In the time that it takes for you to read this article, speedrunner Darbian was able to complete the classic Super Mario Bros. in a new world-record time of 4:57.26. Rather than complete a 100% run, in which all levels are completed, Darbian’s record time is for an Any % run, meaning utilizing warp pipes and level skips. Equally as intriguing is the heart-rate monitor that Darbian has hooked up to himself during his stream of the run. At the climax of the playthrough, his heart reached a whopping 170 BPM, which you can replicate by either attempting the run yourself or completing a strenuous workout.
The previous world record was 4:57.627. By looking at the numbers alone, it isn’t an extremely impressive shaving-off of time. However, in speedrunning context, it’s incredible. Darbian’s run was completed using the RTA method (real-time attack), playing the game completely unassisted and on the original console, as opposed to a TAS run (tool-assisted speedrun), in which emulator slowdowns or rewinds are acceptable. Darbian was neck-in-neck with the best human TAS time up until the final level, where he overtook and conquered what was previously considered the best possible time. All in all, Darbian was 10 frames off from a literally perfect completion of the game, virtually impossible to accomplish without the use of tools or emulators. Essentially, this record will remain unbeatable.
From time to time, I watch speedruns of games, in order to see how dextrous the players are or what glitches they can exploit. Speedruns of this nature are a completely different story. The amount of time, dedication, and muscle memory it takes to perfect a playthrough is astounding. I have much respect for Darbian and his record, which will most likely stand until someone figures out how to manipulate the flagpole glitch (seen at 3:38) in the earlier levels of the game. Until then, Darbian will remain in the history books as one of the most important speedrunners in gaming history.