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Super Mario Bros. 3 in 3 Minutes

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YouTube / TASVideosChannel

Super Mario Bros. 3 was one of the best Nintendo games ever released. In this video, we see a bizarre play-through of the game that reaches the Princess in just three minutes...without ever seeing Bowser. It exploits glitches in the game and extremely careful timing to achieve this effect. First, take a look (if you're short on time, just zip to 2:14 and watch for the crazy glitches after Mario jumps up a bit):

And now some context. This is what's called a "tool-assisted speedrun." Let's unpack that. A speedrun is completing a game in the minimum time possible. The "tool-assisted" bit is where this gets interesting; rather than a player sitting there with a Nintendo controller and playing the game live, this game was "played" by carefully scripting all of Mario's moves, frame by frame, and then using digital tools to perform those scripted inputs on a real NES.

The creators of this speedrun, who go by "Lord Tom" and "Tompa," explain their techniques in a long post using a good deal of technical jargon. The most interesting bit is under the heading "Wrong-warping SMB3." Here's a brief sample; note that the dollar-sign values are memory addresses within the game. Yes, this is highly technical:

Touching the glitch tile, an invisible note block, makes the processor try to update memory outside of the normal tile data, at an address ($9c70) that reprograms how the processor interprets addresses. This causes execution to jump to an unintended area of the ROM and execute incorrect instructions. Eventually, the stack overflows and it starts executing RAM instructions starting at address $0081, which is just before the location of the player x value at $0090 and enemy x values $0091-5.

...

To jump to the Princess, we need 3 consecutive x values to read, in order: 32, 225 or 227, 143. This results in the assembly instruction "JSR $8FE1", which reads as "Jump to the subroutine at address $8FE1."

...

Mario can only carry one shell at time. So to grab the ?'s shell, we need to throw the $0095 shell such that it doesn't despawn and also ends up where we can grab it again. There's not much margin for this, but it's just possible to throw the shell so it ends up spinning between the middle pipes down below. This lets Mario grab it after throwing the $0094 shell without breaking stride.

As we fall from the ?'s area, we now have the left piranha plant in $0093, the ?'s shell in $0094, and the first shell from the level entry in $0095. All that remains is to throw the two shells such that they hit the right x values on the same (single) frame the plant's x value hits 32...and then execute the pipe glitch on that same frame.

As Neo said in The Matrix, "Whoa."

(Via Devour.)

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History
A Brief History of Time
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iStock

You may have heard that time is a social construct, but that doesn’t stop it from having consequences in the real world. If you show up to a party 10 minutes before it’s scheduled to start, you’ll likely be the first one there, and if you arrive to an interview 10 minutes late, you likely won’t get the job. But how did humanity agree on when and how to observe certain times of day?

In their new video, the It’s Okay to Be Smart team explains how humans “invented” the modern concept of time. The increments we use to measure time, like seconds, minutes, and hours, come from the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Early clocks, like sundials and water clocks, were pretty crude, so people couldn’t pinpoint a time like noon down to the second even if they wanted to. But as clocks became more accurate, the problem wasn’t being unable to tell time accurately, but deciding which clocks qualified as “accurate” in the first place.

In 1884, President Chester A. Arthur organized the International Meridian Conference with the intention of deciding on a uniform definition of time to be followed around the world. The attendees ended up choosing the meridian running through Greenwich, England as the official Prime Meridian, and all clocks would be measured against the clock in the town’s observatory. Greenwich Mean Time is still used as the standard world time today.

Check out the full story below.

[h/t It’s Okay to Be Smart]

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Melly Eats World
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Melissa Huang's Adorable Animal Macarons
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Melly Eats World
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Canadian baker Melissa Huang is inspired by all things adorable. Her macarons take up to six hours to make and come in a range of cute designs: There are sheep, pandas, chickens, and more. See more of Huang's cute creations on Instagram

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