(DISCLAMER : I’m not bilingual at all, don’t be to too demanding)
Speedrunning is all about completing a game the fastest possible. It is a world where mental toughness is required and a scene where any detail matters to eventually become the World Record (WR) holder. In the game we are going to focus on, Mario Kart 64, the deal is a bit different. Indeed, as most of you probably know, this game is a kart racing one with the goal to finish a course the quickest possible. Therefore, it is not the entirety of the game that will be counted but rather each course.
There is a total of 16 courses divided in 2 categories: Singlelap (Slap) and 3 laps(a course lasts most of the time 3 laps). So, there are 32 records Non ShortCut records to obtain in this game (Short Cut records will not be included in this article). Taking this into account, let’s dive into the madness that happened throughout the 2010s regarding this Nintendo 64 game.
The game was released in 1996 but competitive speedrun only started to grain ground in the mid-2000s. It slowly became a bigger deal as Speedrunning soared throughout the last decade.
Therefore, our journey starts on January, 23rd of 2011 when the up and coming German player Matthias Rustemeyer obtained his first record. It was nothing special at the time since numerous players had various records. But it would only take him 2 years to be the person with the most records, a title that had belonged to a player called MJ since 2005 (not the Bulls player)
By November 2013, he held 26 out of 32 records. Since he was not that far off from 32/32 , he decided to go for an achievement that would symbolize perfection in the community, that would cement MK64MR (his pseudo) as the greatest Mario Kart 64 player ever, holding the entire 32 records at the same time. To prevent this event from happening, other top players went on to form a pact called the Anti-1.000 Alliance whose goal was to prevent Matthias from perfection. For instance, VAJ, one of the member of the alliance, mostly known for his shortcut category, beat one of Matthias’ time (only for MK64MR to claim it back the next day).
And it did not work that well at first glance since Matthias reached for the first time ever 30 out of 32 in early 2014. Nevertheless, he was stuck for a very long time at this mark. He was searching for Moo Moo Farm Lap (a 27.82 by TJL, a course specialist) set in March 2013 and DK Jungle Parkway 3lap (a 2.13.08 by Lacey (he had hold it for 10 years up to this point)).
But in May 2014, Daniel Burbank (Dan) joined the alliance. Don’t forget his name. To name but one, Dan was the first member of the alliance that could keep up with Matthias as highlighted by the achievement of MK64MR to ‘only have’ 26/32 records. A ridiculous feat to be happy for some, an incredible accomplishment against probably the most well-known Mario Kart 64 player ever. The thing is, although Dan seemed to be the one with success, other members from the Alliance were starving for WRs.
Matthias quickly gained the 4 records he had lost back and he felt like, if he could edge out the two records aforementioned, he’d have a strong case for 32/32. And by early 2015, he did! (for the DK Jungle Parkway 3lap, at least) 31 for Matthias, 1 to go.
Although, the Anti-1000 Alliance had put up a good fight but, Matthias alone was too much for them.
So, he started doing daily attempts, not 2,3 attempts per day but more so around the thousands without gaining any results. That’s how tough this record was to beat. Matthias had taken several days off for personal reasons but in the morning of his comeback, he saw, as well as the rest of the community, something he could not believe : Another record was beaten. Abney (a resistant from the A1Alliance) had beaten a 3lap record, which brought back Matthias to 30/32. Doubt was starting to lend in the German player’s head… only for a few hours as he gained back this record the very next day. Now, all he had to do was to shave off 0,09 seconds off his Moo Moo Farm Lap record and he would be crowned the ultimate Mario Kart 64 player.
Abney then went off with 4 records in the stretch of 5 days in January 2016. Abney rose to the occasion and stood up to Matthias. This had become a back and fourth battle between keeping his records intact and edging out TJL’s record. Usually, Matthias takes a break around summer time which obviously leads ground for the Alliance. As the months went on, Matthias’ total reached 24, his lowest in 3 years. But on Halloween’s night 2016, history was made. It took the weeks prior for the German legend to gain back his 31 records and on this night, neither Abney nor Dan were online. A golden opportunity for a massive day in the speedrunning community. Unfortunately, Lacey (as you probably guess, another member) saved the day with yet Another record on DK Jungle Parkway 3lap.
The loop is back again: by November 2017, Matthias’ total had reached 21. It was Dan who rose up to the occasion. He possessed 10 records by this point and questions were starting to pop up quicker than before, was Matthias Rustemeyer that guy, was he the person who would take Mario Kart 64 to new heights? Some even started to wonder, wasn’t the guy Dan ? After all, he had an entire crew behind him, his level of play was soaring, evidenced by the two numbers his total possessed.
Although these concerns did not fly away right away, 11/27/17 marked a memorable modification for the grown man who started playing in the previous century : Matthias tied TJL’s legendary 27’82. The biggest burden of his quest was gone, the one record he had been unable to hold had become a bad nightmare. Now, he stood at 22/32 and was ready to crush any competition. And by the beginning of 2018, he was right back at 31/32. This was starting to be inevitable, Matthias would be 32 out of 32 somewhere along the road. Only remained this 3lap records (DK Jungle Parkway). So Matthias grinded it out and got an incredible 2.12.24 that was world record had it been done the day before since Dan got a staggering 2.12.16. 24 hours away from the dream of a lifetime…
But it wasn’t over at all, on the contrary, it gave Matthias a bresh of fresh air and hope that he could get it done. 7 times had Matthias been at 31/32 and 6 times he had not been able to pull this off. Was the seventh the good one? Well, it got off to a pretty good start as he gained 0.02 seconds off his Personal Best (PB), not enough for the WR but enough to keep his motivation intact. But on France’s labour day (May the 1st), disaster struck for MK64MR, as the single lap of DK Jungle Parkway was also not his anymore. Zoran, yet another member of the Alliance, took it. This put him right back at 30 out of 32. Despite getting extremely close, he never pulled it off. So he stopped trying. 7 miss were too much to handle. He couldn’t get over that hump of 32 out of 32. Achievements like these don’t come that often and I guess not pulling it off wouldn’t ruined his life anyway. So even for him, the GOAT OF MK64, holding every record was too big of a task … only beat the 3lap record by half a second. You should know by now that Matthias Rustemeyer must not be doubted. There we go again, 31/32 for the eight time.
This was the time to make one last push for history.
One record left, the DK Jungle Parkway lap sitting at 42’’07 whilst MK64MR sat at 42’’16 . Quick note aside, at the end of this lap, there is a slope you must climb to reach the finish line (deem the cave jump) and to do just that, a mushroom is needed. It is actually more complicated that it seems as if you go too far on the left, your kart tumbles as the hill is too steep and the run is over and if you go too far to the right, you won’t be fast enough.
With that being said, the thousands of daily attempts he had produced, all the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices he had to show had to be enough for 32/32. The end of November 2018 saw Matthias getting closer and closer to the record as reached 42’’11 then 42’’10, 1 frame away from utter dominance.
November 26th of 2018 was it (almost 1 year to date to the day he tied TJL). It was the D-DAY, the day that his place on the throne wouldn’t ever be questioned. An important point to notice is that right before the slope, there is a bridge. This was Matthias’ landmark. This try, and for the first time, he was ahead of Zoran by 0.04. Just imagine the pressure he had to go through, all eyes of the speedrunning community would one day see this run, be it a success or a failure. He crossed the bridge without any issue but climbing the slope would be different. Only a few seconds separated him from Perfection by this time. Even if he had done this trick thousands of times, this time would be the hardest. When one works so hard for something and is so close to getting it, an astounding amount of pressure starts to take control and makes one body shiver so much one can barely have the control. As he went for the climb for his life, he did eventually tumble in the cave because he was half the width of the car too left. A dream crushing defeat… Had he not tumbled, it would have been at the very least tied with Zoran.
For five years, Matthias had this quest of 32 out of 32. It came down to a few tiny pixels too much on the left. This ended up being the difference between perhaps the greatest achievement in MarioKart speedrunning history and another missed opportunity… Life can be rude sometimes.
And the worst was yet to come
To narrate a personal story (I discover this video at the end of my second year of preparatory class and couldn’t help but feel for Matthias in July 2021. Later this summer, news broke out on August,8th of 2021, one player had finally gotten 32/32. I was like, great for Matthias but no, it was actually Daniel Burbank known as DAN). The thing is, Matthias was beloved by his peers for how fair-play he had remained during his near decade long grind. But Daniel Burbank did a thing so horrendous some had the idea to remove the title from him : he posted 15 records at once. This meant Matthias couldn’t chase them as Dan’s total directly went from 17 to 32. Matthias, the ultimate loyal player, had felt betrayed by a former friend. This would lead just 5 days after to the retirement of one of the greatest the speedrunning scene had ever scene, Matthias Rustemeyer because he « completely lost the key value to go on: fun”
Daniel Burbank would apologize a few days after this event, but the damage had been done. Rustemeyer refused to congratulate Dan over the 32/32 achievement and instead quoted this on his twitter account “Somme people will call me a bas loser when I refuse to congratulate, but Dan lost all my respect last year. And, for me: Sportsmanship > Gamesmanship” He (Dan) feared the fait battle and snaked to the top so that I couldn’t defend properly, and although he became a very string competitor, it’s a loss”
Fast forward as the making of this article (the end of 2022), MR actually came back and now holds 20 records whilst Dan has 16 (8 ties in total).
Props to these videos from the story :
If you’re still here, thank you and enjoy 2023 with FullGames!