely un-monkey-like imitation of the games he had access to, and even those he didn't. This might be what made him hilarious... we're talking about software so primitive the system they ran on had barely been equipped with a hard drive. It's dearth in which the imagination blossoms. Or maybe he just had a funny mom? What we do know is there's probably a whole matrixful of dots to connect from Maniac Mansion (1987) through Monkey Island (1990) to a game called DeathSpank from 2010. But now it's an action RPG. I honestly don't even know, I knew he'd made another P 'n' C adventure with Thimbleweed Park in 2017, and I knew he had dabbled in other genres throughout his career. I mean, it sounds like I'm totally fixated on this one guy when he's not even listed as the sole designer, but in a sea of chaos and time constraints, the auteur is a raft that's not on fire. Also Clayton Kauzlaric's Wiki is a tad too scant to extract his essence from.

Speaking of time constraints, there's no more time for hiding this 1:11:34 (with resets), very constrained in time as well, with the unfortunate side effect of condensing the guffaw-rific dialogue to an almost subliminal stimulus. This way it goes straight to the brain's funny center past the pee control unit (yup, that's a puddle of piss you're sat in, Mister), but no-one's telling you not to strategically time stretch it in your media player, wink wink. 'retailescapeartist''s first unavertible heroic deed is killing some chickens. I think I've said enough.

The next one seems to have been the most popular on our site of the many many Metal Gears in recent memory. The "Metal Gears" in those games are heavy combat mechs with nuclear armament (at least some of them?). In Metal Gear Solid 3 HD, we switch POVs to an agent called "Naked Snake" (who later in the canon becomes "Big Boss") in a 1960s Soviet jungle setting... which sounds like some very niche genre of music. You can't say "jungle" without saying "camouflage". Trust me... you can't. And so there may well be a bit of that here. Also compounding the third of the "Solids" is hand-to-hand fighting, a stamina bar and injuries and un-injuries. 'HIKARI_MGS' has mastered all of this on the PS3 for his new 1:17:30 that improves the single-segment SDA record on the European Extreme setting, achieving Foxhound rank, by basically two minutes (and is a clear WR as well), which is more than it sounds considering there's several parts where you just auto-ascend a ladder or otherwise aren't able to overtake any "ghost drivers" on the "track" easily. What is it with me and "quotation marks" today?

This game got all kinds of awards and so I'd imagine I don't have to say too much on it? You go around completing sub-objectives while intermittently radioing and rendezvousing with other essential chaps and/or chappettes. There's a heap of limitations for the Foxhound runs: no special items, alerts, kills, and not much damage taken. The hard mode of hard modes. The game had various version differences between regions (such as that peculiar difficulty setting), and also there's the expanded "Subsistence" release that quite generously came with the first two games in the series, and a longed-for unbound camera rig. The camera and some of the other new features went on to be subsumed by yet another version, the HD one here. That might be why Subsistence has seemingly been ignored for speedrunning. Now you know.

Another one level takes a big hit in the Project I.G.I.: I'm Going In shortlist (when it's speedruns, all the items are short, and select). That one level is not level one but rather the eight numerically, with the aim to demolish a SAM vehicle and ride the choppa outta there. This run utilizes a collision bug to get into position faster, then something... even more interesting happens. The new tricks were found, and the run submitted, by OdDzBall, and it makes the table 32 seconds faster, now a 0:39:14.

Reminiscent of the theory that Pokemons named themselves and informed human languages, it's possible that uncouth utterances originated from barnyard animals as well. That, and perhaps the callousness of industrial meat (meat-eating on the whole is a more nuanced question), might really be the only morals to be gained from this brief click-through of Can Your Pet?. Thanks to an additional quality-of-life improvement in a later patch, your all-too-jovial chicken pal now CAN in about 8 seconds less, 0:00:04. The run, from Herbert 'Water_is_wet05' Stevens, is too ridiculous to comment on intelligently. Clu-Cluuuuuck!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 by LotBlind

But what... about... dragons?

I can't say I've seen a game quite like this before. It's a small army-vs-army kind of arena where the friendlies consist of one human player and an unhelpful AI sidekick, two human players, both of whom helpful, or hidden option C, one crazy human player (that would be 'Manocheese') on one regular and one desk-mounted controller, which I understand is also quite helpful. At no point does the other side – the un-friendlies, that is – get to pick their meal. It's unaberratiously an entrée of Tibetan death dumplings followed by an exquisite main course of steaming death cassarole with a zestful side order of death nukage soup and for deathsert, the classic, a parfait of preeminent perishment.

It is a little difficult to follow what's happening in Gotcha Force despite the simple premise, so the abundant written comments caulk up a pretty massive gap (like prosthetic dentures). It really seems to have a microcosm of its own. You can magicate custom mobs for your army by waving a wand and invoking arcane incantations in the menus. The abuse is HEA-VY. Like multi-nationals and tax havens. These runs cover both the 1-p-w-u-AI and "2-p" sub-categories of the Challenge Mode over a 0:35:08 stretch and they really do exude every intimate evening of the super-long, super-sexy affair Manocheese has had with this game. Loving it!

In another rather unique title from the shooting star Adeline Software, a one-man damsel recovery detail (let's just call him 'RK.Walnut') tours time and space like a regular Dr. Whrecking ball, starting from the Neolithic, through Roman times, Medieval times... a whole times tableful o' times. And everywhere he goes, trouble awaits: polygonal adversaries in every shape and ethnicity. Time Commando is essentially a 3D brawler with twisty paths and all kinds of cool concepts strewn everywhere, and it looks really nice for 1996 too because the camera panning is all pre-rendered.

Just a sampler, the Japanese middle ages: It's hard to keep the fighting clean when you've got sharpened steel and they're coming at you with their this-dou stances and their that-jutsu grabs, most of them honor-bound to fight one-by-one... I might as well hand the sword over and I trust you know what to do with it. ^^ Speaking of, I tried to figure out if it was a tanto or a wakizashi. It has one straight edge like a tanto but looks longer than 30cm, which would normally make it a wakizashi but I think those are always curved. There's a type of sword called chokuto that's got a blade like this one but they predate the Japanese middle ages. And so it can't be a chokuto either dog dangit! Whatever you do, do NOT call it a katana! I'll summon herpes, you know I will.

In other epochs, you get to meet, greet, and beat up both the Conquistadors AND one of the funny cultures they brought to riggedy ruin. This time, the sacrificial ritual is on YOU! :) Wild West is my fave. You'll see the dude casually picking up live dynamite and packing it away for later. Maybe we're meant to imagine snuffing the fuse... with his calloused murderer's hands! After this, you've got a score to settle with WW1 Germans, who are obviously still Nazis. The Future world has probably the pinnacle of another groovy Philippe Vachey soundtrack. If the name of the last time period flashes by too quick, it's "Post-modern world". Here you'll see Post-Modern Bear, Post-Modern Byakhee and Post-Modern Shark-o-Dolphin that looks like what happens when you mash buttons randomly in E.V.O.. It's not a fun-packed 0:55:37 family holiday you wanna miss out on!

To see off this pseudo-monthly feature, 'ktwo' does more justice to NES Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of the Lance than any mere mortal before him, including past versions of himself. Does it even deserve this much justice? In service of inevitable fantasy righteousness, the dungeon-crawling heroes look like they're heroically tripping over their own feet everywhere. Kind of Scooby Doo; I'm sure there's ultra instincts at play. It's far less brutal though, in fact it'd well-nigh pass for pacifist. What you think are swords bobbing in their hand may just as well be empty platters they've been sent to refill with grapes and mead for the larp party up top.

Speaking of tripping, the way ktwo explains he stumbled upon the biggest time-saver is a very good example of how inefficient it really is to start grinding out runs without having spent adequate time with testing first. Yet that's all most speedrunners seem to want to do, or even have the wits for. The NES in particular is known to be a dwelling of simple but erratic games. You never know how anything was implemented given all the trickery coders relied on to make things work in the first place. And if anything ever splashes over, there's almost guaranteed to be something ridiculously cordonned-offedly important in the next byte over. Like the pointer that tells the game which enemy is the final boss or something. Speaking of, judging by how massive the dragon in question is, the one unceremoniously cancelated at 0:04:45, I think the other repliloids are probably just velociraptors. If you have been missing that sense of elation and achievement, the victory fanfare ktwo's letting ring out should do for you.

Thanks for all the runs this Summer!

Saturday, August 8, 2020 by LotBlind

All Politeness is Sarcasm

Catharsis. Is it a pot of gold at the end of the story arc of a play following the classical rising and retracting format? The requital of villainous deeds? The restoration of social seemliness? The lovers' embrace? The hero's fanfare? Well... no. It's an otherwise mild-mannered and obsequiously polite anime maid beating the sh*t out of any and all other life forms she happens to cross ways with. Doesn't matter where they're from, why they're fighting, and what part of their injuries are covered by their insurance policies. What does matter is she's basically housekeeping them to submission with furniture, pots and cleaning utensils. This has to be the closest to the literal manifestation of "mopping the floor with someone", or something. In the last two fights, it's with cat-arses.

The glorious individual whom we are all to praise for this divine offering is our new friend 'kazn'. He's parading his great manliness on the hardest difficulty setting of the arcade mode of a game that can immediately be placed onto the natural-disaster-bound shores of a particular Far Eastern island state. Yeah, it is called Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code after all. This looks like a job for SDA! That's right, I'm pulling out the Semantic Disambiguation Automaton. Hmm... after some beeps and boops it's saying with 98% confidence it's a combination of two different three-word addresses somewhere in the space between which you will find the final resting place of dadaist Marcel Duchamp. The words on his tombstone are actually fairly fitting: "D'ailleurs, c'est toujours les autres qui meurent" ('Besides, it's always the others who die'). The others take 0:08:40.83 to do so.

But wait, there's more! The same runner submitted another run after I'd already written the above and do I really have to sacrifice such a gorgeous piece of writing because of it? No sir, I cannot boogie! Not like that. The same parameters apply otherwise, but the character in this one is called Tohno Shiki. Actually, I suppose the run time won't be exactly the same either... but it could have been! 0:06:50.16 this time around. Tohno is one of two brothers it seems at first. They're both suave senpai types that you would really love to share a matcha ice tea with. Really, though, Nanaya Shiki is an alternate version of Tohno. It gets pretty messy. Synopsis, if you like. It's all part of a wider world of Tsukihime (月姫) that also begat a visual novel, a TV show and a manga, as well as other games. Very popular, apparently. I'm pleased to have made its acquaintance.

日本語で書いたコメントも付いています。スピードランありがとうございました!

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