Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #3404: pirohiko & mugg's SNES EarthBound "glitched" in 21:35.27

Console: Super NES
Game name: EarthBound
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Earthbound (U) [!].smc
Branch: glitched
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 21:35.27
FrameCount: 77716
Re-record count: 33007
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: pirohiko & mugg
Submitter: mugg
Submitted at: 2011-12-20 23:35:24
Text last edited at: 2011-12-27 02:27:35
Text last edited by: Ilari
Download: Download (1669 bytes)
Status: decision: cancelled
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Author's comments and explanations:

(Link to video)

Game information

Earthbound (also known as Mother 2) is a game where the hero, Ness, is just an average 13 year old kid from the suburbs... until the night a meteor lands in his backyard. The local wildlife starts attacking him, he begins to realize psychic powers, and a mysterious messenger from the future tells him that he must save the world, but before he faces any of that Ness has to change out of his pajamas. With a baseball bat as his weapon, Ness begins a quest to stop an evil alien presence from destroying the world. He will later meet with Paula, a girl with strong psychic abilities, Jeff, a young genius with the ability to repair broken things, and Poo, a prince from far, far away who also happens to have strong psychic abilities.

About the run

  • Uses death to save time
  • Uses warps
  • uses two controllers
  • Abuses programming errors
  • Uses a game-restart sequence
  • Genre: RPG

Used emulator: snes9x rerecording 1.51 v6

This improves the published run by 38229 frames (10 minutes, 37.15 seconds).

Credits: 9:26.13
The End: 20:04.96

Comments written by mugg.

In the previous run Ness heads out to make his way to the circus tent in Threed in order to use the "Check area" glitch there. This glitch occurs if you check certain places that aren't located on the map (10.2 MB). The game reads from random places in the memory and may rarely crash, warp you somewhere, bring up menus etc.

There are many such glitch spots as the red spots on this map indicate (ignore the notes). As you can see, and as came to my attention shortly after the previous run was completed, there's such a glitch spot right at the top of Onett and only a cliff separated Ness from it. After some testing it turned out you can bypass the cliff with a Skip sandwich, which we could get at the Onett bakery, fortunately.

I had much hope the run could go near or below the 20 minute mark with this new route since all the stuff up to Twoson is skipped (the run was at this point in February 2011). I came up with a lot of rather interesting stuff and I posted it in the forum topic. I could warp to Twoson, Threed, Dalaam, Winters, Belch's Factory, Fourside's Bar or start many sequences such as the tunnel ghosts in Threed pushing me back, or the photoman shooting scene. But there just wasn't anything useful that could lead me to the credits or the debug menu.

As time passed, Ross Miller (Sprocket2005) posted a 4 minute run using the same route, but without a Skip sandwich. So he could skip all of the night part in Onett and go to the glitch spot while Ness was still in his pajama. The run is considered fake because neither pirohiko nor me could bypass the cliff without a skip sandwich and looking at the video frames of sprocket2005's video, Ness walks literally through the cliff diagonally which is impossible since any diagonal movement is stopped when walking against a solid wall whereas walking vertically or horizontally may eject Ness and let him move on sometimes. It's also considered fake because the author never provided an SMV (instead he blocked me on YT), and is known to have created fake runs in the past. Needless to say, I was rather pissed since I spent much of my time trying to replicate his run and the way he walks through the wall without a skip sandwich. His Mother3 runs are the only runs I'm fairly sure he didn't cheat on.

Eventually, I managed to bring up some debug menus in Fourside's bar, but most of them were glitched and I was stuck after going to Event 70 (Giygas defeated). Of course, by this time I pretty much lost my motivation and only tested every now and then when I felt like it, for an hour at most. I took my "Threed warp" SMV I posted in the forum topic and tried going to the tent from there. I tried saving & restarting in the hotel, then going to the tent and surprisingly I got a debug menu but, as far as I remember it was too slow and didn't save time over the published run. Some days ago I got the debug menu in the tent again, by pure luck and it was fully functional and useful. This led to the 25 minute TAS that was initially submitted.

The submission file was replaced

Pirohiko found a debug menu without the need to save the game in Threed! Additionally, there was almost no glitch text at all in the circus tent and in Saturn Valley, so this brings the TAS down to 21.5 minutes!

The submission file was replaced again

Pirohiko investigated text pointers and how input influences things. So the debug menu could be triggered right away, at will. This brings the TAS down to 20 minutes and 5 seconds.

Pirohiko's explanations

'To be added later'


The route:
  • Went to the glitch spot in Onett
  • Debug menu was triggered right away, by abusing text-based memory
    though I don't understand this very much. Pirohiko plans on writing some explanations
  • In the debug menu:
  1. Paula was added as a character
  2. Ness was made unconscious
  3. Paula was made unconscious
  4. Ness was given the 'diamondized' status ailment
  5. Paula was given the 'diamondized' status ailment
    These steps make the game behave like Ness and Paula have no HP but are still alive. This is needed to make a game-over sequence work later on.
  6. Go to Event '70' (After Giygas is defeated)
  • In Saturn Valley, we immediately die
    After gaining control, the unconsciousness state takes effect...
  • Death warped to Ness' house which is where we last saved the game. Credits!

This run has been updated 2 times. It went from 25 minutes to 21.5 minutes and then to 20 minutes. I take my hat off to pirohiko who managed to make these multi-minute savings!

ROM version change

The old run used the Japanese version because the debug menu could be reliably manipulated in it. This time around, the debug menu couldn't be manipulated at all in both versions. Much more time was spent testing on the US version because people kept saying the debug menu only appears in the Japanese version, and I wanted to make a run on the version most people are familiar with (and the English version is prefered on TASvideos). The Japanese version would be about a minute or so faster, but I have no idea if the same route could have worked. Probably an entirely different route would have been born if I had focused on the Japanese version - or maybe it wouldn't have been successful, who knows.

Closing words

Thanks to Nitrodon (for our conversations), Fractalfusion (for lua help) and others. Feel free to ask questions.

sgrunt: Replaced the submission file at the request of one of the authors.

mugg: I cancel this movie due to the very large savings made since the initial submitted movie. This run has gone from 25 minutes down to 20 minutes in only two days, and I was advised to resubmit it.

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