Speedrun Follies Vol. 1: The year was 2017. Badabun? More like “bad-a-run”!

I am far from the first person to ever discuss “speedrun cheating” or “cheaters caught splicing” or even the subject of my story today. Many people, even outside of the speedrunning community, have already discussed this video to death, but I remember seeing this unfold in front of my eyes back in 2020, when the video was finally discovered by the Super Mario Bros. speedrunning community. Today, I will share my perspective of the story: my thoughts on the original video (which is still up today), the reaction videos (including the epic parody that former SMB WR holder Kosmic released on April Fools’ Day in 2020), and hopefully we can all laugh together here, in volume 1 of the Speedrun Hall of Fame’s new article series: Speedrun Follies.

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Before we get into the video itself, perhaps we should discuss for a bit the company behind it all: Badabun.


YouTube is a place where both honest and dishonest people can make a living… or even a whole fortune, in a matter of months, especially when they have a large team around them, or if they are in a location where the competition isn’t as heavy. In the case of Mexican YouTube channel “Badabun”, they accomplish both of these prerequisites. Established in 2014, they were already one of the largest YouTube channels based out of Mexico, with tens of millions of subscribers in 2017, when the speedrun folly we are discussing today took place.

A screenshot of the Badabun YouTube channel, sorted by popularity. Many videos with clickbait article headlines and thumbnails about a lot of content were abound on their site, including the popular Mexican series “Exponiendo infieles” which was later found to be a fraudulent show.

The funny thing is, Badabun was never a place to watch speedruns. With tons of gossip videos, rumor mills, and distasteful content, Badabun didn’t just create sensationalist content, they lived it: rumors were abound about Badabun having a toxic working culture, with claims of homophobia, sexism, sexual harassment, and workplace harassment rampant throughout their culture. The channel is well-known for a show called “Exponiendo Infieles” (“Exposing Infidels“), in which host Lizbeth Rodríguez interviews people in relationships in order to try and discover whether or not they’re cheating. While posting whatever clickbait they could in order to get viewers to click, they posted content that played more like fictional stories from soap operas, rather than legitimate news articles. But they also dabbled in content that was outside of their comfort zone, and that was where the infamous video “Pasando Super Mario en 5 minutos” was posted on December 17, 2017.

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Tavo Betancourt, from the Badabun video “Pasando Super Mario en 5 minutos” which translates to “Passing Super Mario in 5 minutes”

On that date, Badabun uploaded a video titled “Pasando Super Mario en 5 minutos” (Passing Super Mario in 5 Minutes), which starred Badabun member Tavo Betancourt. He was sitting at a desk, allegedly staring holes into his screen as he “played” Super Mario Bros. in a very lackluster and relaxed way, finishing the “run” in 5:12.12 (according to the on-screen timer). He had a heart monitor displayed on his screen, which would randomly spike higher in places the average speedrunner wouldn’t even think twice about. He casually drank Coca-Cola and ate pepperoni pizza in between stages, hurriedly eating a bite and dropping the pizza onto the plate as the next level loaded, catching him off-guard as he mimed the inputs on his NES controller.

The run was obviously not a genuine Super Mario Bros. speedrun. The audio in the video, specifically that from the game, was pitched in a strange way that made absolutely no sense. It had obviously been edited in post, and was higher for good parts of the “run”, expect in some parts where the notes were just… wrong. Betancourt would put the controller down on the table, and then quickly snatch it up, meaning that it would have been impossible for him to have pressed the necessary buttons in order to actually move Mario, let alone in a way you would in a speedrun. (Skip ahead to part 3 of this article if you’d like to see all the things that they did to make this video possible)

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The run was full of mistakes. There were places throughout where the timer didn’t match up, or his coin count was inaccurate. There was even a part where you could see where an invisible Mario was apparently hitting his head on blocks at the top of the screen, where Mario was obviously at the bottom, running along. There was also evidence of “fast acceleration” which is (likely) an impossible trick to perform as it requires both left and right to be pressed simultaneously, which is not allowed regardless of the category (the original NES controller, such as the one Betancourt was holding in his video, cannot perform these inputs in stock form; the D-Pad has a pivot in the center, making opposite inputs impossible).

Another screenshot from the same video. Note the blocks at the top near the coin counter, which is raised up because the video the HUD was stolen from had Mario bumping his head against it. The two were spliced together to hide the inaccurate information.

Throughout the video, Betancourt would put the controller down and take a swig of soda, or take a bite of his pizza, which as a speedrunner myself, I can tell you that doing that and attempting to get a PB of the caliber that was claimed in this video is just not a thing speedrunners do. Our heartrate legitimately raises up when we are on pace, and the adrenaline rush would make me sick if I tried to take a bite of pizza and swig Coke in-between levels. Betancourt, however, must have a steel stomach, as he nonchalantly eats the food and goes on to “finish the (alleged) run” with a very impressive time of five minutes and twelve seconds, according to his timer (which was also inaccurate and not properly calibrated, as the actual time of his run was approximately 4:54… which would have been the world record at the time, and would still be very competitive if not the record today). His reactions during the run were almost as if he was bored, as if he had been playing Super Mario Bros. for years (despite not having a run available anywhere online to watch, at least on any official leaderboards or speedrunning sites or forums).

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You would think that a run that impressive would earn a pop-off reaction at the completion of the run, but Betancourt just casually slaps his hands on the table and over-acts his “joy” at “accomplishing” this “feat”. With his supposed heart rate monitor barely reading 89 (a very casual heart rate), he barely says a word, takes another bite of his pizza, and the video ends. And then, Badabun uploaded the video to their official YouTube channel, where it sat relatively obscure for almost 2 years.

A shot after Betancourt finished his run; note the pizza and the fast deletion of the timer.

There’s many theories behind this. For starters, the claimed time of 5:12 is not a very impressive feat in the eyes of Mario speedrunners, even by 2017 standards. Today, more than 300 people have sub-5 times in Super Mario Bros. and many have 4:55 times or better. The current world record of 4:54.798 (as of October 2022, by speedrunner Niftski) is very close to the fastest theory time that a human being can accomplish without new strategies or glitches being found.

That, added to the fact that Badabun had very little content that was related to video games, Super Mario, or speedrunning, made the video a bit of a niché that sat obscurely racking up video views across the globe… until January 10, 2020, when Karl Jobst broke the news and turned the speedrunning world upside down.


The Worst Fake Speedrun on YouTube was released by Karl Jobst that day, and it goes into depth at how absurd this alleged speedrun is. In the video, Jobst touched on all of the splices, the stolen footage from runners such as Kosmic, Darbian, and a few other TAS videos from TASers such as KLMZ.

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The fallout was instantaneous. Within weeks, Badabun had lost over a million subscribers. Jobst was already one of the biggest speedrun-related news and gossip channels on YouTube, and his video quickly surpassed the original Badabun upload, garnering more than double the views in a significantly shorter period of time (as of Oct. 2022, Jobst’s video has 16.5 million views; Betancourt’s has 6.4 million views). Soon, as the hilarious nature of this alleged run was revealed, many people around the Super Mario Bros. community began to make their own jokes and parodies. Dirkmez was the first, uploading a hilarious parody to his YouTube on January 12, 2020. He dressed up as the Angry Video Game Nerd and made an absolute mockery of the Badabun run.

A screencap from Dirkmez’ own parody video, where he scratches his eyelid as Mario performs fast acceleration, which is frankly impossible.

It was a running joke for a few months until April 1, 2020, when former SMB1 world record holder Kosmic released his own parody video for April Fools’ Day. He over-acted intentionally, with his heart monitor reaching 4 digits (easily more than is even humanly possible, mocking the fact that Betancourt’s fake heart rate monitor never rose over 89 in his run). He drank multiple Coca-Colas, cracking a new bottle or can whenever he reached a new level (even chugging from a 2-liter of Diet Coke at one point). He perfectly emulated the feel of the original run, switching back and forth from spliced runs, emulator movies, TASes, and even the official SMB1 practice ROM which was released for the community. It, too, garnered tons of views (1.38 million as of Oct 2022, though this pales in comparison to the original video).

A screencap from Kosmic’s April Fools’ parody video. With a heart rate of 3,022, it’s a wonder he’s still alive, let alone speedrunning. He should probably see a doctor 🙂

There were a lot of points of evidence brought up to the community, a lot of it broken to the public by Karl Jobst (the following is taken from a crappygames.miraheze.org article, which you can view here)

Por qué apesta (Why It Sucks)

  1. Between the stolen footage they used lots of TAS footage, which was a terrible idea since the TAS uses frame-perfect and (humanly) impossible tricks which include:
    • Fast acceleration, where you have to press left and right at once, an impossible circumstance given Tavo was clearly “playing” with a D-Pad controller – a NES controller specifically, as can be seen here.
    • Flagpole glitch, which allows speedrunners to skip the “flag fall” sequence of the end of the level, saving a potential framerule. Problem is, he does it without any previous setup, which is unfeasible in real-time speedruns. Flagpole glitch will stand for no-setup flagpole glitch for the rest of the article.
  2. There’s a whopping lot of evidence of spliced footage across all the levels:
    • In general, Tavo/Badabun always kept the TAS’ status bar when changing footage. Due to bad timing, this made the status bar disappear before level graphics on warp pipes instead of at the same frame as it should, among other issues that will be seen later, so keep this dumb splicing in mind.
    • WORLD 1-1: First instance of fast acceleration and flagpole glitch. Particularly on the shortcut, Tavo/Badabun changed the footage to speedrunner Darbian’s speedrun, which led to 3 issues:
      • Tavo collects 11 coins but the counter increases to 13, despite initially marking 1.
      • The flashing from the coin counter sprite and the level coins is out of sync, unlike in actual SMB.
      • The top of the level graphics looks warped, due to Tavo/Badabun cutting the TAS footage’s top at 25px instead of 24px (the height of the status bar in NTSC SMB).
    • WORLD 1-2:
      • During two frames, graphics appear warped on a certain scanline, which allowed to identify the footage as Darbian’s speedrun.
      • You can hear buttons; these come from Darbian’s speedrun.
      • As a product of the spliced status bar, the elevator platforms are desynchronized and Mario is completely obscured when going to the top of the stage, which is not the case on the actual SMB.
    • WORLD 4-1: Fast acceleration and flagpole glitch again.
    • WORLD 4-2: Fast acceleration again, on the warp zone. Now footage comes from speedrunner Kosmicd12, spawning a coin and a block at the top, because the TAS hits a coin block and a brick block there, product of splicing issues.
    • WORLD 8-1: Fast acceleration and flagpole glitch… again.
    • WORLD 8-2: Fast acceleration… once again. On a dumb move, Tavo/Badabun choose to use the TAS footage for that level, which was filled with frame-perfect backward jumps and a wall clip/jump at the end. Keep in mind the Bullet Bill glitch performed at the end is humanly possible.
    • WORLD 8-3: Fast acceleration… but no flagpole glitch at least. Also the timer finishes at 244, only possible via fast acceleration.
    • WORLD 8-4:
      • Cheep-Cheep tops are seen on the status bar, reflecting the different events on the TAS. Again, product of the spliced status bar.
      • Mario’s sprite is messed up in the underwater section. This happens when fast acceleration is used underwater.
      • The final section contains frame-perfect backward jumps, like in WORLD 8-2.
  3. The timer says it was 5:12, while the actual time of the speedrun was 4:54. There’s two possible reasons as to why the timer is wrong:
    • It’s a self-made timer and it sucks at being accurate.
    • The footage was so fast that it could be deemed impossible by a human, so they changed it to seem more natural.
  4. The heart rate monitor, besides being fake, is pointless, since it often only switches between 85 and 89 even on the last moments of the speedrun, and is overall not accurate.
  5. The desync between Tavo’s button presses and the gameplay (pssst, stolen footage) are so evident it’s embarrasing, especially during WORLD 4-2’s intro.
  6. Tavo made a complete mockery out of the entire thing by drinking coke and eating pizza, to make viewers think that it was easy.
  7. The audio has a weird flanger/pitch filter, possibly to cover audio cuts that could reveal it’s faked.
  8. It actually did hurt the SMB speedrun community: before Karl Jobst stepped in, there was still people believing the legitimate runs were stolen footage from Badabun video, which is ironic and moreso infuriating considering it was Tavo/Badabun who stole the TAS footage.
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As you can clearly see, the evidence was insanely convincing, although anyone that actually speedruns Super Mario Bros. could clearly see that this run was full of cow manure. The outlash was so loud that it was impossible for anyone to ignore, and eventually this negative press made its’ way back to Badabun, which forced Betancourt to issue an apology video (note, that the original video not only still exists, but is still hosted on their channel, and has never been taken down. It also does not mention anywhere, either in the video, the video’s title, or its’ description, that is intended as a parody, that Betancourt had apologized, or that any footage was borrowed or stolen).

PART FOUR: ThE cOnClUsIoN (or lack thereof)

A screencap from Betancourt’s apology video, which as of October 2022 is currently set to private. This cap was taken from EZScape Speedruns’ YouTube channel’s translation video and reaction to it.

Betancourt issued an apology video on his own YouTube channel, finally, in January 2021. Titled “PIDO PERDÓN A LA COMUNIDAD GAMER (Speedrun de Mario)” (which, since then, as of Oct 2022 the video has been made private), the video was translated to English the very next day by EZScape Speedruns (you can view that here). He claimed that the entire thing was a joke, and a parody, and he never meant to hurt anyone. Some feel that the apology was sincere, while others feel as if it was a cop-out and he fully knew what he was doing. Regardless of how you feel, or what the actual truth is, the apology video was only available for a short while before being made private, so anyone that discovered his speedrun today would never know the truth without digging a bit further…

At the end of the day, as hilariously bad as the Tavo Betancourt “speedrun” was, or how cringy his apology video might be, the anger the speedrun community felt was palpable, and certainly justified. Speedrunners practice and work hard every day, repeating levels over and over, performing the same strats to perfection. When they do their attempts, they take it very seriously due to the amount of effort they had to pursue to get to that point. They cannot just rewind, or load a save state, if they make a mistake; there’s no re-dos or undo button. They have to reset and start over. When someone that has no reputation or history in speedrunning comes in and makes a lot of money by performing a cheated run, it undermines the legitimacy of the community, and makes those that perform the honest effort justifiably angry. Heck, I barely consider myself a Super Mario Bros. speedrunner (my PB as of this article is a lowly 5:07) and I was upset by it!

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Badabun has moved on to “bigger and better things” (lol). They had a large loss of subscribers immediately after the Karl Jobst video dropped, but have since recovered and even surpassed their previous high watermark of subs.

As of October 26, 2022, the video “Pasando Super Mario en 5 Minutos” is still live on Badabun’s YouTube channel. We have declined posting a link to it here, as they will certainly make money off of your view. I highly suggest not watching it, but if you really want to watch it, watch a reaction video to it instead, like this one by Armada. Don’t give them your money, especially if you consider yourself a speedrunner or a speedrun fan. Because the fact is: they stole footage from Darbian, Kosmic, and KLMZ.

Betancourt lied. He then apologized. But the speedrunning community will never forgive nor forget this Speedrun Folly.

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