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December 16th, 2010 | EarthBound, Hacking, Uncommon Knowledge

We EarthBound hackers have known about a couple different debug menus in EarthBound for years now, only just the other day was it discovered that there’s an actual, usable battle debug menu too. I don’t know much about the order of things, but I think it was the Fangamer guys who ran into it first, as explained by Reid:

Hey guys, we’re working here at the Fangamer office and Jeff decides to take a break and play some EarthBound. He starts up a new game with EB Saga-themed names, checked out the meteor, and as soon as he walked past Tracy to answer Pokey’s knock, he gets knocked into the Battle Debug screen.

We got video of it because it was so bizarre — as far as I know, you can’t access the Debug without a game genie or ROM, right?

Awesome ROM hacker Penguin also dug into the ROM and made a patch that makes the debug menu accessible by pressing the Y button outside of battle. You can find the details and controls for it here, and the patches here:

Try it out and see what you can find!

I wonder how the menu is accessible normally. The Kirby debug menu in the game always had some battle-related option on it, but we never got it to work. I’m guessing that’s what this is, but who knows.

Hopefully someday we’ll find out more about this mode, it’s awesome that there are still hidden secrets in the game after more than ten years of hacking the game!

Incidentally, there appears to be a similar debug menu in MOTHER 3, but we’ve never been able to figure out how to access it. Maybe someday someone will come across it randomly too!

Note that this isn’t the first time an EarthBound cart has really glitched out. My own cart had some weird glitches too, which I started to document a while back here. I’m guessing that maybe as all the carts out there get older and more worn these weird things will start happening more often.


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19 Comments to EarthBound Battle Debug Menu Found

Psi-Rockin said on Dec. 16, 2010

Omygosh! New things discovered all the time. I love Earthbound 8)

DLAEsp said on Dec. 16, 2010

Awesome. This is just awesome. I hope they find out how to duplicate whatever triggered the debug menu without hacking again.

Random Guardian said on Dec. 16, 2010

and how long scince the original debug menu was this battle debug mode hidden. rediculous if you ask me 🙂

KingDarian said on Dec. 16, 2010

This is really cool, and I think your idea about the SNES games glitching out due to age is probably right. It’s either that, or the console is going bad. I’ve had some weird glitchy stuff happen with my SNES games, from minor graphical glitches, to more advanced graphical glitches that make the game unplayable. I wish there was a known way to prevent it, because it may mean that sometime down the line cartridge-based games will cease to function. 🙁

zedrein said on Dec. 16, 2010

I effectively know nothing of game programming so forgive me if this sounds naive but I am constantly surprised how much material is left in some of these old retro games. Especially considering that cart space is so notoriously limited that you’d think the devs would take out every last bit of extraneous information. With this in mind what are the chances that a hidden “room” or strange un-used character will be discovered somewhere in the deep bowels of the EB or MOTHER 2 ROM?

blahmoomoo said on Dec. 16, 2010

zedrien: I am guessing three reasons for extra content found in old games. 1. It is easier to disable access than it would have been to remove the debugging menus. 2. Since cartridges come in several fixed sizes, there probably is extra space for things like this. 3. Programmers/game designers are human too and like to throw in extra things, as long as they don’t get in the way (like the hidden Mr. Saturn in a Brawl texture and the secret rice ball in Onett).

Earthbound needed a larger cart size than initially anticipated because more was going into it than originally expected, so there probably was several kilobytes left over.

Mother 3’s cart is HUGE (the biggest possible for a GBA cart; 256 megabit or 32 MB), so it easily fits extra graphical data. (talking about extra graphical data, I recall one GBA game having a few JPEGs on it as filler, can’t remember the name though)

Bubbleman said on Dec. 16, 2010

E-Mug packaging: LEAKED 😀

Andydark said on Dec. 17, 2010

In most cases it’s the whole “No one has the ability to find these, so…”

darkzzii said on Dec. 17, 2010

wow it seems there is still secrets in the darkist deepist parts of the game. intersating

Robo85 said on Dec. 19, 2010

I just love stuff like this! 🙂

Userofdoom said on Dec. 19, 2010

Maybe it’s because of the names used? I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.

Vetauciont said on Dec. 19, 2010

I have to say, this was pretty awesome. And that’s an understatement.

JamesBond007 said on Dec. 29, 2010

Looks like the Video Relaxant is not only one removed item.

Nintess said on Mar. 19, 2011

Probably cartidge tilting

Nintess said on Mar. 19, 2011

Didnt know it worked with SNES tho

Patwhit01 said on Apr. 3, 2011

Get infinite ROCK CANDYS!

starwars890 said on Aug. 24, 2011

The part when it all glitches out makes me think: Are some of those “glitch-outs” be unused PSI animations?
PSI Hack Alpha?

Jeff76 said on Dec. 2, 2011



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