Super Mario Bros speedrunner GTAce99 beat his own world record in the “Warpless” category by over a third of a second. Unfortunately, after re-timing his record live on stream, he came to the realization that his record was one frame short of the milestone he was grinding for.
Super Mario Bros, pone of the most iconic video games ever created, is also one of the most competitive and optimized in speedrunning, with some highly-acclaimed world records. One of the two main categories, “Warpless,” requires players to play through the full game without ever warping to another world, meaning all 32 levels must be played to completion. Seven months ago, “Any%” world record holder Kosmic broke the final minute barrier with a time of 18 minutes and 59.856 seconds. Now that the last-minute barrier has been broken, it’s a matter of taking it down by the second, and Ace nearly did exactly that.
Live on Twitch, Ace got a time of 18 minutes and 59.008 seconds. Had he completed the game one frame faster, he’d have broken the second barrier with an 18:58.991. At first, he believed he had done exactly that, immediately celebrating the 18:58 upon grabbing the hammer at the end of World 8-4. He knew it was close, but the celebration continued for a few minutes until he went back to re-time. His final time, which was determined by analysis of Bowser’s hammer throw pattern, ended that celebration, as despite beating the game faster than any human ever, it wasn’t fast enough. The video of the run can be seen below, though the reaction and analysis were cut and can only be seen in the Twitch VOD, linked in the hyperlink above.
Upon inspection of the video, Ace found there to be three lag frames during the run. A lag frame in Super Mario Bros is when a frame is repeated, usually due to a sprite overload on-screen. The three lag frames happened during a Bowser fight, and are completely out of the runner’s control. Had even one of these lag frames not occurred, this record would have broken the second barrier, but luck was not on his side this stream.
With a run this close to 18:58, it’s inevitable that the second break will come soon, though it isn’t clear who will be the one to break it. Currently, three runners have times in the 18:59’s, with two of these runners setting personal bests yesterday, so it really is anyone’s game. The record theoretically could be taken down over 20 more seconds, though physical limitations of human precision and consistency will hold speedrunners back from going that fast for a long time. Until then, the grind carries on for the world’s first 18:58.
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