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

Submission #4611: TheAxeMan, Inzult & Gyre's NES Final Fantasy "stairs glitch" in 06:58.25

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Final Fantasy
Game version: JPN
ROM filename: Final Fantasy (J)
Branch: stairs glitch
Emulator: FCEUX 2.2.2
Movie length: 06:58.25
FrameCount: 25136
Re-record count: 430
Author's real name: Frank Amoroso
Author's nickname: TheAxeMan, Inzult & Gyre
Submitter: TheAxeMan
Submitted at: 2015-03-11 04:10:25
Text last edited at: 2015-03-15 16:47:41
Text last edited by: sheela901
Download: Download (2331 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:

Final Fantasy glitched

  • As fast as possible
  • Memory corruption
  • Executes arbitrary code (not total control though)
  • Encodes a message with an ancient cipher

Stair glitch

Certain staircases in Final Fantasy push a state on to the stack to keep track of where you have gone. Take enough of those and you can overflow the stack. Hitting start to bring up the menu triggers a glitch that jumps into a range of memory used when entering your party's names. There actually aren't many staircases that use this but one of them is in Castle Coneria right where you start.

Since it is the name entry that sets the memory up, multiple glitches can be executed by starting a new party, hitting reset and loading up your actual party. In some cases you don't need to reset because the savegame memory gets corrupted.

The Japanese version has a larger character set than the English version even though it only supports the phonetic Hiragana alphabet and a few other characters. Turns out that some of the character codes not available in English are needed to execute some of the more interesting glitches.

For a full explanation see the forum discussion.

How to use the glitch

Welcotar posted this on the forums after Gyre found this out and used it to make some realtime runs. This run is basically a TAS-optimized version of Gyre's fastest method.

The first plan was to jump right to the credits. Gyre figured out a way to do that by jumping to the memory of the item list. The item list had to be set up for this and even with some underflow glitches it still took a while.

Another interesting but much longer plan involved gaining access to the final dungeon and completing it. The stairs glitch was used to corrupt one character's level to 102. At that level most normal enemies flee and bosses flee about 2/3 of the time. It took close to an hour but that was good enough to beat the current any% TAS by over 10 minutes.

The fastest method used here first uses that same level corruption trick. A second glitch causes the next NPC to trigger the final boss fight vs Chaos. As we already know, making Chaos run is good enough to get the credits to roll.

Easter Eggs

Only the second and last hero names matter. You need to name the first and third though. Since you can move the cursor one step without losing time I enter something besides just ああああ (aaaa). If I am getting this right the names sound like 'akasai' and 'waiwai'.

You need to step off the stairs and back on many times. It doesn't matter which direction so I felt like I had to do something to play with that. So I used the direction to encode a message. The message in the first stair glitch is the names of the authors and the second one is a special Final Fantasy-related message.

TheAxeMan's comments

Thanks to everyone who posted on the forums. Welcotar, Gyre and others did most of the work investigating the glitch. Inzult posted a mostly optimized run that I just cleaned up a little for this submission. I was finishing up my Ultima 4 NES run.

Mothrayas: Judging.

Mothrayas: Walking up and down stairs repeatedly for five minutes is a repetitive affair, but results in an oddly comedic effect for this run. It's also nice to see how that action ends up breaking the game entirely. Accepting for Moons as a new branch.

sheela901: Processing.

feos: Fixed the branch.

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