Can A Controller Be Programmed To Speed-Run Super Mario Bros.?

Long story short, this modder built a controller that, when plugged into a Nintendo Entertainment System, auto speedruns Super Mario Bros. in just a shade under 5 minutes. Naturally, commenters have shouted it down as a fake, but the Tool-Assisted Speedrun community is unanimous in calling the mod real.

Modder pjgat09 provides a step-by-step, with a parts list and explanation, for converting an Arduino Duemilanove board into a working auto-controller, including how to fetch and load the code powering the auto-speedrun onto the board. It works off of a "movie" submitted to and approved by TASVideos, which is "a series of recorded button presses that in theory can be played back on the actual console for which they are intended." While in most cases it's not possible to use this series on an emulator playing a game, it is on the original console.

"These button presses are based on frames on the console," writes pigat09. "Almost every time the console redraws the screen (~60 times a second), the controller is polled for input. However, there are times when the screen is redrawn, but the controller is not polled. These are called lag frames." How lag frames are handled is what sets an emulator apart from a console.

Of course, the lay audience rips this to shreds on any number of counts: 1) It starts up too fast. 2) Mario seems to collide with a dozen piranha plants, fireball columns, etc., and even wall-jumps toward the end. The Tool-Assisted Speedrun community is adamant that this uses known and native tricks of the game to finish it out. The modder says he has used the device on Super Mario Bros. 3, also.

NESBot: Arduino Powered Robot beating Super Mario Bros for the NES [Instructables, thanks TestZero.]


Comments

    I'm disappointed with this part of the article: 'Of course, the lay audience rips this to shreds on any number of counts: 1) It starts up too fast. 2) Mario seems to collide with a dozen piranha plants, fireball columns, etc., and even wall-jumps toward the end. The Tool-Assisted Speedrun community is adamant that this uses known and native tricks of the game to finish it out. The modder says he has used the device on Super Mario Bros. 3, also.'

    They say these things and they are WRONG. The NES has always started up that fast, and SMB has shit collision detection that is exploitable to appear to pass through things or to walljump. How about some actual investigative reporting to filter out the truth from the rabble?

      ^^ Truth.

      Next they'll be calling minus world a hack :|

    I never understand how people that dont know anything about programing can call fake on so many thing, how do they think replays are done on most racing games, true the method here wont be perfect because your entering button presses, but id say itd work 70% of the time, and thats pritty good.

    There's a comment from one guy about "For those of you too young to remember original Mario..." and tries to discredit the video. I laughed.

    Stop trying to impress people dude, especially when you're wrong. If he had done even the tiniest bit of research, he would see everything in that video is possible. Hard as nails for the average human, but possible.

    This video's a goddamn nightmare. Remember the borderline heart attacks, and brain embolisms you'd get from near misses and screw-ups? Now it's a friggin' computer executing those hair-raising moves, except now its clearly gloating at us, displaying its obvious superiority in its cold flawless precision.

    On a lighter note, damn, either I never knew or I don't remember that there was a second warp zone in 4-2, aside from the one from the bean-stalk in the ceiling.

    wow what an incredible game...wall jumps!

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