Darbian, a young man who has been doing world record speedruns of Super Mario Bros. since 2013, has recently figured out how to replicate the "flagpole glitch," enabling him to shed nearly half a second off of his time.
It has been slow going, trying to shave time from the "any%" world record speedrun in Super Mario Bros since 2013 with a time of 4:57.693, held by andrewg. A few months ago, darbian eventually set a new record at 4:57.427. Last weekend, kosmixd12 tied the record, then broke it with a new time of 4:57.194. Only a couple days after that, darbian broke the record again at an impressive 4:56.878.
The recent surge in new record times comes from something known as the "flagpole glitch," which allows the player to – through specific inputs at very specific frames – touch the flagpole through the block it is based on, allowing Mario to skip the animation of sliding down the pole. This glitch was discovered by the TAS (or tool-assisted speedrun), which is a bot that calculates the fastest possible way to complete the game.
This bot predicts the fastest possible time to ever complete the game is 4:54.03.
Considering that the fastest human speedrunners are only about three seconds off, we must be doing more and more correctly to get these times. Unfortunately in the world of speedruns, taking seconds off of a run could take years to complete.
An interesting addition to the stop-watch that darbian uses during his runs is the heart monitor he wears during his streams to show just how excited he gets during the end of his runs.
“I get extremely nervous when I approach the end of a speedrun, and showing my heart rate on stream is the perfect way to communicate this feeling to my viewers without having to do or say anything, I can just continue to focus on the game.”
For those interested in more of his streamed speedruns, check out his Twitch.
For those interested in seeing his 4:56.878 world record recording, check out his YouTube video below.