Game Experiment: Exploring the Many Worlds Model of Quantum Physics With Kaizo Mario World
Emulators, Quantum Physics, Fan Hacks and Mario; today’s Game Experiment has it all. A new variety of playback has cropped up on YouTube under the title ‘Many Worlds Mario.’ It’s a series of videos showcasing stages of the fan hack, Kaizo Mario World. The hack is designed to, essentially, be super hard. Nothing other than a very specific series of actions will get you through these sadistic stages lined with enemies, piranha plants, and bottomless pits. There are even portions of levels where you literally have to get through them by bouncing off of moving bullet bills.
Unfortunately, watching playthroughs of the hack kind of reduces the mystique. You see, playthroughs only showcase a successful run. You never get to see the hundreds of failed attempts that go into making the run. As a result, every playthrough video makes the hack look easy, but that’s not the point. It’s supposed to be hard. Unfortunately, a playthrough showcasing every single death would be a horribly boring slog.
But Run Hello figured out a solution. Instead of showcasing every death one by one, he would showcase every death simultaneously. So he used a script called multi-record to overlay every single attempted playthrough of a Kaizo Mario World over itself. That’s every single save and reset, every death and every missed jump. As a result, you even get to see the result of random enemy behavior and placement. The run-throughs begin showing a swarm of Mario’s and enemies, and as it continues, Mario shrinks down to one that manages to get through every single trap. You may remember similar replays in games like Super Meat Boy.
So what does this have to do with quantum physics? Well, in the creator’s own words, this quite brilliantly showcases the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum physics. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea, here is a short rundown that is no way does the theory justice. On our most basic and quantum level, there is an element of randomness to the universe. Quantum particles have a chance to be in different states, and when observed they collapse into one of those states. However, you can’t really predict what state it will collapse into.
To explain this fundamentally random universal process, some physicists have posited that a quantum particle always exists in all of its states. It’s just that when observed, the universe itself splits into one with the particle in one state and one with the particle in another. In short, every time there is a choice in the world, the universe splits many universes, each with an individual choice being made. It splits into “many worlds” hence the theory of the same name. You’ve probably read a sci-fi book or two dealing with the theory.
That’s essentially what these videos are showing. At any given point, the player of the game has a number of choices, but only one allows Mario to progress on. Jump a little too far, and Mario dies. Jump a little too short, and Mario dies. Wait a little too long to jump, and Mario dies. Jump just right, and Mario lives. Similarly, these playthroughs show all possible states of all enemy behavior all at once, and watches them slowly get eliminated as Mario interacts with them.
So look at the Mario that survives as the universe we see. To us, all we see is Mario navigating an incredibly difficult stage perfectly. But the video lets us peer into the “many worlds” and see all the deaths that go into one perfect run.
For more information on Many Worlds Mario and Kaizo Mario World, check out the official Run Hello Blog Post.