Paper Mario reward block glitch

Did you ever have 416 years to waste away doing nothing but hitting a button? It seems as though Youtube user Stryder7x managed to discover the reward block glitch in Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64.

About the reward block glitch

Transcript
Note: This is all read by the narrator.

What’s up guys, it’s Strider and today we’re going to talk about hitting a block. One of the cooler secrets in Paper Mario involves this block north of Kolorado’s camp in Dry Dry Desert. If you hit it once, you’ll receive a mushroom. Hit it 10 times and you’ll receive a Super Shroom. Then if you’re crazy enough to hit it 100 times, you’ll get an Ultra Shroom.

If you’re like me, you might be curious about obtaining even more items from this block. When playing the game casually, I remember thinking that if I hit it 1,000 times, something might happen.Well, nothing happens at 1,000 hits, but I had the right idea. The game has to use something to track how many times you’ve hit the block, right?

It turns out there’s an unsigned 4-byte value stored at 014F1A48 Which counts up each time the block is hit. Unsigned 4-byte values can store values between 0 and 4,294,967,295 inclusive in the decimal system.

But what happens if we exceed the maximum possible number that can be stored? Let’s say I hit the block 4,294,967,295 times and then decide to hit it once more? What ends up happening is that the number is too large to handle so it overflows to 0, basically resetting the number. This means that if you hit the block 4,294,967,297 times total, you’ll receive another mushroom. Hammer it nine more times and you’ll get another Super Shroom. Then you can hit it 90 more times after that to yet another Ultra Shroom.

So that’s pretty cool, but you might be wondering how long it would take to do this. Well we can hammer this block once every 8 frames if we time our B inputs perfectly and Paper Mario runs at 30 frames per second. Doing some simple math tells us that we can hammer 3.75 times per second. If we divide 4,294,967,295 by 3.75 we can conclude that it would take 1,145,324,612 seconds to get the second mushroom. To put that into perspective, that’s 19,088,743 minutes. Or better yet, 318,145.726 hours. Or even better 13,256.0719 days. Simplifying this further tells us that if someone hammers this block frame-perfectly without ever sleeping, it would take them about 36.3 years to get the 2nd set of mushrooms without hacking.

You can tell we’ve spawned a 2nd block in each position based on the opacity of the shadow beneath it. But let’s get a little crazier. We’ve spawned 6 blocks now, but if we manage to spawn 30 blocks by overflowing this value, it would overload the game and crash it. To find out how long that would take, it’s not as simple as multiplying the time it took for the first six to spawn by 10. This is because at about 9 block spawns, the game’s frame rate begins to drop which will impact how long it will take us to spawn more blocks.

Thanks to my friend Rain (?) I was able to use a GeckoCode on console to test the game’s framerate each time a block was spawned. Now this is extremely tedious because the frame rates are not always integers. For example a frame rate that displays as 29 isn’t always 29. It could be something like 29.03 This would not be too concerning when dealing with small numbers, but since we’re talking about billions of seconds, it would give us a fairly large margin of error. Using a video program to go frame by frame, I was able to calculate the frame rates accurately.

Here’s the number of framerates at each respective number of spawned blocks. Using this data, we can calculate the amount of hammers per second by dividing each framerate by 8. We’ll be using that information along with the number of times we’ll need to hammer this block to calculate the number of seconds this would take.

Just to clarify, the number in brackets is the decimal value of the memory address just to make sure we have the exact number of hits at each interval. After calculating the first 8,589,934,692 hammers at 30 frames per second, the next step is to divide each number of hits at gradually dropping framerates by their respective number of hammers per second which we calculated earlier. After this is done, we will add the quotients to get the number of seconds it would take to spawn blocks 9 through 30.

Finally we’re gonna add 2,290,649,251.2 and 10,862,127,354,279 together to get our official number of seconds: 13,152,776,605.479. This means it would take approximately 416.795 years to crash the game using this glitch. Of course this assumes frame-perfect hammers with no sleep the entire time. Keep in mind the lag was calculated using the Wii Virtual Console version which which may be different from the original Nintendo 64.

I’d like to give a special thanks to Bonecrusher for theorising and verifying this glitch, and another special thanks to Rain (?) for creating a GeckoCode that allowed me to test this on a real console. If you enjoyed this video, please leave a like, let me know what you thought of the glitch in the comments and feel free to subscribe. Be sure to also check my twitter for updates and I also sometimes livestream on my twitch. Both of those links are in the description and that’s all for this video. Thank you guys for watching.

Now the reason why I love this video is that it goes into some detail as to why the glitch happens. The unsigned 4-byte integer can go up to 2^32 (4,294,967,295 at base10) which is the standard limit for an in-game whole number.

Now to add a little bit to these calculations, let’s consider this… You are in Japan and you just got Paper Mario and you ran home to play it and discovered the hittable block on that same day. If you were to start hitting the block on the release date (11 Aug 2000) and started hitting it over and over with perfect timing, you’d roll over the integer on Wednesday, 26 November 2036. And in order to get the game to crash, you’d have to be doing this until Sunday, 28 May 2417.

Good luck.

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Find out the secret of the reward block glitch after hitting it again and again for 416 years on Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64.
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