This weekend a speedrunner who goes by Cheese broke the existing record for beating Mario 64 with all 120 stars with a time 1:40:05. But his goal was to come in under 1:39, something he might have achieved if not for one of his spectators spamming a text-to-speech bot.
Despite forgoing the LBLJ exploit, a backyards jump glitch that allows Mario to proceed through the 8-star door, Cheese was still making good time. If he nailed the last part of his run through the “Bowser in the Sky” level, he would be on track to break the all elusive 1:39 mark. Players in the Mario 64 speedrunning community have been shaving seconds off for years but no one has ever gotten inside of a 100 minutes. Even after the discovery of the game’s “holy grail” of glitches last fall, allowing players to open a door underwater, the 1:39 threshold has remained intact.
Cheese was hoping to change that as he traversed the game’s final level with his heart rate going just over 130 beats per minute. Only seconds in is when a Twitch user by the name of Squirr3l unloaded on Cheese. Earlier during the Stream, cheese had mentioned that he was allowing text-to-speech for users who donated over a certain threshold. Bits are a form of Twitch currency, and users who spent enough of them on Cheese during the stream could have their messages read aloud by the computer.
“Hi YouTube,” said the computer as Cheese darted from one platform to another. And then it said it again. And again. The noise was incessant. The chat was split between people riding the hype of Cheese’s record breaking run and others in disbelief that one of their own would start spamming the channel at a time like this.
Cheese looked undeterred though, finishing “Bowser in the Sky” with grace despite the trolling. “Squirr3l that’s not very smart,” he said after finishing the level and waiting for the final boss fight with Bowser to begin. He let out an exhausted chuckle before setting his sights back on history despite the continuing bombardment of “Hi YouTube hi YouTube hi YouTube hi Youtube...”
But then Cheese messed up, mistiming a Bowser throw that sent the King of the Koopas hurtling not toward a bomb but rather the safety of dead airspace. Immediately the computer responded, “Dicks dicks dicks dicks dicks dicks dicks dicks...” Cheese whiffed, costing the run somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve seconds and the coveted 1:39 time as a result. The game complete, world record in hand, though not the one he wanted, Cheese crumbled up in his chair.
“My head hurts. So fucking bad,” he said eventually. Then later on during the credits, “I missed a bowser throw. Of course.” Tired, deflated, and plagued with headache, Cheese then proceeded to reflect on his attempt with those still watching the stream. He had just broke the 120 star world record for speedruns of one of the most famous and beloved games of all time, but the topic on everyone’s mind was Squirr3l.
One person in the Twitch chat asked what Cheese had he learned from the attempt. “Don’t ever use fucking text-to-speech again,” he said. Cheese later elaborated on what went down in the final minute of his run. “I’ve known Squirr3l for a long time. I never thought Squirr3l would do that,” he said.
“He came in my room and slapped me on the head...I don’t know if it’s squirr3l’s fault that I missed the throw...It certainly distracted the fuck out of me...I made the mistake of saying I had text-to-speech...I just want squirr3l to give me a god damn good excuse as to why he did it.”
Cheese had no choice but to ban Squirr3l from his Twitch room, while also noting that if he did allow text-to-speech in the future, he would up the threshold to something like 2,500 bits. Why was he even using it in the first place? For one, it encourages donations which help financially support speedrunners and streamers in general. But he also didn’t think one of his own would take it as an opportunity to potentially sabotage a potentially historic run.
You can re-watch the entire attempt here.