Last last year, I was crawling through Twitch’s channels for some retro gaming goodness and stumbled on The Mexican Runner’s stream. That’s when I first heard about NESMania.
I knew who The Mexican Runner was — I had watched him work his magic at AGDQs (Awesome Games Done Quick) and SGDQs (Summer Games Done Quick) in the past as a speedrunner (he’s currently the world record holder for Darkwing Duck) but NESMania wasn’t a speedrunning project. It was a quest to play all of the licensed games released for the NES.
The only ones that weren’t included were those for the Famicom that never left Japan because, as he has explained in his own streams, he can’t speak Japanese.
But that still left 714 games on his list that needed to be beat, officially licensed by Nintendo for NTSC and PAL countries.
The Mexican Runner, whose real name is Piotr Kusielczuk (born in Mexico, now lives in Poland), turned his love for the NES into a roughly two and a half year project spanning more than 3300 hours of sheer gameplay and struggle.
I caught his quest late, when he was somewhere in the 600s, but watching him fulfill his journey one game after another while taking his viewers through retro history on the NES is something that instantly hooked me.
He worked through obstacles whether it was figuring out how to not piss off a neighbor downstairs with a Power Pad game or opening up the occasional cart and showing his audience how to properly clean the contacts to get a game working. One amazing moments was in how he was able to play Gyromite without R.O.B. (the NES’ robot peripheral) by playing a system equipped with one across the internet thanks to the help of dwangoAC and TASbot (a system designed to play through games like a cyber-speedrunner).
Earlier today, his long journey came to an end with Super Mario Bros 3. And people from all over, from fellow speedrunners to community members that had been there since the start, gathered to watch. In a little less than two hours, it was over. The princess was rescued and the curtain fell with “The End” signifying not only an end to Mario’s epic journey but Kusielczuk’s as well.
After, he spoke on how much this had meant to him and you could see it on his face. It was a huge moment not only for him but for a community that had celebrated his successes throughout his quest with fan art (custom box covers for NES classics, 8-bit inspired taco icons for joining The Mexican Wave, and much more) and of course, simply by being in chat and cheering him on.
But he simply didn’t “play” through these games, either. He kept a living record of his quest with scores submitted by both his community and how he felt about the game turning himself into a one-man reviewing machine. He used no cheat codes, he played each game as a new person would (even ignoring the manual, or “Manuel”), and stuck to authentic hardware for the fullest experience. And if you want to check all of this out, his stream channel is loaded with plenty of links to see where his collection stands, what he’s still trying to get a hold of, and of course, all of those fantastic box covers.
Even though NESMania is done, The Mexican Runner isn’t. Shortly after saying what he felt he wanted to say, he loaded up Battletoads and went back at it. This time, hoping to do a blindfolded run one day.
So congratulations, The Mexican Runner, for finding your last princess and making your dream come true. Good luck on your next quest.