The amazing story behind The Weathertenko
Choco Mountain is at first glance an innocuous track in Mario Kart 64. But it is infamous within the speedrunning community – and was the setting for perhaps the most impressive video game speedrun of all time.
In the video, below, YouTuber Summoning Salt recounts the history of Choco Mountain speedrunning, explaining how its initial shortcuts were discovered in the months after the game came out in 1997, and then how the track was torn apart years later when new hard-as-nails shortcuts were discovered.
The video gets really juicy when it explains The Weathertenko, “probably the craziest trick in Mario Kart 64’s history”.
The Weathertenko, discovered by Mario Kart 64 TASer (Tool-Assisted Speedrunner) “Weatherton” in February 2014, involves driving around one kart length forward from the start line, then driving into the wall on your left with the aid of a mushroom. Jump with the R button as you hit the wall and you’ll boost up the wall. Hitting a specific part of the wall so your character clips into the wall ever so slightly makes the game think you are in a tunnel farther along the track. Once you drop back down, as long as you’re behind the finish line, the game thinks you’re at the end of the lap, so all you have to do is cross it to complete a lap. This, in theory, enabled sub-six second laps.
The problem was, as a TASer, Weatherton used used an emulated version of the game assisted by tools to create a theoretically perfect run. Could a human pull off a Weathertenko? Most thought it impossible because of the difficulty involved. You needed to not get “zero framed” as you boosted up the wall, you needed to bounce high enough, hit the exact right part of the wall to clip through and convince the game you were in the tunnel farther down the track, and then bounce far enough to the left to land behind the finish line.
Top-tier Mario Kart 64 speedrunners tried and failed to land The Weathertenko in the months after it was theorised. Then, in August 2014, the 29th ranked Mario Kart 64 shortcut player, a chap called abney317, nailed it, scoring a 5.89 second lap and setting a new world record in the process.
The Weathertenko looks like this:
Could someone pull off three Weathertenkos in the same run? The odds of hitting a Weathertenko on any given attempt were only about 1/40. To hit three in a row, the odds were 1/64,000.
In the summer of 2017, abney decided to devote himself to nailing three Weathertenkos in a single run, whatever it took, however long it would take. He streamed all of his attempts on Twitch, with hundreds watching as the attempt counter climbed higher and higher.
On 29th October 2017, abney did it – after an eye-watering 26,461 attempts. The new Choco Mountain speedrun world record was set at 16.38 seconds. abney accomplished what was thought to be impossible. Since then, nobody has replicated this feat.
Summoning Salt’s video is well worth a watch if you’re into video game speedrunning of any kind. Do give it a watch!