|Completion Date||Aug. 12, 2013|
I mention in the comments that all of the special move inputs are kind of finnicky, so I mess a few of them up here and there, but all told there can't have been more than 2 seconds lost to this.
Level 7 is ugly, but all the other stages are basically immaculate and I even get really good and decent luck on stages 1 and 2 respectively. Improvements to this run are basically all going to be in the form of luck. This cuts 34+ seconds off a 13 minute run and I think that merits an obsoletion.
A quick note, my splits are based on an emulator world record I've had for a while, not the current LigerofFortune run which is kind of a trainwreck.
The first two levels are boring. Just collecting experience and trying not to go too slow. One improvement over the old Liger run is that instead of simply doing two up-kicks on the witch, I do one and then fall with a knee drop. This does more damage and also gets me on the ground faster so I can do the next jump. It's a little tricky, and you have to wait a split second or so at first so she'll drop low enough for the knee drop to work.
I save ~7 seconds on this level.
Nothing interesting here, really. As far as I can tell, the drops in this game all work off a local per-screen timer that resets whenever you exit a magic-get cutscene or exit a screen transition. Through brute force I managed to find a little frame-tight dance to consistently get 50 exp drops off most of the enemies on this screen, but this is the only screen where I've been able to do it.
A quick kill on the boss saves me a couple wolf-jump cycles, and it's relatively easy to pull off. I finally get the slide in this level, and the actual speed run can start.
I lose ~2 seconds on this level due to not-too-great EXP drops.
It's a second or two faster to let the blue guy teleport down to your level so you can knee drop him as opposed to just doing the double up-kicks Liger seemed so fond of. I pick up the two chests because as you'll see later, magic is really really important in this game, and also sliding from the left chest helps me position myself for the next few slides. Enemies react/spawn slightly differently depending on where you are on the screen when you scroll them on, and this position is almost optimal as I only get hit by one little slime. I goof up a little on the wall and end up taking a hit from one of the shield snakes, but this is just a few frames at most.
In the next room, I get hit by a water drop for the first time ever and because of this I knew this would probably end up being the run. Not much to say here. Knee dropping is faster than falling, sliding is faster than walking, so I slide and knee drop. The first frame that you can knee drop from a slide is easy to find if you just hold the opposite direction while sliding. You just wait until you see him turn and then input the knee drop. I knee drop the boss to death.
I gain ~2 seconds on this split.
The life magic pickup here is one of the only magics in the game that actually cost time to get, but in the long run it saves time beacuse without it you'll just die a lot. In Kick Master, the only time you ever get a health refill is when you die, so usually on this level I'll take an intentional death by dropping into the cliff it starts you in front of after getting the magic. For reasons I'll never understand I somehow have full health though, so I skip this death and try to improv my way through the rest of the level as not taking the death changes the stalagmite patterns a little. I lose a second maybe from a little nervousness on the stalagmites (because they almost always knock you straight into a cliff), but I save 3-4 seconds from not taking the death. Again, I knee drop because it's faster than falling, and because it makes this part look cooler. Just like the level 3 miniboss, it's faster to let this one teleport down first so you can knee drop it.
I gain another 2 seconds on this split.
The way Liger does this miniboss is harder, as you can't jump as high when you're under the windowed area, but in the end the amount of time it saves is negligible, especially since he screws it up in his run.
The octopus is just nonsense. The falling bubbles are completely random. Basically, you either kill him in one cycle or two. So you either gain a huge amount of time, or you lose a huge amount of time. In the 1000+ runs I've done of this game, I've been able to one-cycle this boss exactly once, and it just so happened to be in the emulator run that I'm comparing my times against, so this was always always a red split.
I somehow only lose 7 seconds on this split, due to me not one-cycling the octopus.
This level hurts my hands. Constantly sliding with a few goofed inputs (the slide is kind of finnicky). When I slide over the cliffs, I get all three bad-luck-zombies, which costs me a little time. I mess up the quickest-kill on the harpies, but manage to improv something that only costs me a second or two. I've literally never killed them this way before.
I gain 8 seconds here.
This level is horrible. I lose 4-5 seconds messing up the knee drop loop on the lion, I mess up the knee drop loop three times on the bug miniboss, miscount the castles so I fudge getting the heart, and finally I mess up the knee drop on the final bug of the game.
The doppelganger fight goes well, and then I get the god luck on the spider man until: I decide to spit in God's face by messing up hard on the execution here. Even with all these mistakes, this spider boss is still substantially faster than Liger's as well as 90% of my own, just due to him actually letting me knee drop him so much on his first descent.
I lose about 11 seconds on this level, because my old record also get even godlier luck on the spider and I also didn't mess up all the minibosses.
This is where most people stop playing this game, as in a non-speedrun it's probably the first actually challenging level of the game.
First miniboss: Liger actually does something really amazing here. If you stand under this boss and tap out a perfect up kick rhythm or mash with Contra-God speeds, you can stunlock him to death. I do something that's safer but at the same time a lot riskier. If you use Earthquake a frame or two after he comes out of his little spinning animation, he's frozen, and you have a LOT more leeway with your up-kick inputs. If you freeze him even a frame before his spin stops, he's invincible, and you're losing 10+ seconds, so it's a reset. If you do it too late, he'll be slightly too high and your up-kicks will push him to the right until he's off screen, making it impossible to quick kill him. It's risky, but I manage to do it.
Second miniboss: Even with one goofed kneedrop this still goes faster than Liger's fight. By this point he had gotten to level 3, which gives you the double roundhouse kick. Per-kick, the double roundhouse kick actually out damages the knee drop, so Liger uses it on this guy. However, I've timed it, and due entirely to the speed with which you can do the knee drop, it gets you a quicker kill on this boss.
The next room: These bubbles are completely random and this room is horrible. The bubbles all knock you back like twice as much as getting hit in a castlevania game, and despite being one of the last games made for the NES, Kick Master has the ol' vertical scrolling problem: If you scroll a platform off the screen and then fall onto it, you die. FrankieSnow came up with the idea of using an Earthquake during the most difficult section of this room because it: A) Mostly eliminates the bubbles and B) Freezes the random teleporting mage enemies before their hitbox can teleport in, removing them from the equation.
Third miniboss: The double roundhouse kick is the fastest way to beat this guy, usually, but I froze him a little too late and had to use sweeps to hit him. I lose maybe 2 seconds because of this.
I have a little trouble getting up to the top platform because usually these bubbles just go to town on you here. This is actually probably the fastest I've ever managed to get up here after killing the boss. I wait for the boss to finish exploding because waiting up by the blocks is suicide. The bubbles will just immediately spawn and hit you, and health is very important for the next section.
Final boss: First you have to fight 4 shapeshifters. There are two forms the shapeshifters can take that can break them out of the knee drop loop: the rolling guy and the snake shield. The second and third shapeshifters both hate me, so they transform into the rolly guy and proceed to muck up the run. The fourth cooperates but I mess up a knee drop input and take a hit from a frog. Shameful.
The last boss is the same as Liger's run. The Uyama earthquake strat is unbeatable and I've never found a faster way to do this. Knee drops don't work here because the boss's hit box is ridiculous and earthquake just freezes enemies, it doesn't remove their hit box. Freezing the boss is again a few-frames trick, as if you freeze her too high your kicks will move her to the side, and if you freeze her too low you won't be able to kick through her gigantic hit box.
I gained 21 seconds on this split due to my old record having a death on the final boss.
Overall this run is really good. Beating this game without dying at all is ridiculously hard even if you stop and grind to get all the kicks. Getting incredibly lucky on the first two stages with EXP drops could save upwards of 10 seconds, one-cycling the octopus saves about 10 seconds, and having a smoother level 7 would've saved probably 5-6 seconds. However given that the first two things would require an insane amount of luck (you'd need exp drops almost equivalent to what the TAS gets to save a substantial amount of time, and one-cycling the octopus is a fever dream) and the level 7 time I get is actually WITH a good amount of luck, beating this run would just be kind of an exercise in frustration.