For information about speedrunning Ikari Warriors and to get a better understanding of what's going on in this run, go to the guide in the SDA knowledge base (referred to as sdakb in my comments below):
I started playing this game in November 2014 and it took me two and a half years to finally beat the game without deaths. During that period, I posted short updates in the bio section of my twitch page. To preserve some of the history this run has gone through, I'll just copy-paste those notes here:
Edit (18-Feb-2015): A new glitch has been found that allows you to fly over half of the first level (see the link above). The routes in the later levels have also been reviewed. The estimate is now almost a minute lower.
Edit (25-Apr-2015): Since the last update above, I have polished the routes a bit to bring down and managed to complete the game once (in 29:15) . There were a couple of deaths in the last level (it was still a 1cc though), which cost around one minute. I'm hoping to get a time around 28 minutes. Below 28 would be great and is definitely possible, but requires the luck to be on my side in a few places (mostly late in the game).
Edit (23-May-2015): I have continued finding small time savers. A speedrun without major mistakes will now almost for sure land under 28 min.
Edit (03-Jun-2015): Level 2 is a major bottleneck and to keep track of what ends attempts, I have started to note down this information more systematically. You can find the stats here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oImp92djz6c0e3NSUJ4IyfOkLQF8VTdlEavdBQ2K_ck/edit#gid=0
Edit (09-Nov-2015): In case anyone comes here and wondering "when's Ikari again", here is a short update. I had a long summer break for traveling. During my absence, I gathered the courage (and some new knowledge) to start speedrunning Amped 2 (original xbox) when I returned. It's a pretty massive undertaking and will keep me busy for a few months. After Amped 2, I might come back to Ikari or do another nes-game first. We'll see. For the time being, I'm just recording locally, but I would like to stream the final challenges of Amped 2 (it's a segmented 100% run). Don't expect any activity in the meantime.
Edit (17-Apr-2016): I'm done with Amped 2 and back on track with Ikari. This time I plan to hang on until I get a proper speedrun, without any other plans interfering...
Edit (16-May-2016): Slight re-routing of level 2. I skip the tank before the first fortress and take the tank after it instead. This saves ~5 seconds. The additional distance is more risky on foot than in the tank, but less than I previously thought.
Edit (18-Jun-2016): Not been streaming much lately, but have still done some off-stream attempts. One of them reaching the helicopter in level 4 (4th time on a proper attempt), but didn't get the fuel drop. I have found two minor route improvements in the helicopter sections of level 3 and 4, saving in total ~2 seconds. A perfect time with the current route lies ~27:25 (based on "real-time tas" - it's very unlikely that a console run will be able to match it though).
Edit (12-Aug-2016): I've managed to route the second tank section of stage 3 on foot instead. This saves ~15 seconds. It comes at the cost of a higher risk level, but it seems to be better than I first thought. There are two more areas that could potentially be routed on foot instead of in tank and save time. The first is in stage 2. However, it increases the risk dramatically and is also not a huge time saver because of how the tank is more efficient in dispatching enemies. The second place is in stage 4. It would save ~5 seconds, but come at the price of more risk. Considering how few attempts get that far, I have decided not to go for that option.
Edit (02-Oct-2016): I take back part of the information in my previous edit. I have now found a way through middle section of stage 2 on foot that is 6-7 seconds faster than in the tank and without much more risk added. That means stage 2 is from now on entirely done on foot!
Edit (18-Mar-2017): It's been a long time since my last update here, but some absolutely incredible advances have been made this week in understanding how the drops work. Thanks to TaoTao in the tasvideos forum, the mechanics behind the fuel drops in stage 3 and 4 can now be explained. I have transformed this information into the best routes I could find to maximize the chances of a drop (they are still slightly RNG-dependent, especially the area 4 fuel drop, but much less than before). Ikari, I'm coming for you...
Edit (30-Mar-2017): A description of both fuel drop manipulations are now available in the speedrun guide, https://kb.speeddemosarchive.com/Ikari_Warriors_(NES)/Fuel_drop_manipulation.
Edit (02-Apr-2017): New pb (off-stream) with a time of 27:31. The run contained some safe strats and a late death. The fuel drop manipulations are definitely working (even though a lot of things can still go wrong and mess them up), so I'm going to continue playing and I'm pretty confident that I can have this time beaten.
For comments about the routes, game mechanics etc, go to the guide in the sdakb. In this section, I'm just going to list deviations and other things worth mentioning compared to the planned route. As a general comment, you'll frequently see me stop for apparently no reason. This is simply to give my thumb some relief from pressing the d-pad for too long. To the extent possible, I try to use pauses imposed by the game instead, but some stretches are so long that I can't reliably hold down the same button long enough.
When making attempts, the only time losses I accepted were due to RNG. Any execution mistakes led to immediate reset. As a result, all my completed area 1 are within roughly half a second.
- 8:02 - The target plates are on some kind of global timer in this game. If everything goes perfectly up until this point, it so happens that this timer is in a particularly bad state. The resulting airstrike comes from such an angle that the target plate is scrolled off screen. Without the target, the airstrike gets "confused" and starts following you. If you continue straight ahead, it will detonate on top of you, but the situation can be salvaged by doing a full circle. Normally when I see the airstrike coming from this angle, I quickly stop to avoid scrolling the target plate off-screen. However, this time I had an enemy too close and there was no way to stop and wait for the airstrike. Around two seconds lost.
- 8:40 - I had to deviate a bit to avoid being shot by the blue soldier (RNG). Maybe half a second lost.
- 10:20 - I take a different route from what's shown in the sdakb guide. Random blue soldiers can spawn on the left side of the screen and will claim attempts every now and then if you take the route over the bridge. If any enemy soldiers venture to the right side of the screen, it's pretty easy to dispose of them while staying in shelter of the rocks. Time loss a few tenths of second.
- 10:39 - The enemy that appears in this position (RNG) has a nasty habit of tagging you with a bullet. If it appears here, I'm prepared to immediately counter by walking diagonally right. In this case, the enemy had a different pattern and that wasn't necessary. The enemy still ended up causing issues right before the bridge. Overall, pretty bad luck with the RNG, even though the time loss was hardly more than half a second.
- 13:15 - The enemy appearing on the right side is very uncommon, but almost every time results in an ended attempt. I don't really have a good plan for what to do when it appears and I sort of had to wing it. It ended up being an incredibly close call, but I somehow survived. Still a time loss of maybe 1.5 seconds.
- 16:37 - There is a badly located target plate and also a risk of bad blue soldier spawn if you run straight ahead. The failure rate is low from these two factors, but it's pretty late in the game, so I recently decided to take a safer route through the last part of the water instead. Time loss around half a second.
- 19:37 - Due to the game's object limitation, the mine spawned later than usual. This is a fairly common issue, but the result is that I had to do a bit more of diagonal movement than otherwise needed. Very small time loss.
- 20:35 - Bad luck with the exit stairs being on the left side. It can be anywhere on the 10 or so floor tiles below the desk. I lost something like three seconds compared to the best possible location on the right side.
- 21:07 - For safety, I took a small detour around the exploding rail turret. Normally, you can just run in a straight line. However, it requires the grenade to be tossed at the right moment and also that the timing of the turret spawning hasn't been messed up by the other objects on screen. Very small time loss though.
- 22:01 - It's not super risky to go through the tunnels on foot. Especially the second one from the left allow you to have pretty good control of the situation once on the other side. However, the tank is still by far the safer choice. The whole tank section can actually be done on foot, but it would demand a fairly high toll in terms of ruined attempts. For my attempts, I decided to take the safe way out and stay in the tank until the most dangerous parts were cleared.
- 23:01 - Such a close call...
- 23:37 - For reasons explained in the sdakb guide, I have to wait for the drop to appear. If it had been a fuel drop, it would have been necessary to collect it. It turned out to be a B, which has no importance and I could easily have skipped this detour. However, there is no way I could have known this. 3-4 seconds lost.
- 23:43 - Unfortunately, my shot didn't connect with the hitbox of the garbage sprite that turned out to contain the fuel drop. Instead, I had to destroy it with the helicopter and wait for it to explode. Another 3 seconds or so lost. Despite the time losses involved in getting the fuel drop, this could easily have gone a lot worse. Overall, this was well above average.
- 27:18 - You have to be very careful around the enemies in this section. I absolutely don't want to have them around when I get close to the final boss. Their explosion has also a tendency to linger around longer than you first think and it's easy to start moving too early, so I make sure to stay clear by some margin when they blow up. The amount of enemies here is random, but it's a pretty common situation that you can't take them all out without some time losses like in this attempt. Probably a second or two lost.
- 27:21 - I dabbled back and forth a bit. The positioning here isn't exactly tight, but still somewhat finicky. If you're too far to the left, the right mummy will shoot the missile in a different direction and there is a high risk of getting hit. If you're too far to the right, you'll miss the shot on the left mummy (which will then invariably lead to a hefty time loss or getting killed by it). In hindsight, I don't think I was in a bad position initially, but there and then I made a time sacrifice just to get the exact position I wanted. Not much of a time loss though.
- 27:42 - From the position you stand and toss grenades, you can start moving towards the heart as soon as the final boss explosion ends (the small explosions don't harm you though). I waited maybe a bit long before starting to move, but considering the circumstances, I thought it was best to not risk anything...
The relief of finally having completed a deathless run according to the plan by far exceeds how happy I am with the actual run and the time. There are faster (and riskier) routes that I'm well aware of and neither the execution nor the luck were more than average in this run. Even though I'm sure an improvement of this run would come much quicker than another two and a half years, I feel that I have accomplished what I set out to do and I'll settle with this run.
I have my doubts whether anyone will ever try to push the time lower or even just try to reproduce a deathless completion again. But if anyone is looking for a good challenge or just a way to get revenge on this ruthless game, I hope this run and the information about the game I have collected in the sdakb guide will prove useful.
I've been in contact with quite a few people during the making of this speedrun. There are however two that I would like to give an extra mention to.
- TaoTao - Without his help of listing the relevant RAM-addresses, I don't think I ever would have finished this speedrun. It turned out that the fastest routes in area 3 and 4 were also very detrimental for the odds of getting the required fuel drops. Once I understood the game mechanics behind the drops, it was fairly straight-forward to re-route the relevant sections and come up with strategies to vastly increase the drop chances.
- TheMexicanRunner - During his NESmania project (beating all licensed NES-games having been released in the US and in Europe), he accidentally found out about the fuel drop in area 4. This finding came shortly before I started playing Ikari Warriors and quickly became a cornerstone of the route (even though it later turned out to be a curse during my attempts - more about that in the audio commentary).
About the bloopers
Bloopers reel download
For a few months during attempts in 2015, I collected clips of failed attempts for a blooper reel. All clips except the last one come from proper attempts (the last one was from an already failed attempt). The clips have been grouped together according to which section in the game they belong to. While the video was prepared a long time before I finally completed my run, they still give some insight in the routes of the early days.
I've added a secondary audio track with game music remixes that I felt was fitting with the video. In order to give credit to the authors and in case you're interested in checking out their music, here are the tracks that were used (the first one found on youtube and the others on remix64.com):
- Ikari Warriors (NES Chiptune Metal Remix) by Koopmans Game Music
- To be on top by X-formZ
- LastNinja 2 The Mansion - remastered Type 4 by TmX
- Last Ninja 3 Intro by FastLoaders
- Thundercats (symphonic metal mix) by tags
- Giana Sisters - Strings Theory Medley by daXX
- Zak (McKrackenica edition) by NecroPolo
- The Human Race (Pop goes Classics) by DJ Mitch