Part 16: SCIENCE!
So a conversation in irc about broken cartridges and the glitches they cause led myself and abbic to discuss the fact that we have an extra pokemon red cart laying around the house, and we offered to destroy it for science to see what kind of glitches we could possibly cause. We asked Metroixer about it and he thought it was worth a shot so here we go.
Let's Horribly Break Pokemon Red - Literal Edition
So the two of us booted up a copy of Pokemon Red that was purchased on release date, and for shits and giggles popped it in to the classic, fantastic giant green brick incarnation of the gameboy. We tested it a bit and it seemed to be working just fine.
That's not very interesting at all. Very normal. So we decided we'd experiment in a pokemon-themed way and see if we could get some kind of reaction of it, going from least likely to brutally destroy it to most likely.
Experiment One: Fighting
This seemed like the simplest way to start. Abbic began by attempting to put that cart's lights out (after putting on a lab coat and proper safety gloves, of course).
Testing proved exciting at first...
...except it was just doing that old gameboy thing when you don't have the cartridge in all the way yet.
After the patented nintendo "blow on the cartridge" maneuver, it was in working order.
Experiment Two: Psychic
Conveniently, abbic has psychic powers. Given that this is a little hard to capture on film, I asked him to hold up a spoon to demonstrate that he was warping things with his mind since we can't see inside the cart.
After my lovely assistant worked his hoodoo we popped it in for a test run.
...Unfortunately, his powers only really seem to work on cutlery and guessing Christmas presents.
Experiment Three: Flying
This one seemed easy enough, just throw the thing at the wall and see what happens. Works on our microwave, anyway.
That black blob there is the cartridge in flight. We had to throw it a few times to get a shot of it, since it was fairly low lighting. After that, we checked the damage, which was still apparently none.
Experiment Four: Ghost
Oh, I forgot to mention abbic's psychic abilities also extend to conjuring wayward spirits too. Rather convenient for our purposes here. So, he went in to a trance and became possessed, then attempted to haunt the cartridge.
Sadly, this particular catridge didn't buy it. Or abbic hammed it up too much. I'm not really sure.
Experiment Five: Ice
This one seemed easy enough. We placed our unfortunate cart in to the freezer...
...waited five minutes (according to abbic's invisible watch)...
...and took it out and tried it.
Still nothing, but we weren't really expecting much anyway. So far, fighting seemed to have been the only "type" that had any effect.
Experiment Six: Electricity
Since we were lacking in the taser department, and it's apparently very difficult to jam a gameboy cart in to a wall socket, we did a little thinking outside the box and figured magnets could probably count for something here. Thankfully, being the perpetual 5 year old that I am, I came prepared:
We ran them all over the cart for a while, not really expecting it to work but what the hell right?
We figured right.
Experiment Seven: Bug
While abbic took a break from the rigorous testing, I ran around outside and managed to catch a small bug for our scientific purposes. We trapped it and let it go on top of the game. I tried to snap pictures of the little bastard while abbic herded it in to the inside of the cart.
As our cat ate the bug while it was trying to escape, abbic tested the game...
...and we got the result we expected. No change.
Experiment Eight: DRAGON
Well, since there's only one monster lurking around our house, we'll have to make do with her.
BEHOLD, OUR FIERCE DRAGON!
She was less than thrilled with this but she was good humored and played along with our dumb little experiment anyway...
...And was handsomely rewarded with cat treats for her patience and for not murdering the both of us Though I was honestly surprised she was still hungry after eating our bug...
And the game still worked.
Experiment Nine: Rock
Unfortunately I failed to find a rock in the backyard (despite somehow finding a bug on short notice) so we made do with what we had.
Even when blasting metal, there was no effect.
Experiment Ten: Grass
Despite my failure to find a rock, I at least came back with grass and dirt for the next two experiments. Getting antsy for some kind of result, we decided to leave the grass in the cart while we tested it.
It made some interesting crunchy noises going in...
But that was the only interesting thing that happened.
Experiment Eleven: Ground
Following the failure of the grass, we shoved some dirt and grit inside the cart and rubbed it around on the exposed metal.
This still, somehow, completely failed to disrupt the game at all.
Experiment Tweleve: Poison
I was originally gonna draw a cutesy fake poison label for this one and just BS it but then we found a way to make the gross cheap scotch go a little faster...
Clearly these carts are far more functional soaked in booze than I ever will be.
Experiment Thirteen: Water
This is the first of the two experiments we were really looking forward to. I lost my original copy of blue to a washing machine. It'd start up normal and either glitch out as soon as I got to a PC, or would just randomly freeze and make a loud BEEEEEEEEP until I turned it off entirely. Abbic and I were hopeful that we would finally see results, and maybe get something cool to happen, and I know Metroixer was laughing earlier on in the night at the thought of dunking a cart in a toilet to see what would happen.
It let go a ton of bubbles as we dunked it in and left it for a minute.
Abbic pulled it out, cleaned it with some antibacterial stuff (boy glad we had gloves) and tested it. For a second, all looked normal until...
FINALLY something happened. Being goons of science we gave it a second try...
And it psyched us out only to completely die again. Not as neat as we were hoping. But hey, maybe there's a quick way to dry it out...
The Final Experiment: FIRE
We did this last thinking that if all else fails, this will surely do SOME kind of damage, right? Ideally just warp something inside so it'll do something neat? Shouldn't be too hard to burn a cart, right?
WRONG. It took about two minutes of this until we actually saw some visible damage, even just to the label.
Say what you want about the programming, but holy crap these things are tough. It took a few minutes to burn a hole in this little red tank.
Finally, we get to test out how a cart with a hole burnt in to it works.
And the answer is... better than it did when it was sunken in to water! It actually started up normally for a few tries until...
We see this screen again. Abbic and I decided it was in the interest of science to leave it alone for an hour and come back to it later since it was running progressively worse as we restarted. Lo and behold, this happened:
THE FUCKER WORKS. Abbic has been playing it since and it's still going, and we're not entirely sure we're done with it. But we sure didn't get any glitches, and we somehow managed to avoid actually breaking it despite bugs, dirt, grass, fire, water, and other assorted nonsense.
My next thought is to just take a hammer to it, tape it back together, and see what happens. Or a soldering iron. But there you go.