Scientists: Yep, Nintendo Is Hard

Classic games like Super Mario Brothers actually 'NP-Hard'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2012 7:23 AM CDT
Journalists try out the original version of Super Mario Brothers inside the exhibition 'The Art of Video Games,' March 15, 2012 at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in Washington, DC.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Science has confirmed what you already knew as a 10-year-old: Super Mario Brothers is hard to beat. But the paper by a team of international computer scientists uses actual math to come to that pointy-headed conclusion, the Washington Post reports, and focuses on not just the Mario series but also Donkey Kong, Zelda, Metroid, and Pokemon. The title of the paper? "Classic Nintendo Games are (NP-)Hard."

NP-Hard is a computer science term that Alex Armstrong explains on iProgrammer: "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." For example, the paper explains that it is possible to win Super Mario Brothers, it just takes a long time to figure out how. (But the paper explains that using terms like "polynomial" alongside terms like "Koopa shells.")

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