On Jan. 16, the Super Mario Sunshine speedrunning community held an Any% (complete the game as quickly as possible with no restrictions) relay race between the United States of America (USA) and Japan. The game consisted of 6 talented speedrunners who were invited from each country to compete, including the current world record holder Bounceyboy, from the USA. Bounceyboy’s Any% world record clocks in at 1:16:49, and the average personal best (PB) times from USA and Japan are 1:17:45 and 1:17:56 respectively. With 11 seconds separating these averages, the teams were very evenly matched.
In speedrunning, a relay race is a team format where each player of a team completes a different section of the game as fast as possible. Each player streamed their section of the run. Due this format, both teams completed levels and earned Shine Sprites in the same order to ensure fairness. Unlike Super Mario 64, individual Shines in any given Super Mario Sunshine level aren’t meant be collected out of order. However, there are certain Shines that can be obtained out of order through the use of glitches. The “Gelato Skip” is an example of this, where the eighth Shine spawns out of reach in the Gelato level regardless of the active Shine’s mission. With glitches, speedrunners can get this Shine first which unlocks the Shadow Mario Sprite for that level, completing this mission second instead of seventh. The final Bowser fight is unlocked through defeating Shadow Mario on each level, so the speedrunners don’t even have to go back and earn the other Shines.
Here’s a link to the full run!
The first section of the race featured Hiyayakko from Japan and AGR_IV from USA. The two players stayed relatively close for most of their section with Hiyayakko gaining several seconds on AGR through movement optimization. AGR saved a couple of seconds due to the Random Number Generation (RNG) that determined the flight route for Petey, the boss of Bianco’s fifth Shine. Hiyayakko was still ahead going into Gelato Beach. Although Hiyayakko attempted the Gelato Skip first, he failed three times in a row, losing his coconut on the third attempt which forced him to backtrack and get another one. This gave AGR a chance to catch up, and he took it and ran with it. AGR successfully performed the difficult trick on his first attempt, turning a seven-second deficit into a 40-second lead going into the first player swap. Fortunately for Japan, there were still five other legs in which they could make up that lost time.
Japan’s Mitchi and USA’s Nindiddeh ran the second stretch of the race. Much like the first stretch, their runs started out with major differences from movement optimizations. Neither player died going for the “Yoshi Skip” on Pianta’s fifth Shine, and Mitchi performed the skip about one minute behind Nindiddeh. There are a couple of moments in the run that are heavily impacted by RNG, and the secret stage for Pianta is one of them. This time, RNG impacts the location of one of the “Chuckers” that the runners need to complete the level. Mitchi unfortunately got the short end of the stick and had to wait about 30 seconds before he could continue. Unfortunately for Japan, they finished the second section of the race 1 minute and 33 seconds behind USA because of this. Despite bad luck, Mitchi had some fun with his section and showed off a bit. It was great to see him perfectly mimic Piantissimo’s movements, making his section one of the most entertaining.
The next section featured Yamata and ShadowMario27. At the beginning of Pinna Park, Yamata performed very well. Yamata had perfect rollercoaster accuracy as opposed to ShadowMario27 who missed a shot, closing the distance by another few seconds. However, another big RNG moment was coming up as the runners attempted the “Early Yoshi-Go-Round.” This trick requires the cannon on the beach to fire a purple Bullet Bill. This time, the RNG favored Japan, as Yamata got the purple Bullet Bill on the fifth volley while ShadowMario27 got his on the eighth. Overall, this saved almost a minute for Japan. By the halfway point, USA was now only 30 seconds ahead of Japan.
Yuto and Kaffelon kicked off the second half of the relay for Japan and USA. This race was Kaffelon’s return to Super Mario Sunshine after taking a break for several months, and he performed quite well. Yuto and Kaffelon took the same routes for most of their shines, but Kaffelon simply did them faster. Both players ended up dying on Ricco’s fourth Shine, though Yuto died later in the level which wasted several more seconds. Kaffelon pushed the USA lead to 1 minute and 17 seconds.
The second to last segment was between Japan’s Toobou and USA’s AverageTrey. Once again, USA’s player got through the level with faster and more consistent movements, extending the lead over Japan. There was no moment during this section that saved either team a large chunk of time, only small optimizations that added up to push USA’s lead up to 2 minutes and 4 seconds.
The final section of the run was crazy, and the entire race could have been decided here. Pyon represented Japan and BounceyBoy represented the USA. BounceyBoy tore through Noki Bay without any problems, but unfortunately Pyon got caught up on Noki’s sixth Shine after barely missing the hitbox of one of the rolling logs toward the end of the level and fell to his death. Pyon was so close to landing the jump that Mario’s character model actually clipped through the log’s model. Pyon missed the log again on his second attempt, setting him even further behind. However, this wasn’t victory yet for USA, as BounceyBoy also died twice in Corona Mountain on his way to Bowser. In the end, that wasn’t enough to bring Japan back into the game. USA won the relay race with a total time of 1:20:42 while Japan finished at 1:22:14.
Even though this was a “marathon” type of run, a time of 1:20:42 is still quite good and would be placed in the low 40’s on the world leader-boards. This is especially impressive if you consider that the placing in the top 40 indicates hundreds of attempts to get there. This type of event was creative and fun, and puts new spin on speedrunning. Hopefully more of these kinds of events will pop up in the future for all kinds of games and will help build up the speedrunning community even more.
Images © 2016 SunshineCommunity