Super Mario 64 speedrunners have finally found a way to consistently perform a trick that's eluded the community for years, and it might just be the biggest time save in over two decades.
Autoscrollers - levels where you have to simply wait for the game to take you to your goal with no way to speed up the process - are the bane of speedrunning, and there's a big one in Super Mario 64. In the game's final world, Rainbow Ride, there's a mission called The Big House in the Sky, which forces you to ride a magic carpet up to the top of a big house in order to collect a Star. Even world record speedruns in Mario 64's 120 Star category have to take that long, slow carpet ride, such that runners often use this stage as the venue to grind other objectives while waiting for the carpet.
But it's not theoretically impossible to skip the carpet ride. There's a trick where you can pick up a Bob-omb in a glitchy state where it's constantly at the beginning of an explosion, pushing Mario away without actually hurting him. You can ride that momentum to reach otherwise impossible speeds that will give you just enough height to do a few very precise wall kicks to climb up the exterior of the house and grab the Star, saving nearly a minute off the normal route.
However, that trick requires so many precise inputs that it's nearly impossible to pull off, and at the end of a lengthy 120 Star run, for which the current world record sits at 1:37:35, it's far more trouble than it's worth. The carpetless trick has basically always been the realm of tool-assisted speedrunners, who program uber-precise inputs to create runs that are out of the realm of human possibility.
Carpetless was actually performed by a human runner named Xiah7s in 2019, who used it to set a world record for the individual The Big House in the Sky level. But even for runners like Xiah7s, carpetless required so much trial and error that it was useless for a 120 Star run. You could save a minute by successfully performing the trick, sure, but unless you were lucky on an astronomical scale you'd spend a lot longer than that trying to achieve it.
The trick became a meme in the community, who'd take to Twitch chats shouting "carpetless" at Mario 64 runners like an extremely annoying rock fan screaming "Free Bird" at a concert. But it was all a joke. Some runners tried to get carpetless into a 120 Star run, but nobody had done it without wasting ten minutes or more trying to set it up.
That was the only version of carpetless that seemed even remotely feasible for a human to do, but it wasn't the only version of the trick that was theoretically possible. Another version would have you jump out a window in the house and perform a pair of what the community calls glitchy wall kicks - basically, wall jumps at extremely precise angles that the game would normally never allow. This version of the trick was so precise, however, that it was deemed not just 'probably' impossible, but actually impossible.
But then, on September 17, a runner called Krythalith published this video. Krythalith managed to find a setup for the trick that was possible to replicate with some consistency, using small movements and the bounds of the environment to put Mario in a position where you can complete those glitchy wall kicks with 'just' a couple of frame precise inputs.
We're still talking about superhuman gaming precision here, but carpetless has finally reached a point where top speedrunners are practicing it with the intent of incorporating it into actual 120 Star record attempts. Krythalith is continuing to refine the setup, and top runners like current world record holder Suigi are getting consistent at it - consistent to the point of doing it 11 times in a row.
Carpetless 11 times in a row. All saving 45+ seconds at least. 10 minutes straight of perfect carpetless is CRAZY LMAO pic.twitter.com/VEbgyvqZ9u— Suigi (@GreenSuigi) September 21, 2023
By some estimates, this trick represents the single biggest time save since the backwards long jump, still a staple of Mario 64 speedruns, was discovered over 20 years ago. Now, it seems like just a matter of time before a top player gets a good run going and puts carpetless to work. A 45 second time save - a conservative estimate for what carpetless might do for a run - would be the biggest single world record improvement in the better part of a decade, and a remarkable discovery for a game that's been this thoroughly put through the speedrun wringer.
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