Cutscenes (known internally as "cinematics") are scripted sequences in which the camera is changed, often to show something of significance (but not always). While a cutscene is active, the player has no control over Samus, and the in-game timer is stopped. Depending on the game and the specific cutscene, it may or may not be possible to skip the cutscene by pressing the Start button.
Cutscenes are composed of multiple objects operating in sequence:
- Camera: The most basic of the objects, changes the position of the camera.
- PlayerActor: Clone of Samus for the purpose of being used in a cutscene.
- CameraWaypoint: Instructs where the camera should go. Note that these are not exclusively used in cutscenes.
- CameraFilterKeyframe: Responsible for effects such as fade in or out from back, placing black bars on top/bottom of screen, etc.
- CameraBlurKeyframe: Responsible for blurring effects.
- ActorKeyframe: Responsible for all actions involving cutscene actors, including clones of Samus.
- SequenceTimer: Sends messages to other script objects with precise timing. Introduced in Echoes.
Orchestrating these cutscenes are Relays and Timer objects which will be scattered across the room. Every single object composing a cutscene physically exists in the bounds of the room, but is invisible and untouchable.
In Metroid Prime, whether or not you can skip a cutscene is partially dependent on the cutscene itself. As such, not all cutscenes are skippable. This was changed in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, where all cutscenes are skippable, including sequences with dialogue, as long as you have seen them before.
There are certain applications for skipping cutscenes in a speedrun setting. For example, in Echoes, when going through one of the Controller Access rooms (such as Torvus Controller Access), it is faster to skip the cutscene just as it's about to end. This allows for the room to fully load while still in the cutscene, saving a small amount of in-game time. There are also situations where not skipping a cutscene is faster. In Prime 1, in the room Sunchamber, when getting the Artifact of Wild, it loses over half a second to skip the cutscene, due to the fact that Samus is not able to move immediately as the cutscene ends. If the cutscene plays out naturally, it saves over half a second because Samus will be able to move immediately when it ends.
There are some situations where it's possible to get cutscenes to overlap with eachother. This is usually achieved by triggering two separate events at once, such as in Sunchamber by grabbing the artifact at the same time the cutscene that occurs after killing the Chozo Ghosts plays.
TODO: Go into more detail, info on Sanctuary Entrance cutscene overlap.
Actionable Cutscene Bug
While Samus cannot normally move during cutscenes, there exists a bug exclusive to Prime 1 that allows for this among other side effects to be achieved. This is known as the Actionable Cutscene Bug, and it allows for certain inputs to be repeated while a cutscene is active. This can happen in the following conditions:
- The player does an input on the frame before a cutscene starts.
- On the frame directly after, the Start button is pressed to immediately skip the cutscene. Both of these inputs are frame perfect.
Naturally, this can only be done on cutscenes that can be skipped. This can have different effects depending on the action being taken:
- Boost Ball: Can be held during the cutscene to charge. If B is not held after the cutscene ends, it will immediately Boost.
- Charge Beam: Can start charging during a cutscene.
- Morph Ball: Morphing or unmorphing will cause Samus to constantly transition to morph/unmorphed state every single frame, creating a "flicker" effect.
- Morph Ball Bomb: Can lay a bomb during a cutscene and be hit by it after the cutscene ends.
- Power Bomb: Can lay a power bomb during a cutscene.
- Scan Visor: Can scan given scan points during a cutscene.
- Switching Beams: Can switch beams during a cutscene, eliminating the time spent having to wait for it to be ready before it can be used. This saves time when getting the Ice Beam and Plasma Beam.
- The L Button: Pressing L while walking into a cutscene will cause Samus to move while the cutscene is active. Due to the nature of the way this bug works, she won't be walking at maximum speed. However, you can go in any direction.
- If Samus is locked onto a target, the only frame perfect input required to perform this bug is the Start press to skip the cutscene.
- X-Ray Visor: This takes away the negative filter that is normally applied when selected, resulting in an otherwise normal view with a strong white fog surrounding Samus.
The results are equivalent to if the respective action was done on each frame while the cutscene is active. Because this bug requires that the cutscene be skippable, this makes its usage limited. There are additional restrictions if the cutscene repositions Samus. If a cutscene repositions Samus, her facing angle and morph state will both be fixed.
While not currently RTA viable, this bug allows for small amounts of time to be saved for Tool-Assisted Speedruns across the entire game, mainly due to being able to move during the cutscenes themselves and the ability to switch immediately to the Ice and Plasma Beams during their pickup cutscenes.