Scott “pannenkoek2012" Buchanan is a Super Mario 64 expert known best for achieving memetic status thanks to a complex trick that involved “parallel universes” to complete. Buchanan is a master of the “A press challenge,” which involves clearing levels without jumping. He’s back at it again with a new, spellbinding way to climb to the top of one of Super Mario 64’s toughest levels: Tick Tock Clock.
Tick Tock Clock is one of Super Mario 64’s most notorious levels. It’s a winding tower of platforms, which move faster or slower depending on what time is on the clock’s face when you enter. Casual players might find it tricky, but hardcore Mario fiends like Buchanan have mastered it. This isn’t the first time that Buchanan has managed to claim the collectable power star at the top of Tick Tock Clock without traditional jumps—that is, jumping that uses the A button—but his new method cuts out some of the more complicated problems.
His old method required setting a “HOLP,” which stands for Held Item Last Position. Basically, Super Mario 64 keeps a record of where an enemy or object was last grabbed and released. It’s possible to trick the game into keeping this coordinate stored so that you can head to a different level and release items at that spot on a new map. By heading to grab an enemy in Wet Dry World, Buchanan was able to store where he last held an enemy and trick the game into spawning a Bob-omb at that specific coordinate in Tick Tock Clock. Because he was on the new map, it meant the enemy was in position to push him across a gap to the power star. But Buchanan has now devised a new, simpler method for scaling the tricky, platform heavy level.
He created the new playthrough with tools that allow Buchanan to plot out his movements frame by frame. The first part of the run is the same as it was before: In order to get up the clock, he first heads over to a series of spinning platforms and walks on their edges to get flipped upward to the next portion of the level. From here, he uses a complicated technique that allows him to duplicate items. It’s an exhaustive setup. He “clones” a piece of fire and places it at a specific spot before spending nearly an hour cloning coins so that he can get the power star for collecting 100 of them. He collects the final coin next to the flame he placed, allows his ass to get burned so Mario hops into the air, collects the star, and then uses the height from that to land on platforms above him.
Then comes the main difference: Instead of using a Bob-omb to cross a large gap, Buchanan manages to manipulate the position of spinning cogs to sort of smush Mario up to the final stretch. After that is a quick dive (which doesn’t count as jumping because it doesn’t use the A button) before reaching the power star.
Super Mario 64 challenge runs are rife with difficult setups and other oddities. From an incredibly active speedrunning scene to all the work that Buchanan and hackers have done, there’s always something new to be found. It’s led to amazing world records, ”impossible” coins collected after almost two decades, and in this case, a strange but wonderful method to climb a tower without even a simple jump.