I've been a fan of TAS (Tool Assisted Speedrun) videos for a long time, and always go back to watch the various Mario 64 Speedruns because they're so good, but after watching a few videos, I wonder:

Why are the keys obtained from Bowser even necessary, when the speedrunners have the ability to slip through walls and "locked" doors (that is, doors that are locked off due to not having enough stars)? What's stopping them from Backwards Long Jump & Running their way up to the final Bowser fight?

I originally suspected that the layout of the keyed door and adjacent walls up to the third floor meant that a BLJ & R would be impossible (due to there not being the "right" kind of gap to pilot Mario through, like the Dire Dire Docks water wall or the original BLJ & R that took Mario into the first Bowser level), but now I'm not so sure.

Anyone know of reasons why a "no keys" run hasn't been done yet?

3 Answers 3


The reason why is because the castle is split into multiple zones (ground floor, basement, and upper castle), which are not loaded at the same time. Like the outside of the castle is a separate zone, and glitching through the door won't actually bring you inside the lobby.

It is possible to get behind the key doors, probably even without TAS, but there is simply nothing there. You have to activate the door to load into the different zone.

The reason why you can skip the first key as you showed, is because the basement has a second entrance, which is not locked. Normally you can't activate a door while underwater, but if you reach the door before the game can register that you are swimming its possible. The upper castle only have one entrance, so this trick can't be used here.

I'm not aware of any glitches where you can load into a different zone through a locked door.

If you are interested in these kinds of technical glitches, you should check out pannenkoek2012 and his second channel on youtube.

  • Yep, that makes plenty of sense. I guess I was confused because the transition between the ground floor and the upper and lower floors are different to entering the castle. Outside -> Inside is a fade-to-black transition, but Ground Floor -> Top Floor feels like the zone is already loaded. That, and I never thought that the door was the trigger. I actually assumed touching the space behind the door would trigger the load, like Half Life, where walking around a corner triggers a load. I also looked for a noclip cheat for Mario 64, but couldn't find one, so I was unable to test my theory.
    – Grayda
    Mar 31, 2016 at 12:57

There are different categories of speed runs. They are split up based on how many stars are required before finishing the game.

The relevant categories are:

  • 0 stars
  • 1 star
  • 16 stars
  • 70 stars
  • 120 stars

There are historical reasons behind each of these categories. 120 stars is effectively equivalent to a 100% run in other games, where you get every available star. 70 stars is equivalent to a fast casual run of the game, since 70 stars are the minimum to beat the game without using glitches.

From there, the other 3 categories exist because people found progressively more effective glitches over time for skipping content. First, someone learned how to skip to the top of the infinite stairs and how to glitch through some doors. You needed 15 stars to open one particularly annoying door, then 1 star to move the entrance to Dire Dire Docks back to reveal the Bowser level, then glitch towards the end of the game.

Much later on, someone found a way to skip through the 15-star door, so you only needed to get a single star in Dire Dire Docks to have access to the Bowser Fight. Finally, someone found a way past even that, so you can just fight Bowser without any stars.

Depending on the category of run you watch, different kinds of content will be skipped. However, none of the runs skip any of the Bowser fights (which is how you acquire keys).

After writing all this and re-reading your question, I have realized I don't know why the key doors specifically aren't skipped. I'll leave this up because the background info might shed some light on the puzzle-solving process of getting this game to the state it is, but I don't actually know why the key doors aren't skippable. Maybe someone just hasn't found a skip yet, or maybe you literally can't start a given Bowser fight unless the previous one has been completed because of the way the game is programmed.

  • 1
    I don't think it's a programming limitation, as I was able to use Gameshark to start on one of the top floor levels, collect a star to stay on the top floor, then make my way to Bowser using BLJs, plus I was able to start directly in the Bowser in the Sky level, and the actual Bowser battle with no stars and no keys. I've also updated my question with some info about "Parallel Universes" which explains a potential way to skip the only locked door to the third floor, but I'm not providing it as an answer, as I want to know why / if that's the only possibility
    – Grayda
    Dec 31, 2015 at 6:11

This video in particular shows that if you take the obvious strategy of doing a backwards long jump (BLJ) behind the second key door, then you get a black unloaded zone that cannot be crossed:

Here is a print screen screenshot from YouTube screenshot from the video that shows the black zone at the back:

enter image description here

I suspect that the code surrounding this has been thoroughly reverse engineered since it is of such high value, I wonder if someone has uploaded notes somewhere.

  • @Downvoters, please explain why so I can learn and improve info. Haven't I provided a very direct, visual and experimentally verified answer to the question? May 21, 2019 at 8:45
  • I believe the downvotes are because there isn't enough information in your answer without the video. The video is a great add to an answer, but you should include a bit more details about what happen in the body of your post. Essentially in the event the video goes down, your answer should still make sense and answer the question.
    – Wipqozn
    May 21, 2019 at 11:28
  • @Wipqozn thanks for the feedback. In this case, I don't know what other information I could include besides "BLJ behind top wall gives a black wall and here is screenshot", the rest has been further mentioned at: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/249969/… edits are welcome. May 21, 2019 at 12:07
  • That's pretty much all that needed to be added.
    – Wipqozn
    May 21, 2019 at 12:17

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