Element Orb LAC Found
Minnesota, USA

So, you're right. It fits the current definition of the rules, and I don't like that there's a loophole. :) It is a good find though-- I went through every encounter sprite I could to try and find more of the key items, but I never thought to look after the WAFE animation or after a soft-reset.

I'm a little surprised that there's no memory-clear on soft-reset, but also I guess the sprite buffer was always supposed to be temporary storage anyway, so I guess it's not too unreasonable that it ended up that way? And then "Initialize Game" only ever touches the battery-backed memory. So. Yeah. Ugh.

The intent with the initialization rule was that you're starting from a fresh state, but as you pointed out, the runs that are up now have leftover detritus from prior runs... on my 19m16s run, after Corak's ghost, the glitched "26th character" has an Ice Scimitar, Photon Blade, etc and 3211K gold, but that same character is all-zeroes after Corak's ghost after power-cycle; Jason_D's 17m07s doesn't even see Corak first and has that same loadout for that character. But yeah, clearly none of us are starting from a fresh-power-on state either, since the initial character page should be blank. And in my run I snag gold from that initial character, so technically I am using preloading. (Jason_D's run switches to the character page with the Shaman Pipe first, which is there after power-on, so you could make an argument there that while there is preloaded data from an earlier run, it's not being used.)

I think I'm generally okay with the idea of memory preloading in a category entitled "Major Glitches"-- I asked around for precedent here and got pointed at Vegas Stakes (SNES), where you can pre-seed an event so that it immediately triggers in a new game (where the timer has started). They actually did choose to split the boards between the main category and "single segment" (e.g. no event preload), but there are so few runners here that I'm not sure I want to complicate things in that way. We do already have a "Glitchless" category and I think that suffices.

I think I have two concerns here:

  1. Can no-memory-clear-on-soft-reset be used to exfiltrate items between runs? So far I haven't had any luck with this-- it looks like character slots 1-8 get cleared and initialized properly always after exiting character selection, so you can't, say, scoot the Orb and Talons into character 6, reset, come back with a party of one, then glitch your way over to what is now an unoccupied party slot. I think it's valid for a run as long as it's done via sprite manipulation (and thus are limited to the set of items you can pull in that way), but I'd be more inclined to forbid this if you can use it to sneak an arbitrary party inventory between two games (because then essentially you've just invented "New Game Plus").

  2. original carts on original hardware should not be disadvantaged, and allowing preloading via save-state disadvantages original carts on original hardware. Which implies that you'd have to execute the preload off of a prior game completion each time, even though that wouldn't count against the time of the run itself. Looking at some of the Vegas Stakes runs not all video submissions include that part though, so there's no way to verify that save-states aren't in play? Hrm.

(also, a bit of irony, I guess: since this did entail memory manipulation I switched from Everdrive to original cart to avoid anything from, say, the Everdrive menu potentially affecting anything. I've presently only got an X3 though, so no save-states.)

SchmidttyGames likes this
Florida, USA

When I found this, I knew it was problematic. It was a total accident just tracking which sprites put what into which slots. It even took me a couple of days to track down where the Orb had even come from in my tests, because I thought it was the Sheltem/Devil King/Apparition sprite initially. I didn't realize how common they were (3 set spawns in Corik's Cave alone), and when I figured out it came from the WAFE screen, I initially didn't know how to approach it.

When I discovered it bypassed the Initialize/Reset rules, I was actually kind of bummed. As a mod in other games, I also am not fond of seeing the rules bypassed. But this is what I know of it, as is.

The Memory/Menu glitch is not effected by anything else you do, short of forcing the game to load up sprites. I've checked every text pop-up, visual graphics change (think setting off a trap on a box), and even map directionality trying to find other ways to manipulate the same area of memory effected in the current glitch. I have found nothing other than sprites that have any effect, but that doesn't mean there is nothing.

While we can use this glitch to write in the "WAFE Screen Sprite", it could also be used for other "A Side, or the first 7 pages" write-ins that are easier to access, like the HP Potion from the Temple. If the Element Orb didn't exist in this series, honestly, the best option for this "bypass" would end up being something like the Fe Farthing (to save castle entry battles). Everything else major, Key Item wise, is oddly on the "B Side" of the LAC's. The Cats have both on Page 10-11? (B). The Wizard writes the Earth Talon in to the final page, which is changed by everything. Even the Parts, sans the Orb, are on the "B" end. With that known, I understand why even the bypass wasn't noticed, because "why would you check that anyway?" Nothing of value sticks to the last 7-8 pages because it's always overwritten by the title sprite.

I'm okay with calling this an "Element Orb Bypass". I do also understand the problem this causes, and that's why I wanted to be as open about it as possible. Without a hard power cycle, these "bypass" values will always stick.

Florida, USA

A friend of mine who is very familiar with this game has informed me that the menu glitch isn't even possible on the PC version, or if it is, has not been found. If this is true, they are already at a tremendous disadvantage to the Genesis Debug Menu, on top of already being clearly slower regarding combat speed. So I've come up with a proposal to offer the community.

  • Separate Genesis from the other versions. The PC version, even with the AC Menu glitch, simply doesn't run at the same speed and could really never compete with it.
  • Preserve the current Genesis Any% runs as "Any% No Orb Glitch"
  • Add a new Any% category that allows the Element Orb Bypass

I'm also currently sitting on a 15:39 No Orb Glitch Any% run that I will submit when a decision is reached. :) Better to hold it if things are going to change, and if not, at least there won't be the added confusion.

Looking forward to hearing some feedback on this! Could potentially be exciting!

aaron2u2 likes this
Minnesota, USA

Yeah. All of the ports (and there are a lot of them) are pretty different from each other, and I was expecting to start to have to split categories for platforms as runs come in. I did split the orb-glitch and no-orb categories as recommended; the no-orb rules now recommend a hard reset to avoid carrying over data between runs.

I made a pass on a few of them a couple years back:

  • DOS and Amiga seem to be pretty close, but also: having to remember spells by number? oof.
  • Mac is a lot slower because everything is point-and-click (and IIRC there were some minor quirks that were different between "B&W" and "Color" builds?)
  • Genesis seems to at least have the most broken glitches (at least that we know of), but IMO I think is the best port overall in terms of playability
  • The EU SNES version (published by Elite) seems to be pretty close to the Genesis version gameplay wise but doesn't seem to have the view-char glitch (offhand I can't remember about the teleport-after-rest one)
  • The JP SFC version (published by LOZC/StarCraft) is very different, with JRPG stylings and random encounters.

I haven't tried any of the other versions. Looking at screenshots/youtube videos the PC88/PC98/MSX versions have yet another drastically-different UX to them, but I don't know enough Japanese to be willing to make an attempt at them. (I'd probably be willing to allow translation patches where available; I was experimenting with a route using the patch for the SFC version, but I haven't seen any for any of the others.)

SchmidttyGames likes this
Florida, USA

There are some other "bypass" AC menus that can potentially be "useful" to the No Orb Run. They're all little helpful things (Holding Temple for Immediate HP Potion/Ancient Bow, for example), but none of them that I've tried to manipulate actually end up helping. Even if you hold the Temple sprite, you still have to go there during the run for donation, so you essentially save nothing overall. I wouldn't put it past someone else to find something new, but I feel like as long as the runner is operating in good faith and doesn't try to abuse the AC bypass, they still have to go through the same steps as the rest of us for the category. If you feel like something does abuse the AC bypass, then you can kick it to the open Any% category.

I will be posting my full routes for all 3 categories in the next day or so, once I have them ironed out and they are easier to read through for everyone else.

slab likes this
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