In my years writing about games for Ars, I’ve covered my fair share of surprising glitches, long-secret codes, arbitrary code execution tricks, and deeply hidden content buried within some classic games and hardware. But none of that prepared me for the above Twitch video clip I saw this morning, showing a fleet of flying Arwings from Star Fox 64 invading the world of Ocarina of Time to attack Link.
It’s the kind of scene you’d expect to see only in a fan-made animation, or in a ROM hack of the type Nintendo is so fond of taking down from the Internet. But what made this clip truly impressive was the fact that it was apparently running on an unmodified version of the original Japanese Ocarina of Time ROM, using standard N64 hardware and control accessories.
I spent all morning tracking down how such a thing was even possible. Explaining it all involves a bit of a deep dive into the nature of Nintendo 64 machine language instructions, Ocarina of Time memory management, and the mid-’90s development of the game itself. If you’re as curious about all this as I was, come and take a journey with me.