Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #4927: Lord Tom & Tompa's NES Super Mario Bros. 3 "warpless" in 46:20.3

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Super Mario Bros. 3
Game version: USA PRG0
ROM filename: Super Mario Bros. 3 (U) (PRG0) [!].nes
Branch: warpless
Emulator: FCEUX 2.2.2
Movie length: 46:20.3
FrameCount: 167093
Re-record count: 27165
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: Lord Tom & Tompa
Submitter: Lord Tom
Submitted at: 2015-12-03 23:49:57
Text last edited at: 2015-12-10 11:49:57
Text last edited by: Spikestuff
Download: Download (29342 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
This TAS aims for "Warpless" completion of Super Mario Bros. 3, as defined by:
  1. No warp whistles used (though one is obtained)
  2. No game-end glitch

We improve the published run by 2668 frames (44.5 seconds), notably by incorporating GlitchMan's offscreen wand grab and using a cloud to skip World 7's 2nd fortress instead of 7-4 (where a new strat is used to shorten the level). Significant differences in power-up usage and in-level optimizations make up the rest of the savings. There are 27 extra lag frames due to speed/entertainment trade-offs in Worlds 6 and 8.

(Link to video)

We included subtitles giving a fair amount of in-line detail; if you're interested click the CC (closed caption) button on the youtube video to enable the subtitles.

Lord Tompa also teamed up with CujoIHSV (current unassisted world-record holder) for a live-stream commentary.


Many of the strats used in this run are detailed in the comments for our 100% TAS.

One radical difference between this run and the published warpless is P-wing usage: there are 3 P-wings available in each run, but we use them on entirely different levels.

P-Wing Usage

Source Published Submission
World 1 4-4 6-F1
World 4 5-1 6-F2
World 6 7-F1 7-4

We were able to go without P-wings on the prior levels with better non-flying routes (4-4, 5-1) and stretching the limits of the regular leaf (7-F1).

These strats freed up P-wings for use in other levels, saving time not having to wait for a platform (6-F1) and not having to serially regain P-speed (6-F2, 7-4). That said, SMB3 is a fairly horizontal game, and using a P-wing takes time both to equip it and to recover fire afterwards, so P-wings aren't a huge TAS time saver.

World/Level Comments

World 1

Unlike prior runs, here the Hammer brother is manipulated to stay over by the castle. This delays killing it, but it takes the same number of total steps, and fighting it at this map location makes a Flower available. Grabbing the Flower just as the scene ends lets us get the power-up saving 30 frames of animation delay vs getting Flower from the Airship.

World 2

The technique to run the Hammer brothers into each other off-screen allowing collection of the Hammer item has been known for a while. A lot of luck manipulation is required to make it work, however, and the savings up to this point resulted in terrible RNG to pull this trick off, no matter which crazy Hammer paths we tried to manipulate.

The nearly 3 second delay needed to manipulate the Hammers made a rather unexpected strat profitable. Instead of using a P-wing for the shortcut in 2-Fortress, as originally planned, we get a leaf in 2-2, ordinarily completed as Fire Mario.

Having the leaf makes a running/jumping level like 2-2 very complex and much slower as Mario rapidly loses speed when jumping/flying. Not using a P-wing also makes 2-Fortress slower because P-speed must be gained and repeatedly regained. With a lot of optimization, we were just able to get the leaf in 2-2, keep the P-wing, and still make the RNG work. Therefore, the completion time for World 2 is the same, but we still have a P-wing to use later.

Instead of taking damage on the boss in 2-Fortress, we keep the leaf for the tricky pyramid level, where we use careful P-speed management and the tail-flip attack to save about 1 second.

World 3

Another world that requires a complex Hammer brother path - here to avoid the need to fight both Hammer brothers to be able to get across the retractable bridges. This time the RNG luck was reasonable, and in an improvement vs the published run, the extra Hammer ends up trapped where it can't move (Hammers won't move over completed levels or the Spade game), saving the time it would normally spend walking twice (and the need to manipulate it).

World 4

Efficient manipulation and killing of Lakitu as well as speed-preservation by ducking off a ledge into water allow us to keep the Fire Flower for 4-4 instead of using a P-wing. This saves time in 4-6 and 4-Fortress2 (not having to get a new Flower).

Several frames are saved using a single large jump off a Koopa, rather than 2 small jumps, to clear a ledge in 4-Fortress2.

World 5

A strat demonstrated by GlitchMan is used to keep fire in 5-1. This loses about 3 seconds initially, but about 5 seconds are recovered having fire for upcoming levels, especially the Fortress boss and not requiring a Star for 5-7. The prior run didn't get fire back until 5-7.

World 6

About half a second is saved using a P-wing on 6-Fortress1 as Mario can fly up to the spikes without waiting for the platform. The star grab was also improved by a few frames.

World 6-5 is an underground level where Mario must get the leaf and fly up a narrow shaft to the exit pipe. Completing 6-5 was a natural choice in the published run because, while we'd found an above-ground skip for 6-6, it was pretty time-consuming and we'd lose additional time getting a leaf in 6-Fortress2.

The combination of GlitchMan's faster strat for 6-6 and the availability of an extra P-wing made doing 6-6 faster by about a second. Using the P-wing on 6-Fortress2 and clipping into the ceiling during flight also completes the level about 1/2 second faster than the published run.

Keeping the leaf after the 6-Fortress2 boss fight saves about 1/4 second by taking damage to achieve faster P-speed and less lag in 6-8.

The end of World 6 brings perhaps one of the most unexpected strats we found. Both the published run and the submission complete 6-8 as big mario, with no fire, and must complete either 6-9 or 6-10 to get to the Airship. There's an easy wall-jump shortcut to skip most of 6-9, making it the obvious choice. Unfortunately, the World 6 Airship has a leaf rather than a flower for its power-up, so the published run lost time stomping the Fortress3 and Airship bosses, but gained some back by flying up to the wand.

Thanks to the wall-jump wand grab, though, the wand grab is no longer faster with the leaf, and both boss fights are MUCH faster with fire. This fact, along with some minor savings having fire in 7-2, made it faster to complete the much-long 6-10, which has a Fire Flower. Overall savings are about 1/2 second.

While we were going nuts trying to save frames, we decided to waste some...the consecutive rows of white blocks are a fantastic place to show off the "buzz-saw" technique of grabbing and throwing rows of white blocks without losing speed. We took steps to minimize the extra lag, but it still clocked in at 25 frames. As it's a very dramatic TAS-only technique, we decided to take the speed/entertainment trade-off.

World 7

As mentioned, 7-2 is faster with fire. As in the 100% we perform the new 7-4 skip using a P-wing (it can also be done with a leaf but is about 3 seconds slower as you need to get P-speed twice).

7-Fortress1 uses the most technically difficult strat in this TAS. The default strats for this level would be to use a P-wing or a leaf, delaying getting P-speed until entering the first door. Of the two, it's faster to use the P-wing, which would then be unavailable for 6-Fortress2. We realized we could be keep the P-wing for 6-Fortress2 and be faster overall if we could get P-speed before jumping to the door in 7-Fortress1.

The problem was, getting P-speed that early didn't leave enough flying time to reach the tube that leads to the boss. When we tried, we either:

  1. Got far enough left, but not high enough to get in the tube
  2. Got high enough, but not far enough left
  3. Got neither high enough, nor far enough left

The solution came in steps, and after working on it for hours, we really didn't think it was possible until suddenly it was:

  1. Delay level entry to optimize the "8 frame counter" ($55c - same counter that enables sliding and jumping without losing speed, it influences acceleration and, when flying, involuntary deceleration)
  2. Optimize jump to door, to get 2 extra frames of flight time due to door frame rule
  3. Jump to block above door exit on correct frame for best combo of x/y velocity
  4. P-speed expires when Mario is at the ceiling to right of pipe
  5. Max x velocity flying is 23; now that we're falling need to accelerate to velocity of 33, the minimum to perform the pipe glitch, before falling too far. If 8-counter not optimized, can only reach velocity of 32
  6. X position must be correct to a single sub-pixel to do pipe glitch.

All in all, the 7-Fortress1 pipe-glitch strat saved all of 8 frames, but hey...

We use the cloud we saved from the 7-4 skip to skip 7-Fortress2, the longest remaining skippable level.

World 8

Very similar to recent published TASs, we did our best on the entertainment front and took 2 extra frames of lag to do so. There's an apparent glitch (doesn't appear intentional in the code) where stomping a bob-omb just as it stops walking causes it to explode immediately while granting a 1-up.

Note that World 8 is longer by 1.5s compared to the published run due to getting one more 1-up for having 3 cards at the end of 8-2. This didn't happen in the prior run it didn't complete 7-4. Skipping 7-Fortress2 remains about 12s faster overall.

Lord Tom's Comments

One of my favorite parts of making this was after we'd both concluded the 7-Fortress1 pipe glitch wasn't going to work but it finally clicked. I'd worked at it for hours, so I just watched it, laughing a few times...then when I sent it to Tompa he wrote back that he was just watching it, laughing.

So happy with how this run came out, also that it's finally DONE (thanks to Tompa keeping us moving & being so great to work with!), hope people like it!

Tompa's Comments

The 5th SMB3 run with Lord Tom has come to an end, been a pleasure as always. This took us long enough to make... When we reached 7-Airship and I realized that there would be four autoscrollers coming up... a lot of motivation was lost and it took pretty much months to get back to the run again. It's nice to have this run done now, such a relief!

It's time to take a break from TASing this game. Minor improvements have been found to the "game end glitch" run already, though that's nothing I care for currently. But we'll see what the future has in store!


  • The SMB3 speedrun community for motivation and advice!
  • Again to GlitchMan for his WIPs that demonstrated some key strats

GoddessMaria15: Super Judging Bros. 3!

GoddessMaria15: Excellent work on the improved movie! Accepting as an improvement to the published movie.

Spikestuff: Righty-o old chap. Let's create some magic.

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