When Mario Kart: Double Dash was released back in 2003, a major shortcut on one of the game’s tracks—Waluigi Stadium—was discovered almost instantly. The next shortcut wouldn’t be recorded until 2018.
That’s an eternity in video game and speedrunning years, and there’s one hell of a story behind it. This is why Summoning Salt has put together this 41-minute video about the entire ordeal.
As explained early on in the video below, Mario Kart games have a long history of being kinda broken! At least when it comes to speedrunning, anyway. They’re perfectly fine for us to play casually and we’d never notice a thing, but most of them have enormous loopholes in their code that have let speedrunning players do everything from clipping inside their maps, to performing quick bumps around the finish line for impossible-looking times.
Throughout all that exploration and exploitation, though, from almost the day it was released, one game stood above the others, seemingly impervious to any attempts at cutting its corners: Mario Kart: Double Dash.
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While a single shortcut was discovered very early on, it remained the only shortcut any player would ever find for over a decade. The reason why is what I think makes this such an incredible story; there are impressive feats of hole-picking from speedrunners here, of course, but Nintendo’s development team also deserve credit for doing one hell of a job shoring this game up from exploitation as well, encoding each track with a number of rules and conditions that meant it took until 2018 for a player to work out a way to crack them.
I should note here that the definition of a “shortcut” being used in this video doesn’t mean the obvious, intentional ones Nintendo always litters its tracks with. It instead means an unintentional shortcut, one that relies on an oversight or exploitation of code to make some serious time savings.
Something that, as you’ll see in the video below, took some serious work on the part of players like GoombaNL. But once that first domino fell in 2018, with some boosting off the Mushroom Bridge, it was only a matter of time until shortcuts were discovered on more tracks, from Bowser’s Castle to Mushroom City.