For those who think SMB not glitchy enough
After two and a half years of hard work, and more than 100000 times of re-record count, I'm so happy to share my latest finished projects with you. This is one of the hardest and craziest tasks I can think of, and would be the only movie that I wouldn't dare to remake. The goal is to complete all stages (including the hidden 2-1, 3-1 and 4-1 according to priority) of one of the hardest SMB hacks in the fastest time. It's 3 minutes and 44 seconds faster than Mushroom's incomplete run (just in World 1), and it improved Mars608's last speedrun for 6232 frames (103.7 seconds).
Hard Relay Mario (ips patch download, thanks to fsvgm777 and Nach) is once the hardest SMB hacks ever (beaten by MMM later), created by 6 remarkable Japanese hacker including Mana, and U1 (the creator of Air). It's mainly a well designed trial for players' brains and skills, and requires all the glitches and techniques you can use in order to complete the levels. It's better to view it as a platform puzzle game when watching, then the TAS is about how to break and solve that difficult puzzle in the fastest time.
Only few small changes are made to the original SMB engine: spikes (a new kind of object which immediately kills you when you touch its hitbox, no matter how big you are), climbing clouds (just like vines for climbing, shown in 1-3 and 1-5), marked hidden coin blocks, short Fire Bar (changed from long Fire Bar), and Bowser is changed to a quick moving target who lost his ability to spit fire. So basically every trick performed in the run can be produced in the original SMB with the same landscape.
To defeat such a hack could be tough or impossible for newcomers, but to me the hardest part is to optimize every movement to reach the speed limit, which requires thousands of attempts and lots of mathematical calculation, and a great amount of knowledge about SMB system for you ought to know exactly what you're doing all the time. Thus, it has given me a lot of headaches over the past 2 years, but I'm glad that I made it through just the way I planned it, and satisfied by the result.
I know there are people who'd vote no for bad game choice even before watching, and not many people can fully understand this run, but I still insist on submitting it to TASVideos, simply because I think TASVideos deserves a run like this. It is intended to obsolete the current Air demonstration. It may sound strange at first, but my reasons are listed as follows:
- Hard Relay Mario and Air are basically the same type of hacks, and they even have a same creator U1, so we'd better just keep one publication in principle.
- Obviously Air 2 is not suitable for making great speedruns, because there are way too many designing loopholes that leads to breakthroughs, and taking a shortcut through the maze is too simple and not entertaining enough to watch, so the current publication is more like a playaround with no exact goal. As new glitches and new techniques are found, I think the current Air run is out of date. One day when I chatted with Mars608 he told me he wanted to find a new TAS project to be busy with, and I said, "why not Air? I bet you can easily make a much better playaround as long as you want to." A few days later, Mars608 said with sorrow, "sorry but I just don't know how to do it. There's almost nothing to perform in a hack like this." I considered for a while and he was right. There really isn't much to show in the barren land of Air 2. So as I see, Air 2 can neither make great speedruns nor playarounds.
- I have played so many SMB1 hard hacks, including MMM, LLL, ORZ, β Mario series, Athletic series, and among them, Hard Relay Mario is regarded as the best-designed judging not only by difficulty but also by level quality and details, a true masterpiece. Although it does have a few loopholes, taking shortcuts still needs lots of brains and skills, making it suitable to make good speedruns.
- Lots of crazy tricks and new techniques can be performed in this run. Compared to it, Air 2 haven't really shown anything interesting.
- In my opinion, 2 publications on TASVideos for SMB1 hacks are probably enough. The best combination might be, one with brilliant maps and special effects (Extra Mario Bros), and the other with outrageous difficulty and clever designs (Hard Relay Mario).
To describe every technical details might turn the submission text into a long dissertation, and it's way beyond my English ability, so I'll make it simple to just list tricks and level comments for those who'd like to know. I know there must be people who can't understand when watching, and would probably go like, "hey, why'd you do that? Wouldn't it be easier and faster to just..." One thing I'd like to emphasize is, I didn't make any technical mistakes, not even little ones. I chose the fastest routes in theory. Every jump is accurate, and every move is well-planed. Once you believe that, it doesn't matter whether you can understand, it's whether you want to. Feel free to compare the original solution (videos can be found on YouTube) to mine and see the improvements.
Part of tricks used in this run
- Walljump (54 times in total)
- Glitching through walls (in lots of different ways, I don't know how to name each of them separately in English)
- Keeping jumping speed after hitting a wall (by not pressing direction keys and not landing longer than 1 frame, mostly used to jump through walls above)
- Jumping after catching a power-up in the air
- Manipulation of screen X position through walls and dithering in the air (used very often in this run)
- Going through Fire Bars on the right side of the screen (used in 1-1 and 1-8)
- Koopa walking in mid-air (used 3 times in 1-1, 1-5 and 1-9)
- Moonwalk (mostly used to entertain)
- Flagpole glitch (from the right side, using a shell, making the flag disappear by revealing an mushroom, etc)
- Walking inside enemies
- Stomping enemies on the bottom of the screen when Mario's above the screen (as the high and low sides are connected in SMB, used once in 1-9)
- Getting hurt by a Fire Bar after flagpole
- Going through spikes (only safe when your head is in the wall and not jumping, just like in SMB you may skip coins while your head is in the wall)
- Lifts pulled down turning invisible above the screen
- Jumping through walls above after hitting enemies from below (used in 1-A where the Lakitu drops Spinies)
- Jumping through lifts
- Falling into the hole after toughing the axe
- An obstruction where there are 2 Fire Bars was glitched through, and you can clearly see I went through them on the right side of the screen. The last half of the level mainly tests the usage of Koopa walking in mid-air, for 2 giant leaps are made with the help of the Koopa afterwards, and a part of time waiting was saved compared to the original solution. The flagpole can only be safely grabbed when it's on the left side of the screen, and using the flagpole glitch saved 42 frames (thanks to Mars608).
- A very short level without much difficulty, but the flagpole part was designed more cleverly than it seems.
- At the beginning, the route with a Goomba and 2 Beetles is slightly faster than going through the wall. I stayed on the climbing clouds for several more frames to adjust screen X position, preparing for getting hit on purpose from a Bullet Bill. Fireworks are avoided.
- Another obstruction with 2 abreast Piranha plants was quickly glitched through using the trick of keeping jumping speed. I did several walljumps to have fun while waiting where there are 2 Pirana plants on 2 separate blocks, and I avoided both of them just in one time (previous solutions takes at lease two times). There's a fake flagpole right before the real one, and Mario would fall in the hole after grabbing the fake one, but it's still able to reach the next level after a extremely long period of screen scrolling (not shown in this run).
- The first half of the level is also about dealing with a Koopa, and I performed a lot during kicking the shell and waiting. After entering the pipe, I went through the wall to save time just like Mars608 did in his run, but I also manipulated screen X position through the wall and climbing the clouds quickly while ducking the Pirana plant and Fire Bars. That was a extremely tough route, that I almost thought to be impossible after many attempts, and it turned out to be just nearly impossible. I managed to escape narrowly with the help of pressing up and left together to avoid being pushed out from the screen when climbing the cloud.
- Spikes showed up after this level. 2 major time-saving shortcut were made through the maze. The first one was I found a way to avoid getting hurt, by doing a walljump on the spike and slide through the narrow way (see the screenshot below), saving lots of time while keeping big body to 1-8. The other shortcut skipped nearly half of the level, by performing a shell glitch on a flagpole that's intended to be fake, which is the fastest but not the only way to skip the rest part of the level. The other solution is to push Mario to the right side of the screen through walls, grab the flag and it would translate you to the left side of the screen to proceed with time calculation. The shell glitch is much more difficult, for doing a shell glitch on the right side of the flagpole is completely different from left (just like 3-1 in my SMB warpless run). In fact, it was an idea I had thought about before but failed after hundreds of attempts, and after then I consider it impossible. I wanted to try to prove it to be truly impossible while making this run so I could quit thinking about it, but instead I calculated and managed to find a value of Y subpixel that could make it happen, making me so thrilled. It's funny that the Koopa put near the fake flagpole for fun can be used for a time-saving shortcut.
- The shortest level with mainly just a flagpole. The original solution to the flagpole was a little complex, that required using the spring more than twice, but I simplified it into a few seconds with the advantage of big Mario. The reveal of the poison mushroom made the flag disappear, the invisible coin block on the left is necessary for time calculation, the lift on the right made Mario stop to hang on the pole, and together they saved Mario from dying after grabbing the flagpole. Fireworks are avoided.
- At the beginning I used the Fire Flower for jumping through the wall to save time. Accurate manipulation of screen X was made after then, and going through the Fire Bar made the largest breakthrough of the run (thanks to Mars608).
- A large part of the level was easily skipped owning to the advantage of big Mario, for 1-9 was intended to be designed for small Mario after getting hurt from the Fire Bar in 1-8. Getting hurt was inevitable in the end after the first time grabbing the flagpole due to the Fire Bar, and Mario would be controllable again so you had to grab the same pole for the second time before time reached to zero.
- The hardest and longest level, taking me a long time to finish it. A new route at the beginning was discovered to save time. During the whole process of getting the mushroom, manipulation of screen X was made to make the Fire Bar above the lift show earlier. Mario jumped through the 8 invisible blocks in a new strategy using the trick of keeping jumping speed. I found a new route of going through the wall and spikes to pull down the second balance lift, which was a slightly faster strategy compared to the original one. I managed to skip the whole mushroom part by passing the Fire Bar while the invisible period after getting hurt. Heavy luck manipulation were made before the boss fight in order to kill Bowser as quickly as possible, for the upgraded Bowser was more aggressive and had a HP of 32.
- After finishing World 1, hidden worlds became available. 2-1 was a level made of letters expressing "Hard Relay Mario". The biggest time-saving shortcut was the giant jump when getting the mushroom at the letter "I".
- A level designed for testing walljumps, as there is not a single landing spot throughout the stage. The hardest part was to manipulate each time Fire Bars showing up, by adjusting the screen X position. The starting position of the last Fire Bar rested with the ending position of the second Fire Bar, so I bumped into a wall once while falling to delay the disappearing time of the second Fire Bar.
- The final boss fight, basically the very same stage as the end of 1-A, but the lifts were shorter, making the Bowser fight a bit longer. The movie file ended at the frame touching the final axe, just like regular SMB runs.
The screenshot in 3-1 is recommended.
Special thanks to Mars608, for making his previous Hard Relay Mario runs, and helping a lot, including reminding me to use flagpole glitch for 1-1, demonstrating the possibility to go through the Fire Bar in 1-8, and help testing in 1-3 and 1-A.
And all the friends at TASVideos. Thank you for spending these wonderful years together.
Have fun watching. :)
Nach: This is yet another one of those hacks where the aesthetics are horrible, and the design is all in the name of difficulty. Although, the game is of a different genre than most such hacks, in that it's really a bizarre kind of puzzle game.
Much of the run is pigeon-holed into doing one thing, and therefore a TAS isn't all that different from normal play, but on the other hand, looks quite amazing since tons of glitches are forced to be used. This gives us the unusual scenario where people who don't know the hack well can't appreciate some of the creativity, but are amazed by things which aren't special. With the opposite side, the situation is reversed, those who know the hack well see much of the creativity that others can't, but are not impressed by the sections where there's only a single solution.
Based on the feedback for this run, I find it too subpar to really be worthy of the moon tier, yet the vault tier does not allow for hacks. However, we currently have an Air run published (which I would have personally rejected), which did not get nearly as good feedback or as many yes votes as this current run. Therefore, I'm accepting this run to obsolete that one.