Maxing the Counter: Why Negative Two Lives Are Better than One

99 Lives - Maxing the Counter: Why Negative Two Lives Are Better than One

Submitted by SadisticMystic

Over the years, there's been debate over the best way to build up your lives to 99. Some advocate City Escape just because it's fast and loaded with rings, some say Pyramid Cave because you can keep getting 2 lives in the opening tunnel and restarting, some also say Pyramid Cave but advocate taking it further in to get more rings and 1up boxes, and some say Sky Rail once you can consistently live through it--with the potential for as many as 12 lives in 2 minutes. I personally am a fan of Mad Space and its fast access rings and lives, but that's probably just me.

At least, I was a fan of Mad Space. Until now, when I uncovered and now reveal something that leaves them all in the dust.

As you may know, getting hit in any Knuckles or Rouge mission 2 (except Mad Space for some reason) spawns the back ring at the start of the level, and if you get hit in close enough proximity to where the lost Chao would be (again I don't know why) you also spawn a back ring on the Chao.

So here's an experiment. Go into Meteor Herd 2, and just stand still. No, don't get any rings. Just wait for a meteor to bonk you on the head. You'll get hit with no rings and die, but since the back ring materializes over your head, you go through that animation. If you look closely, you'll see that after respawning from the back ring, you've lost a life, but this only continues for a few tenths of a second before the screen fades out yet again. After that, you'll restart normally, having lost a total of two lives from one hit.

Now we can start some fun stuff. Stay in Meteor Herd 2, but this time pause-restart your lives all the way down to 0. Once it says 00, stay still as before and wait for the meteor and the back ring. This time, if you catch your lives...you'll see a 99! You actually have -1 lives, or 255, which is then compressed down to two digits, and the next fadeout takes you to -2 lives but you still get a game over. If you try to enter another level now, it sees your last life total was -2, which is less than 4, so it starts you off with only 4 lives rather than 98 or 99. In fact, if you're fast, you can pause after the back ring restart, with -1 lives. If you do, you'll notice Restart is no longer an available menu option--only Continue or Quit. You might be tempted to choose Quit in that case, to try and get your -1 lives to carry over, but again that's less than 4 so you just get stuck with 4.

So far, no good. But there is hope.

Once you die in this game, things continue to play out for a while (namely, 2.9 seconds). In the event of a fall out, you'll continue to be able to control yourself for that time. Actually we have no interest in being able to retain control here, but it is a promising line of attack. When you get the back ring, fade out, fade in, and the second fade out, it's that 2.9 second timeout that triggers fade out #2. Fade outs from the back ring go by much faster, taking only 0.9 seconds. What happens if we can delay fade out #1 so that it coincides with #2?

Time for a change of scenery. Head over to Security Hall, once again on mission 2. Head up to 3F (blue), and C block. Notice the laser moving back and forth? Wait for it to subside to the back, then stand near the edge. Figure out where the start would be below you (or even get a ring and take an intentional hit somewhere else just so you can see the actual back ring), and face directly away from it. Remember, after taking a hit, you get knocked in the direction opposite the one you're facing. Now let the laser come forward and hit you with 0 rings.

You may not have gotten it to work that time; if not, see where you landed and figure out how you should adjust your position until your dying fall takes you directly over the back ring.

If you did, you'll notice...there's one fade out, and not much else. The fall took too much of the 2.9 seconds to leave enough for a proper back ring fade out, and you lose only one life. If you were on 0 lives, you'll just get one fade out and then a game over.

So we now know: Get hit directly on the back ring spawn point, and there's so much time left that the screen can fade in and out on its own. Get hit from way high up, such as Security Hall 3F, and the back ring won't be hit until it's too late for the second fade to mean anything at all. What does that leave?

It should be obvious now. Run your lives down to 0. Get up to 2F (yellow), C block. There are two electric beetles here. What you want to do is run up to the closest one to attract its attention, then get it to start chasing you (slowly) back toward the near side. Ultimately, you want to be positioned on the edge of the ledge, halfway between the first and second columns of safes relative to the starting corner. Face straight toward the back, following the ledge, then turn ever-so-slightly to the right. When the beetle finally comes up next to you and throws up the electric barrier, you'll fall for a while, then hit the back ring, get a fade out, and subsume what would be the normal 2.9 second fade out in the process...

As a result, you're no longer under any time constraints. It says 99, but now you're actually running around with -1 lives! As before, "restart" is still gone from the pause menu, and you still go back to 4 lives if you pause and quit or die again and get a game over. Also, getting a 1up here will put you at 0 lives and not really accomplish a whole lot. So what can we do now?

It stands to reason that from -1 lives, repeating the process once more will chop off another life, to -2. You can keep going to -3, -4...and after pulling the procedure off flawlessly 129 times in a row, you will have positive 127 lives (the 129th success flips the sign bit, so that you can now exit the level and have 99 lives for the next one, rather than 4). But this completely defeats the purpose--repetition of this method isn't particularly fast, and you'd have to do it 129 times (never mind with no mistakes), whereas with regular old 1-up boxes you only need 95 repeats maximum. Why, then, would you want to go through this?

Simple...you don't have to do it 129 times. You do at least have to be at -2 lives, so go ahead and repeat a second time. Remember how getting a 1up from -1 lives takes you to 0? Well, getting a 1up from -2 lives (254) takes you to -1 (255)...except the 255 there is larger than 99, so you go straight to 99 lives, and yes it really counts as 99 this time (to include a working Restart pause option)! The 1up at the Chao is gone to make room for the back ring placeholder up there, but you can always get the 1up from the room where you get the Treasure Scope. Or, more simply: you're in mission 2. Completing that gives you a 1up by definition, and immediately saves your life total to the memory card as 99 to boot!

Summary:
-Play Security Hall 2.
-Keep pausing and choosing Restart to throw away all your lives until you have 0 left.
-Get hit by the electric beetle on yellow C in such a way that you get knocked backwards onto the starting point, which now holds the Back ring. Both the second fadeout and the game over will be cancelled, and you're now playing with -1 lives.
-Repeat that procedure for dying again. Again you cancel both the second fadeout and the game over, and you're now playing with -2 lives.
-Get a 1up by any means. This could be the item box in the treasure scope room, 100 rings (and thereby mission clear), or even 10 small animals.
-Your life total is now 99! You can exit the level and enter another one, and still have those lives! Do note that if you didn't complete the level, you will have to complete some level (it doesn't matter which one) to save your lives to the memory card.
-Never squander 30+ minutes on tedious and repetitive life collecting, ever again!
Game ID: 4
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