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Tuesday, January 29, 2019 by LotBlind

Castle's Short

'AntonioPeremin' seems to be a fan of short runs more so than most... Case in point being this 0:00:01 he thought would make a nice addition to our collection. It represents an extreme type of RNG manipulation of the level 1 AI in Chess Titans, a brainy specimen from the Windows 7 games suite. I think someone should add some annotations to it...

   1. e3

As a quick sidestep off the beaten path, white champions Van't Krujis opening. That's one of those special slightly uncanny kinds of names the Dutch have always had a knack for. A move that states white feels more at home with early passivity and self-effacement, though leading on with moves like d4 and c4 wouldn't come as a surprise either.

   1. ...f5?

Having made few preparations for such a contingency, black takes a firm grip on white's bag of opening tricks and shakes it into a motley heap on the floor. Having effectively disarmed each other of any theory, both players now rely solely on general principles and presence of mind.

   2. Qf3?

White, claiming a branch of his own in your chess opening database, puts the immediate question on black's loose center pawn, all the while parrying thoughts of developing the queen's bishop with b6, and inviting a return to something sound and sane with 2. ...d6.

   2. ...g5??

With his second move, black is revealed to be as interested in sanity as The Riddler at the end of Batman Forever, obviously on tilt from a stalemate trap in the previous match. The smiley that best encapsulates this move would probably be this one: ~°·_·°~

   3. Qh5#GoodMoveButYouCanDoBetter

Also known as the Fool's Mate Reversed.

If you need a more serious distillation of what this strategy's merits might be, you'll want to glance at the verification thread. You'll find out getting even the level 1 opponent to be this complying takes some effort.

The second game in the update is one where fighting wears the robe of mincey bubble-blowing and umbrella appearances are highly instrumental but to be be timed with prudence. Would you believe it's not Bubble Bobble? Milon's Secret Castle is tinted Legacy of the Wizard -ish by somewhat open-ended exploration replete with those titular secrets (we've got Milon's Secret Shops, Milon's Secret Doors, Milon's Secret Boss Fights...). I think it's a "secret castle" more in the sense a treasure chest is a chest with treasure in. Though developer Hudson Soft had already launched some fireworks in Bomberman, Milon's wick must have gotten wet since the majority of reviewers thought it arcane and patently unfair.

Matthew Havoc, too, reminisces "constant consultations" of the walkthrough on his first playthrough. I assume what happened next is a textbook case of Stockholm syndrome. Through the past five years, Havoc has trodden a ditch into the castle's flooring and managed to incorporate virtually every minute (mi-NUTE) time-saver, with even purely cosmetic stunts thrown in. The outcome: a very satisfying 0:08:25 – as much as 38 seconds off the previous SDA run – that makes the game look enjoyable in the ignorance of the layman. To remedy said ignorance, you'll want to get to reading in the Deluxe Edition run comments about the unfathomable boss patterns, frugal health pickups, and the I-frames that Weren't. This could really be the last improvement to the run you're going to be seeing in a very long time. Perhaps even... ze fainaru rebishion!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019 by LotBlind

Adorable Word Play, but Sporable Puns

Would it make me popular if I brought up the so-called "Mandela effect"? According to some forums, I'm not the only one in whose mind Spore had something to do with Peter Molyneux. On this occasion, the explanation is fairly mundane. It is a game liable for comparison with some of Molyneux's and Maxim's hugely ambitious designs like Black & White and the Fable series and certainly fell short of expectations for a not-insignificant number of people due to overall simplicity, contrasting with initial design concepts and probably also the marketing hype. A curious amount of attention was put on Spore by the scientific community because of being a high-profile game that, at least at some point, was going to render natural biological evolution and double as a learning tool. It's obviously not quite that, and there have actually been more fidelitous life simulators around for the longest time, just in the very SimFOO franchise alone, lead designer Will Wright's bread and butter. Still, to stand out, Spore attempts the game equivalent of a rhapsody, stitching together disparate genres of arcade action for the Cell stage, real-time/4X strategy for Civilization and Space, and whatever you'd call the other two.

Talking about stitching together, we have the perfect DIY kit for crafting an Individual Levels table of Easy mode runs of the five stages (in
0:30:41) plus an extra one for Space NG+ (in 0:03:23), the only stage that allows for it. The runner, 'KinglyValence' you'll remember for a Single-segment run a handful of updates ago, and he's taken our advice to go slow and steady, so even though he already had what technically counted as WR runs, he's honored the "above and beyond" philosophy that all SDA runners should uphold. The mechanics of the game, even coming from blank-slate starts, are complicated enough for speedrunning to make planning and routing far from trivial, and thus the supplied written commentary will certainly not go amiss with novices like me. They are... if you will... a door into Spore.

Sunday, December 16, 2018 by Worn_Traveler

Your Destiny is in the Cards

Yu-Gi-Oh! Power of Chaos: Yugi the Destiny is an introduction of sorts to playing Yu-Gi-Oh!. In this game the opponent is Yugi. 'AntonioPeremin' has beaten him before and he has beaten him again, this time in 0:01:26, a seven second improvement over his previously published run. The improvement comes from playing the game with the sound and music turned off. There are other games where this is done (Heroes of Might and Magic 3 comes to mind) and it may become more common in the future.

I like Castlevania: Dracula X. True, the final boss is a bit of a troll and the game can be very hard, but the music is great, the graphics are good, and it’s Castlevania'lildingus' takes Richter Belmont on a walk, flip, and slide tour through a burning village and Dracula’s castle in 0:16:17, an improvement of 36 seconds. The big improvement comes in the form of a damage boost off of an Armor Knight in Stage 5 that helps Richter reach his goal faster. Like the previously published run, Maria and Annette are left behind to perish in the depths of Dracula’s abode. Maybe Richter will remember them one of these days…

Friday, November 9, 2018 by LotBlind

From Russia With Metamorphosis

What is it with Russian runners and realistic military shooters? I swear there's a 90% correlation between being a Russian runner and running games like Project I.G.I.: I'm Going In. But does that mean if you're Russian, you're more likely to run them, or if you run them, one cold Siberian morning you'll wake up huddled inside a matryoshka doll with no recollection of how it happened? Perhaps "I'm going in" were the last few words you might have been heard uttering before your sudden disappearance.

Once Mihail 'horned' Petrov had managed to hatch from his ogre egg (cause ogres have layers), he was seen flourishing not an AK, SPAS, or even a Deagle but a 2:35 improvement on the old Individual Levels table. Basically every level has been whetted down a lot or a little, down to 0:42:06 total. There's nothing to hate on in an FPS where velocities only top out once you've mastered the Way of the Bunny Rabbit, maximizing odds at winning a flash round of "The floor is lava" by staying in the air as much as possible, as well as teetering on chain link fences and prancing irreverently across furniture.

The only natural course for Horned to have set from here was right into the next assignment. This one has the pretense of "stealth", being called I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike. It did actually make a stealthy infiltration into China, where it was only banned for its depiction of the Chinese military as power-hungry and notably evil after six months of covert operations under a "fake ID": the copy sent to the censor board simply didn't have the China missions included!

The second run is a segmented self-improvemement of 3:43 down to 0:50:05, played on Easy. I gotta say both the games have very nice graphics for 2000 and 2003 respectively. In case you're a fan, you might be pleased to hear some subset of the old Norwegian team behind the games is working on a new sequel. News are sparse for now... that's probably cuz they've "went in" as per its title.

-----

I thought I'd say a few words on segmented runs in general seeing as they seem to also have "went in" lately. Please read the short preface on the forums and leave comments!

Monday, October 22, 2018 by Worn_Traveler

Planet Hopping

Hola! Abe and his Mudokon buddies return to SDA! While a recent run of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee showed Abe saving all of his friends from becoming food, this time Sam 'Samtastic' Locke has decided that the fewer Mudokons Abe bothers with the better and he gives us a quick tour of Abe’s world in 0:10:18, beating his own large-skip glitches single-segment run by 10 seconds. Samtastic has given us some audio commentary as well this time to enhance the experience of this any% tour. Like the 100% run, Samtastic has the game audio set to Spanish.

Spore reminds me of several games: E.V.O: The Search for Eden, The Sims, Age of Empires, Civilization, and Alpha Centauri come to mind. Spore is divided into different phases and each provides a different experience than the previous episodes. 'KinglyValence' takes on the hard mode and makes it past the Great Barrier to meet a higher power in 1:03:21. Spore can have a lot of variance based on prior playthroughs. KinglyValence shows us how the game works from its “out of the box” state.I suggest you read the notes so that your immersion into virtual biological evolution, hunting and gathering, tribal diplomacy, city building, and space exploration can serve you well should you decide to give Spore a try some day.

Cthulhu and Co. are no strangers to SDA. The Old Ones can be seen in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and Prisoner of Ice. Wilson Luiz 'VonDrake' Oliveira, who provided the latter run, returns to the dark world of H.P. Lovecraft in Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet. ‘VonDrake’ explores a dreary town, crypt, forest, and even learns a new language in 1:01:19 as he tries to stop something otherworldly from… well, I can’t say any more without giving too much away. This any% run does skip a few key events so you may want to read the runner’s comments to get a better understanding of what is going on in this cool adventure game. For an ever better understanding, you may want to read Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” and The Shadow over Innsmouth. Of course, you may also want to play the game. For those of you who play the CD version of the game, you will see a whopping two extra characters... who you cannot interact with. You may also need a magnifying glass to deal with copy protection if you are playing the floppy disk version.

Sunday, September 9, 2018 by LotBlind

Community Column: Samtastic

So sometimes individual runners' runs really start heaping up in the archive, for different categories or different games. At some point, this will pique our curiosity. Who is this guy? What does he want? Does he want attention? Does that mean less attention for LotBlind?! We believe that while run comments can and are being used to quench man's diabolical thirst for run-related info-may-schön, there are underlying and overarching aspects to every runner's "career" that we generally ever learn about sporadically and outside such a context. Hence the Community Column. If you are a long-term contributor, of speedruns or otherwise, you may find yourself beckoned to the podium and asked to share your story. Now let us hear that of someone whose works deck the walls all over one of the more strange, or should I say ODD collections...


 

Hello everybody – it’s Samtastic here. I am very privileged that I get to write on this blog. As you may or may not know, I am an active Oddworld speedrunner. I speedrun the classic Abe games – Oddysee and Exoddus and I also speedrun New ‘n’ Tasty. I try to run every category we have on speedrun.com but right now I am focused on speedrunning Oddysee any% as yesterday me and Legna have found a way on setting up the bee DDG that is similar to the TAS that Dooty made in 2014.

Here’s how I got into Oddworld speedrunning. In 2009, I saw an Italian YouTuber called LoStraniero91 and he finished his Abe’s Oddysee walkthrough. After his walkthrough, he did a maximum casualties walkthrough which he called ‘Kill All Mudokons’. Then after that, he made a segmented any% NMS speedrun. I was amazed on all the tricks he could do. It wasn’t until 2010 when I started speedrunning without streaming my gameplay. I didn’t know that speedrunners streamed their gameplay – so I just practised the game and learnt some glitches along the way.

In 2012, a British guy called Sligfantry taught me how to do the DDG and the stop turn glitches. With this, I was able to do more segmented speedruns and brought my time to 41:06 SDA timing (see video here). Also, I managed to do a 100% segmented speedrun with the DDG which can be watched here.

Then in June 2014, Dooty and I made a TAS together with a new way to skip Scrabania and Paramonia with the bees. The emulator we used at the time doesn’t load PSX games properly and it’s very hard to encode audio but then Feos managed to encode it matching it’s movie length, that TAS can be watched here.

In February 2015, I completed my first single segment speedrun of Abe’s Oddyse with ALL the stop turns and auto turns and I managed to beat the game in 11:08 without skipping the cinematics. (here)

Now, I am trying to beat my any% world record again with a new way to set up the bee DDG which is similar to how the TAS does it.

In 2016, I managed to complete a 100% speedrun of New ‘n’ Tasty without using the DDG. I did this as a celebration on reaching 2000 subscribers on YouTube. That video can be viewed here.

So yeah that is all my skilful speedruns I have done so far. I also done an Abe’s Exoddus 100% run here on SDA, but I feel like that can be improved much more in single segment which I hope to improve after my Oddysee any%.

That’s all for now. Be sure to check out my speedrun.com profile for updates if I beat my PB on any%.

 


 
Thanks to Sam for providing us with so many runs over the course of the past several years! The runs being published alongside this update are:

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee; 1:18:16; a difficult single-segment run with all of the wily wiles and tricky tricks to rescue every Mudokon (a rare case of magnanimous behaviour from Abe).

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty!; 0:54:35; played on Hard difficulty and also single-segment.

We're also looking for another front page updater. Please see the advertisement here. There's also still a "vacancy" for wiki editor. And finally thanks to everyone who has been doing verifications or PRC. The former is easy to get into: once you have one accepted run on the site (or have generally hung around a while) you'll have gotten an idea of the quality requirements and can help us by weighing in on how good other runners' efforts are looking, whether it looks ripe for publication or not just yet. Check out any verification thread for the instructions and feel free to go back to previous verifications to see what kinds of things were pointed out and discussed.

Sunday, August 12, 2018 by MAS8705

Remembering the Better Times

The Might and Magic series was one of the finest examples of PC RPG games. Its history encompasses 28 years between the first 1986 Wizardry-like inception to the pseudo-old-school Might & Magic X from 2014. While most of the series got high praise, Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer was the first that fans felt was a step backwards with a lackluster plot, weaker characters and less customizability. Today, 'Snabel' takes up the role of the Necromancer again and flies and warps around Jadame to save the world from the elementals in 0:08:00. This improves on the previous by around six minutes, however a new trick causes this run to inhabit a "with large-skip glitches" kind of domain so you'll be able to find the old run on the game page as well.
 
The Metal Gear series is also widely acclaimed. While its future is unknown following the departure of Hideo Kojima from the decreasingly of-interest publisher Konami, it certainly had its share of victories with one of the popular titles in the series being Metal Gear Solid 3 HD. While the original was an incredible game, the HD version brought the unforgettable experience to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with beautifully updated graphics and other minor tweaks. 'Mr_Snawk' here takes control of Naked Snake, aka Big Boss, to complete his covert mission at 1:19:25, improvement of 46 seconds to an already-slick-looking single-segmented run on European Extreme difficulty, achieving Foxhound rank.
 
If you are familiar with video games published by LJN, you may notice a common theme of gameplay controls and mechanics feeling counterintuitive. One must take extra care when planning to speedrun such a game, and Beetlejuice is no exception. For 'ktwo' it was one thing to work around the confusing rules the game put before him, another to manage deaths that are seemingly unavoidable. It required lots of luck to get things going his way to bag the time of 0:11:29, as the game can be as unpredictable and unforgiving as its star Betelgeuse himself. ktwo also released (as he has been in the habit of doing) a parallel TAS, link right here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 by Worn_Traveler

Tournaments, Trials, and Terrors

Ever turn on your Nintendo 64 or Playstation 2 and watch your character wander in a direction and you’re not giving them the input to? This means your controller is poorly calibrated, which is normally quite annoying, if easily remedied, but it's also something Phillip 'ZELLLOOO' Shanklin takes full advantage of it in his Doom 64 running to make his brimstone adventure go by as quickly as possible. Aside from the movement boost you have already seen before, there's a big new trick in town – something that makes barriers more like a stop sign than a physical obstacle. The demon legions are disposed of in 0:29:27 in one any% segment on the Be Gentle difficulty, 2:54 faster than his previously published run. The hordes of Hell never stood a chance.

Some racing games want you to come in first place in every race while others are okay with you winning most of them. R.C. Pro-Am II falls into the latter category. 'ktwo' wins the number of races needed to beat the game and does so in 0:31:18 in this any% single segment run. Watch as the vehicles blaze across the tracks! Be shocked as the wicked green car begins its campaign of revenge against the protagonist’s red one! Gasp in awe as the game throws oil slicks and bomber planes in the way! Cheer as ktwo beats the odds and wins both the trophy and the hearts. This is racing drama at its finest!

Meanwhile down in the sewers, there is another competition going on. Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael are trying to determine who the best martial artist is among them. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters lets you choose a turtle and get to fighting. Steve 'Elipsis' Barrios goes with Leonardo and comes in with a plan for each of his opponents. Elipsis takes down Leonardo's friends and the other combatants in a quick 0:05:53. This game was one of the last released for the NES by Konami in the North America and PAL regions. Check it out and see how it stacks up to the other versions of Tournament Fighters. Cowabunga!

Sunday, April 29, 2018 by MAS8705

Go Big or Go Home, Controls! You're Drunk!

Sonic games are known to be fast-paced. Back when Sonic Adventure DX came out though, there was a mix of fast characters with those with more... unique game mechanics like playing as a giant purple cat and going fishing for a frog with a long tail. It might not sound as engaging as the other things you can do, but leave it to Nelson 'Sonikkustar' Martinez to showcase how you can make reeling in a frog exciting. At a time of 0:08:58, it improves on the run through careful placements of the bobber and his ability to catch Froggy within seconds of hooking it.
 
If you went to the arcades when you were younger, you noticed that one game that looked like a cartoon called Dragon's Lair. The arcade game was difficult and its NES counterpart was even worse in terms of game design. The controls alone were said to be some of the worst in the entire NES library. For 'ktwo', it was more a challenge to get the RNG to cooperate. It's hard to believe how one can dismantle this game in 0:07:21.
 
Speaking of arcade games that got an NES release, Hudson's Adventure Island (NTSC) is... complicated.  It was an adaptation of the arcade game Wonder Boy, but because of licensing issues, there were changes made to the NES version. ktwo knows his way around the island and has gone back to improve his previous run from 2013 by about 15 seconds for a new time of 0:37:05. Aside from this, ktwo also improved on Adventure Island's TAS by a minute, 12 seconds.
 
 
-------- SDA NEWS --------
 
LotBlind here with a BLINDING FLASH!
 
The last update had a run for Donkey Kong Country 3 that accidentally had a broken link. It's now been fixed. Speaking of this, the old FLASH player that you see when you click on a run link inside a game page (the link that's on the run time) has been replaced with a more modern one based on HTML5, courtesy of nate. It also plays HQ videos by default but you can choose whichever quality yourself.
 
Also might I point out SDA has just turned twenty. That's one more than nineteen, two more than eighteen and generally N more than twenty minus N. There is currently no amount of congestion in SDA's queue and so this would be an excellent time to dig out runs you've been sitting on! Especially DOS games are appreciated #100%unbiased. The upside to less traffic is I can work all the harder on finishing my first very own speedrun... as in the game's gonna get very owned.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by Worn_Traveler

Bill and Lance Find Eggs by the River

I like Contra. The game is fun and challenging. Beating the game without the 30 lives code is very possible with good memory and reflexes. How can the Contra experience become better? With friends! Piotr 'TheMexicanRunner' Delgado Kusielczuk & Matthew 'AngryLanks' Wissig have teamed up and taken down Red Falcon in 0:09:51, a three second improvement over the former run! Contra runs are notoriously hard to get lower times in so any lower time is a good improvement. The lower time comes from finding a good use for the laser while still retaining the spread gun action that we all know and love. Watch this run!

Sometimes improvements come in frames and not in seconds. Where's an Egg? is a case of frame based improvement and Steve 'Elipsis' Barrios has decided that his egg finding run from 2015 is just too slow. Elipsis has taken advantage of a Windows option and combined his mouse and keyboard to find Stalin's missing egg in 0:00:00, which is one frame! You've probably heard the phrase "Don't blink or you'll miss it!" and this is one of those cases. You may have trouble seeing the "blind accusation" shot input but you will certainly see the outcome. Watch as the ending cutscene takes longer than the game itself! Not even RPGs with very long endings can make that claim.

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, like its two SNES predecessors, has a GBA port that expands the game by adding a minigame or two and another world, along with a completely different soundtrack by David Wise. Small changes have been made to the mechanics as well, which is demonstrated in this River Race run. Jordan 'Greenalink' Greener shows us the difference in the way the game handles the race timer and beats Brash Bear's race record in 0:00:10.50. The main difference here is that the race timer stops and stays that way. Brash Bear never had a chance.

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