There’s just something about the Mario series — and we’re not talking about its lasting video game legacy. We’re talking about a fascination that may have started with speed running, but has become something far more expansive — a dogged desire to plumb the depths of game programming to find absolutely every glitch, hidden animation, and exploit, no matter how impractical to achieve. Believe me, this goes deep.
The latest revelations come by way of a tumblr called Supper Mario Broth, a repository of all things Mario. Over the weekend, they traveled back nearly 30 years ago to Super Mario Bros. 3 to show off an in-game animation rarely seen by players. The hammer suit, itself a rarity, was a bit unique in that Mario wouldn’t automatically go into a sliding animation down an incline when crouching, like usual. Instead, he’d stay in place and tuck into the shell of the suit. But! If Mario gets the suit in midair and lands on an incline, there is a sliding animation for Mario in the hammer suit, after all — possibly created just for that situation, to avoid glitches or bugs.
The same site also reveals that in the more recent Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii, there’s a house with a closed door that displays a message when players interact with it. A little camera angle trickery reveals that the developers just put a sign behind the door to display the message, using that template instead of creating a door asset that could function as a signpost.
That’s only the tip of this iceberg. Plunge into the waters, and you’ll find a world of half-A presses and quadruple parallel universes. YouTuber pannenkoek2012 now has a series of videos on how to get stars in Super Mario 64 by pressing the A button as few times as possible (in some cases, not at all). The narrated video on how to get the Watch for Rolling Rocks star in Hazy Maze Cave with only a half of an A press (watch the video — if I try to explain it, this post is going to become thousands of words long) became something of an instant classic, and possibly launched a new field of mathematics.
While the work of pannenkoek2012 is a bit out there on its own, a lot of glitches and bugs are discovered b the speed running community, gamers who look to set records for beating games as quickly as possible (by any means available). YouTuber SethBling demonstrates how Super Mario World can be, in a manner, beaten in six minutes (or less) by placing certain items in certain places, which messes with the game’s code in just the right way that the end credits are triggered.
Speed running glitches are by no means limited to Mario games, but the obsession with glitches, regardless of how quickly they can be executed (the pannenkoek2012 glitch in Hazy Maze Cave requires 12 hours to execute), does seem to be something special to the Mario franchise. You can go further down the rabbit hole from here, but you’d better make sure you don’t have anything important to do today or tomorrow, because you won’t be climbing back out anytime soon.