Old school Nintendo fans dealt with tons of challenging games, but Battletoads was one of the toughest. The third level contains the dreaded “turbo tunnel,” a long hoverbike gauntlet that wrecked careless players and grizzled experts alike. Yesterday, a speedrunner not only completed it without losing a single life, but while blindfolded.
Piotr Delgado “The Mexican Runner” Kusielczuk performed the feat live at the European Speedrunner Assembly marathon yesterday in Malmö, Sweden. As he approached the turbo tunnel, where characters speed down a hazard-filled course, a member of his commentary crew placed a bag over his head.
“There’s one problem with the turbo tunnel blindfolded,” Kusielczuk said. “I cannot know how high or how low I am. So, that’s a big problem because it’s not as simple as pressing up or down.”
The turbo tunnel tosses a variety of obstacles into the player’s path. In some cases there are barriers that must be avoided; in others, small hurdles to jump over and ramps to hit. What makes the tunnel particularly difficult is how quickly these hazards appear. Sometimes, multiple obstructions are placed on screen and the player has mere seconds to react. Combined with Battletoads’’s finicky controls, the margin for error is very low. If you’re a pixel off or a fraction slow, you might slam into a wall.
In order to survive, Kusielczuk uses audio cues from the game to time his movements. He makes it through the entire tunnel unscathed.
“You must be fucking kidding me,” Kusielczuk yelled as he crossed the finish line. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Battletoads’ legacy as a difficult and unfair game makes it the perfect candidate for speedrunning. Kotaku’s Tim Rogers subjected Bennet Foddy—creator of the meme-tastic Getting Over It With Bennet Foddy—to the turbo tunnel’s horrors during a livestream. Foddy struggled with the tunnel for hours. Kusielczuk completed it in a little over two minutes.