Developed in 1992 by Wolf Team, Earnest Evans answers the burning question of what would Indian Jones be like if Indy's bones were made out of rubber. Earnest Evans flails his way from a ancient buried ruin in Maine to exotic locals all across the world.
Best Time: 0:08:33.15 by Phillip 'ZELLLOOO' Shanklin on 2022-01-31
Hello everyone, and welcome to my Earnest Evans Any% run! This run simply completes the game (if you can really call it that) as fast as possible with no restrictions and is timed to 8:33.016 with SDA timing (gaining control in Stage 1 with the HUD bar appearing to losing control after the final boss when explosions start to appear).
So this submission is a bit of an oddity, to be honest. The last run from 8/29/14 remained the record for 7+ years due to being a niche game with a huge pile of RNG to deal with, and nobody else really wanted to handle that it seems. Since that last run was completed though, a new TAS was released and one new Stage 1 route was found that ended up being doable in real time. As the old run was recorded with composite video quality on an old Dazzle, it wasn't the best watch and I wanted to record a new run with better video quality, hence why this run really exists: To give this game a slightly updated route with much better video quality before putting it down for good.
This brings me to this submission's current dilemma: The improvement in this run is sadly less than a full second faster despite having a route improvement that saves a few seconds. While I would push for more improvement on almost any other game, coming back to Earnest Evans and throwing an extra 1000+ attempts at it over the last month has reminded me how unforgiving and prevalent the luck factor is. Retiming my old run shows 8:33.863 so roughly a .85 second improvement, but if this isn't enough to be worth publishing for SDA then so be it.
I guess to be transparent about my current recording setup, I'm running a Model 1 US Genesis through RGB cables going to a RetroTink-5x Pro for upscaling to 1080p. This is passed to a StarTech USB3HDCAP for capturing HDMI output from the 5x Pro and thrown into Amarec for recording, then Yua handles encoding and cropping as usual. The result is nice clear quality that I'd only be able to improve with further hardware modding, so this is plenty good enough and a great improvement over the old run's videos!
-- Mechanics --
- Controls as a whole are responsive but awkward, such as needing to stop moving in order to stand up from a crouch or my movement hitboxes being janky while walking and colliding with terrain. This game is also pretty bad with inputs getting dropped from lag so jumping can be odd and I do my best to sail over awkward terrain by jumping beforehand.
- Speaking of lag, this game is EXTREMELY laggy and I do just about everything I can to mitigate it via movement, camera manipulation, or clearing out certain enemies. Just to give an example, I've skipped the first two vines in Stage 2 before and played the stage perfectly but lost SIX seconds to my PB because the lag was THAT bad.
- There are no invincibility frames in this game outside of starting or ending a stage, if a hurtbox touches a hitbox then it will deal damage on every frame it can. This means anything that disappears instantly like bullets or fireballs are laughable while colliding with a spider will drain health ridiculously fast. This applies to using most of the weapons I have too (whip, ball and chain, hammer[?]) so I try and maximize the damage by using attack animations that can collide as long as possible.
- If you have less than two bars of health at the end of a stage, the game refills you to two bars at the beginning of the next.
- Dying sends me flying backwards regardless of where I get hit at and ignores collision with sprites, so I utilize this where I can to boost in the correct direction. All 5 of my continues get used again to speed things up: One in Stage 1 for the doorboost, one in 11 and 12 each for fighting, and the remaining get used in other stages as needed depending on my health situation. When continuing, I can hit jump at the right time during the standup animation and the game will add that jump to my horizontal speed, allowing me to boost a bit if done right.
- Climbing and rapid-fire jumping up left walls is faster than doing it on right walls, don't ask me why.
- Rapid-fire jumping can also be used in some places to pass through narrow corridors without going through the crouch animation and slower crawling speed but it's difficult to maintain.
-- Stage Breakdown --
- Stage 1 -
Stage 1 is the only stage with a major route change: A new route was found to climb using the walls to the right and boost off the skeleton blade to bounce to the door instead of needing to swing up to the left. This route is quite difficult and involves several subtleties of Earnest's movement, getting stuck in the wall at a certain frame of the walking animation then jumping up and around the corner, and then finally using the blade to bounce up and boost right towards the door before using the tentacles to deathboost through the door. This new route saves a few seconds getting it optimally and is worth going for being the very first thing to do in the run, so it's a huge reset point. I allow two tries to for the wall climb before resetting since landing and rejumping at a certain point gives an easier height to jump around the corner, so I get the jump second try and boost over with no problem to the door before using a death to slide past the lock and skip getting the key.
The boss bounces based on where it hits the screen edge so careful camera manipulation is needed to have it bounce optimally and let me sneak in as much damage as possible instead of being stuck in a wall. I had a pretty good fight here and got a lucky boulder boost leaving the room, then got a HUGE lucky boulder boost when running back along the lower level during the escape! This saved a massive 5 seconds compared to the old run's Stage 1 and I usually expect to save 2-3 with the new route and a good fight, so off to a great start that I need since I'll be fighting good luck for most of the run.
- Stage 2 -
Lag management is still critical in this stage so I clear out the first two vines on my way up, then whip-grab across to the elevator. Due to having a bad grab, I just barely manage to catch the cycle but miss the jump at the top of the wall and bonk my head, losing a minor amount of time. The rest of the stage is pretty normal by grabbing Indy hat for the double damage against the boss and making my way through the caves, no real other hiccups or major lag issues here so only about a half a second lost.
- Stage 3 -
Terrain here is awful to navigate, it's easy to get stuck on corners and ribcages like to get in the way while doing so which makes jumping the best way to move around when possible. Had some pretty bad luck with the third one's position and took a bunch of damage so I opted for a death on the spike after picking up the stones and using the backwards boost to cut down on time lost. The stones do 50 damage a piece if I remember right and are essential to clearing out enemies and the boss quickly, so well worth going out of the way to pick up especially by rapid-fire jumping. The death and awkward movement moments like being stuck in the crouch position when trying to stand up made for a decent time loss, so thankfully I had a clean boss kill and was able to minimize lag afterwards so that I only lost about 3 seconds.
- Stage 4 -
No death in this stage this time since I took the death in the previous stage, so I had to rely on the extra health leftover to get me through. Bottom path is still preferred when the split happens, I have not been able to save time attempting rapid jumps through the narrow passage on the upper path and it's probably not worth going for in a non-TAS setting. This time I manage to get the correct boost off the launcher by jumping at it from the correct angle and end up on the ledge instead of the floor, saving a little bit of extra time! Rest of the stage is pretty standard minus any deathboosting, unfortunately was not able to despawn one of the last enemies to save on some lag. Boss fight is dependent on not getting the beams stuck on top of you and they are completely random, so this is another huge reset point in the run, thankfully no problems with the beams and the ball and chain gets the 1-cycle kill just fine, saving a little over a second from the previous run.
- Stage 5 -
Still nothing interesting here, just hold left at the beginning to land on the roof and skip half the stage, then grab the treasure and fight the coal monster. Boss pattern was okay but not quite as good as last run's, losing about half a second.
- Stage 6 -
Another still uninteresting stage, though I get some bad luck with my movement animations when jumping off the elevator and end up caught for a brief moment. Coupled with extra lag from having more Guile impostors on screen due to not as favorable luck on their movement, I lose some time I wished didn't have to happen. Boss kill was solid with using two jump swings, five up swings, then falling off during the last swing to reduce lag as much as possible, so only a second lost overall.
- Stage 7 -
Some critical platforming here that may not be obvious: Since Earnest's landing animation can sometimes end with him pulling his legs up, this can affect the timing I hit the ground and can jump again and it's important to be able to adjust on the fly for this stage so I don't walk off edges by accident. The two worms are still killed to clear a bunch of lag and the platforming was solid here; I needed to take a death at the next worm due to getting the short end of the stick on health so I at least boosted the correct way, but unfortunately the position I ended up at made me unable to do a jump boost during the revive animation, still no real time changes in this stage.
- Stage 8 -
Worst stage of this run, I got a much worse pattern for the boss fight compared to last run. I got some weird luck with his claw pulling me up to his hurtbox and draining most of my health, so I had to play the rest of the fight much safer to both stay on top and not die. As he kept running away and I couldn't do as much damage compared to using the claw or summoning the minions, I lose about 5 seconds here.
- Stage 9 -
Outside of Stage 1, this is probably the most execution-heavy stage due to attempting the opening vine boost over the tree and having a good worm fight. This whip-grab onto a piece of tree that's high enough to get the proper boost is still the most finnicky thing, I swear. I don't think the hitbox even exists after the opening stage invincibility wears off as I've never gotten it to hook in testing and it's incredibly precise (probably pixel-perfect). I miss the hook so I opt for the backup of rolling through the tree trunk again before pressing on. The hammer (stick? I dunno, I'm sticking with hammer) does tons of damage over the whip when used properly and is very good at killing the smaller enemies to clear lag, so I utilize it for the rest of the stage. To try and make up for Stage 8's time loss, I skip getting the apple for health and barrel through to the worm fight but unfortunately don't have good hammer swings near the end to get damage in. A good plant fight by getting to the top of its hitbox early and getting a few swings in saves the stage, resulting in roughly no time change here.
- Stage 10 -
Stages in this game wrap around and what would normally be a long drop to the bottom becomes a quick climb to the top of the opening room to hit the exit trigger from below. I unfortunately get unlucky setting up the jump off the ledge and did not get the proper animation to be able to jump off the wall, so about a second lost.
- Stage 11 -
Remember last run how I said my fish fight wasn't that great? This run definitely proves it with how fast it is and how it saved this run so hard. The fish moves completely at random and also faster than you, so a run that gets this far is at the complete mercy of it. Here I get fantastic luck with clearing the orbs, then take a quick death and use my invincibility frames to stay in the middle of the fish and maximize my whip damage. This was a far faster fight than normal, saving a whopping SEVEN seconds over the old run!
It's possible to save another 3 on top of that with EXTREMELY good luck but at that point you might as well play the lottery, I consider anything that saved 3 or more over the old run good so getting 7 saved is ridiculous.
- Stage 12 -
Boss rush to finish out again, nothing super special on the first two fights aside from leaving the first boss as soon as possible to reduce lag from eyeball spawns and lasers. Death while waiting for Hastur to appear lets me use invinicibility frames to wrack up damage on the head which is far better than taking a death mid-fight at the cost of a lot of safety. My pattern was still good but not as good as the previous run, so I lose roughly two seconds here but end the run roughly .8 ahead of the old one.
-- Special Thanks --
- Mike Uyama: The first runner of this game and the one who introduced me to the greatness and badness that is Earnest Evans. If it wasn't for him, I might've skipped over this game long ago and ran something good! (wait I can still do that...)
- Samsara: The author of the most recent TAS, her work inspired me to at least try some attempts here and there after the last run was completed but before this recent month-long grinding session, she has been a great motivator to learning a new Stage 1 route and I hope she returns with an updated TAS in the future.
- keatingX5: They brought about the alternate Stage 1 route that utilizes the right wall climb and boost up over the current TAS's pain launch off the hook, a nice find!
- SDA staff: For keeping this place around, even if it doesn't get used much these days, the preservation is still appreciated.
- You: For reading all of this nonsense.
And with this, my fun and time here with SDA come to a close, accepted run or not. SDA existing brought about GDQ, and thus ended up bringing me into the speedrunning community when I saw the old marathon VoDs back in 2013. I've tried to submit at least one run every couple of years since being here but my priorities with how I do speedrun things have changed and I'm moving on to see what comes of it. Rather fitting I've come full circle by submitting a final improvement to the very first run I put up here, so off I go to see what else I can do, thank you all for being here and see you around.
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