From the files of “I can do that, but I don’t wanna,” a fellow who goes by the handle Blubbler set the record this week for fastest Super Mario Bros. completion time. As reported by Kotaku, Blubbler’s time of 4:57.69 is the best ever by an unassisted speedrunner—rather than a player using software tools to edit together a “perfect” run. This marks the first time that any player has gone below the 4:58 mark in public, and given that the tool-assisted record stands at 4:57.31, Blubbler’s performance is almost flawless.
The critical moment for this run comes at the end of World 8-2, when Mario jumps off a Bullet Bill at the perfect instant to trigger a flagpole glitch. Because the glitch starts the end-of-stage time runoff immediately—rather than waiting for the flag to descend and for Mario to reach the castle—Blubbler saves more than half a second, which is a huge chunk of time in an endeavor where every frame of action is carefully tracked. (Indeed, Blubbler breaks down where he gained and lost frames in a post on the Speed Demos Archive forums.) There’s a bit of luck involved in the record, as there’s no guarantee that the Bullet Bill will spawn with ideal position and timing as it did in this instance. So aging NES nostalgists like myself can console themselves with the notion that it was all luck. (Except it wasn’t, and this Internet person named Blubbler is akin to a demigod.)