July 2016 introduced a new segment on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert called the “Late Show 3-Legged Race” which had Twitch streamer and Super Mario Bros. 3 speedrunner Mitch “Mitchflowerpower” Fowler try to beat SMB3 before Colbert could microwave and eat a Hot Pocket and before the Columbia University’s men relay team could finish a 4×100 race.
It was a significant moment in gaming as it was the first time a speedrunner was featured on a program of this nature, and that speedrunning was talked about on the mainstream, if even for a brief moment.
The Late Show 3-Legged Race
Mitch claims in the segment that he is able to beat SMB3 in three minutes and eight seconds, which is about the same time it would take a 4-man relay team to run a mile, as well as how long it would take to microwave and eat a hot pocket. Which raises the question: how could Mitch beat SMB3 that quickly?
The answer is: wrong warp. In SMB3, there is a glitch called the wrong warp; by killing the right enemies in the right time and right places, on top of making sure Mario and other enemies are situated on the correct pixels, you are able to manipulate the game’s memory so that Mario can warp directly into the final room with Princess Peach, effectively beating the game. The wrong warp is highly technical, and is broken down into more detail in this video by Retro Game Mechanics Explained.
It’s difficult to pull off due to knowing exactly which enemies need to die and where, as well as where everything needs to be in place so that you can trigger the wrong warp; the jump into the pipe is especially difficult to do. However, if you can pull it off, you’ll beat the game faster than ever.
How Did Mitch Do?
Unfortunately, Mitch was not able to win the race due to some fast Hot Pocket eating by Colbert (in which he almost certainly burned the inside of his mouth.)
What’s worth noting though is that Mitch was able to perform the wrong warp glitch on the first try on national television. It was done perfectly in an unusual, high-stress environment which is an incredible feat in itself, and further proof of why Mitch is one of the best Mario speedrunners to ever do it.
You can watch the whole segment here:
Speedrunning is certainly growing in popularity, and it will be interesting to see what other mainstream outlets continue to promote this side of gaming in interesting ways.