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While video game glitches that break the game are annoying, less harmful glitches often serve as a source of amusement. A game acting up can spawn plenty of laughter, and some titles have even built entire features around glitches.
In this article we list some of the most famous video game glitches of all time. We’ll look at what made each one notable, and how it’s possible to experience them today.
1. Minus World (Super Mario Bros.)
We begin with perhaps one of the most well-known video game glitches in history. The Minus World is a glitched level in the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES. It’s not difficult to reach if you know what to do, but once in, you’re stuck there for good.
To reach the Minus World, you have to perform a specific maneuver at the end of World 1-2 (shown in the video above). Doing so leads you into a world labeled World -1, hence the name Minus World. It’s identical to the actual World 7-2, but you can’t complete it because the pipe at the end takes you back to the start of the level.
Interestingly, in the game’s code, this world is actually World 36-1. But because it displays a blank character for the number 36, you see -1 at the top.
2. MISSINGNO (Pokémon Red and Blue)
This popular Pokémon Red and Blue glitch became infamous due to its ability to duplicate items easily. And because the original titles had an emphasis of catching them all, seeing a glitched character like this was quite strange.
As each type of Pokémon has a number in the Pokédex, MISSINGNO stands for Missing Number. It represents a glitch Pokémon you can encounter by following a few steps. After watching the tutorial on how to catch a Pokémon in Viridian City, fly to Cinnabar Island and start surfing up and down the east coast. You’ll start to see random wild Pokémon, including MISSINGNO.
You can catch the MISSINGNO, but even encountering it will cause weird graphical changes in your game. It’s most famously linked with an item duplication glitch that increases the sixth item in your inventory by 128. Because of this, it was covered in strategy guides and made well-known even before the internet was popular.
To try this for yourself, see how to emulate old Pokémon games on your Android device.
3. Get Down (GoldenEye 007)
Not all glitches spawn from programming errors. Players of GoldenEye 007 on the N64 discovered that if you slightly pulled up on the game cartridge while playing (known as cartridge tilting), the character models would start spinning around wildly.
While this is amusing to watch on its own, the internet wasn’t done. By combining the spinning characters with the J-pop song Promise by Kohmi Hirose, the proper Get Down (also known as Geddan) meme was born.
You can argue that it’s not really a true glitch, since many N64 games act up if you tilt the cartridge. But it’s still fun to watch all these years later.
4. Swingset Glitch (Grand Theft Auto IV)
Open-world games often hold more glitches than linear titles due to their sandbox nature. One of the funniest glitches in Grand Theft Auto IV lets you shoot cars a huge distance using just a swingset. This is pretty stupid, yet still hilarious.
To activate it, you simply have to drive a vehicle next to certain swing sets (the ones in the Firefly Projects Park are the best-known). After some time, the swing will suddenly force your car away with a ton of force. With the right vehicle, you’ll travel an absurdly long distance.
It’s a great way to have a late-night laugh with friends, especially if you thought you had seen everything this game has to offer.
5. Tiger Woods Walking on Water (Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08)
In this rare case, a developer’s response to a glitch was perhaps more notable than the glitch itself. A player of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 noticed a weird glitch where the in-game Tiger Woods walked on water to hit a ball that had fallen into a water hazard. He uploaded a clip of this to YouTube.
A year later, to promote the release of the new Tiger Woods 09 game, publisher EA Sports released an ad. It showed the real Tiger Woods “walking on water” to hit a ball from a lily pad, ending with the tagline “It’s not a glitch. He’s just that good.” It was a clever way to promote a new game—can you believe EA did something this cool?
6. Black Hole Glitch (Super Smash Bros. Melee)
Super Smash Bros. Melee is home to many fun little glitches, like being able to play as Master Hand. But one of the coolest glitches in the game has to be the Black Hole due to its sheer power.
The setup and execution for this glitch is fairly involved, but the end result is something every Smash fan should experience once.
You’ll need four players: two as Fox or Falco, one as Peach, and anyone as the fourth character (Ness is the usual pick). Make sure the fourth character is on a team with one Fox or Falco, with friendly fire turned off. Temple is the best stage to perform this glitch on.
To start, the fourth player performs the Infinite Super Scope glitch to give the weapon infinite ammo. They then fire into the two Fox/Falco characters, who both use their reflectors to to create a long stream of shots.
During this, Peach jumps into the shots to create “bubbles”. She concludes by throwing vegetables into the mix. Finally, the fourth player jumps into the stream and leaves only a deadly mass of vegetables. If anyone jumps into this, they will almost immediately take 999% damage.
This glitch happens because the vegetables go into an infinite loop of hitting every other vegetable. If you like, you can add additional elements to make it even more deadly.
7. Swordless Link (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is home to many well-known glitches, with several of them contributing to speedruns. Perhaps one of the most infamous is the Swordless Link glitch. The method to access it depends on the version of the game you have.
It’s easiest to access (even by mistake) in v1.0. In the final battle with Ganon, once he knocks the Master Sword out of your hand, simply save the game and quit. In later versions, you must perform a glitch that allows you to play items as an ocarina, then play a few songs to remove the sword and warp away.
After reloading, Link will have no sword equipped. While this sounds pointless, it actually enables you to perform many other glitches. These include allowing Link to float through the air and adding purple mist to Lon Lon Ranch. It’s quite strange.
To learn more about Zelda, take a walk through our definitive guide to the Zelda series.
8. Glitched Models (Assassin’s Creed Unity)
Assassin’s Creed Unity had a rough start when it released in 2014. While the game received praise for many elements, its technical performance detracted heavily from the overall experience. The most infamous issue with the game was its glitchy character models.
People’s faces would disappear in mid-conversation, leading to horrifying images of floating eyeballs and teeth speaking to you. It was also common for players to fall through the ground, which was obviously a huge pain.
These issues were such a big problem that Ubisoft stopped selling the season pass and gave away a free game to everyone who had already bought it. It affected the series’ development going forward, as Ubisoft dialed back the constant stream of games.
Because the game received many patches to fix these problems, you can only relive these glitches today through videos.
Funny Video Game Glitches Never Get Old
We’ve taken a look at a few of the most famous video game glitches throughout history. There are certainly many more, but these ones confused, amused, and provided hours of entertainment for players. You can still experience most of them today if you want to get more from these titles.
If you love glitches for their comedic value, check out the funniest video games ever made.