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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:20 pm 
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I was watching this video on YouTube that made some claims I find a little suspect. I am wondering how true they are, and what is causing them. Since they are about an NES game I figured this was probably the best place to get some honest information.

So the video was listing offensive passwords that exist by happenstance, and it listed one for the original Metroid that went "ENGAGE RIDLEY MOTHER F***ER" (but without the asterisks of course, I'm sure you can figure out the rest of the code yourself.)

The video claimed that depending on what version your system was, it could crash the game and even fry your cartridge. It also claimed that if you played on the 3DS entering that password (if you didn't have a particular system update) would completely brick your system, rendering the system permanently inoperable. The only clue it gave as to how this happened was that the password logs in so many hours that is actually measures out to be over three centuries.

So, that's a long list of claims that I find suspect, some more than others. I imagine there is at least a kernel of truth to each of them, but I am wondering to what extent.

Password logs in over 300 years of gameplay:
I'm guessing that someone just did their math a little wrong, but I did a little math myself, and depending on what unit of time it measures your gameplay in, you could register that many hours with three or four bytes. I could see how adding in an extra byte could cause the memory to overflow and write the wrong data, causing problems, but I'm a bit uncertain as to how a password system would be blatantly open to that kind of an error. Adding bunk data, sure, adding values that exceed what is reasonable, sure. But to get to numbers that large, to my understanding, you'd have to add in an extra byte of information beyond what the system would be designed to handle. I can't see the password system doing that; either take specific data or cause the checksum to fail.

Can crash the game, depending on the system and/or emulator:
Sounds reasonable. A bit surprising, but stuff like that happened on the NES.

Can fry the cartridge:
...mmmmaybe? If it triggered some sort of loop where it overheated a chip on the board and you let it sit for an hour or something? But honestly that sounds like something that would happen on a knock-off cart with bad soldering, or at best an individual cart that happens to be defective. But I don't imagine it to be possible on a standard cart that Nintendo made and is up to the manufactured specifications.

Can freeze a 3DS:
Not out of the realm of possibility. I've had game consoles freeze so bad the power button doesn't work. It sounds a bit odd that an NES emulator would do that, but not impossible.

Can brick a 3DS if it hasn't had a particular update:
I highly doubt that. At best I'm thinking some kids thought their system was bricked because they don't know how to do a hard reset. But then again, I've been wrong before.

Well that's my take on those statements. But I don't know the truth nor the details, but I'm guessing someone here does.


Last edited by Marscaleb on Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:22 pm 
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Dupe. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=15160


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:25 pm 
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Well that didn't take long.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:52 pm 
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General question for everyone on earth:

Why does this subject keep coming up? Who are these people who are so hellbent/fixated on this? This marks the *FIFTH time* I have encountered random Internet netizens discussing this subject (in several different methods: some on Twitter, some on IRC, some web forums). Are you aliens attempting to test the boundaries of the human psyche?

I have never seen such fixation on such a ridiculous thing.

I look forward to these insights.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:22 pm 
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Probably because the possibility to brick a device through input has been around at least as long as killer pokes in the revised Commodore PET and as recently as Stuxnet.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:38 pm 
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To go on an unrelated tangent...

In every branch of science, there is an information gap. Some people have advanced knowledge, and some people have little. That's why we go to a doctor. He has medical knowledge, we don't.

However, with the advent of the internet. Anyone can google medical symptoms, and feel confident that the answers from medical type websites are good advice. But, of course, it's impossible to tell (for the information weak people) if a website is sound medical advice or total Bullshit.

Also, as the people doing the Google search lack medical knowledge, you likely don't even know what questions to ask Google, you might be looking at a totally unrelated medical page.

It amazes me that people were taking medical advice from Jenny McCarthy... a Playboy model, and occasional actress... on a highly complicated question, like, what causes autism.

And then that's another problem. People without knowledge, can read one article on a subject, and fancy themselves an expert on the subject. And post shit all over Internet forums that may be 100% bullshit. How am I to know which posts are well researched, and which are non-sense.

Anyway, rant over. I don't have a point.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:54 pm 
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To continue my rant slightly....

I feel like I went out of my way to state on my blog "I am an idiot, I have no CS degree", and yet I get several highly technical questions a month from people about cc65 errors and such. I frequently answer..."ask the people at nesdev, please"

And some guy in South Africa made an NES game using my blog, and he gave some speech somewhere, I'm assuming with PowerPoint presentation. And, I'm pretty sure he's citing me/my website as an expert source. And I find that bizarre. But, I suppose, to someone new to NES programming could easily confuse me for an expert. C'est la vie.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:12 pm 
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dougeff wrote:
And some guy in South Africa made an NES game using my blog, and he gave some speech somewhere, I'm assuming with PowerPoint presentation. And, I'm pretty sure he's citing me/my website as an expert source. And I find that bizarre. But, I suppose, to someone new to NES programming could easily confuse me for an expert. C'est la vie.


That's pretty much all of human knowledge. We call people experts, but there's no real such thing. We're all overgrown babies trying to grasp concepts beyond ourselves. There is always more to learn about a subject, and there is always more to a story than what we hear.

@Koitsu
To be fair now, I saw those statements and I was like "Hmmm, that sounds fishy to me." I came here because I wanted truth, to make sure I'm not one of these guys perpetuating some misconception.
That story popping up here is WORLDS better than it popping up in about a dozen other places.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:23 pm 
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I think i can smell a correlation between NES Classic edition kicking up interest where there was none in broader circles = more talk by more people, and the floration of new urban NES legends.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:38 pm 
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dougeff wrote:
And some guy in South Africa made an NES game using my blog, and he gave some speech somewhere, I'm assuming with PowerPoint presentation. And, I'm pretty sure he's citing me/my website as an expert source. And I find that bizarre. But, I suppose, to someone new to NES programming could easily confuse me for an expert. C'est la vie.

I'd classify this as standing on the shoulders of giants, but in a depressing way: what makes someone or something a "giant" is entirely subjective in this case. You may not be a giant in your own eyes, or to some others... yet to said guy in South Africa, given said speech, citations, etc., you certainly are. Another example might be some of the 6502 references we (nesdev community) have found online, which are "tomes of knowledge" except riddled with inaccuracies about the CPU's behaviour. The belief is basically "if someone wrote it and put it on the Internet on a page that doesn't look like Geocities, it's probably fact".

I could talk at length about the "stands on shoulders of giants" problem personally, since I've essentially been in that boat for quite some time despite decades of fighting it. When people worship me over my NES docs, it irks me in an uncomfortable way. All I did was organise and convey information discovered by those in the Thank Yous section, and a tiny bit by myself. Those in that section are the giants (to me), while the giants (to them) may be folks who did actual hardware-level RE efforts (kevtris comes to mind) or maybe who had amazing discovered or epiphanies (ex. loopy's skinny on NES scrolling). But because I made something "easy to get to", somehow it marked me as authoritative, which is really not the case at all (I would say most people on nesdev know way, WAY more than I do, and that's putting it lightly). I even conveyed this to JoeGtake2 for the 8 Bit NES Heroes documentary/film, citing the importance of talking to guys like Marat Fayzullin and Alex Krasivsky, who were actual pioneers. My SNES docs are a slightly different story, because I put in the hours sitting around with a copier and a cross-assembler, fooling with registers to see what values did what, combined with some erroneous and badly-written existing documentation, and several people who would see me struggling and say "You know, that register probably does this" (some had access to official SNES docs, others just had a penchant for it). But I sure as hell am no where near an expert. Anyways...

I guess what I'm getting at is that as the decades pass, there seems to be less and less of people who actually "know" something definitively -- either from several sources, sources of authority (when I was growing up, this meant an encyclopedia or published reference guide/book), or from several years (probably 10+) of deep experience with said something (knowing it deeply in and out, from top to bottom). Instead, what we have now, are people who find something using Google (say, a personal blog, or a random web page), and somehow that becomes authoritative. It's almost like the criteria for what's truth has diminished to the point where if the person took the time to write up something in detail on the web, that means they're an expert. There's supporting evidence of this (note 2nd-to-last sentence), and the demographic to whom it mostly applies really, really scares me.

I could talk at length about the "stands on shoulders of giants" problem personally, since I've essentially been in that boat for quite some time despite decades of trying to get the truth out there, but it's slightly complicated and even more depressing. :) I guess the short of it is: when people worship me over my NES docs, it irks me in an uncomfortable way. All I did was organise and convey information discovered by those in the Thank Yous section, and a tiny bit by myself. Those in that section are the giants (to me), while the giants (to them) may be folks who did actual hardware-level RE efforts (kevtris comes to mind).


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:41 pm 
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Marscaleb wrote:
@Koitsu
To be fair now, I saw those statements and I was like "Hmmm, that sounds fishy to me." I came here because I wanted truth, to make sure I'm not one of these guys perpetuating some misconception.
That story popping up here is WORLDS better than it popping up in about a dozen other places.

Totally agreed. I'm just fascinated by the fact that this subject -- and it's ALWAYS driven by the "offensive" passcode -- keeps coming up, whether the truth be realised/read or people wanting to believe in weird "bricking your NES" conspiracy theories (for lack of better phrasing). It's like nobody can say "Haha, wow, that's funny/interesting" and continue on their merry way. It always feels like it's a show-stopper. "Oh my GOD. ENGAGE RIDLEY MOTHER FUCKER. How did Nintendo allow this? Did someone hack the game before release? Is this a secret code added by the programmer? Why doesn't it error out? I bet it's because......" You get the point.

Sorry if I sounded like I was slamming you, I wasn't -- it's just the fact that the subject continues to come up that blows my mind. Stuff like this didn't matter much to us when I was growing up (when the Famicom/NES came out), we were too busy enjoying the games and using our minds for (IMO) better stuff. Then again, the "minus world" thing in Super Mario Bros and all the "theories" behind that still happen to this day. I really think dougeff got it right in his post.

Random injected thought: this is one of the reasons why I'm really looking forward to Lizard and how rainwarrior/Brad Smith is handling the "game story" aspect. He conveyed it on Twitter in 4 posts, and it's wonderful.. It's going to be a game I sit down in front of my TV for and really try to bring myself back to my childhood (re: re-embracing my imagination). Here are those posts:

https://twitter.com/bbbradsmith/status/ ... 0258967552
https://twitter.com/bbbradsmith/status/ ... 8519495680
https://twitter.com/bbbradsmith/status/ ... 0539558912
https://twitter.com/bbbradsmith/status/ ... 2796271616

One of the reasons I stopped involving myself with nesdev (specifically focusing on highly technical things) is that it was destroying my ability to enjoy a game for what it was (and for the record, I did a pretty good job of staying out of that for a while, but in the past 3-4 years have, sadly, begun to revert to old behaviour). So when things like "passwords blowing up your NES" keep coming up time and time again, I can't help but draw parallels.


Last edited by koitsu on Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:57 pm 
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From the video Marscaleb linked, "Fact Hunt: Top 5 Offensive Passwords (that all exist purely by chance)":

This trend of dropping F-bombs into password screens of high-profile NES games whose titles begin with "Met" led Nintendo to ban vowels in passwords. Reprints of Metal Gear have an altered, incompatible character set.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:28 pm 
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I'm not a fan of people drawing stick figures in pixel art and calling it NES, or blatant disregard for technical accuracy in retro indie games, but I'm also one of those people who automatically hates anything new that suddenly catches on like wildfire. Basically, people not knowing any better and rumors spreading around like we're all in elementary school again is just an inevitability that happens in all communities. We know better and it bothers us to hear blatantly incorrect things, but it's not going to do anyone any good to correct someone who's not asking to be corrected. Therefore, let people run around thinking a Metroid password is all it takes to brick an NES. At least it's something harmless. :P


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:28 pm 
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koitsu, if you haven't seen it, I recommend this talk by Jim Crawford called "Preserving a Sense of Discovery in the Age of Spoilers".
http://vimeo.com/91436410

He's the author of Frog Fractions, which I recommend to anybody who hasn't played it.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:03 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
koitsu, if you haven't seen it, I recommend this talk by Jim Crawford called "Preserving a Sense of Discovery in the Age of Spoilers".
http://vimeo.com/91436410

He's the author of Frog Fractions, which I recommend to anybody who hasn't played it.

Haven't seen this talk, or heard of Frog Fractions. Now I know what I'll be doing this weekend. That game made me go "?!?" at first, but I stuck with it and found myself enjoying it quite a lot, along with a lot of laughing. As always, thank you!


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