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ActRaiser
Released in November 1991, ActRaiser featured a very unique two-genre system where the player would go through a sidescrolling stage, go through a simulation sequence where the player takes the role of an angel purging the land of evil, then go through another sidescrolling stage to completely purge a region of its evil. You play a deity who is trying to wrest control of world from the grip of the evil being Tanzra.

 

Run (Single Segment, Death Abuse): 1:07:06 by Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe

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Welcome to the world of ActRaiser!

Speed Run Rules

ActRaiser was an early release game for the SNES by Enix (now known as Square Enix). This game is a dual-mode game, featuring Action stages (Acts) and Simulation stages. Each of the 6 main areas features 2 acts and a simulation in between. The initial act must be cleared to allow development of the people in the area, and the second act must be cleared after all monster lairs are sealed to stop the people from being scared of monsters. Only after all 12 acts are cleared is when the final act available and can be completed.

Every area (except Deathheim) has a level requirement, which means I occasionally have to wander around the simulation sections for a while before moving on. This is because the level you are at is based upon the total number of people in the world. Level requirements for each area and their population equivalent:

Bloodpool and Kasandora have post-Act II scenarios that halt population growth if they are triggered and aren't corrected. Each scenario has an item to correct it (Music for Bloodpool scenario and Herbs for Kasandora scenario) but a speedrunner doesn't have time to get these items, go back to the area with the problem, use them, and then continue on. This means I have to watch my local population levels after Act II. Bloodpool is the only one I have to worry about, as I need to stick around long enough to get the scroll from Teddy (Kasandora I can scram before it happens, even if it is right away). So as long as Bloodpool's population level is below 300, I am safe. If the totals go above 300 and I am NOT in the area, the growth is not inhibited until I return to the area.

I apologize for the simulation being a tad boring, but as I said above, I don't have much of a choice have to get through it to do other acts and areas.

Just as a notation to those curious, I specify the US version as there are considerable differences between it and the Japanese version (and the PAL version too). The US version though is the fastest of the three by a considerable margin (especially since the PAL version runs at 5/6th the speed!). While I won't go into all the differences, I will say they were numerous, in gameplay, difficulty, and the US version removed religious references (The Master is really God, Tanzara is Satan, Sky Palace is actually Heaven, etc). Likely I'll make a list of all the changes and put it up on my site, as time allows.

This run is a culmination of the work and ideas brought by the Max Population guide at GameFAQs by Admiral, TASers OgreSlayeR and Zidanax, as well we my own severe studying of the game. This allowed me to beat the presently listed TAS by about 39 seconds. This was an wonderful feeling for me, though I'm sure when Zidanax gets done with the new improved TAS (thanks to new tools they have now that they didn't have when OgreSlayeR had like RAM watching and frame advance) he will wax my time.

This run was my eleventh version of this mode. I've put up a comparison sheet on my website comparing the times of my runs to each other and to the TAS. Feel free to check it out, as it goes much more into detail than I can here. My prior submission was my 7th version, for notation purposes (and the submission before was #4).

Runners Notes:

And with that, the world is saved. The people praise their lor...wait. Where ARE the people? The temples are empty! Have they already forgotten the struggles their master (and themselves) went through to create peace? This is the lesson.

But enough talk. Have at scores!

A final thanks to OgerSlayeR, Zidanax, StrangenessDSS, and Admiral. Without your help, this run wouldn't be as wonderful as it could have been.

This run is (C) 2007 Nicholas "Sir VG" Hoppe and is allowed for downloading and private viewing. Permissions for hosting this run have been granted to Radix and Speed Demos Archive. Public viewing of this run is prohibited without prior permission from the creator. The selling or distribution of this run for profit in any way, shape, or form including (but not limited to) selling on eBay and television for profit is prohibited without prior permission from the author. Any violation of the above listed may result in legal action. ActRaiser is (C) 1991 Enix (now Square Enix).

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." Genesis 1:31

FIN

Professional! run (Death Abuse): 0:25:37 by Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare

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I want to give a huge thanks to the crew at SDA as always! Thanks to the SDA IRC too, for fielding some of my frustration and encouraging me. I sure needed it. ;)

Speed run history:
29:31 by Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe on 2007-01-01.
27:43 by Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe on 2007-08-04.

The following description of Professional! mode is stolen from Sir VG's previous comments:

"Professional! mode has the following changes from the normal game mode:
1. You start with the full 24 HP.
2. Magic is removed.
3. Simulation Mode is removed. You just go from act to act.
4. The initial 'statue inhabiting' animation has been removed form the start of the acts. You simply start the level right away.
5. Enemy damage does 2 HP damage. Terrain damage still does just 1.
6. Enemies that normally take 1 hit to kill now take 2. Multi-hit enemies don't take any more than before. Certain 'destructible terrain' like the floating skulls in Aitos Act I still only take 1 hit to kill.
7. Certain enemies have a different pattern, though not very many.
8. Magic Scrolls in the Acts have been replaced by Crushes.
9. NO CONTINUES. You lose and it's game over.
10. After an act is cleared, there is no life/time bonus. Your life gets refilled and you move on to the next level.
11. Projectiles in Aitos Act I have been removed and replaced with a 1-UP. You still get them for the Tanzra battle.
12. Ending is removed and you just go straight to the credits, with the final image changed from 'THE END' to 'YOU ARE THE BEST PLAYER!' "

Actraiser is the first game I ever speed ran, so it means a lot to me. I myself have completed three speed runs of this:

28:05 on 12-15-2008
26:40 on 4-29-2010
This one, on 10-15-2010

I was planning on submitting my 26:40 run to SDA, but the quality was really, really poor so I decided to just redo it. I decided to go all-out on this run and use all of the tricks and shortcuts I know of, without holding back. The main trick-based improvement in this run is the walljump. I don't exactly know how it is done to be honest, and I made sure I didn't find out so I wouldn't concentrate too hard on it. I know that, generally, you have to be flush against the wall with your back to it, be in the air as something is about to hit you, and press toward the wall very briefly at some point before it hits you. This nestles you inside the wall and lets you just continue to jump up inside the wall until you reach a ceiling. I use it in 4 places in this run, and was somehow lucky enough to land it on my first try each time. This is definitely not the norm.

Anyways, from that trick alone, I cut nearly a minute from my best run and eliminated my previous trouble spots. Plus, hey, it looks pretty amazing. If you are inside a wall with no ceiling, it is possible to walk straight through the wall to the edge of the screen. I use this in Marahna Act I to cut straight to the exit without navigating through the end of the first screen. However, in these same situations, jumping off the top of the screen results in a death. I was really hoping for an out-of-bounds glitch, but sadly that isn't the case.

The only place where a walljump is possible without damage boosting is the boss of Bloodpool Act II. I use it in this run for those were who curious. It is not useful at all, except for hitting the boss when he appears in the upper left, but if he does that I usually just reset.

There are two other very subtle techniques I used a little, but they aren't very obvious. The first is avoiding projectile attacks by hitting them with the sword as they are about to hit you. I do this twice in Fillmore Act II with the goblin daggers, and a few times in Northwall with the axes of the axemen. It is actually very useful to do this and saves a lot of nasty knockback and health. The other technique is what I call "sword canceling". This is really difficult to try to plan in advance, but if you get hit shortly after you swing your sword, you can swing again sooner than you could otherwise. That is, two normal swings are slower than swing -> hit -> swing if timed correctly. I only 'planned' on using this against the first boss and Kasandora Act I boss, but sometimes I did it by accident in other places.

Individual level comments (best times in parentheses):

Fillmore Act I:

I missed a jump off the treeman, but mistakes hardly cost any time. The boss fight could've been faster (5 hits on the second round of swings is ideal), but it's still fine. No complaints here. I think 251 is possible, but I have never done it before. It would require absolute perfection, which I am not capable of.

Times:
250 (250)


Fillmore Act II:

I messed up a little on the skeleton knight guard, but I'm not sure if it cost me any time. This was actually the first time I just walked through the first red demon, so I'm not sure if 174 is possible in that room with a better fight or not. I imagine it is.

The second room is our first instance of the wall jump, and this is by far the easiest one to do. The bullet is telegraphed and gives plenty of time to prepare for the jump.

Times:
173 (173)
171 (172)
188 (188)


Bloodpool Act I:

Love this level. It's a lot of fun and it seems like no matter what I mess up, it doesn't cost more than 1 second ever. The boss could've been done a lot quicker, but I've never gotten a 248 time, so I guess it doesn't matter much.

Times:
247 (247)


Bloodpool Act II:

I used to hate this level a LOT, because of that large 3rd-last room with the elevators. If I miss the elevator the first time, I have to wait for like 6 seconds for them to come by again. I haven't missed that once in these attempts somehow, but I had a contingency plan in store. If I miss that elevator, I can use that slimeball to initiate a walljump in the right wall. That's actually 5 seconds faster, but has the lowest success rate out of any tricks in this game for me, mostly because I only get one shot at it. Anyways, I don't have to use it here, so there's nothing to fear. This level is a lot of fun now.

I missed the upper elevator in the second room and lost 2 seconds, but that's nothing to be concerned about. I usually get it though, which is strange. The fourth room went very well; I hit the first elevator and didn't have to use the walljump. On the next screen, if I press away from the gargoyle statues right before I am hit (maybe AS I am hit, I don't know), then the recoil will hit me forward instead of backwards. If I do it twice successfully, I can reach the end in 95 and not 94, but I missed both times.

The boss goes well. Some might disagree with my choice to trigger the wolf transformation, but it honestly doesn't matter. If he doesn't give me a suitable pattern to kill him pre-transformation, then I don't do it. I have killed him in 2 appearances quite a few times, but wasn't so lucky here. Regardless, 179 is a really good time for him.

Times:
95 (95)
184 (186)
96 (96)
166 (172)
94 (95)
176 (176)
179 (185)


Kasandora Act I:

LOL. Oh man. See how I took the bottom route there at the start? Complete accident. I had no idea what was even down there, since I've never gone that way. Really good recovery though, I must admit. In fact, that is faster than the upper route, but I can't see it ever working that well again. I normally get 165 on this room, but if the second fireball monster drops fireballs on me, I have to wait for a second to manipulate the lower one again. I hardly care about 1 second lost though, especially when I messed up so badly at first.

This boss. Wow. So here's the deal. I am certain I heard the sword hit him 4 times, but clearly I was wrong. So I stopped to adjust my glasses during the end-of-level celebration and then I realized he wasn't dead. Unfortunate. 5 round kills are so embarrassing. In fact, the two attempts before this one killed him in 3 rounds with some really good sword-canceling. Oh well.

Times:
164 (165)
148 (155)


Kasandora Act II:

This is the hardest level in the game, hands down. This has the hardest jump in the game and a very difficult walljump to set up (for me at least). Health is also a big issue with the route I take, but luckily I don't need more than one hit to set up the walljump in this run; if I take too much damage in that second room, I don't have enough to reach the third room elevator by 173, which is a 12 second loss. I hate this level so much.

That being said, I had a really good run of this level. I missed the jump the first time and lost 4 seconds, but I landed the first walljump, which is excellent. Overall that second room can be done 4-5 seconds faster with a perfect first jump and a perfect walljump, but that is very rare for me.

Times:
83 (83)
171 (175)
159 (159)
185 (185)


Aitos Act I:

Meh. Nothing to say here really. Last screen wasn't so great, and the boss needs work. I missed a lot of hits on him somehow, so he needed a few more passes to kill.

There's a really, really difficult jump at the top of the volcano at the end of the first screen. If you jump across that gap, you can just walk to the right and trigger the checkpoint that way. It saves a lot of time, but I've only ever done it once. I can use the fireballs to trigger a walljump and get up there that way, but that method only saves 2-3 seconds and is hardly reliable.

Times:
226 (226)
77 (81)
168 (172)


Aitos Act II:

This level is sheer terror when your hands are shaking. A LOT can go wrong here, but luckily I did fine. That archer in the final room caused me some trouble because I failed to kill him earlier, but still no big deal.

Boss was really poor. Fell off the platform and missed a lot of hits for a 2-second loss.

Times:
81 (82)
96 (96)
172 (172)
186 (188)


Marahna Act I:

Absolutely perfect level. I was not expecting to land that walljump on my first attempt. Very fortunate.

Times:
175 (175)
185 (185)
178 (178)


Marahna Act II:

Hahaha, funny story. I thought the next level was Northwall Act I already, so I was holding right. I was nervous, ok? ;)

This level goes fine, though. Oh, see how that fireball hit me? I totally missed that jump and the fireball saved it. Close call!

Kalia was nice about the lightning attacks this time. He can be killed in 3 drops, if you hit 7 times before he rams you. I'd love to demonstrate that, but I'm horrible so I can't. Just trust me.

Times:
81 (82)
95 (95)
278 (278)
275 (279)


Northwall Act I:

This is very fortunately an easy level. Made a few minor mistakes here and there, but nothing too bad. I definitely needed this easy level before Northwall Act II.

Times:
177 (177)
181 (181)
153 (154)
177 (177)


Northwall Act II:

Words cannot express how nervous I was in this level. SO much can go wrong in the second screen. First off, that damage boost has basically no warning at all. I make sure that the beginning of that screen is exactly the same (timing-wise) every single time without fail, and then I watch the clock and use that as my queue. I have no idea how I got lucky enough to get the walljump on my first try, but that's amazing. The rest of the climb will actually behave this way every time as long as I don't mess it up too much. Very convenient.

In the bubble chamber, I took 1 second longer than usual to make sure I didn't fall off the bubble too early (happened a lot in practice somehow). I'd gladly make that trade-off anyday.

Boss was meh. My bad.

Times:
94 (94)
262 (262)
184 (185)
168 (172)


Death Heim:

Panic! Actually, the first four bosses were really, really good. I even killed Zeppelin Wolf pre-transformation! Kalia used a lot of electricity on me and took a lot of time, and Arctic Wyvern fight was just really, really poor. I wanted to make sure I'd have enough health for Tanzra (save a costly suicide), but I played it maybe too safe.

Tanzra himself is possible to kill in 3 rounds, but I'm bad at that. I just wanted to make sure I beat the game without dying at the last minute (which almost happened somehow). Very scary moment.

Times:
I have no idea what ideal is here, so I won't bother. I know Kalia and Wyvern were rather slow and that's all I care about.


Conclusion:

This is the best run I'll ever have of this game. I promise. On the levels themselves, I can save maybe 20 seconds if I land every trick on the first attempt, but that will never happen. The bosses can be done maybe another 20-30 seconds faster (last 2 Death Heim rematches and first round Zeppelin Wolf in particular), but getting good patterns is pretty rare. So sure, sub-25 is "possible", but I doubt any human will obtain that time. A good improvement time should shoot for 25:20, if anybody cares to try. It's possible with a lot of practice and patience, I think.

Thanks for watching!

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