Watch Lego Mario controlling digital Mario
WTF?! Playing games using accessories other than controllers has become a familiar sight; the Dark Souls series has been beaten using Guitar Hero Instruments, Donkey Kong bongos, and more. Now, a hacker has proved it’s possible to play Super Mario Bros.—on a Mac, no less—using a Lego model of the Italian plumber himself.
The work comes from @r1ckp (via The Verge), who describes himself as a hardware hacker. He used a Mario minifigure from a Lego Super Mario set that was released in August. It uses a variety of tech that lets buyers build physical courses traversable by Mario, with scores recorded on a phone app.
Wrote some code to use the #legosupermario to play #SuperMario pic.twitter.com/LOuECESPgT
— Rick (@r1ckp) September 2, 2020
It’s that technology that allowed the Mario figure to be used as a controller. @r1ckp, running Super Mario Bros. through an emulator in a Linux virtual machine on a Mac, manipulates the on-screen character by moving the mannequin.
To communicate with the different physical and digital elements of the sets, Mario is packed with a an accelerometer, gyroscope, and Bluetooth chip. Once @r1ckp intercepted the figure’s Bluetooth signals and plugged them into the emulator’s controls, the in-game character was controlled by moving his physical counterpart forward, backward, and using a sharp upward motion for a jump. It looks tricky, but @r1ckp seems to manage it well. He also showed how shooting fireballs and dropping down pipes work, the latter of which requires actually placing Mario into one of the physical pipes that comes with the set.
Some people asked for it, so here’s how shooting and pipes work pic.twitter.com/OACZYurh5u
— Rick (@r1ckp) September 3, 2020
The process took around 4 hours. “The complicated stuff was figuring out the Bluetooth protocol. Then it‘s just simulating keypresses at certain events,” said @r1ckp, who plans to share the code once he cleans it up.