Paper Mario Speedrunner Skips Straight To Credits With Help From Ocarina Of Time
A Paper Mario speedrunner who goes by the handle JCog has successfully skipped to the end of the game by executing exploits in Ocarina of Time and swapping out the cartridge.
A Paper Mario speedrunner named JCog has now beaten the game in less than an hour via a new strategy that requires the use of an entirely different game cartridge: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The runner managed this feat on only his second formal attempt, though he streamed for several hours beforehand practicing the strategy.
JCog's time of 54:22 would be a new "any-percent" world record for the game. However, it's not likely to top the official Speedrun.com leaderboards anytime soon, though it may become its own category extension. That's because the strategy requires memory manipulation through the use of a Japanese Ocarina of Time cartridge, which is usually not allowed in vanilla speedruns. As JCog explains in a lengthy Pastebin, the runner uses a series of exploits across both games that allow you to execute save file names as code. These exploits were discovered and developed by several people in the Paper Mario speedrunning community, including Rain, MrCheeze, and others.
With the right setup in Ocarina of Time, the runner can save an assembly instruction in the N64's Expansion Pak. Because Paper Mario ignores the Expansion Pak memory when booting, the runner can execute the save file exploit in Paper Mario that lets the runner update their save file to skip directly to the end credits. When it's all executed correctly, you can beat the game in less than an hour, as Jcog's above video shows.
This new strategy belongs to a category that speedrunners call "arbitrary code execution" (or ACE for short). ACE strategies have proven controversial among both some runners and fans, similar to how runs that rely heavily on glitches and exploits can result in "glitchless" categories for runners who prefer what they deem a more "pure" experience. JCog refers to the strategy as "OOT Stop 'n' Swop Any%," a reference to the cut Banjo-Kazooie feature of the same name, which we recently learned was cancelled due to concerns that the N64 wouldn't be able to store code from one cart to another.
Perhaps the most famous example of an ACE strategy is the Super Mario World credits warp, which allows runners to beat the game in only 45 seconds. Many ACE strategies require pinpoint accuracy that can only be achieved through tool-assisted speedruns (TAS). This makes JCog's achievement all the more impressive.
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