In the world of speedrunning complexity is commonplace. Heck, to achieve certain outcomes you need to understand parallel universes. Yes, really.
But that may take backseat to today’s feat in which YouTube content creator SethBling used various glitches to insert the game Flappy Bird into Super Mario World (SMW) on the SNES.
To fully come to grips with how and why this happened, you’ll need to have spent countless hours delving into the art of cracking open games. Luckily SethBling gives us an explanation, but it’s still hilariously complex.
We highly recommend you watch the video below, but we’ll try sum it up. Through various breaks in code in SMW that have been found over the decades, a player can manually insert bytes of information into the game’s RAM, which will then be executed. In this instance, this is referred to as code injection.
Another game breaker by the name of p4plus2 then went through the effort of turning Flappy Bird’s underlying code into 331 bytes. SethBling then had to insert the bytes, one by one creating a new programme that, while utilising some assets from SMW, is the mobile game Flappy Bird.
Our above explanation really doesn’t do this magical moment justice. Not even the video does, which is why there’s a Google Doc explaining it. It reads more like a scientific journal entry, but hey, at least it’s not about parallel universes.
What makes this special is that SMW itself was not altered. Today you can easily find the code of the game and mess with it as you please. But what was done here was using the base game to create something new without fundamentally altering it. Everything you see was done by exploiting the original code.
Think of it like this: say we gave you a VW Beetle and told you to turn it into a Lamborghini using only a Phillips screwdriver. It’s not an exact comparison, but we’re impressed enough to call it one.