Wednesday, 9 August 2017

European Speedrunner Assembly 2017, 3 Sega Speedruns

European Speedrunner Assembly is an annual summer event taking place in Sweden.
This year was my third time attending the event and as always, it was a great experience.
It's was my 5th speedrunning related event overall as I've been to AGDQ twice and ESA three times.

I did 3 runs for the event this year and it's notable for being all SEGA games this time and all were done on a Thursday too. I haven't retired from Mario such as New Super Mario Bros 2 but it's a good idea to have a little break every now and then because I do not want to get burned out playing the same game over and over.

The first run was the first of its kind: Game Gear 2 player co-op.
There has been a few Game Boy Advance co-op runs in the past, mainly Kirby and the Amazing Mirror but Game Gear speedrunning is obscure for 2 reasons:

1) Sega has never released an official accessory to support video output like a Game Boy Player. So DIY mods were required.
2) Sega Genesis/Mega Drive has fewer colours than a Game Gear so a cartridge converter would not work.

I had at least one comment saying that why did we (Me and Btrim) did not do 2-player co-op on the Genesis/Mega Drive, well everyone at least knows that version and how easy it is to get 2 players to work. This is like once in a lifetime opportunity to see something like this (technically twice overall as we did a playthrough of this last year) and there are some interesting changes to the game mechanics, most notably Supers which are really powerful and can be abused big time in co-op.

I would watch this run for the comedy 2-player chaos at the end of each stage.

A few hours after the Streets of Rage 2 run, I was ordering a steakhouse burger and some fresh orange juice, it was going to be delivered to the venue at 1:20 pm nearly an hour before my next runs. As it approached 1 pm, Krazyrasmus told me that the NES runners were going way underestimate that my next runs were pushed forward by nearly 40 minutes, so 1:20 pm went passed and I had my lunch, then went upstairs and tried my best to not burp too much due to the nerves of the next two games, yep I had to do two games back to back.

Game 2 was The Game Gear Shinobi 2, I am a pretty big Shinobi fan, mainly Revenge of Shinobi as one of my favourite nostalgic games to play today, the Game Gear entries used a similar visual style to the 16-bit game. I did speedruns of the first Game Gear Shinobi a few years ago and ESA 2016 bonus stream, the first game was out for 3DS Virtual Console but the second one wasn't. So this run used Edenal's modified Game Gear which support both RGB output and a wired controller (a Famicom) to play through the game. I was very fortunate to find tricks for this game before submitting it a few months before the event because there's a trick called Grapple Storage where you can store the swing animation and use it much later on in a different location to swing through walls or go off screen for some cool sequence breaks.

This run turned out to be a PB even though the first two stages of this run can be improved by a good amount of time due to "marathon nerves". The grapple storage execution is 2 frames so it is pretty impressive that I got some first try a few times in a row at one point.

After game two, the third game was the last for my runs at ESA 2017.
Although the game is the shortest, it also the hardest and most punishing of the three.

Fantasy Zone released back in 1986 is a shump with very bright colours and light hearted assets, some would call it a cute 'em up. It doesn't use traditional auto-scrolling, Because of this, it is one of the very few notable shmup games that can be a viable game to speedrun.

The main goal is to destroy all of the bases to spawn a boss, defeat the boss to complete the level. You get gold for destroying bases, clearing a set of enemies and destroying a boss. You can go to a shop to buy some upgrades ranging from movement to Weapon 1 and Weapon 2 upgrades. Weapon 1 has infinite ammo for a limited time whilst Weapon 2 has limited uses with Twin Bomb being the exception as that is a permanent upgrade.  When you buy an item for the first time, it is pretty affordable, but when you want to buy more of that same item the actual price increases. This does not apply to engine upgrades which are nice but simply put 7-Way shot gets a lot more expensive near the end of the game because I buy that upgrade a lot throughout the run. Round 1-7 are traditional stages whilst round 8 is a boss rush from the first 7 levels followed by a final boss.

So why is it hard? Well it only takes 1 hit to lose a life and losing a life means your gear goes back to square one, this isn't too bad if you still have to destroy a few more bases to spawn a shop balloon and buy the upgrades again but going back to square one against a boss is really bad, Round 5 boss especially can be a run killer because small wing and regular twin shot against Popozu is really hard to fight against.
The 3DS version is a good arcade port done by the emulating legends of M2. It doesn't have the lag seen in the PS2's Sega AGES 2500 series volume 33 and added some nice extras. The only extra feature I used was Base Markers which allows me to figure out the exact position of each base off-screen. Anything else would have made the game too easy and not faithful to the arcade version such as Gold Rush or Infinite Weapon 1 time.

The actual run was very good overall, roughly 45 seconds behind PB due to safe marathon strats and trying to not die to regular shots from enemies.

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