Thanks @Yolwoocle! Once I came up with the concept it was clear that I needed players to really sympathise with the plight of a tiny 8x8 sprite, so I tried to add as much personality as possible, to maximise the juxtaposition of killing Harold to progress. Even the utter pointlessness of going through a full day of torture just to return back where he started was completely intentional. Am I the bad guy?
@Nbrother1607 There are quite a few levels where there's more to it than that, but yeah... that's the gist of it.
@RezoRinRin Loved watching your stream Beri! I think you're the first to livestream Harold, and I loved your chat helping you out. You found some new ways of solving levels that I haven't seen before. And my heart broke when you accidentally reset the cart, but you made it back pretty quick - well done! My favourite part was when you paused in the last level. I was expecting you to say "This is hard", but instead you said "I can do this". Strawberry power!
It's good to see people finding different ways to appreciate this.
For a while I gave up. I knew there were better ways to do "Running the Gauntlet", but the timing was so precise that I was only getting through it about 20% of the time, which made running the rest of the game unappealing. Then I practiced just that level for maybe half an hour, and suddenly got the rhythm of it, getting through maybe 60% of the time. It's still been the scene of some painful run-ending moments, but it's achievable.
So, I present to you: Harold's Bad Day v1.5 in 5:42 with 37 Harolds saved!
New routes used in this run:
0:37 Level 5 ("Arrows") - I used to wait a moment for the first arrow, but you can get ahead of it. You need to be holding down the jump and right button as you enter the level, and it will all work. Get through just right and you can also get ahead of the third arrow. The time saved would be less than a second, but it looks really stylish.
2:24 Level 14 ("Something in the Air") - I'm embarrassed how long it took to realise you don't need to visit the first air pocket. This does mean you have to dodge between the final two arrows, but hey, you only live 37 times.
3:35 Level 23 ("Jump") - Don't do it this way, falling and having to reset! This level almost never gives trouble, but there you go...
4:51 Level 31 ("Running the Gauntlet") - Lots of carefully timed jumping over arrows instead of waiting for them. It's a few frames each time, but in total it has reduced my time on this level from 59 seconds to 54. If you get there fast enough it's possible to jump over the last arrow at 5:42, but I chickened out.
So what's the theoretical minimum, even if it's only achievable by a Tool-Assisted Speedrun? You could definitely save time where I reset, jumped back and forth on fading blocks, and on the level 20 ("Close the Window") and level 21 ("Wind Beneath my Wings") by using minimal Harolds with great precision. On these runs I try to get level 20, but if I slide too far to the left I just keep going. I don't even attempt level 21, but it would be faster.
I wouldn't be surprised if there are still ways to skip a whole arrow cycle in "Running the Gauntlet".
Put it all together and I suspect the minimum between 5:20 and 5:30. So good luck to anyone else running this, whether by getting even more precise movement, or looking for glitches.
Having played a lot of Harold's Bad Day, the programming by @biovoid has proved impressively robust. But sometimes I've seen a flicker of motion while moving onto a new level, and finally caught it on video, twice in the same run:
The complete video is over here, but as a speedrun it's a mere 5:47.
I'm guessing that what happens is that the arrow traps fire on the very frame I move to the new level, so the previous level's arrows appear on the next level. It certainly takes quite a while for arrow traps on the new level to fire.
Is it reproducible? I think I've seen this happen before, but never on video. It looks like the arrow traps fire every 2 seconds, or every 60 frames? So if I'm right, there's a 1 in 60 chance of this happening, on levels where the arrow block placement permits arrows on the next level to be seen. Because it's a level transition, you can't simply reset the level and try again if you miss it.
Is it exploitable? I don't think so. You would need a pair of consecutive levels that resulted in the arrow to appearring, and the arrow would need to be in reach of the level start point. I think Harold can't even move left or right until his feet hit the ground, so the glitchy arrows have been and gone before he can do anything. I doubt any level permits this, nifty as it would be to enter a level and have an arrow with no visible source send Harold flying effortlessly to the level exit. It's probably possible to create such a level pair, however.
Also, in version 1.4 Harold did indeed turn red while on fire...
...but it looks like that's gone in version 1.5?
Well spotted @Cowirrie! I'm not sure how the code to make Harold turn red reverted between 1.4 and 1.5, but I'll be putting out a 1.6 release in the next day or so that fixes this, along with the stray arrows. I'm also going to fix the graphical glitch where Harold's feet shadows appear over the top of the flames. None of these fixes will have any affect on speedrun times.
Speaking of which, congratulations on the 5:42 speedrun! Sub 5:30 seems definitely possible. I'm constantly amazed at your speedruns - I'm genuinely humbled by your dedication to my little game. :D
Thank you for continuing to polish your game after so many years working on it. I had noticed the change in the black borders, but thought it might be intentional. I think they also appear while Harold is inside his house. And, talking of Harold's house, if you're making a version 1.6, something odd has happened to its appearance in version 1.5.
Here is the house at the start and end of version 1.4.
Here it is at the start and end of version 1.5. A few bits of grass and background have moved. I only happened to notice this because I was flicking between screenshots.
Wasn't sure if you were still active, but I just created section on "speedrun.com" for Harold's Bad Day, thought it would be a fun game for players to speedrun. I thought two good categories would be Any% and Saved Most Harolds?
@spencerwf : I can't speak for biovoid, but having posted several runs here, your two categories cover every option I'm aware of. The run I labelled "100% Speedrun" is simply another name for your "Saved Most Harolds" category. As far as any of us could work out on this board, the maximum Harolds you can save remains at 39.
While there are a few subtle differences between versions of Harold's Bad Day, they shouldn't affect speedruns and there is no reason to use anything but the latest version (1.6 at the time of writing.)
Or have you now created a third category and called it "Resets"?
@spencerwf Awesome - thanks! Really appreciate this!
I agree with @Cowirrie - Any% and Saved Most Harolds (sorted by completion time) are the best categories.
I don't think Resets is worth worrying about.
And to echo Cowirrie, 1.6 would be the best version to speedrun. Earlier versions would only be more difficult, but only very, very, slightly.
Hello Cowirrie and Biovoid,
I did add "Resets" and am tracking "Harold's Killed" as that counts Harold's that died during a level attempt that was reset, but I think you are probably right that it's not worth separating Resets out.
I'll add those two runs to the leaderboard. Do you prefer "Cowirrie" or "Dondragmar", or do you have an account on speedrun.com and want to submit the runs yourself?
I've created an account on speedrun.com and submitted my runs. I've done my best to fill in the forms, but since I'm new there, let me know if I entered anything incorrectly. I did forget to set the version number for my Any% run, but I filed a correction for that.
I enjoyed the game! I played up until "Blowin' In The Wind"- I got frustrated trying to land on the corpse once it blew down. I thought this was a bit of a difficulty spike.
The game was fun up until that point, and I liked the mix of puzzle solving and platforming. Reminds me of a game I played on Kongregate back in the day with a similar mechanic.
Thanks @mgrange1998! Sorry you got frustrated! But "Blowin' In The Wind" is easier than you think. :)
I'm guessing you're using the ledge on the right to save your first Harold from dying, and only killing him on the second drop. While this is possible to do, it requires a lot of precision. Instead, you can miss the ledge on the first Harold, killing him immediately, then you have plenty of time while his corpse gets blown onto the bottom platform. The ledge is necessary for Harold #2 to survive, but it's a bit of a red-herring for Harold #1.
Hope you take another crack at it! Unfortunately I can't guarantee there wont be more difficulty spikes in later levels though! ;)
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