In Super Mario World, if you make the right series of moves with the right game objects, you can cause the game to execute arbitrary code. A particularly delightful use of this feature was recently shown by Masterjun, a tool-assisted speedrun enthusiast. He unveiled the speedrun to the world using an unmodified game cartridge and a Super Nintendo Entertainment System with eight controllers connected through a multitap system at the Awesome Games Done Quick 2014 event. Hack A Day explains the technique. Masterjun explains it in more detail.
Tool-assisted speedruns seek to create a perfect run by using tools such as slow motion, scripts and manipulation of random numbers. A few TASs have appeared on the blue before, but it's easy to get lost in the archives of TASvideos. The pages of popular videos and notable videos are useful here. You could browse by platform or use the tabs to sort the videos by various statistics. A good starting point might be Actraiser (yt), a hybrid of sidescroller and city simulation, which has been subtitled so that you can understand the choices made by the author (click on the 'closed captions' button). Some of the most impressive TASs take advantage of glitches: watch Link complete Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (yt - no cutscenes) by supersliding, bomb jumping, and eschewing boss keys or a long game like Super Mario 64 (yt) completed in 5 minutes in a no-stars run. However, sometimes watching a longer, competent run like Donkey Kong Country 2 (yt) 102% is just as fun. Here are some recommendations. [more inside]
Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3, and Famicon Super Mario Bros. being beaten at the same time, using one controller for all four games simultaneously. Mega Man 3, 4, 5, and 6 being beaten at the same time, using one controller. Mega Man X and X2 at the same time. Final Fantasy V and VI (warning: 4 hours long). [more inside]
This is a tool assisted speed run of the 1997 PSX game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. In it arukAdo (the author) abuses glitches in the engine to destroy the basic rules of the game world. Some highlights (though it's worth watching all the way through for fans of the game): The player character, Alucard, moves like a Trueblood vampire, warps through space to obtain items earlier than normal, blinks in and out of existence, and destroys the very fabric of reality. He explores areas outside the normal bounds of the game, hovers myseriously in place, and annihilates the prince of darkness in seconds. [more inside]
Experts are little help in the constant struggle in this conversation to separate myth from reality, because they have the same difficulty, and routinely demonstrate it by talking past each other. Respected scientists warn of imminent energy shortages as geologic fuel supplies run out. Wall Street executives dismiss their predictions as myths and call for more drilling. Environmentalists describe the destruction to the earth from burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Economists ignore them and describe the danger to the earth of failing to burn coal, oil, and natural gas. Geology researchers report fresh findings about what the earth was like millions of years ago. Creationist researchers report fresh findings that the earth didn’t exist millions of years ago. The only way not to get lost in this awful swamp is to review the basics and decide for yourself what you believe and what you don’t. [more inside]
Lori Whisenant, who teaches business law and ethics at the University of Houston, has outsourced the grading of students' papers to a private company, Virtual-TA, who sends them to be marked in Bangalore, India.