Back in July, The Nerd Stash presented speedrun fans with a go of Mega Man X Collection by 8bitisgr8. Not long after, we also had the opportunity to speak with 8bit himself about the run and some of the tricks and optimization he and other runners use. We hope you enjoy this exclusive special interview feature of Speedrun Fast (and credit for the image art goes to The-Firestorm)!
How did you get into speedrunning?
“My first game I learned for speedrunning was [Mega Man] X4. I still love X4 as a speed game. After that, I learned X6 but I didn’t get good at it for a very long time. I learned the hard way that you won’t get good unless you practice. I think practice is the most important thing, but it can be pretty obnoxious when you’re starting out.”
Explain the routing process, how has it changed from the past?
“In X1, you would do the intro stage, then Penguin, Eagle, Mammoth… that route was referred to as ‘Eagle second.’ Then it became ‘waterless.'” The waterless trick he mentions skips having to submerge underwater in Sting Chameleon’s stage. Soon after, another trick involving the ice sled and what the community refers to as dash lemons was discovered that made going into the water (waterful route) slightly faster. “For a couple years now, it’s been Kuwanger second, waterful, Chameleon third. It’s faster because you’d have Chameleon’s weapon for the Eagle fight. The issue is you’d have to get waterless without the charged ice sled.”
Tell me about some of the glitches and tricks you use.
“If you grab an item with the boomerang within a specific set of pixels, you can trick the game into grabbing something else; you can skip the entire stage with it, but it’s frame-perfect (meaning the player has to execute the trick on an exact frame of animation). It sets apart the masters. For X2, if you release the charged speed burner in the right spot in Crystal Snail’s stage, you can despawn the miniboss. But it only works in the SNES version. In X4, there’s the Spider quick kill. When Web Spider goes into the trees, he’s supposed to be invincible, but if you can guess [where he is] and hit him, you can skip the entire second cycle. But you have to get really lucky.
X6 is kind of the weird one. The speedrun is very technical, pretty different from every other game. There’s a weapon called the guard shell, literally just a shield. But people realized that for some reason, when you have it equipped and slash with Zero, his sword does damage for every frame of it’s animation. A lot of people actually hate X6. I really like it as a speed game.”
What other games do you speedrun? Will you do more runs of Mega Man X?
“I run Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. I think I’m 11th on [the leaderboards] or something. You want to keep the wings the entire game and that’s basically the run, it’s actually pretty difficult though. I used to run Cave Story, might get back to that. I also actually run Super Metroid, there’s a lot of insane tricks in that game. Anyone having even an hour of [completion] time is impressive.”
8bit in fact did another run of X Collection between the one featured on Speedrun Fast and this very interview. And wouldn’t you know, he beat his former time.
There’s a lot of both cooperation and competition among speedrunners, isn’t there? What are some of the ways the community works together?
“There’s a lot of glitch hunting that people do. The TASers actually help out with RTA (real-time attack) a lot, and a lot of people try to learn tricks from the TAS runs. [Speedrunner] Flameburger actually did the TAS for all missions of Mega Man Zero. He’s been running for five years now. And Hatfield is like a god at every game he touches.”
Any advice for people who want to get into speedrunning?
“Practice is really important. Don’t get discouraged just because it’s difficult. There’s a Discord for the entire X community where people will help you out. Me and a lot of the community can be kind of dicks, but it’s more playful than anything. I think that can throw a lot of people off, but I don’t know anyone that will refuse to help someone out.”
I’ve noticed some runs measure in-game time and some use real-time. What’s the standard for choosing the time measurement for a game?
“If RTA is pretty accurate or the versions [of a game] are very similar, RTA is typically preferred. In-game times tend to not count menus and stuff like that. In X7 the in-game timer is completely inaccurate, but people don’t run X7 very much.”
It’s certainly worth noting that the individual Mega Man X games are speedran just as much, if not more than, X Collection. 8bit holds the record for X6, which you can view below. Notice the vast discrepancy between RTA time and in-game time.
We hope you all enjoyed this exclusive interview, and that you learned a few things in the process. Thanks so much for your support of The Nerd Stash, and an extra-special thanks to 8bit for his time and insight. We’ll see everyone back again for the next Speedrun Fast.
Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.