Super Mario 64 smoke glitch uncovered, fixed with a single line of code

Super Mario 64 is arguably one of the best games Nintendo ever put out. As one of only two titles available for the Nintendo 64 at launch (in North America), the game delivered stunning 3D visuals and compelling level design in a package that successfully introduced gamers to Nintendo’s radical new controller. More importantly, Nintendo managed to crank the fun factor up to 11. It was a true gem, but in hindsight, it wasn’t perfect.
One thing that you might remember from the classic is the odd smoke animation given off by Mario’s backside when he falls into a lava pit. Something always felt a bit off about the visual – it just didn’t really match the look and feel of the rest of the game.

As it turns out, what we got wasn’t what was intended at all, but rather, the result of a bug in a line of code.

As a new ROM hack for the game highlights, the smoke animation we are familiar with is the result of an error on line 47 of the “/actors/burn_smoke/model.inc.c” file. Remarkably, it has been overlooked (or perhaps ignored by Nintendo) since the game’s launch in 1996.

A simple correction calls for the correct smoke artwork to be displayed which looks much less out of place than the “original.”

With any luck, perhaps Nintendo will address this minor bug in its rumored high-definition remaster of Super Mario 64 that’s reportedly in the pipeline as part of a 35th anniversary celebration of Super Mario Bros. later this year.