There’s a new record in Super Mario World speedrunning, but it wasn’t set the way you might think.
Speedrunning is like the track racing of video games—trying to beat a game as fast as humanly (or sometimes inhumanly, in the case of tool-assisted runs) possible.
Usually that involved a lot of fancy footwork, flowing through game levels with an intricate combination of speed, grace, and luck. Sometimes it includes taking advantage of glitches to skip content.
“SethBling” and his 5:59.6 run, though, was more akin to a programming project.
SethBling took advantage of a “credits warp,” instantly teleporting him to the end-game credits and essentially completing the game. The procedure to do so is certainly an intricate dance, but one that requires speed, not precision. He essentially writes game code to teleport him to the next zone into the game’s memory using the position data of objects inside the game.
The credits warp is not a speedrun featuring a player trying to conquer a challenging game as quickly as possible. It is a speedrun about a player conquering the code underneath that challenging platformer as quickly as possible. And it’s no less amazing for the distinction.
The run is a new record for Super Mario World while played on a Super Nintendo Entertainment System console—Twitch streamer Jeffw356 used the same glitch to beat the game even faster in a run on emulator in July. SethBling’s run, explained below, proves the glitch is humanly possible on the game’s original platform, and has a lot of room for improvement.
The glitch that allows code injection into Super Mario World is not new. At speedrunning convention Awesome Games Done Quick in 2014, an intrepid player used a tool-assisted run, with a computer putting in the game inputs, to program Pong and Snake into the Mario game code. But this is the first time a human player has injected code to skip the game on a physical console.
Of course, “SethBling” never actually rescued Princess Peach. She’s still in another castle.