The Holy Grail of SM64 - Carpetless
A consistent setup for the Holy Grail Skip of SM64 was just discovered - lets dig in.
In your time amongst the speedrunning community, you may or may not have heard the term Holy Grail. It's not a sacred chalice or a mystical artifact, but rather a term that describes a discovery so profound that it etches itself into the annals of gaming history. A Holy Grail is the stuff of legends, a theory or proof of concept that, if realized, would send shockwaves through the speedrunning community. You may or may not have heard of a little thing called Barrier Skip in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - that is a holy grail skip.
In the last few weeks, Super Mario 64 has finally received its own Holy Grail - one with a rich history dating back 14 years or more. In the heart of the Super Mario 64 speedrunning universe lies the pursuit of Carpetless, the elusive final auto-scroller skip that has tantalized speedrunners for over a decade.
First of all, let me thank both @simply and @KrobarKrolak for making videos that provided me with the majority of this information, I highly recommend you watch both of them as they will go into much more detail than I will here. (See Sources at the bottom of the article)
The Big House in the Sky Autoscroller
"The Big House in the Sky" (TBHiS) star presents a common annoyance for speedrunners - an autoscroller section. There are multiple autoscrollers in SM64, but every single other one of them has been skippable for years at this point, which left TBHiS as the only remaining autoscroller in the 120 Star speedrun route. The autoscroller consisted of getting on a magic carpet that would carry you to the final star at the top of the big house, taking an annoying 1m45s (roughly) to do so. For years, runners looked for a way to skip the carpet ride (thus the title, Carpetless), finding a few leads but nothing RTA viable. The speedrunning community never gave up though, continually pushing the boundaries of what was possible.
Let’s go over some quick highlights of the last 14 years of Carpetless.
Blazesoul13's Early Experimentation
In April 2009, runner blazesoul13 finds a glitchy wallkick on the side of the Big House, which almost reaches the roof.
Early TAS Discoveries
In December 2009, the first breakthrough came when a TAS (Tool-Assisted Speedrun) setup was developed by Mario64Masters, which utilized hyperspeed wallkicks.
Snark122's Bomb Setup
In January 2013, snark122 showcased the first carpetless setup that hinted at the possibility of skipping the autoscroller in real-time speedruns. Though technically possible, it remained ridiculously unrealistic to do in runs.
BLJs and Parallel Universes
It wasn't until 2017 that Maria Nicolae, Plush, & Luigihaxd introduced a new (still TAS only) setup that used Backward Long Jumps (BLJ’s) to send Mario into actual Parallel Universes to do Carpetless. To learn more about Parallel Universes, I highly recommend watching this video from Bismuth.
Toadfan5's Save State Breakthrough
In July 2015, toadfan5 made a significant stride by successfully executing Carpetless using save states.
Xiah Does Carpetless Single Segment
In May 2019, Xiah achieved what seemed nearly impossible – successfully using the bomb setup to skip the autoscroller without relying on save states. This breakthrough was a testament to the dedication and perseverance of SM64 speedrunners, and was a turning point for the community - people started taking RTA Carpetless a lot more seriously.
Circumark994 Spends 3 Weeks On Carpetless Research
On April 22nd, 2023 Circumark994 released this 30-minute video breaking down all of the current leads for Carpetless.
Parsee Hits Bomb Setup in a 120* Run
Krithalith's Innovative Discovery
Also on September 17th, 2023 mere hours after Parsee hit the bomb setup - TASer Krithalith premiered a groundbreaking setup discovery for carpetless. This new setup was based on Blazesoul13’s original glitchy wallkick discovery back in 2009 - and while still incredibly inconsistent, runners like @simply, @Suigi, and more were still able to hit Carpetless multiple times in a single (multi-hour) session. However, the balance of intense difficulty and viability for runs actually seemed to demotivate runners like Suigi - since it was technically possible to get a new world record with, but ridiculously inconsistent.
Orthogonal Jones Setup
Just two days after the initial discovery, Krithalith released the "Orthogonal Jones" setup on September 19th. This setup removed a lot of the complexities and achieved Krithalith’s goal of a setup that required fewer inputs. There are lots of other setups, mainly including "Orthogonal James" also from Krithalith, and Dezanig’s setup - but most run attempts for both full 120 star and single star are currently using Orthogonal Jones.
This setup, based on cardinal directions (neutral, straight up, straight right, etc.), significantly increased consistency and made the Carpetless challenge more accessible to speedrunners - so much so that Suigi released a video doing Carpetless 11 times in a ROW.
In the ever-evolving world of SM64 speedrunning, the pursuit of RTA viable Carpetless has brought forth not only innovation - but proof of the unwavering commitment from the community. At the time of writing this article, no new world record has been achieved - but it’s merely a matter of time before the next (and perhaps the final) minute barrier is broken for the Super Mario 64 120 Star category.
Krithalith’s groundbreaking discovery, backed by early experimentations by people like blazesoul13, snark, Maria Nicolae, toadfan5, Xiah, parsee, and many more has allowed SM64 speedrunners to save almost a minute (around 45 seconds on average) in the 120 Star category.
To put it into perspective, top runners have been known to grind for hours to practice timesaves that are less than a second - and that's why Carpetless is a Holy Grail skip.
If you’re interested, you can find the current Single Star World Record for The Big House in the Sky here.
I would also like to give a heartfelt thank you to Krithalith, seven, Zinsch, ded_lej, and the rest of the SM64 Speedrunning Discord server for helping me fact-check my information - you guys are the best!
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