->[= x2 = number * 0.5F;=]
->[= y = number;=]
->[= i = * ( long * ) &y; // evil floating point bit level hacking=]
->[= i = 0x5f3759df - ( i >> 1 ); //=] what the fuck?
->[= y = * ( float * ) &i;=]
->[= y = y * ( threehalfs - ( x2 * y * y ) ); // 1st iteration=]
-->-- Excerpt from '''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_inverse_square_root Fast inverse square root]]''', ''Quake III Arena'' Source Code

The opposite of DarthWiki/IdiotProgramming. Your disk space, processor speed, and RAM are scarcely limiting factors to somebody who knows what they're doing. You'll find smart developers can take your hardware way UpToEleven to give it capabilities not seen in typical software on more powerful machines for 5 or 10 years.



The Demoscene is Genius Programming pretty much by definition, as it was born in an age when computers were dramatically limited in their capabilities, and its entire goal was to exploit available hardware to the highest degree possible -- often way beyond what the original designers had envisaged. Modern hardware obviously doesn't have these limitations, but the Demoscene crowd decided it wasn't fun to do what game developers were already doing (that is, 3D eye candy using gigs and gigs of textures and 3D models), so they enacted self-imposed limits -- often harsher than those they originally had to deal with. Hence a division in categories, one of the most famous and prestigious being "64k" -- that is, demos whose entire code and resources fit in ''sixty-four kilobytes''. For reference, that's 3.5 ''seconds'' of UsefulNotes/MP3 music, and you you could fit it ''twenty-two times'' in a "modern" 3.5" floppy disk and almost ''eleven thousand'' times in a CD-ROM.

* Farbrausch is a widely known crew that attained massive fame for ''[[http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=1221 fr-08: .the .product]]'', the first 64k demo with really impressive graphics (for the time). Witness it [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3n3c_8Nn2Y here]].\\
Not content with having redefined the standards for demos, later on they developed [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kkrieger .kkrieger]], an interactive shooter game with ''VideoGame/{{Doom}} 3''-tier graphics -- which ''fits in the same 64 kilobytes''. These guys have a lot more stuff, available [[http://www.farb-rausch.de/ here]].
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9lxBGQav40 State Of The Art]] by Spaceballs. The Website/YouTube video really doesn't do justice to how impressive it is to watch this thing running on a 16-bit machine with 1 megabyte of RAM, a 7 [=MHz=] processor and an 880K floppy drive for storage. The fluidity is all the more impressive when you remember that the demo is constantly loading new data in from the floppy drive while displaying all that animation.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ywbtsUoU3c Tint]] (possibly NSFW due to a second or two of boobies) by [[http://www.tbl.org/ The Black Lotus]]. Needs rather meatier hardware to run than the aforementioned State Of The Art, but the real-time lensing and fluid effects near the end will blow your mind. Also, the SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic helps a lot.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1p1im_2uf4 The 8088 Corruption]], a demo that runs "video" at 60 frames per second and impressive digital audio, on an old IBM PC, using the Intel 8088 flavor of processor. For those that don't know their computer history, the 8088 is a 16-bit processor, but it's crippled to an 8-bit data bus.
** [[https://youtu.be/MWdG413nNkI 8088 Domination]] takes this {{Up to Eleven}} by increasing the resolution, number of colors, and framerate. This goes as far as including the fully voiced FMV Bad Apple!! Note that to squeeze as much performance as possible, each video is actually compiled into its own player program, which essentially constantly rewrites the computer's video buffer.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAnhcUNHRW0 Chaos Theory]], by Conspiracy, which took the 64k approach but with graphics about on par with modern games. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFAIaclLrKE The remake of Chaos Theory]] by KK / DMA. While some cutbacks to the graphics and music quality were made, the demo was squished into ''four kilobytes'' -- that's 16x less than the original.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNRO7lno_DM 8088 MPH]] is a demo that does '''1024''' colors, polygon rendering, 4 channel music with a ''one channel beeper'' and other things that the [[UsefulNotes/IBMPersonalComputer original IBM PC]] with a CGA card (on a composite monitor) should not be doing. It's so ''very'' specifically tailored to the IBM PC's exact hardware and quirks that no emulator exists that can run it without crashing.
* Due to their experience with procedural generation, many demoscene programmers were hired to work on ''VideoGame/{{Spore}}''.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWblpsLZ-O8 A Mind Is Born]] is a demo that displays a pulsing screen of corrupt images while playing a techno-style tune lasting about 2 minutes. Why is that genius programming? The whole thing is '''256 bytes'''. That's not 256k, that's 256 bytes - a quarter of 1k. The entire code and data of the demo is shorter than this description.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CAcjNQDwPo Demotronic]] is a Game Boy Color demo that features parallax scrolling. While parallax is fairly common in 2D games, this demo pulls off ''vertical'' parallax, which is unheard of on most systems, especially 8-bit and 16-bit consoles. This also allows to perform hardware scaling, which is combined with rapidly changing the color palette to produce the 3D checkerboard that makes up the first part of the demo.
** This trick requires cycle-perfect emulation in order to not break. For this reason, the demo also includes some emulator detection (which most current emulators don't trigger, but it was fairly accurate at the time.)

[[folder:Fan Games & Game Mods]]
Third-party {{Fan Remake}}s, {{Fan Sequel}}s, {{Game Mod}}s, and the like can see a lot of innovation; and in the case of {{Abandonware}} games, some of these can offer better programming, maps, textures, and AI than the originals.
* ROM Hacks in general, especially when they go beyond what you'd think the game engine or even the ''system'' was capable of, for example:
** ''VideoGame/BrutalMario[=/=]Super Kitiku World'' and its massive use of custom assembly to do things ''VideoGame/SuperMarioWorld'' wouldn't do otherwise.
** ''VideoGame/Rockman4MinusInfinity'' has done some rather crazy things, which includes not only a lot of weapon changes, but a few on screen effects that are on par, if not better than the effects in ''VideoGame/{{Battletoads}}''.
** Give or take, any of the really well done ''VideoGame/MegaMan2'' hacks.
** ''Rockman 5 Air Sliding'' featured its unique [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin titular gameplay mechanic]], alongside some interesting level and weapon changes (including an improved Gravity Hold and making Stone Man's level [[AscendedGlitch orient itself to the left]]).
** ''Super Mario Odyssey'' ([[SimilarlyNamedWorks not to be confused]] with [[VideoGame/SuperMarioOdyssey the official game of the same name]]) and other ''Super Mario World'' hacks using the MSU-1 patch. Why is this? Because with a custom patch, they've managed to get [=MP3=] quality music working on the SNES, as heard/seen [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROgMDo9xk9w here]].
** Two Wii-based mods: ''VideoGame/NewerSuperMarioBrosWii'' and ''VideoGame/ProjectM''. The former is a highly extensive mod of ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBrosWii'' that even manages to surpass the [[VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBrosU official sequel]] in some ways. The latter is a highly extensive mod of ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl'', intended to both replicate and surpass ''Melee'', and the kicker: It adds two additional slots to the character select screen. Before that was added, modders were only able to have custom characters by replacing existing ones.
** The only reason why Yoshi was omitted from almost all NES Mario games was because of technical limitations of the time preventing his use within the game. Not only does ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros3Mix'' implement Yoshi within the engine of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros3'' (a NES Mario game), it also implemented features from later games in the series, such as the gravity mechanic from ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy''.
* ''VideoGame/BlackMesa'', a FanRemake of ''VideoGame/HalfLife1'', constantly pushes the Source Engine to the limit, doing many things that even Creator/ValveSoftware, the engine's creators, didn't or couldn't do with it. Unfortunately, due to the sheer taxing of the system, it's not uncommon for the game to slow down even in the most high-end computers, or crash altogether. Fortunately, a few of its developers [[PromotedFanboy were hired by Valve]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' series:
** ''VideoGame/BatmanDoom'' is a ''Doom II'' mod that manages to achieve some truly impressive tricks that would be incredibly difficult to pull off. These tricks includes a moving train, the Killer Croc's ability to pick up and throw rocks, flying helicopters, bigger explosions and much more. All of this was done by ACE Team, a small team of three brothers who went on to make ''VideoGame/ZenoClash'' and ''VideoGame/RockOfAges'' years later, with [=DeHackEd=] and the Doom Engine alone, which was notable for being inflexible for modders at the time.
** ''Requiem'', a 1997 map pack, manages to use some clever programming to pull off some unusual architectural tricks in ''Doom'''s 2.5D engine that should be impossible given the vanilla engine's limitations -- actual bridges that are not connected to the ground, ''bridges over bridges'' that can both be walked on, and simulated sliding and swinging doors.
** ''VideoGame/BrutalDoom'' is an effort by ''one'' modder, known in the community as Sergeant_Mark_IV, to take apart Doom and put it back together in a way that's engaging and challenging even for the modern gamer. It has alt-firing weapons, locational damage, dynamic AI, ''many'' animations including spectacular deaths and fatalities, improved interactivity with the levels and a host of other features that nobody suspected the Doom engine was capable of. The developer even regularly put up demos on many astounding new features announced in the upcoming versions.
** ''[[http://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom2/megawads/av Alien Vendetta]]'' is another well-known level pack in the Doom community. The project was designed to be fully compatible with Doom 2 Version 1.9 (no source ports are needed to play), which is not a simple feat, considering the limitations on the original engine such as the infamous "VISPLANE OVERFLOW" that crashes the game when there are 128 unique floors and ceilings on the screen at once. However, Alien Vendetta combines well-detailed levels with challenging gameplay, and stretches the original Doom engine to its limits at times.\\
One level that can stress the limits of the engine is [[http://doomwiki.org/wiki/MAP20:_Misri_Halek_%28Alien_Vendetta%29 Level 20: Misri Halek]], a colossal Egyptian pyramid complex taking place mostly underground with a breath-taking number of corridors. [[http://doomwiki.org/wiki/MAP25:_Demonic_Hordes_%28Alien_Vendetta%29 Level 25: Demonic Hordes]] features an incredible swarm of preplaced monsters combined with large cathedrals in open fields for action on par with ''VideoGame/SeriousSam''. For being limited by the original Doom engine, the whole level pack is a thrill to look at as well as play.
** OBLIGE Level Maker allows one to make high quality DOOM level sets, Roguelike style, in less than 5 minutes for a full 30-map WAD.
* A (sadly discontinued) NPC mod for ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'' included a character called Nessa who could manage her own equipment, actively avoid hitting or being hit by the player during combat (a [[AnnoyingVideoGameHelper common complaint]] among other NPC companions), and had a complex AI script that determined whether or not she would comply with the player's orders (the highlight of the mod was that she wouldn't always do so for various non-random reasons). You could, for instance, tell her to "rest" outside an Oblivion gate, only for her to get worried about you and follow you inside. Who would have thought that an NPC could actually ''worry'' about the player and then act on that impulse?
* ''VideoGame/SuperSmashFlash 2'', a completely fan-made project, has somehow managed to rebuild and port the engine of ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros''[[note]]Remember that ''Super Smash Bros. Brawl'' was one of the most memory-intensive games on the UsefulNotes/{{Wii}}, even being the first to require a dual-layered disk.[[/note]] into UsefulNotes/AdobeFlash, and ''accurately''. The game was intended in the first place to push the limits of the program, and that it does -- it's progressed so much that it's essentially a console-quality game. Unfortunately, it's still a victim of the program that it runs in, as Flash itself falls [[DarthWiki/IdiotProgramming on the other end of the spectrum]]... that said, though, ''[=SSF2=]'''s remarkably efficient for what it does, and slowdown on lower-end computers is fairly minor.
* Ever since the developers of the Dark Engine (used in ''VideoGame/SystemShock'' and ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'') released their mission editor [="DromEd"=], the games have seen a huge number of fan-missions with awesome maps and custom AI. At the point of writing, the number of professional quality fan-missions outnumber the ones made for the games themselves.
* Behold, the entirety of ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue''... [[http://www.minecraftforum.net/forums/mapping-and-modding/maps/2803888-pokemon-red-fully-recreated-without-mods Ported to Minecraft.]] No, really, the entire game (besides the music and sounds). It even went as far as to keep some of the glitches. It doesn't even require other mods to work.
* While there's not that many, there's some mighty impressive ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'' mods out there. For starters, someone [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTG_UJMU-_U brought over]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGcsVQB1NAA the gimmicks]] of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioOdyssey'' not too long after they were revealed. Wanna know what's even more impressive? Both of these were coded under an hour. Each.
* The fan translation of ''VideoGame/Mother3'' boasts not only a professional quality translation of the game, but also a series of impressive hacks that made it possible to patch the translated text into the game. Needless to say, all of these were accomplished without access to the game's source code. The online [[http://mother3.fobby.net/or/ README]] for the project contains a long list of all of these hacks, with many of them featuring comments from the developers that they should have been impossible, but that the [[BeyondTheImpossible team managed to accomplish them anyway.]]
* The ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'' Trilogy. It does everything that the Enhanced Versions did, but a decade earlier and without access to the source code. It also runs a helluva lot faster, and is free!

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/PrehistorikMan'', or rather its Game Boy version. The intro features a full parallax scrolling with layers (the trees are in front of Sam and the text boxes he's dragging, which themselves are in front of the foliage background), on a system with ''no layers at all''[[note]]Technically, there's one additional background layer, used here for the text boxes, but it's very limited and has no transparency whatsoever[[/note]]. This is topped off by a track that's more than decent for a Game Boy game.
** Each level intro features text scrolling away in 3D, which is done ''in software'', by actually changing the color palette while the screen is being drawn, which requires cycle-perfect accuracy to be properly emulated..
** The game itself plays pretty well, featuring decent animation for a Game Boy game, as well as some parallax effects that simulate layers.
* ''VideoGame/AladdinCapcom'', in addition to being [[SugarWiki/NoProblemWithLicensedGames pretty fun in its own right]], managed to fit an entire chiptune version of "Friend Like Me" without lyrics for the music in the Genie's Lamp level, as well as "A Whole New World" for the rug ride bonus stage. Impressive, when one considers the music in most other stages are just loops of around forty seconds or so.
* ''VideoGame/{{Recca}}'' is a fast-paced BulletHell shooter with awesome graphics, creative bosses, homing weapons and techno music. Even with more than 20+ enemies and bullets on the screen, there is usually little to no slowdown. One must wonder how [=KiD=] managed to code something like this '''for the [[UsefulNotes/NintendoEntertainmentSystem NES]]'''.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'' may not be ridiculously small in size as far as [[UsefulNotes/SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem SNES]] games go, being one of the larger games on the system, but this game pushed the capability of the SNES [[UpToEleven to its limit]]. For example,the game's copious amounts of SceneryPorn, in quantities which were deemed almost impossible for a cartridge (at the time). Then the programming and sound team one-upped all this by... [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3SA9LuqQgA inserting a whole theme song with voice into the opening]]! This was completely insane and was thought to be absolutely impossible for a cartridge title, especially one sporting as much visual flash as ''Phantasia''.[[note]]It's also insane from a technical perspective, too: the song itself is ''dozens'' of tiny voice clips, since that's all that will fit into the available sound memory, swapped out and loaded in sequence from the ROM cart as the song plays. Getting it to emulate cleanly was an infamous bugbear of the emu scene in the late '90s and early '00s (as the code makes a number of odd calls to the SPU to make the constant file-swapping work), and it uses more than a little compression on top of this, and "can cleanly emulate ''Phantasia''" was a major feather in the caps of ZSNES and [=SNES9x=].[[/note]] Every Tales game since has a theme song, but it's all less impressive when more memory, both in RAM and storage, is involved. Almost every technical concept from ''[=ToP=]'' was then imported into ''VideoGame/{{Star Ocean|1}}'' (which featured many of the same staff, who had left Wolf Team/Namco in the interim) which was even ''more'' technically bonkers.
* Many 8-bit covers that have become something of a fad on Website/YouTube can be quite tricky to program. It requires that you use all the limited sound you can squeeze out of 4 basic channels and recreate many sound effects with modulation. Though it cheats by making use of the far more advanced [=VRC6=] expansion chip, 8Bitdanooct1's [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpiespNgyEo cover]] of "One Winged Angel" uses pitch-shifted samples of the original synthetic instruments and accurate down to the most minute timing done by ear with no notation or Midi cheats. What did he use to replace the famous choir? He didn't, using very precise DCMP recordings, he managed to fit the vocal track on to the composition. The link shows it being played on a real NES, and you can download an NSF copy that plays on all emulators and sound players that support the format. Granted it's extremely impractical and would take up half a standard ROM, but you can push the NES farther than it was ever meant to.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall'' has a world the size of 62,394 square miles which takes ''two weeks'' in ''[[RealLife real time]]'' to walk across, over 500,000 {{NPC}}s in 15,000 locations. It's about 148 MB and made in 1996.
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'' uses a complex algorithm to [[RandomlyGeneratedLevels generate a realistic world]] every time (complete with a detailed history of every person and place that ever existed there), keeps track of injuries to specific body parts down to individual fingers and toes and ''even further'' down to tissue layers, provides an extremely detailed fortress simulator, and even has a script which simulates hydrostatic water pressure... Yet the whole thing is about five megabytes. On top of that, all the programming is done by one guy. Who describes himself as "not very good with computers". Holy crap.
* The original ''VideoGame/{{Elite}}'':
** The game features a WideOpenSandbox of eight galaxies of 256 stars each, each one with its own unique description and characteristics as well as numerous ship designs. It's the game which launched the entire genre of Space Trading Sims. It was quite literally years ahead of its time and it's also one of the first commercially released 3D games, yet the whole thing fits on ''~20 kilobytes'' of disk space.\\
The low disk space usage is because all content (planet names, their coordinates, commodity prices, etc) in the game was procedurally generated and, basically, boils down to the single 8-bit seed number and a couple of rules checking that you won't get planets named "Fuck" or "Arse."
** The game's NES port is no less impressive. It features ''3D vector graphics'' on an 8-bit system, long before the Super FX and other console 3D accelerators. The unreleased UsefulNotes/GameBoy version [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFEtHJYs3mo is just as impressive]].
** The sequel, ''Frontier'', isn't too shabby either. The PC version has over 20 textured 3D models and enough star systems to fill the entire Milky Way, yet fits on a single 1.4[=MiB=] floppy.
** ''VideoGame/EliteDangerous'' continues the tradition, using cloud computing to create a full-scale replica of the Milky Way.
* ''VideoGame/RollerCoasterTycoon'' kept stats on every visitor, in addition to controlling all their [=AIs=] simultaneously, all while animating all of it and allowing the user to interact with it. And all this could run on a PC made in the early '90s, without lag. The secret is that the system was ''programmed in raw assembly language'', only relying on more high-level code for graphical stuff. The performance of ''[=RCT=] 1'' and ''2'' is even more impressive compared to the third iteration, which had widespread graphics card compatibility problems and brought many contemporaneous systems to their knees. Hell, many 2009 [=PCs=] struggle when everything is maxed.\\
The same secret allowed ZSNES to run games at full speed well before its competition, but it's showing its age now as one of the few actively maintained programs that can't be compiled as 64-bit, due to the incompatibility of 32-bit and 64-bit assembly and the changed calling conventions for C code (64-bit mode added extra registers, which made it possible to use some to pass arguments). Being written in x86 assembly also means that it can't be ported to any other CPU architecture, meaning that you won't ever see a version of ZSNES for smartphones (which generally use ARM processors), for example. The devs currently have no plans to address this.
* ''Exile'' (no relation to [[VideoGame/{{Exile}} the Mac RPG series]]) was a {{Metroidvania}}-ish title that managed to feature [[WreakingHavok surprisingly realistic 2D physics]] for objects and even windy areas, as well as a living ecosystem for what was originally a UsefulNotes/BBCMicro title released in 1988. With a RAM expansion, the game could even play voice samples on that same hardware! You think that's impressive? How about Box 2D-like physics... on the NES? ''VideoGame/MrGimmick'' is that game that managed to pull it off, and that was made for a system that's nearly a decade old by the time it was released!
* ''VideoGame/IrisuSyndrome'' has a creepy yet really neat example of this in one of [[MultipleEndings endings]]. [[spoiler: Despite the fact that the game runs in a window, Irisu comes in from the side of the screen itself, then into the game window to murder one of the other characters.]] It's nothing miraculous, but it's a pretty cool InterfaceScrew by PC game standards, especially for a freeware indie game. The game also puts text files into the game folder and changes the picture file as you go along. Now that there's a FanTranslation available, you get to read them for important [[AllThereInTheManual backstory]].
* ''VideoGame/BelowTheRoot'' for the Commodore 64 was one of the earliest games where you could pick the gender, race, and age of your avatar -- with stats altered accordingly, and with ''hidden'' stats that fit the race in question. Erdlings got knocked for a loop by Wissenberries, whereas Kindar had a tolerance, and Kindar took a hit to their spirit stats by eating meat. It also had NPC characters respond differently based on which avatar you chose. It was also, very possibly, the first game to be considered an authorized, canonical sequel to material written for another medium. Yes, the distant ancestor of ''VideoGame/TheForceUnleashed'' is a 1984 side-scroller where killing anyone makes the game {{Unwinnable}}.
* ''VideoGame/{{Shantae}}'' managed to squeeze a ''lot'' of stuff onto a tiny GBC cartridge. Made at the tail end of the handheld's lifespan, the developers at Way Forward wanted to get their passion project out in any way they could. In an era where most handheld games were either first party games released early or barely passable licensed games, ''Shantae'' features a bright and expressive range of colors, very detailed sprites for all the characters, a large and witty script that had an admittedly silly but still fairly involved plot, each NPC has quite a few frames of animation and gestures, Shantae herself had very smooth movements that would make several Advance games jealous. She didn't just make a few token steps, she belly dances, whips her flowing hair around, and even winks at the screen. The music pushes the sound to the absolute limit, and it's a full on {{Metroidvania}} crossed with a RhythmGame with an involved day and night cycle similar to ''Simon's Quest''. The ROM clocks in at just above 4 megabytes! It's very difficult to emulate at full speed, although it can be done.
* ''VideoGame/StarcraftII'' is not merely an RTS, it is a [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hny-oS-mo_Q General]]-[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dMVFuIb8zk purpose]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB12Gy9zuFs game]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah3XmjlhgJw engine]]. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKedeLKK8h4 Blizzard]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bn7hxX9fwc approves]].
* The programming team behind ''VideoGame/SpyroYearOfTheDragon'' had a unique insight into preventing piracy: [[RulesOfTheInternet You can't.]] However, it doesn't matter, because 30-50% of the sales of a game are made in the first two months. So, with the goal of slowing down pirates as much as possible, the developers started by designing "crack protection," distinct from the normal copy protection (which detects whether the game is run on a CD-R). The crack protection they came up with relies on a checksumming system that's ingenious and more than slightly twisted; by interleaving, overlapping, and combining multiple checksums over a block of data, it's virtually impossible to make them all add up if even one bit is changed, but because not every checksum goes over all of the data (and because CRC has a few exploitable weaknesses), the checksums being compared to ''can be a part of the data being checksummed''. This, combined with tons of other traps designed to make life hell for pirates, meant that it took over ''two months'' for a working crack to finally be released (at a time when "Wow, that hasn't been cracked yet?" meant something like four days), and only ''then'' because the developers held back to avoid LoadsAndLoadsOfLoading.[[note]]More specifically: The copy protection takes 10 seconds of uninterrupted access to the disc drive, so it's only done on startup (the wait time is disguised by the studio logos being shown). The final crack worked by hacking the game's boot executable to bypass the copy protection, then reloading the correct binary file, which makes the crack protection happy. If the copy protection had been run during every load time, this method wouldn't have worked, as the copy protection would have been triggered at that point. However, the developers wisely decided that adding 10 seconds to every load time would have made the game unplayable regardless of whether it was a crack or a legal copy.[[/note]]\\
The whole renderer in the Spyro games. It managed to do things on the [=PlayStation=] that should have been literally impossible, including implementing an entire LOD system on the CPU and having it run in real time.
* ''VideoGame/{{Resistance}} 2'' allowed 60 people online in one game with no frame rate issues. '''60!'''
* [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_inverse_square_root Fast inverse square root]], also known as [=InvSqrt=](), 0x5f3759df, and "What the fuck?" after its implementation in the ''VideoGame/QuakeIIIArena'' source code (and infamous comment). The algorithm, which uses a novel first approximation of Newton's Method to get an almost perfect second approximation, runs roughly ''four times'' faster than traditional implementations, and still faster than other "optimized" algorithms of the time.
* You would be surprised to realize that ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' is actually 32 MB and uses MIDI sound files. It's also one of the first few Zelda games to include voice. The only game that could top this is ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'', which does everything ''and analyzes the locations of every character at every point in the game''. On that note about size, ''Super Mario 64'' is only 8MB. Yes, all those worlds and things to do fit on a size smaller than two average [=MP3=]s.
** Nintendo has quite a history with impressively small file sizes for their games, and it continues to this day with the UsefulNotes/NintendoSwitch. In an era where many triple-A titles can be upwards of 15 GB in size, Nintendo has managed to keep many of their big titles quite compact. Some of the highlights include:
*** ''{{VideoGame/ARMS}}'': 2.2 GB.
*** ''VideoGame/Splatoon2'': 3.1 GB.
*** ''VideoGame/SuperMarioOdyssey'': 5.7 GB.
* [[https://taakvq.blu.livefilestore.com/y1pLD5e5Clizv5PyVvUs6a8aKI3k0W5MHPxIUptgM01UvPVzhN8hIjLyT0_x6CqHDw8vl8CvxhvE8ihmBtMsxvIrRb_uKnUg_tg/zelda-ww-15.jpg Here]] is a still from a cutscene in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'', rendered in high-definition with the Dolphin emulator. While ''The Wind Waker'' is predominantly cel-shaded, the tower pictured is ''realistically'' shaded--but the red dot near the bottom of the picture is cel-shaded. The game can run ''two lighting systems at the same time'' on [[UsefulNotes/NintendoGameCube a system without programmable shaders]]! Even in regular gameplay, large landforms like the tower are real-shaded to emulate the matte backgrounds of animated movies.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild'' pulls off a crazy amount of real-time effects, which most other games would have kept pre-baked, on the underpowered and outdated Wii U. There's Mie scattering for sky color and clouds, atmospheric moisture simulation for rainbows and optical halos, full-on volumetric lighting and shadows, soil erosion variables for sea foam, and an unnecessarily realistic lens flare that takes into account aperture, light intensity, and light scattering. Oh, and there's physically-based rendering for materials, light-probe based global illumination, screen-space reflections within shrines, Unreal Engine Scene Capture 2D - style reflections in the overworld, and sub-surface scattering for translucent materials. And it's all toon-shaded. Honestly, the physics engine is one of the less impressive features of the game.
* ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl'' runs cel-shading and realistic shading at the same time. All the trophies related to ''The Wind Waker'', with the exception of the Toon Link trophy (which is technically part of ''Brawl'', not ''The Wind Waker''; Toon Link himself is also not cel-shaded), are cel-shaded in the same style as in ''The Wind Waker''. However, the trophy bases are realistically shaded. Like the [=GameCube=], the Wii does not have programmable shaders (because its hardware is based on the [=GameCube=]'s).
* Before ''VideoGame/StarControl'' there was ''VideoGame/{{Starflight}}'' and its sequel, ''Starflight II''. Hundreds of planets, all unique, dozens of alien races, an epic backstory, and a quest to Save The Galaxy. And it all fit on a ''single'' 720K floppy disk, or two 360K floppies. Might have something to do with the fact that it was programmed in Forth -- an efficient but difficult programming language nobody really meant for games which, aside from Starflight itself, was mostly used in low-level computer firmware and ''space applications''.
* ''VideoGame/EarthwormJim 2'' manages to pull off voices in the theme song and rock music that's not MIDI, ''even in the [[UsefulNotes/SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem SNES]] and UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis versions.''
* The UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis version of ''VideoGame/ToyStory'' ([[SugarWiki/NoProblemWithLicensedGames in itself a pretty good game]]) manages to do a lot of impressive things for the system's standards.
** The title and ending tracks were made of MOD format music. To clarify, the Yamaha [=YM2612=] has very limited sample support due to only having a single 8-bit DAC for this purpose, which must be written to in real time because of no on-chip sample memory, but the MOD format consists ''entirely of sound samples!'' [[note]][[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3m3JrVImmU A video]] shows that the workaround for the limitations of the sound capabilities of the Z80 CPU (i.e. the fact that the Z80 [=CPU=] couldn't receive data ''and'' play audio simultaneously, the delays produced by which usually being the culprit of scratchy-sounding [=PCM=] audio in some Genesis games) was to limit the data being transferred at the time to minimize the quality loss, instead utilizing lookup tables to assist in combining the frequencies of overlapping samples.[[/note]]\\
This is similar to how music in most UsefulNotes/GameBoyAdvance games works. The GBA has only two PCM channels and no sample memory for playing sample-based music, so samples are handled by CPU-side sound engines that play, modulate and mix samples in real time.
** The graphics are incredibly well made, featuring lots of animation frames and even a 3D floor effect without slowdown or sprite flicker. This also goes for the Super Nintendo version.
** But the crowning technical achievement has to be the Genesis version of the level ''Really Inside the Claw Machine''. One thing the Genesis lacks is the ability to scale or rotate sprites. So what does Traveller's Tales do? ''Create an entire level in first person view akin to VideoGame/Wolfenstein3D!'' With texture mapped walls and a solid framerate (for its time), it's astounding what Traveller's Tales was able to accomplish with such hardware limitations.
* From the dawn of computing, the legendary [[http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/story-of-mel.html Mel Kaye's]] Blackjack program for Royal [=McBee=] LGP-30 and RPC-4000 machines. Not only was he able to squeeze the whole program into just the 8.2 kilobytes of drum memory, but he was one of the first [[http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/R/Real-Programmer.html Real Programmers]] who basically pioneered most of the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_magic_(programming) Heavy Wizardry]][[note]]The programmers' jargon for a trick so deeply tied to a fine side of the machine's function that it's totally non-intuitive and seems just like magic for the non-knowledgeable[[/note]] techniques discussed above, including using code as constants, optimizing the code by hand to eliminate even smallest wait states and delay loops, and using self-modifying code to do so. Ed Nather, the author of the story above, when asked to rewrite it spent a whole month just trying to understand Mel's code, and upon finding an endless cycle without a check, which just happened to use an overflow error to modify the last command of it into a different jump and exit the loop, he gave up out of respect.
* When Creator/AlLowe made ''VideoGame/LeisureSuitLarry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals'', he found a way to eliminate the loading time between room changes (which must have been pretty long on machines of the time) in the bamboo maze. He did this by using the same background for every room of the maze. The background had exits in every possible direction. The exits that weren't supposed to be open in a particular room were covered up with overlays. To hide the fact that it was always the same background, he mirrored it, along with the overlays, every time you left the room. This also saved a lot of memory and disk space.
* ''VideoGame/{{Scribblenauts}}'': game that boasts a dictionary of few dozens of thousands words, with each word having its own graphical representation, animations and interaction patterns (like elephants being afraid of mice and so on) was crammed into a ''32 megabyte'' UsefulNotes/NintendoDS cartridge. Even more impressive in ''VideoGame/SuperScribblenauts'' with added adjectives (everything ''still fits'' into a 32 MB ROM chip).
* Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to introduce you to the late, great Creator/SatoruIwata, once Creator/{{Nintendo}}'s global president and the acting president of HAL Laboratory earlier still. When he was younger, he [[http://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/3ds/creators/4/0 disassembled the programs for his home computer by writing down the memory dumps by hand.]] Mind you, this was before printers. Among his achievements as a game programmer, he...
** ... ported the battle code of ''VideoGame/PokemonStadium'' to the UsefulNotes/{{Nintendo 64}} [[http://www.nintendo.co.uk/NOE/en_GB/news/iwata/iwata_asks_-_pokmon_heartgold_version__soulsilver_version_16288_16289.html despite not having any access to crucial documents. And he did it all in a week.]]
** ... completely rewrote the programming of ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' after previous programming work failed to produce a working game, also with remarkable speed. At the time, the project was very close to being jettisoned due to the unmanageability of the original coding. The coding he used is a huge scripting language, so complex that, theoretically, [[http://earthboundcentral.com/2011/04/a-look-at-the-mother-2-side/ the text system alone could be used to write an emulator, if altered somewhat.]]
** ... personally compressed ''VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver'', which filled the cartridge despite still being half-finished. That's the reason the setting for ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'' was included (with only two locations removed) in the games--there was that much space left after he was done.
** ... debugged ''Super Smash Bros. Melee'' all by his lonesome. It only took him two weeks--which was all the time he had to get it out.
** And last but not least, as revealed after his unfortunate passing, [[http://www.siliconera.com/2015/12/30/how-satoru-iwatas-zealous-work-helped-in-the-unlikely-localization-of-pokmon/ Iwata was basically responsible for Pokémon being localized.]] Game Freak wanted to move over to the next generation in the series, but Iwata insisted on doing the development work for the localization with just Teruki Murukawa assisting him. And Iwata was ''the company president of HAL Laboratory at the time''. Without Iwata, ''Pokémon'' would not be a global phenomenon. Rest in peace, you wonderful man.
* While being more known as a game designer than a game programmer, Creator/MasahiroSakurai programmed the enemy patterns in ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand'' ''entirely in hexadecimal'' '''''with nothing but a trackball'''''. What makes this even more impressive is that each enemy has its own individual path.
* Naughty Dog loves to show off their technical prowess.
** Sony & Microsoft's seventh and eighth generation game consoles are almost infamous for requiring data installs, as searching for and loading information off a high-capacity Blu-Ray Disc would result in extremely long load times... or so people thought. ''VideoGame/Uncharted2AmongThieves'' required absolutely no installation, and the only loading time you would see is when the game starts up (about 10 seconds), and when you start or continue a game (again, about 10 seconds). The rest of the game loads seamlessly, not stopping for ''anything'', including area transitions, from start to finish.
** The iconic scene in the same game, the train sequence, is also a marvel of technical engineering. In addition to adjusting the physics to account for the fact that Drake's on a train, the entire sequence, from the start in the jungles to the end in the snowy mountains, has no repeated environments. Every single view and vista is unique, and waiting long enough for, say, the point where it's curving around a lake or mountain, will eventually give you alternate views of the location as your position shifts. And to top it all off, you can see the train curving ahead of you in the distance: you ''can'' reach all of those cars, and eventually will.
** They cut their teeth on the first ''[[VideoGame/CrashBandicoot1996 Crash Bandicoot]]''. They developed it as a [=PlayStation=] 1 exclusive, and when it came out, it was so much better than anyone had ever managed to accomplish on the console that other developers cried foul, insisting that Naughty Dog had used secret libraries provided by Sony to them and them alone. The opposite was true: they used as little as possible of Sony's stuff, and essentially hacked as much of the game as possible to run as close to the hardware as they could make it, effectively developing their own development as they went. The result was ''way'' ahead of what anyone had managed on the meagre (even for the times) power of the [=PlayStation=] 1. You can read about many of the tricks they used in [[http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2011/02/02/making-crash-bandicoot-part-1/ Andy Gavin's postmortem]] for the game.\\
A standout example is loading in polygons just before they're on-screen rather than everything in the level (the effects of which are plainly visible when forcing a widescreen resolution on the game), allowing lush environments with more in them in one screen than entire levels in other games of the day. This technique also solved performance issues in a [[StateTheSimpleSolution much cruder manner]]; got slowdown when coming over the crest of a hill? Stick a big fat leaf in the way so that half the stuff won't load until it's out of shot!
** As another example to prove how much of a technical achievement they pulled with this game, Crash's model is one full mesh. May not sound special since this can be done so easily today, but at the time of early 3D games, characters used multiple meshs to make up the model, causing certain parts of the model (like limbs) to look so blocky. What Naughty Dog did to get is that they had to invent assembly language to pull the vertices in certain ways to animate the model. You can see the model up close in [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3Rjg8JGa9w&t=0m37s this video,]] that covered the aforementioned note.
* ''VideoGame/MickeyMania'' pulled off some impressive perspective tricks in a number of its levels, with stages such as a ''Nebulus''-style rotating tower and a head-on moose chase. Not so much of a big deal on the SNES, with its GPU support for background perspective in Mode 7. It ''is'', however, a big deal on the UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis, where all of these effects had to be emulated '''in software'''...
* ''VideoGame/JettRocket'' set the standard for what could be done with the UsefulNotes/WiiWare's 44 megabyte limit. To most developers, this is a cripplingly small amount, and they deem it unreasonable and unworkable. Shin'en Multimedia created a full-length 3D platformer on it that looks and plays like a retail game.
* [[Creator/BenCroshaw Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw]] created the side-scrolling action/stealth platform games ''1213'' and ''VideoGame/TheArtOfTheft'' using Adventure Game Studio, a game engine designed for point-and-click adventure games and nothing else.
* ''VideoGame/CannonFodder'' on the UsefulNotes/GameBoyColor seems like just another GBC title, until the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKjTCSikTus intro sequence]] explodes into a ''full-color pre-rendered FMV''. Adding to that, all music, voice clips, and sound effects are fully recorded, with not a single 8-bit bleep in the game. The method used to display full-color video on the Game Boy Color is quite ingenious. Because it can only display a few colors at a time, each frame of video alternates between different color palettes. The frames alternate faster than the human eye can pick up, creating the illusion of a much larger set of colors.
* The unusual arcade game ''VideoGame/PuLiRuLa'' is very colorful and packs in a lot of detail in both sprites and backgrounds. Animations are very fluid, and the game even includes some voice clips. And it runs on hardware weaker than that of the SNES! The level of animation and detail is more akin to a ''modern Flash game'' than an arcade game from 1990.
* ''VideoGame/BlackAndWhite'' had the Creature AI that could make your "pet" learn new skills and develop its own preferences. Famously, Creator/PeterMolyneux was demonstrating the game to potential buyers when the Creature did something like throwing a rock over its shoulder. Molyneux was surprised -- he never programmed ''that'' subroutine in the game.
* One of ''[[VideoGame/RogueSquadron Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II]]'''s claims to fame is its use of the [=GameCube=]'s TEV (Texture [=EnVironment=]) pipeline to create the shader used for spacecraft targeting computers. The only catch (as mentioned with Wind Waker above) is that the [=GameCube=] does not ''have'' programmable shaders! Programming a shader in hardware that does not support programmable shaders is quite impressive. The game was also developed in little over a year in order to be released as a [=GameCube=] launch title. Despite the lack of development time, the quality of the finished game was still incredible, and to this day it is widely considered the best of the series.
** The Nintendo 64 version of the original Rogue Squadron also deserves a mention in that it contains over 80 minutes of high quality stereo sound and 40 minutes of voice acting on an N64 cartridge. This is due to that Factor 5 programmed their own sound drivers and advanced compression software to squeeze all that data into a 14MB ROM.
* Most of the side-scroller ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' games could qualify for this. Not only did the Genesis/Mega Drive not support transparent textures (It was given the illusion of transparent textures by rapidly alternating between one frame of one sprite and another frame of another sprite), it also didn't support sprite rotations. It also didn't have any Mode-7-esque effects to speak of. In order to create panning backgrounds that moved at different speeds to give the illusion of depth, the devs layered textures on top of each other and had then move at different speeds and directions. This is to be expected from the expert programmer Yuji Naka. [[http://sonic.wikia.com/wiki/Yuji_Naka This is the man who created a NES emulator for the Genesis]]... [[DoingItForTheArt in his spare time, for fun]].
** That's saying nothing of the physics, which were ''really'' impressive for the time. Many people's jaws dropped when they came across their first loop-de-loop.
** As for how well optimized the game itself was, the "SE-GA" jingle at the beginning used one-eighth of the space of the four-megabit (approximately [=512KB=]) cartridge.
* ''Videogame/RescueOnFractalus'': So, you want to make a 3D space sim-style game, with mountainous terrain... ''in 1984''. On Apple II-s and other computers of that era. And yes, it works, and at a reasonable frame-rate.
* Meet ''VideoGame/NanoAssault Neo''. It's a UsefulNotes/WiiU eShop launch title, has graphics and sound that rivals a lot of big-budget games, runs at 60FPS, and is only 60 MB!! As it was developed by Shin'en, the same developer as ''VideoGame/JettRocket'', it's to be expected.
* [[https://www.twitch.tv/eightysixed/b/463593588?&t=3h4m20s According to the developer]], Mike Z, ''VideoGame/{{Skullgirls}}'' managing to have six characters in a match on seventh gen consoles is absolutely insane. As [=.PNG's=], the animation frames for six different characters adds up to around 10.5 GB. With the compression tech made by Mike ([[http://www.twitch.tv/eightysixed/b/463593588?&t=3h8m25s based on a paper made by Farbrausch]]), the characters only take up around ''900 MB'', with 491 MB of that being used in any given match, which then has to fit into the 130 MB of RAM left over for the characters on the [=PS3=]. In spite of all this, the game is still able to not only have more frames of animation than any game before it[[note]]Between 1200-1500 per character, with the runner up being ''Blazblue'' with ~1000 per character[[/note]], but also real time lighting and shading effects on the characters, a first for the genre. The only problem is when the art doesn't load fast enough after switching characters, resulting in them being pixellated.
* ''VideoGame/MuramasaTheDemonBlade'' is a game lauded for its [[AwesomeArt absolutely gorgeous 2D graphics]] (to give you an idea, [[http://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/original/0/5469/1100244-943228_20090806_790screen007.jpg this is a screenshot of actual gameplay footage]]). The entire game also takes up less than a gigabyte (0.62 GB, to be exact, about twice the size of ''VideoGame/WiiSports''), and 0.49 GB of that is just the soundtrack.
* ''Death Race'' for the NES is a good contender for being the best unlicensed and one of the best NES games ever made. First of all, the game has a costumizeable vehicle option menu with guns, engines, cars, wheels, missiles, the gun speed..., RPG elements and the sprites are multicoloured. For an unlicensed developer to do this is a hell of an accomplishment.
* The port of ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha Street Fighter Alpha 2]]'' to the '''[[UsefulNotes/SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem SNES]]'''. How did they do it? The game used the [=S-DD1=] chip that the aforementioned ''VideoGame/{{Star Ocean|1}}'' used. While the port only had the normally accessible cast and two other secret characters (and one of them was DummiedOut) and characters and backgrounds had less animation (and obviously no CD-quality music), either way it was still impressive that a game that was ported to [[UsefulNotes/TheFifthGenerationOfConsoleVideoGames 32-bit consoles]] could run on a 16-bit console.
* ''VideoGame/StarFox64'' fits over 700 voice clips into a 12MB cartridge.
* Basically everything that happened on the UsefulNotes/ZXSpectrum, although the legendary strategy-adventure-RPG ''VideoGame/LordsOfMidnight'' surely takes the cake.
* Jez San's ''VideoGame/{{Starglider}}'' on the UsefulNotes/AtariST, particularly its sound. The system had negligible capabilites, but he managed to pull off sampling and proper wave forms (as opposed to square waves) by stripping the machine open and putting a voltmeter across the sound chip.\\
If modern players are amazed by the ability in ''VideoGame/NoMansSky'' to easily lift your ship off from one planet, into space, and to another planet, without any loading or breaks, then think how amazed they were when ''VideoGame/StarGlider2'' had the same feature in 1988, on the Commodore Amiga 500, a machine with 1mb of RAM.\\
Jez San was notorious for using ridiculously low-level engineering techniques on home computers to achieve the otherwise impossible. He was infamous for asking representatives of computer manufacturers at trade shows if he could have a version of the computer ''with no Operating System'', because it'd be easier for him to program.
* Most Americans outside Japan haven't seen ''VideoGame/TreasureOfTheRudra'', but it is quite brilliant. Leaving aside the fact that there are about three or four overlapping stories, the magical system relies on the ability to write down spells. Not only that, but the English translation is even more so, bordering on incredible. You can type the basic words given, like "Lefna". You can add prefixes and suffixes. You can write English words, like Heal, Healing, Cure, Earth, Fire, Water, Air, Angel, Heaven, Hell, Jade, etc. You can also write Japanese versions of these words, at least to an extent. All of this from an English key input translation. Let this sink in....
* It's already impressive enough that ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'' manages to cram in the absurd amount of content that it does into a single disc. What's even more impressive is the game's ability to load entire maps seamlessly (already no small feat considering how huge and full of SceneryPorn they are) complete with numerous enemies and collectible objects, to transition in and out of battle without a hitch while maintaining fairly constant framerate, and instantly travel throughout every single map in the entire game with minimal loading times. What's particularly baffling is how ''Xenoblade'' manages to achieve what smaller games on more powerful systems often fail to do while being run on hardware that was already considered dated at the time it was released.\\
Its descendant, ''VideoGame/XenobladeChroniclesX'', does not disappoint, containing a full campaign, full equipment and enemy listings, and a world bigger than ''Skyrim'', ''Wild Hunt'', and ''Fallout 4'' '''combined''' on a single Wii U disc's worth of space. While data packs exist for the game, they merely accelerate internal processes; the entire game's essentials are on the one disc, and everything is still as seamless as its predecessor.
* Someone managed to create a game resembling ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'' for the UsefulNotes/NintendoDS. What makes that so special? The game contains fully 3D environments, with ''working physics'', and even renders the view through portals. As if that wasn't enough, this is a homebrew game made without access to Nintendo's official SDK, using information gained from reverse engineering. Despite this, it's more advanced than most official games. You can [[https://gbatemp.net/threads/aperture-science-ds-new-nds-homebrew.353315/ download it here]].[[note]]In order to play this on an actual Nintendo DS, you'll need a flash cartridge, but those have become quite cheap. You also have the option of playing it on a PC or mobile device using an emulator.[[/note]]
* Take a look at [[https://youtu.be/ojatBoMZubk?t=14m17s this]] video. WebVideo/StuartAshen is known for reviewing electronic tat, but Cybiko Xtreme managed to impress him a built-in game called ''[=CyRace 2=]''. Despite the fact Cybiko is a texting device that has a black-and-white LCD screen (which is meant to run 2D images, much like the Game.com), ''[=CyRace 2=]'' is a ''full-fledged 3D game''. And this is from a device that was released in the early 2000s, where the specs for the platform are so low it couldn't run something like this without it stuttering.
* ''VideoGame/DanceDanceRevolutionMarioMix'' runs on the ''VideoGame/MarioParty 6'' engine. Yes, you read that right. Instead of using a dedicated engine, or even using the ''MAX'' or ''Festival'' engine like the other home versions of ''DDR'' at the time, the game uses an engine ''DDR'' games weren't even designed for.
* Many of the games made by Creator/HumongousEntertainment were quite impressive feats, all things considered. They pushed the SCUMM[[labelnote:meaning]]Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion[[/labelnote]] engine to its limits with their use of high-resolution fullscreen animated cinematics starting with the first ''VideoGame/FreddiFish'', then upped the ante by making spinoffs of their popular characters in arcade-style games that included decent clones of ''VideoGame/QBert'' and ''VideoGame/BreakOut''. And that's not even getting into the early ''VideoGame/BackyardSports'' titles, which not only featured full ArtificialIntelligence for both teams, but kept track of the statistics of every player on every team in every league, whether or not the match was played by you or not. In fact, they even managed to add a physics engine into the game for the actual outfield play. All this on an engine originally designed for scripting [[AdventureGame point-and-click adventures]] like ''VideoGame/ManiacMansion'' and ''VideoGame/TheSecretOfMonkeyIsland'', and absolutely nothing else.
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'' is remarkably well-optimized on all platforms, managing to deliver semi-competent performance on a Pentium system, while easily hitting 60FPS maxed out with frames to spare on a single high-end graphics card, even with upscaled DSR resolutions. The game renders a big, photorealistic open map with dynamic weather in real time -- even as the PC executable is being constantly scrambled by the Denuvo DRM. That the game was ported to geriatric seventh-generation consoles with relatively little loss in fidelity, is a testament to meticulous optimization that shouldn't even be possible.
* On the same note about the use of Denuvo DRM and its nonexistent negative effect on performance overall, ''VideoGame/Doom2016'' are also known to be well-optimized (even without the dedicated graphics card drivers). Up to Eleven when support for the cutting-edge Vulkan API was patched in, with rigs with supported graphics cards reaching upwards of 200 frames per second at 1080p with the visuals maxed out. Eventually the Denuvo in the PC version of the DOOM executable was patched out (although it still uses Steam DRM) come the end of 2016 with little notice. Sadly though this might be not the case anymore as of 2017, as several high profile games using the newer version of the Denuvo such as ''VideoGame/NierAutomata'' and ''VideoGame/SonicMania'' are considered to be {{Porting Disaster}}s that might be tied from the protection module of the newer versions of Denuvo.
* The Denuvo itself may be considered some praise too, as despite being made by the same team as the infamous Securom, the Denuvo Anti-Tamper, as proven by the two games above, doesn't interfere with games performance and even system stability and durability (barring statements that are known to be false). That, and the DRM itself are known to withstand months before its fully cracked due to its 64-bit signature and every title has its own unique key signature different from one another (so if one game are cracked after several months, the cracker essentially need to start from scratch to crack the other Denuvo protected game).
* As ridiculous as it sounds, most games on the UsefulNotes/{{Atari 2600}} qualify as this. The system specs made it capable for running for simple, symmetrical games like ''VideoGame/{{Pong}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Combat}}''. Many developers found ways to bypass the limitations of the 2600 and did ''a lot'' of impressive stuff with it:
** ''VideoGame/EscapeFromTheMindmaster'': FauxFirstPerson3D with smooth movement from square to square.
** The ''VideoGame/SpaceInvaders'' port [[SerialEscalation had it up to 39 player objects and four shots on the screen at once]], with no extra RAM or other special chips on the cartridge. It was doing things that nobody ''ever'' would have dreamed of having been possible on the Atari 2600.
** The homebrew scene took note of this with [[http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R1G_si-9fgE "The Byte Before Christmas"]], which pushes the systems aesthetics to their limits; in a true rarity, the characters not mainly feature fluent animation principles like overlapping animation, but the game "Bell Hopper" features fluid parallax scrolling--on a system that didn't support scrolling, and should have been impossible to perform it on!
** Even ''VideoGame/PacMan'' of all games achieved it on the same system with so many objects from pellets, ghost and the titular character himself running at the same time, and this was done in exercise in [[SelfImposedChallenge constrained programming]]. This is only talking about the game on a technical aspect, because as a video game, it's [[PortingDisaster nothing worth bragging about]].\\
The 2600 ports of ''Ms. Pac-Man'' and ''Jr. Pac-Man'' are huge improvements from the ''Pac-Man'' port, and somebody made a homebrew version of ''Pac-Man'' on the 2600 called ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAYuBcuvIww Pac-Man 4K]]'', which is a much better port that uses the same 4-kilobyte size limit as the official one, and would later be included on the second version of the Atari Flashback Portable.
* The Nintendo 64 version of ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil2'' is/was noteworthy for squeezing a two-disc [=PlayStation=] game (1.2 GB), filled with voiced dialogue and full-motion video cutscenes, on a 64 MB cartridge, fully intact. Only the cutscenes took a slight hit, but besides that, it's still considered the one of the best versions of the game.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories'' had full FMV opening and closing scenes that matched the quality of the [[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsI original PS2 game]]. On a GBA cart. They managed to do the impossible by essentially turning the FMV into one incredibly long GIF sequence.
* ''Creator/{{Rare}}'' were continually pulling this off during the N64 era. Even their first and less technically impressive N64 game, ''VideoGame/KillerInstinct Gold'', was still noteworthy for running at 60FPS on a console where that almost never happened. Following that was the huge size of both ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong64'' and ''[[VideoGame/BanjoKazooie Banjo-Tooie]]'', the [[LudicrousGibs impressive splatter effects]] in ''VideoGame/JetForceGemini'', and most impressively, ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'', which had some of the best graphics, most fluid animations and furthest draw distance of any N64 game, all while still managing to cram in full voice acting, of which there's a ton of. The impressive part? All these games had to be crammed into N64 cartridges, which could hold 64MB at the most, and yet some of these games, especially Conker, still look better than some early [=PS2=] or Dreamcast releases.
* 1995's ''VideoGame/RiseOfTheTriad'' ran on a heavily modified version of the ''VideoGame/Wolfenstein3D'' engine, allowing it to do things that aren't possible with the vanilla ''Wolf 3D'' engine, like 11-player multiplayer (unheard of at the time; ''Doom'' had four-player multiplayer) with nine different multiplayer modes, destructible environments, moving walls, obstacles, and of course, LudicrousGibs. You can learn more about ''ROTT'''s engine in the 1997 article, "[[http://archive.kontek.net/rott.classicgaming.gamespy.com/hell/ ROTT in Hell]]."
* Creator/ShinyEntertainment's 1997 third-person shooter ''VideoGame/{{MDK}}'' not only contains graphics that were very impressive for the time, the game engine also allowed huge environments with unlimited draw distance, allowing the player to fully utilize the sniper mode with 100x zoom. Loading between areas is [[Main/DynamicLoading cleverly disguised with tunnels connecting them]]; the only actual loading screens are between levels and they are very brief. Despite all of this, the game had some really modest system requirements even by the standards of its time. It was designed to run consistently with minimum 30FPS with measly 60MHz Pentium and 16MB RAM, without any additional GPU requirements as the graphics ran entirely by software rendering (although patches were released to add support for most hardware-based rendering [=APIs=]). They utilized some incredibly simple yet elegant optimization tricks to achieve this, such as making the player character a 2D sprite instead of actual 3D model (which worked so well that many players didn't even notice it!) and intentionally leaving some surfaces black with no textures and shading, which also worked as a part of the unique graphical style of the game. The developers also had to ''write their own programming language'' for the game because they were doing things that no one had ever even attempted to do before.
* ''VideoGame/SystemShock'', released in September 1994 (for reference, the same month as ''Doom II'', several months before ''Marathon'', and a year before ''Rise of the Triad''), runs on a hybrid between a block-based engine like ''Wolfenstein 3D'' and a full 3D engine. You can look 100% overhead or down, the maps are true multi-leveled, and the world is rendered in fully 3D polygons. It also has angled floors, like ramps -- in other words, the walls and floors aren't all at 90 degrees to one another, so you can be walking down an octagon-shaped corridor, for example. Although sprites were used for smaller objects, larger objects were 3D, were fully destructable, and could be stood upon. It also had a really slick physics system: objects you throw bounce of the walls and roll down inclines, if you shoot a robot on a ledge it may fall off (and even crush another robot below), and the player can jump, crouch, crawl, lean, dodge, or do combinations of those. Objects can be pushed, picked up, and thrown. The game features dynamic lights that can pulsate or be toggled on and off. Doors and bridges can be translucent. And all of this in a mere ''4 [=MiB=]'' of RAM.
* Of all things, ''VideoGame/SonicBoom: Rise Of Lyric'' is a virtual masterwork of programming. Yes, it's a glitchy, blatantly unfinished mess that had to be patched with entirely new full-sized level maps, but the team behind it had it sprung on them that it would be a UsefulNotes/WiiU exclusive '''after''' they had already completed too much development and were too close to deadline to start over... when the game was designed with [=CryEngine=] 3, a engine that was literally '''not designed to be able to run''' on the Wii U. The fact that it runs at ''all'' borders on the miraculous, and required outrageous hours and vast amounts of help from the engine's developer, Creator/{{Crytek}}.
* ''VideoGame/TheSeventhGuest'' has video streamed from a CD-ROM overlaid with computer generated scenes. Sounds unimpressive nowadays, but in 1993 the performance of CD-ROM drives was much worse and there were ''no'' codecs or any support available because literally nobody had done it before; the lead programmer, Graeme Devine, had to write the entire streaming and decompression system from scratch. For the sequel, ''VideoGame/TheEleventhHour'', Devine was upset to learn that the videographer had produced outside footage, which -- because it contained more movement than the simple blue-screened scenes used in the original -- could not be decompressed fast enough by the original code; so he rewrote it ''again'' so that it was fast enough!\\
These games also had an unfortunate case of Genius Programming backfiring. The AI Devine designed to play against the player in several of the mini-games was so efficient it was unplayably strong, and players were unable to defeat it, stalling their progress in the game.
* The concept of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrary_code_execution arbitrary code execution]] has been used in some rather mind-blowing technical demonstrations. Basically, arbitrary code execution refers to the act of exploiting a glitch to execute [=RAM=] data as processor instructions. While the concept itself is not recent (this is a common method for viruses to gain control of a system), even with regard to its usage within video games[[note]](e.g. the Twilight Hack, which uses a buffer overflow from a modified ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' save file to gain control of the Wii)[[/note]], the concept became revolutionary within the [=TAS=] community after the following events:
** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5T81yHkHtI This TAS]] of ''VideoGame/PokemonYellow'' begins with using a save corruption glitch to swap around chunks of memory using the item menu. Normal for those used to watching [=TASes=]. Imagine, though, the jaws that dropped when the game played a chiptune rendition of the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' theme song, without any sort of ROM hacking or cheating done ''whatsoever''.
*** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjm8P8utT5g A sequel TAS]] by [=MrWint=] took this even further. By glitching the game into a state where it can read from the Game Boy Color's joypad inputs at a rate of much higher than the usual sixty frames per second, [=MrWint=] manages to get ''Pokémon Yellow'' to transform into ''different games'', and culminates in streaming shockingly high-quality audio and video to the Game Boy Color. One would be shocked to know that everything shown in the video is ''completely possible'' within the confines of the cartridge, using only inputs and legitimate glitches to pull off.
** ''Super Mario World'' has been subject to these kinds of exploits. Players such as Masterjun and [=SethBling=] have discovered that by using glitches and adjusting various factors in the game environment such as the position of shells in order to affect the behavior of the glitches, you can use arbitrary code execution to turn the game environment ''itself'' as a programming environment. The mechanics become more obvious once they are [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAHXK2wut_I explained]] to a savvy user, but having to figure all of this out beforehand and abusing it to its fullest takes a special kind of mindset. Through these glitches, with ''no'' external cheating devices or [=ROM=]-hacking devices whatsoever, players have been able to...
*** ...[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14wqBA5Q1yc complete the game]] within ''minutes''.
*** ...[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB6eY73sLV0 write and execute the source code to Flappy Bird]] ''within the game''. Granted, it takes an hour of painstaking movements and one mistake could mean starting over, but you're effectively reprogramming memory without so much as an address editor.
*** ...and create said [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixu8tn__91E address editor]], which can be stored and loaded through a save file.
* The mobile versions of ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog1 Sonic the Hedgehog]]'', ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog1 Sonic 2]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehogCD Sonic CD]]'' aren't emulated at all - they were recoded completely from scratch, and are to the point where you can't even tell the difference. Of course, it might help that Simon "Stealth" Thomley, who made a [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFwxF-7vSrQ homebrew port]] of ''Sonic 1'' for the Game Boy Advance, had a hand in making them. Oh, and the dev team went on to create ''VideoGame/SonicMania''. So that tells you something.
* Despite the Source Engine being over a decade old, it still proves to be a versatile and really reliable game engine. Even the cheapest off-the-shelf PC can run a game made in that engine with little to no problems, and older games almost have zero compatibility issues with newer machines. Even Valve themselves still use the Source Engine to this day, as proof on how well-made it is.
* Many people will tell you that using a controller is not a viable option when playing shooters. The reason being that it's not as precise as using a mouse. However, ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}'' finally found a way around this. How you might ask? Two words: motion controls. Along with the traditional twin-stick controls, tilting the controller moves the camera around, essentially giving you the precision of a mouse with the accessibility of a controller. And it's not a novelty either. A lot of members of the competitive ''Splatoon'' community find the motion controls an important part of the game's meta ''because'' it's more precise.

* Plug & Play games are more or less novelty items, but every once in a while, they hold a fair share of surprises.
** The Commodore 64 Plug & Play has an EasterEgg that gives you ''a full fledged C64 BIOS'', and it can run any C64 program you give it. You can even modify the device to support C64 peripherals.
** The Atari Flashback is nothing more than a NOAC with homebrew NES roms made as accurate as possible to the original games.
** Say what you will about the NES Classic Edition, but you have to admit the emulator is extremely accurate (albeit with noticeable audio issues), even compared to the one used for UsefulNotes/VirtualConsole. It might help that NOE developed the emulator this time. Hopefully it'll get used in future Nintendo products, with the audio problems amended.
** While its AV output is nothing to write home about, Radica's SEGA Genesis Plug & Play can be modified to take actual Genesis cartridges, and run them surprisingly well. It's no surprise that future Genesis Plug & Plays would feature a cartridge slot out right.
* ''VideoGame/Goldeneye1997'' has a DummiedOut ZX Spectrum emulator and four games that were developed by Rare back when they were known as "Ashby Computer Corporation", albeit without sound. Why did they do it? ''Because they could''. The emulator would later be used in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong64'' for the Jetpac mini-game.
* Music/TommyTallarico composed some impressive music on the UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis, and "Rave Dancetune", the bonus level theme from ''VideoGame/CoolSpot'', demonstrates why. Through careful manipulation of Creator/{{Sega}}'s [[https://youtu.be/WEvnZRCW_qc?t=12m44s GEMS]][[note]]Genesis Editor for Music and Sound Effects[[/note]] software, despite the system's [=YM2612=] chip only being able to play music through six channels at any time, Tommy was able to give players the perception that "Rave Dancetune" uses up to ''nine'' instruments at the same time, three beyond the chip's basic capability. A slightly modified version of "Rave Dancetune", which is reprogrammed to utilize two Genesis [=YM2612=] chips concurrently, [[https://youtu.be/n7pMcVosV2g can be heard here in its full glory]].
* ''VideoGame/TreasureMaster'' had to make sure players weren't cheating (it was for a contest, after all). How did they do that? They managed to do the unthinkable. The game is able to ''detect VideoGame/GameGenie and prevent it from being used''. It wasn't until years later when fans discovered a code that bypasses it, but by then, the contest was well over.
* ''VideoGame/DragonsLair'' was a really impressive game at the time, and still holds up today. What's really impressive is the machine's hardware. All the game is is a UsefulNotes/LaserDisc player, with the controls simply telling the game to switch to certain chapters (a lot of home versions even retain this). In fact, if you retrofit your machine with the right player, you can even have the game use its interface for the HeadsUpDisplay. That being said, [[AwesomeButImpractical LaserDisc is both a blessing and a curse]], but it's still impressive because of how minimalistic it is.
* The windows to inaccessible areas in ''VideoGame/AHatInTime'' are just 2D textures but look they are projecting actual rooms. The technique used to do this is cube maps which are usually used for reflections, but these cube maps are inverted to let the player see what the other side of its surface is reflecting, giving the illusion of a 2D texture projecting a 3D space.
* A lot of people will tell you that ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' and [[VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2 its sequel]] look absolutely ''gorgeous'' on native hardware. [[http://media.moddb.com/images/games/1/52/51317/3.jpg Just look at it!]] It just goes to show that 480p is all you need to make a game look great.
* The [=NES=] version of ''[[VideoGame/TecmoBowl Tecmo Super Bowl]]'', a [[LicensedGame licensed]] UsefulNotes/NationalFootballLeague title released in '''''1991''''', not only keeps thorough overall statistics on all 28 teams featured, it even keeps track of rushing, passing, kicking, interceptions, and scoring for each player which can also be sorted by conference. With 30 players on each of the 28 NFL teams present--840 players total--that's a pretty impressive database feature for an NES game of its vintage!
* ''VideoGame/DragonBallFighterZ'' is a current-gen fighting game built on Unreal Engine 4. It has gorgeous visuals, a fully-voiced story mode, and the option between the original Japanese voice acting or an English dub. The file-size is just under 5GB.

[[folder:Other Software]]
* [[http://hci.stanford.edu/~winograd/shrdlu/ SHRDLU]] is an AI/text parser written by Terry Winograd (MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) from 1960-1971 that can manipulate blocks and pyramids according to commands entered by the user, and also answer questions about them. ''In plain English''. [[note]]If you're a computer science student, [[http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7095 Winograd's paper on the topic]] is a fascinating read.[[/note]] This is an excerpt from the demo:
'''Computer:''' OK. (does it)\\
'''Computer:''' THE BOX.\\
'''Computer:''' FOUR OF THEM.\\
'''Computer:''' YES, THE RED CUBE.\\
'''Person:''' IS IT SUPPORTED?\\
'''Computer:''' YES, BY THE TABLE.\\\
Interestingly, the simple question "What?" acts as a LogicBomb, sending the program into an infinite loop where it will not respond to anything.
* There exists a BASIC code one only one line long that is capable of [[http://10print.org/ generating mazes.]]
* [[http://www.reactos.org/ [=ReactOS=]]]: the project aims to create an open-source Windows-compatible operating system from scratch. After 12 years of development, it has some basic compatibility with Windows. You may not be able to run the latest games on it, but you can check your email and browse Wiki/TVTropes.
** Printing, NTVDM (the layer allowing 16-bit applications to run on 32-bit Windows), and virtualization software (e.g., [=VirtualBox=] or Virtual PC) support have finally been implemented in the latest versions of [=ReactOS=], along with NTFS read support.
** As of May 2016, [=ReactOS=] can run [[VideoGame/{{Skyrim}} Skyrim]], as [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4hLycfaQD4 seen here.]]
** ''Wine'' is a project that attempts to ''recreate'' the full Windows [=API=] on Unix-based and Unix-like systems. It's not an emulator, either (it's actually part of the recursive acronym, ''Wine Is Not an Emulator''), but is actually a piecemeal reverse-engineering of Windows one library at a time, which makes Windows-only applications run just fine on Unix and other [=OSes=]. This includes very modern games like ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'', which are fully playable this way.
** Wine and [=ReactOS=] are a sister projects and have a shared codebase. Or, more correctly, Wine is a Windows-compatible userland to run application software atop compatible kernels, while [=ReactOS=] developers concentrate on a Windows-compatible backend side, that is, kernel and driver support.
* Pretty much any [[UsefulNotes/{{Emulation}} emulator]] qualifies. Especially ones which emulate hardware for which there is little or no official information available, requiring the use of reverse engineering.
** SNES Advance and Snezziboy are particularly impressive -- fully playable SNES emulators squeezed onto the UsefulNotes/GameBoyAdvance.
** The various [console] Sound Formats, such as the [=PlayStation=] Sound Format emulate the original sound hardware/software, [[NostalgiaFilter so you can listen to how the track originally sounded]]. As an added bonus, these files are often a fraction of the size of a normal line-out rip without any significant loss of quality.
** Higan may be relatively slow, but its SNES core (originally its own emulator, called BSNES) is notable for being ''100%'' accurate to the original machine, with no game-specific hacks. (More accurate emulation requires more processing power in general, explaining why Higan is slower and possibly explaining why Nintendo's own SNES emulation for the UsefulNotes/Nintendo3DS requires the more powerful New Nintendo 3DS models).
** While similarly slow, Exodus is an open-source Sega Genesis emulator that prioritizes 100% emulation accuracy of the architecture of the Genesis, on top of being rife with numerous debugging tools.
** John Harris, who is profiled in the Steve Levy book ''Hackers'' had to downgrade Jawbreaker (an off-label ArcadePerfectPort of ''VideoGame/PacMan'' for the UsefulNotes/Atari8BitComputers) to play on the UsefulNotes/Atari2600. Since the process of testing code for the 2600 as you wrote it was extremely laborious, he wrote a 2600 emulator for the Atari 800. Let that sink in; an Atari 2600 emulator was written for a home computer in 1981!
* A lot of programs in an [[http://esolangs.org/wiki/ esoteric language]] count, just because of how weird the languages are. Take, for example, [[http://99-bottles-of-beer.net/language-malbolge-995.html?PHPSESSID=2985a88f7e629576ba1e73e3c874e2ee this]].
* [[DescriptionPorn High Efficiency Advanced Audio coding w/ Parametric Stereo]]. A pretty general rule of thumb is that it gives the same as [=MP3=] quality at one-fourth of the size (24kbit [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Efficiency_Advanced_Audio_Coding HE-AAC]] sounds as good as 96kbit [=MP3=]). Discovering it has been known to lead to at least one joygasm. Preceded by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mp3pro [=MP3PRO=]]], which uses the same [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectral_band_replication Spectral Bandwidth Replication]] algorithm to shrink the file size to half.
* [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opus_(audio_format) Opus]], an audio codec that has superior quality to HE-AAC at the same low bitrates and can also match the quality of [=MP3=], AAC, and Vorbis at higher bitrates. What makes it shine, however, is the low algorithmic delay it provides, making it highly suitable for real time applications like Skype.
* jQuery is a [=JavaScript=] library that is used in a surprisingly high proportion of the most visited web sites. It provides just about all the functionality that really sets apart modern web pages from the static web pages of yesteryear (where yesteryear is approximately any year prior to 2005). It is also designed to be as unobtrusive to other code as possible, only uses [[EldritchAbomination confusing trick code]] where unavoidable, and still only clocks in at under 100 kilobytes.\\
It gets even better. jQuery uses ''[[http://importantshock.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/jquery-is-a-monad/ monadic]]'' programming structure for most of its functions, which is basically a fancy way of saying you can call functions one after another on the same object on the same line without needing external variables to keep track of it all. The thing is, monads are typically associated with ''Haskell'', not Javascript, and they're one of the hardest parts of the language for most people to wrap their heads around. If you're good with jQuery, then you've also got a conceptual grasp on how monads work, despite working in ''completely different programming languages''!
* Microsoft Excel. While mostly known for being a boring spreadsheet program, it is actually very versatile. If you know what you're doing you can turn it into a rendering program or even a game engine with no real modification of the software.
* Some International Obfuscated C Code Contest contestants managed to produce impressive entries in spite, [[LoopholeAbuse or because]], of the restrictive rules:
** A [[http://www0.us.ioccc.org/years-spoiler.html#1998 1998 entry]] was a [[http://www0.us.ioccc.org/1998/banks.hint flight simulator]].
** The [[http://www0.us.ioccc.org/years-spoiler.html#2001 2001 edition]] saw a tiny, self-hosting [[http://www0.us.ioccc.org/2001/bellard.hint compiler]] by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabrice_Bellard Fabrice Bellard]] for a strict subset of C for i386 Linux, whose source was under ''3 kB'', winning the "[[LoopholeAbuse Best abuse of the rule]]"; this compiler was then used as basis for the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiny_C_Compiler Tiny C Compiler]], another marvel of tiny compiler.
** The [[http://www0.us.ioccc.org/years-spoiler.html#2004 2004 edition]] saw a ''full-fledged operating system'' by [[http://www0.us.ioccc.org/2004/gavin.hint Gavin]] winning the "Best of Show" Award.
* Linux itself was started as a personal side project by Linus Torvalds in 1991. He had grown frustrated by the legalities and restrictions associated with MINIX and decided he could do better. So he started hacking away, and after some time he gave notice to the world of the existence of Linux -- mentioning that it would be "Just a hobby" and "nothing big and professional". Fast forward a few years and Linux basically runs the world; comparatively few people run it on desktops, but it's very often chosen by tech-savvy businesses in place of far less secure systems, it's in a lot of embedded devices, and the infrastructure it all depends on runs on it almost exclusively.
* Creator/MasiOka was apparently in charge of coming up with genius programming for Creator/IndustrialLightAndMagic before he started dealing with [[Series/{{Heroes}} bending space-time]]. In his words, he's the guy they called when they wanted something on the screen to blow up ''without'' also blowing up the computer rendering it (and then he had to teach the art team how to use the tools he created). His rendering tools for creating dynamic water in things like ''Film/ThePerfectStorm'' were repurposed to create the fiery explosions in ''Film/{{Avatar}}''.[[note]]Because rapidly expanding gas behaves remarkably like a fluid -- science![[/note]]
* When the Commodore 64 came out it was hopelessly slow at loading programs (which is why it's listed in DarthWiki/IdiotProgramming). Fastloader cartridges and chips for floppy drives came out quickly, but though in the US floppy drives were widespread various market/import reasons made them ''hilariously'' expensive in Europe -- one could easily spend about as much money on the floppy as they did on the computer itself. As a result most Europeans made do with tapes, which were both inherently slower and much harder to speed up -- not only was tape intended for music and therefore not well-optimized for data storage, but the cassette drive lacked the relatively powerful hardware present on the floppy drives (which were effectively secondary computers in and of themselves, with their own CPU and RAM). As a result "turbo tape" loaders were developed, which would be loaded slowly by the original system and would then speed up about fivefold everything loaded after them. Notably, since they couldn't rely on additional hardware to do the job, turbo loaders required some pretty clever programming to intercept the original operating system routines and modify them to accept the new commands and improved functionality -- see [[http://www.atarimagazines.com/compute/issue57/turbotape.html here]] for a detailed analysis.
* The Common Lisp language, although its syntax can be rather daunting, has the unique property that any feature of any programming language can be added to it -- yet the compiler/interpreter is tiny and supports only 25 commands. Why? Because one of those commands lets you create a new language construct, and provide a Common Lisp program that expands that construct into a simpler one. This can then be expanded again, and so on until the program contains only those 25 commands. Essentially, it implements the compilation process itself as a language feature, meaning that the compiler is infinitely customizable. There's an [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenspun%27s_tenth_rule aphorism]] among programmers that claims that every sufficiently advanced programming language is just an inferior re-implementation of Common Lisp, and in light of the above, joke or not, they might have a point.
* iOS, for all its faults, has some wonderful surprises -- for example, it can ''take back'' an error message. If an error message appears stating that there is no Internet connection available, and a connection becomes available while the error is on the screen, the error automatically closes itself and the original task resumes seamlessly.
** [=iOS=] 11's facial recognition. More specifically, you only need to set it up once; there's no need to go through the process ever again. You could grow a mustache, dye your hair, or even be cosplaying, and it will ''still'' recognize you if your face isn't completely covered up. Literally the only flaw with this feature (and they do tell you this) is if someone else looked exactly like you. But of course, those chances are very slim.
* Windows XP holds the record for the longest supported Windows OS, and still sees a fair amount even four years after the end of support. Want to know why that is? It's very simple: its legacy support. Microsoft was quick to drop legacy support past certain point, and as such, running older programs on new [=OSes=] is a complete crapshoot as to whether or not it works. XP, on the other hand, can pretty much run anything (at least pre-Directx 11 and pre-x64 applications) natively with little to no problems (though that may have something to do with it being the last OS to fully support 16-bit architecture). DOS games, decade-old 9x programs, even software as far back as Windows 3.1 can run on XP without any additional software. It even has Soundblaster 16 built right in. It's by no means an operating system you can still use today, but keep that installation disc around; you'd be surprised at how all-in-one it feels when it comes to running older software.
** It seems like Windows 7 is also well regarded. There's no 16-bit support, but pretty much all programs that didn't run on UWP will still run on it.
* Windows Movie Maker is known for being very minimalistic. However, fans cracked it open and found that the effects and transitions are simple XML scripts, and [[http://www.windowsmoviemakers.net/Forums/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=2203 by creating a specific directory]], you can essentially create your own plug-ins. It's still a barebones video editor (try as you might, you're not getting more than one video track, nor are you able to fix inconsistent aspect ratios), but it definitely makes the fact that you're even using it less obvious.
* Bleem! was a commercially released PSX emulator for Windows. Notoriously buggy as it was, when the Bleem team boasted better looks than the native versions [[https://youtu.be/MFY9Kv1c4-Q?t=520 they weren't kidding]]. What's even more impressive is that it used software rendering to do this, which at the time was the better-than-nothing fallback option for people who couldn't afford a 3D accelerator. Support for the then-burgeoning 3DFX graphics card was present as well, making the graphics look even better. There's better PSX emulators out that there now, but this level of accuracy at this time is truly impressive.

[[folder:Other uses]]
* The CGI in ''Film/{{Tron}}''. Procedural texturing was ''invented'' for this movie. Even the one-off supercomputer used at the time didn't have enough memory to be able to use raster textures, so the only way to get any detail was by evaluating functions on a per-pixel basis.
* [[https://twitter.com/winocm winocm]], who's currently into iOS jailbreaking. Not only did she [[https://github.com/darwin-on-arm/xnu make an iOS clone by porting the kernel used by Mac OS X to the ARM architecture mainly by herself]] (others got involved later), but before she got into iOS stuff she made her own NT clone (aiming for binary compatibility with a very early build of NT that is incompatible with all released versions), called [[http://www.betaarchive.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=18458&start=0 OpenNT]]. Look at the post dates. She went from something unbootable to a CLI interface that passed 10,000 wine tests in ''3 days''. She never completed the project, but released [[http://goput.it/7qx.zip a build to the public]] that same day, if you want to take a look in a VM yourself.
* {{Pinball}}:
** Here's an interview with pinball programmer [[http://mypinballblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/in-begining.html Dwight Sullivan]], in which he describes how small the pinball software was at the time. Notable programmer [[Creator/LarryDeMar Larry DeMar]] (the co-creator of ''VideoGame/{{Defender}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Robotron 2084}}'') invented automatic replay adjustment (with Creator/SteveRitchie), which automatically adjusts the [[EveryTenThousandPoints replay score]] based on the players' performances on location) and software compensation for broken playfield switches/features, both of which were introduced in 1986's ''Pinball/HighSpeed''.
** 1992's ''Pinball/TheAddamsFamily'' had an auto-flipper (called "Thing Flips") that actually did hit the Swamp scoop target, most of the time. When it doesn't hit the Swamp scoop, then the software auto-calibrates the flipper until it hits the Swamp. This also happens if the pinball machine is moved to another location. Not surprisingly, [[Creator/LarryDeMar Larry DeMar]] was the co-programmer for ''The Addams Family''. [=DeMar=] also did the programming for 1990's ''Pinball/FunHouse'', which featured "Pin-Mation", in which Rudy's (the talking doll head) eyes and mouth move in real-time, depending on where the ball hits the target.
** 1989's ''[[Pinball/BlackKnight Black Knight 2000]]'' was acclaimed for having one of the best soundtracks for a pinball game, but according to [[https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/BrianSchmidt/20141104/229404/Interactive_Audio_in_Black_Knight_2000_The_Importance_of_Integration.php an article by Brian Schmidt]] (one of the game's composers), getting the System 11 hardware (which Black Knight 2000 used) to play the vocals along with the music was impossible to do at the time, until Ed Boon (the game's programmer, and who would later go on to create ''Franchise/MortalKombat'') made it work.
-->'''Brian Schmidt''': In fact, the ability of the music system (one computer board) to control the speech chip (which was on a wholly separate processor board) was thought to be impossible until Ed Boon finagled a way to make it happen; without that, there would be no ‘Choir of Angels’ or taunting knight in the [=BK2K=] themes.
* [=TicketMaster=] managed to conquer their market by using such tightly written code it could run on 1/10th the space of its original competitors and still process the same amount of requests at the same speed.
* Apollo Guidance Computer software implemented a (cooperative) multitasking operating system plus all the software to run on it in 36,864 16 bit words of ROM and 2048 16 bit words of RAM (or in modern units, 73,728 bytes and 4096 bytes, respectively). And this was software that had to be extremely reliable and fault-tolerant because human lives depended on it. Apollo 11 demonstrated the benefits of the fault tolerant design when the guidance computer was given slightly more work than it was capable of coping with during the landing. Instead of curling up and dying, it issued an alarm, discarded jobs that were considered low priority and continued running the high priority tasks. This bit of design saved the mission. When you consider that a lunar landing abort would have been the most complicated manuver ever attempted by NASA (possibly to current day) this feature likely saved lives.\\
Some credit should go to both the programmers (chiefly Margaret Hamilton) and the operators, especially Jack Garman, one of the engineers in mission control during the landing. He diagnosed the problem immediately based on two four-digit error codes, recognized that it was solveable, and guided the crew through an on-the-fly procedural change to reduce the computer's workload.
* Linksys's [=WRT54G=] (and its spiritual successor, the [=WRT54GL=][[note]]The "L" presumably stands for Linux[[/note]], [[labelnote:Addtional note]]which was released after Version 5 and later releases of the [=WRT54G=] switched to the [=VxWorks=] OS and reduced the RAM and flash RAM by half[[/labelnote]]) wireless router is one of the most hackable routers, because its firmware was based on Linux. After Linksys released the firmware source code under the GPL, software developers began developing customized versions of the [=WRT54G=] firmware, the most well-known being [[http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index DD-WRT]] and [[http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato Tomato]]. Not only are they considered to be more reliable and better performing than Linksys's stock firmware, they would add advanced features that were only available in commercial-grade routers.
* While he was a professor at MIT, Dr. Edward Thorp (better known as the man who invented counting cards at blackjack) once made a tiny wearable computer which he programmed to secretly calculate where the ball would stop on a roulette wheel, allowing a player to bet on that number and win big. And this was in ''1961'' -- before there were any laws against it, because evidently nobody else had imagined such a thing would even be possible.
* In the fancy lingo of computer science, a "quine" is a program that, when run, produces itself as output. A "multiquine with a cycle length of two" is a program that, when run, produces a program that, when run, produces the first program as output. Got that? Good. Now, [[http://d.hatena.ne.jp/ku-ma-me/20090916/p1 contemplate this multiquine with a cycle length of eleven, each stage of which is in a different programming language]] or its [[http://d.hatena.ne.jp/ku-ma-me/20130715/p1 follow-up]] which is written in 50 cycles/languages.
* Steve Wozniak made it so that a 3 1/2" floppy disk that would be 720 kB on other systems to have 800 kB on both UsefulNotes/AppleII's and UsefulNotes/{{Apple Macintosh}}es. Unfortunately, this ended up causing compatibility issues with most other systems, so Apple went with the 1440 [=KiB=] used for the rest of the industry.
* The QP Framework, developed by Miro Samek, is essentially a lightweight event driven framework based on software state machines. While that might not sound like much, consider that the framework includes a real-time OS kernel in the package for embedded processors. Okay, there are other real-time [=OSes=]! But when you consider that QP in its smallest takes up less than 100 bytes of memory and 1KB of ROM and yet still has most of its functions to allow for real-time event driven systems is nothing short of amazing. Even its full featured implementation takes up about 1KB of memory and less than 10K of ROM.
* All of the awesome animation they do in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''? All of it is managed on an older version of UsefulNotes/AdobeFlash. Despite this, they manage to do things like MotionParallax and non-CG 3D effects that would make Disney's animated films blush, and they all do this on old software instead of in traditional cels. It is this show that truly shows what animators with Flash could put out if they really put in both the artistic effort and had the programming chops to manage it.
* There is almost enough publicly available information to write a perfectly accurate emulator for the Cray-1 that can run on a modern workstation. The largest stumbling block is the floating point maths used by the Cray-1. The Cray-1 was a single processor supercomputer that was faster than any other computer in the world when it was built. It came with vector floating point functional units (i.e. subprocessors) which could be used in parallel, had exact calculation times, predate modern standards, and are poorly documented compared to the rest of the Cray-1. The Cray-1 used a 64-bit floating point format and algorithms that differ from and are much faster than what even modern computers use. When the Cray-1 hardware manual says that you can do floating point and integer division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction all at the same time, it isn't bragging. The hardware manual actually tells you how to do it.
* In the mid [=90s=] when PCI was being introduced, there was a problem with how to allocate 8 expansion slots between it and the old ISA standard which was still used to a wide degree. The designer's solution? Make the PCI cards install upside down. This allowed an expansion bracket to fit an ISA or PCI card.
* When [=CompactFlash=] cards were designed their developers didn't develop a specific interface and protocol for them. Rather, the physical interface was three-fourths of a PCMCIA connector, and they were bilingual, able to speak with the computer either in PCI or common IDE mode. This made them ''extremely'' versatile: you could use them as stand-alone memory cards, in a cheap passthrough adapter as memory extensions for laptops or with another passthrough adapter as an IDE "hard disk" in any computer. The format was also small enough to be comfortable but large enough that it could house miniaturized hard disks, or -- exploiting the PCI compatibility -- expansions that had nothing to do with flash memory. In the flash-memory format wars to follow they would be the favourite for many years, and though SD would eventually overtake them they still hold a well-deserved second place today.
* Introducing the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gnvQS2xhRg Samsung Gear VR]]. All the functions of an UsefulNotes/OculusRift, but in a more affordable form that only requires your smartphone. And by "Oculus Rift", we seriously mean "Oculus Rift". The device actually uses the Oculus firmware and HMD instead of just using the phone's accelerometer like other phone-based VR systems do. All you have to do is plug in an Android phone with a Micro-USB port that can fit inside it. While there's not much of an install base for the device as of this writing, theoretically, you could port anything that uses the Oculus runtime, and it'll work with some light tweaks.