It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. 9 months of improvement have led you to this moment. The final boss of Donkey Kong 64, King K Rool. It’s your final run before you have to return to real life obligations, limiting your ability to play. Your pace has you ahead of the world record speedrun time by mere seconds, you can’t afford any mistakes here. You quickly and accurately fire Donkey Kong out of barrels to clear the first round of the bout. You manage to maneuver Diddy Kong through the air with precision as you drop the ring lights down onto the giant Kremlin’s head. Lanky Kong’s long arms and accurate barrel throws leave the king with a brutal ache on his rear end. Despite how long it takes for Tiny Kong to shrink in size and shoot all five toes, you do it as fast as anyone ever has. All that’s left is the Chunky Kong phase of the fight.
This is the spot popular DK64 speedrunner Connor75 found himself in during a run in 2015.
“I was extremely nervous going into Chunky Phase. I knew that in the best case scenario, I would only get world record by 5 seconds. It is very easy to make minor mistakes in Chunky Phase and lose 5 seconds just by getting hit by K. Rool once or twice.”
Says Connor, reflecting on the run.
The Chunky Phase is one of the more simple phases of the fight, you basically need to run back and forth. From the center to the corner of the giant boxing ring until Chunky takes on his giant form. Then all you need to do is time your punch right. The first three hits go off without a hitch. In the eyes of anybody watching, they’re seeing a new world record occur in front of them. A new record holder is about to be crowned! All that’s needed is one final button press. Press “B” and the record is yours!
“Nearing the end of Chunky Phase, the nerves went away because I knew I had done it, only to have my hopes crushed when I pressed that stupid A button.”
And with that A press, Chunky Kong backflips into the air and K Rool smacks world record right out of sight. That A press has become a bit of an in joke in the DK64 community these days. There’s a lot of runners, especially the more skilled ones, who will purposely do a backflip on the final part of the Chunky phase just as a nod to Connor75’s disastrous run.
Connor had been running the game for a while, and was ready to challenge the champion of the time 2dos for the top spot in the 101% category.
“I started speedrunning in January, 2015 and Donkey Kong 64 was the first game that got me into it in the first place. I ran 101% for about 9 months before the day of the backflip.
Prior to the backflip, I was close to the world record for 1 month. I got a massive 11 minute PB on August 26, 2015, putting me within 2 minutes of 2dos’s world record.”
But as the old quote from Rocky says, “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward!”
And move forward Connor did! I asked him about the infamous run and he told me
“Honestly, the run probably wasn’t that great, considering my time is now 40 minutes faster, but the run felt better at the time because I was still on “world record pace.”
Immediately after the backflip, I felt like I had lost my chance at getting a world record, because it didn’t seem real I was able to get that close in the first place. I was also starting college the very next day, so I was worried that I had wasted my only chance of getting the world record.”
And although the situation looked pretty bleak for Connor and his hopes for securing the world record at that stage, college didn’t end up being quite as much of a time suck as he had assumed. It’s one thing you’ll learn about Connor the more you watch his streams on Twitch, he’s a very intelligent person. But not even he could have predicted the comeback!
It took him less than a month to compose himself and go on a run that, rather than going into Chunky Phase a few seconds ahead, he was a whole minute ahead! And this time, he pressed the right button and scored an emphatic world record. It showed that, not only was the infamous backflip not a one off, but also that Connor was capable of so much more!
“I felt so relieved that I was able to get the world record once in my life. It made backflipping not matter anymore since I was able to complete a run that was even faster than the other one.”
Since then, Connor75 has improved the world record multiple times. Though he took a break from the game that, to the part of me that’s a big fan of Connor, felt like an eternity. Another player, FalconXFalcon came along and took the world record from Connor, and held it for quite a while. But Connor wasn’t satisfied with his old time.
“It has been a back and forth battle in my head between knowing I could take back the world record after FalconXFalcon1 beat my time and thinking that I didn’t have the time anymore to dedicate to the category. I got extremely busy with school near the end of my undergraduate program and during my graduate program, that 101% speedrunning was completely put onhold. However, once I got back into it, I realized how close I was getting to the world record again, and it wasn’t long before I had my confidence back.”
On March 15th in 2020, nearly two years since FalconXFalcon had last set a world record, Connor went on a rampage and smashed the world record by well over a minute. It’s a record that, as of writing, nobody has been able to touch. And it goes to show just how amazing at this classic Rareware platformer Connor75 is. I asked Connor what keeps him playing Donkey Kong 64 after all these years:
“It is a combination of seeing all of the potential that still exists for the game and having astreaming community that is always supportive of me. Getting Twitch partner while doing DK64101% speedruns was a huge milestone for me in 2017, and no matter how many breaks I takefrom the game, my viewers are always there for me when I come back. Another major part ofwhat keeps me coming back is knowing that I can continue to improve my time. When I wasactively doing runs earlier in 2020, I improved my time by 5 minutes, got the world record back, so I am looking forward to improving by a similar amount again in the near future.”
As much as he credits the community for keeping him in the game, the community owes Connor a great deal for keeping it alive. I’ve watched a lot of speedrunners over the years, and have monitored communities around those games. Very few, if any communities have someone like Connor around. Someone willing to help all players from the top to the bottom in any category. Someone well spoke and intelligent who still sees himself as an equal to everyone else. It’s a community mostly free of elitism, and that’s owed in a big way to the attitudes Connor takes toward everyone with even a slight interest in the game.
Regarding advice for new players Connor said
“Feel free to ask for help! I am not some super popular celebrity who constantly gets messages,so I am always available to give advice to people. Some of my favorite messages I get are from people who are looking to get into speedrunning DK64. I recommend doing a combination of reading the guides I have written, watching tutorials on Youtube, watching people do runs live on Twitch, and reaching out when something specific is giving you trouble”
So where to from here for Connor? And what of the 101% category?
“I see 101% continuing to improve. While I may not be getting the 5 minute world records everytime like I used to, there is still plenty to do. I have plans over the next couple months to dedicate my time into optimizing the category to a level never done before!
The speedrun is no longer about “making the least amount of mistakes” but instead “how can every single detail be optimized.” There are more and more difficult glitches being done all the time that make it even more difficult to have a consistent run.”
So do yourself a favour, go check out Connor75 on Twitch and relive the peak of the Nintendo 64 era. Go and ask him about the backflips, the ups, the downs, the glitches. Be amazed at how flawlessly and quickly he runs through a game that takes most people days. Trust me, you wont regret it! And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to challenge the king for his crown?
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the secret rainbow coin that was reported to change the landscape of Donkey Kong 64 Speedruns, let Connor sum it up for you:
“Contrary to popular belief, the discovery of the Fungi Forest rainbow coin did not affect a singlemain category speedrun of Donkey Kong 64. It is true that my “All Collectables” speedrun wasinvalidated, but if anything it was even more exciting to be able to redo the run with the newcoin. It was by no means an optimized world record considering I had only run it once before.”
Thanks to Connor75 for taking the time to answer questions for this article!
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link! We hope you enjoyed the article and interview with Connor75 in regards to speedrunning Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo Kazooie. Let us know what you think about it in the comments below!