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.
Types of game-breaking glitches
Game crashes are a type of game-breaking glitch where the game stops working immediately and you are unable to continue playing the game. 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Pokémon Red, Blue, Green 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- That ONE DOOR from Metroid: Other M.
- 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. What makes this worse is that this glitch is BOUND to certain models and versions of the PS2; whether it's the Slim model or the Fat model.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has the Cherry Poppers save glitch, where saving your game at that asset will usually corrupt your save file.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A game-breaking glitch was found in the 220.127.116.11 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.
- 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.