Here at Ars, we have a teenager mania with complicated discoveries of Easter eggs from comparatively ancient games. That includes a timing evidence in Punch-Out!!, debug menus dark in Mortal Kombat cabinets, and the first-ever Easter egg found in a diversion from 1977. But a Level Select Easter egg that involves physically attack a Sonic 3D Blast Genesis cartridge—and the story behind it—is substantially the weirdest such dark underline we’ve ever listened of.
In a new video explanation, Traveller’s Tales founder Jon Burt, who worked on 3D Blast and a series of Sega games back in the ’90s, sum how the unintended “smack the cartridge” Easter egg really grew out of an try to get around Sega’s toilsome acceptance mandate for Genesis cartridges.
As Burt explains it, Sega’s acceptance routine at the time took “a few weeks” and compulsory re-submission for any failures, including crashes after the diversion was left using for days at a time. So Burt started throwing any generalized, crash-worthy errors the diversion competence trigger and disguising them as Easter eggs the player had stumbled on—such as a “secret time warp” that bounced the player around in Mickey Mania. As Burt recalls, “most things that were to pile-up the diversion just brought up the secret time warp, so Sega wouldn’t know it was actually a bug.”
For Sonic 3D Blast, Burt stretched this strategy to make use of a Vector list of all probable exceptions in the Genesis’ Motorola 68000 processor (PDF). Whenever the processor encountered any such unexpected error—such as a order by 0 issue—the diversion would simply route to the Level Select code. “That way, if I’d missed anything that would routinely pile-up the game… instead of crashing, the turn name would seem and we’d zephyr by Sega’s acquiescence process,” Burt says. “And it worked, and we did.”
Thus, when a player hits or wiggles the 3D Blast cartridge, the tie between the diversion and the console gets broken just prolonged adequate to chuck a processor exception, which gets prisoner and thrown to the Level Select screen instead of causing a crash. It’s adequate to make us consternation what other cold facilities in classical games were just kludgy hacks to get around intensity problems.