A YouTuber named SKELUX has discovered a hidden “minus world” in The Legend of Zelda for the NES.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the concept of a minus world was popularized by the original Super Mario Bros. which allowed players to easily access an area named World -1. That minus world was actually just a by-product of the way that games were made back then (it was basically a data scrapyard), but the fact it was playable and hidden made it one of the more compelling parts of the Super Mario Bros. legacy.
The minus world discovered in The Legend of Zelda is a little different. In order to access it, SKELUX had to re-write the game’s code so that he was able to travel to an out-of-bounds area of the game’s map. Interestingly, the game’s code acknowledges this area by referencing it with negative integers. That seemingly backs up the common belief that many classic NES games have a minus world of their own.
Once SKELUX actually entered Zelda‘s minus world, things got weird. It appears that Zelda‘s minus world is more of a legitimate data dump than the one found in Super Mario Bros. It features a seemingly random scattering of enemies and other environmental objects as well as some truly bizarre design concepts that were either cut from the game or are a result of the way that this area processes the code it harbors.
Still, the fact that this world is clearly not accessible via traditional gameplay and the fact that it’s not really even a playable area even if you bother to alter the game’s code in a way that allows you to access it means that Zelda‘s minus world isn’t really as compelling Mario‘s. It’s a neat little piece of design history, but we’re willing to bet that the vast majority of games from many eras contains something similar.
Having said that, we’re interested to see what else SKELUX discovers in other games.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.