For the first time in 28 years, Super Mario 64 has been beaten without using the A button – and it only took 86 hours

Super Mario 64
(Image credit: Nintendo)

For the first time in recorded history, someone has beaten Super Mario 64 without ever using the A button, a new world record previously thought to be impossible.

To fully contextualize just how monumental an achievement this is, let me remind you that the A button in Super Mario 64 is used to jump, making it one of the platformer's most vital inputs. This new world record was achieved without remapping anything and thus relies on creative use of the game's mechanics, glitches and exploits discovered in the many years since Super Mario 64's 1996 release, and of course, extreme precision.

The Super Mario 64 A Button Challenge (ABC for short) has an incredibly complicated history going all the way back to the early 2000s, a few years after the game's 1996 release. I was only made aware of this particular challenge this morning and don't have nearly enough time to go over everything, but you can watch this five-hour explanation video from Bismuth if you want.

Marbler has done it! For the first time ever, Super Mario 64 has been beaten in 0 A presses! from r/speedrun

Basically, Super Mario 64 nerds have been competing to beat the classic platformer using the A button as little as possible, with the long-held assumption that it simply isn't possible to complete the game without hitting A at all. The Mario 64 wiki Ukikipedia has an impressively comprehensive breakdown of all the major milestones in the challenge's history, as well as detailed information on techniques, just in case you want to catch up without, you know, spending half your day watching a Mario 64 speedrunning documentary, although there's absolutely no shame in that.

Jumping to this week, Twitch streamer Marbler managed to clear the game without hitting the A button once after a grueling 86-hour run. The feat was accomplished without any remapping on the Wii Virtual Console version of the game, which is apparently the only confirmed version where it's even possible to do this. Eight months ago, Marbler managed to beat the game using the A button only twice, and at the time said one A could be saved by playing the Wii Virtual Console version, though the final clear would require "some really absurd movement."

As Ukikipedia lays out, this was accomplished thanks to the decades-spanning foundation of A-press save discoveries accumulated by the speedrunning community. Ukikipedia gives special mentions to "Mr_Robert_Z, Bottles704, Thiago Trujillo, Mp16z, and most notably, bobmario511, who uploaded numerous videos in his channel dedicated to the A Button Challenge."

Again, it's hard to overstate what an achievement this is, not only because it's more than 20 years in the making and was once thought impossible, but also because we all know how frighteningly easy it is for devastation to strike during Mario 64 speedruns.

Last month, a Skyrim speedrunner broke a three-year-old record by leveling from 0 to 80 and killing the RPG's infamous Ebony Warrior in just under 12 minutes.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.