A very specific sequence of weird tricks that Bowsers HATE
January 22, 2015 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Speedrunner Minecraft SethBling explains how he beat Super Mario World in around 6 minutes by using in-game actions to manipulate the game's memory so that it glitches to the end credits. The glitch had already been pulled off in-game using emulators, but this is the first time it has been done on an actual SNES. Very technical details available here.
posted by passerby (34 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
There is no spoon.
posted by hot_monster at 7:14 PM on January 22, 2015


That is some freaky wizard shit.
posted by loquacious at 7:21 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's impressive that he got this to work on actual hardware using normal human input, but at the same time following on the heels of some people using similar trick(s) to program the first Mario Bros game into SMW, it's not quite as surprising.

You can also do a similar credits warp in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night using inventory manipulation to overflow some memory and jump execution to the game's credits in about 10 minutes.
posted by sparkletone at 7:21 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is the kind of shit that happens to my second cousin's best friend's neighbor and then the rumors spread around the playground OMG I HEARD THIS ONE KID IN CANADA CAN WARP TO THE CREDITS and everyone else stands around and goes "yeah, yeah, sure." and then the wedgies start.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:38 PM on January 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Just so I'm clear, this guy's moniker is "Minecraft SethBling"?
posted by grobstein at 7:40 PM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


We'll be hearing from that crazy Speedrunner Minecraft Sethbling, and I don't mean a postcard.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:50 PM on January 22, 2015


Yeah what kind of name is 'Sethbling'?
posted by Flashman at 8:04 PM on January 22, 2015


This is the kind of shit that happens to my second cousin's best friend's neighbor and then the rumors spread around the playground OMG I HEARD THIS ONE KID IN CANADA CAN WARP TO THE CREDITS and everyone else stands around and goes "yeah, yeah, sure." and then the wedgies start.

Yeah, but, see, I've got this uncle that works for Nintendo...
posted by straight at 8:10 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


So, he's basically using the game to write code to skip to the credits?

o.0
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:12 PM on January 22, 2015


So, he's basically using the game to write code to skip to the credits?

Yep. That's exactly right. Buffer overflows can be funny when they're not causing terrible security problems.

Here's a commentated version of the Symphony of the Night glitch run I mentioned. The save game corruption that leads to the credits warp starts around 7 minutes in and takes about 2 minutes to perform (before that is setup stuff, but there's also some interesting glitches in that portion). SotN is a pretty interesting speedrun game just in general. It's got a lot of neat movement mechanics for more standard types of play, but it's also hilariously broken in terms of sequence breaks and other things.
posted by sparkletone at 8:51 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I look forward to John Lilly's new book "Metaprogramming the Super Mario Biocomputer"
posted by symbioid at 9:00 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


This kind of stuff is so crazy. I liked the Pokemon Yellow hack where you can program arbitrary code by messing with the inventory list. (more at 0xabad1dea's Index of Weird Machines in Video Games)
posted by caaaaaam at 9:26 PM on January 22, 2015


TECH ALL THE TECH
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:52 PM on January 22, 2015


What if ancient mystical ceremonies were simply buffer overruns on reality's memory creating a desired effect?
posted by coolxcool=rad at 10:26 PM on January 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


What I don't get, is how this kind of glitching gets called a 'speedrun'. I mean I understand that it is interesting, but shouldn't there be like a separate name for it? In my perfect idealized world, speedruns are where people blast through the whole game. I guess it gets murky if people use shortcuts and warps, but I feel like if someone starts using methods the game designers didn't intend, it morphs into something else. Meh.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:33 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's something I found out about recently but haven't tried yet.

It seems that, due to some combination of circumstances, you can get the Eyeball Frog early in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
posted by JHarris at 10:37 PM on January 22, 2015


What I don't get, is how this kind of glitching gets called a 'speedrun'.

Now, I'm not totally sure about this but after watching, maybe, a few hundred speed runs and some of those speed-run-marathon-cons-for-charity (I forget the name) I think I understand the underlying philosophy. It boils down to utilizing whatever the games basic code set theoretically allows you to do as well as only using the standard input methods that that game was developed for. So, for example, even if one were to conduct a speed run using an emulator they are still only allowed to input what the controller would have allowed someone to input in some kind of perfect world scenario in regards to the original game. What's astonishing about this run is that someone practiced and pulled off that type of glitch in real time, without the help of an emulator. In a different sense this is just a much more extrapolated version of the myriad simple glitches anyone performed, when they were kids, passed around in hushed tones, that helped them beat games a little more easily.

All that being said, the speed run community does have many different classifications for the types of speed runs that one can perform. Certainly, this will end up in it's own category, something like: "Straight to Credits Glitch Run" or some such thing.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 10:54 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


As said in the video, some people don't consider this beating the game. It may seem obvious to you when you've won, but nothing is obvious -- that becomes most evident in those cases where people have a strong incentive to quibble over meaning, like when getting the fastest possible time in completing a game, where the question of what is best comes down more to the decision of who sets the definitive version of the contest than what's been accomplished. Even game developers sometimes have reason to do such quibbling themselves.

What does it mean, to "beat" a game? Used to be games didn't even have end states, or intentional ones anyway. But every case you could come up with where you could say a game has been obviously won, I can give you a counter example, from a different game, that blurs that line. There is no universally-applicable definition. Some games even play around with whether you've "beaten" them or not.

The original Lunar doesn't end when you finish it, but has a playable epilogue, with combat. Chrono Trigger has many endings; there's a primary one, sure, that you'll probably get the first time through, but the game over sequence fulfills some of the requirements of an ending. You can't just say best ending either, because some games have extremely obscure endings that aren't really considered to be resolutions. And just saying you know it when you see it won't fly, not with people finding obscure tricks like this one.

Fortunately the speed run community recognizes this, and thus has categories, for wins involving glitches and with no glitches, with some or all tasks completed, and with the use of computer-based tools or emulators or not. Instead of relying on a person who did the best at performing the arbitrary task fastest, they just took all of the most reasonable definitions and recorded the best time at each of them. There are still edge cases that are troublesome, but those cases make the process more interesting rather than making it impossible to make a conclusive statement.
posted by JHarris at 11:29 PM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


The generally agreed upon categories for Link To The Past are a good example of the fall out of this kind of glitch being discovered. There's a glitch in LttP referred to as the Exploration Glitch that basically amounts to a "no clipping mode" like you'd get in Doom by typing "idclip." It breaks the game so badly that the any% world record for LttP is under 2 minutes. There's a couple other glitches in LttP that are just about as bad in terms of breaking the game.

Use of said glitches is considered valid for "any%," since it's something anyone can do with some practice and isn't using game genie cheats or rom hacks or emulator tricks or anything. But since that's not exactly fun for most people to work on running, there's also a "no major glitches" category, along with the usual "100%" that most games have some form of, "all dungeons" (a common category for zelda games) and a couple others.

As others have noted, runs in different categories aren't compared directly. As for what categories are considered "real" for a game, that's generally decided on by community consensus more than anything else, since the nature of the game must be taken into account. It can also evolve over time as tricks/glitches are discovered, especially if they're severe ones like this SMW thing or the "wrong warp" in Ocarina of Time that takes you from the first boss to pretty much the end of the game.

I would guess that SMW runners would consider use of this particular warp to be separate from other kinds of runs of the same game.
posted by sparkletone at 11:47 PM on January 22, 2015


magic: the gathering is Turing complete?
posted by ennui.bz at 2:35 AM on January 23, 2015


> Yeah what kind of name is 'Sethbling'?

It's Sethbling's name, sir.
posted by ardgedee at 4:10 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Link won't load in my bowser.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:14 AM on January 23, 2015


magic: the gathering is Turing complete?

Yup
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:16 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Related: Mitchflowerpower glitches Super Mario Bros. 3 to wrong warp to the princess' room in about three and a half minutes. Real human, real time, real controller, live in front of a studio audience. If link doesn't work correctly, The run starts at 60 minutes into the video.
posted by yeolcoatl at 6:08 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Didn't expect to see this here!

His gaming name is Sethbling, and he's much more well known as a Minecraft Youtuber. Here's his channel, with over 1 million subs (I'm actually a little surprised to see that it's nearly at 2m now). He only started streaming speedruns in the last few months.

He's pretty famous among Minecraft players for making lots of interesting/useful redstone projects and custom maps.
posted by fortythieves at 6:31 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can you imagine doing this accidentally as a kid on the original cartridge? Nobody would ever believe you.
posted by odinsdream at 6:41 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


What if ancient mystical ceremonies were simply buffer overruns on reality's memory creating a desired effect?

I like to think of all of human consciousness as an accidental buffer overrun.
posted by srboisvert at 6:47 AM on January 23, 2015


buffer overrun or rop ? I think it's ROP, because you can't change the $jmp instruction, only the data it references, but that's pretty much a semantics argument. The whole "I'm building code", I'm not so sure about - seems like it's manipulating what's in registers that then the $jmp is executed, point to a valid place in memory, and that valid place happens to be the start of the credits scene.
posted by k5.user at 7:12 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


What if ancient mystical ceremonies were simply buffer overruns on reality's memory creating a desired effect?

Yeah, in addition to being interesting technically I really like the ritualistic nature of the process for this one. The Arrangement of the Red Shells in particular has a very sacred feel to it.
posted by passerby at 7:53 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The whole "I'm building code", I'm not so sure about - seems like it's manipulating what's in registers that then the $jmp is executed, point to a valid place in memory, and that valid place happens to be the start of the credits scene.

I wasn't sure about this either, but looking at the pastebin link again, it seems they are messing with the sprite registers to actually form a series of instructions to basically change the game state value to "credits". Then when you hit that glitch it runs the code. I have a pretty limited understanding of assembly though so someone else may have a better idea of what's going on there.
posted by passerby at 8:05 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The original Metroid on NES will generate random new rooms if you VERY PRECISELY hit down-up-down-up-etc and let the springing motion "float" through the roof after letting any door close over Samus.

You can do this anywhere, and the output is definitely determined by the game's RAM and is unique every single time.

The amount of time I spent convinced this was a purposefully programmed secret mission is saddening.
posted by GreyboxHero at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2015


The amount of time I spent convinced this was a purposefully programmed secret mission is saddening.

In fairness, Metroid has a ton of legitimately hidden stuff requiring ridiculous bomb jumping, etc, to reach. So, it's kinda understandable that even a crazy glitched wtf "area" you stumble upon seems like it's probably purposeful (and the same thing happened to me).
posted by tocts at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2015


This is very true, and probably largely why I believed what I did. Also, a brother who loved to convince me of half-truths that led to long, troll-y fake quests played a part.

A couple of years ago some friends openly challenged the statement "I can beat Metroid, easily" and made me run through it in a single night. The total bewilderment with the legitimate need to use concealed tunnels, ceiling-high bombable blocks, etc, was just hilarious.

In all fairness, when they asked me how I ever figured it out as a kid I couldn't remember. Presumably I just bombed about everything I could bomb and eventually drew a map on paper, but you are correct about its ridiculousness.

This Super Mario World play is on a whole different level though
posted by GreyboxHero at 8:31 AM on January 23, 2015


The record has now been beaten by a substantial amount.
posted by JHarris at 7:24 AM on February 5, 2015


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