Speedrunner Niftski stands on the cusp of godhood, having achieved a world record 4:54 speedrun in Super Mario Bros. More specifically, it’s 4:54.948. Aside from being a world record, what makes this achievement extra special is that it is the first time a human being has ever breached the “4:55 barrier” or “55 barrier.” Even the current RTA tool-assisted speedrun (TAS) record for Super Mario Bros. is only a 4:54 — 4:54.265. For those who don’t know, TAS basically means someone has programmed a computer to play the game for them. So in other words, Niftski is only a fraction of a second slower than a computer specifically programmed to play Super Mario Bros. in the most optimal ways that have been discovered.
As my colleague Steven Rollins explains to me, the difference between Niftski’s time and the TAS record works out to around 41 frames. “However, because of how SMB works, you can only gain time in segments of 0.35 seconds (1 framerule, or 21 frames),” he said, so it’s kind of even more amazing. Additionally, a sub-5:00 Super Mario Bros. speedrun was achieved for the first time in December 2010, so it has taken an additional decade to get to this 4:54 point.
Yet despite achieving the world record and a 4:54, Niftski isn’t done speedrunning Super Mario Bros. yet. Among other things, he said the following in the video description: “This was my 2nd run ever on this pace into 8-4, so I am blessed to say I finished it out. This is a time I can be proud of for the rest of my life. Also, I don’t plan on stopping here!” Consider yourself warned, Super Mario Bros.
If you need more speedrunning in your life, check out this mind-boggling sub-7-minute speedrun of Dragon Quest III that involves swapping out the cartridge with Dr. Mario, Kirby’s Adventure, and Final Fantasy. Then check out the first ever no-damage run of Ninja Gaiden.