How to Speedrun Slowly

I've recently made a hobby out of learning Super Mario 64 speed tech. SM64 is one of my favorite games to watch runs of, so I've known the lingo for years now. Bomb clips, Lakitu skip -- Backwards Long Jumps (BLJs) have even broken into the mainstream, making Mario butt-sliding at rapid speeds a common sight in memes.

The speedrunning community has biked in tandem with amazement and fear among the greater gamesphere for years now, no doubt in part to GDQs or those TAS videos that completely abstract games into a set of numbers for computers to toy with (even SM64 has nowhere to hide with its "half an A press" fractal-mind-warp). It's an understandable reaction, but it's also been a thorn in the side of the community since they've gained a spotlight. I follow enough runners on Twitter to know that it's hard to evangelize about your passion when so many people can't entertain the idea that they too could make Mario go through doors with the power of his butt's stored energy.

I imagine for most, speedrunning's big inhibitor is approach. It's so much to take in at once, and GDQs, as great as they are for the spectacle, have struggled to get across an easy gateway. They took a really good step with the Strider tutorial at AGDQ '18 but going forward from there is still a huge leap. In an attempt to close the gap, I would like to offer a different, more radical idea.

Personally, I'm not interested in "good times" or "competition" really. Routing, an often neglected aspect of speedrunning, is where the timesinks really go, and while I respect it immensely, all I wanted was for *my hands* to do the cool stuff. So, I sat down with SM64, and decided I was gonna learn a trick for no reason other than to say I did it.

I started with a simple one, a trick known by runners as "Cannonless". In what I can only assume was a betrayal to the devs by the console they were working on, it's possible to collect Whomp Fortress' Blast Away the Wall star without touching the cannon, opting instead for a rub against the wall that exposes the hitbox. It is a precise trick, and, in its fastest form, requires the right angle and perfect timing.

Luckily, Cannonless is a trick of many forms, with the difficulty of each version inversely decreasing with the speed. I found a tutorial for the easiest one, which is a set of plain instructions that lead (almost) every time to the star. It requires a few clever camera movements to set Mario up perfectly for the grab; frankly, it does a lot of the work for you.

But that didn't stop me from getting pretty stoked that I did it.

This has snowballed, and now I've put 20 hours into SM64 since that tweet just learning stuff. You know, doing reps of bomb clips so that I can hopefully get it first try whenever I want. I've gotten a pretty good time on the hidden slide, too. 13.5".

I think I was tricked into speedrunning... by myself?

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