You might think you're pretty good at Super Mario Bros. Maybe you played it over and over again when it was new back in 1985. Maybe you know all about warp zones and the minus world and tricks for getting infinite lives.
But can you beat the game in less than five minutes?
A Super Mario Bros. speedrunner (someone who specializes in trying to set speed records for completing games) that goes by the name Darbian has broken the world record for an "any percentage" run of the game. He did it in 4:57.260. The "any percentage" part of that title means he's able to skip huge chunks of the game -- which he did -- by any means achievable in the game. In this case, he used warp zones to bypass several levels.
And he did it live. You can watch his performance (complete with an indication of his heart rate as he played) on YouTube.
What was the old record? It was also held by Darbian, and it was 4:57.427.
Yeah, that means the difference between records is mere milliseconds.
It's darn close to the theoretical "perfect" time. A "tool-assisted speedrun" (TAS) of the game, which allows for manipulation of the gameplay rather than being entirely finished by a human in a single playthrough, is 4:54.03. For a "clean" run to match that, much less beat it, is incredibly unlikely.
Shaving just half a second off of a record can take years of practice and thousands of runs.
As should probably be expected, many people on social media couldn't believe it. The people who follow speedrunning closely know of Darbian (he's been on a quest to shave milliseconds off his record time for years), but anybody who plays Super Mario Bros. more casually looks at what Darbian can do and thinks he's hacked the code.
“Something ain’t right. There were definitely sometimes he should’ve easily been hit,” says someone on IGN’s Facebook comment thread. Another alleged “#cheatcodes” were used.
But believe it or not, every trick Darbian pulls off is something you can do yourself -- if you're skilled enough. He's even made a tutorial video explaining how he achieves such fast runs (and addressing the complaints of most naysayers).