It’s finally over, the Best of NES Big 20 #6 has completed and I was able to finish the entire thing! I ended up pushing the vast majority of my responsibilities to the sidelines to put in more hours of practice and my body has been punishing me for it. But we’ll talk about that later!
How’d I do:
I ended up finishing the set of twenty Famicom with a time of 5 hours 6 minutes and 27 seconds. I am extremely proud of this time as for a good majority of the month it was a little touch and go if I was going to finish at all.
A lot of practice happened. A lot a lot. After playing through all the games on the list in the first couple weeks I started to get a feel for the list and started to develop my Sooper Sekrit Winning Strategy.
At a certain point in the month I realized I wouldn’t have enough time to grind out awesome times in all twenty games. I also realized that the difference between a “casual first time completion” and “complete world record” in a few of the games was only a matter of one or two minutes. Not that big of a deal in a race that’s guaranteed to last over two and a half hours.
My strategy was to take a look at the longer and harder games. Namely Lost Levels, Gimmick!, Moon Crystal and Holy Diver. If I could ace those four games, then complete the rest of the 16 games with reasonable times I would likely have a pretty reasonable time.
The first two stages didn’t present much of a problem to me early on and I spent the vast majority of my practice sessions grinding out the significantly harder stage 3. I actually ended up writing a guide for Stage 3 to help myself and a few other streamers.
But how did I do on race day?
Horrible. For whatever reason I choked on the spots I spent so much time on and ended up with the worst time I’ve ever gotten in Holy Diver. Oh well, we had to keep moving on!
Moon Crystal is a beautiful title that I thoroughly enjoyed playing through. It’s animations are some of the smoothest I’ve ever seen, even if we include SNES titles. The difficulty in Moon Crystal stems from the boss quick kills. To manage a quick kill in Moon Crystal, you need to have a single heart left. At that point, you do triple damage on boss head shots. The jumps and attacks are extremely precise at this point.
My run was an extremely respectable 33:58, which wasn’t far from my PB for the month.
Most of this had to do with how consistent I had gotten my run. This was less due to grinding out the game as habit and more with me finding alternative safety strategies for several areas. Including the incredibly difficult cave boss, which I found out with full hearts I could run up and spam attack to finish off nearly as fast as I could with a quick kill.
An extremely difficult albeit cute platformer. One of the recurring strategies throughout the top speed runs for this game requires skillfully riding a thrown projectile and keeping track of your score. If you keep track of your hundredths and tens place in your score, you can determine exactly which item will drop when you finish an enemy. This is used to insure you have 3 bombs for the 3rd boss and fireballs when needed.
It was going to be impossible for me to master the game to that level before the big race day.
What I did instead was find areas that I could easily farm the items I needed without wasting too much time. On top of this I did manage to perfect a very handy glitch on the chicken boss.
The glitch requires you to throw a bomb and jump into the egg immediately as it passes the half-way cracked point. This clips Gimmick left through the boss. If done correctly, you can now clip through ceilings throughout the rest of the game, allowing you to bypass the entirety of the final two levels.
Come race day I managed to pull off the glitch correctly, which was a real treat. I skipped the next level straight to the boss and finished him off as planned. I did however die and game over on the final boss, making me repeat the entirety of the final stage.
I still completed the game within 14 seconds of my PB at 22:22.
This game is famously difficult. Throughout the month I was reminded of those Mario Maker stages that are made to kill the player as fast and stupidly as possible. Despite how frustrating the game was, I actually managed to learn to enjoy it and had a blast speedrunning and even created a tutorial for the extra lives jumps I used as a safety strat.
I ended up getting a PB in the run with a 20:19. Which was pretty exciting for me as I was pretty physically drained by the end of the race.
Compared to Others
I ended up getting 25th place out of around 50 people who entered the competition. Only 33 runners even finished and I met a lot of great people throughout the month so I am extremely proud to have participated.
Funny thing though:
People watching from the BestofNES channel watched as I came up from behind REAL fast in the final three games. I started Lost Levels while Bboyvenom was entering 8-1 and I still finished the game before him. He had a great run and performed way better in a lot of the other games, but I really think all the practice I put into Lost Levels really really paid off.
Future Retro Plans
I’m going to try and learn Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest next, followed by Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. This is partly because I accidently may have flashed the BIOS on my Powerpak and it’s now currently non-functional so I have to use whatever carts I actually have on hand.
Afterwards I may try to get a Ninja Gaiden time down, but I definitely plan on running in the next Big 20, it was too much fun to pass up!