'Morality Holds Progress Back': Inside The World Of Nintendo Hackers

'Morality Holds Progress Back': Inside The World of Nintendo Hackers

I recently listened to someone explain why they felt no guilt about hacking Mario Kart so that they could cheat in it. "Morality holds progress back," he said.

Huntereb has been uploading proof of his various Nintendo hacks for the past year or so. His most notable hacks involved the 2011 3DS game Mario Kart 7. He's hacked the successful Mario racer to give him an edge over people unfortunate enough to wind up in an online match against him.

It's how he summoned items whenever he wanted:

Or forced online matches to award him first place within seconds:

It's one thing to manipulate how a game functions offline, but it's much harder to carry those hacks online, where most game companies are able to detect and punish those who are trying to break the rules. The thing is, Nintendo's not a company known for being Internet experts and he's somehow been able to slip some of these hacks by.

(Nintendo has and does regularly issue patches to try and plug these holes, however.)

Huntereb described his feelings about online cheating as "pretty relaxed," which is probably an understatement.

Here's the motto on his YouTube page:

"I do hax and show people them. Sometimes it's controversial... Also, morals don't belong on a hacking scene. Don't be stupid."

Hacking is not inherently good or evil but a function of curiosity. What one does with their hacks defines who they are. Some hackers make changes in games to help other players, to be the hero. Others play the villain, hacking games for advantages regardless of who it pisses off. Huntereb is more from that side of things.

His taste for hacking came from an Action Replay. Like GameSharks, these accessories allowed players to modify game code to unlock unlimited lives, hit points or whatever else you wanted in a game running on a Nintendo 64 or PlayStation 2 or the like. In other words, the Action Replay let you do things in games that you weren't supposed to do.

There is no Action Replay or GameShark equivalent in 2016. Console developers have largely stopped players from going under a game's hood. (It's a different story on PC.) Huntereb feels this has prevented people from understanding how software and hardware truly work, measures taken ostensibly to protect people, but often to obfuscate and remove control.

"I find happiness in doing things that would normally not be done by a rule-abiding user," he said. " [...] Any time I do things online in regards to cheating and modifications, it's only because I can. As long as there's not a permanent repercussion from my actions, I'll test things to the maximum possible."

He's been pushing that to the limit lately with Super Mario Maker, a game that's gotten him in trouble with Nintendo. The company recently banned his Wii U from online play and deployed YouTube copyright takedowns to take his hacking videos removed from the service. He's resorted to uploading videos with non-Mario music and flipping the video, hoping to avoid them.

(If that video suddenly stops worrying, you probably know why.)

Huntereb's hacking comes with one rule, though: no permanent consequences. He broke that rule with Mario Maker, and it's gotten him into hot water. He used Mario Maker hacks and exploits to mess around with people's levels online, allowing him to finish them in ways the designers never intended. He was able to achieve world record times in some of them, defeating the purpose of the world record marker that the game puts in a given shared level. That marker is supposed to measure genuine runs.

While Huntereb is careful about how many of his hacks have a permanent history on the Internet, he's demonstrated several of his "techniques," such as the ability to summon items:

You can quickly imagine how that might break a lot of levels.

He started breaking records using the cheat, one after the other. People were pissed, obviously.

"I will admit that I may have gone a little overboard by breaking records in more than a few levels during some streams of mine, just to show that it was possible," he said. "I didn't expect the kind of reaction I got from this to be so extreme."

Going overboard doesn't mean he regrets his actions, however.

"I don't really feel any guilt," he said. "I guess I'm just not a very remorseful guy. That's probably a good thing for the stuff I like to do. [...] I do care what others have to say about my work, but only to the extent of agreement. If they support what I do, fine. If you don't, you don't have to watch. I'm not going to change my stance because of your feelings."

MrBean35000vr, a hacker Kotaku interviewed in 2014 as part of a story on hacking Mario Kart 8, isn't a huge fan of folks like Huntereb. MrBean35000vr might respect the work being put into understanding these games, but when it's used to ruin people's fun, that's a line too far.

'Morality Holds Progress Back': Inside The World of Nintendo Hackers

"My brother [Chadderz, another hacker] likes to relate modding and hacking to being kinda like the usage of a hammer," he said. "You can use it to build something, or you can use it to smash someone else's thing to pieces. And how one chooses to use it is very much dependent on the person. Regrettably, the destructive usage is what typically gets modding and hacking a bad name, rather unnecessarily, perhaps, as you can really can do amazing things with it."

MrBean35000vr and Chadderz have gone in the opposite direction. The two started out by hacking Mario Kart Wii, hoping to build new tracks to race on. It took six months of tinkering to craft their first track, but the response was huge, and they started building custom tools for others to use. Flash forward several years later and hundreds of fans have used the brothers' hacks to create thousands of tracks for Mario Kart Wii, fruitfully extending the game's life long after Nintendo had moved on.

The brothers created their own track pack, CTGP Revolution, that contains stages built by themselves and others. The pack has 218 curated tracks, and people are still regularly playing them.

"We're way more interested in messing around with the game rather than ruining the online fun," said MrBean35000vr, "but also we're interested in letting others participate in said fun. Watching other people play things that you create is amazing. Where's the fun in messing things up for everyone?"

MrBean35000vr closely watches those new to the scene, especially those he deems "destructive." Any hacker, regardless of intent, has talent, and if it can be harnessed differently, it could benefit everyone. Some of these people have joined the brothers' team.

"We often try to convince them to swap over to more constructive modding," he said, "as ultimately they're looking to get noticed for their coding skills but perhaps feel that the only way to get said attention is to troll and cause trouble."

MrLuigi35000Vr — yes, that's different than MrBean35000vr — was one of those people.

MrLuigi35000Vr was in the midst of learning assembly code when he decided there was a more interesting application for his lessons: hacking Mario Kart Wii. He found ways to disrupt players online and force them to lose.

"Making such hacks makes you focus on the end result," he said, giving hackers tunnel vision as they ignore everything interesting about a game's inner workings that allows the hack to work at all. ""It was fun, I guess."

For a while, this amused MrLuigi35000Vr , but it didn't last.

MrLuigi35000Vr gained notoriety for being disruptive. He wanted to team up with other hackers, but his reputation in the community meant others wouldn't take him.

"I saw [others] use their knowledge to create something bigger and helpful," he said.

Eventually, he convinced some hackers to give him a shot, and he quickly converted to the other side. Now he collaborates with MrBean35000vr, Chadderz, and others in the community who want to know more about how Nintendo's games work, not tear them down. Even when the group comes up with a new hack, they will debate over releasing it to the public. If it might do more harm than good, they will keep the information among themselves.

One project that MrLuigi35000Vr worked on was upping the maximum lap count for Mario Kart Wii:

"You could say that my passion and dedication to gain more and more knowledge, and to help the community grew thanks to them, their work, and the example they have given us," he said.

As for other hackers?

"I'll stream Terraria tonight on YouTube," wrote Huntereb on Twitter recently. "Let's say 7PM EST? I'll use my own modified client to troll online. ;)"


    “Morality holds progress back,”

    Huntereb has none and uses his abilities for destructive purposes whereas MrBean35000vr, Chadderz and the converted MrLuigi35000Vr who have morals are creating and pushing the envelope further.
    So perhaps his statement about holding progress back needs to be re looked at by Huntereb?

    Last edited 01/03/16 10:25 am

      This statement regarding hacking a video game is just stupid. It's like he's talking about some mad scientist shit to cancer an AIDs all at once.

    I think people can do some really interesting things with hacks, ive run into a bunch of hackers in dark souls and some of them are pretty fuckin funny. Some of them are also helpful, like this one dude who dropped me 99 sanctuary guardian souls.

    Obviously people who hack in multiplayer games should be banned and all that but i dont think theres anything "morally" wrong with hacking in a game.

      So there is nothing morally wrong with making yourself instantly finish first in a racing game? It is shit like this that put me off playing Mario Kart Wii online because I would come up against these talented flogs and I would win the race yet they would get the first placing.

      Simply put Cunterheb is a flog. 'Nuff said really.

      If your enjoyment comes at the expense of others, I think that's morally wrong. Might be just me, though.

        I dont really see it as some heinous crime, i mean its just video games man.

        What about hacking singleplayer games? is that morally wrong?

          Why does something have to be a heinous crime to be morally wrong?

          Why does a heinous crime even matter? I mean the sun's gonna burn out and the earth will die, what's a little crime to that.

          My bad, in this case. That wasn't meant to be a rebuttal to your point which I agree with.

    I've never really understood the whole 'because I can I will' attitude, at least when the thing you can do has some deleterious effect on others. To me it's a mark of arrested development; a demonstration of absent empathy. Sure if I wanted to run onto the field of an under 8's soccer game and boot the ball into the river I could, but it would make me a massive dick. Sadly some people just want to watch the world burn.

    Last edited 01/03/16 10:49 am

    “I’ll stream Terraria tonight on YouTube,” wrote Huntereb on Twitter recently. “Let’s say 7PM EST? I’ll use my own modified client to troll online. ;)”

    Typical teenage 1337 skilz wannabee mentality. This kid has no intention of "understanding how software and hardware truly work" nor helping anyone else to. He also has no inclination to take these vulnerabilities to Nintendo to point out what needs to be fixed. His entire endgame is as MrBean35000vr said:

    as ultimately they’re looking to get noticed for their coding skills but perhaps feel that the only way to get said attention is to troll and cause trouble.

    Morality holds progress back

    I don't disagree with that statement, but I do disagree with it being used as a defence for douchebaggery. Hacking Mario Kart for personal gain or to disrupt other people's time is not what I would categorise as progress.

    There are real scenarios where morality does indeed hold back progress, most notably in the field of medical science and advancement. Stem cell research and cloning for instance, could be a major player in medical treatments but the morality of should we harvest cells or create life often stands in the way.

    Did you know that there is no study proving causation for the smoking = cancer issue? Only association? The morality of the issue steps in preventing the study from taking place. We know. The medical field knows. Science knows. The tobacco companies know, but because we know, we can't subject people in a randomised control trial to something we know will harm them, in order to prove that it will harm them thus allowing for regulation and so on to take place and overall improve the health of the world. Also I am a smoker myself, for disclosure.

      ethics in science, especially medical science, is very important.

      Lets never forget that the Nuremberg Code was created for a reason: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Code

        Oh don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we be allowed to poke things into people to see what makes them tick, nor repeat the atrocities of old, but there are many fields that are skirting around the edges of creating life or hell, consciousness in the case of AI research that have armies of people opposed to it whilst spouting both my favourite and least favourite argument in existence "only god should be responsible for creating life".

        I'm not saying that there aren't issues in pursuing some fields of study but there should be some freedom to find out exactly what these issues actually are before claiming that a moral dilemma exists.

    “Morality holds progress back"

    A: That sounds like something Ayn Rand would have said.
    B: That IS something that a sociopath definitely would say, get off the internet.

    I think that quote surely goes "Morality Holds MY Progress Back". Scum like him made Mario Kart Wii almost unplayable for long stretches of time.

    Hacking in multiplayer games is wrong and shouldn't be done unless there's agreement between all the players involved that it's ok. E.G: jumping into a random public server and using hacks to give yourself an advantage, abuse others, troll others etc is wrong...doing the same thing on a private (or public) server that specifically allows this is fine.

    This guy not only does the wrong thing by jumping into a random public space and hacking he then shares how to do it with others. This ensures that long after he's gotten bored with that hack and had his 5 minutes of fun there will be hundreds or thousands of others doing the same thing and ruining the game for anyone unlucky enough to be in the game with them.

    Unless the server explicitly allows hacking then don't hack, don't be that guy.

    Its the cowardice that bugs me. This twat wouldnt run into an under 8's soccer match n boot the ball into a river because there would be instant retribution. But doing it online with the protecive anonymity it affords allows him and millions of other obnoxious asshats of all stripes have their fun unchecked. Not that im telling y'all anything new, just bummed about how shitty n morally bankrupt people can be.

    Isn't there a certain amount of irony in a the concept of a guy who cheats at video games for fun talking about progress, as opposed to morality?

    The fact that he references the idea of progress while doing what can only be described as 'cheating for fun' makes me wonder what progress is.

    Script kiddies get encouraged from this sort of publicity, don't they?

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