In the Game Boy Color version of Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, there is an exclusive level. But is it really an exclusive level? Depends on your definition. In the Game Boy Color version, the River level is special. It didn’t only get cut into two, but also the whole section with the candles got cut out. While it’s a shame that the candle section got cut out, I totally understand why they did it. That whole section would be a nightmare to convert into 2D and to play. Let me already say that the 4th level in Game Boy Color version is a nightmare to speedrun perfectly. I’ll talk more about it at the end of this article. Now, with that said, I want to welcome you in this new entry in the speedrunning guide for the Game Boy Color version of Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. Last year, I wrote a guide for the first two levels. Canyonlands and Babylon. In those articles, I already talked about various terms like what an ILS is and the rules of the categories. So, to avoid making these articles too long, I recommend you read the introductions to the previous articles if you don’t understand something or have questions. And if anything is still unclear, feel free to leave a comment down in the comment section. Or, if you have any feedback, thoughts/opinions on this article and/or the game, I’m open to hear it in the comments.
My main focus isn’t writing this guide at the moment. So, it’s quite possible that improvements to the runs I already wrote about happened. Now, the legend the_Kovic improved my all treasures run of Canyonlands with 21 seconds to 4 minutes 15 seconds. That’s extremely impressive, since the whole route and strategies are almost completely the same. The biggest difference is that he got luckier with the RNG of the scorpions and took a bit more risk. On top of that, his run didn’t really have any movement mistakes. Honestly, I think it will be quite tricky to lower this run more without new strategies or route changes.
For now, there were no other big differences in terms of Canyonlands and Babylon. So, I think it’s good to dive right into the Russian Border guide.
Link to Speedrun.com page (All Treasures) – Link to Speedrun.com page (Any %)
The current world record at the time of writing is owned by:
for Any %: the_kovic, who ran this level in 1 minute and 47 seconds on November 27th 2022.
for All Treasures: me, who ran this level in 2 minutes and 46 seconds on January 2nd 2022. (Now, at the time of writing, I have a run in verification which improves this run with 10 seconds. It would make the time, 2 minutes and 36 seconds, preformed on the February 12th 2023)
Tian Shan River
for Any %: Molotok, who ran this level in 28 seconds on August 22nd 2017.
Note: when I say something in cursive, that’s only applicable for the all treasures route. So, the cursive text can be ignored for the any % route.
The Russian Border – Route
So, right off the bat… The route differs depending on if you do the all treasures run or the any % run. So, let me first talk about the all treasures part since after the extra section, we pick up with the any % route anyways.
As soon as you pressed “A” on the level title card, hold left to go to the little ridge and jump on it. Enter the little cave you see and run to the right top. There, you’ll find a red gem.
Usually, I run to the middle of the red gem and quickly turn Indy around by going down and then at the last second, pick up the red gem. It looks somewhat like this. It might require some practice, but it’s highly do-able. I typically reset my run when I don’t exit the cave before my timer hits 11 seconds. And even I often make mistakes here. It’s a bit tense to do and easy to lose time here. After you exit the cave, go right.
So, hold right after the level title card to exit the screen. Be careful, you need to go a bit right and a bit down. Don’t hold right and down right away since you’ll get stuck behind the rock and tree and you better reset then.
On the next screen, you have to go straight ahead for a bit and before the rocks, go straight down. Now, we go to a very tricky part. Depending on how you preform the next part… You might save a lot of time, loose a bit of time or have to reset the run. We have to drop off that ledge.
There are three ledges you can land on. The worst luck is that you land on the first edge, which will make you lose a bit of time. It’s something close to half a second to a second. Ideally, you land on the middle ledge. This is a lot smaller and will cost you a bit of health, but is the most ideal. You could also jump down a bit earlier than shown in my screenshot, but that’s risky. Since, then you will have to count more on your luck. I have had in practice runs, some jumps landing on the middle ledge but more often than not, I overshot or undershot and let Indy fall to his death. The safest is that you drop down at the smaller rock and aim for the middle ledge. Since, then right after the dropdown animation, you hold right, and you are in the best spot to continue.
In this screenshot, we see the three ledges I was talking about. The single tile middle ledge is the best ledge. To progress, you have to go right. Here it’s extremely easy to get stuck in the little niche when you hold right and up. Don’t hold up too early. The best movement now is to move on the same line I’m running in the screenshot. At the end of this walkway, you have to drop and enter a cave. Don’t forget to pick up the green gem if you are on the all treasures route. Exit that cave by hugging the bottom wall and after exiting the cave, you will have to go right.
After you exit the cave and went right, you think you have to jump up the “staircase” and go left on the roof of that cave. But, there is a time save you can preform here.
Jump towards the first higher section a bit after the door. You’ll land on the edge of the first higher section. Then jump backwards towards the door and if you landed correctly, you’ll land on the roof of the cave. This little trick will save you around 2 seconds if preformed correctly. Especially when you land on the line right above the entrance of the cave.
To continue, you have to move left and go over the bridge and go down. Try to be at the most right side of the bridge when going to the next screen. Since, it’ll save you a few frames in the next screen. The next screen is an L corridor with two wolves. The top wolf is easy to avoid and will let you continue on your right wall hugging way. The bottom one is a pain. Try to not get bitten or lose health. Since, you’ll need it later in the run. I usually jump over the wolf. I rather take the time loss there, then having to go into the menu and heal. Health is going to be important from now on. Since, to save time we don’t kill the enemies.
On the next screen, you will face your first guard of this level. The damage can’t be avoided with this one. Don’t forget to pick up the blue gem, of course. Now, we are going for another fork in the route. If you do the any % route of this level, you best hug the left wall and go up. From where the health kit is. Otherwise, after picking up the blue gem… You’ll have to go to the right. And exit the screen at the most right edge.
The next two treasures are on this screen. They are located at the left and right side of the guard tower. Depending on the RNG of the guards’ movement, it’s better to pick up the left one first before the right one. But it’s a guessing game. I prefer in most cases to go to the right and pick up the golden coins there. After that I hug the guard tower and hope that the guard stays off-screen, so I take the silver coins at the left of the guard tower without too much additional health loss. Then without loosing too much health, I continue on my merry way.
Usually, I run underneath the rock and jump up towards the ledges at the left to avoid additional shots from the guard. To continue here, it’s essential to jump fast. After jumping on the ledge at the left… You’ll have to jump to the ledge on the left, and then it’s jumping up a few times. You’ll have to jump 5 times upwards and in this session, I typically take one, maybe two steps forward. If you execute it correctly, you will always land on the edge of the ledges which saves a bit of time. But, it’s something you’ll need to practice.
Now, after you reached the top and went right and down… It’s tempting to ladder snipe to get into the base. Yet, this ladder snipe is impossible to do as far as I know currently. You can skip a bit of the climbing down animation by jumping down on the ladder, but I wasn’t able to get that to work consistently enough for me to implement it in runs. It’d save over 4 seconds… But, this run is already tense enough.
I have seen the TAS by the_Kovic do it. Also, the small ladder snipe in the next room. But, jumping towards the edges of ladders on the screen… The game is so picky it’s dangerous to do. Oh yeah, don’t forget to pick up that silver bar like I show in the screenshot.
Now, if you follow the TAS… You’ll notice that we currently take a different route. One that’s safer and a bit easier to preform. The main reason why it’s easier is that it saves time not to have to preform the frame precise direct box pull strategy and not having to jump on the correct frame. We follow the all treasures route a bit more.
This discovery happened after Bluescreen18, another runner of the N64 version of this game, went and bought a copy of this version of this game. He posted the trick in the Discord and kovic and I ran with it. So, after exiting the ladder and going to the right, we jump on the box closest to the locker at the right of the room.
Now, a tricky part comes for the all treasures. Get towards the right edge of this box and mash “A”. Since, there is a treasure in this locker and you can open it via standing on the box instead of standing right in front of it. If you are able to open the locker without having to leave the box, you will save a second.
Now, from this box, we jump on the locker and then do a corner jump towards the pile of three stacked boxes. The easiest way to get this is to jump from the edge of the top locker towards the pile of boxes. But drawing that on the screenshot would make it a bit too confusing.
Now, go up in the vent and by hugging the left and bottom wall, go through the vent. After you exit the vent, you’ll enter a room with a table, two lockers and some boxes. Take the raft in the right locker, and the treasure in the left locker (in this order, since it saves you a bit of frames not going for the treasure first), and exit the room. When exiting the room, go through the vent again and after exiting the vent, drop straight down. Directly go one tile over to the left and run down. Then, you’ll have to climb down the ladder. Now, cross your fingers you have enough health remaning to tank the shots of the guard. Know that going in the menu and healing takes so much time it’s insane.
Now, we are at the final screen of the run. Depending on your health, it’s safe to land on the box to the right of the ladder. The two final treasures are located in the lockers in this room.
When you are down on the grond in this room, run towards the entrance of the river. You might notice that I drew a small purple square in the bottom right corner of the screenshot. I drew that there because that’s where you’ll have to open your menu and move towards the raft to end the level.
It’s possible to do this further from the entrance of the river and doing that saves a few frames. Do mash “A” as soon as you are in the boat since otherwise the textbox won’t disappear and you’ll lose time.
Level 4 – Tian Shan River
This level is a pain to run. Since, the movement is so exact and it’s so easy to mess up it’s insane. I have taken a screenshot of the actual route from one of the better walkthroughs out there, but it’s so tricky to explain it in words. To learn this level, it’s best that you take a look at the video of the run and learn it that way.
This is one of two levels in this game that don’t have any treasures. It would be insane if this level had any treasures to be honest.
So, for the route, you’ll have to know that mashing A makes your raft go faster. But, you’ll gain more and more momentum each and every time. And here is the annoying part, as soon as you hit the rocks or the edges… All the momentum is gone. And, we have the though luck that the fastest route through this level has many of these obstacles close to each other.
When Kovic was creating the TAS for this game, he told me that he was able to beat Molotok’s record by a few frames but that he spent too much time on it. This level is frustrating to run, it can’t be said enough. If only we could skip it, it would be a blessing. When I do full runs of the game, I try to make the time loss in the level as minimal as possible. My fatest time has been 39 seconds. It’s that rock section that does me in almost every time.
But, it’s still extremely impressive how Molotok created this amazing run and I doubt it will be improved or beaten anytime soon.
I think I told my feelings about the 4th level in the previous section enough. Now, the Russian Border level is a tense run to do. It’s a short and fun run to do. But, it has so many spots where it’s easy to loose time. I honestly think that we are close to perfect runs in both categories.
Of course, I think that with better movement, my all treasures run of Border can be lowered but I would be surprised that we see a lower time then 2 minutes 30 seconds. But, I have been surprised before. Thanks to Bluescreen18’s little video on our Discord, we saw a long standing record be lowered by a second.
The next level is Shambala Sanctuary. This level is a possible run killer since it has various moments where it’s easy to drop to your death in the middle and the end of the run it’s tense. It’s also a longer level so, I have to have a good long and hard think on how I’m going to do the write up.
In any case, thank you for reading this article and guide. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.