Video game speedrunning is becoming more and more mainstream with each passing year. In case that fact wasn't evident, The Late Show host Stephen Colbert recently invited a world record-holding video game speedrunner on his show the other night for a little friendly competition.
That speedrunner was none other than Mitch Fowler, the man responsible for completing Super Mario Bros. 3 in a mere three minutes and eight seconds. Colbert introduces Mitch, asks him to explain to the world what exactly a speedrunner is, and from there, the two depart on a not-so-normal video game speedrun challenge.
Colbert declares he can cook and eat a Hot Pocket before Fowler can finish Super Mario Bros. 3. Both men are also racing against Columbia University's track team running in a one-mile relay. "Welcome to the Late Show three-legged race, where we promise someone will be fastest at something," Colbert says.
Who is the winner at the end? Surprisingly (or perhaps not?), Colbert proves to be an expert Hot Pocket cooker and eater, though he probably burned his tongue and the roof of his mouth in the process of his victory. Colbert finishes in three minutes and 12 seconds, with both the men's relay team and Fowler finishing close behind.
It's a pretty entertaining video, and it's all to put the spotlight on Summer Games Done Quick, a week-long video game speedrunning event that sees some of the world's top speedrunners competing for charity. Once a niche area of gaming as whole, speedrunning is now popular enough to be featured on American late-night TV. That's certainly an achievement worth celebrating for the speedrunning community, and just goes to show how quickly the landscape is changing thanks to the invention of Twitch and live-streaming, which makes it easier than ever before for fans to tune in.
There's just something fun about watching these gamers bend the games to their will in incredible ways, and that's exactly what the Colbert speedrun demonstrated. The icing on the cake was CBS sports commentator Ian Eagle, who gives the play-by-play throughout the competition. He managed to do his homework when it came to Super Mario Bros. 3., explaining the various glitches Fowler must perform in order to skip such large portions of the game and finish it in a mere three minutes.
You can read more about Summer Games Done Quick here.