The original Shadow Complex was a surprise hit when it released on the Xbox Live Arcade in the heyday of Xbox 360. It was one of my favorite games for the system, and remains so to this day. I’ve played through it several times, exploring its many nooks and crannies. Like a Metroid or Castlevania title, speed running means breaking sequence, visiting areas before you’re supposed to, and generally glitching all around. AJFireCracker’s run won’t have any huge glitches (as Shadow Complex with certain glitches is a much different run), so we’ll get to see a healthy amount of the side scrolling madness. Let’s take a closer look as AJFireCracker breaks it wide open.
Game: Shadow Complex Remastered
Category: New Game + No Major Glitches
Let the Games Begin
Shadow Complex Remastered is very similar to its original release in terms of speed running. A lot of tricks can be used in both, some of which are developer intended, others are definitely not. The category AJFireCracker is running is “No Major Glitches”. This doesn’t mean that the run is glitchless, but instead leaves out a few massively game breaking glitches. In fact, after his NMG run, AJFireCracker performs a glitched run that I’ll let you see for yourselves. Don’t forget, I’ll link you to the whole run at the end of the article.
One of the most notable and useful glitches in Shadow Complex Remastered is the double jump. Normally, the player is not supposed to be able to double jump. However, AJFireCracker is able to essentially double (and even triple) jump thanks to a pretty simple trick. Right after jumping, there’s a few frames in which pressing the jump button again will result in an extra boost of height. It’s something that is pretty easy to pull off, and you might’ve done it while casually playing and simply didn’t notice.
AJFireCracker uses the double jump mechanic to save some time as he bounds around the introduction area. After grabbing a golden gun (something unlocked in New Game +), he sets off for the first target, the grenade power up. Grabbing the grenades doesn’t come without a fight, as a giant mech resembling a spider falls down to interrupt AJ’s run. However, AJ simply cheeses through this boss using a combination of quick shots from the grenades and his gun.
Breaking the Sequence
Next, AJFireCracker pulls off a sequence break. For those who haven’t spent a lot of time with games like Shadow Complex, the majority of the gameplay revolves around collecting items and new weapons. Doors and pathways in the game sometimes require a missile or grenade to break open, movement power ups to pass by, or an assortment of other blockages. However, you can sometimes bypass these obstacles without using the required item. This often requires precise jumping and/or risky strategies.
The first one AJFireCracker pulls off is actually in the game on purpose, a strategy left by the developers to be found by persistent players. An early area is blocked off by a lava pit and an out-of-reach ledge. Fortunately, by jumping onto a thin ledge and making a very precise jump, AJFireCracker is able to skip over the hot void and save considerable time.
No Foam, Please
After, he runs into his first truly amusing technique of the run. In Shadow Complex, one of the later sub-weapons is a foam gun. Like the recently released Prey, shooting the foam gun produces a hardened platform that the player can jump onto. Foam is also used to block scanners on certain doors, letting you through. AJFireCracker doesn’t intend on picking up the foam weapon, and thus must skip three sections that require the foam gun.
The first one is an aforementioned scanner door. Luckily, there’s a turret that shoots foam directly in front it. By tricking the turret into shooting at him while jumping up and down, a foam shot lands directly over the sensor, allowing him to pass.
The next sensor door is more easily passed up, thanks to a widened checkpoint box. Shadow Complex‘s save rooms don’t require any interaction; simply passing through them auto saves the game. When you quit the game and reload, you’ll appear in the last save room you visited. Behind the next foam sensor door is a save room, and by essentially running straight into the door, AJFireCracker is able to trigger the save room’s checkpoint. By quitting out and reloading, he is able to skip the door.
The last foam skip is a bit trickier, as it’s not a door you need to trick, but a collection of boulders needed to be blown up. Normally, you would use the foam gun to create a platform, then lob a grenade up onto it. This in turn blows up the boulders and clears the path. Since there’s no foam platform to use, AJFireCracker instead fires a grenade directly up into the boulders, lodging it between two of them. This is a very precise shot, nearly pixel perfect. He gets it on his first try and moves on.
More Bosses and Exploration
The next section of the run is mainly exploration, as even speed running Shadow Complex requires some backtracking. Nonetheless, AJFireCracker takes down a mini-boss and grabs a piece of armor, giving him hyper speed. Then, he absolutely demolishes another large spider boss.
Around here, he also pulls off one of the more glitchy tricks allowed in the category. Known as a “zed slide”, AJFireCracker is able to manipulate the main character’s collision detection to skip around objects in the game. While Shadow Complex is played from a 2D perspective, the game has a foreground and background, and actually represents a bit more of a 3D environment. By doing a zed slide, AJFireCracker is able to displace himself from the locked 2D track, forcing the character around barriers. This is only used a few times in the run, and is arguably one of the most useful tricks.
In addition to the zed slide, there’s another notable technique that involves the hyper speed armor. Normally, you’d have to get a decent running start to activate the hyper speed and take off. If you stop, turn around, or get hit by an enemy, your build up will stop, forcing you to take another running start. However, climbing on ledges and a few other movements don’t stop the momentum charge. This allows AJFireCracker to build up some momentum in a small space, using hyper speed in unintended spots.
Run, Run, Run
Now that AJFireCracker has grabbed the power ups he needs, he heads towards an area that must be visited for the final boss to spawn. Along the way, he uses the hyper speed ability to speed things up. Entering the silo-like room causes the cut scene to play, which spawns the final boss encounter elsewhere on the map. As the room explodes around him, AJFireCracker books it to the left, narrowly escaping his incineration.
After safely escaping, AJFireCracker makes his way across the map towards the boss. Before he busts into hyper speed, he attempts a lengthy and very difficult jump sequence to scale up the side of a building. After failing a few times, he nails the sequence of jumps and embraces the open country.
In fact, most of his trip across the map is done in hyper speed. Like I mentioned above, it’s pretty easy to lose your momentum, especially with enemies littered around the map. This doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal for AJFireCracker, as he pulls off quick jumps to skirt on the ground like a proverbial ice skater.
The run culminates in an epic final boss battle against an air ship, in which the main character Jason fires three (count em, THREE) nukes. Apparently, the airship is practically invincible, as I can’t imagine any aircraft that could withstand two nukes, but not three.
AJFireCracker runs back and forth, firing nuke after nuke, eventually taking down the air ship. As a bonus effort, he skips the final cut scene to get back to the main menu quickly, and gets ready to start his very brief glitched run.
That’s all for Shadow Complex Remastered! Don’t forget to check out the full run (with the bonus glitched run afterwards) over at this Twitch link. Stay tuned for more SGDQ 2017 coverage, and enjoy the show!