Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #1366: FODA's N64 Super Mario 64 "120 stars" in 1:42:41.33

Console: Nintendo 64
Game name: Super Mario 64
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Super Mario 64 (U) [!].z64
Branch: 120 stars
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 1:42:41.33
FrameCount: 369680
Re-record count: 48559
Author's real name: Mário de Almeida Azevedo Junior
Author's nickname: FODA
Submitter: nesrocks
Submitted at: 2006-11-27 08:13:40
Text last edited at: 2011-07-11 20:35:16
Text last edited by: Nahoc
Download: Download (141521 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
  1. Aims for 100% stars and Cap switches (and any% coins inside the courses)
  2. Trades speed for entertainment
  3. Aims for fast completion
  4. Abuses programming errors
  5. Manipulates luck

Emulator used: mupen64-rerecording-v8
Plugins settings used:

Method of input:
Keyboard for all hotkeys, Playstation Dual Shock controller for all N64 input, including analog control.

Super Mario 64. The game that introduced analog controlling for a vast majority of players around the world. When I watched Spezzafer's Super Mario 64 TAS last year, I asked for a 120 star run. And then I decided that if I wanted it so badly, why not do it?. So I started working on the longest TAS I've ever worked on (both in movie length and amount of time working on it).

I'm not a fan of writting big submission texts. I think the run must speak for itself. But where it doesn't, I'll try to talk about it a bit (and a big text can't exactly be avoided in this run ¬_¬)

First of all, I did spend some frames to add entertainment, wher(n)ever I felt like it. This run aims for quick completion yes, but its 1 year-long making nature didn't allow me to keep a consistent quality if I wanted to. So, the run could suffer from a crescent quality in techniques and optimization, which I didn't want. For that reason, I chose to work on aesthetics more (such as taking the time to change from "mario cam" to "fixed cam" during a pause sequence) than testing if said movement was 1 or 2 frames faster. Initially I did a lot of testing and comparing between methods by using the frame counter, but later on I based a lot of the optimization on my own common sense and knowledge of the game, which is why it started progressing faster.

The Tricks and Glitches

Continuous Backwards Long Jumping (BLJ)

This is achieved by doing a long jump (Run, Z, A) and then holding the direction back, and doing consecutive longjumps, but in a way that it can be done several times a second. There are various places where this can be done, like some plataforms that are moving upwards, some stairs and some low ceilings.
The effect is that Mario's velocity decreases with each jump (I assume it goes negative, since he goes backwards), but it has no limit, as long as Mario keeps jumping. After enough velocity is acquired, one can let it go and Mario blasts in high velocity, backwards. This can be used obviously to walk faster, but most importantly to go through things, like walls and doors, to name a few.

Camera up, "C" button up (C^up)

Done by running towards a slope, and then entering free look mode by pressing the "C up" button and entering the slope during the slide stopping animation. Only works on some slopes.
The effect is that Mario instead of stopping, has his speed increasing constantly, without a limit. The bad thing is that the initial speed isn't that great, and Mario can't turn (moves in a perfect straight direction). Can be cancelled anytime by pressing a button (Mario sits and slides, gaining back the control).

The run itself

Jolly Roger Bay

In order to avoid excess walking inside the castle I went from the right side of the lobby progressing to the left side, so I start by entering Jolly Roger Bay room first using the BLJ glitch (explained on the tricks section). This glitch alone was so hard to reproduce that i almost quit, but eventually i got it with just 1 jump. JRB is, In my opinion, the least interesting level in the run. I hope it isn't too boring. If you don't like it, feel free to skip it.

Whomp's Fortress

The run progresses to the Princess' Secret Slide. I wasted some total time here in order to get a time of 12'3. Myles Buckrim told me later that he got that time unassisted, so kudos to him, as this was the best I could do and it was pretty tight. Then i needed to revisit Princess Secret Slide for it's 2nd star, but I went for Whomp's Fortress first, as it didn't matter which to do, timewise. Here i've found a way to grab the "Blast Away the Wall" star without actually blasting anything, or opening the cannon. Truth be it, I found this by accident while trying to wallkick, but it turned out as a big discovery. This was one of the few stars which couldn't be acquired withou the use of a cannon. Few stars remain on that condition. On the "Shoot into the Wild Blue" star, I jumped through the triangle under the fence because it's just graphics without collision detection. There are a few triangles like this throught the game. Then I came out of the wall near the star, because the wall only avoids collision coming from outside. After that I revisit the PSS and this time i got for fastest overall time, without entering it backwards.

Tower of Wing Cap

After WF, the obvious choice is entering this level to get the Wing Cap, which is required/faster for quite a few stars. I do a little trick which consists in hitting the switch and then the star before touching the ground, which avoids the "You've hit the Red Switch, want to save?" text box.

Cool Cool Mountain

Nothing much to talk about here. It may seem that the waiting time for the snowman to talk after he's retrieved his head could've been shortened, but I did talk to him as soon as possible.

BoB-Omb Battlefield

Yea, the BLJ madness. These little conveniently close to the wall elevators enabled for some unique strategies. Right off the bat, I go for the Chomp's Gate star by using this method which is faster than the bob-omb trick. It may seem that I wasted time on the elevators, but it didn't matter if I got there faster because I'd still have to wait for that one elevator I got in to start going up so the trick could be performed. This happened on the other star too, with Mario running backwards up the mountain. The 100 coins route was a tough one. I had to actually test whether it would be faster to grab it along with 3 stars, so there were 3 differet 100 coins tests. It turned out that it was faster to do with the slowest star of all, Koopa The Quick race (it was about 12 seconds faster than the second best choice, if I recall correctly). It worked like this: [KTQ&100 coins + star1 + star2] was faster than [KTQ + star1&100 coins + star2].

Bowser in the Dark World (Bowser #1)

Again, nothing much to talk about, since it was very similar to known strategy. There were minor tweaks. Bowser needs to be manipulated to swing his hands when he's met, so he will stand still while his tail is grabbed.

Vanish Cap Under the Moat

After beating Bowser#1, there was a wide range of possibilities. It was considered faster to get rid of this level now because:
  1. Big Boo's Haunt requires the Vanish Cap
  2. Dire Dire Docks requires the Vanish Cap
  3. I could get it before going deep in the basement, so I could reenter one of the basement levels and choose "exit" from the pause menu, avoiding unecessary backtracking.
So I went for the moat and entered the level to get it's star and hit the switch. Just like with the Wing Cap, I skipped the text box. This one took more tries though, it's a tight jump.

Big Boo's Haunt

Unfortunatelly, even if killing 2 ghosts at once, the game still shows two "ghosts can't be killed bwahaha" messages, which is a boohoo. It could have saved some seconds. Entering a door before the message appears also didn't get rid of it. If the Eye to Eye in the Secret Room star could be acquired without the Vanish Cap, there could be a different castle route, but I tried to find a way in, unsuccesfully. There's a place to BLJ in here, below the lowest book switch in the wall, but it seems useless in a TAS because it takes so long to get there, and it's height is lower than the Eye Room.

Dire Dire Docks

Progressing on the basement, there's DDD (along with Bowser#2). It would save a little time if I could've made the manta ray appear without getting rid of the submarine star, because then after DDD it would be just Bowser#2. But doesn't seem possible, unfortunately. Had to revisit DDD after bowser#2 for the manta ray star.

Bowser in the Fire Sea (Bowser #2)

Not much to talk about. Actually, a lot of time was saved by being able to grab the red coin below the elevator without making the elevator move. Thanks to asteron for suggesting it, and insisting that it could be posible :) As mentioned before, DDD is revisited for its last star.

Shifting Sand Land

First of all, on the way to this level, MIPs is grabbed for the first time. I wasted some time here to produce a funny image with mario's head and the star. I hope nobody kills me for wasting time like that :) Ok, then SSL, I think the run is self explanatory. Every time saver looks obvious, I believe. Strangely, when fighting the big hands inside the pyramid, the left hand kept opening it's eye, despite the fact that i used frame advance to hit it, so I'm pretty confident that I did it as fast as possible with given tools. Maybe it was caused by some intra-frame issue which was out of my control.

Lethal Lava Land

This level has one of my favorite 100 coins. Riding a koopa shell in a lava lake isn't for just anyone, Mario is insane... Anyway, the most interesting trick is getting up the lavafall during the 100 coins route. Hard to perform, it upped the re-record count quite a bit. After this level, MIPs is caught the second time for his last star.

Hazy Maze Cave

Another level full of BLJ. Manipulating those big boulders was a GIANT pain, which kept me from working on the TAS for a long time, until I got mad and did it not oh so fast. If only Mupen64 had memory watch... Went for the Cave of the Metal cap, and did the switch text box skipping again. Actually it wasn't mandatory to even hit it, but I did anyway for the sake of completeness.

Wet Dry World

Straight to WDW now. There was a lot of testing here. From about this point on, Filimonas Antonakis started helping with a lot of valuable comments on my tests. Unfortunately, the Chuck-ya glitch (transforming him into a star by carrying him past a load point) was much slower than just heading for the star. Also, the water level was generally faster to keep at a low, since swimming is slow. It was possible to jump directly at the ramp using a triple jump, instead of the wallkick I did, but it wasn't remade. So that can be changed in a later version.

Tiny Huge Island

The KTQ rematch race doesn't beat the world record because that required preparing the koopa shell on the beach below, which is obviously too slow to do here. So I went to set a non-shell record with a time of 12'5. The 100 coins route here was especially complicated because they are all evenly scattered through the level. I think the result is good, but I wouldn't be surprised if a totally different strategy proved to be faster. It is possible to enter Wiggler's Nest without pound-draining the water from the top, because of a glitch where I use chuck-ya to push Mario into the mountain, entering the hole while there's still water above. Good time saver.

Tall Tall Mountain

Ok, this level is glitched, although it uses the same glitch to get up quite a few times, so that is self explanatory. It is in this level that the C^up glitch is used. First on the slide, and then to show off on the monkey star in the cage. This level has not only one, but at least two triangles with no collision detection. The one that is usefull, is the one shown right at the start. The other one was useless, it's right at the top of the waterfall. When Mario goes in there, he ends up inside the mountain, most of the tie at the water right at the start of the level.

Snowman's Land

Jammer01 suggested going over the large green rocky area and sliding for a quick extra momentum, and it worked nicely. Used it quite a few times. This was another difficult 100 coins route. I put a lot of thought into what should be faster and what not. I'm pretty proud of the result, with manipulation of coins exploding from enemies, which move depending on mario's coordinates on the moment they are created.

Tick Tock Clock

The first star had the "fast clockwork movement" setup, due to the clock's hands positions. All other stars had "random clockwork movement" setup. This random behaviour is excellent because it's very manipulatable. Even slight differences in angles produce totally different behaviour on the clock's parts. It's as if Mario has godly magic control of what's happening inside the clock, not to mention that if the level is reentered as fast as possible, this is the setup obtained. I used this to go up the red coin area in various different ways. Possibly the level i liked the most to record, it's also one of the quickest, which is a bummer.

Rainbow Ride

This level was suprising not filled with long, boring waiting on carpets. There was only one carpet ride which i tried to fill in with most movements not used on the run. The shortcut on the red coins maze is incredibly useful, and was first shown in the speedrun scene by Curtis Bright, if i'm not mistaken. It can be done in several different ways, but the main idea was a huge shortcut already. There is a huge improvement reward to whoever finds a way to get up the house without the carpet ;)

Bowser in the Sky (Bowser#3)

Last level, different from 16 star runs, as the red coins needed to be obtained for the glorious 120th star. Glad that is so, because it looks different and i could find my own methods instead of having to compare the whole thing (not that i didn't at some points). Well, I was actually very glad that it ended. It demanded a huge effort throughout the whole year, and I just wanted to kick Boswer's tail. So Long, Bowser!!! ^^

I cannot forget to thank:

  • Nitsuja: For adding re-recording to Mupen64
  • Spezzafer: for setting the high bar on the first n64 TAS! It was the biggest reason I started this one. Excellent.
  • Everyone that eagerly received the WIPs that were released on the TASvideos forum and gave comments, critiques and also encouragement. The list of people goes on and on, and includes (but not limited to): Jammer01, Asteron, Filimonas, Wheatherton, mr_roberts_z, AKA, DK64_MASTER, Walkerboh, Maza, etc etc
  • Wouter Jansen for sending me a lot of speedruns videos
  • DeHackEd for various helping with producing AVIs for the WIPs and publishing.
  • Curtis Bright, Myles Bukrim, Filimonas Antonakis, Dom Dunc, David Gibbons, Rob Cloutier, Stefan van Dijke, and possibly more people for producing fine speedrun gameplay videos, these have been a good base material, and eventual reference for strategies.
  • JSmith for finding the C^up Glitch!
  • Thank Selpex for additional support on msn and finding the trick to get inside the pillar in the lobby which would later evolve into the trick to get into Boswer1 early. Unfortunatelly, at the time he found the trick we didn't give it much importance, so it's not present in this run. Maybe in a future version?
  • Congratulations to Dragorn for his incredible 120 stars unassisted speedrun
  • If you've helped in some way PLEASE send me a pm so I can mention you. I'd feel very bad not to -_-

Thanks everyone.

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