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Super Mario Bros recreated in Excel

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 15, 2016

Someone spent hours making a playable version of Super Mario Bros in Excel. See also the Excel spreadsheet artist. (via digg)

Update: Two corrections. The spreadsheet program is actually OpenOffice, not Excel. (Excel is almost a genericized trademark at this point.) And the in-spreadsheet game isn’t actually playable…this is a stop motion video of still frames.

We Work Remotely

Super Mario Bros speedrun record broken

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2016

NES player darbian just broke his own record for the fastest time through Super Mario Bros. He completed the entire game in just 4 minutes 57.260 seconds. But the most entertaining part of the video is watching his heart rate slowly creep up from 80 bpm at the beginning to ~140 bpm in World 8-2 and spiking to 171 bpm when he beats the record. (via digg)

Update: Compare that with this insane level from Mario Maker:

(via @pieratt)

Thirty years of Super Mario

posted by Tim Carmody   Sep 14, 2015

Super Mario Brothers was released for Famicom in Japan on September 13, 1985.

When was the game released in the United States? Nobody knows.

Here’s Nintendo’s official anniversary video.

Legendary designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka broke down the first level of the game for Eurogamer. (My favorite part? The subtle way that Mario is designed to have “weight,” and how this affects the player’s identification with and affection for the character.)

Kyle Orland at Ars Technica has thirty little-known facts about the game:

The original instruction booklet for Super Mario Bros. details how “the quiet, peace-loving Mushroom People were turned into mere stones, bricks and even field horse-hair plants.” That means every brick you break in the game is killing an innocent mushroom person that would have been saved once Princess Toadstool “return[ed] them to their normal selves.”

Digg has a video on the character’s evolution (including cameo appearances in other Nintendo games):

Samir al-Mutfi’s “Syrian Super Mario” reimagines the game with obstacles faced by Syrian refugees. (Grimly, the player has 22,500,000 lives to lose.)

And of course, Super Mario Maker, the game that lets players make their own Super Mario Bros. levels, was released for Wii U. Users’ levels are already being repurposed for social commentary, from the existential dread of “Waluigi’s Unbearable Existence” to the more lighthearted “Call Your Mother, You’ve Got Time.”

Super Mario Bros was designed on graph paper

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 18, 2015

In talking about an upcoming game (more on that in a bit), Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka discuss the process they used in designing the levels for the original Super Mario Bros. Much of the design work happened on graph paper.1

Super Mario Graph

Back in the day, we had to create everything by hand. To design courses, we would actually draw them one at a time on to these sheets of graph paper. We’d then hand our drawings to the programmers, who would code them into a build.

Here’s the full video discussion:

Now, about that game… Super Mario Maker is an upcoming title for Wii U that lets you create your own Super Mario Bros levels with elements from a bunch of different Mario games. So cool…I might actually have to get a Wii U for this.

  1. This is pretty much the same process I used when designing levels for Lode Runner back in the day.


posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 15, 2015

SethBling wrote a program made of neural networks and genetic algorithms called MarI/O that taught itself how to play Super Mario World. This six-minute video is a pretty easy-to-understand explanation of the concepts involved.

But here’s the thing: as impressive as it is, MarI/O actually has very little idea how to play Super Mario World at all. Each time the program is presented with a new level, it has to learn how to play all over again. Which is what it’s doing right now on Twitch. (via waxy)


posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2015

Screentendo is an OS X application that converts a selection of your computer screen into a playable Super Mario Bros game. Here’s a demo using the Google logo:

The source code is here if you want to try it out. (via prosthetic knowledge)

Super Mario sheng

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 25, 2014

The sheng is a free-reed wind instrument dating back to 1100 BCE in China. Using a modern sheng, Li-Jin Lee makes the ancient instrument sound remarkably like Super Mario Bros., including coin and power-up sounds.

And I know the Olympics are over and good riddance and all that, but this Mario Kart speedskating bit is great. Baby Park was one of my favorite tracks on Double Dash.

The lowest possible score in Super Mario Bros

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2014

If you play carefully by not stomping enemies, not collecting coins, not eating mushrooms or flowers, and hopping on the flagpole at the very last second, you can rescue the princess in Super Mario Bros with only 500 points.

One bit is surprisingly tricky:

How tough is that jump in 8-1? Well, the timing of the liftoff, the duration of holding the jump button, and the timing of the wall jump are all frame perfect. NES games run at 60 frames per second, which means all the necessary inputs need to be timed within 1/60 of a second. In addition, the starting position before running I used not only has to be on the right pixel, but also the x sub-pixel has to fall within a certain range (technical stuff blah blah blah). In short, it’s a pretty annoying jump.

When I was a kid, I left my NES on for three straight days to flip the score in SMB, using the 1UP trick and another spot in the game to get many lives and points. Scoring lower would have been a lot quicker.

The politics of Super Mario Bros

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 09, 2013

Quora is full of questions college students ask each other while high, except that sometimes they get answered seriously. Case in point: What is the political situation in the Mario universe? The top answer starts out:

Without going into too much detail, Mario generally lives and works in the Mushroom Kingdom, one of the largest geo-political structures on Mushroom World, in the Grand Finale Galaxy in, yes, the Mushroom Universe.

For the purposes of this answer I will deliberately restrict the terms to discussing Mushroom World, as a comprehensive answer on the entire Mushroom Universe would require covering 20-22 (depending on how you count) Galaxies and frankly, I doubt it would be any more fun to read than it would be to write.

Also, Bowser is probably a fascist.

Mario goes berserk

posted by Aaron Cohen   Sep 22, 2012

Mario has had enough of your bullshit.

(via ★robotix)

Super Mario Bros for the Atari 2600

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2012

This seems like a Soviet version of Mario:

Get the game here. (via bb)

Super Mario Bros, the abridged version

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 24, 2012

A Super Mario Summary is a abbreviated version of the original Super Mario Bros game in which each of the levels has been squeezed into one screen. For instance, here’s World 1-1:

Super Mario Summary

(via waxy)

Super Mario Bros as surrealist art

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2012

Eating a flower gives you the power to spit fireballs. Bullets have faces. Stars make you invincible. In addtion to being video game, maybe Super Mario Bros is a surrealist masterpiece.

Super Mario Bros with a Portal gun

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 07, 2012

Mari0, the Super Mario Bros + Portal mashup I posted about last August, is now finished and available for download for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

A Super Mario Bros version of Portal?!

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 29, 2011

Wow. Someone is making a video game featuring the original Super Mario Bros worlds but Mario is outfitted with a Portal gun. Watch the demo:

More information on the game’s development is here.

Yes, this is an actual game being developed - it is not a mod of any existing one. It’s coded with L”ove (info at the bottom of the left menu) and will be released for free (so we don’t get stabbed by lawyers)

All the source code of the game will be available after release

The game will have mappacks, which will be downloadable from ingame. Users most likely won’t be able to publish maps directly, but will be able to send them in and we’ll add them for everyone to use.

The primary maps will have a story and some portaly puzzles. What kind, well, we’ll figure that out as we go

Level editor will be embedded in the game so you can edit the level while you play

Original SMB levels and Lost levels will be included

Simultaneous Multiplayer

If Super Mario Bros was designed in 2010

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 11, 2011

If Super Mario Bros was designed more recently, it might look a little different.

Super Mario 2010

(via ★interesting-links)

Infinite Super Mario Bros

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 26, 2011

Based on Super Mario 3, this HTML5 Super Mario game goes on forever. Someone bet Billy Mitchell he can’t finish this game and we’ll never have to hear from him again! (via waxy)

First person Super Mario

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 24, 2011

Here’s what playing the original Super Mario Bros would look like from a first-person perspective.

(via devour)

Video game football

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2011

In the Seahawks/Saints game over the weekend, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch made an improbable game-winning touchdown run. So, I can’t decide which one of these videos is better. Marshawn Lynch’s Tecmo Bowl Run:

Or Marshawn Lynch as Super Mario in star mode:

The Super Mario Bros infinite 1-up

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2010

In a recent interview for the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Mario’s baby daddy Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the infinite 1-up trick was included in the game on purpose but that the minus world was a bug.

“We did code the game so that a trick like that would be possible,” Miyamoto revealed. “We tested it out extensively to figure out how possible pulling the trick off should be and came up with how it is now, but people turned out to be a lot better at pulling the trick off for ages on end than we thought.” What about the famed Minus World? “That’s a bug, yes, but it’s not like it crashes the game, so it’s really kind of a feature, too!”

Super Mario Bros, 2010 version

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2010

What if Super Mario Bros had been designed as a typical circa-2010 networked game? It might look a little something like this:

Super Mario Bros 2010

The site’s a little slow right now…check back later if you can’t get the page to load. (via waxy)

Super Mario Bros remixed

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2010

Oh, man. Now you can play the original Super Mario Bros game as Link from Zelda, Mega Man, Samus Aran, and others. Really really fun. The only thing that could make this better is if you could play as NHL94’s Jeremy Roenick or Tecmo Bowl’s Bo Jackson. (thx, will)

Tuper Tario Tros

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 30, 2009

Super Mario Bros + Tetris = Tuper Tario Tros. (via waxy)

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2009

Might have to dust off the Wii for this one: New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Features include four-player collaborative play (!!) and something called “demo play”.

The game will also be the first game on the Wii to feature “demo play”, where players will be able to pause the game, let the game complete the level for them, and resume play at any time by unpausing.

In my house, this was called the “give the controller to my 11-year-old cousin and let him show you how it’s done” feature. I both hated and loved that feature. (via object of my obsession)

Video game physics

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 16, 2009

An examination of gravity in the Super Mario Bros series.

We determined that, generally speaking, the gravity in each Mario game, as game hardware has increased, is getting closer to the true value of gravity on earth of 9.8 m/s^2. However, gravity, even on the newest consoles, is still extreme.

In Super Mario 2, Mario experiences a g-force of 11 each time he falls from a ledge, a force that would cause mere humans to black out. In Madden 2006, the game’s fastest cornerbacks can run the 40 in 2.6 seconds. (via waxy)

Bowser’s Minions

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 30, 2008

The minions of Bowser get together for a little chat about their frustrations.

The Mario jumps over me every time. I don’t know why Bowser put this goddamn chain on my body.

Moving Mario

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 12, 2008

Moving Mario: imagine Super Mario Bros as created by Michel Gondry. Check out the video to get the gist.

Time merge media

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 05, 2008

Someone made a video overlay of the 134 times it took him to get through one level of hacked version of Mario World. (Note: the original video was taken down so the embed is a similar video.)

Oh, and how that relates to quantum mechanics:

But, we can kind of think of the multi-playthrough Kaizo Mario World video as a silly, sci-fi style demonstration of the Quantum Suicide experiment. At each moment of the playthrough there’s a lot of different things Mario could have done, and almost all of them lead to horrible death. The anthropic principle, in the form of the emulator’s save/restore feature, postselects for the possibilities where Mario actually survives and ensures that although a lot of possible paths have to get discarded, the camera remains fixed on the one path where after one minute and fifty-six seconds some observer still exists.

Some of my favorite art and media deals with the display of multiple time periods at once. Here are some other examples, many of which I’ve featured on kottke.org in the past.

Averaging Gradius predates the Mario World video by a couple years; it’s 15 games of Gradius layered over one another.

Averaging Gradius

I found even the more pointless things incredibly interesting (and telling), like seeing when each person pressed the start button to skip the title screen from scrolling in, or watching as each Vic Viper, in sequence, would take out the red ships flying in a wave pattern, to leave behind power-ups in an almost perfect sine wave sequence. I love how the little mech-like gunpods together emerge from off screen, as a bright, white mass, and slowly break apart into a rainbow of mech clones.

According to the start screen, Cursor*10 invites the you to “cooperate by oneself”. The game applies the lessons of Averaging Gradius and multiple-playthrough Kaizo Mario World to create a playable game. The first time through, you’re on your own. On subsequent plays, the game overlays your previous attempts on the screen to help you avoid mistakes, get through faster, and collaborate on the tougher puzzles.

Moving away from games, several artists are experimenting with the compression of multiple photographs made over time into one view. Jason Salavon’s averaged Playboy centerfolds and other amalgamations, Atta Kim’s long exposures, Michael Wesley’s Open Shutter Projekt and others. I’m quite sure there are many more.

Dozens of frames of Run Lola Run racing across the giant video screen in the lobby of the IAC building.

The same kind of thing happens in this Call and Response video; 9 frames display at the same time (with audio), each a moment ahead of the previous frame.

Related, but not exactly in the same spirit, are projects like Noah Kalina’s Noah K. Everyday in which several photos of the same person (or persons) taken over time are displayed on one page, like frames of a very slow moving film. More examples: JK Keller’s The Adaption to my Generation, Nicholas Nixon’s portraits of the Brown sisters, John Stone’s fitness progress, Diego Golberg’s 32 years of family portraits, and many more.

Update: Another video game one: 1000 cars racing at the same time. (thx, matt)

Update: More games: Super Earth Defense Game, Time Raider, and Timebot. (thx, jon)

Update: Recreating Movement is a method for making time merge photos (thx, boris):

With the help of various filters and settings Recreating Movement makes it possible to extract single frames of any given film sequence and arranges them behind each other in a three-dimensional space. This creates a tube-like set of frames that “freezes” a particular time span in a film.

How You See It overlays three TV news programs covering the same story. (via waxy)

Update: James Seo’s White Glove Tracking visualizations. The Slinky one is mesmerizing once you figure out what to look for. Seo also keeps a blog on spilt-screen media.

Wailing Pull Stars of Super Mario Galaxy

posted by Adam Lisagor   Dec 03, 2007

The latest installment of Super Mario has received plenty of notice for its revolutionary style of gameplay. But just as striking is the intricacy of its sound design. One convention of the game is a Pull Star, a floating anchor that Mario can grab with some sort of magical, musical force which, when activated emits a creepy, almost theremin-like wail, wavering just a bit before solemnly sliding down in pitch. This sound is one of those elemental formulas for touching an emotional soft spot. The other day I was playing a level with a series of Pull Stars in succession and my girlfriend implored me to stop, as it was making her sad, and not only because I’m a grown man playing a child’s video game. Here is an example of the Wailing Pull Star (and a taste of the very Vangelis-like score scattered throughout the game).

Also: via Boing Boing Gadgets, footage from a live orchestra scoring session for the game. Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto sits aside and supervises.

Also also: I noticed that the menu for selecting levels to play is a musical instrument in its own right, allowing the player to create melody with chord changes and everything. It’s a subtle touch.

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer Yoshiaki

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 28, 2007

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer Yoshiaki Koizumi, particularly the bits about shifting from 2-D to 3-D Mario games and Mario Galaxy. The bulk of the gameplay in Galaxy takes place on spherical surfaces:

He explained that no matter how large you make the playing field, if you walk long enough you will run into a wall, and that will make you turn around, which makes the camera turn around and runs the risk of making the player lost. With a sphere, Mario can run all he wants without falling or hitting a wall… a useful concept for getting players totally absorbed in the moment. Koizumi added that the best thing about spherical worlds is the “unity of surface,” and the “connectedness.” Neither will the player get lost easily, or need to adjust the camera - by using spheres, Koizumi said, they had created a game field that never ended.

They also talk about the Galaxy’s two-player (well, 1.5-player really) feature, which is a really nice way of getting a second passive player involved in what is essentially a one-player game. (via snarkmarket)