Game crash

You‘re playing a game and the action locks up, you get booted back to the desktop, or you’re suddenly faced with a command line interface. PC users experience it a lot, console users less so.

For me the most memorable game crashes have been with the Wing Commander series, Way of The Samurai (PS2), and NES games.

The NES will crash if the game pins lose their connection to the system, which you'd never notice except that the connections are often quite precarious. This one is firmly connected to the real world. The game crashed because, someone moved, something shook the room, or someone pulled their controller taught and it jarred the console.
This is more likely to happen during multiplayer as there are more people around to potentially move the console.
These crashes can bring disappointment, cheer, or anything in-between. You can avoid them by using a Famicom or a top-loader, but they are part of the experience.

Way of the Samurai for Playstation 2, has an unusual saving system. When you load a game it deletes your save. If you die in the game your swords are lost. By deleting your save when you start instead of when you die it ensures that you can't cheat by turning the console off. It ensures that you see every game through. This system builds tension if you're losing a fight while using a sword you've been leveling up. It is completely undermined by crashes. If the game crashes you lose your swords. I love this game, but I would have sunk a lot more time in it if it weren't for the save system being so punishing in the case of game crashes. The game doesn't crash often, but it's devastating when it does.

I love the Wing Commander games. I've put lots of time into them, and boy are some of them unstable. It's primarily a PC series, and I feel like it gets a lot of slack for that reason. When a Wing Commander game crashes, you assume it was your PC, or the inherent difficulty of trying to develop something for a platform where each system can have wildly varying specs. I think I held this belief until I played Super Wing Commander on 3DO. That game crashes all the time, and it is on a console! The most memorable Wing Commander crash was Wing Commander III. There is a mission where you are given a fake choice. Your capital ship is leaving, and your rival Prince Thrakhath is taunting you. You have to go back to your capital ship or you lose. If you fight Thrakhath your ship leaves and you are stranded.
I replayed this countless times. One time I timed it right. I got him and landed. The game crashed. The game doesn't have scripting for succeeding so at best it would have proceeded with him still being alive. Which wouldn't even be that jarring since Wing Commander lore gives the ships ejection pods. I suspect It always crashes if you do that. I couldn't replicate it to find out for sure.

What have your experiences with game crashes been?

I still remember, as a kid, the time I was about to defeat Wily in the very first Mega Man… I was using the trick in which a single Elecman shot would register repeatedly if you continually paused the game as contact was being made.

Anyhow, I think at that very moment in which his life was hitting zero, I was also hit by a projectile of his.
It caused a pushback that sent me back “back” to the previous location, which was a hallway. Cuz the door had been closed, there was no way for me to return and I was just stuck there.

The game had softlocked, and was pissed cuz I spent like an hour getting to that point (this first edition of the series had no save points if you might recall). But looking back… that was pretty damn cool.

Similar story:

I was playing Resident Evil 3 at a friend's house on his 12inch CRT. The TV was plugged into three extension cords to sit on the only comfortable spot.

It's early in the game, but I get to the cutscene where we see Nemesis. He picks up the STARS agent, murders him, looks at Jill, and the TV shuts off. I'm not sure if it's a part of the game or not, because the controller is vibrating like crazy. My friend and I are dead silent over what's going on. This seems too Kojima for a Resident Evil.

After the controller stops vibrating, we look and see that the TV was, in fact, off. One of the extension chords unplugged itself. I've always held that the TV was scared of Nemesis and wanted nothing to do with the fellow.

Semi-related, I have played through the first 20 hours of shining force sword of hadja for game gear at least 3 times, because the battery save dies. It does somewhere else each time, but works up until a certain point, so it does feel more like a crash than a battery issue, since it works for 12, 15, 20 hours, then fails and deletes all my progress. It felt like a very slow race to see how far I'd get this time.

I mentioned this on the insert credit show but my favorite crash-sort-of-thing was in Alone in the Dark for 360. They came to demo it at game developer magazine when I was there, and a producer was showing me the game, playing through a driving sequence. He said, "I've never been able to beat this part, let's see." And he just barely beat it, right there, for the first time, and the PR person was like "oh, let's stop there" and the producer said "ah, it's okay, this is game developer magazine, I've never gotten this far and I want to see what happens." They said this because they knew the cutscenes weren't all done.

So in the game, the driver gets out of the car, and talks to a guy, they have an argument about something. The guy then takes out a "gun" only the gun isn't modeled, he's just making the hand shape of holding a gun. He puts the invisible gun to his head and pulls the invisible trigger, killing himself, after which everyone *falls through the world* and the game soft locks. It's probably one of the best and generally surprising video game moments I've ever seen and nobody else will ever get to experience it, unfortunately.

I went and did some looking - this is the sequence in the final (non-falling through world) game:

Mystick Ark: Maboroshi Gekijo will always be my go-to for interesting softlocks. To explain, there‘s a point toward the end of chapter 2 where the protagonist chases the villain off screen, but if you’re playing in an emulator, the villain will skip forward a little in his animation and the protagonist will get stuck just before leaving the screen. Because all the cutscenes happen in-engine and the game can‘t move onto the next part of the cutscene until the protagonist has completed their action, the game softlocks. (Here’s one of the few places I've found to document the glitch, if you want to see what I'm talking about.)

This only happens in emulator, but when I first played the game way back in the early 2010s, this softlock was consistent across just about every emulator I could get my hands on. It wasn't until I started using Mednafen (I don't know which version) that I finally found an emulator that could get around this softlock.

Six seconds after posting this, I remembered this pannenkoek video that went up today.

There‘s a battle in Xenogears with a boss that prepares to perform a certain attack, and just never does. This doesn’t happen on PS1, but on PS2/3 and any emulator, it does (there may be some that are immune to it now, but reports seem to vary).

This has the interesting side effect of turning the fight into a race against luck - the longer the fight goes on, the more likely it is you get soft locked. As a result, there are strategies developed specifically to make this fight as short as possible to increase your odds of winning before locking. It‘s interesting to see the strategy for the game has transformed around this issue that’s prevalent with the common modern ways of playing it.

I remember this happened when playing Vigilante 8 on PlayStation. Must have been too much happening on screen as the game froze and there was a message about not having enough vram.

In Need For Speed Carbon I evaded the police and state troopers for 15 minutes while racking up a million dollars in damages to the state, half of that on rims after my car‘s tires were burst by road spikes. Right as the heat died off and the game went to remove the cop cars from the play field I got a soft lock. So I don’t have the stat saved to my file, but what a fun experience. Still, I learned that the game really can't handle an extended police chase, so I got better about making sure that never happened.