How hackers changed the end of Zelda Ocarine of Time on Nintendo 64

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Legendary game for its time, Zelda Ocarina of Time turns 24 this year. And despite all this time, the famous Nintendo 64 cartridge has not revealed all its secrets …

The original cartridge by Ocarina of Time

© Credit: Bryan Ochalla – Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

If you were born in the 90s, chances are you have played at least once Tidens Ocarina. Published in 1998 in Europe, this part of the series Zelda was phenomenally successful with its successful transition of the Kingdom of Hyrule from 2D to 3D. The title was so striking that it was eligible for a reissue on the 3DS in 2011. But did you know that it was possible to discover an alternative ending to the original 64 game, or rather to create a different ending from scratch?

To do this, there is no need to examine the cartridge, solder accessories for your Nintendo 64 or pill at the heart of the game via an emulator. All you need are four 64 controllers, an original game cartridge and a few years of programming experience. Let!

A console, four controllers, a robot

In a video released on the occasion of SGDQ 2022 (a charity festival hosted by video game personalities), a team of hackers showed how they managed to change pieces of the game’s code on the go to create missing sequences of the original title. By exploiting an error in the game and using four controllers connected to a machine specially configured for speedrun (the exercise of ending a game as quickly as possible), it is possible to change the numerical value of certain objects that exist present in the game, to change them into something completely different. We can then explore specific areas of the game early, change dialogues, and even insert characters that are usually absent in the game. A cutscene with Zelda and Link in version The wild spirit was even incorporated into the game.

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Ocarina of Time feat illustration

Link and Zelda 2017 version on a 1997 console

© dwangoAC, keeper of TASBot

Technically, the method used is fascinating. By performing a very specific sequence of actions, in a very specific order, it is somehow possible to “break” the game and inject custom code into the console’s memory. Once the programming interface is made available, controllers 2, 3 and 4 controlled by the TasBOT (speedrun machine) will send commands which will be interpreted by the console as modifications to the game code. By rewriting code on the fly and at lightning speed, TasBOT will load the console’s RAM memory with code not necessarily found in the cartridge. This makes it possible to create new game sequences, or to dig into resources that are on the cartridge, but which are hidden during “normal” use of the game.

Technically endless possibilities

From there, almost anything becomes possible, as by changing the numeric values ​​assigned to an object or character, we are able to transform them as we wish (within the limits of N64’s capabilities). Because this is the real feat of this hack: everything happens on the console. The code certainly requires a machine that will generate code very quickly, but the information is transmitted via the controller ports and interpreted by the console. Point by hacking the source code or modding here: everything happens in real time. One could thus imagine 1001 adventures created on the move in the world ofTidens Ocarina.

This is an original unmodified copy of Ocarina of Time and a genuine original N64. We did not change anything about the game beforehand. All we did was press buttons on four controllers very quickly and very accurately using TasBOT. It’s Ocarina of Time in its original version, but with lots of bugs and lots of exploits for those bugs”Explains one of the team members during the presentation.

Of course, manipulation has its limits. Leaving the scenario encoded by TasBOT will cause the program to crash irreparably. But the possibilities that this error offers, and the fact that it technically requires no more than one console and four controllers, leave you speechless.

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