For a game that started life on the Sega Saturn, you'd think Sonic Adventure on Dreamcast would've been easily ready in time for the Dreamcast's launch in 1999. Even though the game was available on day one, even contemporary reviews noted the abundance of bugs and glitches. The number of times Sonic glitched through the floor, got stuck on a step or juddered around like a rogue pneumatic drill did take a little of the shine off the jewel in the crown of Dreamcast's launch. And when you start looking for ways to break the game… well, it all just falls apart.
But it didn't matter. Not really. So you lost a couple of lives because Sonic was going so fast he beat the game's collision detection. You were playing a real 128-bit console game and the gaming world was changed forever. And the game had everything, just… everything with bugs in. Racing, snowboarding, sandboarding, pinball, air combat, virtual pet-raising, fishing… sure, it arguably diluted the core Sonic action, but it showed everything that the Dreamcast could do, right from the get-go.
Above: Erm, Tails, you really need to rephrase some of your mannerisms. People are starting to talk
That said, there was no excuse for the bugs reappearing in the subsequent GameCube remake, and even less the XBLA re-release. That last one not only left bugs in, but even added some more of its own. We (OK, Justin) had never lost a life on the killer whale bit in all our 12 years of playing the game… until the XBLA version arrived. Conversion: fail. Game? Win. But only just.
4. Far Cry 2 | 360, PC, PS3
In Far Cry 2 one of the hazards that can have a seriously damaging effect on your health is malaria. You know, malaria - that potentially fatal, infectious tropical disease spread by mosquitos. Death by bugs. So, the funny thing is, that Far Cry 2, the actual game, could also be killed by bugs. Not filthy flying ones that bite, but catastrophic programming ones that corrupted save data faster than a politician's penis in Amsterdam. One game. Two dangerous bugs. Irony so painful it needed to be administered with an epidural.
Above: What we've done here is use actual bugs as a metaphor for programming bugs
The game released in October 2008 and in the following days, widespread problems emerged on forums. Games freezing and crashing. Crucial mission-giving NPCs vanishing in a puff of confused algorithims. And, most cruel of all, save data going completely screwy, rendering all accumulated hours of gaming invested utterly worthless. Developer Ubisoft did eventually release a patch seven months after release (SEVEN SHITTING MONTHS!) which fixed the problem. However, it wouldn't uncorrupt save data that was already shafted. So you'd still have to start the game over again. If you hadn't already abandoned the will to live.
Above: That plane has definitely crashed
We gave the game a 9. We say 'we' but it was actually Dave. So blame Dave. Luckily, as is made apparent by the game's enviable Metacritic rating, we (i.e. Dave) weren't the only ones that completely managed to bypass all bugs during the review process. The last line of the review reads like so: "You’ll regularly play it until embarrassing o’clock in the morning, and then you’ll get up and shamelessly start all over again. And you’ll love every second."
In hindsight, this should have been added as the final sentence: "Unless bugs kill your Far Cry 2 and then you might want to go play something else for 7 months while waiting for Ubisoft to make it not broken."
3. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion | 360, PC, PS3
Welcome to the bug-fest known as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Where do we begin? Paintbrushes is probably the best place to start because it just goes to show how a bug as simple as gravity not being switched on for an in-game object can create hours and hours of fun. People climbed the highest towers in the land. Trapped their foes in the Arena. Not to mention decorated their houses as shown in this incredible video:
Some bugs were just annoying, like the Unknown Item that has no weight nor value, yet crashes your Xbox if you try to equip it. Some others could help you a great deal. Like, for instance, the bug that let you keep the effects of the Boots of Springheel Jak. Or the one where you could gain infinite money by looting the corpse of Dorian again and again and again. Is it possible to be over-encumbered by money? Not in Oblivion, it's not! Amazing considering its reputation…
Above: If it was possible, this is what being over-encumbumbered with money might have looked like
Oblivion set the precedent for buggy games from Bethesda, with Fallout 3 and its numerous expansions flying the gold standard for bugginess everywhere. Did it hurt our enjoyment of Cyrodiil? Not one iota. In a game this big and intricate, it's virtually impossible not to have some bugs that the programmers missed (or never expected gamers to discover), and finding them is just part of the fun. That said, if Skyrim isn't absolutely bloody perfect, there'll be hell to pay.
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