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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2021 8:11 pm 



Joined: 24 Jan 2020
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@ MathU : I'm guessing you're taking Titanic Lance's route ? That would explain the lack of homing. I can no-miss no-bomb no-auto the boss when I'm on a very good day and I've kept rank low, but what usually gets me is the rank and the lack of homing at stage 6. Don't feel confident enough for timing it out either, but I definitely need to work on a serious M route clear eventually.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2021 5:37 am 


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Ah man, I had a really good run where I got 12.1M on Zone Z, but I missed the last capture. Coulda been 12.3 plus. It was one of those where you actually destroy the capture ball first but as you stop firing and go to pick it up the captain dies when you're like 2 pixels away from grabbing it. Nooooo! Lol

So is it possible to graze the wounded captain with your shield on the way in to pick up the ball and cause collision damage? I'll have to check my replay later and see wtf happened.

Edit: In this case I just messed up the spacing a bit and it was my last couple missiles that killed the captain. Of course you could cause massive damage by accidentally ramming the wounded captain, but you would need to be pretty careless for that to happen.

Another thing I've always wondered is what causes the desync on Curious Chandeliers' swinging chandelier attack. Sometimes you get that effect where some of the balls swing in a staggered second phase. Usually its not that hard to deal with, but once or twice I've had this happen in a particularly nasty way that made the fight nearly impossible.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2021 12:43 pm 



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Quote:
So is it possible to graze the wounded captain with your shield on the way in to pick up the ball and cause collision damage? I'll have to check my replay later and see wtf happened.


I think yes, contact dommage is so powerfull that it's possible, it happened to me before lol.

Quote:
Another thing I've always wondered is what causes the desync on Curious Chandeliers' swinging chandelier attack. Sometimes you get that effect where some of the balls swing in a staggered second phase. Usually its not that hard to deal with, but once or twice I've had this happen in a particularly nasty way that made the fight nearly impossible.


I don't think it's random, it probably has to do with positionning but doesn't he also desync by himself ? Anyway that attack is all about herding, it's just that it can be puzzling when desync (especially at high rank).


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2021 4:33 pm 


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The arm desync happens naturally as the fight progresses and Curious Chandelier spends time at the screen edges with some of its arms off screen and inactive while others are not. What's nasty is when arms don't return to its body with the rest and keep swinging around for a bit, especially if this happens early when they still have a lot of health. In my vague experimentation, it seems like this is triggered when you have too much ship movement while the arms are resetting. That could be entirely confirmation bias on my part, however, and it may simply be completely random when this occurs.

By the way, I've stressed many times in the past on this forum how important rocket damage is and people who feel like they need to mash the shot button to get anywhere are neglecting their rockets. But mastering these bosses and minibosses at high adaptive difficulty on Odious Trident and Curious Chandelier routes has greatly enhanced my appreciation for this. Over and over, every time I find a new and more efficient way to damage things it has come from getting in close and prioritizing stuffing rockets into targets over white bullets, such that I find myself mashing the shot button for only very short intervals and in fewer specific cases over time. The damage enhancement from human mashing rates is very small compared to finding ways to get in close to targets and place rockets in them. The latter is the skill that truly makes a difference in this game.
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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2021 5:59 pm 


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I've been doing some studying of replays and note taking to figure out what WR pace scores are for the levels minus the silver medals and bosses.

It's kind of hard to optimize score in this game due to the large random element of the silver medals. In 99 percent of other shmups you could simply look at a high level replay stage by stage and look at where your score is lower than ideal. Here it's tough to identify at a glance if you played less than optimal on a stage and got lucky with medals or totally optimal and got unlucky.

The Cozmic Collection training mode gives an opportunity to play stages starting from zero points with the rank level and shot power you want so I'm going to do each stage in training mode while skipping the silver medals (or subtracting them) to break down where I'm missing points. It just gets really hard to tell at a certain point if it's that you need to play at higher rank to get more spawns, you inadvertently missed a wave bonus, midboss killed too many enemies etc. when you only have a vague idea of what your target score is per stage.

IMO the last 500k or so point before hitting WR level in this game would be the highest mountain bc at that point you've already learned almost everything and are pretty much squeezing blood from a turnip. 500k doesn't sound like a lot for example going from 12.3 to 12.8 on Zone Z. But when you look at what your base score is before the massive end bonus screen and minus 250k give or take for all your silver medals, allowing for some solid luck, your actual base score is really more approx. 5.3M and you're trying to push it up to 5.8M. When you look at it from that perspective, even though 12.3 is a pretty good score for Zone Z, you still need to increase your base score by around 10 percent to get close to the best players, even without the help of the silver medals.

I think the hierarchy of learning in the last 500k points should be:
1. Optimize absolutely everything in the stages. If you're spending 7 or 8 minutes milking the first two bosses every run, then leaving scraps on the table by missing a wave bonus right after, you're just wasting time and adding frustration bc you're not really ready. Actually study what your point value expectations are for each section or at least the really important and variable sections ie Zone J bombing. This is the most important thing overall. Random point drops here and there add up. Little things like the enemy troop carriers or boulders that appear only for seconds before the boss warning siren etc. Set up autofire even/odd frame inputs to prevent midbosses from firing and stealing points where you can. This is done on all the world record runs.

2. Add in the milking. Keeping in mind that the first two boss milks are only worth about 17k each and add significant time and rank gain, maybe don't go for it on every single run. If you're not feeling it, give yourself a break so you don't get burned out.

3. Early red powerups. This makes the last two captures at extreme high rank much more difficult bc you don't have the white balls any more. Certain boss patterns will also take longer and can't be quick killed nearly as fast even with auto. No reason to go for this unless you're literally at near WR.

4. Hold down auto 100 percent of the time to push rank for increased boss destructible shot spawns. I put this last bc I'm thinking about the lower route. This could be a bigger priority if you're on a route where it can contribute more to the score.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2021 6:33 pm 


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Quote:
What's nasty is when arms don't return to its body with the rest and keep swinging around for a bit, especially if this happens early when they still have a lot of health.


I had one isolated incident where fully half of his arms did this after the first cycle. Then the lingering half continued to track and swing in a second staggered timing that would chase you down right after you avoided the first wave. I would almost go so far as to say it made the fight completely impossible. Luckily that seems to be very rare as usually the desync is annoying but still manageable.

Seems like the only place mashing would be totally necessary is to get score boosts in certain areas. For example the three troop carriers that appear right before Fatty Glutton. With perfect spacing and full auto you can point blank them with shot and rockets and get all the troops followed by the carrier for each one. Hard to say how close you can get to replicating this with fast mashing but surely you can pick up few more points than with the default auto rate at least.

Probably with an arcade stick set up to have 3 A buttons you could mash piano style fast enough to get Deadly Crescent's tail, at least on Zone U with homing missiles. I estimate you need at least 15 hz to get this reliably. (Of course there are a few psychos out there who can easily do this even with an NES pad, but that won't be me lol.) I'm not sure that kind of 3 button setup would really be considered non auto as it really breaks the idea of going with a full default layout.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 5:01 pm 


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I'm still going through and looking at replays and figuring out optimal scores by stage, but the first thing that jumps out at me is how different stage scores are between runs that look very similar. Even if you look at a short straightforward stage and subtract out the score from the silver medals there will still be a difference of 20k or 40k sometimes even more between runs on every stage.

This is a bit of a mystery as I was expecting two optimal runs at similar rank and both destroying every enemy to be practically identical score wise other than the medals. I do remember someone saying they thought that enemies destroyed too soon as they enter the screen would not be counted? I'll have to look into this a bit more. It seems like at high level play these variations in score during the stages add up to be at least as important as the medal luck if not moreso.

Another small observation about Neon Light Illusion J. We were talking about boss knock back when destroying parts. I noticed that the odd tentacles that you destroy 1st, 3rd and 5th will cause knockback and the even ones don't. Doesn't matter which ones you shoot first, big or small. You will get knockback in that order. This is important bc he can easily crush you if you're behind him and destroy a tentacle so good to know when you're safe or not.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:03 pm 


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Noticed something about the 1st boss, Golden Ogre. He has that thin white laser attack that will trigger while milking the yellow fish scales once you reach 16/255 rank. I decided to see if I could trigger this attack on a nonauto (default shot rate, no mashing) run and it's impossible. I boosted rank by getting all max blue powerups and wave bonuses during the stage etc. I hit rank 16 but only right before the boss timed out at the 4 minute mark.

Of course trying to do the milk without auto is silly since it's too dangerous and you don't have enough firepower to get a significant amount of points. It was kinda fun just to figure out how to survive once the cubes came along though.

I know this debate is like beating a dead horse, but IMO this dispels any notion that there is only one true way the devs intended this game to be played ie without auto. If that were the case, why would they include a complete attack animation that will never be seen by players using the default fire rate?


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:58 pm 


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1. You can see that attack easily on higher difficulty modes (Hard and Very Hard)
2. It's possible Golden Ogre wasn't originally intended for the first stage (I think that may have been Crusty Hammer actually)
3. By that very same logic, note the immensely larger number of interesting boss attacks you never see at all with rapidfire cheats
4. There are many more persuasive reasons that it's obvious the game was deliberately balanced around its default firing rate including rapidfire breaking miniboss attacks, rapidfire breaking max shot power tracking shot mechanics, and the simple fact that they deliberately chose the game's particular rate of shooting.
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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2021 10:19 pm 



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That attack can be seen without high rank, just need to stay there. It can be milked without auto, as with everything else (including Great Thing's drills). Crusty Hammer was indeed intented to be the first boss, I'll post quotes of the Cozmic book around this week or next week, also need to catch up on the recent talk.

And yes it is totally beating a dead horse lol. I've given up trying to convince anyone, I encourage people to play the game as they prefer. As Darius Gaiden was the first shmup I ever cleared and that I didn't know what rapifire was at the time I stand along MathU : the game is not impossible without 30hz, it's very far from it. I can't help but feel Darius Gaiden with 30hz is a joke compared to default play, and I really feel it's a shame that the japanese don't track the two categories like they do on other games. People are free to play their games and enjoy them however they want, but as MathU said they are many more reasons to believe devs didn't intend people to use external autofire for any Darius games (it sometimes being in the dipswitches is not an argument, many things are in the dipswitches). I calso don't buy the argument from autority (tainted with racism) that the japanese would somehow know better how to play their games.

Also big question : shouldn't we try to edit the first page of this thread ? It has a lot of wrong info that has been fooling (myself included) people for a long time.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2021 3:21 am 


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Quote:
That attack can be seen without high rank, just need to stay there.


I did time the boss out without having the laser appear. If I'm not mistaken it's tied to rank and not on a timer. Also I think even though this boss was apparently swapped in part way through development they would have rebalanced it accordingly.

Quote:
I'll post quotes of the Cozmic book around this week or next week


That would be cool. I've been curious about this book and also the Blu-ray that came with the Darius 30th Anniversary collection. Odd that they didn't put out info about the included replays. I saw some mention of a 15M plus Great Thing replay disc that's out there. That being said DBS has stated that he doesn't share info. Knowledge is power or something to that effect. So who knows, but that would be cool to see.

I still think that while the game was balanced for the default rate there's also evidence that they wanted to account for autofire in some ways. The rank increase, scoring opportunities that can't be had without auto etc. That's how it was with Gun Frontier.

Quote:
There are many more persuasive reasons that it's obvious the game was deliberately balanced around its default firing rate including rapidfire breaking miniboss attacks


This is one aspect I actually prefer in it's broken state. Given that the medals already throw a lot of randomness into the mix (these I don't mind too much), having the midbosses spraying bullets all over that rob you of points is something I don't really miss. I used to ignore this, but I think they can snag some pretty hefty point bonuses if you're not careful.

Quote:
Also big question : shouldn't we try to edit the first page of this thread ? It has a lot of wrong info that has been fooling (myself included) people for a long time.


I think Randorama is still around. Might be worth shooting him a PM to see if he would accept some suggested edits? Just pointing out that the silver medals are random would be less misleading to new players. I also got distracted by that info when I was new to the game lol.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2021 9:07 am 



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Weird, I got that Golden Ogre laser attack on the Saturn version first which has way less rank.

Quote:
That being said DBS has stated that he doesn't share info. Knowledge is power or something to that effect.


Indeed, I always love these people who share their scores but yet don't show anything else. They should just keep those records for themselves imo, but I guess social validation from their peers is still a thing for them.

Again they knew what rapidfires were but yet they didn't include it for a reason (like they did on onther games). Gun Frontier and Metal Black (with its specific pumping mechanic) can also be done without doing TAS just like Gaiden, it's just that some people are discouraged by these game's difficulties and automatically say using cheats is the only way to play these games, without ever trying to question themselves, learn the game's mechanics, etc. Having a hard time with the default game is a thing, I had a hard time too, pretending the devs themselves did a bad job and didn't deliver a product that could be played as it is is another thing. The argument can perhaps be made for Darius II since the final product is not what devs had in mind, but everybody knows that if easy mode was realeased instead of normal Japanese would still play it with rapidfire (just like in Hey!). Also when doing TAS you're bound to get better scores than non-TAS runs, but that's not to say that the scoring system was build around TAS or anything.

It would be great to edit it yes. I can do it if no one wants to, but to be honest I don't think I'm the most qualified person to do it honestly as my english level has decreased over the years and MathU knows the game better.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2021 10:36 am 


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Quote:
Again they knew what rapidfires were but yet they didn't include it for a reason (like they did on onther games). Gun Frontier . . .


Well, at least on Gun Frontier we have something from the actual developer on this:

"As for the rank increase from autofire, that came from something the programmers had been struggling with; that is, how to create a game with a “relative” or dynamic difficulty. Preventing operators from installing autofire circuits was not our intention. After all, the game doesn’t just increase the rank from autofire. It also uses the number of ships destroyed and a variety of other factors. But I do think all those things resulted in the game feeling too difficult, and that is something I would have liked to change."

http://shmuplations.com/gunfrontier/

Quote:
Weird, I got that Golden Ogre laser attack on the Saturn version first which has way less rank.


Hmm, might be another difference for your Saturn comparison thread?


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 6:57 pm 


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https://youtu.be/1-XtqDRme-g

Whoa, check out this trippy Darius Gaiden superplay that came out in 1995 on laser disc. It's partly gameplay (mostly from a high scoring Great Thing run) and partly a weird live action movie. There's footage here and there inside an arcade showing an OG Gaiden cabinet. Think it's an old Taito Egret 29 cab and there are bunch of the big screen Teatro 50 cabs in the background. WTF the movie is actually about I have no idea!?

(Trigger warning: when they pan down to the player's hands there is a third button equipped on the DG cab. Viewers with extreme sensitivity to auto cheat abuse may want to fast forward through this part.) :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:27 am 


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Just noticed something tricky about Neon Light Illusion J. I kept having inconsistent results getting the 2nd big tentacle even with decent positioning on each cycle.

Turns out the reason is that when you destroy one of the small tentacles, the HP of the big one seems to reset back to its base value of 840. If you gun down all of the small tentacles by shooting off the blades in one go as soon as you have the chance this won't come into play.

Since I've been letting them linger in order to get the small tentacles from the base I've been getting them on different cycles and unknowingly resetting the big tentacle HP.

If you want to get max points from the small tentacles you also need to use an alternate strategy on the attack where he throws out a ring of round mines that shoot blue bullets if left alive. Normally you go up to the front of the boss so that you can shoot the mines as soon as they appear, but this will invariably destroy one of the small tentacles as well. Luckily there is an alternate spot under his eye where you can safely take out the mines without hitting the tentacles.

TLDR: If you're going for the big rear tentacle (massive 200k bonus) either shoot down small tentacles before you start damaging it or after it's gone but never between cycles bc you need that damage to stack.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 5:03 am 


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It happens with all the arm and tentacle segments actually. All their health gets reset (to 17,920 in exact terms) whenever any other tentacle or arm is destroyed.
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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2021 5:06 pm 


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Hitbox pics: originally posted by IMO. Thanks, Plasmo for the find.

Without ARM shield
Image

Down to 1 hit remaining
Image

2 - 5 hits remaining
Image

You can see just how much larger the full shield hit box is. This means you have to play super clean to collect max 5000 point blue medals.

It's worth noting that at each increase the hitbox seems to grow vertically one pixel up, but 2 down, so the lower rail is the area of the ship that becomes drastically more unsafe with full shield.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 11:10 am 



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Rastan78 wrote:
It's worth noting that at each increase the hitbox seems to grow vertically one pixel up, but 2 down, so the lower rail is the area of the ship that becomes drastically more unsafe with full shield.

While it seems unintuitive just in text, looking specifically at the sprite picture, the difference of increase seems reasonable.

Nevertheless, this certainly doesn't seem as big as gradius games I think. Even in gradius-5 (which essentially has a bullet-hell like hitbox), the hitbox on "full force shield" would probably be significantly bigger than this. Though the number of "hitbox phases" might also be higher in gradius games probably (as compared to just 3 phases in pictures above).

=============================

On that note, I think a general thread documenting the hitboxes for as many games as possible in one place could be fairly useful (if there is already a thread like that then I missed it). Would be more useful to have a thread like that in strategy section though, since it would get buried in the main chat section.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2021 3:31 pm 


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I was checking out the hitboxes via the ACA port of Gradius III and they're actually very similar to the ones in DG. The main differences seem to be that there is only one larger hitbox for when you have a force field, and that the overall hitbox shape is wider, flatter and more rectangular compared to the Silver Hawk's squarish hitbox.

Agreed that a general thread compiling hitbox info for various games would be very useful.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:54 pm 


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The Silver Hawk actually has two collision zones, by the way. The one shown with that Extra Version hit mark display is for interacting with projectiles, but there is another for environments. The latter is a 2x2 square in the center of the ship unaffected by shield level. A good illustration of the difference between the two can be seen when you hug the floor to avoid Hysteric Empress's jumping attack--you can get much closer to the floor on the bottom of your ship than you can get to her claws above you. I have some images of these hitboxes together I've put together for my eventual website.
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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2021 5:35 pm 


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Never saw this technique before for going after Deadly Crescent's tail fin. It's normally a long and tedious process where you whittle it down over several cycles. It also forces you to get near pixel perfect placement for max damage on every cycle. Here the player uses timed destruction of the spinning dorsal fins to shift the boss position to the left and create a larger safespot for massively increased damage. Maybe this method could be used to make this bonus actually obtainable without autofire?

Deadly Crescent tail fin safe spot Zone U, Player RG:
https://twitter.com/accrg/status/135586 ... 96324?s=20

Zone S with an extremely fast tail fin:
https://twitter.com/accrg/status/129465 ... 54880?s=20

Edit: After doing a little testing, this is of course much harder than it looks due to the precise amount of damage you need to do and the timing and positioning are very strict. Debatable whether this way is practical to use regularly over the tried and true method. Maybe with a bit of practice.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:32 pm 


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I've considered a tactic like that in the past but dismissed it because I thought that the health of the spines depended on the current adaptive difficulty level--making them too difficult to consistently estimate from playthrough to playthrough how much damage they can take for precise destruction timing. But that turns out not to be true: while all of Deadly Crescent's other fins have difficulty-dependent health, the spines' health are always the same static values regardless of adaptive difficulty. This may be a viable tactic after all. Hope this doesn't make my ACEHMSY score attack even more difficult, Zone S is already one of the most frustrating levels in the game.
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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2021 9:12 pm 


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The Switch/PS4 port makes it easy to see how the HP of bosses and boss parts grow with rank. Yeah the top spines definitely do not change. One thing I wonder about is if certain things have some other type of durability modifier. For example pretty much nothing changes on Titanic Lance. The destructible respawning turrets gain a few HP at high rank and that's about it. Makes me wonder if the port isn't showing HP increase accurately or if there's some other durability function that rank can influence?

Zone S is definitely a bit hairy. I find any Zone with Deadly Crescent (his last phase) kinda rough if the rank is really high. I think rank control is essential here without auto. Even with auto at max rank he can easily lock you down in the last form if you don't kill him quickly. It's doing 3 minutes of milking on Fatty Glutton in Zone O and then getting DC's tail fin that really sends him into full max rank angry mode. In contrast Curious Chandelier for example doesn't really get that much harder at 255/255 rank.

I get how you can register damage on him when his mouth is closed then it actually gets taken off when he opens his mouth. Pretty easy on the first form, but it gets kind of wonky later. Sometimes I get the kill quickly, sometimes I get stuck with the purple spread lasers, which at that point it's pretty much just pray and cross your fingers. Well timed destruction of his bottom fins can be a big help here, even pushing him halfway off the screen to the right.

Might be that there's a limited window right when he opens his mouth to extend the neck out where your prior stacked damage can be removed? Or could just be that the mouth is a small moving hit box with the annoying red blobs getting in the way?

Pretty sure his mouth is still open about halfway back in when he starts to retract the neck so following the neck back in can be a good way to get some point blank rockets in there.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Darius Gaiden
PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:36 pm 


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ZONE J "44486" section mini-guide:

OVERVIEW - The all down route offers 2 extra Black Hole Bombers, so you can use these for scoring or survival and still have a full bonus stock of 5 BHBs at the end of 1CC bonus screen. The optimal strategy for scoring is to use one bomb at the beginning of Zone J just before the screen freeze and one at the middle of Zone J during the 44486 section (so named bc of the number of enemy spawns per wave in and ideal run). What makes this section so difficult is that the onscreen sprite limit means that unless you have precise timing and positioning you can easily have a large point drop for a minor mistake. The bonus for a perfect run just during this section is around 424,000 points. Grabbing a max score here is sort of a gatekeeper for getting a high level score on this route.

A few caveats: There is a double bomb technique demonstrated by Mathu where you don't use a bomb on the first section before the freeze but use 2 at the 44486 section. If you are playing at lower rank, without autofire or without destroying King Fossil's fins this will be a less optimized, but more reliable method that still grants a big score. The first bomb is really only lucrative at higher rank as you should be able to get a point gain of 79k by the screen freeze to justify using this bomb and attempting the tricky one bomb approach.
Also if you can't no miss/no bomb the route then work on that first and save your bombs. Finally, if you're playing on Saturn the sprite limit works differently making scoring on this section trivial and scores on the lower route not comparable to the arcade. This strategy applies to the AC/Switch/PS4 version 30hz autofire ON.

44486 Strategy: In general destroying the large fish when they are off screen or partially off screen, or when they are overlapping completely with another is desired. This speeds up removing the sprites. Because the PA larvae have an extended death animation, simply destroying them mid screen doesn't remove their sprite right away. At any point if you do not see all the enemies appear or if an entire wave doesn't spawn, your timing was off at a previous wave.

1. First wave (4 Prickly Angler larvae): These large fish come in a vertical row. The first key is to destroy the uppermost PA as soon as it comes out before it completely appears on screen. In order to position yourself to point blank this fish ASAP you need to grab the 2 green power ups from the zako immediately before this section very quickly. These are essential to trigger the back missiles. The zako enter from the upper left in a chain like formation. Picture entering the left most "link" of this chain slipping between the 3rd or 4th row and continue shooting them down. As the final two zako (carrying green medals) enter, stop firing momentarily. As they converge in front of you simultaneously shoot and move to the right to pick up both medals in one motion without having to chase them at all. Now you can continue to the right quickly and position yourself to take out the upper PA quickly while he's still partly off screen. Now move down and to the left, along the way taking out the next two PAs. Their positioning is not critical, simply gun them down midscreen normally. As you approach the 4th fish at the bottom position yourself just above him and stop firing. Just as he is about to leave the screen gun him down with back missiles. You will have to practice this and pay attention to how many missiles have landed on him, your positioning etc. to find the sweet spot. Too early or too late will affect later spawns. If you destroyed the upper PA just as it enters the screen and the bottom one just as it leaves, you're looking good.

2. Second Wave (4 Prickly Angler larvae) This time work your way back up from the bottom destroying the 2 lower fish first. As you were killing the final PA from the first wave you should be in a position at the lower left edge of the screen where the upper and lower white spheres from your shot will hit each of these simultaneously. Just as the 3rd fish from the top is about to collide with you launch your bomb. This bomb will have several purposes: 1. Slowing the fish so that they don't exit the screen before you destroy them. 2. Giving you invincibility to overlap them while shooting. 3. Destroying all the zako in this section off screen including one that will grant a purple bomb pickup. After dropping the bomb move up and overlapping the sprites of the fish kill them just as they are about to leave the screen. If the uppermost fish is getting away from you launch the bomb just a hair faster next time.

3. Third Wave (4 Prickly Angler larvae) After killing the uppermost fish of the 2nd wave stop firing. All four PAs in this wave will be caught in the bomb, slowing their movement. Give them a chance to meander towards the left edge of the screen so that you don't kill them until the last second. Again overlap their sprites and gun them down as they leave the screen. I switch to standard nonauto fire here. This can help make sure you don't kill them too quickly while they're still fully on screen and also reduces the number of shots filling up the screen. Fire in a couple small bursts, just enough to do the job, rather than holding down shot the whole time. And be sure to not continue firing once they are gone. Just hold off a moment until the next wave spawns in. A tell tale sign that things are going well during the bomb is that your ship sprite may disappear bc you are really maxing out the sprite limit at this point. Luckily your shield sprite will not also disappear, so positioning shouldn't be a problem.

4. Fourth Wave (8 Prickly Angler larvae) Keeping your fingers crossed, if you've done things right, you'll get 8 fish worth 20k points each on this wave. This time they converge from the edges of the screen then spread out. In the beginning they are overlapping. Aim to find a position where you can quickly destroy several of them while they are still overlapping each other. This wave I'm a bit hazy on the exact requirement, but letting them linger on screen and spread out is definitely going to work against getting full spawns on the last wave.

5. Last Wave (6 Bird shaped zako) They will be the ones that shoot a spread wave of oblong destructible red bullets. It's simply a matter of gunning them down quickly. The key at this point is to quickly destroy the wave and position yourself to get the purple bomb pickup at the bottom left corner of the screen. If you correctly timed the bomb earlier the purple medal carrier will have been destroyed off the bottom edge of the screen. The bomb medal will just peek out as it hits the top of its rotation and you will have one or two chances to grab it. Often you will not even notice it as it comes up and collides with your ship so hang out near the lower left corner until you confirm the pickup by noting your bomb stock icons increase.

This all happens quickly, but you can expect a huge score for the stage if you can pull it off. Stage scores of over 875k are possible, but even the pros are not going to hit that consistently. Setting your sights on 850k, while tricky will end up giving you a great score coming up to Neon Light Illusion. Also I have no idea what the devs intended here. Did they simply overload the game with sprites and not do full testing on this stage making scoring much more difficult than it should have been? Either way the end result is that manipulating the sprite limit basically becomes a game mechanic here that has to be exploited to get the highest scores.


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