Tag Archives: tas

Three Incredible Mario Kart Wii Shortcut Glitches Discovered Within 24 Hours

Mario Kart Wii remains the best-selling game in the series, and despite being over a decade old, players are still discovering new secrets hidden deep inside its 32 courses. Just last week, three new shortcuts were discovered, continuing the race to try and find one for every course in the game.

Prior to July 11, there were only 18 known Ultra Shortcuts in Mario Kart Wii. While the game is full of all sorts of shortcuts, Ultra Shortcuts are defined by speedrunners as glitches that allow players to skip more than 50 percent of a lap. While Ultra Shortcuts aren’t unique to Mario Kart Wii, it has by far the most of them out of any game in the series. New ones are still discovered occasionally—two others were found earlier this year—but the discovery of three new ones within 24 hours is unheard of. FlaminFunky, a Mario Kart Wii enthusiast, recently documented how the new Ultra Shortcuts work on YouTube. All the new shortcuts were found in tool-assisted speedruns (TAS).

The first is on N64 Bowser’s Castle and was discovered by a player called speedrunner MKWLuke. It requires the player to move a little bit up the track at the beginning of the race before turning around and using their starting mushroom speed boosts to perform a rapid-fire hop into a rapid-fire hop ejection. A complex maneuver, it requires a pixel-perfect speedboost over the edge as Funky Kong pops a wheelie and is so precise it can only be completed using a TAS.

With this maneuver, it’s possible to clip off the right side of the track far enough into the back lava for the game to spawn the racer prior to the start of the race. The player then falls into the laval behind where they respawn to start even further back, at which point the game will register them as having moved forward rather than backward, counting the next time they cross the finish line as one completed lap.

The second, found by a player called Catfish, is on GBA Shy Guy Beach. It requires waiting three minutes for a bomb to drop just ahead of the finish line, making it viable only in the final lap. By turning around and speed boosting over top of it right before it explodes, it’s possible to get enough air and go far enough into the surrounding ocean to again trick the game into respawning the player behind the finish line. Moving across it then counts as a full lap.

The third Ultra Shortcut was discovered on Koopa Cape by BlazeMSX. This one also requires the combination of a rapid-fire hop and ejection, this time to clear the gap directly in front of the start of Koopa Cape while going in reverse. If they’re performed at the right time, it’s possible to clip into the side of the track directly behind the gap and ride through it until it gives way to a hidden waterfall. After dropping into the water, the game sends Lakitu to retrieve the player and respawn them back on the track, where crossing the finishing line will be registered as a completed lap.

Both the N64 Bowser’s Castle and Koopa Cape Ultra Shortcuts currently rely on glitches that can only be exploited using a TAS, but they do bring the game that much closer to the holy grail of every course having some sort of major skip inside of it.

“I think that the speedrunners and TAS programmers continue to stick with this game because Mario Kart Wii is a game that is unlike all the rest,” FlaminFunky told Kotaku in an email. “The unique mechanics and crazy glitches are a trait of Mario Kart Wii that’s mostly unique [among] Mario Kart games (although Mario Kart 64 can be similar at times) and it drives them to create and achieve new things over 11 years after the game came out.”

According to FlaminFunky, one of the next likeliest candidates for a shortcut breakthrough is GBA Bowser’s Castle. A player by the name of TAS Snoop discovered a skip for the first checkpoint on that track, leading other players to search for others that could be exploited to make a 15-second lap possible, at least for computers. Even if humans can’t pull it off, though, it’ll bring the game closer to its ultimate destiny in the eyes of some of its most hardcore players.

Source: Kotaku.com

Speedrunner Smashes A Computer-Assisted Super Mario Bros. Record By A Single Frame

Screenshot: Maru (YouTube)

A tool-assisted Super Mario Bros. speedrun category that had seen no significant improvements for years may be getting a second wind after a single-frame improvement submitted by runner Maru370.

Super Mario Bros. speedrunning is a highly popular activity, and today has hit a point where every significant improvement made is down to a matter of milliseconds. The current record for an RTA, or “real-time attack” speedrun performed by an actual human, is 4 minutes, 55 seconds, and the first- and second-place runners are separated by only a couple hundred milliseconds.

If it’s that tight for runs done with human hands, you can see how a single frame could make a difference in a TAS, or tool-assisted speedrun, in which a sequence of programmed inputs is used to get extremely precise results, allowing for tricks that might be too fast, precise, or otherwise not worth the risk of failing for a human runner.

Maru370 has submitted a new record for the “tool-assisted speedrun with real-time-attack rules.” That means that the speedrunner can’t use anything in the run that a human wouldn’t theoretically be able to do on an NES controller. In the case of Super Mario Bros., the run can’t use a trick in which the left and right inputs are pressed at the same time to increase Mario’s movement speed. Since the run uses these rules, one could consider it a theoretical best time for regular RTA runs, meaning the potential best time in the category has improved by just that much. Of course, that doesn’t make it any more likely that a player will perform the run perfectly enough to reach that time.

What keeps these strictly timed runs close is a mixture of years of optimization and what’s known as the “21-frame rule.” There are essentially set intervals which affect the loading time upon completing a level. As the TASVideos website explains it, “every time the screen blacks out (entering a new level), the game delays for a varying amount of time. The delay is actually calculated so that the current playing progress will be rounded up to [the] next 21-frame boundary.”

In other words, any time you finish a Super Mario Bros. level and move on to the next one, there’s a sort of frame timer that must run out the rest of the way before the next level begins. Therefore, it won’t help to shave off one or two frames on most levels, since those frames will just be added in to the screen blackout time before you start the next one. The only exception is the final level of the game, Bowser’s castle, since the speedrun timer stops at the precise moment that Mario touches the axe at the end of the level.

Therefore it was that final level, World 8-4, that Maru focused on. Specifically, he found an improvement in what is known as the “turnaround room,” a section of the level in which Mario needs to double back on his path and go down a pipe that he already passed to continue. “The improvement comes from the turnaround room in 8-4 and stopping on the floor one frame earlier while still being able to scroll the screen far enough for the wrong warp to work,” Maru explained on the game’s Speedrun.com forum. As a result, the theoretical best possible time for these runs has improved by exactly one frame, or 20 milliseconds according to RTA timing. The previous record, held by runner HappyLee, had been in place for at least a few years.

According to Maru, there are also unoptimized frames in other levels, like 1-2 and 4-2. These were left as-is in Maru’s run because they wouldn’t have actually affected the frame rules and therefore wouldn’t have affected the overall timing of the run. It’ll be interesting to see if the new discovery bolsters interest in the category, which still garners plenty of interest and gets a number of new run submissions.

Source: Kotaku.com

Man Beats Mario 64’s First Bowser Fight Without Using The Control Stick

Super Mario 64 expert Pannenkoek2012 has devised a way to defeat Bowser in the game’s Dark World without ever using the N64 controller’s joystick, and the result is incredible to watch.

Pannenkoek2012, whom we’ve covered before and who has spent years researching the depths of every little detail and nuance in Mario 64, has most recently been focusing on everything that can be accomplished in the game without using the joystick to control Mario. These efforts include tool-assisted runs for collecting 100 coins on Tiny-Huge Island and also grabbing the caged star in Whomp’s Fortress, but defeating Dark World Bowser is the most impressive no-stick challenge yet.

The start of the run consists of using a combination of jumps, backflips, and punches to slowly edge Mario through the first set of obstacles and moving platforms. Each of these maneuvers moves the plumber a little bit, and by chaining them together in a specific order, Pannenkoek2012 is able to get quite far. Mario can reverse directions by hopping slightly off the side of a level and performing a ledge grab, while getting hit by an enemy will also reorient him.

One of the more harrowing parts of the level is when Mario slowly makes his way up a ramp littered with crystals and electrical orbs. Pannenkoek2012 gets Mario through this section by having him perform an intricate series of stomps that both dodges the enemies and has Mario hit the crystals to slightly shift his direction to match where the ramp is going.

The Bowser fight at the end of the level is incredibly elegant and precise. Pannenkoek2012 uses Bowser’s fire to send Mario running to the edge of the platform. Then he makes Mario backflip to both dodge Bowser’s lunge and land behind him in a spot close enough to grab the King Koopa’s tail and automatically trigger the mine to explode without needing to actually throw him, which is normally achieved by rotating the joystick.

Pannenkoek2012’s work is a testament not just to the ongoing discoveries people are still making in Mario 64 but also what gets revealed about a game when you try to work within particular sets of constraints. Speedrunning, trying to finish a game a quickly as possible, is just one of many challenges that push the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible in some of the medium’s all-time classics. Beating the game using as few A presses as possible is another popular Mario 64 category. The evolution of no-stick challenges shows how much there still is to explore.

Source: Kotaku.com