The NES version of the Legend of Zelda has always been known for having its share of secret content. Today though, something unimaginable was uncovered, thanks to the efforts of one YouTube entertainer known as “Skelux”; The Legend of Zelda‘s very own Minus World.
One of the most famous glitches of all time, the Minus World glitch was originally found in Super Mario Bros. This infamous glitch level was uncovered decades ago by players who figured out a way to jump through the walls of World 1-2 to reach a completely glitched, underwater level known in the game’s code as World -1.
The reason for its existence was due to Super Mario Bros. containing 256 different game worlds, with all worlds past World 8 and World 0 being glitched due to re-using level data in the game’s code. Technically, this means there are more ‘Minus World’s’ out there but they are impossible to witness without hacking.
For Zelda’s Minus World, it is a similar issue, this time related to the games map data. The map size of the original Zelda is 16 x 8, out of a possible map size of 16 x 16. Part of the reason for this is the use of hexadecimal. Skelux explains that “A byte above 127, or 7F, can be read as a negative value. Nintendo’s developers used this as a means to cut the map size in half, and making sure that the player doesn’t accidentally walk out of bounds.”
Even with the presence of cheat codes that allow players to walk out of bounds, the game had code designed to teleport them back to the starting screen. When Skelux removed those safeguards in the data, the Minus World of The Legend of Zelda was fully unlocked, giving the player another 16 x 8 map to explore.
Zelda’s Minus World is fully ‘playable’, but contains a ton of glitches from staircases that lead nowhere, to shops found in dungeons, and in a more creepy touch, massive amounts of gravestones on several screens. Skelux goes through most of his journey in the games Minus World in his video above.
Most old games from the NES era actually have this potential to glitch to their own personal Minus World, but like The Legend of Zelda, most have coding in place to prevent the player from accessing them. Outside of the glitch in Super Mario Bros., it is unlikely any other Minus Worlds will be found without re-writing the game’s code.
It should be noted, however, that this may also be only one version of Zelda’s minus world, as the Japanese version of the game on the Nintendo Famicom Disk System used different coding than the NES release. This has been documented before with Super Mario Bros., where the Famicom Disk System version contained a different Minus World than the U.S version, so it is possible that the same would occur for The Legend of Zelda.
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