Super Mario 64's Most Famous Glitch: A Complete Overview

Super Mario 64 is a game with a lot of tricks and secrets, but it was actually a glitch that became its most famous tactic. Players have been picking the game apart for years, and almost every secret it has to offer has been exposed. With all that has been found, it is the backwards long jump glitch that is easily the most famous unintentional mechanic.

The speedrunning community of Super Mario 64 has been going strong for more than two decades after the game's release. It is largely thanks to this community that the backwards long jump, or BLJ, has been extensively documented. While it does not have a lot of uses in typical play, the glitchy nature of the move allows the player to break the game in unexpected ways. The BLJ is almost to the level of Pokémon Red and Blue's Missingno glitch in terms of famous Nintendo glitches. It is safe to say that Super Mario 64 and the community around it would be quite different if the backwards long jump did not exist.

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The full story of the backwards long jump is one of the more unusual chapters in the history of any major video game. However strange it may be, understanding the glitch and the effect that it has had on the game and the community is an interesting bit of history to uncover. The backwards long jump way be Mario's greatest glitch, and many players would likely agree.

How To Do Super Mario 64's Backwards Long Jump

Mario jumping in Super Mario 64. There is also plenty of trees in the background

Super Mario 64 gave Mario a much bigger moveset than previous games, and one of these moves was the long jump. Designed to help Mario clear larger-than-average jumps, the long jump saw a lot of use in all of Super Mario 64's worlds. It was a simple move, requiring the player to run, crouch, and jump to do it. Although the regular long jump is easy enough, the backwards long jump requires a few extra steps.

Mario can't actually walk backwards in Super Mario 64, so the player would need to start holding the control stick backwards once Mario leaves the ground. The player should see him halt forward momentum, and even move a bit backwards in the air. This is only the beginning of the trick, though. The player must keep jumping with the proper rhythm, and it they perform the trick properly, Mario should jump without leaving the ground. At this point, by mashing the jump button, they can sent Mario flying backwards at increasingly high speeds the longer the player can keep it up. While not as obviously strong as the glitch that lets players start BOTW with the Bow of Light, the effect is still very impressive.

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This is born from an odd manipulation of Super Mario 64's physics, and it is not an easy trick to learn. Speedrunners, on the other hand, have put plenty of time into mastering the backwards long jump, to the point that they can perform it almost on command. Performing the BLJ itself isn't the impressive part of the glitch, but rather the things that players can do with it.

The True Power Of Super Mario 64's Backwards Long Jump

Super Mario 64 PC Port Nintendo Takedown

The speed that Mario can accumulate through using the BLJ in Super Mario 64 is impressive, but its use seems a bit questionable on the surface. Launching Mario backward isn't a move that would have a lot of applications. Despite that, it winds up being the most useful tactic in the game by a wide margin due to an unexpected ability.

The backwards long jump's strongest use requires more precision than getting on the roof in Super Mario 64. If the player can maneuver Mario into a position that allows it, he can build up speed until he becomes fast enough to momentarily corrupt the game's physics. In addition to launching Mario backward, this can also let him phase through walls if performed properly. This aspect of the glitch has the potential to break the game, because it can also be used in Peach's castle to enter new areas while ignoring star and key requirements. It even works on the endless staircase right before the final Bowser level.

Any glitch than can let players skip portions of a game is sure to receive plenty of attention. The backwards long jump not only opened several shortcuts, but it made it possible to beat the game in only a matter of minutes. It's a feat on the level of Yoshi's Story's difficult melon challenge in terms of skill. A glitch with such power is guaranteed to encourage people to try to pull it off, and the BLJ managed to essentially become a must-learn tactic for high-level players.

The Speedrunning Legacy Of Super Mario 64's Backwards Long Jump

super-mario-64-backwards-long-jump

The backwards long jump's ability to let Mario skip entire sections of the game naturally made it a staple tool for speedrunners. In fact, the mere existence of the BLJ led to the creation of multiple new speedrunning categories in Super Mario 64. Learning to master the BLJ is a necessity to compete in any of these categories, proving the importance of the glitch in the community.

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Skipping large chunks of the game by using the backwards long jump to bypass doors and go straight to the Bowser stages are the biggest part of these speedrun categories. Since Bowser can still ruin a Mario 64 speedrun, in addition to the difficulty of the trick itself, there is still plenty of difficulty involved in these runs. Most impressive among these categories would be the 0 and 1-star runs, which use a series of backwards long jumps to skip every level aside from the Bowser stages. While the end result of one of these runs is quite quick to watch, that doesn't take into account the time the runner had to put into mastering the backwards long jump and optimizing their route. However, all of that time is worth being able to breeze through the game far faster than the developers intended.

Speedrunners have been working for years to optimize every speedrun route, including those involving the BLJ. With The Last Of Us: Part 1's speedrun mode acknowledging the hobby, even more players could get involved. Even though 0 and 1-star playthroughs are much shorter, the methods involved require a lot of precision, largely hinging on how efficiently the player can pull off the BLJ. It is safe to say that Super Mario 64's speedrun community would not be what it is without the backwards long jump.

The backwards long jump ended up being a lot more consequential than most video game glitches. It not only provided a way for players to beat the game more quickly, but it led to a community of players optimizing the glitch to perform it as best they can. Super Mario 64 is a legendary title, and the backwards long jump is an interesting piece of that legacy.

2022-10-01T15:01:31.000Z

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