Metroid Prime Sequence Breaking History

35 min readDec 10, 2017
The Artifact Temple, where the player comes at the end of the game after collecting all 12 Chozo Artifacts Picture credit to VG5K

“The Beginning”

Released on November 18th of 2002, Metroid Prime was very different from its counterparts in the fact that it had finally entered 3D, and as a result it was simultaneously lauded and hated for this very fact. It was the first attempt at a publishing a game from the new development company — titled “Retro Studios,” after beginning development in early 1998. After its release however, it did not take very long for people to begin to try and push the boundaries of the game itself.

This overview will be talking about Metroid Prime, and its extremely rich history dating back to 2002, as one of the first true speed games. This was coming only shortly after Doom, Quake, Goldeneye. It’s slightly hard to nail down exactly when some of these communities came about, but Doom and Quake appear to have started in late 1997 and early 1998 respectively. Goldeneye’s The-Elite was first started with times from many people whom finally started a cumulative leaderboard on July 26th of 1998. This leaves Metroid Prime in November of 2002, with one of the most tight-knit and well aged speedrunning communities that began with the release of the game. This community coming together was signfied by the creation of the website ‘Metroid Prime Discoveries’ in early 2003. You can read more about the website Metroid Prime Discoveries and the earliest history of Metroid Prime in this interview from the end of 2004.

The game’s central story-driving mechanic revolves around 12 Chozo Artifacts, which function as keys to unlock the final boss after being acquired from various nooks and crannies of the expansive overworld the player can traverse. Shortly after the game was released in November players on the message board GameFAQs had noticed you can skip the Thermal Visor in the game simply by shooting at the invisible thermal conduits that you would normally need the visor to see. This video was recorded in 2003 that demonstrates the skip in action. This is the first skip that would ever be attempted in Metroid Prime. Some users had speculated that the final boss might not be completable without Thermal — this was proven to be not the case by a user named Amasawa on the first 28% playthrough. Keep that name in mind, it will continue to be extremely relevant as discoveries in this game continued.

Assuming one had the original version of the game and not the mid 2003 re-release Player’s Choice copy, you could simply memorise the location of all the conduits. After this, it is just a matter of going through each room, aiming at each spot and activating them without ever obtaining the Thermal Visor. Continuing through the game, the player faced no more challenges that required Thermal Visor… until the very end of the game when you fight the final boss and it disappears from view and ‘requires’ the Thermal Visor. But again, the player can elect to ignore the visor, and blast away at where the boss is without needing the visor at all. This brought down the minimum percentage to 28% almost immediately after the game was released.

“Sequence Breaking”

The very first acts of speedrunning in Metroid Prime were part of what would eventually be coined by the Prime community as ‘Sequence Breaks.’ While people on GameFAQ’s frequently mentioned the term ‘sequence’ in reference to the intended order of gameplay, the actual term ‘Sequence break’ was originally coined by a user with the handle “SolrFlare.” He used the phrase in a post on February 5th, 2003 in which they finished a discussion with another user by saying ‘… as it is with the Sun Tower appearing to be unrefreshable without hitting bottom […] our only hope of potentially breaking some new ground is somehow pulling that Phendrana run […] although some more sequence breaking options may show up letting us cut some more time from speed runs.’ “Sequence Breaking,” and its variants would go on to become common nomenclature in the speedrunning community as a whole.

It is also worth mentioning — before getting too far into things — that Metroid Prime uses in-game time, as the early community had decided the timer included with the game was:

  • accurate enough
  • consistent
  • made ‘personal bests’ more accessible (RTA timing software was nearly decades away at this point in speedrunning)

early on in speedrunning the game, and apart from what most games go by today. It is worth mentioning that this in game timer is, in fact, completely consistent, and is also accurate to three decimal places of a second.

The game’s own title demos feature puzzles involving bomb jump solutions, and before the turn of the year in December 2002, people were already discussing ways to obtain the Wave Beam without backtracking to get Space Jump. It would be advantageous to do this, since at the time you had to obtain Boost Ball, travel 2 previous areas back to get Space Jump, then travel the same 2 areas back again to get Wave Beam. As a result, getting it earlier (before Space Jump) would have actually been a fair bit faster than the extensive backtrack that was initially intended by Retro.

Then, at the beginning of 2003 on January 18th, a member of the GameFAQ’s community by the name of ‘Banks17’ posted to the site about a discovery he and another member ‘kip’ had made that they titled the ‘Triple Jump.’ The name would set a precedent for the sometimes painfully self-descriptive names of Metroid Prime tricks; with names such as ‘Double Bomb Jump,’ ‘Dash Jump,’ ‘L Jump,’ ‘R Jump,’ etc. The topic not only described the new trick that enabled a player to “get more height […] than a standard double jump,” but also mentioned using this trick to obtain the Ice Beam, and (eventually) Gravity Suit before ever fighting Thardus.

This trick was one of the true beginnings of Metroid Prime speedruns, and would only serve to spur people on to continue to intentionally skip items, figure out ways to close gaps and complete the game quicker. Kip discovered a faster way to exit Hall of the Elders while getting Ice Beam before Thardus on January 18th, 2003 and paved the way for the ‘If you can see it, you can land on it’ style of Metroid Prime Sequence Breaking and general game breaking. On January 19, 2003 kip officially got the Gravity Suit before fighting Thardus, and many people alongside him on GameFAQs began the search to drop another percentage and to complete the game faster than ever thought possible. It was initially projected by user tlj9204 that an any% run would take approximately 4:27 on the game’s timer.

On January 23, 2003 GameFAQs member “Amasawa” finally discovered how to obtain Plasma Beam before obtaining the Grapple Beam. This would skip a large portion of backtracking from Phazon Mines and save even more time in a speedrun. Kip would use this three days later to further explore in Geothermal Core, and discover you can get Plasma Beam without Spider Ball at all, picking it up as soon as you enter through the room the first time and eliminating any backtracking involving Plasma Beam. This would eventually end up saving large chunks of time in a speedrun. These are some of the first big sequence breaks that were discovered in Metroid Prime, and led to large portions of time being cut off of a speedrun when compared to the developers intended route of completion.

“The First Run”

Speedrunning the game itself still hadn’t entirely taken off yet, so speedruns were quite scarce, undocumented and extremely unpolished. The first ever mentioned time of a Metroid Prime speedrun was a post on GameFAQs by a member named ‘Montypylon10189’ who claimed a time of 2:29 in January of 2003. This time is somewhat dubious, however, and not verifiable. The user had also claimed other extremely impressive feats for the time, including some that would not be repeated for many years to come. A couple weeks later, on February 2, 2003 a more reputable member by the name of Funkytoad (whom had previously made contributions to the Prime community) posted on GameFAQs and claimed a time of 2:31.

In this time, members of the community DEVILBIT and kip had finally discovered that you can skip Grapple Beam entirely — this had culminated in DEVILBIT casually mentioning on GameFAQs that it was ‘… easy to pass all fungal [halls] without grapel’ when others were still struggling to try and solve the rooms under 27% conditions. This would lead to a faster game as it drops the requirement to get Grapple Beam, and the methods to skip Grapple in rooms are actually faster than using it as intended. As a result, this meant that even runs such as 100% (which still obtain Grapple) do not use it even though the run requires it to be picked up.

Shortly after this on February 9th of 2003, Charge Beam and Super Missiles had been dropped from the ‘essential items’ list due to hard work from a member named Youkai Sesshomaru. Normally, in order to get Artifact of Wild, you need to fall down the room ‘Suntower’ and hit a relay which spawns a Chozo Ghost fight in Sunchamber. The intended method is to use Super Missiles, Charge Beam and Spider Ball after falling to climb back up the entire room. For days, Sesshomaru worked hard on an extremely obtuse bomb jump to climb Suntower from the bottom of the room and get past the runic gate. After pulling an all nighter, he described the exact method he had used to achieve this and eventually climb all the way up the tower and get Artifact of Wild for the first time without Supers and Charge.

That same day, Amasawa discovered that you can boost downward through the final room in Crashed Frigate without the Gravity Suit. At the time, it was the only room preventing Gravity Suit from being skipped. These discoveries further lowered the percentage down from 27, to 25, then to 24 in one day. Gravity Suit would be the last thing skipped in Metroid Prime for a while, and posting and discoveries would initially slow down a bit. This went on, as focus shifted to people attempting to complete the game as quickly as possible, and posting their personal times and progress.

Back to the initial 2:31 world record: Funkytoad posted the route his run used, and although it was completed in under a week and used extremely slow strategies it did utilise other sequence breaks that were discovered at the time, such as Ice and Plasma beam before Thardus. The run itself still lasted as the fastest time on the early leaderboards until the beginning of April, when another member named Gold Leader performed a 2:01 on hard mode. The 2:01 by Gold Leader was actually a very impressive record for the time, considering it was played on hard mode but still eclipsed a normal mode run by a clean half an hour. For whatever reason exactly, hard mode runs were very common back in 2003 compared to current day.

“World Record, With Proof!”

The record was really impressive to fellow GameFAQs users until a couple days later, when Henru Wang (incorrectly referred to as ‘Henry’ by IGN) submitted his world record and the first fully recorded Metroid Prime world record: a ‘blistering’ 1:46. It used a fairly up to date route: including the incredibly difficult Early Space Jump which took him 12 tries; Ice Beam and Plasma before Thardus; and leaving Life Grove without fighting the Chozo Ghosts which was actually considered fairly difficult for the time. This, alongside some strange routing and gameplay choices like neglecting dashes, which were discovered and known at the time, and picking up items which could easily be skipped to save time would cement the ‘historic’ run at a 1:46 and would end up being featured in Electronic Gaming Monthly. Notes for this run are available here.

User DEVILBIT had already accomplished a lot that many other people had never considered possible, but on May 25th of 2003 a new discovery he made really changed the way the game was played. In a forum post detailing his discovery, DEVILBIT talked about how you could use a scan point to dash off the ship and land on a ledge which would take you to Space Jump. This would allow you to get one of the most useful items in the game, and one of the best ones for advanced and faster movement as your first item in any play-through. The importance of this trick would enable a huge amount of time save as well, as dashing would become an integral part of saving time and shaving precious seconds off a runner’s final time… but more about that later.

Despite all of these shortcomings, CALFoolio’s run would remain the gold standard for runs until May 30th of 2003 when kip would achieve a 1:35. However, kip’s run was not recorded; and while it did include newer routing and better tricks like Space Jump First to save lots of time, kip never posted a full route, nor completely divulged what enabled him to save 11 minutes over CALFoolio. With some educated speculation, it likely included the skipping of Grapple Beam; more dashing (but not too much more); more boosting; and more strafing while walking normally along the ground. This saves much more time over walking normally, as was done a lot in the 1:46 by CALFoolio.

“The Least Likely Solution. Literally.”

Two months before the next world record, on May 11 of 2003 a member by the name of Kyuenjin mentions that he has found a way to get back to the height of the Sun Tower door toward Flaahgra, in order to fight the Chozo ghosts without obtaining Spider Ball and climbing the Sun Tower. This involves falling a significant distance down the tower to hit the Chozo ghost trigger, then having an enemy wedge you into a corner allowing you to infinite bomb jump back up. A day later on May 12 this was confirmed, and Spider Ball had finally been skipped which further lowered the minimum percent to 23. It is worth mentioning that this is one of two known instances of an infinite bomb jump in Metroid Prime. A couple of weeks later, kip would post his 1:35 as mentioned above. The specific record would not stand long though, as this run would signify the beginning of kip’s Metroid Prime any% reign which would last for years to come.

On July 27 of 2003 kip would make another post detailing his new world record: a final time of 1:23 with a completion percentage of 33%. This would become the fastest recorded Metroid Prime record for the rest of 2003. Kip posted about his time, his tiredness of the game, and his bad VCR and motioned for other players to try and get better times than his own. The 1:23 was the first recorded speedrun of Metroid Prime which used the Space Jump first trick, and was published to for easier public dissemination. The run itself was actually completed on July 16, 2003, but kip had no way of converting runs to digital files so elected to send them to Nate in order to have them digitized, which is why it was published noticeably later than the original post of his time. Notes for this run are available here.

The run itself is not tremendously remarkable — it still uses a lot of basic strategies, does not include higher difficulty bomb jumps or dashes and the movement itself is even pretty basic. At the time, dashes were generally seen more as functions of ‘tricks being executed’ such as Space Jump First, rather than a general movement technique that could be used almost anywhere to save large swathes of time. The 1:23 was an improvement on a 1:28 run kip had done previously, and his own 5 minute time save surprised him, “That I improved on my time after finding this [‘this’ being his previous run attaining a 1:28] out is especially strange to me.” Kip had linked to a route and breakdown of the strategies used in his 1:23 but unfortunately they are unavailable to the public today.

“I Lied, This Is The Least Likely Solution.”

In a slight lull of actual speedruns, players again focused heavily on lowering the minimum percentage. All but one room had been solved: Geothermal Core. In a normal game, Geothermal Core requires you to use Grapple Beam, Boost Ball, Space Jump and Spider Ball. Players had figured out how to skip the Grapple Beam and Spider Ball portions of the room, but skipping either Space Jump or Boost Ball seemed impossible. As players focused on a strategy from noted user Kyuenjin, “I morphed, and while not actually getting inside the bomb slot, I got hung on the pillar about a ball’s length away from the slot,” they worked hard on trying to get it to work until on October 14th, 2003 kip and TreborSelbon worked together and finally managed to get stuck high enough up that the game would bring the Morph Ball into the slot and solve 22% for good. Kip wrote a good history of Metroid Prime speedrunning and sequence breaking a couple weeks after this back in 2003 that is worth a read as well.

Back in the realm of speedrunning, competition was fairly common on the messageboards with many players posting their own times, and as times improved the world record finally got out of kip’s hands when Radix posted a new personal best on December 2nd of 2003. Radix had achieved a 1:19 with a 32% final completion. Self admittedly, this run was “sub-par,” but it did not matter as kip’s 6 month record had finally been broken. Radix also did not have much to say about his own run, one can read his own post about it here: “Still a warm-up run where the first 50 minutes were sub-par. All I did was better ridley & prime fights because I wanted 1:19.” It is worth mentioning that Radix had gotten a 1:37 in 100% a month prior in November which had ended up being featured in Nintendo Power and catching the attention of Retro Studios own developers, who were “amazed” the game could be completed that quickly.

Radix would enjoy his double world-record holder position for a full month and a half, until February 15 of 2004, when another very talented runner by the name of ‘Zoid’ would enter the scene and blindside everyone with a very competent run. The final ending time was a 1:17 and while this was still notably faster than Radix’ 1:19, there were some significant differences in gameplay. The first of these being that it was run on the PAL version of Metroid Prime, which would make this run the first and only time that the PAL version would hold a #1 spot on the Metroid Prime leaderboards, and secondly, the run skipped Spider Ball in the interests of speed. It is the first recorded run to do so, and is also the first usage of PAL Space Jump First in a Metroid Prime speedrun, and was the only speedrun of Metroid Prime that the user would ever submit.

Zoid’s run was quite technically competent, and while it would suffer a bit from the lack of ‘reset hell’ kip had put himself through for quick Power Bomb mazes and other RNG based elements it would still eclipse the previous world record by 2 full minutes. It would also benefit from the simple fact of actually being recorded as well, unlike the 1:19. Most impressive about this run is the fact that it was entirely routed - almost exclusively by Zoid - around the fact that it was on the PAL version. This is impressive simply because the PAL version includes many roadblocks such as: slower loads; locks on doors before collecting items; Power Bomb blocks in front of doors that are not blocked normally on NTSC; and bosses with different move-sets, more health or both. Notes for this run are available to view here.

“One Of The Greatest Speedruns Of All Time”

Only a few months later in June, kip would make a triumphant return to Metroid Prime any% with his penultimate run. Boasting a final runtime of 1:05, kip’s run was a true revamp of speedrunning in Metroid Prime. I will let a section of kip’s own commentary speak for itself: “Radix’s 1:37 100% had started to become outdated by now, and my previous run was ancient. Some things found during that run continue to be used, but it was just too old to serve as any kind of base or useful reference for other any% runs.

The interesting part of kip’s 1:05 was that it went entirely back to the ‘Metroid Prime speedrunnig drawing board’ as it were. Kip rewrote the route with some help to include very sensible improvements like better segmenting (no more eighteen minute segments); not backtracking to the Nature side of Magmoor for Ice Beam after Wave, a slightly faster 2 trip mines, skipping Spider Ball, climbing Frigate Crash Site, Thardus Jump, etc.

Routing was fine and dandy, but at the same time lot of the new timesave came not from routing, but instead from simply including speed tricks that were considered hard at the time. These tricks saved appreciable amounts of time including stuff like: a lower tolerance for when a reset is called for, Biohazard Bomb Jumps, using dashes as a speed trick, L jumping and generally eliminating pauses in movement, new discoveries of how to quickly climb rooms, a very tricky Root Cave strat that many runners to this day do not use, etc. Kip himself was pretty proud of the run and rightfully so, “ I tried hard to make sure this would be its own contribution. There are a lot of things you’ll see that are new or have never been done before,” but it would not be the end of Kip’s Metroid Prime contributions.

Immediately after this run, kip thought of a way to possibly improve his time. As he mentions in now-defunct 1:05 notes, “… I had been meaning to mess around with the second form of the last boss and see if I could find a way to beat him in 3 pools. I thought it was strange how you only had to use half of the fourth pool to finish him off, but this is the only thing I was basing my attempts on… I noticed pretty quickly that something was up when I would constantly enter and leave a pool while shooting…It seems you can even speed him up by shooting him out of a shockwave attempt. It cancels the attack, yet he acts as if he has just completed it (thanks to Radix for making the connection)… As a result, you can get two pools to exist at the same time, by preserving the first one and interrupting all his shockwave attempts.” You might be able to guess where this is going.

Only 9 days later, kip re-submitted the last 4 segments of his 1:05 with one noticeable difference: an extra percentage.

Just kidding.

Kip dropped his time another full minute to 1:04 with some better gameplay, Thermal Visor, and a brand new, much faster 3 pool Metroid Prime Essence strategy. There is also a very fantastic breakdown of new speed strategies in this run by kip produced in January of 2005, which was provided by SkippyJr that can be perused here: speed_stuff.doc. This run re-uses the first 11 segments of the 1:05, so nothing had changed in those segments, but it would bring down the world record to a time that would stand for many years, garner much attention, and genuinely be what many would consider one of the best speedruns of any video game for a very long time. Notes for this run are available here.

So long indeed, that another Metroid game would come out and steal quite a bit of spotlight from Metroid Prime itself. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was released in November 15 of 2004, and would bring away a lot of attention from the original. Thankfully however, there was still a very loyal core demographic which stuck with Metroid Prime and would work on it, chipping away at its immaculate polish slowly, day by day until eventually…

“Back, On NTSC”

April 4, 2007 rolls by. It has been almost three years since kip had submitted his 1:04, a world record which stood very strongly with next to to true competition all this time. Of course, until another user who went by the name of z0idi showed up. However, when I say ‘showed up’ I really mean ‘finally produced a world-class run.’

See, z0idi had always played Metroid Prime, found discoveries, and contributed greatly to the community. He had silently been paying attention to speedruns contributed to the community, watching runners and practicing tricks and contributing a few of his own, here and there.

But on April 4th, z0idi introduced another level of speedrunning that nobody had quite seen before, with a time of 1:03. Kip spoke frequently of how he was inspired by z0idi, and even directly mentions him on his previous 1:04’s run notes, “I’m grateful to zoidi, whose run brought a great number of new finds used here. At the same time, I didn’t want to just do an NTSC version of his run, so I tried hard to make sure this would be its own contribution,” and the feeling was evidently, very mutual with z0idi himself saying “…I knew it would be very difficult. I wasn’t sure if I could beat kip since kip’s run was a masterwork and not a lot has changed route-wise or strat-wise since kip’s 1:04.

These two runners had a huge amount of respect for one another, and it showed in z0idi’s gameplay. No mistake was tolerated, no flubbed jump too minor to ignore. Z0idi worked masterfully to eliminate over 40 seconds of mistakes that kip didn’t have the time to perfect. Another 22 seconds would be saved by z0idi going for a (relatively new) strategy during Ridley called ‘Flyby Skip.’

As it implies, Flyby Skip enables one to skip Ridley’s initial flying sequence and saves the runner about 22 seconds. This is achieved by damaging Ridley on the last frame before he transitions from ‘floating phase’ to ‘flying phase.’ Being able to skip this, combined with the extra 40 seconds of pure grinding and perfection enabled z0idi to achieve a final time which was measured to be about a 1:03:54 whereas kip’s run was timed to be a 1:04:59 using the same methods.

Z0idi’s run is another type of masterpiece, while (from a relative standpoint) slightly less impressive due to the difference in strategies that were known in the game, and the amount of time available to practice new ones, it was a fantastic run that stood the test of time for even longer than kip’s initial 1:04. In fact, it stood the test of time so well that it would require a new rule change on SpeedDemosArchive (the main site that hosted Metroid Prime world records, hereon referred to as SDA) for a new run to actually surpass it.

“A Community Holy War”

It’s sort of hard to explain, but next portion of Metroid Prime world record history has a lot of basis in the early days. Secret Worlds, as they were dubbed, were glitches discovered that would enable players to go ‘out of bounds’ of the normal collision of the game. The term originated in ‘Metroid 2’ where abusing some glitches enabled you to get out of the normal bounds of the game, into rooms which were essentially randomly generated. Players believed they had found ‘Secret Worlds.’

These tricks were initially believed to be useless in Prime, but they would eventually be discovered to save fairly good chunks of time, generally through allowing better routing and removing backtracks, or obtaining an item early. In the case of 21%, it is actually the only possible way to skip the Space Jump Boots and complete the game. The part that is difficult to explain is the fact that, in 2003, SDA (and as they were maintained by the same people, so was the the main Metroid website Metroid2002) were both very vehemently against any usage of these tricks, and even somewhat resentful of their existence at all.

Using a section of a post from user DJGrenola, explaining a new Secret World section on Metroid2002 will provide some context of this animosity: “The addition of this section to metroid2002 will doubtless come as a surprise to people on both sides of the / “divide”… as we all know about the history of the secret worlds / / metroid2002 relationship. Equally there will be some from the metroid2002 community who are not happy about the inclusion of these discoveries on the site. bottom line, whatever your personal feelings about secret worlds and their usefulness or otherwise thereof, is that you ought to be glad that another chunk of metroid related knowledge has now been preserved in an accessible way, and leave it at that.

This animosity carried on to the rules of the website, an SDA which strictly banned any ‘out of bounds’ glitches until July 15th of 2010, when user ‘bartendorsparky’ started a thread on the SDA forums to ask for leniency regarding Secret Worlds, or out of bounds tricks being acceptable to be used in runs. The entire thread culminated with a few events: The first of this being a whole bunch of useless (but amusing) bickering:

Im not like this.

These need are seperate category. Thats unfair runner like Zoid who is did most awesome speedruns in SDA without secret worlds. He is just best, thats so unfair if he got lost his records if someone used secret worlds.

Also secret worlds are cheating. These skip large amount game and you will always find new secret wolrds and route will always changed. Also wall crawls skip much interesting tricks and its not look cool see when someone jumping outsite screen most of the time. All super awesome trick will lost like vent shaft bomb jump, geo core bombslot jump and etc… stuff. If we talking about low-% runs.

I personally like watch much more speedruns without used secret worlds because these speedruns are real.

So this rule change is big bad idea. Im not like this. Hopefully its never happen.

Despite this, the staff of SDA ended up agreeing with the new rule proposal (‘out of bounds’ is no longer an immediate disqualifier for world records in video games) and locked the thread, with Radix implementing the new rule after apologising for being so strict in the past about it. Finally, this enabled bartendorsparky to use Secret Worlds, and still go for a world record run.

“Speaking Of World Record Run…”

At this time, it just so happened that bartendorsparky was on the final segment of a pretty quick run of Metroid Prime. This run had happened to finish with a final time of 1:01. This was the fastest that anyone had ever completed Metroid Prime, and used a very different route from kip’s 1:04 and z0idi’s 1:03. The reason it was preceded by all the Secret World talk is because even though the run had been completed on July 22nd of 2010, it took nearly 4 months after for it to be officially recognised by SpeedDemosArchive, the site being updated to reflect the world record in October of 2010.

Bartendorsparky was a very prominent member of the community who had put a lot of time into the game mostly for the sake of research and a better understanding of how it worked. He had spent dozens of hours of doing things that many would likely consider trivial, including trying to prematurely leave Frigate before fighting Parasite Queen and working on lowering the minimum possible percentage to 21% tirelessly.

While all of this was occurring, other users were working hard on lowering the percentage of Metroid Prime one more time to 21%. Many people, including kip, bartendorsparky, Nate, Aruki, Banks, Smilingjack13 and myself (among many others for sure) were interested in bringing the final percentage down, with only 3 rooms remaining. Great Tree Hall had been solved inbounds in 2008 by Smilingjack13, with a much easier out of bounds later in 2005 by ThePizzaBoy with Space Jump. ‘Later,’ because this secret world was adapted without Space Jump by Aruki in 2010 to skip an extremely difficult inbounds Great Tree Hall. In October of 2009, Ventilation Shaft had been performed for the first time under 21% conditions (with video) by myself, Tom Lube. After all of this, all that was left was Geothermal Core. Again.

Like the ghost of 22%, it haunted players for years and mocked us as being the final room to be solved. Many people would spend hours working on possible ways to solve Geothermal Core in extremely obtuse ways, such as this bomb jump to reach spinner 2 by bartendorsparky, or a video which can no longer be accessed, but seen on an FTP server that kip owned (geothermal_core.avi). In this video, he had showed off raising the first spinner extremely high without the Boost Ball. It had reached a point where every single aspect of the room except for one had been solved, some of them under multiple conditions. It left one main hurdle in the room: getting into the bomb slot itself.

“The Final Hurdle To 21%”

This would last for around a year until Aruki started tackling a room at the far opposite end of Magmoor Caverns: Burning Trail. The secret world was already known to be possible thanks to Master ZED achieving it with Space Jump in mid-2005. However, after a day or so of struggling with collision in Burning Trail, Aruki had managed to escape Burning Trail and navigate 13 rooms, wallcrawling across almost the entirety of Magmoor Caverns to obtain Plasma Beam from out of bounds without Space Jump or Boost Ball for the first time ever.

To clear up any possible confusion among readers, the term ‘wallcrawl’ is used to describe the act of moving around and transitioning between rooms while out of bounds. This term was coined by the Metroid Prime community in 2004 with members of the ‘’ forum, whom went by the names of CtrlAltDestroy, Ultimate Weapon, Cyberglitch, and SkullmanX. More about Secret Worlds and out of bounds wallcrawling can be “Flamancipator’s Wallcrawling Guide” from early 2005.

Finally, after almost 7 years from the previous percentage drop in 2003, on June 11th 2010, 21% was solved. It was officially completed a week later on June 18, 2010 under full 21% conditions by Aruki, and would become the first of many 21% runs. This would mark the final percentage drop as of December 18, 2017 in Metroid Prime. Similarly, it ended one of the longest standing glitch hunts in the Metroid series.

A couple of months later, near the end of October in 2010 (a sample can be seen during November of the Wayback Machine cache of SDA’s mainpage) bartendorsparky’s run was finally approved with the first out of bounds World Record in Metroid Prime, and even on SDA, for that matter. The run used a very different route; many updated strats including as difficult but fast dashes; out of bounds sections to obtain Ice Beam as the first beam; and another out of bounds section to avoid Spider Ball, while taking a much faster ‘one trip Mines’ route.

The highlight of the run is a 2 and a half minute wallcrawl, which is used to alleviate the requirement of Spider Ball in order to climb up 2 elevator shafts in Phazon Mines. This was the only run that ever used this exact route, and was especially considered ‘not worth it’ for Single Segment runs. This was one of the last runs which would opt to use a segmented approach for speedruns, and would exist as the world record for over a year until on November 16, 2011…

“A Challenger Approaches”

A somewhat newer player on the scene, Claris Robyn had been submitting solid personal best times for some months now, and had worked on lowering her times a lot over the course of this period. On November 16th of 2011, Claris Robyn posted a new new world record (image now defunct) in the personal bests thread on Metroid2002. This time was a segmented run which would finish with a completion time of 1:00 — a time that was almost at the coveted ‘sub hour’ barrier that Metroid Prime runners had been dreaming of for years. It was also the final segmented world record that Metroid Prime would ever have.

The run itself was an improvement over bartendorsparky’s 1:01 with some nicer movement and slight optimisations on many segments, and with some similarities, but also notable differences routing. Unlike in sparky’s 1:01, Claris would opt to pick up Spider Ball instead of dealing with the elevator shafts out of bounds, and would instead deal with Thardus RNG. Since it was segmented, the Thardus fight was done over many times until it reached a very fast minute and 40 seconds: an average-to-bad Thardus fight is around 2 and a half minutes. Among other optimisations and segmented strats that were being figured out and implemented, it enabled Claris to save an entire minute over bartendorsparky’s 1:01.

“A Significant Milestone”

Many players would continue submitting times and working on personal bests and improving their own skill. It would be almost exactly another full year later, on November 8th of 2012 when Claris would be streaming on Twitch during a Skype call with friends when the unthinkable would happen: Claris would become the first to achieve a 00:59. The main difference between this and Claris’ previous run was a fairly simple improvement that would make up for other small mistakes throughout the run: Claris went single segment.

Instead of costing anywhere from 4 to 20 seconds to enter and exit a save station, a single segment eliminates this (up to 15 times, in the case of bartendorsparky’s 1:01 and Claris’ 1:00) and saves lots of time as a result. Of course, the trade off is that one big mistake ends an entire run instead of putting you a couple minutes back. This has a much higher risk versus segmented runs, but also many benefits as well. Mainly, that single segment runs cannot become outdated as they are still occurring, much like segmented runs can.

Seriously, ask pretty much any Prime runner that had a segmented world record and they’ll tell you about one or a couple new tricks that ended up making their nearing completion run completely outdated.

There was another very large route change that saves a large chunk of time in the 0:59 over the 1:00, which is ‘spiderless shafts.’ This is an undeniably large time save, as involves a series of tricks which would enable one to skip Spider Ball; stay inbounds; and quickly climb the previously insurmountable elevator shafts in Phazon Mines on the way to Artifact of Warrior. It was discovered on October 15th and 16th respectively, with a collaborative effort from Claris and T3.

Between all of these factors, this would enable Claris to achieve one of the most significant times in Metroid Prime speedrunning history since kip’s 1:04 and something many speed games always get excited for: the timer to tick back a full increment. For the first time ever, Metroid Prime had been completed with less than 1 hour left on the in game clock. You can view this post to see just how stoked the Prime community was about the run when it happened.

Not much longer after this, Claris went on Metroid2002 to post another personal best: a 0:58 which was completed on November 16th of 2012. Not as much fanfare was given for this run and no video was made available, but there was still plenty of well deserved accolade. Claris had also managed a pretty impressive feat which has not been repeated on a world record since: Flyby skip on Ridley in a single segment run.

World records in Metroid Prime would come to a bit of a standstill for a couple months, but still with many players vying to decrease their times. It wouldn’t be until March 16th of 2013 when Claris would come to Metroid2002 and post another personal best of 0:57. This time would manage to improve even further upon the ‘current’ route that was being used at the time simply by eliminating bigger mistakes, increasing further optimisations and improving on established strategies and the like. It would not be before long until the record would be improved upon more by none other than Claris again.

Just under three months later on June 2 of 2013, Claris would contribute her final world record to the Metroid Prime community in the form of a 0:56. While she would still drop her time to a 0:55 later in September of 2016, it would not be a world record at this point. Claris would push many people to continue improving on their times including an older member of the forums who went by the handle of T3.

“The Throne Is Threatened”

T3 was far from an unknown user, and he had posted many good times consistently alongside Claris, as well as completing what many would consider ‘extremely difficult’ milestones in Metroid Prime. These would include feats like 21%; having the world record for Frigate Escape; and overall having very competent submission times in every category. He would in fact prove exactly how competent he was (after a slight lull of world record times in the community) in July 17, 2014. T3 would finally break the ‘Claris-wall’ of world records and create some excitement in the Metroid Prime community.

The main part that was exciting about T3’s run was simply the fact that the routing had hardly changed much at all. The timesave between the two runs came from pure execution and strategy hunting to save time in the same route as the previous run, which was done largely by T3 himself, over the period of a couple years. Many hours were spent looking over rooms for more efficient ways to pass through them instead of just emulating previous world record videos. T3 had cultivated all of these strategies into one run which could definitely be described as a “decent” run for the time.

Competition would slightly die down for world record in Metroid Prime, and the community would go into yet another temporary lull. Members would continue to post times, and members still sought new possible routes and tricks to speed up the game as much as possible. This was going on when T3 would again post a new world record that had again been brought down by even more careful optimisation: 0:54. T3 would not post the time directly to Metroid2002, but would make the run available for viewing on YouTube.

Note that the date on the video on YouTube would make it appear that the record would come a couple days later on the 4th, but the world record itself was actually achieved on March 1, 2015.

“New Discoveries”

Slightly later in the year, there were a couple of very useful route changes which were discovered, mainly by the user Fusion Varia. These changes would include the ability to obtain Wave Beam; Artifact of Sun; and skip the Sheegoth fight all at the same time. This route would not quite become the currently used any% route, as it would still use Ice Beam Before Flaahgra and obtain the Power Bomb expansion in far Phendrana.

However, ‘Wave/Sun’ as it would be named was a significant route change which would allow for a some larger time save of around 45 seconds. T3 would be the first member of the community (and the first for quite a while) to capitalise on this routing change and produce the current world record time of 0:53 on July 23rd, 2015 utilising these changes and some more minor movement improvements to obtain the current world record..

It was becoming more and more evident that the skill gap between T3 and other members was fairly significant. Coming from a moment in time where Claris seemed untouchable, T3’s skill was apparent beyond hers and any other players to touch the game. The amount of precision which T3 was able to put into runs enabled himself to distance his run 2 minutes away from the closest competitor for quite some time, a feat which had not been achieved for years. In fact, it would be nearly 2 years until T3 would be faced with competition.

“It’s Understandable For People To Have Doubts About That”

Justin, or JustinDM is a talented runner who joined the community in the middle of 2014. His skill at the game matured so quickly that - amusingly enough - some of his earliest times earned him a proofcall from veteran community members. It is worth mentioning that proof calls in the Metroid Prime community are extremely unheard of. During this time, some further route improvements would be made, such as getting an early Power Bomb expansion in Magma Pool and eliminating Ice Beam Before Flaahgra in the route.

These tricks would bring along some other very welcomed changes to the current any% route as well, as they would enable runners to avoid doing the Great Tree Hall double bomb jump and removing Ice Beam Before Flaahgra entirely. Both of these were seen as relatively high chances of being run ending tricks, especially for newer players. While generally speaking they were not terribly difficult, the exclusion of these in even the easiest of beginner routes following the fastest one were seen as a big benefit to the running community. This is because it now allows for more focus on movement and execution in runs instead of what could be seen as ‘difficult to execute.’

Unfazed by this proofcall, Justin would post some proof a couple days later… of a time even faster than his original claim. Simply from reading this, it can come as no large surprise that over time, with lots of practice and effort Justin quickly became a very competent Prime runner.

Justin would actually be come so competent, that he would finally become the first person to challenge T3’s legendary 0:53. Justin had also begun to utilise 2 new route changes in the time between the previous world record and his attempts: one being the Frigate Wallcrawl which saves just over a minute of in-game time, and one being Early Newborn which was discovered by Fusion Varia, with improvements from T3 and Justin. Frigate wallcrawl was first realised during the Metroid Prime TAS, but was achieved by Justin on console while looking for places to obtain Infinite Speed on Frigate. It quickly developed into a console-friendly wallcrawl which was capable of saving nearly a minute of time over inbounds frigate.

Mission Final screen on JustinDM’s 0:53

Armed with these further improvements to the any% route, Justin practiced by first producing a segmented 0:52; grinding out certain strats and rooms; and after a week or so of attempts finally cultivating in the world record final time of 0:53 which he achieved on March 27th of 2017. While at face value Justin’s run is 20 seconds faster than T3’s record, the route changes used since the previous 0:53 save over a minute and a half of real time, ostensibly showcasing T3’s excellent movement and strategies, which both runners have borrowed from each other and improved upon.

”A New Record!”

JustinDM would not stop his attempts there, and a tied World Record wasn’t good enough. After years of practicing his skill, being proof called, memed at for ‘Phendrana 100% RTA,’ and frequently being underestimated or sold short, JustinDM would achieve a new time. After taking the newest Metroid Prime tech, hours and hours of practice, and thousands of attempts at individual segments on April 25, 2018 JustinDM achieved a 0:52 single segmented time in Metroid Prime.

The run itself was very similar in routing to the 53, with minor changes to strategy or tech and execution; notably during Early Newborn. At least in part, this run is impressive due to being the first new untied World Record since 2015. On the other hand, this run is also impressive because Justin had runs up to a minute and a half faster, which had died at Early Newborn in the Phazon Mines.

Summer Games Done Quick is a speedrunning event where players of all games and all backgrounds come together to raise money for charity and spend time with other people who they rarely, if ever, get to see in real life. During SDGQ of 2018, members of the Metroid Prime community were having a race in the Casual Room of GDQ when T3 (who had gone to a public event for the first time) got an 0:51 on June 28th of 2018.

This was absolutely stunning to members of the community, and pictures of the mission final screen were taken for at least some permanent form of proof, but ultimately the run was not added to official leaderboards due to a longstanding rule which requires video proof for runs under 1:10 in-game time.

Thankfully, it would not take long for another 51 to surface. JustinDM stepped his game up and completed some more runs. As a result, only three days after T3 achieved the time, Justin would obtain a time of 0:51 - on video - in only 5 attempts. This record can be watched here.

“I’m sick lmao”

Games Done Quick would not stop providing us with Metroid Prime insanity. After performing an extremely respectable 52 during his marathon run, Justin was playing in the practice room alongside other members of the Prime community; Skull, Edzan, Metroid177, and gunert; during a completely random and casual run when — for the second time in 2 years — another Metroid Prime GDQ world record happened. Justin performed an incredible 0:50 using the same route as previous 52’s and 51’s, but executing it with nearly no mistakes was able to obtain a brand new time of 0:50.

Starting his run with a solid 5:25 frigate, Justin continued on with an average quality Incinerator Drone fight, with really great movement up to Flaahgra where he got an insanely quick Chozo ghost fight that was unfortunately negated somewhat by the final ghost doing a ‘long death’ glitch. The lack of mistakes and good movement continued on as Justin nailed a solid Wavesun. The first major ‘player error’ occurred after Wavesun with some shoddy movement up until Magma Pool Infinite Speed, but was padded a bit by a very great Ice Beam before Flaahgra After Flaahgra.

There was mostly normal gameplay up until Plasma beam, which had really good spinner skips but suffered from some substandard movement afterward, until Artifact of Spirit. Justin had good luck and obtained a Power Bomb drop from the Veralibox and Edward as well. Movement to Mines was fine and the maze was a high 30 square as well which is pretty average luck. Fungal Hall A secret world went fantastically and no issues on the wall crawl, all leading up to a really good Omega Pirate fight and both Spiderless Shafts first try rounded off the whole Phazon segment being really great. Finally, Justin nailed Ghost Skip with a dash to and from the peg, obtained mid-air boost on Ridley, excellent RNG on Exo with Plasma Ice Power Ice, and a solid 3 pool Essence as well. This run is quite solid but still improvable in minor ways, despite finally having no major mistakes.

So that is where Metroid Prime is at currently. It is June 29th, 2019 and the any% world record for Metroid Prime is currently an hour and 41 minutes faster than the initial 2:31 by Funkytoad, at 0:50 minutes flat.

I have reached a point where I am not entirely sure how to end this article, so I will do so by breaking the fourth wall and expressing my personal passion for this game.

I picked up Metroid Prime on December 1st of 2002, after my sister got it as a present for my father on his birthday. I watched them both play for hours and hours until they both wound up stuck at Flaahgra. Then-7-year-old me asked them if I could try to beat the boss, as I had noticed the patterns and the strategy required to take it on. They told me sure, and my dad went upstairs to play Halo: Combat Evolved on his computer. I loaded up one of my father’s saves, practiced moving around, shooting, and morphing, then went to Flaahgra the way that I had watched them do it.

I beat him on the first try, and came upstairs some minutes later to inform my dad thusly of my accomplishment and was promptly met with some disbelief.

But I was hooked.

This absurdly fun game would become an absolute addiction for me, and I would search on Google in late 2003, looking for more information on the game. I initially had searched ‘Metroid Prime 2002’ (because that’s when the game came out) and stumbled across a slightly-dying GameFAQ’s forum and what would become the biggest Metroid website itself, Metroid2002. I took in all this information and continued my journey for more, this time searching “Samus,” and (somehow) finding the website ‘’ I eventually noticed that these websites had forums, which I would join in 2004 and begin occasionally posting in, trying to help out where I saw fit, as much as a 9 year old could.

The game would shape a large part of my childhood and would always encourage me to try and push the boundaries in anything I did. As would somewhat famously become a tagline for metroid2002 that I would try to apply to my life as much as I can, ‘impossible is nothing.’




Speedrun enthusiast, Metroid lover and always trying to break the boundaries.