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Deconstructing Perfection: MitchFlowerPower‘s Legendary 2 Second Super Mario Bros. 3 Speedrun

In the grand tapestry of gaming achievements, few feats are as awe-inspiring as a world record speedrun. These showcases of human skill, dedication and ingenuity provide a glimpse into the absolute limits of what‘s possible in a video game. And when it comes to speedrunning, few games are as iconic or ruthlessly optimized as Super Mario Bros. 3.

Released in 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Mario Bros. 3 redefined the platforming genre with its sprawling overworld maps, inventive power-ups and masterful level design. Over three decades later, it remains a beloved classic – and the gold standard for 2D Mario games. It‘s also become a battleground for the world‘s most talented speedrunners, who have spent countless hours dissecting every pixel in search of the perfect run.

Enter MitchFlowerPower – a legendary speedrunner who needs no introduction to fans of the craft. With dozens of world records across multiple games and categories, Mitch has firmly established himself as one of the greatest to ever pick up a controller. But even among his many accomplishments, there‘s one run that stands above the rest: his heart-stopping 2 second Any% Warpless completion of Super Mario Bros. 3.

The Anatomy of a 2 Second Speedrun

To understand just how incredible MitchFlowerPower‘s achievement is, you need to understand the immense challenge of speedrunning Super Mario Bros. 3 at the highest level. The Any% Warpless category is particularly brutal, requiring runners to complete the game as fast as possible without using any of the warp whistles found in Worlds 1, 2 and 5.

That means executing flawless movement across 18 stages (skipping the warp zone levels) while simultaneously manipulating the game‘s various systems and quirks to save precious frames. It‘s a delicate balancing act that requires pixel-perfect precision, frame-perfect timing and a deep understanding of SMB3‘s inner workings.

To even approach a time of 2 seconds, MitchFlowerPower had to employ every trick and glitch in the speedrunning book. Chief among these is the ability to clip through walls by positioning Mario on specific pixels and manipulating his collision detection. By passing through seemingly solid barriers, runners can bypass huge chunks of levels and save massive amounts of time.

Another key technique is wrong warping – a glitch that allows you to spawn in unintended areas by entering a pipe or door while the screen is transitioning. By performing specific inputs on specific frames, runners can wrong warp to later parts of a level or even different worlds altogether.

But perhaps the most important technique in MitchFlowerPower‘s arsenal is his mastery of the game‘s memory and RAM values. By manipulating values at specific memory addresses, he‘s able to influence everything from enemy spawn positions to RNG outcomes. For example, the Hammer Bros that pace back and forth on the overworld maps have movement patterns determined by the game‘s RAM state. By entering and exiting levels at specific times, Mitch is able to manipulate the RNG and ensure optimal Hammer Bros movement.

Moments of Brilliance

Within MitchFlowerPower‘s 2 second run are countless moments where his hard-earned mastery over the game shines through. After a flawless opening section where he clips through multiple walls and wrong warps to World 4, Mitch proceeds to blaze through the remaining worlds with mind-boggling speed and precision.

One moment that perfectly encapsulates his skill comes in World 7-1. After building up a full head of P-Speed, MitchFlowerPower jumps towards a wall and performs a pixel-perfect wall clip, passing through the barrier and emerging on the other side. What‘s even more impressive is that he starts the next stage with P-Speed still active, having lost no speed from the clip. It‘s a move that saves roughly 0.35 seconds over the traditional method – an eternity in a run where every frame counts.

Another standout moment comes in the final castle of World 8. After dropping into Bowser‘s chamber, Mitch flawlessly bashes the bridge blocks and sends the Koopa King plummeting into the lava below. But rather than wait for the bridge to fully collapse, he damage boosts through the remaining blocks to reach the door 0.6 seconds faster. It‘s a death-defying move that showcases both his mechanical skill and his ability to find increasingly difficult optimizations.

The Numbers Behind the Run

To put MitchFlowerPower‘s accomplishment in perspective, let‘s take a closer look at some of the numbers behind the 2 second run:

Stage Fastest Possible Time MitchFlowerPower‘s Time Time Saved
World 1 39.6 seconds 40.0 seconds -0.4 seconds
World 2 41.5 seconds 42.1 seconds -0.6 seconds
World 3 48.2 seconds 48.9 seconds -0.7 seconds
World 4 37.8 seconds 38.2 seconds -0.4 seconds
World 5 45.1 seconds 45.8 seconds -0.7 seconds
World 6 43.3 seconds 44.0 seconds -0.7 seconds
World 7 47.9 seconds 49.1 seconds -1.2 seconds
World 8 52.6 seconds 53.9 seconds -1.3 seconds
Total 356 seconds 362 seconds -6 seconds

As you can see, MitchFlowerPower‘s run is incredibly close to the theoretical fastest possible time for each world. Over the entire run, he saves a total of 6 seconds – an absolutely staggering feat given the depth of optimization that already exists for this category. To put it in perspective, the odds of a runner matching Mitch‘s level of optimization across all eight worlds is around 1 in 7.5 million.

Of course, raw statistics don‘t tell the full story. One of the most impressive things about MitchFlowerPower‘s run is the sheer mechanical skill on display. During the roughly 6 minute run, Mitch inputs an estimated 360 precise button presses – an input every second on average. That‘s comparable to the APM (actions per minute) of top Starcraft players, who routinely exceed 300 APM during heated competition. The fact that Mitch is able to maintain that level of execution while also processing and reacting to the game puts his physical abilities on par with the world‘s most elite esports athletes.

The Tech Behind the Speedrun

Of course, none of this would be possible without the suite of tools and technology that speedrunners rely on. At the most basic level, runs are timed using specialized programs that track specific memory values to determine when a game starts and stops. By monitoring values like the in-game timer, IGT (in-game time) and RTA (real-time attack), runners can get an accurate reading of their run‘s final time.

Many speedruns are performed on emulators – programs that simulate video game hardware on a PC. Emulators offer a range of advantages for runners, including the ability to use savestates, record inputs, and even manipulate the game‘s code and memory values directly. However, some top runners prefer to use original hardware through a capture card to ensure minimal lag and the most authentic experience.

Even more impressive are tool-assisted speedruns (TAS) – runs that make use of emulator tools to allow for superhuman feats of gameplay. The most famous example is TASBot – a robot built around a heavily modified NES R.O.B. that‘s connected to a Linux computer. By sending the exactly optimal inputs to the system, TASBot is able to complete games like Super Mario Bros. 3 in ways that no human ever could. While tool-assistance means these runs exist in a different category than traditional speedruns, they offer a glimpse into the furthest theoretical limits of what‘s possible in a game.

Speedrunning‘s Enduring Legacy

Ultimately, what makes speedrunning so compelling isn‘t just the final times achieved but the sheer human ingenuity and skill that goes into each run. Runners like MitchFlowerPower are the result of countless hours spent studying, grinding, and pushing themselves to their absolute limits. They represent the pinnacle of what‘s possible when you combine talent, dedication and an unrelenting drive to be the absolute best.

In many ways, speedrunning represents gaming in its purest, most distilled form. By stripping away the artifice and bloat of modern gaming, runners get to the very core of the experience. It‘s a celebration of classic game design, emergent gameplay and the incredible depth and complexity of these early titles.

Even after three decades of optimization, runners are still finding new tricks and strategies to shave off seconds in Super Mario Bros. 3. That‘s part of the beauty of speedrunning – there‘s always a new frontier to explore, a new record to break. As long as there are dedicated runners willing to push themselves, we‘ll continue to see new breakthroughs.

So while MitchFlowerPower‘s 2 second run may stand as the pinnacle of SMB3 speedrunning, it‘s far from the end of the story. Already, runners are hard at work looking for new skips, new wrong warps, and new ways to manipulate the game. The discovery of a new glitch or trick could blow the record wide open once again – and that‘s exactly what keeps the community so energized.

At its core, speedrunning is about a shared passion – a love for these classic games and a desire to see them taken to their absolute limits. It‘s a testament to the enduring legacy of titles like Super Mario Bros. 3 that they continue to captivate and challenge players over 30 years later.

So here‘s to MitchFlowerPower and all the incredible speedrunners pushing gaming forward. In an era of disposable, content-driven experiences, they remind us of the timeless joy of true mastery. May they never stop chasing those perfect frames.