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Super Mario Brothers is hard to beat

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Spent your youth struggling to rescue Princess Peach? Don’t worry, science proves it’s actually really hard.

Several classic Nintendo games, including Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong have been proven to be difficult. So congratulations if you ever completed them.

In a study titled Classic Nintendo Games are (NP-)Hard, an international team of computer scientists concluded that many retro games can be classed within a type of mathematical problem known as NP-hard.

This means that for a given level, it can be quite challenging to work out whether it is possible for a player to complete it.

Or as Alex Armstrong of iProgrammer puts it, “NP-hard problems are in a sense the ones that are most difficult to solve by computational means because the time it takes to find a solution tends to increase so quickly with the size of the problem that it just isn't practical to perform the computation.”

But you can’t call yourself a computer science genius for completing just any retro video game. The researchers found that Super Mario Brothers Lost Levels Edition (released only in Japan) was not NP-hard because of “Mario’s newfound ability to pick up Koopa shells.”

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