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I have a 20+ year old FF VII mystery. Can you guys help me solve it?


RH
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Member · Posted

Back when I was a kid I LOVED Final Fantasy VII, which is no surprise considering my avatar and it quickly became my favorite game of all time.  It was one of few games I not only finished but also went on to 100% find all items without cheating (though once I finished that, I admit cheating to level out all of my materia at least once) and I spent many, many, many hours playing that game legitimately leveling every player to level 99.

I have always been the type of RPG player that never really used damage items in battle.  I don't know why but unless you had to use a specific item to win a specific battle, I never used stuff like grenades.  I always stuck to magic and physical attacks.  After I had beaten FF VII, I went back to hunt and collect all of the stuff I missed.  I remember in one grinding session in the possibly in the underwater sub, I got a little bored.  When the battle started, I went to use a damage item in battle and I didn't even pay attention to the name of it, but I just selected a damage item I had, and it was the only one I had. 

All I recall is that it was an item with a flashy/explosive effect.  When I used it, I saw a ridiculously HUGE amount of damage.  I'm not talking about something like 8967 because, you know, the cap is 9999.  No, I'm talking about something large like 439058505869, which instantly killed the enemy?!

That moment really stuck with me because as you can imagine, I was shocked.  So, I did what anyone else would do and I started reading through the strategy guide, looking for anything they could tell me what I'd done.  Well, you know what, I found nothing mentioning an overflow glitch or some super, secret, special item but I did find this screen cap. Keep in mind, this is taken from the official strategy guide.  If you have it, you can look it up yourself!

IMG_20200703_083912.thumb.jpg.77f85e84c93928f6881368abc082038f.jpg

Wait!?  That's exactly what I saw!!! To make matters more confusing though, this is within the Safer Sephiroth section (page 175), but it doesn't mention anything about this overflow.  It's just a screen cap.

Obviously, this image doesn't make since, just as my story doesn't because the maximum size of damage isn't just the soft 9999 limit, but math is suppose to be calculated using 32bit integers for these games, which has a high limit of 2,147,483,647.  The PS1 also doesn't support float-point mathematics, so any real number shouldn't come from a float-point either. 

Within the past few years, I have learned that FF VII did used strict integer math for damage calculations and to my knowledge, never implemented a float-point path engine OR some way to calculate larger integers beyond 2bits.  A number THAT big should theoretically be impossible?!  However, I distinctly recall seeing it and there at least seems to be an image, in the strategy guide reinforcing that memory, so I assume I saw what I thought I saw. 

Interesting enough, when the author's took the screen cap, they caught the occurrence when their next party member brought up the item menu.  I speculate this because the authors might have taken this image during a sequence of when they were playing around with items in the game, and taking notes. So, there's a chance that the glitch I found is the same one they might have found, and it's specific to an item.

If you google "Final Fantasy VII overflow bug" you will find multiple results. Specifically, the two best links are the ones below.  The first is a link to the Final Fantasy wiki, documenting a known overflow case that can result in instant death of any enemy.  The second link is a video demonstrating and talking about this technique. 

Final Fantasy Wiki - FF VII Overflow Bug

YouTube - FFVII Overflow Glitch Breakdown

So mystery solved, correct?  Well... no. 

You see, when it happened to me as a kid, what struck me was that it was very evident that the displayed damage was well above 9999.  There is a chance that it was under the signed, 32 bit limit of 2,147,483,647.  I couldn't remember how many digits it was but I do recall feeling like it took up half the width of the TV screen.  Both articles mention mention that due to the four-character/9999 damage limitation that when an overflow occurs, weird random characters are displayed rather than the actual damage.  I've never personally seen weird characters in any time I've played this game, so my overflow/glitch had to have been something entirely different.

So, I'm curious about you guys.  Have you seen this bug, or a similar one?  If it is at all prevalent, this game has been dissected so many ways, so many times I'd really, really think someone would have found out about this bug.  But, since so many hackers and fans have probably spent +80% of their time dissecting how to exploit materia or weapons, so I guess there is a chance no one has tried to see if there was a bug with any damage items.

Any of you fellow FF VII nuts seen or know anything about this bug?

Edited by RH
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I don’t know a thing about it.  Love the game.  Besten it probably 4 times over the years.  Really just wanted to say that I’ve got the same thing as you where I really don’t ever use damage items. Basically collect them the whole game because I might need them later (hmm sounds like something else in my life).  Also don’t use much magic for the same reason.  Always worried about running out when I need it.  

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Member · Posted
6 minutes ago, Hammerfestus said:

I don’t know a thing about it.  Love the game.  Besten it probably 4 times over the years.  Really just wanted to say that I’ve got the same thing as you where I really don’t ever use damage items. Basically collect them the whole game because I might need them later (hmm sounds like something else in my life).  Also don’t use much magic for the same reason.  Always worried about running out when I need it.  

Oh, I'm not afraid to use magic, so long as there is an Inn near by.  If not, I "hoard" my MP so that when I can get bosses, I can hammer them with magic attacks, which is where your real strength tends to lie in most RPGs.  But, items I rarely touch are ethers.  Why is it that ethers are either completely unpurchasable or extremely expensive in many RPGs?

Edited by RH
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Member · Posted

Yup, white mages were always a last choice in party selection for me too. It was always cheaper/easier to just stock up on potions and just reheal after each battle.

If there was a way to focus your experience gain in an RPG, and if there was a healer character I liked, I always tried to beef up both their physical and MP, but not Magic Strength. The healing affects of the healers were bonus, money-savers so I used it while I had it but once it was gone, I was always stocked on the potions. This is probably different than most people because I rarely strategized affective magic healing and just burnt through it, even if I was grossly over healing, until I had to use potions. But then you are left with a weak physical attacker. IMHO, it was good game design to allow some healer-types to equip small blades so you could at least do moderate damage rather than something like 27HP when the boss started with 5,000.

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Member · Posted
29 minutes ago, DoctorEncore said:

Are you sure it's not multiple attack values stacked up next to each other from a multi-hit spell or item? That's the only other thing I can think of.

I've considered this.  In my case, no it wasn't.  I was attacking a single enemy, and it was OHK.  To my knowledge, unless you are hitting multiple enemies, you never see multiple attack values on screen at the same time.  In the case of something like KOTR or even Meteor, the values of multiple hits, flash on the screen in rapid succession.  I threw a grenade/bomb/??? and there was just one, really big number.

Regarding the image in the strategy guide, I wondered myself it that is what was happening.  But, from context of the image, that neither appears to be the case and the digits seem to be perfectly aligned.  If that is an image of multiple attacks firing at once, everything was positioned properly in front of the camera on the X, Y and Z axises to look like one giant number.  That's not impossible, but I don't think it's likely.

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Member · Posted
8 hours ago, Tekdrudge said:

Is it possible that the "Glitch" is actually an Easter Egg? Programmed by the coders to render this number if a damage item was used in a particular situation. Therefore, now math is really involved in the attack. Just an idea.

I mean, that's not impossible. I doubt it was the item itself that just did that much damage, but since it was rare (recall it was an item I only had one of in my inventory) I guess they could have coded an end-game situation where they did some fancy formatting.

I really think I was in the sub, but I could be wrong. I know that was a good grinding spot. There was also a place on a beach that I think was good for grinding materia experience, so I guess there's a chance I was there. Maybe using the item, on a specific enemy, triggered this behavior and maybe it was an Easter egg. The 4 digit damage really is a hard coded operation. If they did make it an Easter egg, my guess that they possibly did take 2-3 attack values and just properly align them. I saw no sign of that but it could have been a way to "fake" massive damage.

 

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I've played through the game several times myself, and never got that bug. I'ts pretty interesting, my first thought was that it could just be part of the animation for the item, and not really a random number generator for damage. My reasoning is, as you mentioned, the cap to single hit damage is 9999, so maybe it registers as 9999 damage, but always shows the same numbers on screen. This would also explain the Sephiroth boss battle, not having a one-hit KO, because obviously that would break the game.

22 hours ago, RH said:

But, items I rarely touch are ethers.  Why is it that ethers are either completely unpurchasable or extremely expensive in many RPGs?

I don't know, I'm pretty much a stickler when it comes to items and supplies, and usually beat the game with way more items and supplies than I need, but I've used my fair share of ethers, particularly for my healers. I'm so cheap on items, that I wait until my healer is completely drained before depleting my healing supplies. Usually there are so many inns nearby, that I just pay the 50 gil for full HP/MP and never have to use the items anyway. 

I would say though, there are battles, not necessarily in FFVII, but in other RPGs where having ample supply of ethers and potions is the difference between life and death. So yeah, my philosophy is always never use it till you need it, and when you need it, you'll really need it.

 

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I know when playing Super Mario Bros. you can get enough points by jumping on enough consecutive enemies that it overflows the value in memory and starts showing things like crowns instead of point values. The memory address buffer overflows to the next address in memory and loads whatever is there instead of the correct address value. This is easily reproducable by jumping on a Koopa on a staircase so Mario continues jumping on it continuously.

This could load one or multiple address values or it could load the memory address location itself which would be in the format 0x039380489348 and could be what you saw.

I also know I've seen something similar when I was playing Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit on Playstation 2 and played a regular race in a pretty fast car. Top speeds are realistic in that game but after the race was over it listed my top speed in that race as 720 miles per hour. This was impossible and I remember staring at it wondering how that could even happen but I saw it. I don't know why that one single race showed a value like that.

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