Getting my computer to play Super Mario Land for me!

I’ve previously spoken about my love of retro gaming, in particular the Nintendo Gameboy. For a long time, I’ve wanted to try and automate playing a game using PyAutoGUI 🎮.

Firstly……..what is PyAutoGUI?

PyAutoGUI lets your Python scripts control the mouse and keyboard to automate interactions with other applications. The API is designed to be simple. PyAutoGUI works on Windows, macOS, and Linux, and runs on Python 2 and 3.

Taken from https://pyautogui.readthedocs.io/en/latest

When I was learning Python, the book Automate the Boring Stuff with Python was an invaluable resource, it devotes a whole chapter to PyAutoGUI (which the author created). I’ve previously automated time tracking for work and some other equally exciting tasks……now was time to take this to the next level and attempt to use it to play a game 🕹️.

Super Mario Land is one of my all-time favourite games and I’ve spent hours over the years playing this game. My aim was to attempt to write a Python script that uses PyAutoGUI to complete World 1-1 without losing a life. My plan was to run the game using an emulator on my PC and use PyAutoGUI to send key presses to the emulator to replicate me playing the game.

Rather than having some fancy Artificial Intelligence solution such as this which was used to teach a computer how to play Atari 2600 games, I opted for the human touch……I would manually specify the keypresses, based on the countless hours that I’ve *invested* in this game!

I used the emulator Visual Boy Advance, I have about 7 copies of Super Mario Land I’ve acquired over the years 😆, so had no guilt in using this with a ROM I had acquired 🕵️.

I configured Visual Boy Advance use the keyboard for input, with the following configuration:

I then spent far too much time using my trial-and-error approach to completing World 1-1, below is a snippet of the Python script I created to give you an idea – time.sleep() was my friend!

Below is a video of my automated playthrough in action.

Here is the final Python script (in all its un-commented glory).

If you plan to use this, the only thing you’ll likely need to change is the values for pyautogui.click(), this selects the correct window running Visual Boy Advance using the screen coordinates (it’s all covered in the PyAutoGUI documentation here).

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