The story of Super Mario Bros. speedrunning is one of dedicated players spending years shaving fractions of a second off completing the classic Nintendo game as quickly as possible. And nowhere has this journey been more mesmerizing than in a new video combining the hundreds of attempts that have finished in under 5 minutes since 2010.
YouTube creator FlibidyDibidy took footage of the 369 sub-5-minute Super Mario Bros. speedruns on the official leaderboard and, using an open-source program known as Graphite, transformed them into tool-assisted recreations perfect for smushing together in a single video. The resulting amalgamation sees a veritable tidal wave of Marios crash through the NES game — well, at least the handful of levels included in the Any% category — en route to their final showdown with Bowser.
It’s obviously a ton of fun to turn off your brain and watch a bunch of pixelated plumbers hop around the Mushroom Kingdom, but FlibidyDibidy’s video also does a fantastic job of visualizing a complex and vital aspect of Super Mario Bros. world-record speedrunning known as the “frame rule.”
A perfect example of how this quirk affects speedrun times can be seen in the transition from World 1-1 to World 1-2. The hundreds-strong Mario horde completes the former in a messy mass of mustaches and overalls reminiscent of defunct fan game Mario Royale, but begins the latter neatly divided into three groups depending on which frame rule was met.
Over the course of the video, players separate further as they miss or catch subsequent frame rule milestones and attempt other speedrunning tricks until only one, current record-holder Niftski, remains at the head of the pack. Niftski clawed his way to the top of the Super Mario Bros. leaderboard back in September, hitting the best possible frame rule in every level by performing strategies once thought impossible for humans.
FlibidyDibidy previously combined over 5,000 of his own Super Mario Bros. speedrunning attempts, and even organizes tournaments that utilize the same technology to provide a live look at every competitor’s progress through a single display.