|Completion Date||Sept. 4, 2013|
I should thank Mr. Kelly R. Flewin on the SDA forum for encouraging me to not only go through with this, but research how to break down the game. As he said, it's not the best game, let alone the best coded game. No thanks to Data Design Interactive for unleashing this game upon humanity. At least they didn't follow through on making a sequel to this.
About the Game
Ninjabread Man is a budget title that was first released in Europe on the PS2 and PC, but made its way overseas to Australia and America in 2007 on the Wii. It's notorious on that particular platform for the awful motion controls, though the game is tough to control even without them. The lead character likes to either run at full speed or not move at all, hit detection on enemies and obstacles seems almost random at times, it's tough to tell at times where Ninjabread Man will land while platforming and trying to attack enemies is such a chore it's almost not worth trying at all. And yet, Data Design Interactive liked this style of game so much they virtually copy-pasted it to make Anubis II and Rock n' Roll Adventures.
The game was made with Data Design Interactive's GODS engine, which meant the game was made largely with reused coding in a short development cycle. I figured there had to be a couple of ways to exploit that for speedrunning purposes and sure enough, there are. In one case this comes at the expense of this being a 100% run.
Given how slow and clunky combat is, I opted to not attack anything for the entire run. There are a couple points (which will be noted) where this almost gets me knocked off a few platforms and costs me a second or two, so there is a little room for improvement in this run.
Something else I should note is that I specifically made sure to do this run on an empty profile. After completing each stage the first time the game unlocks extra options for playing each stage again such as item collection and time attack. These show up as an extra menu before the start of each stage and not having to deal with it saves a little time.
The most important thing to note, however, is the jumping controls. If I had used the motion control input for the run it would never have gone this smoothly. What the game doesn't tell you, not even in the instruction book, is that the Z button is also mapped to jumping. That was a massive help in getting through this, though it still doesn't help that Ninjabread Man has a tendency to slide around while moving. Sharp turns are not his friend.
Ordinarily the game would have you complete three training sections on jumping, attacking with the sword and using ranged attacks. Completing these sections relatively quickly takes a little over three minutes so I spent a fair amount of time looking for ways to get beyond the barrier surrounding the stage exit.
I was incredibly fortunate to do this on the first try as Ninjabread Man likes to slip off any rounded surface, such as the lollipop I used as a boost to be able to jump on top of the wall. This part is tougher than it looks because I had to stay on the left side of the pink frosting, but not too far left or I'd fall through the level and have to start over. If I moved too far to the right or didn't jump fast enough I'd simply fall back into the stage and have to try again. After jumping all the way from the third gate to the exit however, I was able to run down behind the exit barrier and complete the stage. This saved roughly two-and-a-half to three minutes of time.
The idea of each level in this game is to collect 8 vials that power a teleporter to the next level. I've tried a few different paths and orders for collecting the vials and so far this is the best option, both from the standpoints of time and being able to dodge enemies. At one point I tried to get a boost off of a landmine, but instead it shot me into the ceiling and slowed me down for a second or so. Also the teleporter sometimes doesn't register that I'm standing in it, so there were a few fractions of a second where I was milling around inside of it trying to get the level to end.
This is also where I trigger a level skip glitch. I activate the on-screen cursor for the ranged attack and then move the Wii remote off screen so the cursor is grayed out in the corner. By doing this the "Continue" option is highlighted and I have to hit A twice; once to get rid of the cursor and once to select the menu option. The game reads this as hitting "Continue" twice, which causes the game to skip the Candy Cliffs level and go straight to the third and final level. Good riddance! Candy Cliffs is my least favorite level in the game. It's slightly shorter than Cookie Caves, but also more annoying to get through and the level skip trick doesn't work anywhere near as consistently there.
Not much to say here as the level is essentially one long straight line up until the branching paths section at the teleporter. There are a couple sections where I have to jump across a series of wafer platforms while a slice of cake shoots heat-seeking projectiles at me, which I had to move around in mid-air to dodge. Also there is a landmine in the hall leading to the teleporter room which sometimes damages me and sometimes doesn't. The mines have a blast radius almost twice as large as is shown on the ground which extends into the air, so trying to run past it without getting hit is really tough. Other than that there are a couple instances where I used my remaining health to bounce off the frosting pits to avoid some platforming sections. There's definitely room for improvement.
On the whole I feel that this was a pretty solid run. The training level skip is a make-or-break moment which I couldn't have been happier with how it went. In the stages themselves I still feel it's possible to perform a little better in some areas and, with the level skip glitch, potentially get the overall time down to 7 minutes or lower.