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Some previously known facts on Mothula:
1) On SNES, there's a damage bug. Straight from my guide:
It inexplicably takes no damage from attack classes 4 and 5 (in human terms,
the Level 3 sword spin attack, the Level 4 sword swing/Pegasus charge, and
the Level 4 sword spin attack). It makes no sense that the Level 1-3 sword
swings would be stronger than the Level 4 sword swing, that the Level 3
spinning attack won't hurt it even though other Level 3 sword strikes do,
or that the Level 4 sword swing and spin attack won't hurt it even though
a drawn Level 4 sword does. This was fixed on the GBA ports, where Mothula
now takes 16 damage from attack classes 4 and 5.
This happens because the programmers assigned zero to damage classes 4 and 5, which I chalked up to oversight, as most players and beta testers won't be taking the golden sword to Skull Woods.
2) flagitoius noticed that Mothula would occasionally and mysteriously take no damage when hit, and this could happen with a wide range of attacks. He'd flinch, flash very briefly (barely noticable), but be unhurt. We weren't sure whether this was caused by some sly evasion skills, or if he was somehow impervious on certain frames of animation.
Regarding #2: Just recently, I learned that the intended damage is always queued for Mothula, but it's sometimes zeroed before it can actually be subtracted from his HP. Code at 06/E838, executed at seemingly-random intervals after Mothula is struck, will call the Damage Enemy function with a Damage Class of 4. Since SNES Mothula takes 0 damage from this class, this call serves to zero any damage that's still queued for him, effectively letting him shrug off the hit. (Note that normally if the damage function is run for an enemy when damage is already in its queue, the higher of the two damages gets put in the queue. 0 damage is a special case in that it zeroes the queue value and some other variables.) This happened on roughly 1/2 of the hits I landed on Mothula, though it can vary a bit.
When I hacked SNES Mothula to take 16 damage from Damage Classes 4 and 5 (which is what a logical bugfix for #1 would be), he instead randomly took 16 damage after being struck -- no matter how weak the original attack was. This wasn't good.
In contrast, GBA Mothula will not randomly take 16 damage after being struck. Nor will he randomly shrug off strikes for zero damage. He's above all this SNES nonsense. (The GBA testing was all on a European ROM, as that's what I have a savestate for, but USA is probably the same.)
While putzing around in Mothula's dungeon later, I was reminded that enemies take damage if they're knocked into a spiked block (e.g. from a blue bouncer, a Somarian block, a sword strike, etc). What damage do they take? Why, Damage Class 4, which is generally 16 damage. If the enemy's a decent distance from the spiked block before being knocked into it, they'll take any damage caused by the initial attack, then the 16 damage. If they're close to the spiked block before they're knocked into it, the 16 damage will replace the initial attack's damage. The (SNES) code responsible for making the enemy take damage from the spiked block? Why, 06/E838.
So SNES Mothula's unpredictable invulnerability isn't random at all! He actually gains invincibility by being knocked into spiked blocks. The more sharp, metallic objects around him when you whack him, the safer he is. Counterintuitive, yes?
[continued from above]
Some conclusions/hypotheses from all of this:
- The SNES coders had good reason to make Mothula take 0 damage from Damage Class 4 (and Class 5 for continuity). So it likely wasn't just flakiness or forgetting that the golden sword exists.
- The GBA coders found a way to make Mothula not "hit" spiked blocks, thus allowing nonzero amounts to be assigned to his Damage Classes 4 and 5. Frankly, I'm not sure how he ever hit the spiked blocks in the first place. Even on SNES, he flutters right over them; it's not like the two exist on the same plane. Then again, because this game isn't truly 3D, it's inconsistent at handling heights. (Wallmaster, for instance: get him to fall at the bottom of the room, quickly go to the top of the room, and as he rises back up toward the ceiling, you can whack him with your sword, even though he should be waay "above" your head at this point.) I'd wager that the GBA coders didn't find a more sophisticated way of ascertaining height, but probably just added a special case to stop spiked blocks from attempting to damage Mothula (Enemy #136). However they did it, they deserve commendation.
- GBA Mothula is significantly easier due to resolution of the issue. And it's not a dumbing down that eases the "challenge", but a fixing up.
- flagitoius had to wait almost 3 years to get his question answered. :D Where the hell is he, anyway?
Well that explains a lot... interesting.
Frankly, I'm not sure how he ever hit the spiked blocks in the first place. Even on SNES, he flutters right over them; it's not like the two exist on the same plane.
Now, I know squat about programming, but I would guess the game uses layers for different height levels, and that for Mothula to be even able to get hit at all, he would have to exist on the ground level layer, same as Link, Link's attacks, and the spiky things.
But I will say it again, this is a blind shot in the dark about game mechanics. Neither do I know or have any experience with programming.
Final word, assassin...
Mothula is immune to damage classes 4 and 5: true or false?
Immune to class 4 and 5 on SNES but not on GBA. Says so on the top of his first post .<_<
I was only hoping there'd be some clever way to bypass it.
There is; you can patch the ROM.
Some followup: I think only the stationary spiked blocks are an issue. In Skull Woods dungeon, I went to the room with Gibdos enemies and 2 moving spike blocks. The Gibdos walked right through the blocks and/or got hit in the side by them without taking damage or showing any reaction. And when they hit off a blue bouncer, they seemed to go right through the nearby spiked block, once again unharmed. 06/E838 wasn't executed in either of these cases. Brief tests with Mothula back this up; I can't get 06/E838 triggered when he isn't near an edge of the screen. I'll test more to be sure, and post again if I was wrong.
^ so this would fit into YF-23's point. Mothula might well exist on the same "layer" as the moving spiked blocks, but can pass through them for the same (unknown) reason the clearly ground-bound Gibdos are able to do so.