Video game glitches are always going to exist, simply by the nature of gaming. The idea of a game that is perfect and has no glitches doesn’t exist because no matter how much a game is stress-tested, there is nothing like putting it in the hands of regular people. Developers can spend months fixing bugs and polishing a game up to perfection and then as soon as it releases you have tons of people finding bugs that you never even knew existed, because every user is going to do something unique.
The range of these glitches can vary. Sometimes they’re infuriating and break the game entirely. Other times they’re minor and only exist when the game has been pushed to its absolute limits. Then there are those glitches that we just can’t help but laugh at. They don’t ruin the experience but instead enhance them. Glitches are as much a part of the gaming experience as anything else and some of them have become very famous. Some of them have even changed video games as a whole!
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most legendary game glitches of all time.
Possibly the most famous glitch on this list, the Minus World, or as it’s shown in the game World -1, is a “hidden” level that you can access via World 1-2 in Super Mario Bros. on NES. At the end of the stage, you need to jump backward and glitch your way through the wall until you reach the secret entrance in the back. Enter the first or third pipe and you have entered World -1 which is in reality just World 7-2 but on an endless loop.
In the game’s code World -1 is actually considered “World 36-1” but 36 is the same number used for blank tiles so it merely shows up as “-1” and this led to fans dubbing it “Minus world.” Compared to many other glitches this one is fairly tame, but Minus World became infamous among fans of the game and as time has gone on it’s become part of Super Mario Bros. lore.
This is also a good example of pushing a game to its limits and trying to break it on purpose. The process of reaching the minus world is something you almost have to force yourself to do. Rarely if ever is someone going to reach this on accident.
Arguably the most infamous Pokemon glitch, MISSINGNO became a major part of gaming culture because of just how weird it is. To activate this you need to do a careful series of steps that include re-doing the Pokemon catching tutorial in Viridian City, flying to Cinnabar Island, and then surfing right on the coast of the island back and forth. After running into wild Pokemon for a little while, at completely random levels, you will eventually run into the legendary MISSINGNO.
What MISSINGNO is in reality is nothing more than a placeholder program for when the game can’t find the number it’s seeking. Thus MISSINGNO= Missing No. = Missing Number. However, you’re not supposed to be able to find MISSINGNO in normal circumstances so when you do find it you are going to begin seriously corrupting your game. Catch it with a Masterball and then you can start putting on a magic show for anyone watching.
Culturally, MISSINGNO became infamous in the Pokemon community and has spawned fan art, creepypasta stories, and tons of fan theories about what MISSINGNO is or what it was supposed to be. As time went on though it became a trick for duplicating items and other fun tricks.
If you’ve ever watched someone play Super Smash Bros. Melee professionally you’re probably amazed at just how fast they can move. A part of why they’re able to cover ground so quickly is a small glitch fans dubbed “Wavedashing.” The glitch itself is rather harmless. Press the buttons on your GameCube controller correctly with the proper timing and you will slide across the stage during matches. It’s what wavedashing became that makes it such a famous glitch.
You can argue that there’s a direct correlation between wavedashing and the growth of professional play with melee. Players who learned how to wavedash made the game faster, they got better at it, and these days it’s a high-speed eSport featuring some of the top players in the world going head to head in tournaments.
Without wavedashing it’s hard to see the game ever becoming as quick as it is. It completely changed the game and added a layer of skill that benefits the hardcore crowd of the game. It’s also a fun glitch because it’s not required to enjoy the game. You can still play the game casually with friends and never once use it, but if you want to be part of the hardcore then you need to learn how to wavedash. It’s almost like a rite of passage.
This one is kind of cheating, but speedrunning has played a huge part in changing how glitches are viewed among gamers. For the longest time, when you found a glitch, it was an annoyance that hampered your enjoyment of the game. However, as speedrunning has gotten more popular it has led to players seeking out more ways to play the games faster. So they seek out glitches, ways to teleport ahead of where they should be, break through invisible barriers, and complete hour long games in sometimes literal minutes.
Utilizing glitches is a major part of speedrunning and it leads to players seeking out new ones. They’re constantly pushing games to their limit and seeing how they can bend them to their advantage. The craziest part is sometimes the most important glitches they find are the ones that only save precious seconds. It may seem minor, but when the difference between the world record and your time is three seconds, those glitches become extremely important to your run.
The Corrupted Blood Plague
What if a pandemic happened virtually? It’s already happened before and it became one of the most infamous glitches ever!
A raid in the popular MMO World of Warcraft featured a boss with an effect where they would infect players and drain their health. The effect was highly contagious and if the player ran near other players or their pets it would infect them as well. The effect would eventually go away on its own or when the player died, but where the glitch occurs is that the effect could be taken outside the dungeon.
If a player’s pet was infected during the raid and they de-summoned it in the dungeon, they would keep the effect outside of the dungeon and if the player chose to release their pet back outside the dungeon they could infect themselves and other players with what was essentially a virus. Other players, other players’ pets, and even NPC’s could all get the virus. Even worse when an NPC got it they would remain unaffected while still being contagious. So if an NPC had the virus and you went up to them then you yourself would become contagious. World of Warcraft had a pandemic in their game due to a glitch.
The aftereffects of this ended up becoming worldwide news with media outlets, the CDC, and terrorist prevention organizations all keeping a close eye on the effects of this in-game outbreak. It was the closest they had to a virtual example of what a pandemic might look like at the time. It even got referenced in the TV show Mythic Quest.
Call it recency bias or call it over reactionary, but the glitches of Cyberpunk are going to have a massive effect on video games as a whole.
The glitches themselves can be hilarious, featuring flying cars, and players being launched into space, but they aren’t always funny. Many of them were game breaking and actively ruined the experience. It became such a problem that CD Projekt started telling players that weren’t happy with the game to ask for refunds. Sony responded to this by pulling the game from their online store.
There is no telling what kind of pandora’s box was opened with this. Games shipping broken is becoming a little too much the norm these days and fans are growing increasingly tired of it. You can see this in more than just Cyberpunk. Just look at the response to Madden 21‘s release. What is stopping fans the next time this happens from demanding a refund again? We’re seeing more pressure than ever for games to release in a more complete state, especially with prices increasing to $70 in this new console generation.
Cyberpunk isn’t the first game to be a buggy mess, but it might have been the final straw for fans. Glitches can be fun, they can change the entire course of a game’s history, but when you see too many of them they can ruin a game.