Multitasking: General info and FAQ

This was originally posted to the yyrGames forums on Nov 01, 2015 at 10:37 pm.

Short version: someone described this game as "WarioWare on crack." (not me)

Now, the long version that is of course typical of my rambling style:

Multitasking is a game that challenges you to play a continuously-shuffling series of minigames. The catch: you have to play more than one at a time. Up to four, in fact. You will use just a single controller to do this. For an introduction, click here for the official trailer:

Standard Mode: last as long as possible against an onslaught of shuffling minigames. Things will slowly, but continuously, get more difficult. As time passes, the difficulty of the minigames will increase, and you'll have to play more of them at once. What things happen, and when, is determined by a semi-random algorithm, so each play will be completely different. If at any point you fail to complete an objective, or any player character is struck, the game is over. If you lasted long enough to rank in the top 7, you can register your initials and receive a code for Internet Ranking.

Challenge Mode: I've created 30 unique scenarios for you. They're scripted, so they'll play the same every time. None of them are longer than 30 seconds--in fact, most are under 20--but the duration is not displayed. You'll have to figure it out for yourself ;) Complete the objectives or last long enough, and you'll win. Fail, and face the frustration and embarrassment that follow. But the "Retry" button is just a tap away =) Do your best to complete all 30. If you manage to do so, you'll be "rewarded" with your total number of attempts. I have personally completed them all, so it is possible, don't worry. (I may or may not have required over 500 tries to complete the final challenge)

Practice Mode: You can set up any scenario you wish. Choose an overall minigame difficulty, then select games for any or every slot, or have Multitasking choose randomly for you. If you desire, you can have games repeat when they're completed, or even shuffle to a random different game. You can also choose each game's start time and duration. You can even turn off Game Over, so you can keep playing other games even if you fail at one (or more). It's not just for practice; you can create unique, challenging scenarios for yourself or others.

Here is a description of each minigame:
1. Drive. Stick slots only. Dodge the traffic. Game ends after a certain time; you lose if you collide with another car.
2. Paddle. Stick slots only. Keep the ball in play. Ball angle is influenced by where it hits the paddle, just like in most paddle games. Game ends after a certain time; you lose if the ball reaches the bottom of the screen.
3. Space. In button slots, you must shoot the advancing aliens; in stick slots, you must dodge their shots. Game ends after a certain time; you lose if hit by an alien or a shot. Hint: the player can only have one shot onscreen at a time.
4. Space Boss. Button slots only. The boss alien (who is really just a large version of the normal alien) advances towards you. Press any button to fire repeatedly in an effort to drain its lifebar and defeat it before it reaches you. Game ends when you defeat the boss; you lose if struck by the boss. Hint: the player can have quite a few more than one shot onscreen at a time, so don't be shy with those buttons.
5. Seesaw. Top slot & stick slots. Keep the ball on the seesaw by tilting it back and forth. Game ends after a certain time; you lose if the ball reaches any border of the screen. Hint: take advantage of the analog controls. It isn't necessary to tip the seesaw all the way.
6. Button Bombs. ABXY slot only. A number of bombs appear; they look suspiciously like the face buttons on your controller, but with lit fuses attached. By pressing a button, one of the bombs matching that button will disappear. Be careful...if you press a wrong button, some of your defused bombs may reappear, and the buttons themselves will be shuffled. Game ends when all bombs are defused; you lose if time runs out.
7. Falling Weights. Stick slots only. After a brief pause, 60-ton weights start falling from the sky. Move Mr. Multitasking to avoid them. Game ends after a certain time; you lose if Mr. Multitasking is struck. Be careful, as you can also lose if you run him into a weight from the side!
8. Shooting Range. Stick slots only. Some targets will appear. By overlapping a target with your crosshair for a brief time, the target will automatically be shot. It doesn't matter whether you hit the bullseye. Game ends when all targets are shot; you lose if time runs out.
9. Ladder. Stick slots only. Mr. Multitasking is on a ladder. After a brief pause, arrows will fly in from both sides. Move Mr. M up and down to avoid the arrows. Game ends after a certain time; you lose if Mr. Multitasking is struck. Hint: you cannot move above the top or below the bottom of the screen, so be careful not to get trapped.
10. Greater. Top slot only. Two numbers will appear. Press LB/LT if the value on the left is greater; press RB/RT if the value on the right is greater. You don't have very long to answer. Game ends when you answer correctly; you lose if you answer incorrectly or if time runs out.
11. Runner. Top and ABXY slots only. Mr. Multitasking runs forward automatically. After a brief time, holes will appear in the floor up ahead. Press any button to jump. The game ends after a certain time; you lose if Mr. Multitasking falls into a hole.
12. Tennis. Top and ABXY slots only. After a brief pause, tennis balls will start to fly in from the right side. Press any button to make Mr. Multitasking swing the racket; hitting the balls sends them back to the right. The game ends after a certain time; you lose if you miss a ball. Hints: the period of time in between each tennis ball is the same. After swinging the racket, you must wait a bit before you can swing again, so don't mash the buttons.
13. Quick Draw. Top and ABXY slots only. Wait for "Fire!" to be displayed (and announced), then quickly press any button to blast the outlaw. You don't get very much time to do this. The game ends when you do this successfully; you lose if you press a button before "Fire!" is displayed, or if time runs out.

What follows is a general guide on how the Standard Mode of the game works.

Like most shmups, and many of my other games, Multitasking's difficulty is controlled by rank. There are actually TWO separate rank variables in this game:
Difficulty rank, or simply "rank," denotes how difficult the games themselves are. In Space, for example, the aliens will either move faster or fire more frequently.
Multitasking rank, or "mrank," denotes how many games you'll need to play at a time. More details follow.

Before starting you can choose one of four different difficulties for both Minigame and Multitasking: Easy, Normal, Hard or Maximum. Your choice determines the rate that the rank variables increase during play. If you choose Maximum, they will not increase during play; instead, they will always be at their maximum possible values. (Internet Ranking requires that both difficulties match; if they do not, you will not be eligible.)

Difficulty rank is displayed to you as a percentage, both in the optional Rank Display (turn it on or off in Help & Options) and in Practice Mode, where you can set it freely. At 0% anyone with a pulse should be able to complete the minigames; at 100%, you may actually need to pay close attention to win. However, every minigame has been finely tuned such that a gamer with decent skillz should be able to complete it at any difficulty...IF it's the only game they're playing. The difficulty level you've chosen will determine both the rank's starting value and the rate of increase.

Mrank is displayed as a decimal number that ranges from 0 to 4. Unless you play on Maximum, it will always start at 0; the level you choose determines the rate of increase.
Between 0 and 1, you will always play 1 game at a time. You won't be here for long.
Between 1 and 2, you will always play at least 1 game at a time, with a chance of a 2nd game appearing. As the rank gets closer to 2, this chance increases.
Between 2 and 3, you will always play at least 2 games at a time, with a chance of a 3rd game appearing. As the rank gets closer to 3, this chance increases.
Between 3 and 4, you will always play at least 3 games at a time, with a chance of a 4th game appearing. As the rank gets closer to 4, this chance increases.
Once the rank reaches 4, you will always play 4 games at a time, and it won't increase any more.

Each time Mrank reaches the next whole number, rank will decrease significantly.

As you can see, many of the minigames have a distinct goal, and when the goal is achieved the game is completed. Your first instinct may be to let those games go as long as possible, in an effort to avoid playing something new in their place. While this is certainly an option, it will not slow down the difficulty increase. The ranks both increase with time, not as you complete games, so in the long run, the overall difficulty will not be affected.