CLOSE
Original image
Capcom-FC.com

8 Video Game Hoaxes, Debunked

Original image
Capcom-FC.com

Video games are full of secrets, mysteries, and hidden gems for gamers to unlock. But sometimes gamers are so desperate for mysteries to unlock that they’re willing to believe just about anything to find them. Here are eight video game hoaxes that were finally disproved.

1. The Game: Super Smash Bros Melee
The Hoax: Unlock Sonic & Tails

Nintendo released its first crossover video game, Super Smash Bros Melee—which featured 25 iconic Nintendo characters in one massive fighting game experience—in December 2001. That same year, Sega began licensing their characters and games to third party video game consoles after they stopped making hardware (the Dreamcast was their last console), and Nintendo released a Sonic game (Sonic Advance) for its consoles. So in 2002, when video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly wrote that it had discovered a way to unlock Sonic the Hedgehog and Miles “Tails” Prower as playable characters, it made sense. To play as Sonic and Tails, EGM said, gamers would have to defeat 20 enemies in a row in “cruel melee” mode.

In the weeks after EGM's issue hit stands, players tried and tried the trick, but had no success unlocking Sonic and Tails. EGM later admitted it was all a hoax and part of its April Fools’ Day issue. Nintendo would later add Sonic in its 2008 game, Super Smash Bros Brawl, but not Tails. Today, Nintendo has the exclusive rights to Sonic, but Sega still owns the character.

2. The Game: Super Mario 64
The Hoax: Finding Luigi

In 1996, Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 in the United States with only two launch titles: Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64, which quickly became the most popular video game for the new console; gamers spent hours unlocking its many mysteries and secrets. It was even rumored that players could unlock Mario’s brother Luigi as a playable character.

On one of the statues in the castle’s courtyard, a plaque that illegibly reads “L is real 2401” can be found. It was believed that if Mario collected all of the game’s gold coins—allegedly, 2401 of them—and went back to the statue, Luigi would be waiting.

Gaming outlet IGN received so much fan mail about the “L is real 2401” secret code that they issued a $100 bounty if anyone could send them proof of its existence. No one ever did. The bottom line: Players could collect all the gold coins in Mario 64, but nothing would happen if they returned to the statue in the castle’s courtyard.

3. The Game: Goldeneye 64
The Hoax: Playing with All Bonds

The way the “Cheat Options” menu was designed in the first-person shooter Goldeneye 64 suggested that there were 24 cheats to unlock instead of the 23 that players had found in the game. Gamers believed that the 24th cheat was a way to play as the previous iterations of the James Bond character in multi-player mode. When early screenshots from the game revealed Sean Connery as James Bond, many gamers tried various ways to unlock the elusive cheat code, but were unsuccessful.

In 1998, Electronic Gaming Monthly published additional screenshots of Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton as the Agent 007 as an April Fools’ Day joke, which led many more to believe the cheat code was real. The reality was that Nintendo could not secure the likeness rights of Connery, Moore, or Dalton, so the cheat code was scrapped.

4. The Game: Street Fighter II
The Hoax: Hidden Character Named Sheng Long

After Street Fighter II battles are finished, the victor taunts his fallen opponent via a title card. When gamers in Japan fought with the character Ryu and defeated their opponents, the title card would read, “If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch"—or Shoryuken, one of Ryu’s signature fight moves—"you cannot win!” 

When the game was imported for American gamers, Capcom mistranslated Ryu’s taunts. Instead of referencing Ryu's Rising Dragon Punch, the title card said “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.” It was rumored that Sheng Long was a hidden playable character somewhere deep inside of the game, but when the fighting game was ported to the Super Nintendo, its instruction manual explained he was Ryu’s former master.

Electronic Gaming Monthly took this rumor one step further and published a story confirming that Sheng Long was a character that could be unlocked in the video game. Gamers would have to play as Ryu through the tournament without taking any damage or losing battles to unlock the mysterious martial arts master. Once again, EGM confessed that it was all a hoax and was part of an April Fools’ Day joke, despite publishing the technique in the magazine’s February issue (why anyone believed anything that the magazine published remains a mystery).

5. The Game: Final Fantasy VII
The Hoax: Saving Aeris

In 1997, Square released Final Fantasy VII for the original PlayStation. Halfway through the video game, one of its main characters, Aeris, dies. This was a very shocking revelation, and one of the first instances when players felt emotionally devastated over a video game’s storyline. That might explain why rumors emerged that there were ways to keep Aeris alive, including trying to find hidden gems and going on quests for non-existent characters. All known techniques were proven false. And although gamers spent hours trying to find ways to keep her alive, Aeris's death was important for the video game’s overall narrative.

6. The Game: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Hoax: Updating the Game for the Wii U

During Nintendo’s E-3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) presentation in 2012, a mysterious trailer emerged on the Internet. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was one of the most popular Zelda games for the Nintendo 64, and fans were happy to see that Nintendo was updating the game for the yet-to-be released Nintendo Wii U.

Although the trailer looked convincing—it even had high-definition graphics and a symphony score!—the proposed video game was a fake. Two video game designers named Pablo Belmonte and Paco Martinez created the trailer as a pitch and proof-of-concept to Nintendo for a Zelda remake.

The fake trailer garnered a lot of attention from video game outlets, fans, and even Nintendo, but the company has no plans to re-release an updated version of the Zelda classic.

7. The Game: Mortal Kombat
The Hoax: Unlocking the Red Ninja Ermac

The original Mortal Kombat arcade game had one hidden character, a green ninja called Reptile. But in the game's audit menu—where owners can access information and analytics about the game—there was a category called “Ermac,” which led fans to speculate that Mortal Kombat actually had two hidden characters. It was believed that the character could be unlocked if you won the fighting tournament by scoring double flawless victories and fatalities against all of your opponents. Once a player defeated the final boss, Shang Tsung, the red ninja Ermac would appear to challenge you to a battle.

The reality is that “Ermac” is short for “Error Macro,” which co-creator Ed Boon wrote as an error message in the game’s programming. However, the Mortal Kombat developers were so impressed with the fans’ passion for the rumored character that they eventually introduced Ermac in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 as a secret playable fighter.

8. The Game: Sony PlayStation 4
The Hoax: Viral Video Commercial

A few days before the start of E-3 2010, a viral video that promoted new PlayStation hardware surfaced on YouTube. The commercial teased the release of the PlayStation 4 just before Sony was slated to present the PlayStation 3’s new Move motion controller add-on at the video game convention. It didn’t seem likely that Sony would release a new console only four years after the release of the PS3. Nevertheless, the commercial was very convincing, as many gaming websites and blogs ran the viral video and promoted the launch of the PlayStation 4.

But hardware PR representative Al de Leon shot down rumors that Sony was working on a PlayStation 4. “I can confirm that this video is not from SCE (Sony Computer Entertainment),” he told Game Informer. Three years later, Sony announced the PlayStation 4 would be available for the holiday season in 2013.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
iStock
Sponsor Content: BarkBox
arrow
8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
Original image
iStock

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES