SGDQ 2022: The Mario Sunshine Run That Went Wrong

Fanbyte posted a short piece about a run of Super Mario Sunshine at SGDQ 2022 that went wrong. The world-record holder, about 45 minutes in, made three consecutive mistakes on one of it’s “secret” levels, which are unforgiving tests of 3D platforming skill, all done without FLUDD, making them substantially more difficult.

Speedrunners playing Super Mario Sunshine, seeking to avoid the incessant prompts to save progress, in total adding about about 336 times 3 seconds to the time, usually play without a memory card inserted. But this removes an important safety net: without saving, if the player runs out of lives, the whole game could be lost, and that’s what happened to SB_Runs. Super Mario Sunshine is not a game that gives you a lot of extra lives if you aren’t going away for them, and the coin-star portion of the game, which can earn some extra lives, is usually saved until later.

I watched this live as it happened, and let me tell you, the pathos was thick in the air. Here is the run, cued up to just before the fatal moment:

SB_Runs rallied well, gamely starting over. There wasn’t enough time scheduled to finish, but he did manage to build back up to nearly 100 of the game’s 120 Shines before time ran out, and the crowd, both in the room at at home, cheered him on, offering to match every Shine he could earn with a donation to Doctors Without Borders.

But it’s an important reminder. It’s easy to watch speedruns, especially in a marathon setting, and assume that they’re all as casual as the runners make them look. Every so often though, the mask falls off, and the immense difficulty of what they’re doing shows through.

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