The term low% means the lowest amount of items which the player can use to beat the game with. 14% is the lowest amount of items that the player can beat the game with, without the usage of major glitches such as out of bounds or space time. For humans, there are currently eight categories that fit this description - 14% Ice, 14% Speed, 14% xIce, 14% Iceboots, 14% Iceboost, 14% Speedboots, 14% Chargeless, and 14% Chargelice.
Excluding Chargeless, each 14% category is named by its major item(s). Since the first two categories both collect Gravity Suit, their names reflect the other major item they acquire - 14% Ice acquires Ice Beam, and 14% Speed collects Speed Booster. 14% xIce acquires both Ice Beam and X-Ray Scope, with X-Ray Scope's only required usage being to escape Draygon's entry chamber by X-Ray climbing from the lower door to the upper door. 14% Iceboots and 14% Speedboots are PAL-only categories - both categories collect Hi-Jump Boots instead of Gravity Suit, with 14% Iceboots involving Ice Beam and 14% Speedboots involving Speed Booster. The underwater jump height on PAL is slightly higher than NTSC, allowing the player, with Hi-Jump Boots equipped, to perform single underwater walljumps to escape Draygon's entry chamber. 14% Iceboost collects Ice Beam and Speed Booster instead of other major items by utilizing a newer method for generating blue suit. 14% Chargeless collects Gravity Suit and two additional Power Bomb packs while skipping Charge Beam - it uses its ability to Crystal Flash to generate shinespark suits and underflow ammo. 14% Chargelice involves similar feats as 14% Chargeless, but collects Ice Beam instead of Gravity Suit.
The low% categories challenge the player much more than most popular Super Metroid runs. The idea and requirement behind low% categories is to collect the absolute lowest percentage of items needed in order to beat the game. These categories can be defined as follows:
- 14% - Lowest amount of items a player can acquire to defeat all major bosses while staying within the boundaries of the rooms.
- 12% - Lowest amount of items a player can acquire to defeat all major bosses while utilizing the out of bounds area.
- 0% - Lowest amount of items a player can acquire to beat the game by any means necessary.
Regarding 14%, out of the items that the player collects, any one item less would render the player unable to beat the game while staying within the boundaries of the rooms.
The restriction of items creates very unique challenges for the player to overcome, requiring many skills that are not taught by Any% KPDR or 100% runs of Super Metroid. These skills include having a mastery of various glitches and boss fights.
Draygon is slightly more challenging in most 14% conditions due to the lack of ammunition and lack of Wave special beam combo. Compared to the Ice categories, 14% Speed is moderately easier as even though it only has Charge Beam, it has the option to shinespark into Draygon which deals tremendous damage and can provide Samus with a blue suit.
The remaining 14% categories are much more demanding. Excluding Chargeless, as you do not have Gravity Suit compared to 14% Ice, and as a result of not having Gravity Suit (which means a gravity jump (see below in Techniques) is not an option for escaping Draygon's chamber), must end the fight by having Draygon carry Samus up to the upper platform after a left-to-right goo cycle (so that Draygon is facing right), so that the player can cause Draygon to eject Samus near the peak of her vertical whirling trip. The player must also be able to survive this, so being at 321+ health is crucial, as each of Draygon's swipes will deal 80 damage. Once on the upper platform, the player must effectively 'snipe' Draygon with a charge shot - the best chance of this happening is knowing when to fire when Draygon is swooping from left to right, where her core will be the most exposed.
You can find somewhat of an explanation for Draygon in 14% Chargeless and 14% Chargelice here.
Many who learn 14% categories find Ridley to be the second hardest boss. It is an endurance battle and it is vital that the player understands what actions Ridley can and cannot take at any point during the fight. Ridley is the easiest to handle in 14% Chargeless, as the player has thousands of Super Missiles to throw at Ridley thanks to underflowing ammo. The second easiest category to handle him in is 14% Ice, as the player has both the protection of Gravity Suit and the additional damage from Ice Beam for the battle. As 14% Speed does not have Ice Beam, it has to land an additional 61 charge shots on Ridley. 14% xIce and 14% Iceboots have the same armaments as 14% Ice, but lack Gravity Suit, so not only will Ridley deal twice as much damage, but acid will also deal twice as much damage and reduce Samus's movement. Although the same is true for 14% Iceboots and 14% Speedboots, Ridley is less of a threat in these categories as Ridley is substantially slower, and bounces significantly higher, on the PAL version.
Number of shots required to kill Ridley in each category (assuming you do not miss):
- 14% Ice/xIce/Iceboots/Iceboost - 123 charged Ice shots, 10 Missiles, 10 Super Missiles (Once Ridley changes color, 22 charged Ice shots plus 10/10 will bring Ridley to zero)
- 14% Speed/Speedboots - 184 charged shots, 10 Missiles, 10 Super Missiles (Once Ridley changes color, 33 charged shots plus 10/10 will bring Ridley to zero)
- 14% Chargeless/Chargelice - 30 Super Missiles
Power Bombs deal 200 damage and can strike Ridley twice, so they can help lower the amount of charged shots required even further. Ridley will attempt to avoid being struck by Power Bombs, so try to plant them in an unavoidable location. Here is an example of how you can incorporate Power Bombs for double strikes.
Mother Brain 2
In the 14% categories, Mother Brain's second phase is a test of concentration, and even more of an endurance test than Ridley. Mother Brain's second phase requires 300 charge shots in categories that collect Charge Beam but not Ice Beam, 200 charge shots in categories that collect both Charge Beam and Ice Beam, and 60 Super Missiles in 14% Chargeless. The player has to avoid any pattern that Mother Brain throws at them, making sure to never slip below 301 energy, all while outputting constant damage.
14% categories that acquire Ice Beam have the luxury of using the Ice special beam combo during the fight. You can use two (three if you are confident) at the start of the fight as Mother Brain awakens. You can perform additional Ice Shields during Mother Brain's red beam phase, when she is cooling down after a red beam attack, but those are more complicated and may not save time. Each Ice particle in the combo deals the same amount of damage as a charged Ice shot.
For PAL, it is important to note that the amount of frames it takes for the beam to charge (60) and a special beam combo to be unleashed (120) is the same as it is on NTSC, but since PAL runs at 50 frames per second, it means that the beam will take 0.2 seconds longer to charge and special beam combos will take 0.4 seconds longer to be unleashed compared to NTSC during 14% Iceboots and 14% Speedboots runs. Another difference PAL has in this fight is Mother Brain's actions will take noticeably longer to occur compared to NTSC, making for a slightly less tense fight.
The low% categories require more glitches and tricks in order to complete the run than seen in the ordinary any% or 100% Super Metroid runs. Below is a list of many tricks that are useful and/or required to completing a 14% category:
Continuous Wall Jump
The Continuous Wall Jump (referred to as CWJ) is a walljump trick that maintains the speed of your previous jump and therefore "continues" your jump. CWJ is mandatory for an optimal performance in 14% categories, although certain forms of bomb jumping, such as horizontal bomb jumping and ceiling bomb jumping, are alternatives. A CWJ can be executed in 14% Iceboots and 14% Speedboots as well; however, it has a completely different setup location than NTSC has due to the speed in which Samus moves and her acceleration out of doors. Additionally, on PAL, in the event you miss a CWJ, there are no setup locations within the actual moat room itself that can produce a walljump frame in which to CWJ with, making failed execution even more punishing.
A CWJ is executed by barely clearing the top of a platform by spin jumping over it, and then performing a walljump on the side of the platform just cleared. In the case of 14%, as well as Any% PRKD (or any run that does "Phantoon first"), a CWJ is used to cross the moat before the Wrecked Ship. The most consistent way to accomplish a CWJ on the NTSC version is to push yourself up against the door of the previous room, open it, and run through into the moat room. The player must then jump on the last possible frame available before Samus would fall into the moat, which will allow her to barely clear the center beam, collecting the Missiles on top. Right after clearing that platform, press and hold jump, and if executed properly, speed will be maintained, allowing the player to reach the other side of the room. The actual walljump itself normally has a two frame window, but can be only a one frame window instead depending on your starting location before running and jumping towards the beam. The jump towards the beam is always a one frame window.
This technique manipulates the physics of the game and is utilized in 14% Ice and 14% Chargeless to quickly reach places higher than Samus can normally jump. It can also be utilized in 14% Speed; however, it is the slower alternative to other techniques, such as performing the lava spark to enter Lower Norfair.
To execute the Gravity Jump, press the start button to pull up the pause menu. Before the screen becomes completely black and you lose control of Samus, press and hold jump. When done properly, you can usually see the very beginning of Samus's jump animation as the screen completely fades to black, as well as hear the very beginning of the spin jump sound effect (if you did perform a spin jump). At this point, remove the Gravity Suit, and exit the pause menu while continuing to hold jump. If done correctly, Samus's jump will be carried with the same speed as if she was wearing Gravity Suit, but the deceleration she has without Gravity Suit, resulting in a massive boost in height.
The area preceding Botwoon in Maridia usually requires Speed Booster to progress through; however, by using the Ice Beam and dragging a Mochtroid along to the proper location, a player can clip through a set of pipes and enter Botwoon's chamber without Speed Booster.
For 14% categories that acquire Ice Beam, players who are already used to the common method of the Zebetite skip (using Ice Beam without Screw Attack equipped) should be fairly used to this. Because you don't have Wave Beam, you will have to stand under the platform of the first Zebetite, against the wall, and fire an Ice beam shot at the location the Rinka spawns at the moment it spawns, then execute the skip like normal.
For 14% Speed and 14% Speedboots, the player must be able to charge a shinespark using the distance of the floor between the two rooms, and then shinespark underneath the platform of the first Zebetite, releasing it up+left. As the shinespark ends, mashing jump while holding down will allow the player to escape the Zebetite.
Similar to the Mochtroid clip, the ability to freeze enemies has a great usefulness in 14% xIce, 14% Iceboots, and 14% Iceboost. Players can cause certain enemies such as Scisers to fall off of surfaces by firing a Super Missile at the surface. Players can then freeze the enemy in midair as it descends down and jump onto these enemies, effectively using enemies as stepping stones to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.