Skips and speedruns are basically like magic, to me. The tenacity it takes to find ways to break a game and circumvent entire sections is a skill and patience I don’t have. That being said, I’m always glad to watch someone just walk or drive through a wall and end up somewhere they weren’t supposed to be yet. It’s delightful. It’s an art form that people are always chipping away at, and that means sometimes these skips can be found in old games like Mario Kart 64. After 27 years, someone has managed to pull off a skip in the Bowser’s Castle course so difficult to execute, it’s almost impossible to repeat…until now.
For a lot of us, Mario Kart tech is mostly just about using your items strategically and knowing when to drift. Maybe you know a good shortcut, or can pull off drifting. But for the speedrunning community, it’s about carefully studying each track and nailing down frame-perfect maneuvers to shave off even the smallest fraction of your time. For the Mario Kart 64 speedrunning community, Bowser’s Castle has presented a white whale in the form of a skip that requires you to drive through a specific wall. The technical breakdown is pretty complex and boils down to some walls in the game being built in such a way that there’s a tiny gap for players to squeeze through. It’s all about hitting it at the right angle and using speed items like the mushroom. But luckily, YouTube user Abyssoft has an entire video breaking down the skip, the tech behind it, and how multiple speedrunners have suddenly been able to utilize it after all these years.
The first time the skip was first introduced in 2021 was by speedrunner Forest64, which sparked a fire in the community to attempt to recreate it. However, it wouldn’t be until almost two years later that it was recreated and used in a speedrun, resulting in some shifts in the track’s speedrunning records. Forest64 himself managed to implement the skip in a run after over 200 hours of grinding and thousands of attempts on March 11, 2023 beating the previous non-shortcut time by just four-tenths of a second. This was impressive because it both dethroned the original time, and was the first time the skip was successfully pulled off through play, rather than testing.
However, that reign would be short lived, as speedrunner Christian C. hit the skip and shaved off a second of his time just two days later on March 13. The following day, speedrunner Aaron Jablonski also managed to hit the skip but wasn’t quite able to overtake Christian’s time. Abyssoft’s video breaks down some of the ways this run can still be improved by using the skip, but given just how difficult it’s proven for the pros to pull off, it may be some time before anyone manages to improve the run through this method.
Ironically enough, after all the hubbub the world record for Bowser’s Castle was overtaken again by Beck Abney on April 4 without using the skip. As of this writing, Abney’s record of 1'49"38 sits on the top spot, but there’s still room for the speedrunners to cut down the already impressive time if the skip is implemented.
What remains to be seen is if The Super Mario Bros. Movie actor Jack Black can beat the record after beating his castmates in Mario Kart for all to see.