It took Piotr Kusielczuk 91 hours to beat Miracle Piano Teaching System, an NES game created to teach kids how to play the piano. (To pull it off, he had to teach himself how to play piano.) That was the longest. He’s also spent 39 hours with the billiards game Championship Pool, 37 and a half hours with the shoot’em-up Ikari Warriors, and more than 16 hours playing Q*Bert.
Since 2014, Kusielczuk has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on a wild quest to play through every NES game ever made. Over the course of his quest, which will end on Sunday with Super Mario Bros. 3, Kusielczuk has finished 714 games, streaming them all on his Twitch channel, The Mexican Runner. (Kusielczuk, who lives in Poland, is half Polish and half Mexican.)
Kusielczuk’s journey started on May 28, 2014. His list includes 679 games that were released in North America and 35 PAL-exclusive games, for a total of 714. For the games that don’t have strict “win” conditions, Kusielczuk played until things started looping or until there was no way to make further progress. Some of these games were classics; others were, well, piano simulators.
“I was like a child with a great idea of climbing a mountain without thinking [about] all the consequences and I went for it,” Kusielczuk told me in an email. “When I was playing around game 50 I started to realise that the project could take years.”
In May of 2014, right before NESMania started, I was speedrunning Super Castlevania IV very intensely for a whole month and I felt burnt out and wanted to take a break from speedrunning. During that period many ideas came to my head regarding what to stream, but most of them were not very meaningful to me since they involved casual playthroughs. At that point, I really hated casual playthroughs, because I like to play games with a goal in mind, like racing against a clock. Around that time, I was on a Skype call and had the following conversation with some Chilean speedrunning friends:
-Lepi: Why don’t you do the A-Z that Big Jon does? (sarcastically)
-TMR: It looks nice, but I don’t like the fact that you only play the games for only a few minutes.
-Lepi: Then beat all the games. (sarcastically)
-TMR: Well that can be something.
-Lepi: But you are crazy, I was just joking …
Flash-forward nearly three years and Piotr Kusielczuk’s preposterous quest is about to end. On February 26 at 12pm, he plans to stream his way through Super Mario Bros. 3, putting an end to a wild journey that forced him to play some excruciatingly challenging games. (You can watch some of the highlights on his YouTube channel here.)
“It never crossed my mind [to give] up,” Kusielczuk told me, “but some of the games were really long to beat like the Bases Loaded games that have seasons of 72 games around and there were 4 on the NES. But I was always thinking to myself that I was aiming for a bigger goal which was beat them all and become the first person in the world to do it. So that helped me a lot to keep myself motivated.”