A Challenge is a self-imposed restriction of performing certain tasks, making the completion of the game harder. Restrictions include the use of a certain button (the A Button, for example), the use of cannons, collecting coins, and the use of caps, among others.

Often, these challenges lead to the discovery of glitches, while some must be utilized to make up for a loss of a certain function. For example, restricting the A button forces Mario to use techniques such as frame-walking, enemy manipulation, and cloning to complete certain tasks. Collecting the 5 secrets in Bob-omb Battlefield coinless requires making a Premature Clone of the top coin and landing at the 30-unit high area to collect the secret without interacting with the center coin.

UBER Challenge

Main article: UBER Challenge

The UBER Challenge forbids any coins and collectibles (except chests), switches, cannons, teleporting, caps, opening boxes (except for star boxes), damage (except falling), and activating movable platforms. Additionally, enemies must not be interacted with (including Lakitu, but excluding Bowser and MIPS). The challenge was created by Mario64Masters. The name of the UBER Challenge was borrowed from Manocheese's Über Challenge for Ocarina of Time.

There are 39 stars that can be collected RTA, and 46 stars are possible in a TAS run.

Pacifist Challenge

Main article: Pacifist Challenge

The Pacifist Challenge forbids any combat with enemies except for Bowser. Any actions that do not result in killing an enemy are allowed. The number of stars that can be collected is 98 glitchless, and 101 for TAS runs[1]. In a full game run, however, killing the Boo to enter Big Boo's Haunt is considered nonpacifist, cutting off the available 2 stars, and therefore the actual number of stars that can be collected is 96 glitchless and 99 with TAS.

The following stars cannot be collected in the RTA pacifist run.

  • BoB (2): Big Bob-omb on the Summit (enemy), Footrace with Koopa The Quick (requires the previous star)
  • WF (2): Chip Off Whomp's Block (enemy), To the Top of the Fortress (requires the previous star)
  • BBH (7): All stars are cut off due to entering the course requiring killing a Boo.
    • If entering the stage is allowed, then only two stars (Secret of the Haunted Books and Seek the 8 Red Coins) can be collected.
  • HMC (1): HMC 100 coins (only 92 non-enemy coins)
  • LLL (2): Boil the Big Bully (enemy), Bully the Bullies (enemy)
  • SSL (1): Stand Tall on the Four Pillars (enemy)
  • SL (1): Chill with the Bully (enemy),
  • THI (4): Pluck the Piranha Flower (enemy), Rematch with Koopa the Quick (requiring Star 1), Make Wiggler Squirm (enemy), THI 100 coins (infinite coin glitch requires killing Piranhas)

The following stars can be circumvented if glitches or TAS strategies are allowed:

  • WF - Blast Away the Wall: A wall clip can be performed to reach the star cannonless.
  • SSL - SSL 100 coins: 100 coins can be collected using infinite coin glitch, done by disappearing cork box glitch in the course. 86 non-enemy coins otherwise.
  • SL - SL 100 coins: 100 coins can be collected with an infinite coin glitch, by activating Time Stop from the snowman and repeatedly collecting a nearby coin. 58 non-enemy coins otherwise.

A Button Challenge

Main article: A Button Challenge

The A Button Challenge aims to reduce the use of A Button in courses, first documented in Curtis Bright's website. Since then, many techniques are applied in an attempt to bring down the A Press count, with pannenkoek2012 being the biggest contributor to the challenge.

There are 98 stars that can be collected on a full game basis without the A Button using TAS. A 120-star run of the game can be completed in 13.

Coinless Challenge

The Coinless Challenge's only rule is that the player cannot collect any coins. Specifically, no yellow, red, or blue coins can be collected. Techniques where Mario's coin score is saved as 0 coins by collecting multiples of 256, or pause buffering to prevent the coin counter from going up, are not allowed.

Mario is able to collect 81 stars in a full game run, and 82 stars on a single star basis. The remaining 38 stars require collecting coins and are therefore impossible.

Cannonless Challenge

In the Cannonless Challenge, entering any cannons is forbidden. As it turns out, all 120 stars can be collected cannonless. The challenge was completed on 23 July 2018 by sm64expert, when he collected the Wing Mario Over the Rainbow Red Coin Star.[2]

Capless/Cannonless Challenge

To qualify as capless, Mario cannot use any special caps except the cap effects obtained from the start of a course. To qualify as cannonless, Mario cannot use any cannons.

Using the capless and cannonless ruleset from the UBER Challenge, every star except for one (Wing Mario Over the Rainbow Red Coin Star) can be collected, resulting 119 stars that can be collected.

The most difficult stars to collect include:

  • BoB - Shoot to the Island in the Sky, 100 Coins, Find the 8 Red Coins: Going to the island can be done by long jumping from the top of the mountain.
  • SSL - Free Flying for 8 Red Coins: Tornadoes, Fly Guys, and Klepto can help Mario collect the 4 aerial coins without the wing cap.
  • Vanish Cap under the Moat: The cage can be reached by performing a side flip to a wall kick, removing the need of using a vanish cap.

CCC Challenge

Main article: CCC Challenge

The CCC Challenge combines Coinless with Capless/Cannonless. The restriction is extremely heavy, leaving very few stars that can be collected, as some of them inadvertently collect coins during the process.

Mario is able to collect 81 stars in a full game run, and 82 stars on a single star basis. While this is the same number of stars collectible as Coinless Challenge, the workarounds are much harder to achieve.

No Buttons Allowed/Buttonless Challenge

Main article: No Buttons Allowed Challenge

The No Buttons Allowed Challenge forbids the use of A, B, Z, Start, L, R, and (to some extent) C buttons. This challenge was created by pannenkoek2012 to push the game to its limits.

The C buttons are only allowed when they only affect the camera and don't affect actual gameplay. For example, the C^ Hyperspeed glitch is not allowed.

The challenge is more difficult than simply restricting the A button, since this disables many maneuvering options that Mario can use, such as jumping, diving, sliding, and more. The challenge cannot be done as a full game run as there is in-game text that cannot be advanced without the use of buttons.

There are only 34 stars that can be collected, many of which require complicated strategies.[3]

ABZ Challenge

Main article: ABZ Button Challenge

The ABZ Challenge is similar to Buttonless, but instead of restricting all buttons only restricts the three primary buttons, A B and Z. Instead of requiring that they don't be used at all, it allows simply using the minimum number of buttons possible.

It was as an alternative to the Buttonless Challenge, since the Buttonless Challenge did not allow the start button, and consequently did not allow changing languages on PAL version to minimize text box button presses.

Low Doors Challenge

In the Low Doors Challenge, the game must be beaten while opening as few doors as possible. A door is considered used when the door opening cutscene occurs. Doors are skipped using BLJs and HSWKs, pause exiting, and routing to avoid moving between castle floors unnecessarily.

Any% needs to open only 2 doors to complete: one door to enter the basement (using either the key door or moat door), and one door to enter the upper floors.

120 Stars needs to open 4 doors to complete: one to enter the basement (using either the key door or moat door), one to enter the upper floors, one to enter the courtyard for BBH, and one to exit the CCM slide level through the cabin. Unconfirmed door skips exist in BBH, HMC, and skipping the door to the endless stairs using HSWKs. The 50 star door stairs BLJ cannot be used for the latter, as Mario needs to stop at the 3rd floor to get all stars, and cannot pause exit out from the 3rd floor.

No Joystick Allowed Challenge

Main article: No Joystick Allowed Challenge

The No Joystick Allowed Challenge forbids the use of Joystick inputs, considered to be the inverse of No Buttons Allowed Challenge.

As the joystick provides the vital function for Mario to change directions and run, the challenge takes route planning to the extreme. The challenge can only be done on a single star basis and not a full game run due to absurd limitations.

There are only 55 stars that can be collected, many of which require complicated strategies.

A related challenge is the Low Joystick Magnitude Challenge, in which the joystick is allowed but the magnitude of the joystick is to be minimized. The value to be minimized can be either the largest joystick magnitude needed in a run or segment, or the total magnitude value integrated over the whole run.

Floor is Lava Challenge

The Floor is Lava Challenge disallows standing on floors that aren't part of objects. It was created by Timestoppa.

Joke Challenges

Some challenges have been created as jokes, and then actually been executed, such as Plush% (collecting specific stars to make the STROOP file menu spell out "PLUSH").

Another joke challenge: "prove for as many actions as possible that they can transition into Eaten By Bubba in vanilla".[4]

Other challenges

The Same Input Challenge is a challenge where the goal is to collect as many stars as possible using the same sequence of inputs. Many other smaller challenges exist, with the goal not always being to collect a star. See Unsolved Single-Goal Challenges for single-goal challenges that have not been solved.