RTA Guide/Movement Guide
This is a guide for moving Mario in RTA speedruns. It will help you get familiar with common terminology for movement options and discuss the mechanics associated with them. Note that these various movement options can be chained together to create more complex movement options. For example, doing a triple jump followed by a wallkick is called a "triple jump wallkick".
SeanRaider's Video covers movement options very well and also has an input display to help visualize everything. It provides a solid foundation that can be build on with the movement options listed below.
Sean Raider Movement Guide
Basic Movement Options
- Single Jump - Press A to single jump. How long you hold A for determines how long Mario jumps in the air for until he reaches his max height. The max height is also proportional to Mario's horizontal speed.
- Double Jump - Upon landing from a single jump, kick, sideflip, or walking off of a ledge, press A when Mario makes contact with the ground to double jump. This jump gives Mario more height than a single jump. Similar to a single jump, how long you hold A for after the double jump will make Mario jump higher until he reaches the max height.
- Triple Jump - Upon landing from a double jump, press A when Mario makes contact with the ground to triple jump. You must have forward momentum to triple jump. You cannot ledgegrab out of a triple jump. Unlike single and double jumps, triple jumps are always the same height.
- Long Jump - When Mario is moving, press Z followed by A to long jump.
- Sideflip - When Mario has momentum in a direction, flick the stick in the opposite direction to make Mario start turning in the opposite direction. While Mario is in this turning state, you can perform a sideflip into any direction you hold by pressing A.
- Backflip - While standing still, press Z followed by A to backflip. This technique has very few applications in an RTA run. The most common use is on the Advanced CCM Wallkicks Will Work strategy.
- Walljump/Wallkick - You must have some momentum towards a wall and be within a range of angles to perform a wallkick. When you get close to the wall, press A to wallkick. There are 5 frames in which Mario is able to wallkick. Each wallkick frame is slightly different. The most distinct wallkick to get is a first-frame wallkick (aka firsty/firstie) where Mario will gain speed out of the wallkick. On 2nd through 5th-frame wallkicks Mario loses some height each frame.
- Punch - When standing on the ground, press B to punch.
- Kick (on ground) - When standing on the ground with the A button pressed, press B to do a kick.
- Kick (in air) - When in the air with no little to no forward momentum, press B to kick.
- Dive - When grounded or in the air with a lot of forward momentum, press B to dive. Being able to perform a kick or dive in specific parts of the game requires some effort. A common point of failure among beginner runners is trying to do double jump kicks in Bowser in the Sky. This is great movement to practice to get a feel for how to kick versus how to dive.
- Rollout - When Mario is in the dive animation and hits the floor, you can press either A or B to roll out of the dive. Many players will slide their finger from A to B (for two chances) to try and make the rollout dustless. When doing long jumps, dive rollouts, and slidekick rollouts you have a large window to hit the next movement. If you do it on the first frame, no dust will be generated under Mario, which is why it is called dustless. Mario does not lose any speed with dustless movements. If you roll out over an edge, Mario will be in a state where he does not take damage, and cannot ledgegrab, kick, wallkick, or groundpound.
- Slidekick - When Mario has forward momentum, press Z followed by B to perform a slidekick. Slidekicks have the property of quick startup, so it is preferred in very specific instances. One common spot is when going to talk to the penguin inside the CCM slide area.
- Groundpound - When Mario is in the air as a result of jumping or running off of a ledge, you can hit Z to groundpound. It is very common to groundpound under stars, since it extends Mario's hitbox upwards and he falls down faster after grabbing the star. The same thing applies to breaking boxes to grab stars. If you hit A+Z on the same frame while grounded, Mario will groundpound. Mistakes during a run often occur as a result of trying to long jump and instead groundpounding.
- Ledge Grab - Mario can grab a ledge out of any state with 3 exceptions. If you rollout, the state Mario is in until he lands on the ground cannot ledgegrab. If you are on a slope Mario can stand on, but not kick, he will not be able to ledgegrab. You cannot ledgegrab out of a triple jump. This is why players often chain a triple jump with a wallkick so they can ledgegrab.
- Swimming - When swimming, you press A to initiate another swim. To swim optimally, there are audio and visual cues most players use. If you watch any runner swim, you will pick up on those cues and then can determine what works best for you.
- Flying - To initiate a fly, Mario must have on a Wing Cap and perform a triple jump. This triple jump is unique, since it can be done in place, whereas a regular triple jump cannot. A good general practice while flying is to try and make smooth parabolic arcs to retain your speed. A special note on the wing cap - if you are falling (not in a flying state) with the wing cap on, you can hold A to fall slower.
Intermediate/Advanced Movement Options
- Immediate Jumps on slopes - When you are on a slope, you can hold Z and instantly jump or jumpdive much faster than if you were not. This is useful for Whomp's Fortress 100 Coin, Lethal Lava Land movement, and Tall Tall Mountain reds.
- Spinning in Air - When Mario bounces off a Spindrift or Fly Guy, or gets sucked into a tornado in Shifting Sand Land, he enters a twirling state. While in this state, you can hold A to make Mario spin faster and cover more ground as he descends. When landing on an enemy (such as the Talons star in SSL), holding neutral while bouncing conserves your bounce speed and direction until you move the stick.
- Pole Grab - When you grab the bottom of a pole, Mario will try to catch it but fail most of the time. If you mash B, he will keep trying to regrab the pole instead of falling off of it. You will see this a lot when runners try to do Lakitu Bounce or grab the pole in Bowser in the Sky Reds.
- Quick Turn - When holding neutral while landing (e.g. from a rollout), Mario will lose all momentum and perform a quick-stop animation. By inputting a direction on the stick during this quick-stop animation, Mario will begin to move, cancelling the quick-stop animation. Once Mario's speed returns to zero, the next directional input will be a quick turn, and Mario will instantly face the direction you input.
- Speedkick - This is probably the most difficult movement option in the game. At a high level, you speedkick to maintain your speed and get a specific amount of spacing into some other movement option like a triple jump wallkick or a jump dive. To do a speedkick, Mario must be moving. Before he makes contact with the ground, you must already be holding A and the control stick must be slightly tilted in the direction you want to speedkick. If you played any smash game before, its similar to performing tilts instead of smash attacks. Then, when Mario hits the ground, hit B to speedkick. Check out the videos below for more on speedkicks.
Drogie Speedkick Guide
Yale Speedkick Guide
Though it may seem unintuitive at first, using different camera angles can be very helpful for a wide variety of movement throughout the game. Manipulating the camera is also a key part of lag reduction. Play around with the camera modes and see what works best. When watching the videos on this site, make sure to pay attention to the cameras that are being used. It is not always easy to implement right when you start learning, but it is good to be aware of them.
- Lakitu Cam - Lakitu cam has fixed rotations in most stages. The clearest example of this is in Bowser secret stages, which are widely open and Lakitu can move freely. This is very useful to perform specific movements or tricks in the game because you can guarantee the same angle every time. In other stages, like Bob-Omb Battlefield, Lakitu cam acts more unpredictably due to the camera colliding with walls as you move around with Mario. If you double tap the camera change button, the camera refocuses at the original distance from Mario. When falling large distances, this is useful to immediately get a nice camera again instead of waiting for it to catch up to Mario. A common example of this is in CCM 100 coins, when you intentionally fall to the bottom of the stage.
- Mario Cam - Mario cam is best described as directly following behind Mario. When using Mario Cam, it is most often used in the C-down version. In places where Lakitu cam fails to turn or follow well, Mario Cam is often used to see better. Mario Cam is also very helpful for setting specific angles upon stage entry. Some common stars to use this for are at the start of CCM 100 to grab the first red and LLL to enter the volcano.
- Castle Cam - For lack of a better term, the camera gets fixed to certain viewpoints for some areas. Most notably, inside the castle lobby and inside the mansion for Big Boo's Haunt. In these areas, you can switch between Lakitu Cam and Mario cam, but lose the functionality of using the C-down versions of these. In BBH however, if you enter the mansion in Mario Cam C-down, that camera will persist as long as you do not switch back to Lakitu Cam (This is useful for a number of stars in BBH). This is not an option for the lobby, since when you enter, you are changing loading zones.
- Underwater Cam - When swimming, the camera will always follow behind Mario. The only difference between Mario cam and Lakitu cam for swimming is how close the camera is to Mario. If you need to use specific cameras while swimming (to lag reduce or swim through rings), you have to hold the C-button for the direction you want the camera to pan for as long as you need it. When you let go, it will pan back to directly behind Mario. Some players prefer to switch to a claw grip on their controller for swimming to make this easier.
Tricks VS Movements
While it's not always clear cut to distinguish what constitutes a trick and what constitutes movement, we have a common saying in the community. "Tricks save seconds, movement saves minutes." Basically, if you want to optimize your personal best quickly, sinking time into how Mario moves and interacts with different parts of stages will help you gain strong fundamentals. If you focus on specific tricks (pillarless, lavaboost, lakitu bounce, etc,) the time you spend learning those stars does not really improve your game as a whole. That being said, there are several runners who jumped in the deep end (reset over every failed trick until they became consistent) and still made it to the top. Pick what best works for you and make sure you are having fun with the game.