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Inspired by the previous year's arcade and port hit Commando, Ikari Warriors was hellbent not to be one-upped by anyone else's run 'n' gun in terms of sheer difficulty. It holds the top spot still on some "hardest of" lists. Its overabundance of girly colors belies the dosage of manliness beating it injects into any gamer's public image.

IkariWarriors   IkariWarriors

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0:27:26 by 'ktwo'

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Author's comments:

For information about speedrunning Ikari Warriors and to get a better understanding of what's going on in this run, go to the guide in the SDA knowledge base (referred to as sdakb in my comments below):
https://kb.speeddemosarchive.com/Ikari_Warriors_(NES)

Run history
I started playing this game in November 2014 and it took me two and a half years to finally beat the game without deaths. During that period, I posted short updates in the bio section of my twitch page. To preserve some of the history this run has gone through, I'll just copy-paste those notes here:
Edit (18-Feb-2015): A new glitch has been found that allows you to fly over half of the first level (see the link above). The routes in the later levels have also been reviewed. The estimate is now almost a minute lower.
Edit (25-Apr-2015): Since the last update above, I have polished the routes a bit to bring down and managed to complete the game once (in 29:15) . There were a couple of deaths in the last level (it was still a 1cc though), which cost around one minute. I'm hoping to get a time around 28 minutes. Below 28 would be great and is definitely possible, but requires the luck to be on my side in a few places (mostly late in the game).
Edit (23-May-2015): I have continued finding small time savers. A speedrun without major mistakes will now almost for sure land under 28 min.
Edit (03-Jun-2015): Level 2 is a major bottleneck and to keep track of what ends attempts, I have started to note down this information more systematically. You can find the stats here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oImp92djz6c0e3NSUJ4IyfOkLQF8VTdlEavdBQ2K_ck/edit#gid=0
Edit (09-Nov-2015): In case anyone comes here and wondering "when's Ikari again", here is a short update. I had a long summer break for traveling. During my absence, I gathered the courage (and some new knowledge) to start speedrunning Amped 2 (original xbox) when I returned. It's a pretty massive undertaking and will keep me busy for a few months. After Amped 2, I might come back to Ikari or do another nes-game first. We'll see. For the time being, I'm just recording locally, but I would like to stream the final challenges of Amped 2 (it's a segmented 100% run). Don't expect any activity in the meantime.
Edit (17-Apr-2016): I'm done with Amped 2 and back on track with Ikari. This time I plan to hang on until I get a proper speedrun, without any other plans interfering...
Edit (16-May-2016): Slight re-routing of level 2. I skip the tank before the first fortress and take the tank after it instead. This saves ~5 seconds. The additional distance is more risky on foot than in the tank, but less than I previously thought.
Edit (18-Jun-2016): Not been streaming much lately, but have still done some off-stream attempts. One of them reaching the helicopter in level 4 (4th time on a proper attempt), but didn't get the fuel drop. I have found two minor route improvements in the helicopter sections of level 3 and 4, saving in total ~2 seconds. A perfect time with the current route lies ~27:25 (based on "real-time tas" - it's very unlikely that a console run will be able to match it though).
Edit (12-Aug-2016): I've managed to route the second tank section of stage 3 on foot instead. This saves ~15 seconds. It comes at the cost of a higher risk level, but it seems to be better than I first thought. There are two more areas that could potentially be routed on foot instead of in tank and save time. The first is in stage 2. However, it increases the risk dramatically and is also not a huge time saver because of how the tank is more efficient in dispatching enemies. The second place is in stage 4. It would save ~5 seconds, but come at the price of more risk. Considering how few attempts get that far, I have decided not to go for that option.
Edit (02-Oct-2016): I take back part of the information in my previous edit. I have now found a way through middle section of stage 2 on foot that is 6-7 seconds faster than in the tank and without much more risk added. That means stage 2 is from now on entirely done on foot!
Edit (18-Mar-2017): It's been a long time since my last update here, but some absolutely incredible advances have been made this week in understanding how the drops work. Thanks to TaoTao in the tasvideos forum, the mechanics behind the fuel drops in stage 3 and 4 can now be explained. I have transformed this information into the best routes I could find to maximize the chances of a drop (they are still slightly RNG-dependent, especially the area 4 fuel drop, but much less than before). Ikari, I'm coming for you...
Edit (30-Mar-2017): A description of both fuel drop manipulations are now available in the speedrun guide, https://kb.speeddemosarchive.com/Ikari_Warriors_(NES)/Fuel_drop_manipulation.
Edit (02-Apr-2017): New pb (off-stream) with a time of 27:31. The run contained some safe strats and a late death. The fuel drop manipulations are definitely working (even though a lot of things can still go wrong and mess them up), so I'm going to continue playing and I'm pretty confident that I can have this time beaten.

Run comments
For comments about the routes, game mechanics etc, go to the guide in the sdakb. In this section, I'm just going to list deviations and other things worth mentioning compared to the planned route. As a general comment, you'll frequently see me stop for apparently no reason. This is simply to give my thumb some relief from pressing the d-pad for too long. To the extent possible, I try to use pauses imposed by the game instead, but some stretches are so long that I can't reliably hold down the same button long enough.

Area 1
When making attempts, the only time losses I accepted were due to RNG. Any execution mistakes led to immediate reset. As a result, all my completed area 1 are within roughly half a second.

Area 2

Area 3

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Area 4

Final thoughts
The relief of finally having completed a deathless run according to the plan by far exceeds how happy I am with the actual run and the time. There are faster (and riskier) routes that I'm well aware of and neither the execution nor the luck were more than average in this run. Even though I'm sure an improvement of this run would come much quicker than another two and a half years, I feel that I have accomplished what I set out to do and I'll settle with this run.
I have my doubts whether anyone will ever try to push the time lower or even just try to reproduce a deathless completion again. But if anyone is looking for a good challenge or just a way to get revenge on this ruthless game, I hope this run and the information about the game I have collected in the sdakb guide will prove useful.

Special thanks
I've been in contact with quite a few people during the making of this speedrun. There are however two that I would like to give an extra mention to.

About the bloopers

Bloopers reel download

For a few months during attempts in 2015, I collected clips of failed attempts for a blooper reel. All clips except the last one come from proper attempts (the last one was from an already failed attempt). The clips have been grouped together according to which section in the game they belong to. While the video was prepared a long time before I finally completed my run, they still give some insight in the routes of the early days.
I've added a secondary audio track with game music remixes that I felt was fitting with the video. In order to give credit to the authors and in case you're interested in checking out their music, here are the tracks that were used (the first one found on youtube and the others on remix64.com):

With Deaths: 0:26:35 by 'ktwo'

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Author's comments:

For information about speedrunning Ikari Warriors and to get a better understanding of what's going on in this run, go to the guide in the SDA knowledge base (referred to as sdakb in my comments below):
https://kb.speeddemosarchive.com/Ikari_Warriors_(NES)

Background
After having completed my first speedrun of this game, I eventually decided to make a TAS. During the discussion in the tasvideos forum, jigwally/dugongue suggested that the flying glitch combined with death abuse could be used to save time.

When leaving the helicopter and entering the flying state, you can no longer interact with the outside environment (collect items, kill or be killed by enemies etc). This prevents you from advancing past the ends of area 3 and 4, which require killing a boss. However, if the helicopter is destroyed while in the flying state, a death is buffered and it triggers as soon as you stop flying. When you respawn, you're no longer in the glitched state and can again interact with the environment. Funnily enough, I had known for a long time that destroying the helicopter would break the glitched state, but in my efforts to complete the game deathless, it never occurred to me that this could be abused until it was spelled out to me.

Anyway, it turns out that it doesn't save time in a TAS (the death animations cost more time than what's gained back). However, it does change a real-time speedrun in some significant ways. The helicopter sections in area 3 and 4 both normally require a fuel drop. While the chance of getting these fuel drops can be manipulated to some extent, they're still major roadblocks because of how late in the game they occur. By exploiting the flying state/death abuse combination, the fuel drops are no longer needed and both of these random spots are therefore completely eliminated. With these bottlenecks out of the way, I decided to add some faster and riskier routes elsewhere in the game instead. They're not new strats and could just as well be used in a no-death run. However, they were simply excluded from my no-death run to allow for more attempts reaching the fuel drop locations. As a result, this new run ended up having quite a number of different route choices compared with the no-death run.

Run comments
I'll comment here on noteworthy things, but also make some comparisons with the no-deaths run for reference. If something in my comments appear to lack an explanation, chances are that it's described in the guide in the sdakb linked above.

Area 1
When making attempts, the only time losses I accepted were due to RNG. Any execution mistakes led to immediate reset. As a result, all my completed area 1 were within roughly half a second.

Area 2

Overall, a good area 2, but the time loss on the bridge at the beginning prevented it from being great.

Area 3

There are more minor things to comment on in area 3 such as bad positioning etc, but overall a decent area. A better stair location prevented it from being good.

Area 4

The start was pretty shaky and the end was unfortunate. Other than that, a pretty good stage.

Final thoughts
I must admit that this speedrun was more something that I felt had to be done than something that I was really looking forward to. I definitely think it was worth it though. This run turned out to be almost one minute faster than my no-death run. Much of it comes from just being able to use riskier routes. Looking at the final result, I'm glad that the new run ended up being quite different from the no-death. Even though this game will for obvious reasons never be a popular speedgame, I believe the addition of death abuse has made it a lot more accessible, which I also think is a nice bonus.
By no means do I claim this run to be at the limit of what's possible, but at least there is now a good demonstration of the route. I hope the run will be entertaining to a few people and possibly also help the next person interested in speedrunning this game off to a good start.

Special thanks
Thanks to jigwally/dugongue for spelling out for me how deaths could be used to save time in this game.

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