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Glitches in Video Games

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Glitches in video games can be downright hilarious, Heck, Ubisoft have been doing them for so long in their products, they deserve their own comedy series. But when they’re not funny, they can be frustrating, making you lose progression, blocking you from venturing further, and even forcing you to reboot the entire game in some circumstances.

However, there are some glitches out there so damaging, so destructive, they can literally destroy the entire system you’re playing them on. Rendering it the world’s most expensive paper weight! So, this post I take a look at these shattering snafus, these massacring misfires, and these disintegrating defects.

We’ll start the ball rolling with the most recent and famous example of bricking games, Anthem. Electronic Art’s 2019 response to Activision getting away with loot boxes and predatory microtransations with Destiny 2, and EA responding: “hold my beer”. And boy, did they deliver in that department, with a triple-A title of the quality we’d expect from the house of Hawkins.

An unfinished, glitchy mess containing a bunch of ill thought out and abandoned ideas created by severely stressed and bullied video game developers trying to meet a completely unfair deadline. And if that wasn’t terrible enough, when EA weren’t forcing their customers to fork out vast sums of money on cosmetic pieces of software within their game, they were inadvertently having them fork out for new hardware as well!

Two months after launch, news reports started to surface of PS4 owners complaining that Anthem was making the system switch off mid-game, and in some cases unable to turn the machine back on, resulting in wild speculation thatit was bricking consoles! The truth is, Anthem didn’t exactly brickthe console persay, just crash while saving to the hard drive, which would ultimately result in the player needing to reboot their PS4 in safe mode and rebuild the hard drive’s disk database.

However, if they weren’t aware the system has a safe mode for such issues, then it would indeed appear as if the PS4 was bricked. Resulting in some users with more money than sense, rather google the solution, purchase a new console instead. Also, such a scare mongering story that a video game was destroying consoles was just too tempting for scummy gaming websites and click baiting bell-ends on YouTube.

Yes, I can see the ironic hypocrisy here,shut up! So, the poorly researched news spread online like wildfire. Saying that, having to constantly repair the hard drive on your machine just to play a game is still completely unacceptable, but, to the developer, BioWare’s credit, they released a patch within a week of the problem, with Sony themselves even offering refunds to anyone who downloaded the digital version.

But, the best way gamers discovered how to avoid the hard drive destroying glitch, was to simply not buy the bloomin’ thing anymore. See? We can work together as a community sometimes! Oh, hang on… Not buying Anthem caused EA to heavily discount the game, which increased sales so drastically, it ended up becoming the fifth biggest selling game of 2019.

Way to go everyone!!! As surprising as it was that the world was screaming out for a DS port of Age of Empires (In fact, they ended up getting TWO of them for it), the original, Age of Kings contained such a massive game breaking bug, that it would permanently brick, not the DS, but the cartridge itself!

The glitch itself is triggered if you happento enter a name at the start of the game with less than four characters, which is quite a bizarre action to provoke a bug, but this would cause the game to corrupt save files, slow the framerate down to a snail’s pace, or just freeze the game entirely.

Now, any normal person would just assume rebooting the game would fix all these issues, but in this case, that’s the worst thing you could possibly do. Turning the game back on in this state would brick the cartridge entirely, unable to progress further than the copyright screen, with absolutely zero way to fix the situation.

Of course, players were up in arms about such a massive bug and flooded the publisher Majesco forums en masse. And judging by the publishers’ posts, theywere completely clueless themselves about what was causing the issue, initially assuming it was players using the “Save and Quit” option to end a game.

Eventually, Majesco did manage to pin point the reason so many broken cartridges were being returned to them. So, what their remedy to fix this incredibly damaging and costly bug? Recall the game? Re-release the game completely patched? Simply even block people from entering names shorter than four characters? Nope, all future versions just game with aslip of paper telling people not to do it anymore. Genius!

So, the moral of this story is, if your nameis Tim, Dan, Sue or Amy, don’t buy the DS version of Age of Empires, as you’d just be throwing 40 clams in the bin! Okay, I’ll level with you, if you’re a Triple-A publisher, and have to put out a press release containing the phrase: “Unlikely to erase your hard drive”, AND spin that as a positive feature for your new game.

You know you’ve got an utter dumpster fireon your hands. Such was the case with Ubisoft’s PC title,Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, a Baulder’s Gate knock-off that didn’t exactly set the world on fire when it was released in 2001. But, that was probably due to the fact, it was quickly rushed out the door, despite being over a year behind development.

And even though it was officially part of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons franchise, Pool of Radiance met to rather average review scores… with The New Straits Times’ Chris Chan (No, not that one) calling the game “a lot of mindless battles and health and spell recuperation exercises“.

So, you can see why the game sold so poorly… However, this also might be because of one other tiny hiccup… just after launch, news got out that the game was not only a complete nightmare to install, failing constantly. But, even if you did get that far, you’d be treated to a myriad of broken textures, stuttering gameplay, and a game save feature that would corrupt your save files as soon as you closed your game.

But, the absolute icing on the cake, was if all the previous hindrances got the best of you and you just wanted rid of the thing on your computer, Not only would the game uninstall itself, but also all your other games, andthe entire partition your copy of windows was installed on, rendering your PC an incredibley expensive paper weight!

Despite Ubisoft issuing a press release thatthe game was “Unlikely to erase your hard drive” and quickly releasing a patch to rectify the situation, PC gamers didn’t want to leave any chances and hastily moved on to whatever the next big game was out was, to complain about its frame rate and resolutions.

It may have been birthed from gamers’ frustration at a lack of ANYTHING Mega Man coming from Capcom, but after the utter dumpster firethat was Mighty Number 9 finally dragging it’s rotten carcass into stores after being delayed for several years, most of them wished it had stayed that way.

Originally cancelled for the Wii U, before being resurrected at the behest of Kickstarter backers threatening to pull their funding. You can tell the Wii U port had been put onthe back burner by the fact it contained terrible frame rates, far longer load times than anyother system, and most shockingly of all, the game contained not one, but TWO game bricking glitches.

Now, you’re obviously thinking, they’ve got to be triggered by visiting some incredibly obscure unreachable locations you need to glitch through that none of the play testers discovered, right? No, don’t be silly, one way to destroy your Wii U was to simply fire your weapon in the game, that’s it! Yep, the basic act of firing projectiles within the game will kill your console!

And even if you were aware of this problemand it scared you into trying to beat the game passively, the elementary act of quitting back to the title screen would also brick your machine. Brilliant! How two of the most common things you could possibly do within a video game got through playtesting is anyone’s guess, but luckily the western publisher, Deep Silver managed to quickly release a patch that avoided any future system owners from decimating their systems.

Not that was any solace for anyone who had already turned their Wii U into a Nintendo branded cinder block. But ultimately, all the patching in the worlddidn’t stop Mighty Number 9 becoming one Mighty Number 2! I’ll get me coat! Thanks to a lack of upgradeable firmware and internal storage, one thing retro consoles will always have over their modern counterparts is that they are literally impossible to brick.

However, as we’ve already seen with Ageof Empires, that doesn’t stop you from completely frying the cartridges they’re played on! Case in point, Nintendo and Rare’s Diddy’ Kong Quest.. No, not Diddy Kong’s Quest like I’ve been calling it for the past 25 years... Diddy’s KONG Quest,

The sequel to the third greatest selling SNES game of all-time, starring the titular Diddy Kong, a chimp who is out to rescue his primate pal, Donkey Kong from the maniacal King K. Rool, then demands his own go karting spin-off and never inviting him. Anyhow, during the first castle stage of the game, Castle Crush, there’s a barrel right near the beginning of the level.

If you would happen throw it against at awall as Diddy, manage to catch it just as it breaks, then throw it again… Congratulations, you’ve just completelydestroyed your copy of the game!!! Now, if you’re lucky the game will just crash and delete all your save files (yes, and I mean “lucky”) as the worst case scenario is it corrupts the saves so severely, the game refuses to ever let you past the file select menu before endlessly crashing.

Developers, Rare did somewhat anticipate Diddy’s Kong Quest crashing, as very rarely the game will display an irregularity crash prevention screen. However, this particular glitch tends to beso damaging, it won’t even give an opportunity for the game to respond with it, 99% of the time. Essentially, what’s happening here is the game assumes you’re still carrying the barrel, while the graphics say you’re not.

So, it decides to redraw the barrel usingthe next available sprite in the code, which happens to be the enemy, Klubba. However, Klubba isn’t supposed to appearin this level, and since there isn’t enough SRAM to contain the character, the entiregame just freaks out, by trying to quit out of the level, while at the same time saving and ultimately crashing.

So, long story short, the game is saving itself crashing leaving you with a Nintendo endorsed plastic paperweight. Now, It is theoretically possible to unbrick your copy of the game. But you better have a steady hand with a soldering iron, as it requires removing the battery back from the motherboard entirely.

Amazingly, This bug was never patched out of the later virtual console release either, though thankfully, you can easily fix the bug by simply deleting all your save files from the consoles memory, so you can even have some fun trying the glitch out with this release. But, if you have a friend that owns a SuperNintendo copy of Diddy’s Kong Quest, whom you don’t particularly want to be friends with anymore, definitely give this one a go!