This Saturday (23 January, 2021), at 9PM PST, a bunch of dedicated speedrunners are going to embark on a marathon so massive, so brutal and so downright crazy that only 13 people have ever submitted a time to the leaderboards. Countless people have tried, yet only a few have really conquered the infamous 301%.
British developers Rare released Banjo Kazooie in 1998, followed it up with Donkey Kong 64 in 1999, and finally released Banjo Tooie in 2000. These three games took the collect-a-thon genre to the extremes, tasking the player with a whole lot to do and a whole lot of space to do it in. Donkey Kong 64 has over 3,800 collectables all up, which should tell you all you need to know about how much of a task these games can be to complete.
As of this writing, the speedrun world records for maximum percent in each game are:
- 1 hour, 58 minutes, 34 seconds in Banjo Kazooie (By Azmi)
- 5 hours, 16 minutes, 05 seconds for Donkey Kong 64 (By Connor75)
- 4 hours, 17 minutes, 30 seconds for Banjo Tooie (by Pjii)
Which, if you take the time to watch them, you’ll see are incredibly complicated and fascinating runs done by players who have dedicated countless hours into perfecting routes, optimizing movement and discovering alternative ways to collect items.
Each of the runs individually takes a lot of patience and effort to do, so what kind of person would put them all together and attempt to do them all in one sitting? Well, it turns out that this weekend, there’s going to be eight people taking part in such an event. They are going to race to see who can complete the 301% the fastest.
So how did all this come about?
The origins of the 301% come from speedrunners Konditioner and 2dos, who decided in 2015 that the similarly insane Super Mario 602 speedrun (during which one plays Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and both Super Mario Galaxy games) concept could be brought into their communities. A marathon run that would bring together three speedrunning communities who enjoy similar games by the same developer into one bigger and tighter community. Said community is thriving to this day.
Generally, there has always been overlap between the communities from the three games, so it’s only natural that they’d want to keep each other as healthy and happy as possible. As a result, leaders from all three groups have gone out of their way to write guides to help people of all games get motivated and to assist with their transition from one speedrun to the next. So obviously, the seeds had already been planted for a mega run of epic proportions.
A great example of such a crossover is the relatively new Donkey Kong 64 speedrunner, GeneralToucans. He’s a fantastic player who has quickly risen up the ranks of the Donkey Kong 64 101% leaderboards, despite only really getting into the game as a result of the COVID pandemic shutting down other things that were keeping him busy. Using the guides posted by the Banjo Tooie community, he nearly broke the sub 5 hour barrier in just 2 weeks!
What are the rules to make sure the playing field is equal?
In the early days of the run, the time spent between games was usually entirely spent fumbling around while attempting to change from one game to the next. Thankfully, the rules have changed a little bit to allow a bit of leeway. Between each game, the players have 10 minutes to get ready for the next phase. This means there’s time to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, do some stretches, and load up the next game. The break times are deducted from the run at the end, meaning there’s no need to rush through, so long as the players don’t go over the 10 minutes.
The game order for the average 301% run on the leaderboards is generally up to the runner, as seen with Connor75 opting to play Banjo Tooie at the end of his last run, giving him more unskippable cutscene time to eat a meal.
However, during a race all of the runners tend to follow a specific order. Banjo Kazooie comes first, followed by Banjo Tooie in the middle and Donkey Kong 64 as the epic conclusion to the proceedings.
Aside from those two things, all the rules from each individual speedrun applies.
Could we see a world record on Saturday?
It’s definitely a possibility. In fact, I’d wager it’s reasonably likely, considering who is in the race. While the very first world record holder, Konditioner, is not taking part in this race, both the former world record holders and the current world record holder are going to be involved (more on them later), and the last world record was set only 2 weeks ago!
The speedrun is extremely competitive, with as many as 5 different runners being within around half an hour of each other on the leaderboards for what is generally a 12-13 hour race. Of those 5 competitors, 4 are taking part in the big race this weekend, but I wouldn’t sleep on the underdogs either (I’d never bet against SecretHumorMan, personally), all it takes is a bit of RNG and some tight play to see a new champion crowned.
So why should you watch this?
You’re gonna see three of the greatest platformers of all time played by some of the people who know how to play them the best. You’re gonna get hit with nostalgia as you remember how it felt to turn Banjo into a washing machine or stumble into Frantic Factory to meet the one and only Chunky Kong for the first time.
But you’re also going to see them pick apart a level that will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief. If that sounds even remotely interesting to you, then you absolutely must watch these runners on Saturday. They’ll even be happy to answer your questions about the games, and how different strategies or routes factor into things.
Who knows, you might get sucked in to the point where you’ll be taking part in the next 301% race!
Where can you watch the 301%?
All 8 competitors are streaming on twitch! I’ll put links to all of their channels at the end of the article, but in alphabetical order, let me tell you a bit about the runners!
Connor has been running Donkey Kong 64 for a long time. He also has the 101% world record in the game, taking it back in March 2020 after a hiatus due to offline commitments. It’s also worth noting that two weeks ago he set the world record for the 301% category.
Between Connor’s reigns as the top Donkey Kong 64 player, Falcon spent nearly 2 years on the throne. It would be hard to pick a game among the three as once Falcon would struggle with, since he is generally considered fantastic at them all.
A relatively new speedrunner who, as mentioned earlier, has risen up the ranks in multiple games since the COVID pandemic began. He’s someone I would define as “wholesome” and I don’t think anyone would disagree with me there. I would be surprised if he doesn’t end up holding multiple records in the future.
The former 301% world record holder, and a downright fantastic player at all three games in the run. If there’s one thing you can say about Hagginater, it’s that he’s dedicated. He’s definitely got the stamina to stay reasonably composed through the race, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was eying a return to the top spot on the leaderboards.
A real connoisseur of speedrunning, icup is good at just about every game he’s ever played. Currently 5th on the leaderboard, he might be considered a dark horse in the race, but only if you have never seen him play. If he’s been practising the start of the race, he’s definitely in with a good chance!
Overall, I’d say SecretHumorMan is someone who knows the genre more than anyone. He’s a veteran of the 301% and has always been around to help members of the community. Of everyone on this list, his run promises to be among the more fun from start to finish.
Having submitted his first run on the Banjo Kazooie leaderboards around 10 months ago, he’s seen some massive improvement since then. He’s the kind of player who’s going to have a good attitude throughout the entire race, and will keep you entertained the whole time.
Another player who seems to be able to excel in just about any game they choose to dedicate time to. Overall, you’ll likely get to see more marathon style action if you drop a follow, as Zachary has interest in 1545 speedruns (a mix between the 301% race, Super Mario 602 run and the Sprashfecta where players play both Spyro and Crash Bandicoot games).
All in all, this Saturday promises to be a lot of fun, and I’d highly recommend you at least check out each of these runners as they blow people’s minds with their skills. It’s going to be over 12 hours of absolute chaos, but we’re talking about Nintendo 64 era Rareware, so you know it’s going to be a good time. Plus, all of these runners are both lovely people and very skilled at their games. I, for one, will be supporting them all day long.
Connor75 on Twitch
FalconXFalcon1 on Twitch
GeneralToucans on Twitch
Hagginater on Twitch
icupspeedruns_ on Twitch
SecretHumorMan on Twitch
Shlongster7 on Twitch
zacharylawrence on Twitch
And if you click here, you’ll get a page with all of their streams at once!
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link for all of your event news. Will you be checking out any of these streams? Let us know in the comments below.