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

Submission #6945: Aglar & LeKukie's NES Marble Madness in 02:42.07

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Marble Madness
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Marble Madness (USA).nes
Emulator: FCEUX 2.2.3
Movie length: 02:42.07
FrameCount: 9740
Re-record count: 12775
Author's real name: Mikael Johansson & Nicholas Dias
Author's nickname: Aglar & LeKukie
Submitter: LeKukie
Submitted at: 2020-11-27 00:35:25
Text last edited at: 2020-12-06 08:34:20
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (1698 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:

(Link to video)

This beats the current published run by 57 frames (0.948s). The whole timesave comes from the use of a newly discovered pause buffer strategy in the Ultimate Race.


The objective of this TAS is to complete all the levels on single player mode as quickly as possible. It makes use of skips to save time in both Silly and Ultimate races. No glitches were used.

The "Kukie Skip"/"0 Cycle" strategy.


So in November 24th of this year, I was practicing the Ultimate Race on stream so then I could do any% speedruns. Then I had the realization that I was really close from skipping a cycle in the last bit of the level. Later in that same day I went to test out possible ways where I could theoretically pull of the cycle skip. I found out that it's normally not possible to do that, tho I had the idea of pause buffering so then I could in theory delay the cycle to give me enough window to squeeze through and save time. It just so happens that it works.

How it works:

By carefully timing the pause and unpause inputs, the game will not advance the state of the bridge momentarily. If carefully timed, there is more than enough time to get to the finish line earlier than it was intended.

Tho, there are some limitations to this mechanic:

  • Good timing is required to have a good enough window, so you can't just do it every frame.
  • You can't make the game not advance the cycles of platforms that are right in front of each other. That means that you can only delay the platform you're on, the one platform that comes after the one that's in front of you, or the platform that stands after a checkpoint platform.

As of now, the Bridge in the Ultimate Race is the only place we know where this can be used to save time. You can't skip cycles in places like the lifting bridge in the Intermediate Race or the Catapult in the Aerial Race. The most you can do is just delay the cycle by 2 frames on the Intermediate Bridge, which is not enough since pause buffering your way to the bridge will be way slower than just waiting for it to go down.

Observations and conclusions:

Most of the gameplay in this TAS is from Aglar's 2:43.01 submission, so I consider him an author of this TAS as well. That's due both to me using his TAS as a base to look for things, as well as to how this game works since all you can do is move around (either not move, move slowly or move quickly). That makes it so if I was to change the gameplay it would not save time at all and it would not be any more entertaining, plus it barely would look any different. Tho I was able to change some of the gameplay in both Intermediate and Ultimate races.

Can any time be saved anywhere else?

As of now, no one knows. There's a strategy in the last bit of the Intermediate Race where you can fall from the carpet directly to the finish line platform, tho it doesn't trigger the level end because it's way too offscreen. So it cannot be used to save time in the TAS unless if some way of doing it offscreen is found. It took a good bit for this to get improved again, but in the end it did get improved. So we never know what to expect, only time will tell.

Special thanks:

Thanks to the Marble Madness speedrunning community for basically teaching me how this game works and how to speedrun it. And thanks to the authors of the previous submissions for finding all the other timesaves.
Samsara: Losing my marbles, gaining a submission to judge.

Samsara: Nice improvement! Really clever thinking to pull something like that off in a game that felt like it couldn't be optimized any further. Accepting as an improvement to the published run!

feos: Pub.

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