The best glitches in gaming history

As anyone who’s been playing Fallout: New Vegas recently can attest, glitches in video games can be a pain. One minute you’re saving the wasteland, the next you’re stuck halfway inside a wall and no amount of jumping, crouching or analogue stick jigging can get you out. They render save files corrupt, as happened recently to Metroid: Other M players (they had to mail their memory cards to Nintendo for a fix), and they make games unbeatable, like the save glitch in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

But for all their evil, glitches have also been responsible for some of the most interesting gameplay techniques ever conceived and in this article we’re going to take a look at some of the more beneficial and/or curious glitches in gaming history.

Super Mario Bros. is a classic game and it also holds one of the most famous game glitches of all-time: the mysterious “Minus World”. Accessed by passing through a seemingly solid wall at the end of Level 1-2, the minus world of the NES original is an endlessly looping replica of a standard level.

But if you apply the same glitch to the Famicom Disk System version of the game you will embark on a far more surreal trip. Here the Minus World begins underwater in a strange sub-surface environment populated by clones of Princess Toadstool. The remains of a failed Bowser experiment perhaps? One can only speculate.

Pokemon Red and Blue were a huge part of many of our childhoods and for those who really got into the idea of being a Pokémon master by dressing themselves sup like Ash and attempting to trap various small animals in makeshift Pokéballs, the greatest prize of them all was the mysterious, elusive, Mew.

For the unfamiliar, Mew is a small, pink, cat-like Pokémon that was designed to be impossible to catch normally in the game. But that didn’t stop the Internet and as soon as the game was out layers began concocting ridiculous ideas about how Mew might be tamed. People tried gathering teams of level 100 Pokémon to push conspicuously parked vans or performing bizarre item consumption rituals but it was all in vain.

Until seven years after the game was released, when some ingenious hackers discovered that by performing an incredibly specific sequence of actions you could trick the game into triggering an encounter with the most rare of the rare critters. It’s an incredible feat and a sign of the sheer will and determination of Pokémon obsessed maniacs…err, fans.

Rocket Jumping is a standard strategy in just about every fast-paced FPS game these days but when it was first discovered in Bungie’s Marathon it was purely by accident. Rocket Jumping is the process where you fire a rocket at your fire and use the blast to propel you to otherwise inaccessible parts of the map, in real life this would be highly inadvisable but in a game like Unreal Tournament or Quake it can be quite the advantage. Rocket Jumping went on to be adopted by the genre and Team Fortress 2 even has special animation for when its Soldier Class uses the technique.

If you were to think of one feature that defines the fighting game genre it would probably be the combos. Every major fighting game lives or dies by how its moves can be combined to keep your opponent on the defensive. Dedicated fighting game players memorise hundreds of long input lists so that they can produce the right combo at a moment’s notice but would you believe the first combo system ever was an accident?

A Street Fighter 2 designer discovered that by timing their inputs correctly players could perform multiple moves faster than intended but he never imagined that gamers would discover the glitch. They did and fighting games have never been the same since.

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