Computer program that learns to play classic NES games


This is an explanation and demo of software I wrote that learns how to play a Nintendo Entertainment System game and then automatically plays it. This is real.

Research paper published in SIGBOVIK 2013: “The first level of Super Mario Bros. is easy with lexicographic ordering a and time travel …after that it gets a little tricky.”

Follow-up video with more games:
And episode 3:

For more info and source code, see:

Read more all post Computer Technology :
  1. Echo Lithium Oridium Syndrome says

    When you perfect this have the computer play akari warriors lmao

  2. kony2020 says

    This is still awesome!!

  3. shrdlu says

    There needs to be a better title for this video, more click baity

  4. SmellTheL says

    Rip Tetris AI

  5. Wylliam Judd says

    The part where the computer pauses the game to avoid losing has me in stitches!

  6. Joshua R says

    The only thing that sucks about this program is that it takes forever for it to learn anything. HOWEVER, I will be completely honest, this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I just hope it gets improved to learn a lot faster, cause the fact that it takes hours just to learn a few seconds of gameplay, makes no goddamn sense to me.

  7. Umar says

    "NES" in the titleAI using a sans strategySANS = NESS CONFIRMED

  8. Nikola Kolchakov says

    15:59 The AI was just yelled that the dinner is ready

  9. Me Dude says

    This is honestly really interesting. You said that the algorithm works best on moving right games. How would it hold up against cuphead? That game is literally just move memorizations.

  10. Luke Cardoza says

    this boi still replying to comments 7 years later dayum

  11. Luke Cardoza says

    here from vsauce?

  12. Matthew Shaw says

    Just worked out why it's so bad at Tetris. It sees the height increasing throughout the game and assumes that more height = more better, so it tries to make the height as big as possible

  13. nick gurr says


  14. Игорь Иванов says

    Прикольно было бы иметь прогу, для совместного прохождения игр на двоих…

  15. Co ja Pacze says

    how it works ?

  16. Toyota Supra says

    Outstanding Move

  17. Jomo says

    I feel kinda sad for the AI though. He thought that the only way to keep himself alive/continue to serve his purpose, was to pause the game forever.Are we humans like that as well? Constantly struggling to survive and find meaning in everything we do because we fail to accept the meaningless of things? Was our concept of "meaning" an acquired survival mechanism?

  18. Yuni Solaybar says

    A Tool Assisted Speedrun made by an AI.

  19. CZRaS says

    Posers commenting about freaking out because AI paused the game. Lol, this doesn't make you look smart.

  20. Mark Firman says

    Got here from 2-minute papers. What an amazing and insightful demonstration!

  21. MapleTreemon says

    You can see the soon to be killed bike in the background of the beginning of the video. Truly haunting

  22. Kemil Gaming says

    Technically, Tetris is all about playing 'till it get so hard that you lose. You can't win, if you will keep playing, you will eventually lose. So yes, pausing the game is the only way to not lose

  23. Tails Clock says

    "He has to wear a helmet when he skateboards, how lame is that right?"The only thing that's really lame, are preventable head injuries. No-one will be impressed with you when they're calling for an ambulance whilst you bleed out on the ground. Be smart. Wear a helmet.Yes I had to have a go at you for that.

  24. Liam Crino says

    Anyone here from VSauce?

  25. Quinnen Crawford says

    What if, the computer just considered success as playing the game for a long time?

  26. Egg Salad says


  27. 壬晴 says

    0:26 Oh my gosh, you throwing mad shade there

  28. Daniel Hall says

    That thing that makes you big.

  29. Noxedwin Tepes says

    So this is MarI/O's bigger, more capable brother.Sweet.

  30. Welco Bro says

    Impressive is all I can sayBtw I’m here from vsauce

  31. ReddFoxx1562 says

    nice framing?

  32. Alzter S says

    You fool, backwards jumping makes Mario go faster

  33. Otha Bojangles says

    So indie it hurts

  34. Der Typ says

    Wow, this video is from 2013

  35. Noah Turner says

    Hey, Vsauce. Michael here

  36. John Ktejik says

    Video starts at 6:12

  37. Hrvoje Hrelja says

    Tetris is NOT a game its real life

  38. samljer says

    So you taught in to play, learning on a platformer, and wonder why it failed at fighting, and pacman… but excelled at platformers?

  39. samljer says

    that was a long winded way to say binary coded decimal

  40. Cheshire Cat says

    I remember reading about this so long ago, it's one of the biggest things that got me interested in computer science to begin with. Then I stumble on his latest video about 30 different chess AI yesterday without realizing, only to now look at his other videos, find this one and see that it's the same guy.What a small world

  41. MrEthanhines says

    This is freeking amazing!

  42. Jack Wong says

    16:04 "The only winning move, is not to play."- usually the last thought of a person before he jumped off the building.

  43. Fine Mouche says

    in out of laughing after the pause trick for not lose XD

  44. Connor King says

    The only winning move is not to play.Wait, no, that's also a losing move.

  45. Hayden the eeeeeeeeeeevil male eukaryotic organism says

    14:29 Basically Mario clipped into the top block and landed on the bottom one at a pixel perfect position so he could jump off of the bottom one for that one frame. This is the wall jump glitch.

  46. Govinda Kumar says

    But AI cannot figure out shortcuts in mario like humans.

  47. Govinda Kumar says

    Vsauce brought me here

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