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Cobra Triangle
Cobra Triangle was released in 1989 and developed by Rare. Best described as a mix between RC Pro-Am and Gradius, the game has also a few twists of its own. You battle through 24 action-packed levels, including 5 seafood boss battles. Without a sequel, the game still stands unchallenged among river running action games by offering top notch gameplay, original level objectives, and a complete lack of storyline.

 

Run (EU): 0:12:18 by Dag 'ktwo' Cato

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This is my hommage to Cobra Triangle !

This run was conceived during a dark and fierce Scandinavian winter night. Being new to speedrunning, the preparations leading up to it made me aware of the downsides of this discipline : rioting nerves, bleeding eyes and soar thumbs. Other hurdles have also tried to conquer my will. How about aborting a good run because of my nice (and kind of cute) neighbor knocking on the door inviting me over for homemade cookies ? (I'm not kidding !) One of the reasons for not yet having lost my sanity because of the bland music loops or trying to get the connection between ufos abducting swimmers and jaws was slay radio. In the end, it also made wonders by reducing the effects of the stress and the other terrible things.

Before going on to the run commentaries, I would like to thank sda with its crew and runners for providing entertainment and inspiration (noone mentioned, noone forgotten). While I haven't been able to pick many (non-obvious) ideas from the tas, it still turned out to be very useful for comparing level completion times (by comparing the game timer, the tas wins 14-1 with 2 levels tied). The last thanks goes to nesbozz who provided me with solid equipment.

Ok, time for the game comments. In some areas, I will be pretty detailed. The reason is to share information that I doubt is available elsewhere (there are some walkthroughs on the net, but they are all pretty poor imho). The times I refer to below mean what the timer stopped at upon completing the stage (the timer runs down towards 0 = death).

Level 1 (1st race to the finish)
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As good as I can do it. With luck, it's possible to get extra pods from enemy boats and upgrade to speed which saves a few seconds (usually 1 or 2 if lucky). The attentive viewer will note that there is a fork halfway through the level. The path you choose will affect the level order to come. For a speedrun, there is not much to think about. The left path brings you immediately to a pod level with fixed timer where speed and fire upgrades can be acquired, while the right path goes to the 1st mine deposal. There is also a fork in level 9. Just a final remark. No-hit runs on this level are uncommon and are very much luck dependent. The time gained by this is neglible, but it's still noteworthy and looks nice.

Level 2 (1st collect pods)
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I got all speed upgrades and the 5th fire upgrade (the only vital weapon in this game). Getting three extra pods from question marks is better than average (I usually go on even if I don't get more than one). The only remaining level with pods before level 12 (where I will need 5 pods in order to use "force") is level 9. The less pods I need to collect there, the better.

Level 3 (1st mine deposal)
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As good as I can do it.

Level 4 (1st log level)
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As good as I can do it, but got hit once by a turret preventing me from getting a 0.42 on the timer. After the last triple vortex, the next set of logs will be either to the right or to the left. The key is to count the number of double vortexes in the level. If there have been two, stick to the right side after the last triple vortex and then go left. If there have been three double vortexes (as in this run), pass on the left side (the third double vortex basically cancelled the first log pattern).

Level 5 (Red dragon)
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As good as I can do it (even though the timer usually stops at 0.56 and not 0.55 like here). Timing the fire frequency is everything. If you spam the fire button, your shots will not reach the boss and too low frequency will not deplete his energy before he smashes you with the tail. The screen is fixed, so by moving to the right side after the final blow, the transition to the next level is sped up.

Level 6 (1st bonus)
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By shooting everything (including the missile posts), you get an extra animation and the 1up in the end. This must be avoided, so at least one target must be left untouched (I leave all missile posts as they don't give any points). Unfortunately, the spread gun played a trick on me on the last stretch and I missed a few targets.

Level 7 (1st save the swimmers)
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The more swimmers you manage to save, the longer it takes to count the points before going to the next level. Best therefor to just tow one dude around and let the aliens molest and conduct painful experiments on the others.

Level 8 (1st jump the waterfall)
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As good as I can do it. (it's actually possible to get a 0.52, but it requires some suicidal turning skills without saving much time)

Level 9 (2nd race to the finish)
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As good as I can do it. It's actually the only time ever I got 1.18 (=tas) on the timer ! I'm even more amazed I did this with having to pick up two extra pods, which often requires some extra turning. Notice how it's a no-hit run through this level which, believe me, requires pretty radical luck. Like in level 1, there is a fork also in this level. This time around, it not only affects the level order, but one level will also be different. Going to the left will bring you to a very difficult ice level later on (I won't say it's impossible to speedrun, but it's pretty random and nothing I'm tempted to go for) or a log level if you take the right path. The log level is not so bad and I have the impression that it's also shorter, so it's a pretty easy pick.

Level 10 (Crab)
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Insane luck ! Normally it's a very random boss fight and a bottleneck for many runs. The crab didn't extend his claws one single time, which only happened to me a handful of times before. I was so surprised that I even think I could have done it a little faster. Still, this level will be the biggest obstacle for anyone trying to beat this run !

Level 11 (2nd bonus)
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Not much to say.

Level 12 (Iceberg level)
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You never get the perfect run right ? Much of this run's bad luck was concentrated to this level. First part went ok, but I hit a few icebergs losing several seconds on the second half.

Level 13 (2nd mine deposal)
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Pretty easy level in a playthrough, but surprisingly hard to speedrun. The biggest fear is that one of the enemy boats will get stuck behind the island (happened once in this run). Best case if that happens is some extra turning costing a second (like in this run) and worst case (the more common one...) is that the enemy boat steals back the mine (=run invariably over). On top of that, I messed up the order I usually pick up the mines. Instead of getting the center mine as second mine, I would have liked the one farthest away. Cost me a second I think.

Level 14 (3rd race to the finish)
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Almost as good as I can do it. Tough level to do perfectly. I consider 0.51 as my par time like I did it here. 0.52 is possible with superior execution though. Notice how close I was to miss the second to last jump !

Level 15 (2nd collect pods)
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Did not go at all as planned. I "forgot" about the pod picked up in the previous level and triggered force instead of getting the 1st missile upgrade. The remaining pods were only enough to get the 2nd missile upgrade and almost a new force. Looking back, I should have tried the last question mark and see if it contained an extra pod. Overall, the mishappenings turned out pretty well (see level 23) and I'm very glad not losing a life here, which probably happens more than half of the times.

Level 16-18 (2nd save the swimmers, octopus and 3rd bonus)
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Not much to say. Went as I had hoped for.

Level 19 (4th race to the finish)
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Several execution mistakes. I don't know what to say. It looks poor... I'm more embarrased over this than the ice level.

Level 20 (2nd log level)
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As good as I can do it. After the second triple vortex, I passed the next set of logs on the left side. It's slightly faster to do it on the right side, but makes you a sitting duck target for the missile towers on the right shore. Also, sometimes you'll get a third set of logs before the last triple vortex. The log pattern after the last triple vortex should in that case be passed on the right side (but not too close to the missile towers !).

Level 21 (3rd mine deposal)
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Pretty much as good as I can do it, but I got unlucky on the last mine. Usually, I don't turn until after the island. This time one of the enemy boats got stuck behind the island, so I had to make an extra turn costing a second.

Level 22 (2nd jump the waterfall)
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Pretty much as good as I can do it. Perfect execution actually gives a 0.52, but I'm nowhere near being able to produce that consistently (it's a "late" 0.52 anyway). For the "casual" player, I mention also that if you just go in a straight line and trigger force after the second jump, you can continue straight ahead until the finish (going through the vortexes and hitting the three remaining jumps without having to turn).

Level 23 (Black dragon)
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As good as I can do it. It's actually the only time I got the timer to stop at 0.10 (=tas) on console ! On emu I can consistently get 0.11, but it could be because of bad emulation. Normally, the dragon continues circling around you taking more time to fry, but here he somehow got stuck below me. Curiously, the black dragon loses two energy units at the free hit at the start (hold down the fire button when the level sign disappears by the way) if you have the 2nd missile upgrade. It doesn't work with the other missile upgrades nor on the other bosses. Was this the reason for the perfect fight ? I have tried this before not getting the same result though. Anyways, I usually don't use this because it doesn't work if you also trigger force when the level sign disappears (good since it's awkward to mash A (fire) and select (to trigger force) once the level starts).

Level 24 (Jaws)
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If Jaws doesn't appear in the lower right corner, run over... This time he did not only appear in the right spot, his second appearance was also perfect ! Often, he makes one or two more turns than he does here before he reappears the second time. To be honest though, while Jaws is usually random as hell, he's actually often quite cooperative when I have good runs coming up (at least for the first appearance). Maybe the game recognises that you have a good run on the way and wants to give you a break ? :-) On emu, I can quite easily take Jaws out in the first cycle (I have made a youtube clip of it), which would save 5 seconds compared to this run. Despite many attempts, I have never been able to pull it off on console. Bad emulation or slow trigger finger ? Still, this is faster than the tas (1.16), which is always something to cheer about.

Provided noone can come up with better (human) strategies for any of the levels, here are my very subjective estimations of possible improvements (I have left out improvements of less than a second though) in game seconds:

Thus, several seconds can be gained by better luck on the ice level and not completely screwing up on level 19. Getting the same luck as in this run (reaching the extreme in some places) on the other levels will be no easy task though. Anyways, hope you enjoyed the comments and have fun watching the run (if you haven't already).

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