Devil May Crywould prove to be extremely popular, and its smooth, stylish, combo-heavy, spectacle-fueled combat ended up influencing a new subgenre of hack-and-slash games, including such critically-acclaimed titles as the XboxsNinja Gaidenreboot,God of War, andBayonetta.
So how exactly has this become a feature, rather than just a glitch? Well,Final Fantasygames get re-released more often thanStar Warsfilms, and the Peninsula of Power has never been corrected in any subsequent versions ofFF1 even as technological constraints have become less of an issue. Contrast this withFinal Fantasy VIs Vanish-Doom Bug, which has been addressed (with varying degrees of success) in several re-releases. Theres also the fact that similar areas exist inFF2,FF3, andFF4, though these were likely oversights as well. (FF6actually has a Reverse Peninsula of Power, where an area near the final dungeon contains only Leaf Bunnies and Darkwinds, enemies from the very beginning of the game.)
The Glitch:InStarsiege: Tribes, a squad-based first-person shooter developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra in 1998, players soon discovered an interesting quirk in the games physics engine: quickly tapping the jump button while running down a steep slope would result in rapid acceleration.
The Glitch:Like many RPGs of the era, the overworld ofFinal Fantasyis covered with an invisible grid. The grid in this game is 8 by 8, with each section containing 1024 (32×32) squares, and the section you are traveling through determines what monsters you fight during random encounters. However, due to an oversight, a small patch of land northeast of Pravoka juts into one of the grid sections for the northern continent, making it the most conflicted peninsula since Florida during an election year.
Ninja Gaiden(NES) Ryu was meant to climb by jumping between two different walls, but savvy players discovered that he could still gain elevation with only one wall. Levels that require single-wall climbing were added to the sequels.
World of Warcraft The Corrupted Blood incident was studied by real-life scientists as a model for epidemic research, and possibly inspired the in-game Great Zombie Plague of 08.
Ever since then, players and developers of first-person shooters that arent preoccupied with things like realism have taken advantage of rocket jumping for a number of purposes. It is a popular tactic for speed runners, modders often make maps that can only be beaten with several rocket jumps, and developers will sometimes place power-ups and easter eggs in locations that can only be reached with the assistance of a helpful explosion. InQuake III: Arena, computer-controlled opponents would occasionally rocket jump, and the multiplayer mode ofPainkillereven featured a hotkey for rocket jumping. The most notable game to utilize the technique in the past few years isTeam Fortress 2: the Soldier class is largely built around rocket jumping, and has even received upgrades that reduce self-inflicted damage from the explosion and increase damage output while airborne.
The Effect:The origin of rocket jumping is tricky to pinpoint, and the practice actually predates 3D first-person shooters. In the originalDoom(which had neither a jump button nor a true Z-axis), one could use rockets to quickly propel oneself horizontally, and this was actually John Romeros intended method of reaching the secret exit in E3M6 (with the help of an Invinciblity Sphere). The first games to feature vertical rocket jumping were BungiesMarathon(albeit with grenades instead of actual rockets) and Apogee SoftwaresRise of the Triad- two games which were coincidentally both released on December 21, 1994. However, it wasnt until 1996sQuakethat rocket jumping exploded (har har) in popularity.
The Glitch:In Blizzards dungeon-crawling, hack-and-slash, action-RPG loot-festDiablo II, the Paladin class can learn an aura (a passive skill that also affects allies within a certain radius) called Concentration. When active, Concentration increases the damage of physical attacks. Due to a bug, it also affects a magical combat skill called Blessed Hammer.
Even if you arent a video game historian, you may have figured out where this is going by now. The game was redesigned to be played only as a criminal, the psychopathic AI of the cops was refined, and the title was changed toGrand Theft Auto. Through a series of buyouts and mergers, DMA Design would eventually become the company we know today as Rockstar North. In 2001, they would release the landmark follow-up,Grand Theft Auto III, which was universally acclaimed, incredibly popular, and has proven to be highly influential in the open-world action genre.
The Effect:This glitch turned out to be the shot in the arm that the game needed. Suddenly, every chase was a life-or-death struggle against a psychotic army of suicidal police cruisers who would stop at nothing to turn your car into a twisted heap of burning scrap metal by any means possible. The playtesters started ignoring the missions and the dev team discovered that messing around in the open world was often more fun than following the games story.
The Glitch:In 1995, a studio named DMA Design started work on a game calledRacenChase. It was to be a top-down open-world action game in which the player could complete missions as either a criminal or a police officer. These missions would be largely vehicle-based, though the player could get out and continue on foot if they wanted. Unfortunately, development soon stagnated, and playtesters reported a lack of engagement with the game.
The Effects:Even though Gard intended to counter the negative portrayal of women in video games (Croft is strong, intelligent, and independently wealthy, as opposed to being a love interest and/or perpetually-kidnapped princess), it turns out that some stereotypes will never die. This new bit of character development was greeted enthusiastically by the rest of the dev team, and publisher Eidos suddenly thought of an excellent way to market the game. Laras Parton-esque polygons have since been a part of her character design for the entire series at least until the upcoming reboot, in which Miss Croft has been redesigned with a more reasonable bust size.
Interestingly, the Spy class inTF2has its own glitch which became a feature (to an extent). Equipping the Disguise Kit, looking straight up, crouching, and walking in any direction will contort the character models skeleton in a bizarre manner. This intriguing animation oversight has been dubbed Spycrab by the fan community, who have begged Valve to not patch it out (as it offers no advantage during competitive play). Not only has Valve left Spycrab in the game, but they also added a Spycrab taunt that has a 10% chance of occurring when a Spy taunts with the Disguise Kit equipped.
Obviously, combos didnt stay hidden for very long, and soon kids in arcades around the world were raging as their friends took out large chunks of their health with flurries of unblockable attacks. Thankfully, this didnt destroy the carefully-balanced nature of the game, as combo attacks would rarely deplete more than a third of an opponents life gauge, but it certainly added a new wrinkle to the gameplay. WhenStreet Fighter II: Hyper Fightingwas released, combos were promoted by Capcom as a gameplay feature, and a couple months later,Super Street Fighter IIbecame the first fighting game to count the number of hits in a combo and reward the player appropriately with bonus points.
The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening The Bomb Arrows that appeared later inTwilight Princessare thought to have been the result of a glitch, though this has neither been confirmed nor denied by the creators.
Quake The method of travelling known as strafejumping has become almost as well-known as rocket jumping.
The Effect:Before this glitch was discovered, the Blessed Hammer skill (which sends a magic hammer spiraling out around your character, hitting all the monsters in its path) had a medium base damage, and was rarely given a second look after the Paladin had moved onto higher-level skills. However, once people realized that Concentration greatly boosted Blessed Hammers damage output, the Blessed Hammer-wielding Paladin (dubbed the Hammerdin) became one of the most popular character builds in the game. Because when a Paladin is at the center of a cyclone of glowing hammers, each doing thousands of points of damage, u cant touch this.
WhileGTA3certainly didnt invent any of the aspects commonplace to open-world action games, it is still a groundbreaking title for how it brought all of those aspects together with a high level of polish. A large part of the appeal of the series comes from the mayhem that evolved from thatRacenChaseglitch, and this carnage has inspired a number of other critically-lauded games such as theSaints Rowseries, theinFamousgames,Prototypeand its sequel, andJust Cause 2.
Such is the programmers lament, because even though a computer may be a perfect, immortal machine, it is still built and operated by imperfect meatbags like you or me. This is why almost every video game in existence contains a number of glitches, and debugging is only becoming more difficult as games get exponentially more complex. Some glitches are minor aesthetic hiccups that only temporarily break your immersion in the game, such as Havok Physics ragdoll corpses getting stuck inside walls and having dance parties, orRed Dead Redemptions Donkey Lady (look it up on YouTube). Other glitches have reached legendary status within the gaming community, such asMarios Minus World, the Vanish-Doom bug inFinal Fantasy VI, and Missingno. from the first generation ofPokmon. Still others have become infamous for breaking the game and preventing the player from completing it under certain circumstances;Battletoads,The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, andSpace Station Silicon Valleyall feature such disastrous programming oversights.
The Glitch:Released to arcades in 1991,Street Fighter II: The World Warrioris widely seen as one of the most influential fighting games of all time. While most of the games innovations were carefully planned and painstakingly crafted intentionally by Capcom, one of them happened entirely by mistake. While he was checking the break the car bonus stage for bugs, producer Noritaka Funamizu discovered that it was possible to cancel the animation of certain attacks by initiating a different attack.
Gradius Less a glitch and more the result of a programmer with a poor memory, the famed Konami Code was born when Kazuhisa Hashimoto forgot to remove debug mode from the console port of the game. (If you goddamn kids dont know what the Konami Code is, then you can get the hell off my lawn.)
Mortal Kombat The characters Ermac and Skarlet were both rumored to be the result of a palette-swapping glitch, though Ed Boon has denied this.
The Glitch:When Toby Gard was designing the firstTomb Raidergame, he originally envisioned the protagonist as a man with a whip and a hat (gee, I wonder where he got that idea). After realizing that getting sued by Lucasfilm was probably not a wise career choice, it was decided that the game would have a female hero. Gard went through several different character concepts before settling on an upper-class, persistent thrillseeker by the name of Lara Croft. However, when it came time to fine-tune the 3D character model, a brief fit of absentmindedness turned a 50% increase in breast size into a 150% increase.
Two decades later, it is now the tournament fighters without combos that are in the minority. Series likeTekken,BlazBlueandDead or Alivethrive on fast-paced combo attacks, and the art of the combo evolved in 1994 whenKiller Instinctintroduced the c-c-c-c-combo breaker.Street Fighter IImay not have been the very first fighting game to include combos (1985sShanghai Kidhad them), but it was the first popular game to feature combo attacks, and the fighting genre hasnt been the same since. And its all because a bug-tester found a glitch and decided to leave it in because he didnt give a 5-hit combo.
The Effect:Thats right. The way that the aliens moved faster and faster as you thinned their ranks, making the game more difficult as you played? That was aglitch. Nishikado chose to keep this bug in the game instead of trying to compensate for it, because he realized the potential benefits that it could have for the industry (and also his wallet). Other video games of the day would generally be uniformly difficult throughout, and Game Overs just happened when the player ran out of patience or made a dumb mistake. All of that changed whichSpace Invadersintroduced the industry to the concept of a difficulty curve.
Super Mario Bros. A glitch that would allow Mario to jump again if he hit a wall in a specific manner is possibly the inspiration for his wall-jumping ability in the newer games. The ? Blocks that contain multiple coins are also thought to be inspired by a bug.
I really hate this damn machine. I wish that they would sell it. It never does quite what I want, but only what I tell it.
The Glitch:If you were to pull up any given list of the most influential video games of all time,Space Invaderswould almost definitely be there. If it isnt, then whoever wrote the list is wrong. It set the template for the shoot-em-up genre, it was the first game that saved high scores, it gobbled so many yen that Japan suffered a national coin shortage, and it was among the earliest video games to simulate a fantastical experience as opposed to a digital representation of a real activity (like tennis). Hell, its even what inspired Shigeru Mother****ing Miyamoto to start making video games. However,Space Invaders widest-reaching contribution to the industry is heralded a little less often. Also, it was a mistake.
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Warcraft 2 An easy-to-perform glitch granting the player 100 extra Lumber at the beginning of a game became the standard opening in many official tournaments, as it allowed matches to get underway quicker.
The Effect:The developers decided that this egregious breach of reality was out of character for a game in which a samurai uses magical elemental swords and a soul-stealing oni gauntlet to battle zombies, lizard monsters, and demon ninja, so the offending glitch was fixed. However, Capcom recognized the potential that this kind of juggling gameplay could have in a hack-and-slash environment, so they transplanted the gravity-defying combat system to another one of their franchises:Resident Evil. Still early in development,Resident Evil 4originally starred a man named Tony who was granted immortality and incredible fighting prowess by genetic mutation. Eventually, Capcom deemed this juggling gameplay to be out of character forResident Evilas well, so they decided to make a new IP based entirely on the combat system. Tony was renamed Dante, the major plot details were re-written, the game was named after Satans perceived reaction toOld Yeller, and a new franchise was born.
Adventure Its hard to call it a feature per se, but the infamous Created by Warren Robinett room (read: the first video game easter egg ever) was accessed by intentionally triggering a glitch known as sprite flickering, which was a common bug up through the third generation of video games.
Half-Life 2 The Combine Gunships are programmed to attack whatever currently represents the biggest threat (usually the player). However their AI decided that rockets are more dangerous than the person launching them, so they would shoot any flying rockets, requiring the player to guide them through erratic flight paths to score a hit. Valve liked this so much that they kept it in the game. Likewise, the sugar mill level ofLeft 4 Dead 2with dozens of Witches was the result of a glitch that the developers enjoyed.
Space Invaderswas largely designed and created by one man, Tomohiro Nishikado. He even went so far as to build his own hardware from scratch, as Japanese microcomputers of the time werent powerful enough to program and run the game. Even with his specially-designed, pimped-out hardware, the game wouldnt run the way he envisioned it. The processor just couldnt make the antagonistic aliens move as fast as Nishikado intended. However, as the player shot more and more aliens, thereby removing entities from the screen, the processer had less and less sprites to render, and the game sped up.
The Glitch:When Capcom was developing their first game for the PlayStation 2, an action-adventure hack-and-slash calledOnimusha: Warlords, they discovered a silly quirk in the combat physics. Enemies could be launched into the air, and by attacking quickly, successive strikes could keep them airborne, much like in a fighting game.
Tetris The technique known as the T-Spin is thought to have originally been a glitch, and is now necessary for high-level play.
The Glitch:In 1996, three Australian friends named Robin Walker, John Cook, and Ian Caughley made a class-based, team-based mod forQuakecalledTeam Fortress. Present within the game was a curious glitch in which a players name would show up in the wrong color, making it appear as if they were on the opposite team.
The Effect:While fixing the bug was easy enough, it gave the programmers an idea. They envisioned a new character class based on deception and sabotage. The new class would be able to impersonate members of the other team and gain their trust before literally stabbing them in the back. About a year later, an update to the game (now calledQuakeWorld Team Fortress) added the new class, dubbed the Spy, presumably because FYI I am a deceitful operative based largely on a minor graphical glitch from a previous version of the game doesnt flow that well.
Sometimes, a glitch will become so well-liked that it is intentionally programmed into future games (or if the bug was discovered during development, purposefully left in the finished product). TV Tropes calls these Ascended Glitches. Maybe the offending bit of bad code adds an interesting new dynamic to the game. Perhaps the glitch is just ridiculously silly, but doesnt detract from the experience. Either way, some of the most memorable features in gaming history have been just as unscripted as Robert De Niros You talkin to me? speech inTaxi Driver. These glitches have been chosen and ranked based on several factors, including popularity, impact within its respective series, and impact within the overall gaming industry.
While some of the glitches on this list are notable for influencing their entire genre, this bug had the opposite effect. This playstyle was unique to theTribesseries, and became the thing that set the franchise apart from other team-based shooters. Dynamix took advantage of this, and incorporated skiing as a feature inTribes 2. The maps were designed to facilitate skiing, the all-but-obsolete vehicles were removed, and a tutorial mission was included to introduce new players to the concept. Skiing has been part of the series ever since; the most recent release,Tribes: Ascendwas even billed as the Worlds Fastest Shooter. Thankfully, unlike that other skiing-based video game, a Yeti will never show up to eat you inTribes.
While glitches are usually seen by programmers as something to be avoided, the best developers know when to capitalize on a bug that makes their game more memorable. Just like with many movie scenes, sometimes the best moments arent in the script. I hope you enjoyed this look at particularly serendipitous bits of errant code, and if you have any [questions/comments/complaints that this list didnt feature a singleTalesgame], feel free to drop by the Top 10 List Board or Gaming Symmetry to [ask/share/blame it on someone other than me].
The Effects:High-level players abused this exploit, dubbed skiing, refining it and combining it with in-game features like the jetpack to travel extremely fast. Using the jetpack on upward slopes to maintain momentum (usually becoming airborne in the process) and landing on downward slopes to continue skiing allowed people to cross the games large maps in a fraction of the time it would take to run such distances, meaning that vehicles were no longer the only way to expedite gameplay. Programming-savvy players wrote scripts to automate the jump command, and soon writing/downloading such a script was the only way to playTribescompetitively. (Some players would also utilize the knockback from explosive weapons to gain momentum, but well discuss that phenomenon later.)
Halo In the original game, aiming all the way down with a pistol would cause the head of the character model to revert back to level, even while their gun was pointed at the ground, making it appear that the character was at ease. This was famously used by Rooster Teeth in theirRed vs. Bluemachinima. Bungie fixed the bug inHalo 2but added a new feature that would allow characters to hold their weapon in a neutral position.
Sierra Entertainment would take notice ofTeam Fortress, and they in turn brought it to the attention of Valve Software. Valve hired all three programmers to make aTeam Fortressmod in theHalf-Lifeengine (Team Fortress Classic), and Walker and Cook are still part of the company, working onTeam Fortress 2.
Painkillerand someMetroidgames are designed in such a way that some secrets can only be found by abusing glitches in the games engine.
This is one of the few innovations that could be considered to have universal influence across all genres of video games (save for purely multiplayer games). Nowadays, any video game worth its salt has a similar difficulty curve. It starts (relatively) easy and gets more difficult as you progress through the game. If the game stays easy the entire time, the player gets bored. Their skills are improving through practice, and if the game doesnt provide new challenges, it becomes less engaging. The rewarding sense of accomplishment that comes with a finely-tuned difficulty curve is one of the things that madeSpace Invadersso addictive, turning it into a worldwide sensation (even if it did start as a glitch).
The Glitch:In a video game where the primary objectives are A) stay alive, and B) prevent everyone else from completing Objective A, youd think that pointing a loaded rocket launcher at your own feet and pulling the trigger would be counterproductive. However, as further proof that, without real-life consequences, gamers will stick all of the proverbial forks into all of the proverbial electric sockets, players of many first-person shooters started doing that exact thing. Depending on what game they were playing, many of them discovered an impressive new trick: if you jumped and immediately shot a rocket at the ground beneath you, the explosion would launch you into the air (provided the damage didnt kill you).
Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 A hilarious glitch causing Elzan V. Bransteins theme to automatically override any other music when he appears was so well-received by the community, that it has since been written into every successive game in the franchTROMBE!
The game was also extremely unstable at this point, and the code was constantly in flux to find a way to keep it from crashing. As anyone with programming experience can tell you, its very easy for appended code to have unforeseen effects on the overall product. One of the updates had a drastic effect on the police AI, causing them to drive much more recklessly and pursue the player much more persistently.
Bethesda games are typically replete with bugs, andSkyrimin particular is home to a plethora of hilarious glitches, many of which have notably not been patched.
The Effect:During an actual match, utilizing this glitch would allow a character to land several blows on an opponent without giving them enough time to react, even if they were controlled by the computer. Funamizu felt that the timing to properly execute these combination attacks would be too difficult to master, and that pulling off combos with enough consistency to make them useful would be impossible, so he left them in the game as a hidden feature.
Blizzard, who could have easily patched the bug out of existence, instead chose to leave it in the game, though they did nerf the build initially by halving the damage bonus that Blessed Hammer receives from Concentration. Hammerdins briefly fell out of favor until a subsequent patch introduced synergies. With synergies, investing skill points in certain other skills (specifically Blessed Aim and Vigor) would provide even more damage bonuses to Blessed Hammer, and Hammerdins once again became one of the most-played builds onD2servers. If you were to boot upDiablo II: Lord of Destructiontoday (because seriously, who wants to playDiablo III?) and join a multiplayer game, it would still not be uncommon to find rooms full of more Hammers than aDr. Horriblecosplay convention.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 After a fan named Levinator25 posted a video of the in-game Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball while standing on water, EA Sports used this Jesus Shot in a commercial for the next game.
The Effects:Pravoka is the second town you visit, and the northern continent is a late-game area that you arent supposed to reach without the airship, so the monsters you encounter in the four squares at the end of the peninsula are significantly more powerful than anything else youll encounter early in the game. This has made this landmark (dubbed the Peninsula of Power byNintendo Powermagazine) an extremely popular spot for grinding even if it is just the tip as the peninsula spews forth large amounts of experience points and gold. You dont even have to wait 15 minutes before doing it again.
This is certainly one of the most famous examples of a serendipitous glitch being adopted into a series canon, but whileTomb Raiderand Lara Croft themselves are very influential (Tomb Raiderwas one of the first games to get 3D right, thereby becoming the template for dozens of imitators, and Lara was one of the first strong female action heroes in games at least for people who didnt manage to beatMetroidin under 5 hours), its hard to say that the actual glitch influenced the industry greatly. After all, attractive women have been part of art since before Botticelli painted a naked chick standing on a seashell. It was only a matter of time before an improbably-proportioned lady became the star of a popular game.