Terrifying Forest Boss

Brag and Feedback Topic

Kudos, first, to Zacha Pedro, for creating a genuinely hard core retro-challenging boss. Beating it had become a quixotic quest for me, and I must have spent 3 hours in 3 different sessions trying. I don't think I've practiced so hard to beat a boss in any game since I beat Sonic 2 such a long time ago. So it is that I announce with pride that I have vanquished the windmill in a scant 4:59. (I know the shot says 5:16; but the boss blew up at 4:59. It took me 17 seconds to get back to the prize and realize that there is no way to actually win before I took the shot.)

So, I didn't take part in the other brag topic, but I just couldn't resist the urge to boast this time. (It'll probably come back to bite me as the likes of Crono, ZP and Freq245 come out and call me names for thinking the boss is hard. :p)

Oh, and ZP, it's obvious the back room is a

Spoiler

Zelda reference, but which boss from which game? I may not have played that one, but I don't recognize it.

The following is a description of the strategy I developed to beat it. I don't consider any of this spoilers, since it still takes enormous skill to beat the boss even with a good strategy, but I've used spoiler tags anyway in case others disagree. Just, you know, in case anyone is still struggling.

EDIT: Nag dabbit, why can't I spoiler-wrap an entire list? Thank goodness for grep search and replace!

  • Spoiler

Use the red gun. Some parts of the boss can be damaged by any color, and others only the red, so just use the red.

  • Spoiler

Shoot anything and everything, but it is better to hit the tentacles' supports rather than the tentacles themselves, as they have way fewer hit points.

  • Spoiler

There are three normal turrets and a triple turret. The three normal turrets are the two tangles and the large tentacle sprite coming directly out of the middle of the boss. The triple turret is the boss weak point itself. Try to stay as close to perpendicular to these turrets as you can while fighting as it makes dodging easier.

  • Spoiler

You'll want to clear everything out before you even think about attacking the weak point. Start out at the bottom and work your way up. If you fly immediately to the bottom, you can clear out the bottom tentacles very quickly by shooting the supports. Then just settle in and work on the bottom tangle. You can just rock back and forth horizontally to dodge the turret fire.

  • Spoiler

Hit boxes are rectangles, and there is a corner of the tangle's hit box that protrudes from the visible mess. I found this a convenient target as you can reach it from the farthest away.

  • Spoiler

It is oddly much more difficult to dodge the turret fire up at the top, even with two fewer turrets to dodge. Even so, there is a spot that lets you rock back and forth to dodge. Seek it, but watch out for the tentacles! They got me more than a few times once I'd settled into this spot.

  • Spoiler

Once you've destroyed everything destructible you can turn your attention to the boss itself. This is actually the most challenging part of the battle. You will find that the tentacles are much more dangerous than the turret.

  • Spoiler

The two tentacles leave little opportunity to strike. I found that the center is occasionally left open, but the most frequent windows open up if you strike from above. The chances for damage are brief, but they're all you're given.

  • Spoiler

Establish a rhythm. Wait for the turret to fire, fly through the midst of the bullets to strike, then quickly pull back. I found it's best not to get greedy and go for more than one or two beams per strike. Move in and shoot at the center even if you will be entirely blocked; windows are brief and in this way you will take advantage of lots of them.

  • Spoiler

You can't outrun a stretching tentacle flying straight back, and yet the instinct to try is very strong (at least it is for me). Suppress it and turn as you back away. Otherwise they will kill you in one hit, no matter how many shields you have left.

  • Spoiler

The tentacle stretches are on a timer, so if you see one stretch then wait for all of them to go off before you move in.

  • Spoiler

As far as I can tell, unless you have a perfect internal metronome, there is no way to predict when a tentacle will stretch. That's why I would back off every 4 or 5 strikes and wait just out of range for them to stretch before resuming my assault.

OK, that was long...just shows how challenging this boss really is.

And now, the trophy:

Attached File(s)

This post has been edited by Zacha Pedro : 13 March 2007 - 03:22 PM

Hmm, no name calling by me, 'cause I don't even know about which boss you are talking here! Any advice? 😉

Zacha Pedro created it; it's in the add-ons.

ZP scolds Freq for not paying enough attention to the add-on files. I mean, it is your duty to try and play every single one of them! 😉

I didn't really know how fast I could beat my own level, so I made a try to record a time, and I'm sorry Chele, but I did it in 55 seconds, in just one try, and I'm sure I could improve it, anyway here is the pic:
Posted Image
Okay, it's my own level, so it's only normal I'm good at it (especially as it has been around for quite some time, it was just waiting for the 1.0.1 release so that it could behave correctly, in fact it's when doing this level that I noticed and reported new bugs, especially with Extra2 propagation, that got fixed for 1.0.1), but nevertheless doing it this fast only came with time, more about this later.

ZP enables feedback reporting about his level, on top of bragging. You are now allowed to report feedback!

So, thank you for the feedback on the level. As you guessed, the inspiration from the boss comes from

Spoiler

a Zelda game, though I'm surprised you didn't recognise the Triforce piece chamber from the original Legend of Zelda (damn, Xxxxx Xxxxxxx is down, I'd love to have linked to a screenshot), it's in fact the same back room for all levels, only the side of the entry door changes; the boss in question is the boss from the fourth level (again, I'd loved to have linked you to a screenshot ), a multi-headed hydra, which I couldn't help but recognise in the original Forest Boss with its tentacles.

Of course, it's obvious I couldn't create something exactly like this inspiration, so I began by putting a Forest Boss core in front of a corridor to physically block entrance, and then built its environement (in particular the two side walls on which it relies, which are a bit like the original inspiration setup); I also decided that the player would only get the basic beam to force short-range combat, like in the game where I got the inspiration (the remainder of the player's garb got adjusted later to have a good difficulty, though it's obvious no other weapon and especially no missile was to be given). Then I added stuff. Of course it had to have tentacles, but beyond that? Since I wanted it to look like it had grown around its original, path-blocking point, I thought the best way to give this feeling would be to first add tangles and similar stuff directly in front of it, shielding it; on top of that, I kinda liked the complex genealogic tree hierarchy boss concept (i.e. have grandchildren of a boss) that GSN introduced in RttF, as it allows to take down a boss part by part, including taking down whole complex parts at once, so I added tangles and some other vegetation in front of it (this other vegetation would have been thought up as dead or non-critical parts of the boss as they were independant of the hierarchy and were just simple, solid, non-boss tanlges, but I ended up removing them as they had the nasty tendancy to give some life pickups ), which are direct children of the central part, then added tentacles as children of these tangles. Then I decided that all should not be over once the tangles had been dealt with, so I added tentacles as direct children of the boss as a last line of defen(s/c)e (pick your own spelling). Then I made the tangle's tentacles a bit more complex by putting a main one as a direct child of the tangle, and two that were rooted off a side branch, thus providing even more tentacles starting points and a more complex parental (and destruction) hierarchy. I also replaced the central tangle by a big, enlarged tentacle, as tangles are not very aesthetic when they are not one side on a wall.

However, even with all these tentacles, it lacked punch; of course from time to time you had a massive tentacle attack but that was it. The original inspiration is a complex boss, which fires magical shots (a blue ball) to the hero, but as you damage it, it loses heads and these heads detach from the body and go flying everywhere, firing their own magical shots at the hero from behind him; once the boss loses its last head, it's dead. I couldn't do anything like this, but I could at least give the boss some firepower, so I added a triple turret to the central part, and a simple turret to each tangle (so in a way, it works opposite of the original inspiration, as as this boss loses parts, its firepower decreases and not increases), and it worked surprisingly well, with the two kind of turrets having different regularity, preventing any global regularity, which combined with the tentacles extent, made fighting this boss not be only a long, boring battle, so I kept that original idea as is (I got a few problems because I initially made them too small, as they have to be entirely contained in the parent's contact box so that you don't hit the turret and it blocks your fire, as they are invincible, which caused strange in-editor and in-game problems, I had to manually edit the file with an hex editor to remove them, to replace them with better-sized ones) . From now on I only did small modifications, to add an element of surprise, I added more eye-candy, features (the force field to force you to enter and not remain in the entrance, so that the door can close just behind you does come from the original inspiration game); I must have tweaked it a hundred times, I would not have done this if it was just a boss in a bigger custom level, but here the custom level is all about this boss.

I intended this boss to be hard, at least for the first encounter, so I won't call you names, though I also intended it so that, the more you know it, the easier it becomes as you develop a good strategy, until it becomes of medium difficulty, though never really easy (that being said, I can now beat it every time but I always have to use my above average flying skills). Especially, I don't like "get to the weak point and unload high-damage weaponry as fast as possible" kind of boss battles, I value stamina so I wanted to force a long battle, but in order not to have a repetitive battle, and even if thanks to the irregularity of firing and tentacles it is not repetitive, in order not to discourage the player by having no visible progress (besides the boss health bar slowly depleting), I wanted the battle to have something close to phases, and the complex parental hierarchy allows that: first you clean up peripheral stuff (in fact, the fact small tentacles can be destroyed, but in fact it is faster to destroy their support, is completely intentional), then you go against the tangles and trunk, and then you deal with the center part (

Spoiler

I intended to have the center part only sensitive to the blue gun, for even more surprise, but 1.0.1 made that impossible; not that I mind, since 1.0.1 gave us so many features

).

My own strategy is similar to yours, except I don't bother destroying the top tangle (strategy which, as it happens, has uncovered yet another bug when testing 1.0.1) and go directly for the core when I've destroyed the low one and the central "branch" (I think of it as a branch or even a trunk more than a tentacle). This behavior of the tentacle script to use the angle it extended as, not even as the new central sweeping position, but as the new extreme top (when the tentacle is seen pointing right) position is strange, but actually not that detrimental, it rarely really turns inside the boss and provides okay protection for the sensitive part (well, they are the last line of defense). I didn't always beat it that fast, for instance at first (well, at first after he became like its current shape and got its current abilities) I used to completely go back for each turret salvo, only really dealing damage when there was a long pause just before the two kinds fired in synch, while now I only retreat for the tentacles salvo.

I intentionally didn't put any quest, this level is just about displaying my work, incuding the back chamber and the innovations (like disabling the force field that forces entrance once the boss is dead), I didn't want to force you out of the level once you've done anything. The corridors in the back room are a bit narrow, but that's intentional so that it exactly replicates the back room in the original inpiration, with the equivalence one unit there->two graph paper square side lengths here. Also, about the back chamber, it's while doing it that I discovered that it did not put any pickup markers around a "real pickup" (say upgrade, weapon, color or star) when the pickup had children, which I initially reported as a bug, but which is now an useful workaround (and you can always put a pickup marker around it if you need to have children by simply adding the marker rect sprite with the pickup pulse script as another child of the pickup).

EDIT: added some more info, as I had to suddenly post the initial post.

This post has been edited by Zacha Pedro : 13 March 2007 - 04:10 PM

I can't remember how long my first go took. I had to find out what weapon actually hurt it to begin with. Anyway, saw this topic and had another attempt.

This time it was 38 seconds, with 26% shields left. I just used good old brute force - hardly even bothered to dodge 😉

Could probably do it again with more shield... I'll have a another go

Edit Now down to 36, seconds, 44%.

This post has been edited by Crono : 13 March 2007 - 05:04 PM

@cheleball, on Mar 13 2007, 06:01 AM, said in Terrifying Forest Boss:

...since I beat Sonic 2...

Yes, but did you ever beat Sonic 2 with Knuckles? He can't jump as high as Sonic or Tails, making the final boss much, much harder. 😉

xander

@darwinian, on Mar 14 2007, 12:17 AM, said in Terrifying Forest Boss:

Yes, but did you ever beat Sonic 2 with Knuckles? He can't jump as high as Sonic or Tails, making the final boss much, much harder. 😉

xander

Yeah, but he makes the rest of the game a piece of cake.

Excellent Boss ZP, It must have taken ages to position it just right.

Whoa, and still no name calling. It's sooner a kind of "respect". 😉 I have to admit, I was not able to kill this thing. Maybe I'm trying it too aggressive?

@zacha-pedro, on Mar 13 2007, 12:10 PM, said in Terrifying Forest Boss:

The original inspiration is a complex boss, which fires magical shots (a blue ball) to the hero, but as you damage it, it loses heads and these heads detach from the body and go flying everywhere, firing their own magical shots at the hero from behind him; once the boss loses its last head, it's dead. I couldn't do anything like this...

Zacha Pedro, you should know better than to imply that anything is impossible. See the attached map- it's just a proof-of-concept, and I don't guarantee that it's possible to beat, but it demonstrates something similar to the behaviour you're describing.

Anyway, on the subject of your plug-in, it's quite a challenge (but fun!). I've gotten the boss down to almost 50% health before dying, but not any further. I think I'll start destroying both tangles in my future attempts, to cut down on the number of shots flying around.

Edwards

Attached File(s)

Hey, nice!

Quote

Zacha Pedro, you should know better than to imply that anything is impossible. See the attached map...I don't guarantee that it's possible to beat...

And you should also know better! 😛 2nd attempt, could probably be improved:

Attached File(s)

@cheleball, on Mar 17 2007, 10:43 PM, said in Terrifying Forest Boss:

And you should also know better! 😛 2nd attempt, could probably be improved:

I wrote that before cutting the hitpoints down to 100. Try raising the HP on the main Boss to 1000 and see if you can beat it then.

Oh, and I think I've gotten it down to 7 seconds 😛

Edwards

Well I did not mean that it wasn't possible to do something approaching. In fact, I already had a few ideas on how this could be done (though they used different sprites for the head while still on the boss, and for the head while floating), but I did not actually want the Terrifying Forest Boss to be an actual recreation of the inspiration, or to turn it into a SketchFighter research project (which I was sure you would have done, and it looks like I was right ;)), mostly because I didn't want to invest that much time in it, hence the "couldn't". Besides, the behavior of the inspiration (which I longly observed before envisioning recreating it, much thanks to emulators with save states) is rather complex:
- when all the heads are attached, a shot is fired every ~1.5 seconds, from a random head, though at that point the heads are close enough to the body that it wouldn't change much if the shots were fired from the body; another possibility would be to have each head fire 1.5N seconds (N being the number of heads).
- the heads move around the body, within a short range, not at a fixed distance, though having the heads at the tip of waving (but not extending, the behavior of parent sprites which change dimension is unfortunate) tentacles would provide somewhat of the same behavior (using a sprite which is off-centered, like as it happens the Crab and Ice Boss head). Also, the weapon of the hero in this game is really short-range and not that flexible (i.e. only 4 different orientations), so these moving heads, even if they don't move that far, made them not easy to hit.
- the boss is harmed when you hit the heads, not the central body, though I guess this could be simulated by protecting a 1-hitpoint central body by invisible shields which go away when you kill the heads.
- when heads are floating, detached, a shot is still fired every ~1.5 seconds, from a random head, which this time is possibly a floating one. I guess the only reasonable solution here would be to have the floating heads also fire every N
1.5 seconds.
- it doesn't seem to matter which head is hit, even if you even spread your sword hits between the different heads, one head will detach when the boss is at half its hitpoints (in the case of the two-headed version), and you'll have to hit the remaining head as much to eventually kill the boss. It's not that much different if each head has its own hitpoints, though this could allow mitigating the danger of flying heads by harming each and every as much as possible, before finishing them off in sequence, which isn't possible in the original inspiration.
- the boss instantly dies when its last head is killed, this behavior doesn't seem that easy to do in SketchFighter (perhaps having the central part of boss be of solid type and Extra2 6, shielded by solid invisible shields children of the original heads, and having invisible stuff constantly firing at the central part?)
- oh, and in the level of which it is the boss, the original inspiration has two heads, but it can appear in other levels inside them of even as the actual boss with 3 or 4 heads (I think the boss of the 8th level is the four-headed version )

Now you see why I didn't want to pursue an accurate reproduction, though I guess such a goal could be pursued and reached well enough for someone with way too much time on his hands. 😉 Guess I forgot the "exactly" for the second "couldn't"

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