Four minutes and 55 seconds: for two years, this was the fastest anyone could beat the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES. It’s such a precise world record that there’s been debate since 2018 over whether or not it could ever be toppled. Within the community, the mere idea of a 4:54 run became legendary.
Plenty have tried. Actually, as of this writing, the Super Mario Bros. speedrun leaderboard has over 10 records in the 4:55 range, the difference between them coming down to milliseconds. And getting there is no joke — as YouTuber Bismuth explains in the documentary below, thousands of runs end before the flagpole on the first level.
Theoretically, a faster time has always been possible. At least, that’s what tool-assisted speedruns, which can be written frame by frame, tell the experts. The question was whether or not an actual human could improve on what is already an extremely optimized run that requires pixel-perfect control. Already, a 4:55 time is nearly flawless compared to what a computer can achieve (4:54.26, for those keeping track.)
And now, in 2021, someone has. The new record, which is being called historic by the community, was achieved by Twitch streamer Niftski. Clocking in at 4:54:97, it is now the fastest anyone has beaten Super Mario Bros.
“This is insane,” Niftski said during the stream. “It hit me, but it hasn’t hit me fully.”
Now that the seemingly impossible has been achieved, the streamer ended his broadcast by announcing that he was developing new 2021 goals for the game.