How a robot got Super Mario 64 and Portal “running” on an SNES

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If you missed it live, watch TASBot’s AGDQ 2017 run then read about it below. Can you really, playably emulate games like Super Mario 64 and Portal on a stock standard SNES only by hacking in through the controller ports? The answer is still no, but for a brief moment at this week’s Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) speedrunning marathon, it certainly looked like the impossible finally became possible. For years now , AGDQ has featured a block where TASBot (the Tool-Assisted Speedrun Robot) performs literally superhuman feats on classic consoles simply by sending data through the controller ports thousands of times per second. This year’s block (viewable above) started off simply enough, with some show-offy perfect play of Galaga and Gradius on the new NES Classic hardware (a system that TASbot organizer Allan Cecil says is “absolutely horrible” when it comes to automation). After that, TASBot moved on to a few “total control runs,” exploiting known glitches in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mega Man to insert arbitrary code on the NES. This is nothing new for the computer-driven TASBot —the basics of the tricks vary by game, but they generally involve using buffer overflows to get into memory, then bootstrapping a loader that starts reading and executing a stream of controller inputs as raw assembly level opcodes. The method was taken to ridiculous extremes last year, when TASbot managed to “beat” Super Mario Bros. 3 in less than a second with a very specific total control glitch. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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How a robot got Super Mario 64 and Portal “running” on an SNES

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