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SYFY WIRE The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda's Minus World discovered by hacker 30+ years later

By Jacob Oller
The Legend of Zelda NES

Spider-Man isn’t the only one with glitchy alternate realities. Old NES games — most famously Super Mario Bros. — can have buggy extra levels called Minus Worlds that manifest because of gamers attempting to access worlds or areas that simply don’t exist, causing the game to read code in a weird and wonky fashion.

Mario’s underwater Minus World (named because the game couldn’t display World 36-1, but only World -1) gained enough infamy to be referenced in other Nintendo projects, but one on the opposite end of the fame spectrum has newly been accessed: The Legend of Zelda.

The gaming world’s first introduction to Link and the Triforce apparently has a similar glitch that transports NES players to a strange alternate reality. This world was accessed earlier this week by Skelux, a game developer in his own right, who posted a video on YouTube of his eerie explorations of the unintended glitch-verse.

Check it out... if you dare:

After a bit of explanation about how the world’s map is coded (utilizing negative numbers) and the implementation of a personally developed cheat code that allows him to go out of bounds (through walls and objects, basically anywhere the game doesn’t want him), Skelux takes Link to the Minus World. Two-faced Octoroks, tons of tombstones, and the old man who gives you your sword... only this time you can attack him.

Some enemies act as other enemies and the backgrounds are all jumbled without rhyme or reason — you can even find a piece of the Triforce in the middle of nowhere. Things get weirder and weirder the deeper he goes, eventually finding staircases appearing from nowhere and leading to caves inhabited by sentient numbers. If rather unfulfilling, like Mario this game’s Minus World is an unsolvable mess, it at least asks this question: “What other games could have such mysterious and odd unrealities waiting to be unlocked?”