This guide contains tricks for reliably getting through all levels in the Tower of Ascension. A video demonstrating them is included. Contains gameplay spoilers.
How to Complete Tower of Ascension Challenge
The Tower of Ascension is an optional challenge in TEIN that requires the player to clear all four Iron Carts back to back without dying once. The challenge is unlocked by collecting at least 300 tumors and finding all four Iron Carts in their respective stages in The Future. Collecting the fourth cart gives a short cutscene, after which +Acceptance will be available from Ash's TV.
I found this challenge really forced me to examine absolutely every move I was making and use every trick the levels offered me to control my jumps as consistently as possible. Since I put so much work into routing out the level, I decided why not write it down as a guide? Jumping in this game has three variables - the timing of the jump, how long the jump button is pressed, and how long the direction button is pressed - and the point of this route is to identify every jump where only one (or even none) of these needs to be controlled. The route is not optimized for time, but having to wait for cycles can feel excruciating, so I have routed out long waits wherever I could as well.
Before We Begin
Let me start by saying that this is only a game! You may find being forced to repeat the same levels again and again to be a stressful, frustrating, and thoroughly unenjoyable experience. These reactions are perfectly normal. Remind yourself that you do not have to play this part of the game to have fun with TEIN. Resist the urge to get online and attack content creators whose experience with the game differed from yours. I recommend avoiding Reddit and Twitter for at least four hours after attempting this challenge.
That said, if you are playing this game why not try to succeed where over 98% of the other players have yet to?
Throughout the guide I will be using the following terms to describe moves and in-game objects. In order to unlock Acceptance you have already beaten a good chunk of the game, so you will no doubt be familiary with everything below. These are just starting points to explain how I did it, which you can hopefully adapt into your own approaches.
You do not have to beat any of the iron carts before trying Acceptance, but I strongly recommend you do. The iron carts can also be used to practice particular sections that are giving you trouble. I will point out where I think practice is especially valuable. Once again, I have a video demonstrating all these in action for additional clarification which is linked above.
When you're ready, move that cursor on over to +Acceptance and let's begin!
1. On the second set of moving platforms, ride the top platform down until it almost touches the bottom platform. Jump off and keep holding right. You will crash into the wall and fall down vertically at just the right speed to go under the spike and grab the ledge near the exit. Do not jump if the platform you are on is moving up - you will get extra height, fall too fast and crash into the spikes.
2. Use short jumps to cross the moving platforms at the bottom of the screen and get the switch; as long as your jump height is low it is easy to judge when to let go of the direction button so you will drop onto the next platform. You may need to use a fast fall to land on the platform while it is below the switch. Riding the platform back to the start is a good opportunity to make Ash dance to the music with the fast fall button. You can hold right and perform three medium jumps to cross the top platforms and exit the level.
3. Once you get on the first block there is no going back, so wait at the beginning of the level if you need to watch a few block cycles to get down the timing. When the first block slides to the left, drop down onto it and do a falling ledge grab off the right. Slide under the spikes and do a ledge jump into the wall to easily land back on top of the block after it finishes moving. Jump onto the block to the left.
For the second block you have to jump before it moves because the extra vertical momentum you get from it will always send you flying into the spikes, so you have to anticipate the movement of the blocks. Fortunately the timing window for how early you can jump is not terribly tight. Aim for where the third block will be, just on the other side of barrier in the middle of the room.
When you are on the third block, do a falling ledge grab off the right. It is now critical that you do NOT anticipate the movement. Wait until you actually see the blocks move, and then do a vertical jump from the ledge. You should get enough height to easily clear the spikes and land on the platform at the end of the level.
4. Jump on the first platform while it is moving towards you. Ride the two platforms until they meet in the middle and do a long jump to the right to land on the second platform. When you are on the third platform, wait until it is moving up and do a long jump over the spike to the right. Release the direction button when you hit the wall. This jump should cause you to move vertically past the ledge, then vertically straight down so you grab the ledge automatically. From here it is easy to jump up and over the spike to the right and exit the level.
5. To cross from platform to platform, ride the platform you are walking on to the very top of its ascent, then walk of the ledge to the left. Release the direction button in midair and press it again. This should cause you to consistently go under the spikes and hit the platforms. For the final platform just walk off to the left and exit.
6. When jumping on to the rotating squares, aim for where the the squre moves straight down (just to the right stripe in the background) and let go of the direction button. The square spends a lot of time moving vertically here, so the timing is generous. Jump to the left when the square reaches the upper left corner of its circuit; this times it so that you will land on the next set of platforms while they are moving vertically downwards. If you are a little early you will get extra height, but it is still pretty easy to correct your fall and make the landing. For the final jump just jump off as the square reaches the top left corner of its circuit, again mind the extra height you may get if you jump a little early.
7. This is the trickiest jump of World 1. You must jump left from the platform and guide your descent so that you fall under the spikes on the roof and clear the ones on the floor; aim your jump for the first safe square just to the left of the spike pit.
8. Wait for the first block to drop. Jump on it and immediately jump to the second block. Their cycles are timed so that the second block will be there when you need it. Immediately jump to the platform on the left, and then jump against the side of the moving block to line yourself to grab the ledge easily with a vertical jump. Do a vertical jump as it is on its way down, and do a ledge jump onto the platform (you will need to release the right direction button midair to avoid hitting the spikes on the roof. Use short jumps to clear the last two sets of spikes and head on up to World 2.
1. This strategy requires you to move quickly through the level, you may want to practice Anger to get the hang of it first. Let Ash land when after he enters the level, then hold left and do two short jumps to clear the spikes. Quickly jump up to the platform with the crawling monster; if you are fast enough it will be somewhere on the right of the platform and you can jump over it and the spike wall in one jump. If you are too slow, just land on the left side of the platform and jump vertically to let it charge under you. Jump to the next platform, stand near the left edge and jump vertically to let the monster charge under you, then head right and jump over it to finish the level.
2. Drop down to the floor of the level and head all the way to the left. Do a vertical jump to let the monster charge under you and bounce of the wall. Do a short jump to grab the switch; this will immediately provoke the other monster into charging you. You can then jump over both monsters in a single jump and run to the right to finish the level.
3. When you get to the top platform, wait near the left edge and jump vertically to let the monster charge under you. The monster will bounce of the left and right edges of the platform; jump over it as it move slowly to the left after its second bounce. Wait near the right edge for the monster on the platform under you to crawl to the left until it is underneath the ledge; if you were fast you will have to wait right up until the first monster recovers and bares its teeth to charge again. Jump into the wall to the right and release the right direction button so that you fall vertically between the spikes, and jump vertically the instant you land to allow the monster to charge under you. When you land, jump over the monster as it bounces back toward you and run off the edge of the platform to the left. Jump vertically to let the monster on the floor charge you and bounce off the wall. If you follow this route, the third monster will come to a stop right next to the spike trap and you can easily clear them both in one jump.
4. When getting the first two switches, land in the center of the pit and jump vertically so both monsters charge at you, pass through each other, and end up on opposite ends of the pit. To get the third switch, do a ledge jump off the second platform and hold right so that you hit the wall. You only need to wait long enough for the rightmost charger to give you just enough room to land. Do a vertical jump the moment you land and the first monster will charge right under you. The second monster will have slowed down enough that it will be easy to jump over, and then you can run to the left, jump over the stalled monster, and leave the pit. Use a falling ledge grab and a ledge jump from the right side of the third platform to reliably avoid the spikes on the roof as you exit the level.
5. The first two jumps are easy, use a vertical jump to grab the ledge of the lowest block, and then a vertical jump from that ledge to grab the floating block in the middle. Jump all the way to the wall to easily avoid the spikes on either end of the second platform. The final jump is tricky, you just have to carefully manage your horizontal movement and squeeze between the spike and the block.
If you are able to get to the top quickly, you should see two monsters hit the wall underneath the ledge you are standing on. Let them move out of the way, drop to the floor, and follow carefully behind them as you head towards the switch on the floor. If you take more time to get to the top of the first platforms, you can move faster when you cross the room and catch up with them. After you get the switch, head back to the right (being careful to stay behind the moving monster). Do a long jump to grab the left ledge of the bottom block, then do a ledge jump to grab the ledge of the second block. Jump to the third block, grab the switch in the air, and exit the level.
If you take a really long time to get to the top of the first obstacles, or if you miss grabbing the high-up switch or the first ledge grab, you will fall behind the enemy cycle and you will just have to adapt.
6. Wait just near the beginning of the bridge for one of the monsters to drop down onto the bridge itself; this should be around the third movement the monsters make. It will then move up and right towards the wall. As soon as it is out of the way, hold left and hop four times. Grab the switch as you are landing on your fourth jump. Immediately head back to the right and use a long jump to grab the left ledge of the bottom platform, then do a ledge jump to reach the second platform. If you follow this route you can basically ignore the enemies.
To clear the final jump, just do a falling ledge grab off the left side of the top platform and then a ledge jump. When you land on the top platform, wait a second to check the enemy positions - depending on which tiles you stepped on one of the monsters will sometimes bounce off the wall on the left and land on the third platform. If this happens just wait for it to move out of the way and do the ledge jump.
7. This gets my vote for the trickiest jump of World 2. Do a short jump over the spikes and hold the left direction button until you hit the wall, then as soon as you hit the wall hold right. This should be just enough to get you over the spike on the platform below without pushing you into the spikes on the right. Jump to the little platform to the left and do a falling ledge grab off the left side. This is a good spot to take breather if you need one. When you are ready, do a long ledge jump to the left. This will land you on the platform, so the monster will charge you immediately. You need to jump immediately over the monster and land on the small ledge on the far left side of the level. From here it is just three easy jumps on to the final platform and on to world 3!
Getting through World 3 requires you to be able to reliably provoke the fish enemies into charging you and getting out of the way. I STRONGLY recommend you practice on Bargaining until you can dodge the fish very consistently.
1. When climbing to the pool you can easily avoid the spikes by doing a vertical jump against the left wall so you grab the second ledge from the bottom, then a ledge jump to cross over to the right, and then a vertical jump from that ledge so that you grab the topmost ledge. From there jump onto the platform above the pool.
You can use the spikes in the water to consistently break line of sight with the fish and keep it from charging. If you climbed the first obstacles quickly, it should be just about to swim under the first spike. As it passes under, do a long jump over the pool to the left side, dive, get the switch, and rise back up quickly, controlling your height to keep the spike between you and the fish. As the fish swims under the left spike you can jump over it and cross the top of the pool quickly by jumping to the right. Dive and get the second switch, then exit the pool immediately. This does not work every time, so be prepared to adapt if the fish starts chasing you.
When you exit the pool, hold right to walk off the edge of the platform and fall to the ledge on the right. Drop down to the ledge below, jump up into the little space in the wall, and then hold left to walk off the edge, over the spikes, and grab the ledges on the left. Drop down and finish the level.
2. I do not have any 100% consistent ways for dealing with the fish in this level. They respond so readily to your presence that it is very hard to control both of them at once. Fortunately, when you know how to time your dodges it is not extremely difficult to avoid them. Since this level is early in Bargaining I recommend you spend some time in it just playing around with the fish and getting familiar with manipulating them. Here are some general tips:
3. The setup for this level really begins in 3.2 - do NOT stop holding the right direction button as you go from 3.2 to 3.3. Swim UNDER the first spike and then ascend while holding right so you go between the spike and the fish; this will always cause the fish to charge at you and miss. Swim to the switch on the right, collect it, and float in that area until the fish comes back. Use your dive or your ascent to move vertically out of the way when it charges, then swim to the left of the level until you are underneath the switch. BEFORE collecting the switch, float around in front of the level entrance as the fish returns to you. Use your ascent to get out of the way when it charges, and it will dash off screen giving you plenty of time to collect the final switch and cross the level.
4. The enemies from The Machine which alternate between the floor and the ceiling show up here. They are dangerous to jump over, but you can easily manipulate their positions and move around them safely. Approach just to the right of the monster sitting on the floor and jump to make it go to the roof, then jump onto the ledge above you. Let it finish its fall and jump to the next ledge. Move to the right edge of the platform and jump to provoke it into going back down, and jump up onto the platform. Make the next two monsters go up to the ceiling and move under then, then run off the edge to the left and maneuver around the two monsters. Make the last monster move back to the ceiling and go under it to exit the level.
5. Jump to the platform in the middle, landing just to the right of the first monster. This next jump is the trickiest one in World 3. You must do a long vertical jump and then move left in the air at the top of your jump far enough to get past the spike but not so far you hit the monster. When you land, it should agitate the monster so you can just walk under it.
For the next jump, get the monsters to the left to move to the ceiling by jump to the left, over their pit, and then falling back to the right to land on the platform where you started. Do a long jump to grab the ledge and quickly jump into the small space before the monsters fall. When they are on the ground, jump out to the right, then hold left and grab the ledge above you and use a vertical jump from the ledge to quickly clear the wall and get out of their way. If the monster on the left winds up on the roof when you need to make the final jump, you can inch carefully to the right until it comes back down (but do not fall or grab the ledge, or you will die). If the two monsters become de-synchronized, you only really need to worry about the one on the left. Try to avoid having to do too many position changes because it is difficult to manipulate them from that restricted space. You should only need to make them change position with that first jump, everything else should be their natural reaction to the jumps you must make when climbing the wall.
6. Now for what may be the easiest last level of any world in video gaming! Do a falling ledge grab off the starting platform and drop straight down to avoid the first enemy. Carefully approach the next three enemies and manipulate them into moving to the ceiling so you can walk under them. Do a falling ledge grab off the platform to the left and let the next enemy fall from the ceiling as you hang from the ledge. When the platform is moving down, do a ledge jump to land on it (you can time it right about when it is eye-level with Ash). The last enemy can be ignored completely. Take a few easy jumps to World 4!
World 4 is the shortest and one of the easiest Iron Carts, but it involves a lot of jumps where you have to make midair adjustments or cross levels quickly. This makes it VERY stressful this far into Acceptance. I STRONGLY recommend you play through Depression unti you can beat it consistently and it feels comfortable.
1. The jumps from balloon to balloon are not hard, but they do require you to adjust your position in midair. You can take it slow and use short vertical jumps to reset the balloons to their original height while waiting on them.
2. You need to be ready to go immediately because the spreading enemies around the stage will start after you once you enter the level. Drop down from the first platform onto the floor below. Juming on to the big balloon is tricky; I like to use a falling ledge grab and then a short ledge jump (let go of the direction button in midair to avoid overshooting the platform). When you are on the balloon, do a falling ledge grab off the right. Wait until the last possible moment (this should be after the enemies have done their spreading animation 3 times), and then do a short ledge jump. Quickly jump up the remaining platforms. You exit the level by jumping vertically from the top platform on the right; try to move a little to the right as you jump because there are level hazards in 4.3 that will get you if you are too far to the left.
3. Jump to the small balloon on the right to grab the ledge of the platform, and do a ledge jump to land under the big balloon. Grab the switch and return to the big balloon as it rises. The enemies will continue to grow after you, but they can't catch up so you are safe. Do a falling ledge grab off the left side of the platform, and do a ledge jump when you are about eye-level with the platform on the left.
4. Run off the edge of the platform and land under the big balloon. Let the platform descend until it is right around the same height as the next platform over to the left; at this height it is easy to jump between the two balloons to the left and land on it. The remaining jumps are straightforward, just use short vertical jumps to reset the balloons to their starting heights if they sink too far.
5. After you grab the switch you can wait on the starting platform all the way to the left to let the spreading enemies reset. When jumping up to the ledges on the left, be careful not to fall off the left side or you will die. Jump to the nearest platform on the right, then quickly jump to the platform above it, and quickly jump once more to the empty space just in front of the spreading growths. From here you can just do one long jump while holding right and you will make it all the way to the end of the level with no problems.
6. There are two tricky jumps in this level. Fortunately if you miss you will likely land on platforms in 4.3, so it is not all the way back to start. First, you must get the switch by doing a long jump over the spike on the right side of the middle platform all the way to the platform on the left; you will just be able to make it. Using the empty space to get a bit of a "running start" might help with the timing.
After you return to the middle platform when you get the switch, the next jump is even harder. Inch up just before the pit with the spike in it. You must do a long jump that begins vertically (with no direction buttons pushed), but once you are clear of the spike you need to hold left to make it to the ledge of the balloon platform. You must get the extra vertical height or you will hit the elevated spike, and the spike is too low to be able to reliable hit the wall and use it as a vertical guide to help you grab the ledge.
If you make those two jumps, you can consistently set up for the final jump by returning to the platform at the start of the level. Let the balloon return to its starting height, jump on it, run across the top level of its platform and do a long jump onto the middle platform. Clear the spikes and jump over the last balloon to wrap up world 4 - the last iron cart!!!
If you played the game this much and you expected anything BUT more levels, well I don't know what to tell you! Unfortunately you can only practice this world by clearing all of Acceptance up to this point, so my route for it is not as polished as the others.
1. The key is to focus on only the horizontal rows you are interested in landing on and not make unnecessary jumps. I usually start by moving to the right and then grabbing the ledge of the first platform with a long jump to the left. When you make it to the uppermost platform, you can easily drop to the one below and to the left by just holding left and running off the edge. You only need to worry about timing it so you can jump out of the way of incoming ghosts. I do not know how frequently the room cycles. I sometimes see a pattern where a slow moving ghost heads toward the last platform, and then a much faster ghost comes in from the left and overtakes it just as they are both moving through the platform. I drop to the last platform right after that and make the final jump.
2. You have room to give the first two expanding enemies a wide berth here. The third one is tricky because you have to time your landing from rather far away. Once you grab the switch, get around the expanding enemy, wait for a good time to make the big jump to the left, and once you land do a falling ledge grab off the platform to the right. From here you can wait until the enemy shrinks, and you have more time to cross the platform and make the next jump to the left. For the final jump, do a falling ledge grab off the left followed by a ledge jump.
3. The first enemy can be jumped over completely by landing to the right. The second enemy is not hard to time because you are close enough that you can move through it after you see it shrink. For the next three enemies it is similar to the block cycles in 1.8 - when the first one shrinks, just hold left and keep jumping, and count on the other enemies to cycle as you move through them. Use a falling ledge grab and a ledge jump off the left edge of the last platform to make the final jump.
4. You must ride the balloon down, get the switch, and then race the balloon back up to the top of the level and jump over it before it closes off the exit. Ride the balloon until the bottom of the two levels of its platform goes offscreen, jump to the platform to the left, and climb as fast as you can. There is a good chance that when you are jumping over the balloon you will grab the ledge and end up lower than you think you are, so be aware of that. If you don't think you can make it, just get back on the balloon and try again. You can do this as many times as you need.
5. The end is in sight! Take a deep breath, cool your head, and take on the final guantlet! For the first two expanding enemies, the timing is like the block cycles in 1-8 - you can wait for the first one to shrink and then go through the first two monsters without hesitating, counting on the second one to shrink as you pass through it. You actually have quite a bit of space on the third platform to land in front of the enemy, so you can hop there for a bit and wait for favorable timing to pass through it. You are perfectly safe when you get to the platform on the left, so you can wait as long as you need to prepare for the final obstacle.
At the top there are two offset rows of ghosts, and both rows slowly move up and down together. You can approach the first platform (on the far left) when the two rows reach the highest point of their vertical movement cycle, and then you will have some time to actually get on the platform without the bottom row of ghosts hitting you as you steady yourself. From here you just have to react to the ghosts as they come. The ghosts are widely spaced and the platforms are big, so you have plenty of room to react. Cross the platforms and reach the goal, and you will see the ending and unlock the achievement!
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