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Game-breaking glitch

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The heck was that supposed to be?

Game breaking glitches are a form of game glitch that breaks fundamental mechanics of a game either temporarily or permanently. The breaking of mechanics can include the save feature of a game, or ability or mechanic that is required to progress through the game or the game can outright stop working. It can also be in the form of the game crashing on launch 100% of the time, thus making it literally unplayable and broken.

As newer consoles are capable of receiving software updates, said crashes can now be fixed easily and have gotten less and less common. However, past console generations had no internet connectivity, meaning they were stuck with the glitches, and due to PC gaming being able to easily receive patches, game-breaking glitches are reportedly rare on PC games.

Types of game-breaking glitches

Game crashes

A Windows message saying that the game Spore has stopped working.

Game crashes are a type of game-breaking glitch where the game stops working immediately and you are unable to continue playing the game. This is also the most common glitch as it is not only prominent on video games, but also on various software. If a game crashes all progress that you had done since your last save is lost, and if you were saving your game or in the middle of a loading screen while this occurred then the save could get corrupted and not be able to load again. If the crash occurs every time the game launches then the game is literally unplayable. Sometimes the game or operating system will show an error message and shut down the game or program after you close the message. Other times the game just stops responding to anything and shows the same frame of gameplay (also often hanging the sound into a loud buzzing sound), and this is commonly known as a game freeze or game hang. Disc scratches make game crashes more likely to happen. If this glitch can be triggered to crash somebody else's game while it is saving, this can result in a malicious activity where people can abuse the glitch to interrupt the saving process causing the save to become corrupted. Typically, if its a soft freeze on a console, you can get out of it via closing the game or an error popping up, but if its a hard freeze which ends up also freezing the home menu, the player is forced to unplug the console and replug it in to fix the problem. Back then before the seventh generation on consoles, the only way to get out of a crash was to restart them.

Soft lockup

A soft lockup occurs when you cannot do anything in the game to progress even though the game is still running. For example, in a turn-based game, if a turn action fails to complete and yet the graphics and sound continues to animate, this is classified as a soft lockup. Soft lockups often force you to restart from a previous save as you cannot continue from that point.

Missing abilities

Sometimes a game glitch causes you to not get an ability or item required to progress throughout the game or takes it away from you when you still need the item to progress throughout the game. If this happens you are likely to get stuck in the game and have to revert to a previous state in which the item or ability is still available or possible to obtain and try the part of the game again.

Broken game mechanics

An essential game mechanic such as spawning into a level or being able to move or shoot is broken and doesn't work correctly, thus preventing you from progressing because it is required to continue the game.

Broken scripts or contraptions

Sometimes if you activate or touch objects or mechanisms before you're supposed to do so, it can be permanently set to an incorrect state for a sequence that uses that object or mechanism and makes it impossible to complete. This can cause it to be impossible to progress if this sequence is required to progress to the game and there is no way to reset the sequence so that it can be finished correctly.

Save data corruption

When your save data is corrupted, you are unable to use it, or when you try to use it, the game crashes. This is the most severe type of game glitch if the corruption occurred due to a game glitch. Usually, save data corruption is caused by interrupting the save process, usually when the game crashes or if the save program itself malfunctions and gets stuck partway through the process. However, this can also be caused by just terminating the game by, for example, shutting down the console or computer or forcibly terminating the game program using a task manager, in which case it is not the fault of the game itself, but by the user or environment.

Examples of game-breaking glitches

  1. The bridge in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is broken through the course of gameplay. If you save and quit just after the bridge is broken, a game glitch prevents you from being able to cross the bridge and you will be unable to progress any further.
  2. Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow has the infamous "MissingNo." glitch, which requires players to encounter it via a series of criteria. After the criteria are met and the player gets into a battle, the wild Pokémon will resemble a glitchy mess. Catching MissingNo. will result in glitches, corruptions, as well as permanent ruining of the player's hall of fame, it does not, however, ruin save files or delete saves despite popular belief however the save will remain corrupted and using MissingNo. in a battle against another player is said to permanently brick the other player's game (it's not known how badly MissingNo. ruins save files but it does corrupt them). It was even reported to crash emulators after restarting the game.
    • There's also the COOLTRAINER glitch where if the Pokémon Ditto used Transform and the player moved one of its moves by pressing select, the game will severely glitch in the next battle when it's sent out. Then it will freeze after the battle is over, and likely erase your saved data. It was one of the many bugs fixed in Generation II.
    • The original Japanese versions of the game, Pocket Monsters Red and Green, did not have MissingNo. However, using the same process you would to battle MissingNo in the later versions would present the player with an inescapable softlocked black screen.
  3. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire has the Berry Glitch, where timed events such as berries no longer function after a year and a day the game is started. Once the berry trees have their berries gathered, they cannot be replanted again. By linking to later Generation III games, there's an option to fix this bug.
  4. Generation IV Pokémon games have the Acid Rain glitch, where if the player uses the move Pursuit while either Trick Room or a weather effect is active, the game will start having all weather effects happening at once. It is also not recommended to have a Cherrim or Castform in your party while this glitch is active, because it will endlessly play their transformation animations. Turning the game off and back on fixes this.
  5. Pokémon Sword and Shield had a bug in the digital version of the game that whenever the game attempted to autosave, an error would occur and that would end up wiping out not only the save data of the game itself, but the save data of every other game on one's Switch. Thankfully, this glitch was patched.
  6. LittleBigPlanet 2 had two game-breaking glitches, called "Spawn Pop Cancer" and the "New Era" glitch. "Spawn Pop Cancer" caused your Sackboy character to constantly get killed in levels, thus breaking the game. The "New Era" glitch caused your character to never spawn in levels in the first place, and also broke major mechanics in Create Mode. The "New Era" was originally intended to stop the level copying epidemic, thinking that if people couldn't enter levels, they wouldn't be able to continue publishing copied levels. These game glitches were fixed in updates.
  7. That ONE DOOR from Metroid: Other M.
  8. Jak X: Combat Racing is notorious for its "saving" glitch where the save icon hangs on the game, forcing you to hard reset and most of the time end up with a corrupted save file. However, this glitch was reported to happen more often on specific PS2 models, whether it be the Slim model or the Fat model.
  9. In Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, there's a save point that if you use it and turn off the game, the next time you boot it up, you will find yourself locked in the room with the save point with no way to progress, forcing you to restart your save file.
  10. In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, there's a save point that if you use it and turn off the game, the next time you boot it up, you will find yourself stuck in the underground room with the save point with a game over bug to progress, forcing you to restart your save file.
  11. In Xenosaga Episode I - Der Wille zur Macht, you're in the second floor of Nephilim and there's a save point that if you use it and turn off the game. Once you save your progress, you go down to the elevator and go to the next room with leaving MOMO behind. After you take MOMO out of your party select, you ended up in the dark room where a glitch occurs.
  12. Tomb Raider: Legend has a game-breaking glitch where four levers used to activate a falling spiked cage to defeat a boss can be activated before you fight the boss. A glitch can occur with these levers, tapping the button repeatedly instead of pressing it once like the game developers intended before the boss fight will cause it to break and stop activating the falling spiked cage to drop down, at which point it is impossible to activate it to fight the boss.
  13. In Donkey Kong Country 2, a game-breaking glitch can be performed by going into Castle Crush and selecting Diddy to be the main character. Pick up the first DK Barrel in the level then hold it against a wall, then drop it and quickly pick it back up again. If done correctly, you will be holding an invisible barrel and many side effects will take place. Doing this could corrupt your save data and even the game cartridge itself.
  14. In Tony Hawk's Underground 2, there was a game glitch that allowed users with USB keyboards to type in more symbols than what was supposed to be able to be added to a message. Players quickly discovered that the glitch allowed them to send long messages that crashed other consoles as soon as they received them and people soon stopped playing the game online due to the glitch that they couldn't stop from crashing their system. Eventually, this caused the servers to be shut down. The community for the franchise was severely hampered as a result of this glitch.
  15. In Soulcalibur III, there's a game glitch that activates whenever the player erases a save file on their memory card that also has save data for this game's Chronicles of the Sword game mode. Doing so will cause the save file for the game's mode to become corrupted, forcing the player to start the entire game over again. The only way to get around this is to save the game on a completely different and preferably empty memory card and not fill it up with save data from any other game.
  16. A game-breaking glitch was discovered in Minecraft Legacy Console Edition that would crash the game that hosted a game server when an arrow was fired from a Dispenser into lava and landed on TNT. This game glitch was fixed, however, when it was still present, people could abuse the glitch to crash the server while the server was saving world data, thus causing the world to become corrupted and players to lose up to years of progress. Players could also easily set up a contraption that crashed the server automatically using a Redstone clock, thus frustrating server hosts to no end as the world "randomly" crashed every time the chunk was loaded.
  17. Superman 64 has a game-breaking glitch that randomly kills you in the final level for no apparent reason, regardless of how much health you have, thus making the level nigh-unplayable. Even using Gameshark Pro to give yourself infinite health doesn't stop the glitch from killing you.
  18. Revolution 60 has a game-breaking bug in the final boss that makes a Quick Time Event impossible to clear making the fight unwinnable. You have to manually change the controls to mousepad to fix it.
  19. Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams had a game-breaking glitch where if you choose the dragon as your spirit animal, it causes a glitch where you won't be able to access a bridge in the next level.
  20. The Sony PlayStation Underground Holiday 2004 Demo Disc has a notorious game-breaking glitch that would erase the formatting in any memory cards inserted into the system if you completed the first part of the Viewtiful Joe 2 demo.
  21. Age of Empires: The Age of Kings had a game-breaking glitch which occurred when you entered a name with 3 characters or less. There would be freezes, random corruptions, and even potential to brick the entire game so it would never work again. Apparently, they were unable to fix the glitch so they had to put a note warning players about the glitch.
  22. Grand Theft Auto III has the Purple Nines glitch, where after beating the final mission in D-Ice's optional mission strand, "Rumble", the Purple Nines gang members stop appearing in Wichita Gardens. This wouldn't be so bad, except when you start a new game after saving the game post-"Rumble", the Nines will no longer appear in Wichita Gardens, as only Red Jacks will spawn from that point on. This has a very detrimental effect on the first mission from D-Ice, "Uzi Money", which involves killing Purple Nines members by drive-by shooting them within the time limit, making it impossible to complete, and therefore unfeasible to beat the game 100%. Aside from fanmade fixes, none of the later releases fixed this glitch.
  23. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has the Cherry Poppers save glitch, where saving your game at that asset will usually corrupt your save file. This only occurs in the original 2002 PS2 release, as all of the later releases fixed this glitch.
  24. In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, if you activate the "Pedestrian Riot" cheat before the mission where CJ has to stop Madd Dogg from committing suicide, Madd Dogg will jump to his death after the opening cutscene, because he is programmed to be a pedestrian and not an NPC, immediately failing the mission. When this happens, this glitch happens every time you start the mission. Completion of this mission is required to progress in the game's story, thus rendering the game unwinnable.
    • Also from the same game, the extra gang territory glitch can have adverse effects to the save file. Some are exclusively to the PS2 version, others are found only in the XBOX and PC version. It is recommended not to save when that glitch happens.
    • And also from the same game, but mobile version, on newer version of Android (since version 11) and/or some devices, the game would crashes when launched, this led to 1-star reviews on Google Play complaining about this issues, and it's hasn't been fixed. The only way to play GTA: SA on mobile now requires you to use modified APK/OBB or pirated versions.
  25. Grand Theft Auto Advance has a glitch involving unused cars. When the player causes too many cars to explode at once, there's a chance beta cars will spawn. There's also a chance some cars that spawn during this glitched state that will cause the game to crash when they spawn. The only ways to leave this glitched state is to either reset the game, get wasted or busted, or leave the island.
  26. In Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, if you have too many Lost MC members killed in Gang Wars, eventually the memorial wall will run out of room, causing the game to freeze whenever the player approaches it.
  27. Grand Theft Auto V has a serious bug where if you die immediately after finishing a Stunt Jump, Under the Bridge or Knife Flight, it becomes impossible to restart missions that were failed because it gets stuck in an endless loop and make gold rankings impossible. Canceling a failed mission means the player is immobilized, forcing them to reload the save.
  28. Accessing the Special World in Super Mario Kollision 1 requires an arbitrary code injection glitch that can easily corrupt your save if you're off by even a frame (1/60th of a second).
  29. If you're playing Nuclear Throne on Windows, there is a rare chance the game will crash on the loop boss, Throne II. This only happens if you have boss intros turned on. This glitch is not present in Linux and Mac versions of the game, although there is a chance the game may crash if you unlock "Horror" and die right after on Linux, which is patched. When Nuclear Throne got updated to Update 99, the game fails to load, stays on a black screen, and your save files will get corrupted, forcing you to start over.
  30. The Sandbox Evolution has a game-breaking bug that makes the game crash at various points, most notably on the phone version of it. It is also known to happen on PCs. What's even worse, this glitch can't be fixed, thus rendering the game nigh-unplayable.
  31. Kang Fu on the Amiga CD32 has a glitch that doesn't free the memory of the console as it should, causing the game to crash upon starting it. The developers had to write the instructions to work around this bug in the manual.
  32. The European version of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked had a glitch at launch that caused the game to crash and lock up whenever the player summoned a demon in battle. Before the release of a patch, the only way to fix this was to turn off and restart the Nintendo 3DS entirely.
  33. A game-breaking glitch was found in the beta of Minecraft: Bedrock Edition which would crash the game every time the player loaded the chunks of a village.
    • Thankfully, the glitch was fixed in the next beta.
  34. In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword during the Song of the Hero quest if you talk to Golo after talking to Lanayru but before seeing one or both of the other dragons, the game will be impossible to progress because the events that are supposed to trigger in both Eldin Volcano and Faron Woods does not happen. Nintendo released a patch in the form of a Wii Channel to fix the glitch.
  35. In REV00 copies of Castlevania, using the Holy Water with the triple shot power-up in areas with a lot of sprites will crash the game due to the game loading invalid data. It was fixed in REV01 where it disables the triple shot during the boss fight with Death/The Grim Reaper.
  36. In Kirby Super Star, during the Milky Way Wishes game, inhaling a Noddy in the beginning of Planet Hotbeat, then immediately pausing and exiting the stage to go to the NOVA stage, the game will freeze.
  37. In newer version (1.03 tested) of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition, there is a chance that you can get your save files corrupted for some reason, and the game will crash on load. However, there are some workarounds to load corrupt saves, but they rarely work.[1]
  38. In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, there is a glitch where if you jump attack on the back of the chest in the Ghost Ship, the game will crash.
  39. In the original Metroid, Typing in "ENGAGE RIDLEY MOTHERFUCKER" in the password menu will cause severe glitches. Sometimes it will softlock you on one screen, sometimes the game crashes, and sometimes it can brick your console. On the Virtual Console and NSO Online versions, it will immediately close out the game and display an error message instead.
  40. In Mario Kart DS, in Luigi’s Mansion, if you hold A and B and turn left or right on the stairs, the game will immediately crash due to there being no sound effect for this happening.
  41. Psychotoxic has two, both of which prevents you from finishing the game. In the penultimate level, the player will quickly die after loading the level due to a lethal liquid rising too quickly. The other bug will occur showing an error message "OpenGL Error #436" and cause the game to close due to a manufacturing error with the game discs causing their material thickness to be altered, preventing the DVD drive from reading the discs properly. This caused StarForce, the DRM software that the game used, to incorrectly detect it as an illegitimate copy of the game and made it show the error message.
  42. In the launch version of Sonic Colors Ultimate, there was a game breaking glitch in the PS4/ PS5 and Xbox One/Series X+S that corrupted your save data, similar to Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition. Thankfully, this has been patched.
  43. In Mega Man 1, there's a game ending glitch where if you get hit the same frame as you beat the final boss' second form, you will zip to the right of the screen and be permanently stuck. You need to reset the game to fix this.
  44. In Mega Man 4, if the player uses the Rain Flush weapon just as Dr. Wily escapes from the Wily Machine 4, the game will experience a softlock and the player will be stuck on that screen. The only remedy is to reset and redo Dr. Cossack and Dr. Wily's stages all over again.
  45. In Midnight Club: Los Angeles, if the player has the South Central Premium DLC or the Complete Edition and plays through a DLC Goal Attack race before completing all regular Goal Attacks, there is a chance that the Goal Attack objectives will no longer register on the Goal Attacks menu screen despite having completed the races once the player is close to completing the mode and has won a lot of the DLC goal attacks before completing all of the main game Goal Attacks, which will prevent the player's save game's from being able to register goal attack objectives and earn any yet to be won achievements, including "True Dedication" and "GOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!!!", therefore, the player has to avoid any of the DLC goal attacks before finishing all of the main game's goal attacks.[2]
    • The only workaround (if one did not back up their save game) is to start a new save game and play through the game until they unlock a fast enough vehicle that can win goal attacks such as the Lamborghini Murciélago Roadster DUB Edition.
  46. Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3, due to an unnecessary attempt of converting the currency from Yen to Dollars in the NTSC-U release, the wanderer Whirlwind Fanfare can't be accessed due to the game's money cap being limited to 99,999,990, while it requires you to reach 100,000,000 CP (equivalent to 1,000,000 dollars) in order to make the wanderer appear. More information can be read here.
  47. Batman: Arkham Origins at launch, there were many, but one of the worst of the bunch was one where you would be in a void with no escape in sight.[1]
  48. In Saints Row 2, if you escape the Zombie Uprising minigame and roam around the city, you'll encounter a creature called The Freezer, in which it'll break your disc and the game. And if you attempt on starting the game after the disc was broken, you'll find some glitches like cutscene interiors disappearing, doors can't be opened, etc.
  49. In the first release version of Metroid Prime, if you leave the room where you fight the Phazon Elite without collecting the Artifact of Warrior, the artifact will despawn permanently, making it impossible to complete the game.
  50. In certain versions of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, re-entering Main Research in Sanctuary Fortress after shooting the sonic emitters in Main Research while leaving some sonic emitters active will cause a door leading to a portal to be permanently locked, causing the Caretaker Class Drone fight area to be inaccessible. The only way to continue the game from that point is by performing a Kip Dash.
  51. Mia: Romaine's New Hat features a glitch where Mia will permanently walk forward in place without allowing you to make any inputs. This glitch also ends up deleting all of your save data.
  52. In the original versions of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, in the Mine Lift area of the Pirate Homeworld, if you only use 1 out of 2 of the Spinners and then re-enter the room, both Spinners will become unusable, causing the mine lift to be locked in place and rendering the game unfinishable.



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