How to beat 'Super Mario Bros.' in three minutes

YouTuber, Bismuth, breaks down exactly how a world-record speedrun beats Super Mario Bros. 3 in a little more than three minutes.

Speedruns are fun to watch. They involve just the right amount of prowess and muscle memory that make classic games like Super Mario such fun to play. Apparently, they can also involve some pretty nifty hacking.

This summer, a speedrunner by the name of Zikubi managed to completely smash the world record for Super Mario 3 completion by using gameplay to reprogram how the game reacts.

By utilizing the game's own random number generator, which determines things like spawn rate, Zikubi is able to rig the levels in his favor and eventually open up what can only be described as a wormhole that leads right to the end of the game.

The first portion of the speed run is fairly standard, following the same course as the previous world record, held by Mitchflowerpower, who beat the game in 11 minutes.

Here's the beginning phase of the previous record...

At the two-minute mark, however, things start to get weird. Instead of going into world eight, Zikubi chooses to go back into world seven where, to the untrained eye, he runs around like an aimless madman.

As Bismuth points out in his explainer, however, Zikubi is actually actively reprogramming the game by executing the moves. In the end, Mario leaps into a pipe meant to go up instead of down and travels all the way to the final screen of the game.

Via that wormhole, Mario is able to ride a glitch "behind the bounds of the level" since the pipe technically has no exit. Mario then comes out inside garbage data created by the game, interacts with a block causing the game to read conditions set into place earlier in the run, and sends Mario on a journey to victory.

In a pretty riveting YouTube clip, Bismuth emulated the run and broke down how exactly Zikubi achieved his record-smashing time. Needless to say, the breakdown is full of behind-the-scenes complexities, including these tables showing how the "wormhole" works...

The run is fascinating not just in its world record timing, but because it utilizes game mechanics and code in a genius way. The whole explainer video is worth a watch, especially if you've ever been curious about what's going on under the hood of games like Super Mario.

Thanks for reading,
head home for more!