Bagdadsoftware: Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you and what do you do?
Andrew Gardikis: Hi, My name is Andrew Gardikis. I am 19 years old and I'm a full-time college student in the Boston area. I have a variety of hobbies, and one of my main ones is video game speedrunning. My specialty is with the old-style Mario game series.
Bagdadsoftware: How long have you been speedrunning?
Andrew Gardikis: I had always tried to see how fast I could beat different games when I was really little, but I hadn't realized there were competitions for this kind of thing until 2004. I started attempting and recording my speedruns at this time.
Bagdadsoftware: What introduced you to the scene?
Andrew Gardikis: When speedruns started to become more popular, they aired some on TV. I was watching G4TV and saw a Super Mario Bros. speedrun. I knew I could beat what I saw on TV and I set a goal to beat it.
Bagdadsoftware: And you did. Both with your five minute best time-run and your best 100% time (all stages) run. As these are also your most famous ones, let's talk about them a bit. How did you plan and prepare your 5 Minutes run of Super Mario Bros?
Andrew Gardikis: I often wrote down what my best times for each stage were and I kept trying to improve them. I always tried to figure out if there was anything I could do to make different sections faster. As for the actual attempts, I'd play through a few levels and make a mistake. After that, I might go back to that spot and try to perfect it until I was no longer having trouble. Once you have the route down, it's a matter of practice. It takes a lot of practice, especially with a run that has been so optimized like Super Mario Bros..
Bagdadsoftware: It's definitely visible from the run that you practiced a whole lot. Each jump seems perfectly timed. Still - while preparing it, did you find and use any previously unknown tricks/glitches?
Andrew Gardikis: That is exactly what happened. As I prepared my route, I noticed this one little bug in the game. It is something very insignificant that no would even notice while playing through the game normally. I discovered that jumping into objects while facing backwards with Mario causes Mario's position to be altered. Essentially, Mario is always positioned at the center of the screen. After doing this jump, Mario is farther to the right on the screen than normal. This is useful in combination with another glitch in level 4-2.
Bagdadsoftware: What known glitches/tricks did you use and why?
Andrew Gardikis: The most major glitch was the one in level 4-2 that I just mentioned. It is a bit complicated. By doing three backwards jumps into objects with Mario, this moves him enough forward on the screen to perform the glitch. With Mario's position the way it is, the game is confused when I go down the pipe in level 4-2. The game thinks that because the screen isn't scrolled far enough forward, I must be using the vine. So after doing this glitch, the pipe sends me to where the vine should normally. This saves time as I don't have to wait for the vine "cutscene” at all. This pipe/vine confusion is also used in one section of level 8-4 where I intentionally run past a pipe a certain distance and then run back and enter it.
Another glitch which I used was the walljump in level 8-4, where it looks like I just jump from midair. In order to do this, you have to hit the 16th pixel of a block and then on the exact frame you hit it, Mario's foot gets stuck and the wall and you can perform a jump.
Bagdadsoftware: For someone who has died time and time again by jumping into those stupid plants, I was fascinated to see that although it seems like they touch Mario, you didn't die. Care to elaborate on that?
Andrew Gardikis: Many times it appears as if I should have died on pirhana plants, firebars, and Bowser's axes. I am merely just exploiting the hitbox detection the game has. With a well-timed jump you can jump through both the pirahna plants and Bowser's axes unharmed.
Bagdadsoftware: The way you killed the first two hammer brothers in world 8-3 with only one jump is fascinating. Is their spawn pre-defined and you just knew you could do that or was it accidental luck?
Andrew Gardikis: I practiced that jump many times. About half the time I have to do that trick, as I'm running into each section, I'm looking at the right edge of the screen to see where they are in order to know where I should jump to make it easiest. I actually prefer them to be in that position as it's much more entertaining.
Bagdadsoftware: How much does the success of a Super Mario Bros. run depend on luck anyway?
Andrew Gardikis: There is a bit of luck involved in the run. Each level of world 8 has very slight changes that the enemies are positioned. It can easily catch you off guard and kill you if you don't know what to look for. The koopas and hammer brothers both are the most random things in the game. The way Bowser jumps at the very end of the game is also random. If he jumps forward, then I can just run under him. If he jumps backwards, I have to jump through the axes! It is very difficult to do this, but I feel like I just know when to jump after playing through it so much. It's interesting how quite a few things nearly killed me and yet that was the run to break the speedrun record.
Bagdadsoftware: What level did you have the hardest time with and why?
Andrew Gardikis: I'd have to go with level 8-4. The last level is a tough one. There are just a lot of things I could make mistakes on. Also, I'm not very good with water levels, so that is pretty challenging for me. It makes me pretty nervous to play the water section, especially when I'm doing really well.
Bagdadsoftware: You weren't the first to run Super Mario Bros. Scott Kessler and Trevor Seguin were already pretty close to the 5-minute-mark. Did you learn anything from their runs or did you find your own ways to give you the ability to chop those final five seconds off?
Andrew Gardikis: The three of us had all been competing and finding new tactics along the way, sharing our best times for each level. They definitely helped to refine the route very thoroughly. There were small sections where I watched both of their videos in order to perfect the tactics myself. Nearly all of that 5 second improvement comes from the glitch I used in 4-2. The previous run by Scott Kessler was nearly flawless in execution and similarly to my run.
Bagdadsoftware: How long did it take you to play through the game the first time?
Andrew Gardikis: Well, when I first beat it, it actually took me a few days. I always had trouble with a few jumps in 8-1 and 8-2 back then. It's amazing to see how much I've improved since then.
Bagdadsoftware: And how long did it take you in the end to master the game and perfect the run?
Andrew Gardikis: This is a tough question. It seems like I have always been improving my time for Super Mario Bros.. I spent a month or two practicing the game at one point. I gave up playing the game for long periods of time, but I always went back to it. I knew I was capable of achieving an incredible time. I'm sure I have literally spent thousands of attempts on this game to get it to the perfection it's at now.
Bagdadsoftware: Do you think you or anyone else for that matter could still chop of a few seconds?
Andrew Gardikis: I think that the run can be improved by 1 second. A 4:59 speedrun should be possible. In my run, I messed up right after I did a wall jump very slightly. There are a few other things that were very minor that could be improved upon. I have tried to improve my 5:00 run myself, but I just haven't been able. I don't doubt that someone else could beat my run, but I don't think that will happen for a long time.
Bagdadsoftware: How did you record the run?
Andrew Gardikis: I recorded the run using a VCR. I played on an NES console with a standard NES controller. No emulation of any kind.
Bagdadsoftware: Are you still playing the game regularly or were you so sick of it after all those countless hours that you haven't touched it ever since?
Andrew Gardikis: I do still play the game off and on hoping to get a 4:59. I feel like maybe I'll find something new. I don't play the game too often anymore though. I'm guessing I'll improve my full completion speedrun sometime in the near future though. I don't think I'll ever reach perfection on that.
Bagdadsoftware: Seeing a Super Mario Bros. run on TV is one thing - but what prompted you to go ahead and go through with making your own?
Andrew Gardikis: There were many NES video games that I had just excelled at. I played these games all the time as a kid and for some of them I would beat them daily. Speedrunning gives games a fresh new "challenge.” After you complete everything there is to complete within a game, it can get a little boring. Not only does speedrunning a game give it a new "challenge” or "mission”, but it is also a real test of determination and skill to succeed at a game.
Bagdadsoftware: What still motivates you to do a run?
Andrew Gardikis: Speedrunning is really fun for me. I like the competition to be the best at a game. I want to also push myself and see what my limits are with the games I'm good at.
Bagdadsoftware: What is your latest run and are you currently working on a new one?
Andrew Gardikis: I completed a speedrun of a very obscure game, Werewolf: The Last Warrior for the NES recently. That run isn't so great, but I liked the game so I thought I'd run it. My current project is another obscure game. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the NES is known to some people as "the worst game of all time.” After these, I plan on running some other popular titles though: Mega Man and Super Mario World.
Bagdadsoftware: Do you think that someone needs to have played the game or share your passion for speedrunning before he can enjoy watching one?
Andrew Gardikis: Yeah, it really helps to know the game. There are runs that you can just tell are impressive, but some games you won't realize how good a speedrun is until you play the game for yourself.
Bagdadsoftware: What speedrun would you show to someone who has never before watched one and why?
Andrew Gardikis: The speedruns I usually show to people are parts from Contra, Mega Man 2, Sonic 1&2, or Yoshi's Island. These are really popular titles that most people have played a few times. These speedruns show incredible skill from some top players. [CH]
(Veröffentlicht am 05.07.2010)