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Released in November 1997, this is the fourth game in a series that constantly innovates and never repeats a single concept twice, all while maintaining a consistent quality standard that no game past...well, 1997 has looked up to. This time Zero & X have separate stories, which grants the player the choice of playing a robot with the voice of a 5-year old girl or a monotone sword-wielding maiden with the fairest flaxen blonde locks in the land.


Note: The low% and all future runs will not count load times for timing to make runs of the PC and Playstation versions comparable.

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Single-segment 100% as X in 0:49:13 by Mike Uyama.

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Author's comments:

Well, I finally improved the first run I ever submitted to SDA. That run was posted back in the halcyon days of VHS, grainy encodes, and little to no verification.

I'd just like to start saying that X really sucks compared to Zero, and that's the reason why it took me forever to improve this run. Zero has a sword with a ginormous hitbox that comes out instantly, whereas X gets a piddly little shot and a charged buster shot that still can't match the power of Zero's sword :(. Furthermore, screwing up my dashes seems to be the primary function of X's leg upgrade.

Barring X's shortcomings, I think I did a good job improving this run. I didn't find any major timesavers, except for one small route change - I did Walrus's stage before Mushroom's stage so I could use the frost tower against Mushroom's miniboss, saving me about 15 seconds. I'd like to thank Satoryu and RaneofSOTN for bugging me about this route change.

I know I still get hit a lot in some areas during this run (Frost Walrus's stage comes to mind), but it can't be helped. X's weapons are ill-equipped for dealing with enemies from below, or just enemies in general for that matter.

It only took me three years to realize, but it seems like people are tired of my IFAQs and stage-by-stage comments. Maybe in another three years, I'll manage to write entertaining comments that are worth reading.

Time comparisons

I'm only pointing out key points for large improvements, improvements that aren't obvious, and (the few) places where I lost time.

This run is still improvable, but I'm satisfied with the time I got. I was only aiming take a minute off the time, but I ended up knocking out almost two and a half minutes. I think the human limit is somewhere around 48:00-48:15ish, but I wouldn't mind if someone proved me wrong.

What will I do now? Well I'd tell, but I'll probably change my mind in a couple of weeks, and then people will use what I said in these comments against me, as they have with comments that are nearly two years old as of now (February 2008). Damn me and my stupid promises :-/.

In all seriousness though, I'm working on improving many of my old runs. I'm not satisfied with most of the runs I did before 2006. I will say that I won't improve my Zero run anytime soon, as I'm tired of playing this game, and there isn't much to improve in that run other than implementing slash dash cancel, which only shaves off 45 seconds at most.

Single-segment 100% as Zero in 0:47:31 by Mike Uyama.

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Author's comments:

Here is the improvement on my X4 Zero run, done almost 4 months after the last one (like I said not anytime soon). If you are wondering what is improved here is a list:

-Overall tighter play, fewer mistakes (I think), by the time I reach the final stage I'm about 20-30 seconds ahead of my old time.

-In the first area of Split Mushroom's stage I use a different strategy against the miniboss, saving me over 10 seconds.

-I kill Split Mushroom a few seconds faster this time.

-Web Spider killed before his spiders land on the ground, both times too.

-In Frost Walrus area 2 I either pass by the frost birds, or kill them without wasting any time.

-In both areas of Jet Stingray's stage I constantly dash, making the screen scroll faster, saving me 1-2 seconds in each section (I'm really squeezing out all I can get here). The only parts I don't dash are done for the sake of safety.

-Slightly different strategy against Slash Beast allows me to maximize my damage everytime he lands.

-I not only take no damage throughout the Space Port, the Colonel fight is much cleaner, possibly being a few seconds faster (sorry, I didn't check).

-The Iris fight looks WAY better, I shaved off at least 3-4 seconds here.

-I'm tempted to say my runthrough when I repeat the 8 bosses is better with the exception of Storm Owl.

-My Sigma battle is better on all three forms in every conceivable way. This is definitely the area where shave off the most time from my last run (30+ seconds!). There is only one obvious mistake on the final form of Sigma, but it isn't too costly to my time. Let's just say I really get my revenge on Sigma from the last run.

Though majority of this run is better than my last run, there were a few sections done worse (mostly due to bad luck).

-In area 2 of Magma Dragoon's stage I get hit by a fluke meteor, causing me to fall down and lose some time. I also messed up on the positioning of jumping over the missle shooting bots.

-In area 1 of Web Spider's stage, a wall climbing error allows one of the mermen to shoot spikes that keep up with me while I'm dashing through the stage, costing me about 1-2 seconds.

-In Frost Walrus area 1 I get unlucky because the ice creature ends up blocking my uppercut, meaning I have to uppercut it extra times.

-When I fight Storm Owl the second time around, I mess up the timing on one of my Giga attacks, and at the very end of the fight I get unlucky because he ends up blocking my giga attack with one of his cyclones.

As you can see, the good definitely outweighs the bad. I feel like I am very close to the theoretical lowest time for this run (I'm guessing slightly below 47 minutes). Plus I have spent a lot of time optimizing this run, meaning this is the final version, unless if some more significant time savers can be found.

X No items 0:42:47 by Patrik Salonen and Dan Enright, done in 13 segments

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Author's comments:

[19:49] <Cromarty> Cremator: I have a great idea
[19:49] <Cromarty> we collaborate on a run
[19:49] <Cromarty> and then nobody will ever know which of us is which
[19:50] <Cremator> I thought of that, too, actually.
[19:50] <@jewyama> lol cromarty
[19:50] <Cremator> It's a great idea, I agree, Cromarty.

"It's time I made my escape.  I suggest you do the same... Don't do anything reckless on the way out."

Cromarty: There is a bit of stuff to skip through, which is a bit annoying, but it isn't the litany of stage descriptions before Dragoon's stage. I don't remember anymore where I got the idea to use half-charged shots on the boss.

Cremator: Other than seeing Colonel begin his grand quest for foolishness, there's not much to say about this segment.

"You're not Dragoon! Just a maverick!" "You got that right! Power up, X!"

Cremator: I would have preferred to take on Stingray first because of the stage descriptions, but with Frost Tower saving roughly a second as a finisher on Stingray while not having any particular benefit in having it for Dragoon and Walrus - other than maybe minor convenience ? it had to be done this way. This was one of the most painful stages for me, it being a chaotic mess, only overshadowed by Beast (and maybe Mushroom). I'm happy how this turned out in the end.

Cromarty: Dragoon does seem like the obvious weak point and thus best starting place in the boss order - for regular play, there's the ride armor, and for a run, half-charged shots are the most effective attack.

"They sent a kid like you after me?  I promise to end this quickly..."

Cromarty: This stage is full of run-ending potential.  Right at the beginning is worst - if I'm even a tiny bit too slow (usually by grabbing the first wall too soon), I miss the disappearing ice platform. I think this segment turned out particularly well, though, even the densely packed final stretch.  The midboss cooperated for once, which I've never seen before.

Cremator: I was surprised how much improbable stuff Cromarty managed to pack in this segment - such as the super-speed dash right before the mid-boss, killing the said mid-boss before it finished its transformation ? while maintaining good overall gameplay with few mistakes.

X gets no recognition or respect even though he's the main character and it's his own series (although with the constant focus on Zero especially in the latter half of the series, that's debatable), it's just sad.

"I'm impressed that you found me... But your search is over."

Cremator: Since the fastest way to beat Stingray is to use buster almost all the way, there's a lot of room for choice when you want to fight him... in theory, at least. At any rate, the information is available, it's up to the runners to use it as they see fit. As a side note, air dashing is much faster than ground dashing in the jet bike section because it scrolls the screen more with each dash.

Cromarty: This stage is interesting for X because he needs nothing to complete it - he can't use special weapons on the jetbike, and frost tower only helps as the final hit to Stingray because of the long invulnerability time.  I found no use for ground hunter in snow base, though, so we went with this route.

"One that is soon to be retired!"

Cromarty: This level is even more heavily populated than snow base, but it's easier because of the ride armor in the second half.  I lost control of the armor too often when just crashing through, so I slashed any enemies I met mid-jump.

Cremator: I hate this stage; there's garbage everywhere, and it's all after your life. Luckily I didn't need to touch this one.

"Colonel, stop this foolishness!"  "...Never!"

Cromarty: Colonel is easy enough, but if he uses any attack pattern other than this, I lose time.  Fortunately, the odds are pretty good.  Using charge shots when he reappears adds just enough damage to reduce the number of hits I have to do with frost tower.

Cremator: Zero sure has things easy. Colonel is a major snag for most types of X runs because he shows up after you beat the fourth regular stage and Frost Tower is the only thing that's known to do good damage on him. Fortunately this is not really a problem for low%.

The secret weapon of the jungle

Cremator: Yay, we get to see the Pink X a lot in this segment! The fish men were a bit troublesome, considering they take a good amount of damage to die and the special weapons at that point aren't that effective on them. I like the Spider strategy I used, it's efficient and rarely backfires.

Cromarty: When I was first playing this game, I think I read a walkthrough that said I should fight this guy first.  I have no idea what their reasoning was, but I'm certain they didn't have an early buster upgrade in mind.

"Take a wild guess."

Cromarty: The first screen is a pain, because I have little room for error in jumping over the first two shield bots.  However, the hardest section of the level is actually the long vertical section shortly afterward.  Many attempts failed because of a single botched jump somewhere.  In particular, if I don't jump almost immediately after taking out the bug bots above with rising fire, the second one will respawn directly in my way. The second stairwell seems hard at first, but twin slasher takes out the spiked wheels with one shot.

Cremator: You won't be seeing any breath-taking shortcuts in this segment. What you will see, however, is a lot of precision jumping and use of special weapons.

You know, I've heard many have had problems with shooting Mushroom from too far, leaving the Lightning Web on the screen. To counter that, they've gotten very close to Mushroom. I've had the opposite problem a few times in my Final Weapon 2 segment; I've shot Mushroom too close and the shot passed Mushroom without ever hitting him, resulting in a multitude of problems. I wonder if anyone else has had problems with that?

He lives in cyberspace and wants to destroy the network system

Cremator: I can picture quite well how dr. Light is waiting for X in that capsule, ready to give him the edge to overcome hardships of all kinds, crafted with care... then X just jumps over it like the heap of scrap metal that it is, yelling hSorry gramps, busy!h and leaving Light with a dumb-founded face. hGet back here, you ungrateful sod!h

Ahem. Regarding that route I took at 1:26, it's not really faster or slower than using the normal way. Still, I left it there because at least it looks different and I had no particular will to redo the segment for nothing.

Cromarty: This game practically hands you many of the upgrades, compared to some of the other games in the series.  That makes a low percent run slightly more difficult, however.

He left in a space fortress to conquer the air.

Cromarty: The ride armor can airdash shortly after jumping out of it, which conveniently allows me to keep the armor and still jump over the heart tank.  Also, for a moment after getting back into the armor, it can dash whether or not there is something solid to stand on. Fighting the midboss is very different without the buster upgrade.  Frost tower proved the most effective weapon, along with some regular shots at the beginning as that's all I can shoot at it at first. The way I fight STORM OWELL, he always tries to reappear from the left, and then I can keep shooting him while he's offscreen as he won't switch sides.  The tricky charge shot at the beginning accounts for a sliver of health he would have after the final laser.

Cremator: X4 sure has weird boss invincibility quirks. Owl has one of them; he has no recovery time vs. normal Aiming Laser when he's off-screen, and there's also that window of opportunity when he shoots those wind shredders in a particular way.

I think Cromarty did a particularly good job with this segment. It flows smoothly and has a lot of tricks.

"Time to get sevious!"

Cromarty: There isn't really anything new and exciting in this level compared to the existing 100% run, aside from using twin slasher on the wheels.  Colonel only used lightning once, which is probably the best luck I can hope for.

Cremator: For robots who just want to live by themselves they certainly build a massive doomsday cannon into their space fortress... with pathetic firewall & anti-hacking measures.

As you can see here, low% doesn't slow you down all that much in general. Here it doesn't slow one down one bit.

"Double!  I... I trusted you!"

Cremator: Low% X isn't exactly the most over-powered protagonist ever, but contrary to common belief he can be very efficient even without all that junk dr. Light spent his last years scattering all over the place in case the sworn pacifist X decides to lay down the beating in the name of justice. I like to think this segment should give some backing to that argument.

At any rate, I bet you were wondering if the lower route I chose is truly faster. It is, a whole second faster than Mike Uyama's 100% run's performance on the upper route. Mind you, with low% setup I can hardly say I would've been able to match his time in the upper route, let alone surpass it. Furthermore, the lower route would be faster with air dash, as demonstrated in the current X4 TAS by FractalFusion. I don't know if they've made any unpublished advances after that, but I don't think it'd tip the scales in upper route's favor in low% X's case in any case.

Double isn't as hard to fight with low% X as most people think, but admittedly it can be a mess if Double throws a fit during the fight and starts spewing out a lot of those cannons at an inconvenient pace or in awkward positions. Missed one Double Cyclone, meh.

Cromarty: Here's a difficult stage with two bosses besides - one difficult and one random.


Cremator: For the record: Adding Double Cyclone into the mix like I did in the Dragoon re-fight is faster than without. Rest of the fights are pretty much the same. The final Sigma duo required a lot of restarts. For the cannon Sigma I opted to shoot charged shots before I had the chance to get close enough to attack with Soul Body. It works quite well and also makes him shoot as far up as possible, making hitting him with Soul Body and pacing the jumping properly a lot easier.

I left the final cutscene in because it's so awesome.

Cromarty: Refight time!  Two reasons I didn't want to run this stage: Dragoon and Sigma.  First form is a joke; I was more concerned about the second, which can cover almost the entire room with his attacks.

"This weapon is aimed straight at earth already... no one can stop it now!"  "Damn!"

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