There may be no better speedrunning showcase than watching someone complete the Super Marihour Challenge.
The Super Marihour is a speedrunning category that involves beating six Mario games (Super Mario Bros, The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario 64) in under an hour. All the games must be beaten in the order of release.
The category was created on July 10th, 2015 by the speedrunner Darbian, and he became the first player to successfully complete the challenge in June 2016. Since then, only three other players have completed the Marihour: Kosmic, LackAttack24 and PixelPerfectRuns.
What’s most interesting about this exclusive list is that Darbian, LackAttack and Kosmic are longtime speedrunners with a mastery over multiple games. PixelPerfectRuns, however, had never done a speedrun for any of the six Mario games in the challenge; and yet 10 months after setting out to complete the challenge, he became the fourth player to clear the Marihour on May 5th, 2020.
That still wasn’t enough for him.
“I wanted the world record.” PixelPerfectRuns told ggn00b in an interview.
Originally a Super Mario Odyssey speedrunner, Pixel made the decision to pursue the Marihour challenge in late 2019. With no background experience in the six featured Mario titles, he was forced to learn everything from the ground up.
“When I first got into the Marihour, I learned it game by game; I didn’t want to switch between games. The thing about the Marihour is, aside from Super Mario Bros. and [The Lost Levels], all the other games have different physics. So on top of learning all of the difficult speedrunning tricks, just getting used to the physics of the various games is one of the hardest parts.”
“It was really tough because I would learn one game and think “Okay, I’m happy with this game” and then move on to a different game. And after a bit I would go back to the first game and I would suck at it, I would fail so hard.”
Improvement came quickly, and the first time that Pixel did all six games in a run, he ended up with a time of 1 hour and 22 minutes. The next day, he beat that time by 10 minutes.
In total, it took him around 10 months to learn all six games and successfully complete the Marihour; not a small feat, considering how hard it is to learn one game in speedrunning, let alone six.
Performing difficult tricks and playing games at a consistently high level takes a ton of practice; and that’s before adding in the pressure of being on record pace, or streaming runs for an audience. While most viewers only see the more polished attempts, Pixel is quick to point out the amount of work that goes into being a good speedrunner.
“I don’t think people realize just how much practice goes into it; you might see your favorite speedrunner stream for four hours and mess up a few tricks. You’ll think nothing of it. What you don’t see is the eight hours that speedrunner spent off stream constantly practicing those tricks.”
Despite beating the Marihour on May 5th, Pixel still yearned for that world record; he would have to beat a time of 56 minutes and 17 seconds, set by Darbian four years prior. Pixel went through Darbian’s run and picked out spots where he could employ faster strategies to get a leg up on Darbian’s time.
“I knew if I wanted to take the record from Darbian, I needed to do some tricks that he doesn’t go for, because he made maybe three major mistakes in his whole run.”
It wouldn’t be too long a wait; Pixel’s practice paid off when he achieved the world record on September 4th, 2020 with a time of 56 minutes and 11 seconds.
“The craziest thing about my world record run is that it was my first run of the day; I made some mistakes but I didn’t really have expectations. So I just kept doing the run.”
“I’m glad I did.” Pixel says with a laugh.
A large struggle as a speedrunner is deciding which tricks and strategies are fastest versus how difficult they are to pull off. Darbian once said during a speedrun that “the strat that works is better than the strat that’s fastest.”
With only one hour to beat six games, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for playing it safe, yet Pixel continues to make these decisions in all of his runs. While Pixel is ecstatic about finally claiming the Marihour record, he recognizes that there is room for improvement.
“Part of the reason I’m not completely happy about my Marihour world record is there are so many places that have tricks that I want to go for but I’m either nervous or I don’t trust myself.”
He continues to grind to improve his world record while also working on a video that showcases the Super Marihour Challenge in full; how it came to be, the history of the category, the players who have completed it, as well as a look at each individual game. It will be a love letter to the category, as well as a potential source of inspiration for speedrunners to give it a shot themselves.
“The hope with this video is to inform people about this challenge, and hopefully get some people involved with it. I’m making it so it’s accessible to people who only have a bit of knowledge about speedrunning.”
When it comes to people new to speedrunning asking for advice, Pixel says it’s important to pick a game that you really enjoy…but not necessarily one that you love.
“I think that if you choose to speedrun a game, you’re sacrificing the ability to play that game casually ever again. You want to pick a game that you can grind hard for hours and hours.”
“You also want to make sure you pick a game that has a good length and isn’t too difficult. It’s important to think about the tricks in any particular game: if you start off with the 1-Star category in Super Mario 64, you’ll think that you hate speedrunning because of how difficult the tricks are. So it’s about finding that balance.”
For now, PixelPerfectRuns will continue to stream Marihour runs to improve his record and work on his video talking about the Marihour at length. Eventually, Pixel would like to focus on each of the six individual Mario games to improve his personal best times in each game. But that comes after he gets a time under 56 minutes in the Marihour.
“I don’t think my record will be beaten anytime soon.”
To see the full video interview with PixelPerfectRuns, click here.