Marble Madness Co-op Record History:
January 11 2017, 3:17.298 - Toad22484 and Steve Barrios
September 4 2017, 3:17.097 - chessjerk and yelsraek
January 8 2019, 3:14.349 - yelsraek and Steve Barrios
June 28 2019, 3:07.704 - yelsraek and Steve Barrios
(Written commentary by Elipsis - please see audio track 2 for joint audio commentary from both runners)
Strong co-op runs of Marble Madness are always elusive due to the difficulty of gathering regionally disparate players. So far, 3 out of the 4 records have taken place at GDQs. This latest entry took place at SGDQ 2019 in the private practice room. While the time here is 3:07, it is worth nothing that real-time 12 seconds in any two player run will always be lost rewarding the winner of the previous race with an additional five in-game seconds (2.4 seconds per race times 5). Yelsraek and I knew that we could improve our previous 3:14 run this time around, as we were both in top form from our earlier practice for our GDQ run. Many single player strategies here go by the wayside in favor of consistent, predictable, collision-free pathing. I am proud to say that we have finally produced a run that is clean and unambiguously worthy of SDA publication.
A small time loss here of about 1.5 seconds and the only death for red (played by Elipsis) in the entire run. It's the usual offscreen death that top runners are all too familiar with. We elected to keep the run going in these cases because of the discovery of a relatively fast and completely reliable backup strat that also shows off the alternate path.
It's easy to slap the balls together here if you aren't careful, and this run showcases very tight movement as well as some of the careful planning that yelsraek and I did on the backend. Of particular interest is the almost telepathic link between the two of us at the bottom of the final section, where you see red make an adjustment with nearly the same inputs to give blue a run at the goal without a collision.
This one is super fun because yelsraek and I are actually racing. Specifically, whoever goes down the pipe _second_ has to perform the difficult "hot drop" maneuver - new technology that is only viable in the two player run of Marble Madness that allows the second marble onto the carpet to make up some time by suiciding into the goal. It saves time, looks cool as hell, is hard to do, and still technically doesn't count as a death. I'm really happy that we got to show it off in this run.
Blue intentionally hesitates here in order to desynch the marbles and eliminate the chance of a game freeze. This delay doesn't even cause a time loss, as the catapault has a set cooldown time and will always seperate the marbles by a second or so. Blue now has the difficult job of going through the pegs on an unusual cycle, since red activates the pegs first. The hammers aren't as predictable in co-op (because we aren't frame-rule level consistent, just yet!) so there is just a tiny hestitation to make sure that both of us get to the goal safely.
With perfect play, red has the slightly longer track when the two diverge - and a slightly more optimized movement allowed yelsraek to get a bit ahead of me by the time we were clear of the bird section. But BEHOLD the power of the pixel-perfect silly skip! I was able to guide the red marble through a beautiful one-bounce silly skip here and make up all of that time and more. This was an important time save because it came from the trailing marble, and allowed us to proceed on just as soon as the blue marble crossed the goal line.
This one is always frightening. The red track is hot garbage and always threatens a time loss. yelsraek hangs back on the blue marble at the start just a tiny bit as planned in order to avoid a ramp collision. yelsraek gets down to Steely (the black marble) first and begins the age old ritual of deadly combat. This may seem unneccessary, but it turns out that the game WILL freeze if both players enter the final platforming section while the black marble is still on screen. (Don't believe me? Watch CGDQ!) yelsraek trades his life (the only blue death) for a Steely kill, but believe it or not this isn't even a time loss. My job as red at this point becomes to immediately get the platform cycles started by scrolling the screen, and as long as yelsraek can make the first cycle - it doesn't cost us time.
On the other hand, having both marbles share a single cycle ultimate race finish is _very_ nerve racking. We lost a lot of runs here because there just isn't much room to make the platforms and not collide with each other. Fortunately, tons of practice paid off, and we were able to complete the double one-cycle without a yelschoke.
Final Time: 3:07.704
I am extremely happy with this run. We hit all the high notes (hot drop intermediate, silly skip, double one-cycle ultimate) and avoided significant mistakes. This blows away the number two and three times (which also involve yelsraek and I with other partners) and creates a monsterous (in marble terms) 10 second gap in the leaderboard. That figure alone should tell you something about how much faster this run is than anything that came before it. Without the more minor errors in Practice and Intermediate, I think we'd be looking at about a 3:04 as the best reasonably possible time - but it's hard to say decisively, as the two player space has not been nearly as thoughly explored. Still, I love this run and hope you all enjoy watching it as much as we did making it.
Much thanks and love to my Marble Brother yelsraek for pushing this game to the next level and collaborating with me to make this incredible time a reality.