Members of the speedrun community believe a particle from space was responsible for a glitch during an attempt to finish Super Mario 64 as soon as possible.
In a viral tweet shared on Monday, Twitter user @theprincessxena posted a screenshot from something extremely peculiar that happened during a 2013 speedrunning competition.
According to The Gamer, player DOTA_Teabag was racing a play through of Super Mario 64 MidBoss when a glitch teleported his character high up into the air.
Using glitches is one of the speedrun community’s tricks for finishing games in record times, And this glitch, if replicable, offered a tantalising way to shave time off their attempts.
There was so much interest in this specific glitch that well known member of the community pannenkoek12 offered a $1000 bounty if anyone could figure out how to repeat it.
Users tried in vain to make it happen again, going so far as to painstakingly re-enact the exact situation down frame-by-frame in game emulators. But try as they might, no one was able to pull it off.
That’s when members of the speedrunning community began to wonder if this glitch was the result of something completely outside of the users control: specifically, a single-event upset.
A single-event upset is when the binary state of a bit changes, flipping the switch from either 0 to 1 or vice versa.
What causes this? Believe it or not, space particles. There are space particles constantly colliding with atoms in Earth’s atmosphere and occasionally this collision will flip the state of a bit.
Usually, the change of a single bit won’t affect anything. But in this specific circumstance, it appears it did.
“During the race, an ionizing particle from outer space collided with DOTA_Teabag’s N64, flipping the eighth bit of Mario’s first height byte. Specifically, it flipped the byte from 11000101 to 11000100, from “C5” to “C4″,” The Gamer reporter Gavin Burrt wrote.
“This resulted in a height change from C5837800 to C4837800, which by complete chance, happened to be the exact amount needed to warp Mario up to the higher floor at that exact moment.”
The odds of Super Mario 64 glitch happening are, no pun intended, astronomical. And while this meant there it wasn’t replicable, it was incredible that such a fortuitous stroke of luck was caught on film.
And if you want to see if you replicate the glitch yourself there’s Super Mario 64 port that you can play in your browser.