6 Video Game Feats So Amazing They Make You Question Reality
When we think of the most creative thing we've done in a video game, it's either drawing a penis with bullets in Call Of Duty or calling someone a penis in Call of Duty. But maybe you're more intellectual, and instead nurtured a thriving penis neighborhood in Cities: Skylines.
Regardless, while the rest of us were making dick jokes out of gunfights and zoning laws, more creative gamers were doing some truly amazing things. For example ...
Someone Remade Pokemon Red ... Inside Minecraft
You might have played Pokemon Red. It's a little-known, underrated gem about a child battling a terrorist cell with animal slaves that only sold about five million copies. Here's the title screen to jog your memory.
But oh, that screenshot wasn't taken on a Game Boy. Every pixel on that is made out of Minecraft blocks, being processed by a computer built out of Minecraft blocks. As in, you enter a Minecraft server, and inside it is a giant Game Boy, with which your character can play a version of Pokemon Red that is, for all intents and purposes, exactly like the original. And it's not some crazy mod or hack -- absolutely everything required to play it exists within the game world itself.
This marvel of video game architecture contains over 357,000 hand-placed command blocks. They work together to control the textures on the "Game Boy" you're playing to constantly update a series of overlapping textures, giving the impression of a screen. For instance, one specific command block might test whether a player has inputted a command to move upwards. If they have, the command block will trigger a series of other command blocks that change the textures on the in-game "screen" you're looking at, making it appear as though your character has moved upwards. It's programming through architecture instead of code, and the scale of it is unbelievable. Here's what it looks like when you zoom out:
And all those tens of thousands of blocks painstakingly stacked into a giant microchip somehow work together to create this:
The creator, who goes by the name Mr. Squishy, did this all with nothing more than a copy of Minecraft, a downloadable resource pack, an Excel spreadsheet, and A LOT of time. Pokemon Red's original code wasn't copied and pasted, but recreated through intuition and guesswork, brick by brick. It even recreates some of the game's iconic bugs and glitches. This obscene feat of human ingenuity required Mr. Squishy's in-game avatar to walk the equivalent of 1,760 miles. So if you're still on the fence about whether or not we live in a simulation, remember that there are now characters in video games who have no idea they're being controlled by characters in video games who have no idea they're being controlled by you.
Someone Made A Game About Jumping Dirt Bikes Into A Survival Horror Experience
Trials Fusion is about racing dirt bikes through obnoxiously unlikely loops and jumps. You carefully aim the front of your bike to line up with ramps, and most people would agree that we've already fully explained the game.
The point is, it's not a complicated game, and it's not even close to a survival horror first-person shooter about killing waves of cyborg zombies. So it was strange when someone used the game's track creator to make exactly that.
Without outside tools or third-party software, some mad genius used the track creator to completely change the genre. To clarify, this is Trials Fusion:
And somehow, this is also Trials Fusion:
Same game. No mods. And to further clarify, this track creator doesn't exactly have a "change this whole fucking thing to a different game" button. You can see footage of it here -- at first glance, it just seems to be a very robust ramp-placing tool.
The "track" is a full-featured, faithful homage to Call Of Duty's infamous zombie mode, and it includes 18 unique weapons, eight perks, rudimentary AI for the zombies, and even a mystery box. If you own Trials Fusion, you can play it for yourself by searching for "COD Zombies Polar Darkness" within the user-created maps. It almost seems like painting the Mona Lisa with macaroni and cheese, but it's actually closer to making a working Terminator robot out of Mona Lisas.
Put simply, it works by manipulating the game's event system to make the camera your bitch. A "trigger" is created that fires every frame, and that trigger is linked to an event that sets the camera to a certain position (head height) and angle, depending on button inputs (allowing you look around). The whole thing is essentially one huge, insanely complex cutscene constantly being edited in real time by the person playing the game. The Trials Fusion level editor is weirdly powerful, and people have even used it to create a rudimentary version of Minecraft. So again, to those of you who think we're not living in a simulation: You can now play a level in a dirt bike video game that recreates Minecraft, a game in which you can recreate Pokemon, putting you now four or five layers of abstraction away from the reality you currently think of as real.
Someone Beat Super Mario 64 Without Jumping
If there's one feature that's universal in platforming games, it's jumping. How else are you going to get between two platforms or murder a turtle? Well, if you're Scott Buchanan, you get between two platforms by sliding, punching, kicking, glitching, or bouncing off enemies -- absolutely anything but jumping. How'd he pull this off? Well, first Scott recorded and noted almost every aspect of the game, creating countless documents to figure out how he could do this insane thing for no apparent reason. It's truly a heroic level of lunatic obsession.
The amount of detail and accuracy necessary to complete these tasks without jumping is unbelievable, and a stage that takes two minutes to complete could take over two weeks of meticulous planning to get right. For example, in one world, he figured out that the depth of the water was determined by a "signed integer, stored using two's complement notation," which sounds like utter gibberish to anyone without a PhD in Super Mario, but essentially means that if the water level rises one unit above its maximum, it cycles back around and becomes the minimum value. So if you continuously raise the water level and reload the level, you can trick the game into resetting, and thus navigate heights using water. It's the kind of achievement that makes you worry what would happen if such a mind were to be used for evil.
All that forethought and preparation leads to a seriously strange run-through.
So there you go: If your A button stops working, you can still beat this level ... if you have 11 hours.
Here's another bizarre solution to this completely manufactured problem, wherein Scott uses the momentum Mario gains from being scorched by lava to launch himself places that would normally require him to jump.
"Why yes, I did access that turtle shell block without jumping. Ladies."
He completed one level without pressing ANY buttons, solely using momentum, green shells, and environmental hazards to both navigate and kill enemies.
If you can't make Mario suddenly launch himself backwards at the speed of light, what are you even doing?
To ruin the fun a little, this was all achieved as a Tool-Assisted Speedrun (TAS), meaning some of the gameplay you're watching was performed by a machine following a series of predetermined commands. Humans just don't have the reaction time needed to complete some of the frame-by-frame inputs necessary. Sure, a human had to figure out how to do it all in the first place, and that required countless hours of work, but it's still a bit of an asterisk on the end of this Fucking Ridiculous Mario Achievement Award.
If you'd like to learn more (and who wouldn't?), here's a gallery of all the math needed to complete a single 5.4-hour run. Study it well, and maybe one day you can be the first person to beat Mario 64 without pressing left, or perhaps from the center of 10,000 bees. The point is, you can only move sideways from this level of insanity; you can't top it.
Someone Meticulously Recreated 1920s Berlin In Second Life
Second Life is an online virtual world where players can role-play as anyone they like! Which means it's obviously filled to the brim with kinky sex stuff, like the barbarian fuck community we linked to in the middle of this sentence. Enjoy.
Once you filter out the smut, the minuscule amount of remaining content shows you how creative people can get inside virtual spaces. There's a reason a game released in 2003 still sees over 600,000 unique monthly visitors and boasts an estimated GDP of $500 million. There's the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the world's first virtual Duran Duran theme park. And if genre-defining synth pop bands aren't your thing, you can visit Genome Island, the world's first virtual genetics laboratory!
This is the sort of stuff Second Life was built for. But there's one experience it provides that is arguably stranger than all others: a historically accurate recreation of 1920s Berlin. The 1920s Berlin Project was created by Jo Yardley, and contains exact replicas of numerous buildings and landmarks, including the Zum Nubbaum inn and the Brandenburg Gate. Visitors must adhere to strict rules, such as wearing only period-appropriate clothing on their avatars, so as not to break the historical immersion. Yes, in a world in which you can do sort of anything, some people have chosen to be early 20th-century German pedestrians.
While visiting the historically accurate locations with historically accurate role-players, you can watch period-authentic films in the virtual theater. You can go socialize at a club and listen to that newfangled "jazz" stuff everyone's raving about! You can even go to the Cabaret Eldorado, based on the real historical club which catered to Germany's gay and cross-dressing community until it was forcibly closed in the 1930s.
Someone Made A Ride In Planet Coaster That Reenacts The Entirety Of Aliens
If you've ever wanted to build your own theme park, Planet Coaster is one of several hundred games that let your dream come true! A spiritual successor to RollerCoaster Tycoon, it really gives you the full park experience. You construct rides, hire mascots, and charge outrageous prices for an overcooked burger -- it's got everything. And if you're a YouTuber named Hin Nya, it even lets you recreate the authentic experience of the 1986 film Aliens.
Hin Nya's incredible 15-minute coaster takes you through all the major plot beats of the film, and you can watch it here.
Of course, you might think it's absurd to watch a 15-minute video of a nonexistent roller coaster based on a sci-fi film from the 1980s, and maybe you're right. You might think that only a truly sad or lonely person, such as an internet comedy writer, would do something like that. And maybe you're right again, you effortlessly cool person. So before you get back to pleasuring underwear models, here's a quick summary of the video:
The ride opens in space, recreating the exterior establishing shots of the original film.
That's followed by Ripley's slow descent to the colony of Hadley's Hope.
After a few minutes of tense exploration, Xenomorphs attack! It's not as terrifying on a roller coaster, but with how goddamn long you've been on the ride, there's a good chance you're peeing yourself anyway.
Later, you enter the Xenomorph Queen's lair, complete with her massive clutch of eggs. By this point, the journey is less about space horror than it is about the spectacle of wasted time, both by the creator of this world and by you, the person riding a fake roller coaster through it.
This intense sequence ends with you in orbit, witnessing the nuclear explosion that wipes out the colony. Yes, it was long and almost certainly the work of a madman, but it was a fully realized artistic achievement using the medium of roller coaster.
It's important to bear in the mind that this isn't merely a track going through a series of carefully placed dioramas. This is a fully immersive experience, complete with carefully placed speakers emitting music, dialog, and sound effects. The ride also includes timed pyrotechnic displays, animatronic aliens, moving rats, and even animated computer displays made specifically for the ride.
To put it in context, this is what Planet Coaster looks like when a normal person makes a ride.
In other words, this is like building the Sydney Opera House by chasing cats through a hardware store.
The Super Mario Maker Arms Race That Defies Human Capability
Super Mario Maker lets users create their own Mario levels. You put the coins and blocks where you like them, maybe add a Goomba or a Koopa ... it's cute fun! And while 99 percent of user-generated levels are basic platforming with the occasional surreal joke, a very small subset of the community has used this tool to challenge each other to create the hardest levels possible. Now, Super Mario Maker requires you to successfully complete your own level before you can upload it, so you know for sure that every level you see is technically possible to beat. Technically.
It all started with a level named "Pit of Panga: P-Break," which took its own creator five hours to create and nine hours to beat. It's a monstrosity of impossible bullshit that you can watch here.
As of today, players have a 0.02 percent success rate of clearing it. A month after its release, it had been attempted 1.7 million times, and only cleared 41 times. But it seems that was too easy. The same creator, PangaeaPanga, uploaded an even harder level named "Pit of Panga: U-Break." This time it took him 11 hours to create and 39 hours to beat. That's a workweek. To beat a video game level he designed himself. And as of today, it has 358 successful clears ... out of a total of more than 4.7 million attempts.
"Mr Carl's Wild Ride" currently has 16 successful completions out of over 1.5 million tries. That's roughly a 0.001 percent chance of success. The creator, CarlSagan42 (presumably no relation), was so confident about the difficulty of his course that he promised a $50 bounty to the first person to complete it. It doesn't sound like much, but that's infinitely more than you normally get paid for playing Super Mario Brothers.
Twitch streamer Francis Travers spent over 650 hours creating a course so stupidly hard that he hasn't even been able to beat it himself. As of his last interview, he claimed to be able to complete every individual element of the course, but not all in sequence. He even released a trailer:
So from what we can tell, we're probably in a simulation, and the simulations within our simulation are becoming strong enough to defeat us. Sleep well!
Want to design your own games? Couldn't hurt to learn some Programming For Dummies.
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