Speedrunning Space Hunter

WTF Is This?!

Space Hunter is an NES title we didn't see in the English-speaking world. The basic story, as we know it, is in a distant future robots have rebelled against humanity. One robot seeks to prove her loyalty by singlehandedly stopping the evil robot invasion. This is an NES title from 1986; story isn't the game's strong suit...

The game is a simple process of landing on a planet, collecting gear, killing the boss, and leaving before the planet blows up. Do this to six planets, and the final world appears. (How did they cloak a PLANET anyway??)

You have a red/white health bar and power. Power is weapon ammo, and the health bar is divided into 1HP chunks. Each time you destroy a planet, your HP bar grows; power is capped at 250.

Items and Equipment

When you start, you have two items: A jetpack and a bomb. The jetpack allows you to fly by holding either B or up and the bomb is a simple explosive that works vaguely like the bombs in Bomberman. You lay a bomb and it explodes, the explosion stretching out to the left and right edges of the screen. However one thing to keep in mind: the bomb will only go off after you move out of the way. So you have to lay a bomb then either fly or fall out of the blast path before it'll explode.

In addition to those, there's many items to be picked up in the game; only some of which my route picks up. All other items require power, and can only be used if your current power is above a certain point. Since we grind power up in the beginning, this is largely moot. As long as you stay above 100 power until World 7, you'll never have a problem.

Projectile Weapons

Three projectile weapons. They're mostly identical except for their cost and damage. Otherwise each projectile just flies to the edge of the screen and causes damage to the first thing it hits. Each one is required to kill a certain boss, and the White Crystal is my go-to utility weapon.

Super Bomb (Blue Triangle)

The Super Bomb works exactly like a normal bomb, except the explosion is four-direction. It's clumsy to use since you have to move out of the way of two axes of explosion, and it's expensive. I only use it on its appropriate boss fight.

Final Weapon (Blue Pentagon)

For an insane 250 Power, this weapon kills everything on the screen. It one-shots the final boss, and that's the only time I'll use it.

Swim Fins

The only mandatory non-weapon. Without these, you can't get below the surface of the water on the water planet. With them equipped, holding B will cause you to swim down, as opposed to fly up.

For the sake of completeness, here's some info on items I won't be picking up:


I don't know what these are supposed to be, but they fire a short ranged projectile that boomerangs back to you. Not mandatory for any boss, and not as useful as the White Crystal. I skip it.

Shields (Red, blue, and mirror)

These reduce the damage you take from certain sources. The mirror makes you flat out immune to most projectiles! Would be useful, but picking them up wastes time and I can finish the game without them with some difficulty.

Time Ring

This is the third movement item. It freezes all enemies on screen at the cost of 20 Power. Useless in a speedrun.

The Route

World 1

We start with the black planet closest to the player. Where you enter the planet dictates where you show up on the map. So we enter the black planet from directly to the bottom.

Once inside, we fly left until we see our first door. Going inside and bombing the enemies will get us the White Crystal.

Now we need power: go right one room. In this room and the one to the right, there's hidden items that give us power. To reveal them, bomb the row they're on. You don't have to pick them up; simply reveal them. The room on the left has its power-up on the bottom row. The room on the right has it two rows below where the stars in the background start. Go back and forth bombing to get the power-ups until you have 220 power.

NOTE: When revealing hidden power-ups, your power can overflow past 255. If it does, you'll be set back to 0 power. That's a run-killer. Also worth noting: If an enemy bombs and reveals a power-up, you get the power. So an enemy can overflow your power for you. For this reason I strongly recommend never having more than 220 power until the very end.

Once you have around 220 power, go straight to the boss. From the right room with the power-up, that's 2R, 2D, L, 4D, L, U, L. Enter this room and you'll face the first boss.

This boss is immune to your White Crystal, so use bombs. He only needs 3 or 4 hits, and you can get 2 off before he teleports. Once he dies, a time bomb will be set and you will be kicked back out to the map; retrace your path to get back to the surface then fly off the top of the map into the stars to escape.

The power you grinded up here should last you until the final world of the game.

World 2

Next is the fire planet above you. Enter from the top-left corner.

There's one mandatory item here: the swim fins. From where you enter, go 3D and enter the room. The fins are here; the White Crystal will make short work of the mooks in here.

Now that you have the fins, boss time. Go 3D, R, U, 2R and go in.

This boss is weak to the White Crystal. If your health is full, you should be able to step right into his face and hold down the A button to rapid-fire him to death in a blink. Time to run; retrace your steps back out.

The path out from here is 3L, D, L, then Up til you're in space.

World 3

Next is the ringed gray planet at the bottom. Enter from the top-middle.

First we need the laser sword. Go R and D. The door is hidden. Bomb the low floor to the far left and you should reveal it.

Next we need the heart, which is a short 2L walk from here. Same as every other room: White Crystal for the win.

Now the walk to the boss is kind of a long one. It's 2D, R, D, L, D, 3R, U.

This boss is also weak to bombs. This will be the longest boss fight you'll see. I tend to stick to the far left wall and run up and drop a bomb between the fireballs. This boss doesn't walk up and down-- it teleports, so locking in on where it is can be difficult. You'll get it though as long as you don't eat a bunch of fireballs in a row.

Now get out.

World 4

Water world time. Enter this blue watery planet from the middle bottom.

You'll need the fins here. Once you equip them, B will make you swim down, rather than jetpack up. It can be disorienting.

From where you land, go 2D, L, 2D, L, R, 2D, L, R, D, R, U. Bomb the ledge here for a door that'll lead you to the Super Bombs.

From here, hop L, D, L, U for the boss. For him use the Heart and machine-gun him.

Now retrace your steps back out.

World 5

Next: the snow world. Enter from the top-left.

There's nothing we need on this planet. So here we just sprint to the boss. Go 2D, R, D, L, D, R, U, 3R.

This boss is like the boss in world 3, but he's immune to normal bombs. Use the super bombs. Keep in mind to make them go off you have to move away vertically AND horizontally. Should be the same story as world 3.

Path out is the same as the path in.

World 6

Finally, what I lovingly call the "Bacon Planet". It should be obvious which one. Enter from the bottom-left.

This is actually the hardest world in the game, because the boss fight is the only one that should prove a threat to you.

First go 2D, L, 5D. Bomb the bottom row of this room for a door that leads to the Final Weapon.

If you're low on power, the bottom row of the room one to the left has a power-up. However, you'll have a chance to max your power out after the next boss; so only grind here if you're under about 130 power. The weapon you need to use on this world's boss requires 100 power, and costs 2 per shot. Use your judgement.

From the room with the power-up in it, go 3L, loop around, go 2R, U, L, and loop around right. Here's the boss door.

Since you've been skipping the shield power-ups, this boss is actually a threat. Use the laser sword but don't try to tank him like you have the other projectile bosses. He'll win. Dodge his attacks, don't get close to him, and pick your shots. If he gets close to you, he'll be the one to machine-gun YOU.

If you survive, the fastest path out is different than the path in. It's L, D, L, 3U, 2R, 3L, 4U.

World 7

The final world appears. Enter from the bottom right.

Now for the annoying part: you have to use the Final Weapon here. That means you'll need somewhere between 250 and 255 power. No more (or you'll overflow), no less. The room I've landed you in, the bottom row has a 30 power reveal. Be careful though; the enemies in this room can also lay bombs, and may push you over if you're not careful.

If you're over 220 power, but still short of 250, use a weapon to drop your power to 220, then bomb the power-up.

Once you have between 250 and 255 power, go L, 2D, L, 2D, R, 3D, R, U for the boss. On the way, don't lay bombs anywhere and don't dwaddle in any room. There's a ton of smaller power-ups here and revealing any of them will overflow your power.

As soon as you enter this room, drop the Final Weapon and move up and left so it triggers. The boss will instantly die-- maybe before you even see him. Some final boss!

Retrace your steps back out; as soon as you exit the planet, stop your timer.

Potential Route Alterations

World Order

Here's the heirarchy of requirements...

I would put World 6 off to the end, since it's the only threat in the game and the extra HP is helpful. This leaves one real option: doing World 3 before World 1. This isn't very useful since it just adds time you move across the solar system map, for no real benefit.

Long story short, I'm pretty convinced this world order is optimal. I'm open to other thoughts on it.

Final Weapon on World 6

If you're having trouble killing the World 6 boss, one potential option is to grind to 250 power on the hidden power point one room left of where you pick up the Final Weapon, and use Final Weapon itself on the boss. This works, but then you have 0 power at the start of World 7.

You SHOULD be able to handle this boss with some practice, and I'm pretty certain using Final Weapon would not be faster, but I may try it at some point.

If you route on this, you can skip picking up the laser sword on World 3, but the laser sword is on the way so even that doesn't save much time.

The balance comes down to this: You gain time in that you don't have to pick up the laser sword, and don't have to actually fight one of the most dangerous bosses in the game. In exchange, you have to grind around 80 power on a 20-power point, then grind a whole 250 power on a 30 power point.

Worth trying, in any case.

Early World 6 and Final Weapon elsewhere

If you use Final Weapon on World 6, you can move it up in your rotataion. You could even do World 6 first if you wanted. With Final Weapon in your hand this early, you could skip picking up any of the other weapons, and use Final Weapon in its place.

You'd just need to figure out what would be faster to grind 250 Power and use Final Weapon on than getting the weapon they're weak to.

There are 50 Power points out there. Maybe this would be viable. I don't see any boss being worth it though.

Optional Shields

If you're having health problems, you can pick up shields early in the run. Namely the Mirror and Blue Crystal shields in World 1. Both are on the way to the boss. However, picking them up is straight out time lost since it's possible to manage your health without them.

Misc Thoughts


Lag begins when just two foes on the screen, and seems to be caused by collision detection. If you take damage and go into I-frames, lag vanishes entirely. This can be up to a 50% speed increase in some rooms and is worth doing.

If you're moving between rooms and have a projectile out, it's worth gunning down anything that crosses into your path. If you can't do that and you're in a laggy room, taking a hit is probably worth it to speed things up.

Bacon Boss

The boss of what I call World 6 (AKA the bacon world) is a douche and can just give you a movement pattern that'll kill you. It's happened to me only a few times: he'll move diagonally while 'vibrating' back and forth, and in this state his hitbox seems to not line up with his actual sprite. Shots will go right through him.

I'm really giving my alternate route involving using Final Weapon on him some thought because of BS like this. It really is a gamble what pattern he'll give you and if you'll survive.

Stone Boss

The World 3 boss is slow. He seems to only be weak to bombs and moves fast and erratically; faster than you can lock on and bomb him sometimes. On top of that, he takes 6 hits from bombs to kill. I need a better process for handling him.