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Reprogramming a game by playing it (an unbelievable Super Mario 3 speedrun)

Here’s a fun rabbit hole to go down if you have some free time to spend.

After a fellow named Zikubi beat the speedrun record for Super Mario Bros 3 by about 8 minutes with a time of just over three minutes, speedrun analyst Bismuth made the video above to explain how he did it…by changing the game with the gameplay itself.

The first couple minutes go exactly as you’d expect, but the speedrun takes a weird turn when, instead of using the second warp whistle to go to level 8, he uses it to go to level 7. And once in level 7, Mario races around randomly, letting opportunity slip away like a blindfolded birthday boy unwittingly steering himself away from the piñata. It’s only later, during the explanation of how he got from level 7 to the final screen so quickly, that you realize Mario’s panicky idiot behavior is actually the player actively reprogramming the game to open up a wormhole to the ending.

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Bad design in action: the false Hawaiian ballistic missile alert

Instead of selecting “DRILL - PACOM (CDW) - STATE ONLY” from what looks more like a list of headlines on The Drudge Report than a warnings & alerts menu, the operator chose “PACOM (CDW) - STATE ONLY” and sent out a real alert.

This is another display of just how critical good design and attention to detail is in the software industry. We have to do better.

Bad design in action: the false Hawaiian ballistic missile alert
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