Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Super Mario Bros 3

The 'get yourself speedrunning' thing is starting up this weekend with Super Mario Bros 3. You can play either the original NES version or the remake on the SNES in the Super Mario All-stars cartridge. I have the latter for my SNES, so that seemed like the obvious way to go.

Earlier this week I decided I wanted to practice a little. I have no illusions about being able to win, but I would like to have a chance to beat some of the other rookies. I also wanted to test my streaming setup to make sure I could play properly in the capture card window since I don't have a splitter. So I unpacked my SNES and hooked everything up.

The power adapter I have (not an official Nintendo version but some cheap replacement I bought after someone stole my NES and all my wires out of the MathSoc Exec office) doesn't have a very long wire, and I didn't see an easy way to plug it in while still being able to play at my desk. My mother had an extension cord lying around so I figured I'd just use that. So I plugged it in, turned on the power, and the red power light blinked on and then off.

Weird... I gave it a second try but it didn't even blink on this time. I did hear a weird popping sound, however... And then the room smelled like burning and it started to get smoky. I didn't think things through properly and grabbed the wire to unplug it. That certainly worked, but both the extension core and the adapted box were pretty hot. I got a weird burn thing under the nail on my right thumb from it. It did stop the smoke from continuing to fill the room, which was good.

Anyway, I no longer have the ability to power up my SNES. If it even works at all after this debacle. My hope is the adapater was set up to protect the system and that's why it blew. And I still don't know why the extension cord broke it. Maybe it can't handle the power needs of a power brick? I don't know. I'll need to find another power thingy, but I won't be able to do so by Saturday.

The SRL website does talk a little about when you're allowed to use an emulator. The one I use for my SNES Saturday posts is on their allowed list, and they say people using emulators have to stream or they'll get banned. Well, I can do that! So I'm going to try to use an emulator... And that meant I could practice!

I figured the right idea would be to pull up the speedrun from AGDQ since they ran the warpless category there. So I'd get a proper route and see what tricks the guy was using and could try to copy them. Try being the operative word there... I can't use the p-meter extension trick very well (probably a problem with my 'thumbo' control strategy) and I certainly can't memorize the timing for all the jumps and such even if I could do it. But I went stage by stage on the first world to try things out.

I have a new appreciation for how crazy these speedruns are to pull off consistently. It's not like you can just know how to run and jump and then wing it! You really need to know the exact layout of everything in every zone to know what you can jump off of. In stage 1-6 the guy skipped the entire slow moving platform aspect by doing an 'impossible' p-meter charge, jumping off into space, bouncing off of a flying Koopa, and then juking back to hit a small platform you can't possibly see until it's too late. Confuse the timing from any two levels and you die and blow your run.

I pushed through trying to copy the run and ended up being able to clear all of world 1 without dying. (Well, I did 18 runs and got deathless runs only twice... And actually gameovered on most of them!) My time was a little under 4:30. The AGDQ guy did it in around 3:40. I sure don't think I can get any better though! Not without actually figuring out the p-meter trick. And I can't imagine I'll remember any of this stuff by tomorrow, let alone after doing this for 7 more worlds.

I'm also not sure if I should be actively trying to avoid extra lives from matching 3 of a kind at the end of levels like good people do. I feel like getting 4 extra lives is probably more important for me than shaving off 6 seconds every 3 levels. I also wonder if I should be doing the mushroom houses and spade levels to get extra lives and consumables or if those are just wastes of time. Obviously they're wastes of time for competent players. I guess one issue is I consistently failed to get anything out of the spade level in world 1. So I'd probably just be spending time for nothing at all, and that has to be wrong!

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