Speedrunning Cool Spot
Basic Game Mechanics
- Your goal is to break the Spot out of the cage at the end of each level
- Before you can open the cage, you must pick up a certain number of cool points (30 on Easy)
- Cool points are red discs, as well as "7-Up" logos that give 7 points
- D-pad moves, Y shoots, B jumps. That's it
- Your HP gauge is the spot on the top left of the screen. It begins to peel off as you take damage. One hit from death, it's folded in half
- I play on Easy because it allows for more freedom to move fast. Normal and Hard require too much backtracking and careful dodging to be able to properly speedrun them
Spot accelerates in stages as he moves. While holding down a direction on the D-pad, he'll speed up from a slow walk to a quicker walk, to a jog. Once the D-pad is released, Spot's speed returns to the first stage. This acceleration can happen invisibly while Spot is clinging to ropes, requiring you hold right or left on the D-pad for several frames before jumping, or else you'll jump off at speed level 1, and not go far at all.
When Spot jumps, he has air control dependant on his current walking speed, in both directions. Even if you release the D-pad, Spot's movement speed will remain locked until you touch the ground again, at which point it will return to the first stage if you changed directions or released the D-pad.
You can buffer jumps by releasing and re-pressing the jump button in mid-air. Upon landing, you'll jump again on the same frame. This is critical for quickly completing sequences of jumps.
The game has a strange definition of "touching the ground" for purposes of resetting movement speed. Of note are situations where you jump from a rope or a mobile platform. In either case, if you buffer a jump, you'll instantly leap off the the rope or platform and your movement speed will not be reset, but you will be able to gain additional speed from holding down the D-pad. This allows Spot to exceed his normal maximum speed; sometimes multiplying it by 4 or 5 times. This is mandatory in an optimized run in Wading Around and Loco Motive.
To make things stranger: jump buffering does NOT seem to work on the balloons in Surf Patrol. This is the only case I know where it does not work. Go figure.
There's two kinds of bubbles: small and large. Large bubbles pop and flind Spot up in the air, regardless of from which angle Spot struck them. After a few seconds they re-appear. They're just springy platforms.
Small bubbles are more interesting. When Spot hits one, he becomes trapped in it and will slowly float upward. Spot can break out at any time by jumping, and eventually the bubble will expire and drop Spot. When the bubble is about to expire, Spot will begin to struggle. The bubble will vanish immediately after the end of his second struggling animation cycle.
Important to note about small bubbles: when Spot hits one, the slow upward floating begins from where he currently is, not where the bubble is. This means if you hit a small bubble from below, you lose an entire Spot worth of height from the bubble. This means the difference between making a skip in Wading Around and not, 100% of the time. Always hit small bubbles from above if you can.
Spot can have, at most, five shots on screen at a time. Shots will pop large bubbles, damage enemies, and break the cage lock at the end of the level. Most enemies take two or three shots to kill, while small flying enemies die in one.
Shots will also stick around forever, as long as they are on the screen. Once a shot passes beyond the maximum range of your view, it vanishes. You can hit enemies off-screen, but not far off-screen.
Each level requires gaining 30 cool points then striking the lock on the cage at the end five times. If you lack the 30 cool points, your shots will bounce off.
Important to note: the five shots must take place while the lock is on screen. If the lock exits the screen, even by a pixel, it will reset to requiring five hits to open. This means jump-tricks like jumping from under the sand dune in Shell Shock won't work unless you can land five shots on the lock while it's on-screen in one go.
Damage and Boosts
When Spot takes damage, his movement speed is reset to the first stage. This makes damage a bad thing 90% of the time. However this speed loss only takes effect when Spot touches the ground, same as any other speed reduction.
Mobile enemies will cause damage to Spot and allow Spot to pass right through them, limiting the potential for damage boosts. Hazards, however, such as tacks, urchins, and barbed wire will bounce Spot up into the air if landed on from a jump. These can be used extensively for boosts in Pier Pressure, Off The Wall, Back To The Wall, and Dock And Roll.
As Spot's life dwindles, there seems to be an increased chance of popping a 7-Up glass (heal). Some routes take an extreme amount of damage and count on a "lucky" glass pop near the end of the level.
At the end of each level, your cool points and remaining time are tabulated to decide if you earn a bonus game. The bonus game would be a huge waste of time and earn you nothing, so it's best to avoid getting it.
As long as you finish with close to 30 cool points and don't pick up clocks on the route, you'll never earn a bonus game. I would go so far as to say if you finish a level with under 40 cool points (which you should be doing...), getting the bonus is impossible.
Sadly there seems to be no way to skip or accelerate the tabulation. As a result, extra cool points and time should be avoided as they directly translate to lost frames during this tabulation. However, the difference is minor and if a faster route takes you through extra points, it's better to just eat the lost frames.