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An image of Mario and Luigi in Super Mario Odyssey. Mario is running fast on a street. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

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The 5 fastest Mario speedruns

Let’s-a-go break some records

Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Mario is an Italian plumber with no ass and legs that can run like the wind. In this year’s Super Mario Bros. Movie, he has a bumbling personality. However, in the hands of a deft player, Mario can become a lean, mean pipe-jumping machine. The most skilled players can complete Super Mario 64, a game that typically takes 12 to 20 hours to complete, in under two hours. For these players, no amount of fireballs and Thwomps will stop them from finishing the game as quickly as possible.

The level of skill brought to these runs is undeniable. In the most precise speedruns, a mere pixel or two can make or break a run. A single level, like the 5-2 level from Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, can capture an entire history of speedrunning and its innovations in its pixelated platforms. In other cases, fan-made levels in games like Super Mario Maker 2 and “Kaizo” Mario levels have pushed fans to create even more intricate levels for those looking for the ultimate challenge.

It’s a thrill and a pleasure to see beloved games played so well. Because of this, we’ve decided to round up the fastest Mario speedruns in the world, picking five of the most popular Mario games with the highest number of total runs according to Speedrun.com. Some games have different completion requirements (e.g., 120 stars, Any%), so we specify these requirements in each section.


Super Mario 64

Karin

Run date: Oct. 16, 2023
Run time: 1h 37m 32s
Category: 120 Stars

Super Mario 64 has withstood the test of time as a classic Mario game. It has its share of bugs, but the game was ahead of its time as a 3D platformer and has the second-highest number of speedruns of any game on Speedrun.com. As such, it’s a hotly contested record. At time of publication, the record is currently held by the speedrunner Karin. It’s deliriously impressive, as Karin manages to collect all 120 stars in under two hours. In addition to seeing the sheer number of fake walls that can be clipped through, it’s an absolute joy to see the way a skillful player can chain Mario’s various jumps together to traverse levels with the grace of an Olympic ice skater.

Super Mario Odyssey

Tyron18

Run date: Sept. 12, 2023
Run time: 54m 37s
Category: Any%

Cappy goes so hard in this world-record-setting run of Super Mario Odyssey from Tyron18. In Super Mario Odyssey, Mario can throw his hat and transform into any object or creature it lands on. This mechanic offers some of the goofiest powers of a Mario game ever, and speedrunners put them to good use. While much of the land traversal in the game consists of lots of rolling, the skillful use of Cappy makes it easy for speedrunners to climb tall structures quickly. I particularly enjoyed seeing Tyron18 make use of the traffic delineators and other objects like them to rack up Power Moons quickly in New Donk City.

Super Mario Sunshine

JJsrl

Run date: Aug. 9, 2023
Run time: 1h 13m 8s
Category: Any%

Super Mario Sunshine might take place in the easygoing island location of Isle Delfino, but there’s nothing relaxed about this record-setting speedrun. JJsrl’s twitchy instincts make quick work of the game’s numerous minibosses and levels. Similar to Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey, the inclusion of the FLUDD water pack in Super Mario Sunshine affords speedrunners a variety of ways to expand and build upon Mario’s many platforming techniques. JJsrl is able to make quick work of even notoriously annoying levels like “The Manta Storm,” where players have to chase down a swarm of tiny enemies, completing the challenge within a matter of minutes. It’s an absolutely jaw-dropping run, and you can view it above.

Super Mario World

MaibaRTA

Run date: Aug. 20, 2023
Run time: 1h 21m 09s 833ms
Category: 96 Exit

Finally, a 2D Mario game on this list! When talking about Super Mario World speedrunning, there are several extremely popular and competitive categories. This speedrun by MaibaRTA is a “96 Exit” speedrun, which refers to a specific type of Super Mario World speedrun where the player completes all 72 levels of the game and all 24 secret exits located throughout the game, hence the title. These speedruns offer audiences the chance to see every level played from start to finish; That way, you get to see some perfect platforming in action. This run relies heavily on the Cape Feather, which allows Mario to fly through levels (literally).

Super Mario Bros.

Nifski

Run date: Sept. 5, 2023
Run time: 4m 54s 631ms
Category: Any%

Over 37 years later, people are still playing and competing for the world’s fastest speedrun of the original Super Mario Bros. To many, Super Mario Bros. represents the gold standard for speedrunning. It’s an extremely competitive field where a few milliseconds can make or break a record. Watching Nifski’s run, it’s not hard to appreciate the precision at play in a run like this. Something as simple as a pole jump, so that the game doesn’t prompt the flag falling animation, requires multiple steps to line up and glitch properly. It’s a stunning run, and one that you can learn more about from this detailed analysis of runs like it.

Out of all the runs listed here, this was my favorite to watch — not just because of the accomplishment itself, but because of how Nifski plays and reacts to the game. As Nifski plays, the stream displays their heart rate. At one point, they say, “I’m gonna pass out,” repeatedly exclaiming this over and over as they get closer to their goal. It’s truly an achievement to behold.