Excellent Breakdown of Wii Music Capabilities

By that title, I don’t mean the capabilities of the Wii title called Wii Music*. The video below, from Dublincalif, is about the properties of the Wii’s sound system itself. It’s 24 minutes, but pretty interesting for all that, and it’s presented really well. It’s a model explainer video, and a great first effort in that style from its maker!

You might think that all the music on the Wii is just streamed, either from audio tracks or files, but it isn’t. The Wii has fairly little NAND storage, and music is a major consumer of storage space, so a lot of its music is sequenced, essentially MIDI files played with sample banks, with optional effects added. The video is a great overview of its features and capabilities.

* Of random interest: Wii Music’s data is amazingly small! Of that 4.7GB DVD it resides on, it uses less than 10 MB!

The Wii’s Music Is A Bit Complicated (Youtube, 24 minutes)

PannenKoek’s Epic 3 3/4-Hour Explanation Of Mysterious Mario 64 Invisible Walls

You may remember PannenKoek as that person who has been trying to figure out how to complete Super Mario 64 in as few A button presses as possible, an odd, but no less noble, quest. They’ve been at it for quite a long time now, 13 years, but they’re still going. They have two loaded Youtube channels containing the pixelated fruits of their labors, PannenKoek2012 and UncommentatedPannen. Whenever you see a random Youtube video that uses the File Select music from Super Mario 64 as background music, they’re paying homage to PannenKoek, god of the game explainers.

While explaining aspects of Mario 64, that foundational, primordial 3D platformer, sometimes they ably explain complex and niche topics in computer science along the way. We’ve covered their videos before, more than once probably, and marveled at how by explaining some unexpected behavior in Nintendo’s N64 launch title, they have managed to make something important about how computers do things comprehensible. In three videos, they explained how Mario 64 handles terrain well enough that one feels (somewhat misguidedly) that they could implement their own 3D platformer. They made a bizarrely interesting video about how characters blink their eyes that shows various ways that games implement timers and randomness. They have a whole video on pseudorandom number generation, and another on floats, that computer number representation system that has deeply weird implications.

Their most recent video is a three hour, 45 minute epic that explains why sometimes, when Mario jumps, he seems to strike something invisible in his way. It’s a consequence of several unusual decisions Nintendo made in constructing the physics of Mario’s world, which includes the fact that level edge walls in Mario 64 aren’t implemented as geometry, but as a consequence of the lack of geometry: if there is no floor over a space, then the game rules it as Out Of Bounds. It won’t let Mario enter this completely invisible unspace under normal conditions, and will instantly kill him if he somehow enters into it. It is like antimatter. And that’s not even getting into how ceilings operate.

Here, then, it is. It is a lot, and I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t get through it all, but for a certain intersection of game obsession and brain chemistry, it is engrossing, and that’s before they even get to the periodic table of invisible walls:

PannenKoek2012 Returns: Crashing Super Mario 64 With Pendulums

PannenKoel2012 is the Super Mario 64 enthusiast (that’s the only word I can think of that matches) who has been working on reducing the number of A button presses needed to finish the game. They haven’t gotten it down to zero yet, and likely never will, but by resorting to increasingly extreme measures they continue to figure out ways to get it down. I think they’ve been working at this project for over 12 years; the oldest video on their Youtube account is that old.

Of arguably more interest than their quest, though, is its interesting byproducts, which is a series of Youtube videos, on both their main channel and alternate channel UncommentatedPannen, which not only explain how their many subtle and effective stratagems work, but also a number of aspects of how Super Mario 64’s engine works, and even basic principles of computer science. These videos are so in-depth that they have their own wiki to track the concepts they use, to explain turns like Parallel Universe (PU) and Pedro Spot.

When I say they return, it’s not that they ever left, but it’d been a while since they had a solid explainer. Now they have one, it has spoken narration instead of the text that marks many of the best videos, and the production values have even increased a bit:

In this video, a clever way to manipulate the pendulums in Tick Tock Clock to crash the game after 39 1/2 days of playing also takes into its sweep an excellent explanation of many of the systems compilers use to represent numbers and their limitations.

And here are a number of those interesting videos (by no means complete) that they’ve posted in the past: The Art of Cloning (17m29s) – Walls, Floors and Ceilings parts One (37m23s), Two (32m5s) and Three (37m26s, all three together being a pretty through explanation of how Mario 64’s platforming system works) – Blinking (eyes, 8m40s) – Floats (9m23s) – Pause Buffering (8m7s) – Pitch Conversation and Yaw Velocity Conservation (15m15s) – Sleeping (Mario, 7m25s) – Random Number Generation (12m37s) – Wall Hitboxes (6m50s) – Releasing Objects (5m18s) – How Holding Objects Really Works (12m1s) – Units, Speed and Sense of Scale (4m41s)

How to Crash SM64 Using a Pendulum (Youtube, one hour 12 minutes)