Metroid Prime Speedrunners Spent Nine Years Figuring Out How to Skip a Boss

By Heather Alexandra on at

Metroid Prime is a massive game, but speedrunners bypass most of it with complicated glitches and special tricks. A new trick just before the final boss cuts off nearly a minute of the game and helps solve the nine-year mystery of how to skip directly to the final battle.

Crater Tunnel B is one of the final rooms before the game’s boss, Metroid Prime. The boss fight has multiple phases including a boss against Metroid Prime’s exoskeleton. In 2009, speedrunners were able to trigger a glitch in Crater Tunnel B that allowed them to skip the exoskeleton fight. The glitch, known as “Where’s the Room?”, occurs when the game mistakenly believes the player has loaded into the wrong room. This allows speedrunners to move out of bounds. Using another glitch to build infinite speed in Samus’ morph ball form, players could around out of bounds to reach the boss room.

There was only one problem: moving out of bounds in this manner distorts the game’s visuals in a glitch called “lightshow” and makes it all but impossible to know where you’re going. The combination of the randomness of “Where’s the Room?” and being nearly blind during out of bounds movement made it impossible to reliably skip to the final boss.

A comparison video showing how the original skip would work if you could avoid being blinded.

“You’d need to do the wallcrawl almost completely blind besides having the minimap and it’s possible to softlock or hit a couple of cutscene triggers early on that would put you back inbounds,” Metroid Prime speedrunner BashPrime told Kotaku via Discord.

This week, a new method for skipping the exoskeleton fight was discovered by speedrunner Vertigo. Instead of trying to trigger a random glitch and roll around in the dark, runners can now use an enemy Metroid to move out of bounds and completely skip the room where they would fight the exoskeleton. Since they don’t use the “Where’s the Room?” glitch, the game’s visuals don’t get distorted—runners can see where they need to go and perform the skip. By luring a Metroid to the top of Crater Tunnel B, runners can roll into a morph ball and take damage from the attacking enemy. With some careful timing, they can burst out of bounds without the “Where’s the Room?” glitch and then skip the exoskeleton fight.

A video of the exoskeleton clip. Look at the helpful Metroid!

“[Skipping the exoskeleton fight is] huge because the Exo fight takes so long without charge beam and you don’t want to be too risky as you only have 99 health,” BashPrime said.

Not only does the trick allow runners to reliably perform the skip but it also saves a significant amount of time. Building up the necessary speed for the infinite speed glitch takes 50 seconds—this new version of the trick removes that step entirely from the Any% run, which tries to complete the game as fast as possible. In categories like the low% category, which collects as few upgrades as possible, it will save nearly 10 minutes and remove a difficult part of the boss fight.

Many of Metroid Prime’s record runs have gone uncontested for some time. The hard mode Any% run has stood for three years, while Any% has stood for ten months. The exoskeleton skip should see many of these times contested by new runs that use their Metroid pal to do what had previously seemed impossible.

“If the clip gets refined to the point where it becomes super consistent, then you’ll definitely start seeing new personal bests in the low to sub hour range, if not a new world record,” BashPrime said.