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How to beat 'Super Mario Bros. 3' in two seconds flat

... with help from a code-injecting bot
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
July 11, 2016
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We're actually pretty okay with AI winning at "Go," but when it's beating Super Mario Bros. 3 in mere seconds, it's time to be worried. ais523, an expert on game "speedruns," noticed that pressing a Nintendo NES's controller rapidly could allow him to insert new code. With help from the "tool-assisted speedrun (TAS)" community, he used a Nintendo robot called "TASBot" to virtually mash the button up to 6,000 times a second. With just the right pattern, he got through Super Mario 3 in seconds, to the delight of Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) 2016 speedrun fans.

Because of a glitch in the NES hardware, the speedy inputs cause code to run twice in a frame, "so things start breaking and memory [is] interpreted as code," says ais523. From there, it actually interprets the control inputs as code and tries to run it, "so you can influence what the code does at that point with controller inputs."

As shown in the video above, the game jumps from the opening screen directly to the finish in two seconds. That gets you directly to Nintendo's snarky ending (above) without actually earning or enjoying it. However, you can enjoy the clever way that the programmers figured out how to trick the game by just using a robot that mashes an Nintendo NES controller. "All this happened while SGDQ was running, and the ... schedule got changed in order to add the run in because it's such a mindblowing thing to watch," says ais523.

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