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Speedrunner breaks major Super Mario Bros. record

After four tries, Kosmic gets by Bowser for first sub-19-minute run

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Speedrunner supreme Kosmic on Wednesday breached a significant time barrier in Super Mario Bros.: a warpless completion of the game in less than 19 minutes. The time was 18:59.856.

Like most things speedrunning, this milestone’s significance takes some explaining: First, that Super Mario Bros. is effectively the Olympic 100-meter dash of speedrunning, in the game’s history and importance to the culture. Second, there are two big records (three, if you count the Minus World). Third, verified world records can fall monthly, if not weekly, in speedrunning; breaking a time barrier (a minute mark, or in some cases a full second) is much more historic.

As Kosmic pointed out when he excitedly tweeted news of the achievement last night, all warpless world records — meaning the player did not use warp pipes to skip stages — for the last 12 years have been 19 minutes and change. Now we begin a new era for this category.

“Maybe …” Kosmic says at 19:10 of the above video, recognizing he is back in 18-minute territory. Before this run, he lost chances at 18:XX times because of the random way Bowser jumps, while throwing axes, in the game’s final stage. “Maybe, if he’ll let us pass, we might get it.”

Well, he got it. “Did I do it? Did I finally do it?” Kosmic says after, well, doing it. “After four Bowsers, er, three Bowsers hitting us. I think we finally got the 18.” has certified the time. Kosmic says there is still more time to squeeze out of this record, though. “I see humans taking warpless down to at least 18:54 some day in the future,” he says on the video’s page. “I don’t think I’ll take it that far, but I will be taking it down to at least 18:58 and maybe 18:57 and beyond!”

As we said, the top speedrun times change hands almost daily, even for very mature events like Super Mario Bros. (now second-place GTAce99 set their time just five days ago, for example). But Kosmic has been at this for a very long time. At one point he held all the top times in Super Mario Bros.’ big three categories, and back in September, he beat the 4:56 barrier in an Any% (that is, using warp pipes) run of the game. That was surpassed a month later by speedrunner somewes, and then just two weeks ago by tavenwebb2002.

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