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News from July through September, 2017. [Newer | Older]

Friday, September 29, 2017 by Worn_Traveler

Fly, Skip, and a Hop

My brother and I have spent countless hours in the Might and Magic universe, primarily in the first three Heroes of Might and Magic games. We return to Enroth in Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer in order to figure out why there’s a giant crystal in the middle of a city. 'Snabel' gives us a quick tour through the game and the various elemental areas in 0:14:13 using segments and deaths to end the Day of the Destroyer quickly, as the previous run has done. Snabel does so almost three minutes faster than the previous run.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is probably supposed to take many hours to beat. Like its brethren in The Elder Scrolls series though, Oblivion has its share of exploits and glitches that allow for quick completion of an otherwise lengthy journey. Without a good understanding of the game's mechanics, one might wonder about the structural integrity of the prison the player starts in. 'AntonioPeremin' utilizes large-skip glitches and a save/load or two to push the time down to 0:03:49. For those of you who are worried about missing out on hearing Patrick Stewart in the run, fear not: He is still here.

Rabi-Ribi is a fairly new game and is new to SDA. I haven’t played it yet but after watching the run of it, I’ll definitely be doing so. The game seems to be more complex than it first appears and the developers have even included a speedrun mode. 'Deleted User' hops through the speedrun/postgame mode of this 2D exploration plaformer meets bullet hell boss game in 2:46:43.76. This is a casual difficulty low% run so get comfy and enjoy going down this rabbit hole with no items. Low% runs always present greater challenges in terms of survival and this run does not fail in that regard.

Sunday, September 17, 2017 by LotBlind

Divine Divinity... Marble Marble... Rumbly Rumble... Metal Metal

I remember about the only one – the first one – of the idiosynchratic Larian Entertainment's Divinity RPG-hack-'n'-slashers I've played that it had a distinctly imbalanced skill tree. That's no wonder, since their aim was to incorporate a large smörgåsbord of options suiting the three main playstyles, with both ranged and melee combat fleshed out, all the while dealing with obnoxious publisher interference during development. All of this and seemingly a lot more carries over to what was really the third in the series after Beyond Divinity, generally considered a small dip after Divine Divinity. To 2009's Divinity II: Ego Draconis (later burnished and glazed into 2011's Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga), the critics responded in similarly lukewarm ways, especially when it came to the Xbox 360 version. This is ironic because most of the time, it's the PC port that tends to suffer from developers' attempts at branching into controller-controlled territories.

To return to those skill trees: There obviously can't be dozens of abilities each perfectly go-with-able, especially when no strict class-limiting exists. I also am yet to see a game balanced for speedrunning instead. Thrusting at enemies through the three-dimensionalized tracts of Rivellon and embracing the philosophy of the helicopter (a dual-wielding style), Marcel Kalmes makes short [, by 14:16,] single-segmented 2:03:37 work of the realm's unworthy would-be lords and masters. We might as well append Israeli's professional-grade verification to Marcel's own notes to give clues as to wherefrom the none-too-shabby improvement.

Don't lose your MARBLEs now, but... stop the MADNESS! Now that that's out of the way, we may proceed into a terse biography of Elipsis, the speedrunner and person we all know through six links max (as we all know each other, apparently). He has a couple of published runs for a boat racing game, another weird one that was timed at 0:00 (that's gotta have been a Jedi mind trick), and another two that prove his fingers are all, individually and collectively, a ninja. His YouTube channel evidences having been around since that mythical time of yore when it was actually considered okay to handicam your cool gameplay videos. The only saving grace, really, is this crab. And this 0:02:43 for the NES Marble Madness if you're into that sorta thin'. I don't see anything left to explain about these ~2 seconds off. Just like the last time, all those reactions and all of that deep deep catharsis is conveyed in a touching, yet dignified, spoken commentary accessible by switching to audio track two in a player like VLC.

If the name, in general, of PS2's Rumble Roses, is not enough to cue you in on it, the brazen initials have got to be: this game is going for "R-Risqué" and sure knows its thing. It's about fantasy wrestling exhibitions where every fighter is, in the most flagrant fashion, a she, and possesses of a side personality, an evil – or in some cases good – twin. It threw me for a loop seeing the term "professional wrestling" applied to this in the Wiki article. Isn't the default for all "professional" activities to be very much the real thing, no tricks and no gimmicks? It looks like what silly old me always knew as show wrestling has attempted some kind of facelift (which is appropriate since it sounds like one of their moves) by tacking on this possibly quite specious prefix (which is appropriate because that's what the matches themselves are, a pre-fix). To clear our, no doubt, mistaken conceptions we'd have to summon someone who gives a measurable amount of damn. That's not going to be the runner, 'Tigger77'. Forgetting they'd surely get paid more if they were to drag it out a bit, they've went ahead and stomped their sleazy opposition right in their resting bitch faces on a character called Sgt. Clements, for whom changing attires to the two kinds of swimwear (I said "knows its thing") can only barely avoid coming as an upgrade to her modesty. Let's collectively count some blessings guys, the smut exhibition itself only takes 0:01:57, but the dirty thoughts, aye, they'll linger...

Of all these anarchistic phrasal amalgamations, "Otherside" seems a relatively popular one. It's evocative for sure: it suggests, in sufficiently vague fashion, a spatial juxtaposition of some kind pointing out the more alien and mysterious half (way more so than just "the Other Side" could ever convey!), but because space is often used as an analogy for experiences or states of mind, there's hardly a limit to what the proposed dichotomy could be. You could make it "the Otherside [Entertainment] of the gaming industry" a là that company that keeps getting more limelight cause I can't stop thinking about it apparently; "the light side vs. the dark side", or some elder gods in actual Star Wars lore, would you believe it; or you could euphemize the woebegone bridge-underations of the accustomated vein-pricker as verily did Anthony Kiedis in a musical poem by this name.

Or then it's a dimension where aliens thirst for the secret of Metal Morph-osis so they can Terminator their way in to establish a competitive multinational corporation making acquisitions through bribery, blackmail and guerrilla interventions... or whatever it is they had in mind... Yeah! What's shocking is the run is by Patrick 'P "The Man" J' DiCesare, yet it doesn't have that kind of uniformly piddle-on reviews we've grown to assume. At least it has to be as unfair as an asymmetric seesaw, right? Well, the customary audio commentary hitched onto this 0:37:14 certainly gives something by way of an explanation. You're excused for thinking Origin, adulated for their Ultima series and Wing Commander, wasn't capable of making a splash with traditional action titles like the one in question, but they did come up with the perfectly decent Crusader soon after, scurrying back to those PC systems that they were definitely more at home with so... I guess not really.

Saturday, August 26, 2017 by LotBlind

That DEATH Cat's Gonna Make Me Fall Prey (2017) to Gift Falsehood Hollow!

If and only if you're a giant weeaboo, you will no doubt feel patronized for me telling you this, but Yu-Gi-Oh! is some kind of anime, probably also a manga and most certainly a video game (or a hundred billion). It's apparently more mature than Pokémon with something called Shadow Games and talk about DEATH. Yu-Gi-Oh! isn't actually something you play per se but there is a heavily featured trading card game (represented as holograms in the series itself) called Duel Monsters. What does the title mean you ask? It means "courage to lie to a bear!"... or "superior chase skills!"... or "help affair to grow!"... Yeah, we've been here before, haven't we? I created this spreadsheet to actually translate the name randomly every time you load it up. Have the blast you know you're supposed to!

I don't know who the characters are being challonged to the DEATH game in these three, but I have no trouble placing 'AntonioPeremin' in my convoluted mental maps and charts. He's taken some of the few PC Yu-Gi-Oh! games and won at single duels like he was in a rush to the opera or something (Paul Morphy style). Here's the breakdown for y'all:

If and only if you're a collector of obscurity and curios like those 18th century men-of-the-world procuring for their "Wunderkammers" discoveries and samples from far abroad, chances are you're not all that familiar with 2010's Deadly Premonition. Despite this, it seems to enjoy the status of their best-known title amongst many mostly this-year's-edition titles Access Games have produced for mainstream publishers such as Square-Enix and Microsoft. The non-westernized name was Red Seeds Profile which points at a central motif. There's a murderer, known as the Raincoat Killer, whose idiosynchratic trail special agent York is combing for the slightest of clues in small town Greenvale and outskirts. The game's most notable feature was its dynamic representation of the town with NPCs and business establishments each operating on the clock with the day cycling and the weather shifting. York himself must take care of his corporal sustenance and sleep, often resorting to caffeine to stave it off another couple of hours. Aside from roving about the place on wheels or off, talking to the townsfolk while trying to piece it together, surreal survival-horrory sequences (not the critics' darlings I'm afraid) are interwoven along with excerpts straight from the protagonist's sprawling subconsciousness.

Due to the reality-miming mechanics, I'm sure runner 'StiWii Rage' would have, at times, had to deliberate on the minutiae of the 3:21.07 itinerary here followed through hitchlessly in one fell sitting. I wouldn't be averse to see what it looks like in 100% mode seeing as many more chores and assignments await the sleepless in this harrowed, mesmerizing microcosm. All fans, new and old, be aware! The game's main creative engine, its Hideo Kojima if you will, Hidetaka Suehiro is now pitching a new and rather appealing design called The Good Life, up for pledges and investments on Fig.

I have to be fair... 0:06:58 for an immersim, despite their abundancy of hack-prone doors (and the occasional illusory floors and ceilings) for players to pick their way through, is certainly shorter than... well any of the others isn't it, including System Shock from a few updates ago. Thus it's not entirely inane for speedrun laymen across gaming news dispensers to have elected what we shall have to call Prey (2017) out of all those recently afflicted by speedrun radiation (what causes the gameplay to mutate) as that recurring headline item from our (celerial) sphere. It does, however, make this a bit of a rehash. Between the game's ubiquity and 'seeker__''s perfectly adequate run comments, there really isn't much left to say. As my comrade ktwo pointed out in verification, it's not likely this is the last it'll feature even in our own feed.

But for any troglodytes out there, the 2017 Prey has been compared to System Shock 2 and Deus Ex more so than Arkane Studio's own past works, such memorables as their first, Arx Fatalis, and Dishonored. The least resemblance of all "related" games is borne to the 2006 First-Person Shooter with its Native American lead, provoking accusations of Bethesda having put out a money-grubbing false reboot, and further ire from those who had subscribed to the idea they were getting the Prey 2 promised by Human Head Studios' best-of-show-ing 2011 E3 presentation. Rumors circulate about the politics of Human Head's falling out with its publisher, and do those ever come comely? Regardless, Arkane's again bagged treasured above-80 metascores and, no doubt, deafened a part of the crowd to the hubbub. If you're still sitting on the fence, I think I'll just leave you with the most glowing and... umm... least glowing two reviews I could find, both for the PC version. I wish reviewers were more mindful of mentioning which difficulty setting they took as it can change the experience quite radically.

Friday, August 18, 2017 by Worn_Traveler

Modes of Transport

Cars, airplanes, rockets, hookshots, super arrows, teleportation, and good old walking are just some of the ways we get from Point A to Point B in video games. Sometimes we stay in bounds, other times we break the game’s reality and forego collision detection and other such impediments. Today’s runs all feature different means of travel; some direct and some indirect.

We start with Kid Icarus. Pit is the protagonist of Kid Icarus and like the mythical Icarus, has wings. Unlike Icarus, these wings don’t melt when getting near the sun. Also unlike Icarus, they don’t seem to work for flying. Pit’s legs and feet work great though, which is good since there’s a lot of jumping in this game. Maybe the wings help Pit get higher than the average hero? Regardless, 'Darkwing Duck' has Pit hopping and shooting through Angel Land in 0:22:22, which beats the previously published time of 25:23. The lower time comes from newer strategies and a skip or two.

Our next mode of transportation is… a beetle? No, it’s not a Volkswagen and it’s not alive. This beetle has a 200cc engine and decimates the tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Jose 'UchihaMadao' Karica goes through all of the tracks in a blistering 1:35:36 on Hard mode. I’m not big on racing games but I enjoyed watching this one. Give it a shot.

Golden Axe gives you several options for travel. One can walk, run, and ride on the back of several Bizarrians (that’s what the instruction manual calls them). These creatures can swing their tails and breathe fire (but not at the same time). There is also a village on the back of a turtle and one level involves riding on a massive eagle. While we’ve had a single player run here for a while, Steve '8-Bit Steve' Lynn & Anthony 'Sync' Hawkes decided to team up using Tyris-Flare and Ax-Battler to stop Death Adder and his minions. They kick and stab their way through this arcade port in 0:08:09. The teamwork is definitely worth a watch.

Sunday, August 13, 2017 by LotBlind

Shockingly Pink, Shockingly Tasty

The times are extremely interesting for the retinue of cyberpunk masterpiece System Shock and fans of so-called immersive sims in general. If you've been buying once-lost adventure and RPG titles from GOG recently, there's a chance you've been enjoying enhancements coded in by a certain Night Dive Studios and their sub-contractors (contractees?). Modern resolutions and compatibility, bug fixes and improved UIs all spring from company founder Stephen Kick's desire to make the sequel, System Shock II, legally available again after having been limboed between two rightholders since the venerable Looking Glass Studios tapped out in 2000. Since then, Night Dive has updated a large variety of games and is even giving the first of the Shocks much more than the standard doses of electrotherapy having set out to completely rebuild the game from ground up. They're collaborating with old Looking Glass staff on it so definitely not looking like another Thi4f. Nor is the unrelated System Shock 3 in the works by Otherside Entertainment, an unbelievably qualified superteam dedicated to leapfrogging "immersims" of the past and delivering us from the dark ages of triple-A stagnation for good!

Now that you know something about Night Dive, whose handiwork System Shock: Enhanced edition, too, is, let it also be known that it's officially been given the treatment, abusing every inch of the mousepad now that mouselooking is a thing. We have 'PvtCb', the runner behind the old "classic" System Shock run as well, doing the honors. The game is on my to-play list and so I don't wish to delve into its secrets too deeply, but in a nutshell, you embody a hacker whose audacity and superior know-how incur an involuntary assignment aboard Citadel Station, where it is the station's central A.I., the unforgettable Shodan, he will struggle to outwit. The run is with deaths and resets, in single-segment mode and on the default difficulty. The mouselook makes it much smoother and enables new tricks so it's only 0:10:37 long where the classic version ran on for half an hour.

Sam 'Samtastic' Locke is one of our frequent-er frequenters when it comes to run submissions. He's been systematically chewing through the valid categories for the two main Oddworld titles in a pleasantly esthetic, necklace-like pattern: Oddysee, Oddysee, Exoddus, Oddysee, Oddysee, Exoddus, and his latest two for the remaster Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty!. If we wanted to project some into the future at conscious and malicious risk of putting him on the spot, the logical continuation would be either reeling back with Exoddus, Oddysee, Oddysee etc. OR going for the other remake, Soulstorm, then N'n'T, N'n'T, and one more for Soulstorm. Seeing as Exoddus' remake is yet to emerge from the Oddworld processing facilities, this would force the cessation of activities until given the opportunity to tick it off later down the [Monsaic] line... but it's one of those two options... or letting everyone down. Everyone.

Speaking of being let down, if your childhood memories are particularly photosensitive, them being exposed to the cold steely light of reality an immensurable disaster, you might have been distraught at the sight of Sam's last New 'n' Tasty into-pulp-stomping. Here's your spiritual Aloe vera: an 0:54:46 effort of a far more normal-looking (but exactly as mis-Mudokon-ic) glitchless category played on Hard.

Meanwhile, in the anthropomorphic discolored cartoon corner, pink being the color of passion (just ask Steven Tyler), more and more unseemly debris has eroded off Pink Panther Pinkadelic Pursuit level times under siege from 'wesen''s oceanic swell. The land mass of this 2002 platformer has now shrunk to a profile not unreminiscent of a well-cared-for bonsai tree. All but two levels (The Railway Line and The Stone Age) have been updated bringing the table to 0:10:58 with the pile of snipped leaves on the side amounting to well over a minute converted rather alchemically into time. The runner *thinks* they might be done with the game, or at least the PC ILs now, so who knows where the ebb and flow will continue its inexorable work at cliff-polishing, or bonsai-pruning depending on which analogy appealed to you more. Unless hydraulic shears are a thing.

Friday, August 4, 2017 by Anonymous

Was the Third Dimension Invented Before or After Color?

(this update was requested to be published anonymously)

Catapulted back to pop culture fame by Toy Story, the line of generic action figures endearingly called Army Men garnered enough attention for 3DO to license the toys for their own video game series that continues to this day. Utilizing strange tactics such as rolling through minefields and sidestepping tank rounds, 'ZEN_Ivan' combats Army Men 3D on the PlayStation in just 0:24:00. The game is actually a remake of the first title in the series released on the PC and the Game Boy Color, and follows the fate of Sarge as he seeks keys to open a portal to the unknown while saving POWs along the way. Controlling a lone veteran soldier battling against the entire beige army may seem daunting, but thankfully this soldier can take a rocket or two to the face.

Team Ninja, formed from Tecmo game developers, seemed destined to reboot the classic Ninja Gaiden series. Known for Dead or Alive, they used their expertise with 3D fighting games on home consoles to re-imagine Ninja Gaiden as a 3D hack and slash similar to Devil May Cry. It was decided early on to tie the game, simply titled Ninja Gaiden and released exclusively on Xbox, into the Dead or Alive universe while maintaining its lineage as a prequel to the NES storyline. A year later it was remade for the Xbox 360 as Ninja Gaiden Black, with improvements to the engine and additional content. It's in this definitive edition that 'JTB123' takes on the role of Ryu Hayabusa to slice and dice his way through numerous foes. The game's 16 chapters are cut up into 33 segments for a total time of 1:34:43. This being the PAL version we'd normally see it placed alongside the NTSC run already on the site, but given the drastically lower time it gets to stand alone (next to the single segment run).

Speedrunning lends itself more towards certain genres; however, rather than limit the hobby, it's encouraging to see runners engaging in games rarely explored for speed. Rome: Total War incorporates real-time tactics in a turn-based strategy game, and sports epic battles supporting thousands of individual units. Foregoing those with an auto-resolve option we're left with a display of menuing prowess, making the game look more like an entry in the Civilization series. Ignoring Rome completely for 0:03:11'AntonioPeremin' commands Greece in a short campaign where the goal is no longer to take the city but be first to control any 15 provinces while fending off Macedon and Thrace.

BTW: The bloopers reel for Ikari Warriors was never actually published... because this was felt to be appropriate for a bloopers reel! It's right here now.

Sunday, July 30, 2017 by LotBlind

99.99% Fail Rate Means You Did It

...and it only took you 10 000 attempts!

In that childish and annoying race to be first at all things, Jordan 'Greenalink' Greener makes a semi-continuation appearance with Blaster Master Zero, a 0:08:26 run that forced us into drastic renovations (i.e. digging out a new virtual room for Switch runs). In Zero, you're given that old supertank Sophia III of every adolescent's daydreams, playing as either Jason or one of additional DLC heroes, in what'd pass for a 16-bit version of the same game (although on the SNES it would have been called Super Blaster Master for sure). The new features feature buttons and levers, more powerful weaponry, more bosses, and Green's choice of Unlimited Mode that unlocks everything from the get-go. 'Cause race to be first. In his comments, Greenalink not only describes all the speedrun-informing gameplay adjustments made by Inti Creates (known for Shantae, Mega Man Zero, Azure Striker Gunvolt... and Mighty Number Nine), but also curses the flippancy of random boss patterns so you don't have to!

First to write about a Switch run.

The name "Knytt" suggests cognacy with Knut or Cnut, and perhaps it had that in Tove Jansson's mind. She, the famed author of The Moomins, introduced him in Vem ska trösta Knyttet? ('Who Will Comfort Toffle?') as an existentially-socially anguished antihero whose perpetual confinement is only dismantled when he overcomes his misgivings and takes matters into his own hands. Ever since, Knytt has represented anything small and fearful. Believe me, it has. Ever since Niklas Nygren's first Knytt game, he has also represented another one in a long line of similar 2D-platformer protagonists. Ever since Knytt Stories, he has no longer been that de facto protagonist having been usurped by another character from the same universe (I think), Juni whose name translates as 'June'. Stories supported and encouraged modding while launching with only the tutorial and one full story called The Machine. It is The Machine that is today raged against for 0:14:24, on a PC, by a feller called 'Gliperal'. Best ending. All's best that ends best?

First to write about the Machine story.

My cohort 'ktwo' is not entirely unknown in the three realms of slick, speedy, and swimming speedruns. Of the three, this clearly belongs to the swimming camp... which is a kind of summer camp where they specialize in teaching you all the different strokes. A stroke is what you'll have when you realize what kinda game this is and what the bastard's went and done to it: it's like watching one of those brutal heavyweight knockouts on pay-per-view. There's people proud of having completed the game PERIOD. There's those who'll place beating it ON ONE CONTINUE highest up on their ludological resumes. Then there's the speedrunner who realizes what a waste of time death really is, lose you your powerups and all, and decides to shed mortality instead of the mortal coil.

Ikari Warriors was bullet hell before bullet hell was a thing. A labyrinthine mess of enemy spawn locations and unsympathetic drop RNG. Loads of grenades and suddenly changing music tracks. It's a game that never went all-out on either [NES-grade]-realism or total abstractness either so the ef-dup helicopter sprite isn't so jarring in the end. Also not jarring is ktwo's recording which seems to have none of that static buzz that I've grown to expect of all NES videos. Clearly he's playing through an emulator! Unlike in the arcade, you can only aim in the direction you're moving, thus the imperative to minimize oblique gunfire, thus the limitless opportunities for riskier and rewardier strategies. Really what we need to take from all of this is whenever someone throws out a categorical "impossible", they probably won't be the one to do it in 0:27:26.

The run comes complete with audio commentary. AND there's hardly anything the Strategy Guide won't tell you. AND there's a bloopers reel. AND I'm the first to write about it on the SDA front page.

Do you see that below this paragraph? It's the absence of a dislike button.

Monday, July 17, 2017 by Worn_Traveler

SBD for You and Me

Hello friends. Do you need more teleportation in your life? Have you grown weary of walking in the light? Do you yearn to hide in the shadows and find your way through testing chambers, risking certain death if you are seen? Are computers and moving platforms your only friends? If any or all the above apply to you, then please sit down and watch the following instructional videos on how to optimize your clone-life experience. These training videos are from the Stealth Bastard Deluxe Clone-Life Instructional Video Series. These vital instructions have been prepared by Vincent 'Badaxis' BILLET. The preparer has updated previous training videos and created new training content as well. Even more importantly, these videos are considered top of the line and are for a large part world records too.

The first test video series is of the basic, ordinary, NG-ish type of video that can be viewed in 0:53:42.40. These brief instructional videos are updates to our training and encompass your basic existence. We have a lot of testing chambers here and it is easy to get lost so be sure to know your way around with these excellent tours of the facility.

Have you gone through these chambers already and crave something new? Try using some content that you can add to your basic form. These downloadable additions can be viewed in a fast 0:09:10.28

Still not enough? Grab your item carrying unit of choice and try out the equipment tour. Want to know more about this special package or what the equipment does? Please watch these videos in a smashing 0:25:05.13.

We hope you have enjoyed these courses on clone-life existence. Perhaps someday you will meet whomever you are a clone of... Or will that just be another clone too?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 by LotBlind

Just an announcement...

Here is an interesting survey for speedrun fans and runners created by some members of the greater speedrunning community. If you have the time, please help them out with your thoughts and opinions! Note that the deadline is this Friday, the 14th.

The second thing happening this Friday is there will be some server downtime due to shifting the physical server location. No need for panic! Any more than usual at least.

Actual updates coming soonish...

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