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How speedrunners cracked Super Mario Bros. level 4-2

A deep dive on the game’s ‘most infamous level’

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

One of the best changes to the Games Done Quick series of charity speedruns over the last few years is the focus on education rather than raw speed. The speedrunning community feels more open than ever, and YouTuber Summoning Salt is taking that vibe to the next level. His latest effort is a 20-minute deep dive on Super Mario Bros. infamous level 4.2.

Using archival footage and in-depth knowledge of the speedrunning community, Summoning Salt has created a legitimate documentary of the level. Not only does he explain the tricks and techniques needed to get through it as quickly as possible, he focuses on the evolution of those strategies over time and the people who discovered them. It’s a master class in speedrunning a classic Nintendo game, and an excellent entrée into the genre as a whole.

If the name Summoning Salt sounds familiar, that’s because he’s a world-class speedrunner in his own right. He currently holds the title of fastest runner of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! with a time just over 15 minutes.

The next level of puzzles.

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