Sonic and friends (and foes) take turns hurtling down twisty tracks to prove themselves and vie over possession of gravity-bending Arks. The second Sonic Riders entry from 2008 makes away with the fuel system in favor of something called Gravity Points, and revamps the Extreme Gear mechanics. It was panned for obstinate controls, but offers a wide gamut of options for would-be speedrunners to tinker with nonetheless.
Best Heroes Story, Single-segment Time with Large-skip glitches: 0:08:04 by 'arielus05' on 2023-02-27
--About the game--
You may look at my run and be extremely confused about what is going on, so in this section, I will try my best to explain some of the mechanics in the game to have some context of what I am doing.
SR:ZG = Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity. (I will refer to it as SR:ZG throughout the comments)
Gravity Points (GP): This is necessary to perform the gravity-based abilities in the game (GP decreases when you use these abilities). You can have a maximum of 100GP (indicated by the gauge on the bottom right), but you can gain GP throughout the race by performing a meteor burst with an object, doing ramp tricks, powerups, or sometimes with item boxes.
Gravity Control: This ability manipulates gravity and its purpose is to propel the player forward to the direction they are facing. This can be done both in the air or on the floor, but it can only be done again if the game thinks you are on the floor.
Fast Gravity Control: The same as gravity control, except that you use it right after you respawn to get your speed way faster to max than by normally accelerating with the Extreme Gear (which is the gear the game makes you use in Heroes Story). This saves around 1-2 seconds every time it is used, and since it is a fundamental strat when speedrunning this game, that is why I am listing it as its own term.
Gravity Dive: This ability also manipulates gravity and allows the player to semi-fly around. This can be done if the game thinks you are on the floor and can only be done again if you land on the floor again OR if you gravity control into a black hole. A black hole is created by a gravity dive if the player has been gravity diving for at least ~2s.
Gravity Dive Startup Cancel: Right before bonking into a wall head-on, initiate a gravity dive and when the player hits the wall, their speed almost instantly becomes 0. In this run, this is used on Gigan Rocks lap 1.
Meteor Burst: When you do a gravity dive, you hit the objects that are floating around caused by the manipulation of gravity and you gain some GP from doing so.
Ramp Tricks: It ranges from getting a C trick (no trick at all) to an X trick (best one). In SR:ZG, you typically want to get S (third-best trick), SS (second-best trick), and X tricks.
GCN = GameCube Controller (I will refer to it as GCN throughout the comments)
WR = World Record (a little obvious haha)
Skip and Glitch mean the same thing, and I will refer to them interchangeably through the comments.
Now that you understand most of the techniques and terminology I am using, you may be asking "Well, that explains what you are doing to make these skips possible, but how do they count the lap?!", and the answer to that is that the game, at least to my knowledge, only has one checkpoint, the start/finish line. As a result, the basic premise for all the skips in the game is to find a way to trick the game that you completed a lap by going around the finish line region without the game noticing you are going backwards into it, and driving back to it to count the lap! Alternatively, you can also respawn at the finish line and count the lap that way.
Lastly, the Wii Remote is primarily used during the run due to having a faster turning radius when gravity controlling compared to GCN, and the gravity dives are not as limited vertically, which makes some skips possible. Sadly, the SR:ZG community and I have no idea why this is the case. GCN is used for one small skip in Aquatic Capital, though, and I will explain it later in the "About the run" section. This means that for WR, having a Wii (to be able to use the GCN) and a GCN is a requirement.
--The tracks present in the run--
--About the record--
To get the record, it took me roughly 2 years playing on-and-off to get, starting attempts seriously at the end of June 2021. Before attempting to get this world record, I was solely an IL runner of the game starting in July 2020. There are 0 major mistakes about the run, and the only improvements you can make (that are RTA viable at the moment) are incorporating a strat that saves 3-4 seconds on Aquatic Capital when doing the skips laps 1 and 3, an early lap 3 on Gigan Rocks that is insanely rare and inconsistent to get that saves about a second, and optimization. Comparing this run to the sum of the best segments for Heroes Story (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pVkzejy9Du1MnkatrAKE87D4YpaoGTK2CGsXMJnyda8/edit), it is only ~11 seconds behind it (not including the new Aquatic Capital best split because that is way too difficult to be pulled off during a run at the moment). That may seem far off, but the reason why is because Botanical Kingdom is the biggest roadblock in the run (being harder than every other track in the run combined), and so, all runners have focused on playing consistently/safely after Botanical Kingdom. From what I have heard from the SR:ZG community and my own opinion, the run is really good, and the reason why I chose to submit it to Speed Demos Archive in the first place is that someone asked me on speedrun.com to do so. :)
--About the run--
Okay, now I have to explain what is happening in every course of the run.
Megalo Station: Discovered by me and niPin on August 2020, the skip involves gravity controlling at the first ramp, then angling your gravity control down-left (like I do in the video), releasing, and landing on the surface (which grants the ability to gravity dive temporarily). After the gravity dive startup animation, you just go around the finish line in a precise manner and make sure you are low enough for the optimal respawn. When respawning, instead of going directly to the finish line to end the lap, you go backwards and go to the last ramp in the track to get the 100GP item box. To get this item box, it requires the player to perform an A or AA trick since you can be too low or high to get it. Then, you just drive to the finish line and repeat for lap 2. For lap 3, there is a variation of the skip where you intentionally go around the finish line slower so you can get the respawn that is the closest to the finish line.
Botanical Kingdom: Discovered by DsS (DarkspinesSonic) back on May 2014, it is considered one of the hardest skips in the game. For that reason, this is, by far, the most difficult track to speedrun in Heroes Story.
The explanation of the skip (provided by DsS): "There are some surfaces in this game that you can ride on temporarily even though you're normally not supposed to be able to, in this case, it is an invisible wall. Several different factors come into play in terms of what will allow you to ride on the wall or not, including distance from the wall, angle of the gravity control, and speed of the gravity control. Once you're on the wall you have more than enough time to activate a gravity dive, though for this wall in particular your movement is locked for the duration of the dive. After performing a gravity dive for long enough (roughly 2 seconds), you will create a temporary black hole behind you. If you gravity control into a black hole, it will transfer into a gravity dive. This allows you to go high above the lap maker, then land far enough behind it to make the lap count". Something that is not explained, though, is that you can accidentally be respawned a little further back from the finish line, and to avoid that, you just have to make sure you aren't gravity-diving too far back.
This can be done in laps 1 and 3, in which lap 2 is used to get enough GP to do the skip lap 3. When respawning from lap 1, you do a fast gravity control, and then you have yourself be at the left side of the road. You jump to the right when I do (using the arrow on the road as a visual cue), then at the apex of your jump, initiate a gravity control and hold that angle until the gravity control ends itself. If the angle is right, you land on the upside-down road below, and you continue driving until you reach the boost pad, and that is when you jump out of the upside-down road and the game respawns you back on the normal road. Then, a little further on, you have to do another small skip, where after going through a loop, you make the speed go to 0 or close to it, then gravity dive to the area I go to in the video, and that respawns you further along in the track. From there, you do the gravity dive section to gain the GP necessary for the lap 3 skip.
MeteorTech Premises: Discovered by niPin on August 2020, it allows you to get a one-minute time on the track. niPin made a great tutorial video on how to do this skip, so I highly recommend giving it a watch to understand how to do it. https://youtu.be/g7f11qnT9ew
Aquatic Capital (GCN REQUIRED): This skip was discovered a long time ago back when Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was still a thing (2014 or before). The skip works the same as Megalo Station does, where after you jump and then quickly gravity control to the surface, the game grants you the ability to gravity dive temporarily. You then traverse your way around the finish line and then go the right so the game gives you the lap count and respawn. After respawning, you do a fast gravity control, and then immediately switch to using GCN. To switch controllers, what I do is have the GCN half-plugged in before I start the run, and when it is time to change to it, I press on the plug and I can immediately use the GCN. Drive the beginning of lap 2 normally, going to the top water path to collect the needed 40 rings to unlock the Air Ride power-up. Air Ride is necessary for the small skip that is done in lap 2 which saves roughly 13-15 seconds. You go to the Fly Ring section, trick off the ramp to go through the first fly ring, then immediately hold up to go above the invisible walls. The reason why this is done with GCN is that, for some reason, your movement while flying with GCN is much less restricted than with the Wii Remote, and that makes it possible to go over the invisible walls to do the skip. Anyway, after that, you turn to the right and fly to the water slide. Next, you land on the water slide, do the gravity dive section, and go on the *second* fly ring (the optimal fly ring). Lastly, simply repeat the lap 1 skip on lap 3.
Gigan Rocks: This skip was discovered a long time ago back when Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was still a thing (2014 or before), but the variant of the skip that is used on laps 1 and 2 was found by me on July 2020 and saves 5-6 seconds total compared to respawning every lap. You set up the skip like normal by being behind the finish line and angling the character up to the middle of the roof, and after you are past the top of the roof, you jump from the surface of the roof and then quickly perform a gravity control. You turn slightly up-right with the gravity control until you have turned roughly 180 degrees (I use the middle mountain in the background as a visual cue), and then you let go and go back on the track. A common point of failure is that you can land on the roof again and when going through the finish line, it doesn't count the lap. It's hard to explain how to avoid this, you just have to make sure you are angling up enough with the gravity control to get over the finish line checkpoint but not too much as to do that. For me, that's just something I get a feel for. Repeat this for laps 2 and 3, but for lap 3, instead of turning 180 degrees to land back on the track, you only turn around roughly 120 degrees, release your gravity control out of bounds while holding right, and respawn at the finish line (which counts the lap).
Crimson Crater: This skip was discovered a long time ago back when Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was still a thing (2014 or before), but this skip variant was found by me on June 2021 and is the best RTA viable glitch route that can be used for Heroes Story. First, you drive up to the first ramp in the track and position yourself at the bottom-right edge of the ramp. Then, you want to turn your character ~45 degrees to the left (aligning yourself close to the top-left of the ramp), and then gravity dive. After passing the first ramp, you hold left until the game sends you downwards, then you just stay neutral. When you are close to passing the finish line, gravity control, turn yourself toward the circle part of the finish line, then after releasing the gravity control, you should be landing on an invisible floor right beside the finish line and the lap should have counted. If it didn't count, then either you were too close to the finish line, so the game recognized you were going backwards into it, or you gravity controlled into the finish line too early. Then, let the finish line wall bonk you to the left, immediately jump, and gravity control to the left until you release where I do in the video (I aim towards the black line on the yellow road). You should have respawned and now you are in the final lap. Move forward a little bit and then gravity control to land on top of the finish line. Position your character to be slightly at the right side of the finish line (from your POV), jump, then align your gravity control to the left of the big orange sign in front of you and hold left. When you respawn, do a fast gravity control, and hopefully, you have finished Crimson Crater and the Heroes Story speedrun!
--The specific time saves/strats I implemented or found myself for the run--
Megalo Station: After respawning from doing the skip and turning around to get the 100GP capsule, I refined the strategy by doing a gravity control into the wall, so when I bonk it, it turns me around without having to make my gravity control go roughly 180 degrees into the ramp. That saved a few tenths every lap.
Botanical Kingdom: I saved around a second each doing the skip laps 1 and 3 due to faster execution.
MeteorTech Premises: Faster execution with the glitch route saved me 1-2 seconds.
Aquatic Capital: I saved a few tenths doing the skips on laps 1 and 3, but more notably, while doing the fly skip on lap 2, I found that by doing an up-and-down motion while flying to the slide, I preserved more of the speed than if I went straight to it (or holding neutral), and I believe that also saved a few tenths compared to the previous WR.
Gigan Rocks: By doing a gravity dive startup cancel right after starting the race, you turn around to do the skip faster, and that saves ~2s.
Crimson Crater: The glitch route used in the run was found by me, and is the best RTA viable glitch route that can be used for Heroes Story. It saves around 2 seconds to the old WR strategy that was used in the past, but it was also incorporated in the previous WR.
The rest of the time saved in the run compared to the previous WR is all due to sheer optimization, which I say is what makes up the majority of the 22s saved compared to it.
Well, that's all there is to it! This took me forever to write, but this acts like the step-by-step guide on how I got the world record! I hope this has made you understand what exactly I am doing during the run, and that you have at least learned some new things about the game. I am glad to hold a WR on such a wacky, glitch-breaking game like this. :D
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