Mario Kart 64: discovery of incredible new shortcut revolutionizes speedrun

Wii U

Mario Kart 64 is not making the news this October only through its upcoming return to Nintendo Switch! If Nintendo’s famous kart game is about to return to center stage with the arrival of Nintendo 64 on Nintendo Switch Online, It is nonetheless a game still very popular with speedrunners on its original medium. Thus, many very high level players continue to regularly beat world records in “Time Trial” mode, the time trial therefore, on a vintage Nintendo 64. The competition is particularly fierce in this game, and new shortcuts are still being discovered a quarter of a century after its release. The latest technique radically changes the situation on Kalimari Desert, a circuit that is not very exciting, and where we mainly believed that the strategies were perfectly optimized …

Mario Kart 64: discovery of incredible new shortcut revolutionizes speedrun

Kalimari Desert is a fairly straightforward route with no big variety. (credit: thealmightyguru

Let’s put it in context. Fourth and last layout of the Mushroom Cup (Mushroom Cup in French), the first of the four cups in the game, Kalimari Desert is a plot that made a comeback 15 years after the original game was released in Mario Kart 7 on Nintendo 3DS, and is not a priori of immense interest. Its long bends and the absence of any trap other than the train following a looped rail in the form of an oval do not make it a particularly exciting track at first glance.

However, like any apparently simple “level”, reaching the level of the best world lap times is very complex, and this becomes particularly interesting as soon as we are interested in category “SC” (for “shortcut”, or “shortcut” in French) of the world rankings. Indeed, if the world record in the “traditional” category more or less respects the logic of the layout, by exploiting mushrooms to cut through off-piste areas, the world record in the “shortcut” category worked very differently, with in particular a passage through one of the barriers separating the railway from the circuit, deemed almost impossible because of an excessively low probability of success, estimated at… 1 in 90,000:

The “fence clip”, the almost impossible method but which changed everything

This technique, called “fence clip” in the jargon of the game’s speedrunners, was first discovered in November 2024 via tools oftool-assisted speedrun by Forest64, and required a rather improbable success rate, therefore estimated at one in 90,000 successful attempts (Yes, you read that right). In fact, and despite its immensely low probability, the ‘fence clip’ seemed like the ultimate strategy to hit the lowest lap times. First successful in April 2024 by the Australian player Dossey, who has never won other world records in Time Trial on Mario Kart 64 than on this circuit, this method had thus made it possible to smash the two circuit records in the “shortcut” category: the tour alone, called “f-lap”, for “fastest lap” (“best tour” in French) by the players of the game) and the complete race, called “3-lap” (for “3 laps”).

The Kalimari Desert world record rarely changed… until October 2024.

Mario Kart 64: discovery of incredible new shortcut revolutionizes speedrun

A hole in the wall: a real new technique, less risky

Mario Kart 64: discovery of incredible new shortcut revolutionizes speedrun

A brand new shortcut requires you to go through this wall. (credit: Beck Abney)

To this day, no one has replicated Dossey’s feat. Unfortunately for him, his record ended up being pulverized, and in such a way that no more player will attempt to use the “fence clip”, considered one of the most boring techniques ever discovered (what’s more, on a circuit not particularly exciting either). Forest64 indeed found at the end of September 2024 a way to be forgiven by finding a much more interesting and profitable strategy, and “easier” to apply: it re-exploited a shortcut inherited from Grand Prix mode, which consists of crossing the wall of the canyon to the left of the finish line to make the game believe that we have crossed the latter, which extends well beyond the checkered line on the track. Once this new shortcut has been implemented in Time Trial, the best players in the world have obviously rushed over to completely relaunch the competition in the Kalimari Desert “shortcut” category, and very quickly improve this new strategy to lower the world lap record to 7 seconds and 36 hundredths. Currently, three players have reached this time.

The lap record went from 31 to 22, then 12 seconds, then… 7:36 (and a triple tie)!

Mario Kart 64: discovery of incredible new shortcut revolutionizes speedrun

There is now very little chance that the records of Kalimari Desert in the “shortcut” category will be improved other than with this strategy, which will now have to be continued to optimize. to further lower those world records that no one saw evolving. Almost a quarter of a century after its release, Mario Kart 64 still has many surprises in store for its most determined players! It remains to be seen now if the best superplayers in the game will continue to break the two world records, and especially the lap record. which already seems extremely pushed (where the record over 3 laps still has a notable margin for improvement). But with a community as gifted as that of Mario Kart 64’s “top players”, nothing is less certain …

If you want to learn more about this new shortcut, and the history of this record, know that a very detailed explanation (in English) is available on the channel of Karl Jobst, videographer very renowned for the quality of his analytical videos on video games and in particular on speedruns and their communities:

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