Released in September 1990, Low G Man let people act out their innermost fantasy. That's right, a game that lets you jump really really high, without moon shoes even! As Kal, you can jump over half a screen's height unassisted, and with powerups, nearly two screens. After the novelty of jumping wears off, other less desirable features become apparent, such as jerky animation, awkward controls, and an unforgiving powerup system that seems to enjoy screwing you over. Note to the developers, did you really think people would enjoy the inclusion of a poison potion? Well, at least there is still the pleasure of thrusting a spear long enough to make Ron Jeremy jealous.
Best time: Single-segment 0:12:54 by 'Zakky the Goatragon' on 2014-10-30.
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Low G Man has long been a favorite game of mine, but I am pretty sure that for the longest time I never envisioned seriously running it. When I obtained a copy a few years ago the thought was certainly in the back of my mind, but I only got around to my first "run" of it earlier this year. What I would call my first official run of the game clocked in at a little over 20:30. Then the game slipped under the pile again as other projects took precedence.
A few months later PJ tweeted about having obtained a copy of the game and having found a way to clip into/through ceilings. I was looking for a new run to work on and it seemed like a good time to pick up the game again. In less than a week, I beat the time of the previous SDA run of 15:32. Then not much more than a month later, if even that, this run happened; a 12:54 that is over two and a half minutes faster than that 15:32.
What a ride! From a PB of a little over 20:30 down to 12:54 in just over a month!
And now, about the run.
Let me start by addressing the controls for this game. The controls are finicky and when you try to do ANYTHING precise, they become downright awkward to work with.
- Running: Pressing the d-pad twice in a direction and holding the last press will allow you to run. Seems simple, right? This is really a lot more awkward than you would think it should be. There is often a slight delay before you even start running and sometimes you can start a run intentionally or just not run at all at a critical time.
- Jumping: You can increase the maximum height at which you can jump by picking up certain power-ups. This is awesome, but also makes controlling just how high you jump a lot more difficult.
- Spearing: By holding up or down and pressing B you spear in that particular direction. The problem is if you are not exclusively holding up or down you will fire the Electro Magnetic Disruptor Pistol (EMDP, or freeze gun as most know it as). For instance, if you hold up+right on the d-pad you will not spear, you will fire the EMDP instead.
Techniques and Tricks:
- Sideways Jump Spear: This is done by jumping to the side and then relying on your momentum to carry you as you spear. A good rhythm is very helpful here as it will prevent accidental firings of the EMDP as mentioned just above. This is used frequently during this run, most often against bosses that are mobile and would take too long to freeze.
- Attack Invincibility: While an enemy is taking a hit from your EMDP or spear you are invulnerable to taking damage. This helps a lot when spearing upwards using the Sideways Jump Spear technique on some bosses. It also is helpful in preventing damage when a frozen boss you are attacking from above unfreezes, also allowing you to refreeze the boss very easily from within its sprite.
- Clipping: Frozen enemies have interesting properties. They are essentially platforms, but the game will either force you on top of them or down from them depending on how you jump into them. If there is a one block ceiling, you can use this property to cause the enemy to force you into and through that ceiling. This trick, as also mentioned above, was discovered by PJ.
- Slide Prevention: Sometimes when you land from being airborne you will slide momentarily and be unable to perform any action until the slide ends. Firing the EMDP within 15 frames of landing will prevent the slide. It mostly just saves a few frames, but in some places it is beneficial in avoiding getting hit by things. I attempt to use this pretty extensively in 4-1 and there are scattered places throughout the rest of the run where I also try to make use of this.
- Items: Powering your spear and jump up to maximum levels asap is a must. The time cut down on boss fights with a full-powered spear adds up over time. The jump power-up is a MUST late in the game from 3-3 on. Any EMDP power-ups are beneficial, as they add more range to the shots, but not necessary. Unfortunately the drops are random. I reset, I am sure, at least 85% of the time, if not more, due to bad RNG.
- Metorilla: This guy is the boss of 4-1 and he teleports around the room to random places. So naturally, he can either teleport somewhere completely outside of the room, in the walls, or somewhere else inconvenient. "Twenty seconds ahead, you say? Well I'll take care of that!" Also the death of many runs.
- Warpwing: He is the boss of 5-1 and exactly like Metorilla, except that he is accompanied by four Metorilla clones. ALL of their teleport locations, of course, are random. Fortunately the Metorilla clones only take one hit, but if you do not kill them quickly, they will inevitably get in your way. The teleports are not as bad here as in the Metorilla fight, at least as far as being able to attack the boss, but unlike Metorilla, Warpwing can teleport right on top of you.
Chapter by Chapter:
1-1: Iron Nail
- The minimal drop luck I need on this stage is 1 spear power-up and 1 jump power-up, otherwise I reset. The spear power-up is to make sure Robocrane's wrecking ball gets destroyed before it can hit me. Having at least 1 spear power-up also expedites finishing Robocrane off by a fair bit. The jump power-up I need for the start of the next stage. I received the minimal luck this time and the stage went smoothly.
1-2: Manufacturing Zone
- Ideally I would want to get all of my remaining drops off of the enemies at the start of the stage. At the worst, I need 1 jump power-up at the start so I only have to make a single jump on a short climb at the end of the stage. I need 1 spear power-up by the end of the stage so that the bosses from here on out do not take too long to kill.
I maxed out the EMDP and received the 1 jump power-up I needed at the start of the stage. I did not receive any spear power-up drops so I had to kill a few enemies at the end of the stage. Fortunately those enemies dropped both spear power-ups that I needed, leaving me 1 jump power-up short of where I needed to be overall, but in very good shape power-up wise.
The stage itself went well and, aside from being too quick and taking a bullet to the face, the Lumpy fight went well, too.
1-3: Metal Head
- I laughed when the two drops from the guns were both spear power-ups. While it was a shame I did not get the jump power-up I needed here, it was not important at that point. The high jump I took when I went to kill the second gun was to despawn the bubbles as they are indestructible and would have knocked me out of position when I attacked Metal Head's head.
2-1: Frozen Waste
- The stage went very smoothly, but the Airswimmer fight did not quite go as well. I got unlucky and hit by a random icicle, which threw me off my sideways jump spear rhythm. I was not completely able to recover, but I managed to pull through well enough.
2-2: Ocean Depths
- The descent went well. The Spiron fight went really well, also, and is a pretty good showcase of that attack invincibility I mentioned earlier. The fight is all about reaction. I need to decide at a moment's notice if I should be trying to freeze him or just continually sideways jump spear. I was able to freeze him often and quickly here while getting in my spear hits otherwise.
2-3: The Submarine
- This is the only stage in the game I use the clip, but I do it twice here. It is possible to jump up into the first passage that I use the clip to get into, but thanks to the jump mechanics it is very difficult otherwise. It took me two tries on the first clip, but I got it quickly. I was also able to get the last jump power-up I needed off a gun along my path.
Toward the end of the stage I missed the downward spear on a gun that I froze. I stopped to destroy it because leaving that gun up will prevent the turret used for the second clip from spawning. I then messed up attempting to freeze the next gun and took a hit from it. The rest went smoothly, though, as I performed the second clip first try and the boss fight was good.
3-1: Cobalt Mines
- This stage is tricky to navigate and I have found that there are so many small elements to it that make a big difference in whether you gain or lose time. My biggest mistake was getting caught on a ledge about halfway through the stage, which fortunately I caught quickly.
Note the upwards spear during the last high jump of the stage. I took advantage of the attack invincibility to do something stylish. It was also a little bit practical, as well, as it removed any chance of accidentally getting stuck on top of the enemy had I tried to freeze it instead. I defeated Eggriphobe in one freeze cycle exactly as I should have.
3-2: Magma Mountains
- The stage went remarkably well. I did not get hit by any falling rocks, which is not an easy task even casually, and I did not fall into the lava pit right before the second group of cannons. I did, however, fail to break Arachnoid out of the egg immediately, which was a first. Once I did, I was able to down him in one freeze cycle.
3-3: The Cliffs
- I love this stage. This stage is a vertical climb and a great place to demonstrate maxed out jump power. I literally dodged what could have been an unlucky bullet right at the start of the stage and the climb went smoothly. I then took an unlucky bullet while entering Octopide's room, which threw off my sideways jump spear rhythm before I could even start it. Fortunately Octopide does not have much health and when I recovered I finished him off quickly.
3-4: Super Tank
- If I am really lucky, the boss will be frozen with my first two EMDP shots, which will freeze him before I even get into the cabin. I got the lucky freeze, but I took a hit from him when he unfroze, preventing me from refreezing him quickly. Then I took a hit from a turret bullet, which turned out to be extremely lucky, as it pushed me back into the boss' sprite allowing me to freeze him quickly after he was back in the more open area of the cabin. The rest went smoothly and it worked out to be a decent recovery.
4-1: The Tower
- The climb was decent and I attempted to make use of the slide prevention technique as best I could. Metorilla did not give me the best teleport pattern, but it was a reasonable enough pattern.
This fight is a lot like the Spiron fight in how you have to react to what he does, or in this case where he teleports to. Given where he decided to teleport and the time I had to react, I think I handled this fight decently.
4-2: Industrial Zone
- The stage went smoothly here. The jumps at the start can be tricky and I lost a good run to just flat out walking off of one of the platforms over that pit at the start once.
Fourarm is a nasty boss. Taking a hit in the wrong place will result in a massive overdose of poison. This fight could have gone better, as I shorted jumps on a few spear attacks and fired the EMDP once, but it did not take any more passes than usual.
4-3: Mother Ship
- I successfully made the entry jump up to the top to start. Then I was faced with the decision of whether to wait and duck the bullet or just eat it. Being the masochist I am, I ate the bullet and it actually proved beneficial as it damage boosted me in the direction I was heading. The boss fight went reasonably well.
5-1: Getting Close
- This stage is just a short fall with a few enemies along the way down and Warpwing and four Metorilla clones at the bottom. I missed an opportunity to take out three of the clones at once when they spawned right above me at the start of the fight, but still took the clones out quickly to prevent awkward spawns while going after Warpwing.
It was not my best fight against Warpwing, but far from the worst. Aside from the missed Metorilla clone opportunity and one awkward spawn from him, I did all right keeping up.
5-2: Final Encounter
- This was the most tense moment in the run. There are two places in this stage the run could have come to a screeching halt at. The first is in the area with the fireball shooting enemies. I make a jump and freeze one of those enemies just before I reach the peak of my jump, allowing me to land on it. From there I have to get just the right height on my jump or I fall short or bonk my head on an invisible ceiling and then fall short. I got the jump height correct and thankfully the hitboxes in this game are a bit odd at times.
The rest of the stage went very well and I was really happy with how the final boss fight went. I purposely took that hit from the last bubble to get it out of the way. The bubbles are very dangerous as they follow you around, are indestructible, and often launch you to the side and put you at risk of dropping in a pit when they hit you. In this case, I got the best possible outcome and got boosted straight down.
- Overall this run went really well execution-wise, the item RNG worked out well, and Metorilla and Warpwing gave me decent patterns. Short of finding any major optimizations (anything is possible!) it will take execution at least on par with what was in this run and better luck. It might be quite the grind, but I definitely want to go for improving upon this at some point.
- PJ: For his discovery of the clip and for getting me interested in running this game
- Karma: For helping me through some tough times before I started running this game and for your constant encouragement throughout these runs.
- goofydylan8 for his TAS from which I took many, if not most, of the strategies I used in this run
- Everyone who watched me reset ten thousand times to bad RNG before actually getting a run and still stuck around for the runs I did complete
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