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Worst Videogame Bugs of All Time: From Game-Ending Glitches to Data-Destroying Nightmares

By Zeus | 2007-08-03


Bug! We've all been there. Back to the wall. Knee-deep in the dead. When all of a sudden... the screen freezes. Congratulations, you just wasted six hours of your life. And man, did you get off easy.

Because some bugs do more than freeze your game. They can erase save files, ruin other games, and even damage the hardware they're played on.

They are... The Worst Videogame Bugs of All Time.

PlayStation Underground Holiday 2004 Demo Disc (PS2)

Nightmare Before Christmas. Not even the good one with Sally.

Official PlayStation Magazine Holiday 2004 Demo Type: Ruins Other Games
Description: Children who rushed down stairs to unwrap this little beauty on Christmas morning were overjoyed when the Viewtiful Joe 2 demo formatted their memory card, ruining games-in-progress that are far better than this rushed Capcom sequel.
Why It's The Worst: Talk about your Grinch scenarios! We know the Japanese aren't too keen on Santa Claus, but come on. That's like giving some poor kid a copy of Panzer General for Chanukah.
Fix: Sony said you can play the demos all you want as long as you remove your memory cards before playing the demo. Angry gamers recommend turning that sumbitch sideways before sticking it straight up Sony's candy ass.

Oblivion: Shivering Isles expansion (PC, Xbox 360)

It's fine! Relax! Who plays a game for 150 hours?

Oblivion: Shivering Isles box art Type: Game-Ending Bug
Description: After installing the Shivering Isles expansion pack, all would be well until the 150-hour mark. Then it's game over, man! Game over! Six scripts controlling the movement of some city guards slowly ate up resources until no new items could be created or dropped. (Obviously, this could cause a few problems...) Even better, the problem strikes even if you never go anywhere near the new areas. Joy!
Why It's The Worst: This isn't some crash in level 3 that forces you to restart your game, it's a bug that remains virtually undetected until you've invested more time in Shivering Isles than most gamers have invested in women.
Fix: There's a patch, for both PC and Xbox 360. Get it.

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings (DS)

Hardly the Royal Treatment

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings Type: Damages Hardware
Description: This portable port of Age of Empires II seemed too good to be true. Then I nearly found out the hard way that naming your profile less than four characters can literally break the game. We all know you're not supposed to turn off a system while it's saving, but Age of Kings has a nasty habit of freezing while you save.
Why It's The Worst: Later releases are supposed to come with a little notice warning you about the problem. Strange, I didn't get one, and I bought mine new at Wal-Mart a year after the game's release. So I had to make my own.
Fix: Make sure your profile name is four or more characters, and just to be safe, avoid Save & Quit altogether. Quit being lazy, do a normal Save and turn the damned thing off.

Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor (PC)

More like Poo of Radiance

Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor box art Type: Damages Windows; Breaks Other Games
Description: Some gamers hated Ruins of Myth Drannor so much they tried to uninstall it before any updates were released. These poor souls soon discovered that the foul game had been banished to the netherworld... along with their Windows System files.
Why It's The Worst: This is the only bug in this article that can ruin your fun and your home office.
Fix: Install the v1.1 patch, THEN uninstall this PoR excuse for a game before it leaves your system in Ruins. Ha-ha!

Bubble Bobble Revolution (DS)

A game you can't possibly win? Revolutionary!

Bubble Bobble Revolution box art Type: Unfinished Game
Description: Get to level 30 and... that's it. There's no boss waiting to kill you. There's absolutely no way to get to levels 31-100. Did they even playtest this thing?
Why It's The Worst: Much can be said in about of those brave boys and girls in Q.A. They're our last line of defense against random crashes and game-ending bugs. Epics like Oblivion have millions of variables. Finding all the bugs is next to impossible. Then you have a one-screen action/puzzler like B.B.R., a game every bit as simple as the old days. Sadly, not simple enough.
Fix: The company is shipping out replacement cards, yadda yadda yadda. It's almost enough to make you wish for wireless DS software patches. Almost.

Twilight Princess (Wii version)

Shad Out of Luck

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess box art Type: Game-Ending Bug
Description: If you save and quit in the Big Cannon Room before talking to a gent named Shad, the next time you load your game, Shad will be gone, trapping you in the room forever.
Why It's The Worst: Despite starting its life and later being released as a Gamecube game, Twilight Princess was the killer app for Nintendo Wii's launch. Shipping a game-ending bug in your epic launch title is almost as bad as shipping Luigi's Mansion as your epic launch title.
Fix: Send your bugged disc to Nintendo and they'll send you back a working copy with integrated firmware updates. Or just buy the Gamecube version and you won't have to put up with game-ending bugs, gimmick controls and mirror-universe oddities. Link's a lefty, damn it. Don't mess with success.

Guitar Hero 2 Whammy Bar Update (Xbox 360)

Big Bugs, No Whammies!

Guitar Hero 2 Type: Ruins Hardware
Description: Immediately after RedOctane released a whammy bar patch, users complained of system freezes--with GH2 as well as other games--and even the dreaded red ring of death.
Why It's The Worst: Patches on console games are bad enough, but a patch that can break your hardware? Crap like that is inexcusable.
Fix: RedOctane told Eurogamer, "We're aware of the problem and we're looking into it." I haven't been able to find any fixes or follow-ups since. As for the broken Xbox 360s? Send 'em in to Microsoft.

Jet Set Willy (ZX Spectrum)

Ahh! That cover--My eyes!

Jet Set Willy box art Type: Unfinished Game
Description: After entering a room called The Attic the entire game becomes corrupted. The good news is, monsters disappear from some rooms. The bad news? Other rooms turn into instant-death traps, making it impossible to win.
Why It's The Worst: Software Projects actually tried to pass this glitch off as a "feature," claiming that the instant-kill rooms were filled with poison gas. Also, this ancient game added a dash of cobwebs to a list of relatively recent titles. Lastly, look at that cover art. Just look at it. Oh my god. I think this game just gave bugs to my eyes. Is his head in the toilet? Is the toilet in his head? It's like a Garbage Pail Man.
Fix: Eventually, Software Projects admitted they had a problem. According to the Jet Set Willy FAQ, you have to "MERGE the loader and add 4 pokes to cure it."

  • Moving an invisible object from the First Landing to The Hall (42183,11)
  • Removing a killer object from the Conservatory Roof (60231,0)
  • Changing a block in the Banyan Tree to a walk-through type (56876,4)
  • The Attic bug fix Poke (59901,82).
And no, I have no idea what the hell any of that means. Official Pokes? Doesn't sound like something I'd be interested in.

Pokémon: Fushigi no Dungeon Blue (DS)

Gotta Buy 'Em All...Pokémon! Yes, that's the second Pokémon reference non-joke tagline. Deal with it.

Pokemon: Fushigi no Dungeon Blue box art Type: Ruins Other Games
Description: The Masters of Connectivity at Nintendo simultaneously released two Pokémon: Fushigi no Dungeon games: Red for GBA and Blue for DS. Naturally, Nintendo rewarded gamers for playing Blue with Red plugged into the DS's GBA port... but no one expected to be punished for playing with anything else. That's right, Pokémon Blue erases your GBA saves if they are "unrelated" to Pokémon.
Why It's The Worst: Another DS bug! This is why Nintendo no longer calls it the "Official Seal of Quality.
Fix: Nintendo claimed to have replacement carts out in under a month. In the meantime, Japanese DS owners were told to error on the side of caution and keep their GBA ports covered at all times. Preferably with a $45 copy of Pokémon: Fushigi no Dungeon Red.

Soul Calibur III (PS2)

If you forget to add a cute pun here I'll kick you in the face. -Ed.

Soul Calibur III Type: Game-Ending Bug; Ruins Other Games
Description: When Dante conceptualized Hell in The Divine Comedy, he envisioned a series of concentric circles, each one descending further and further into the true evil. Soul Calibur III's developers must have been thinking the same thing, because it's riddled with bugs, each more sinister than the last. If you have a SCIII save on your memory card and you dare move, modify or delete anything, one of the following might happen:

  • Chronicles of the Sword side-quest becomes corrupted.
  • Your entire Soul Calibur III save file becomes corrupted.
  • All data on your memory card becomes corrupted.

Why It's The Worst: Because Soul Calibur III had an awesome create-a-fighter mode, and now I can't use it! Waaah!
Fix: The scope of the workaround is too great to cover in one article alone. Suffice it to say, those brave or foolhardy enough to play SCIII might want to have a look at the 6,000+ word File Corruption FAQ on GameFAQs.

Any Game With Starforce DRM (PC)

Copy protection gone horribly wrong.

Rainbow Six Lockdown Worms 4: Mayhem Space Rangers 2 Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones Call of Cthulhu
Type: Damages Hardware
Description: If all Starforce did was treat legimate customers like criminals, it'd be just like any other DRM. But this isn't about Starforce doing what it's supposed to do, it's about Starforce doing things that the company continues to officially deny, like slowing down CD/DVD drives to the point of uselessness or even physically damaging them. Uninstalling the infected game won't do you any good, as Starforce stays behind, lurking in the dark corners of your computer. And if that wasn't bad enough, Boing Boing revealed that Starforce could leave users open to malware and hacker attacks. To their credit, Starforce responded immediately to Boing Boing's complaints, by threatening to sue them.
Why It's The Worst: This "copy protection" caused more problems than any other bug on the list and introduced more people to the concept of downloading cracked torrents than The Pirate Bay.
Fix: Just say no to Starforce infected titles. Avoid them like the plague or buy them DRM-free over at Good Old Games.

Make Your Own Worst Bug Ever

Did I miss one? How could I? Man, what I jerk I must be. Quit your bitching, cut out the Make Your Own Worst Bug Ever form below, and mail it along with an SASE (self-addressed-stamped-envelope) to Santa Claus. He'll forward the message to me.


Why It Should Be On This List:


Bonus Fun Section: Bugs We Love

Super Mario Bros. - Minus World Glitch:
It's a whole new world. Don't you dare close your eyes. Shoot me. In SMB, you can reach a secret, infinitely looping underwater level in World 1-2 by jumping through the warp pipe at the end of the level. Instead of warping to level 4-1, you'll warp to level minus one (-1). In this Hell of Upside-Down Sinners, you can swim with the fishes to your heart's content, but be warned: there is no escape. Aren't you glad Mario didn't have to grab air bubbles like Sonic?
Super Mario Bros Minus World
Final Fantasy VI - Relm Sketch Glitch:
This infamous bug, triggered by using Relm's sketch command under certain conditions, *might* erase your game... or it could max your hitpoints to 9999, fill your inventory with secret items and turn Edgar into the fallen hero Leo (Too soon? Should I have given a spoiler warning?), making this the ultimate game glitch for thrill seekers. Square fixed the Relm Sketch bug in Final Fantasy 3 v1.1 for SNES and later remakes, but what's the fun in that?
Relm Sketch Glitch
I don't care who you are, everyone loves ladybugs. They're shiny, they're red, they're like apples with wings that land on you but are smart enough to fly away before they get annoying.

The End.

- Zeus

zeus [at] bucketbros [dot] com

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