Listen, everyone. It's not every day that a new fact comes to mind about a game that came out more than 30 years ago. And I'm going to love it when retro games are destroyed in amazing and entertaining ways. So the news that The Legend of Zelda for NES has a minus world like Super Mario Bros. and others beat me as a freight train.
The phenomenon was discovered by YouTuber SKELUX, which starts its video with a quick explanation of how minus the world work. If you think of a NES game as a big file, there are places where graphics are stored, sound and music are described, and of course, level layouts and hostile logic are kept.
As a player, you are expected to navigate the structured parts of this file, namely the game world ̵
Zelda and other games often use data-trickery to bypass the natural limitations of 8-bit computing and hard-limited storage. For example, did you know that to save them more effectively, Zelda's dungeons fit together like giant tiles?
I just lost my mind when I found out about it. Note that the above are two 16 × 8 interfaces seen on top of the other.
As SKELUX explains, the overhead map is divided in the same way, except that the bottom half is not filled with map data. And while there are cheats that allow you to walk through walls, the game's code detects when you reach an invalid map coordinate and returns you to the starting point. But a little hackery takes that security goal out of the game and the result:
A new world!
And a terrible buggy, as it turns out right from the start. Octoroks shoot boomerangs out of their snouts; the old man on a screen tells you it is dangerous to walk alone, so the neighbor says "leave your life with money"; a Molblin larva shoots fireballs on you; glitchy inverted witches swear statues of Death Mountain; and so on.
It is a strange, funny world, and one that was obviously not made, but is only created on the fly of the game engine that tries to make sense of the data it reads. It's not cannon.
This type of video game ecology is infinitely fascinating to me because it demonstrates both the fragility and the robustness of these venerable software – and of course the enduring love and interest they experience in fans. Another who recently absorbed my attention was the explanation of the parallel dimensions of Super Mario 64, and how sliding between them allows you to beat a level with only half a press of the jump button.
That's all. Please go back to your regular life, which probably just seems a little more common now, as you know a more magical secret of the Zelda doctor.