A new glitch allows arbitrary code to run on the official Nintendo cartridge.
Last week, the Awesome Games Done Quick charity marathon wrapped up. It featured a host of talented players showing off their best speedruns in front of a live audience, both streaming and in-person. During a session of tool-assisted speedruns, an awesome new glitch was demonstrated which allowed a Raspberry Pi-powered robot to program a game of Pong and Snake into a factory-official cartridge of Super Mario World.
It looks like an exceedingly random game of Mario, but that robot is actually triggering sprites to spawn in a specific order, manipulating the game’s Object Attribute Memory buffer. It’s around 1:40 that the bot triggers a stun glitch which executes the objects in the memory buffer as code, which causes it to leap to the memory location for the controller. From there, the robot inputs assembly code using eight virtual controllers to program games of Pong and Snake, using SMW‘s sprites. Complicated? Yes. Impressive? Hell yes.
While normal speedruns are all about testing the limits of human performance, the tool-assisted speedrun (TAS) removes the meatbag from the equation. It’s all about finding odd glitches and bugs, most of which would be impossible for a human to duplicate. While most TASs are run in emulators, this impressive hack is running on real SNES hardware.
You can watch the entire live demonstration here. While most TAS’s are impressive engineering feats that are almost invisible to the human eye, this one was so surprising that it leaves the audience cheering. Even better, you can see that the bot’s built into the body of an NES R.O.B.