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Tips for Buying EarthBound

April 21st, 2014 | EarthBound, Videos

The other day, AndyPerfect on TwitchTV got an interesting thing to happen during a run of EarthBound:

Hey guys! Some of you might remember me from several months ago when I posted a glitchless speedrun of Earthbound on here. Well, I’m still at this game trying to get better and better. Recently, I’ve started running a category called Any%, which entails beating the game as fast as possible using any and all glitches available. The “Any%” run for Earthbound is about 1/3 as long (around 1.5 hours) as a glitchless run. I’ve been practicing a lot of the glitches required for the run recently and came across this odd one which causes the game to effectively lock up requiring a reset.

To give you some background about what led up to this: There’s a way to clip out of bounds in Earthbound. Because all of the maps are connected under the hood, you can effectively walk anywhere you’d like in the entire game. I clip out of bounds to Magicant and end up beating Ness’s nightmare with Ness, Paula, a dead Jeff, and two backup flying men (you can get multiple flying men when you have multiple characters in Magicant). After you defeat Ness’s nightmare, you end up back in the real world with all four of your characters, two flying men still there, and, in my case, a teddy bear that I forgot to get rid of. Apparently the game doesn’t like you having 7 sprites walking around and the game never expects you to be able to have that many. As a result, Poo refuses to join the group and just wanders off screen, locking the game up. I’ve been unable to find video documentation of this glitch anywhere online so I thought I’d share with you guys.

And here’s a video of it happening:

Watch live video from AndyPerfect on TwitchTV

Of course, I’m not sure if this is possible in an actual, normal run – I don’t think you can get two Flying Men at once, for example. But I wonder if it’s possible to cause it to happen some other way.

As for where Poo’s going in this video, my hunch as a programmer and EarthBound hacker is that he’s heading to coordinates (0,0) from the current location – and checking the map of maps, that seems to be the case:


If anyone has more info or any ideas on how to make this happen in a normal game, please share your knowledge!


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17 Comments to The Running Poo Glitch

Philip said on Apr. 21, 2014

Poo: “Screw you guys, I’m going home!”

Ness1985 said on Apr. 21, 2014

Poo:….I’m done.

gustr15 said on Apr. 21, 2014

heh, running poo

EBisumaru said on Apr. 21, 2014

Is that supposed to be a Youtube link? I can’t watch Twitch at work, if it’s supposed to be some kind of static Twitch-hosted video

Opinionated Vector Chimera said on Apr. 21, 2014

I always thought the reason why King runs away at the beginning of the game is to make room for Buzz Buzz. EarthBound’s code is all over the place, so anything could happen.

I also saw a YouTube video on English Mother 3 a long time ago. Basically, Flint was put into a party of four to make five, and the game went haywire during a battle.

N7Kopper said on Apr. 21, 2014

The game can handle up to 7 party members – being any combination of 1 to 4 of the Chosen Four, and three to six NPCs – if you have a party without any of the Chosen Four, you get trapped in a cycle of party wipes and soft lock.

If you have a full party of seven (including anything from the Minches to Buzz Buzz or King, Dungeon Man, or even a teddy bear or a Lil’ Ghost) and try to get another member, it obviously won’t work, as shown in the video. Normal circumstances can get you up to six, with Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo, a ghost, and a bear, leaving space for one more, like Dungeon Man (if he gets recruited with Poo around, I don’t remember) And, as the example shows, the game soft locks again if you need a party member to progress, but can’t recruit one due to being full up – a situation that never happens without glitches or hacks of some kind.

It’s similar to Mother 3’s maximum party cap of five, except that it works flawlessly up to the cap, rather than freaking out if you have five playable characters in your team. Helps that there are only four PCs in EarthBound, I guess.

person said on Apr. 21, 2014

Title of this post sounds so wrong

BusterTheFox said on Apr. 22, 2014

@N7Kopper: Poo leaves just before you get to Dungeon Man so he can learn Starstorm. It would be interesting to see what happened when the situation you describe happens, though!

It’s always fun to find these kinds of glitches, even when it’s something that could almost never happen through regular gameplay like this. I guess he’d better remember to get rid of the teddy bear next time… Heh

AConcernedGamer said on Apr. 22, 2014

In EarthBound, there are 3 different kinds of party members that all work differently in the code and never interfere with each other, so Poo leaving to make room for Dungeon Man is not the result of a technical limitation.

The first kind is for the Chosen Four. Only 4 of them exist in the game, and the only restrictions on which combinations of party members are allowed are that they must be ordered by their ID numbers (meaning that Jeff cannot be in front of Paula, for example) and that at least 1 Chosen One must be in the party at all times (except possibly when transitioning to Jeff in Winters and Poo in Dalaam; whether these count as exceptions depends on whether Ness is removed before or after the new party member is added).

(I got a warning for posting comments too quickly despite this being my first comment for the entire day. I will wait a few minutes then post my notes for the other kinds of party members.)

AConcernedGamer said on Apr. 22, 2014

The second kind is for AI-controlled members that follow behind the Chosen Four, such as Porky, Picky, King, Tony, the Bubble Monkey, Dungeon Man, the Flying Men, and Teddy Bears. Only a maximum of 2 can be in the party at a time without glitching (although 3 or more can participate in battle, the second AI member’s field sprite will glitch if a third AI member is in the party, most noticeable if their sprites are different sizes, such as Picky (2×3) and King (3×3), which is why King leaves before Picky joins (Buzz Buzz and the Tiny Li’l Ghost do not count towards this limit).

The third kind is for AI-controlled members that circle around Ness’s head. These members are hardcoded and will be automatically added or removed by the game engine. In Buzz Buzz’s case, the game will add him when switch 0x0012 is turned on and will remove him when switch 0x0012 is turned off (however, his sprite will not be refreshed until the next map transition via door). In the Tiny Li’l Ghost’s case, the game will add it when a character is Possessed while no one else is already Possessed and will remove it when the last remaining Possessed character is exorcised.

(Waiting a few more minutes before posting the remainder of my notes…)

AConcernedGamer said on Apr. 22, 2014

Although both of them can appear circling around Ness’s head, in battle, Buzz Buzz will not act if the Tiny Li’l Ghost is in the party, suggesting that only 1 of these characters can be in the party at a time. If the Tiny Li’l Ghost is removed while Buzz Buzz is in the party, he will once again participate in battle.

All in all, the maximum party size is 7: 4 Chosen Ones, 2 following AI members, and 1 circling AI member. There simply aren’t enough Chosen Ones to exceed the limit, too many AI followers will break the field sprites, and Buzz Buzz will yield to the Tiny Li’l Ghost in battle if both are present. The Chosen Four and AI followers never interfere with each other.

(End of my notes)

Opinionated Vector Chimera said on Apr. 22, 2014

@N7Kopper @AConcernedGamer

This is all very insightful info. I knew there was a technical reason for King running away, but I never thought it was sprite glitching that led to it. I also never really thought about Buzz Buzz and Tiny Li’l Ghost in the same party — to be fair, though, the gap between Buzz Buzz’s death and your first opportunity to get possessed is huge.

I guess there isn’t much else to this, then.

Mr.Foppy42 said on Apr. 23, 2014

Er, sorry if I’m COMPLETELY off-topic and if I sound like an idiot but… Is it possible to have the Mother 3 translation patch on an Android emulator?

Mato said on Apr. 23, 2014

I would assume you could just patch the ROM on a computer and then put the patched ROM on your Android.

Mr.Foppy42 said on Apr. 23, 2014

@Mato Oh yeah. I should have thought of that. Now I feel like an idiot, which seems to happen a lot to me. Thanks!

Spitball Sparky said on Apr. 25, 2014

Something similar happens at the beginning of the game if you don’t have Ness (or maybe if you have any irregular party, never tested it) in the party at the beginning of the game when Aloysius comes back down the stairs after spanking Pokey and Picky; he’ll walk up and out of the house instead of stopping to talk to the party.

The Great Morgil said on May. 21, 2014

Running Poo?! …ewwwww


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