Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-11-27 16:46:24
Sonic 3 & Knuckles - Glitches and Oversights
I'm not particularly a fan of video game Walkthroughs, Let's Plays or any of that type of online content that makes fairly uninteresting individuals minor Youtube 'celebrities'. As far as I'm concerned, playing games for a living on Youtube is an unambitious passtime - unless you're incredibly good at a video game and have some sort of talent worth showing off, you're basically getting paid to do low-skill work that just about anyone could do.
However, if there is one kind of gaming video I am interested in online, it is videos that document glitches. Glitches in video games are fascinating and, more often than not, unique to the individual; some create minor irregularities, while others dramatically mess up a game to the point that it can't be resurrected. I'm no programmer, but the idea of a game acting unpredictably in a freak-out state is incredibly interesting to me, especially when it comes to older games.
I find that a lot of newer games tend to be polished quite well, to the point that glitches tend to amount to little more than environment clipping and skipping areas in games, which is especially useful in speed-runs. In older titles, though, the games were less stable and more prone to data corruption. Having spent two or three years hacking Fire Emblem 7 for the Game Boy Advance between the ages of 15-18, I came to learn a lot about how coding (in that case, hex decimal coding) could be played around with to create unpredictable outcomes. I froze Fire Emblem up more times than I could count, but I also managed to keep the game going a lot of the time, creating glitched-out units and all sorts of weird and wonderful visual hiccups, merely by swapping a few numbers around.
One of the most rewarding Youtube series of videos I have encountered are ORKAL's 'Sonic 3 & Knuckles - Glitches and Oversights' videos. ORKAL has learned some awesome techniques that can be easily replicated and that can totally abuse the game. You need only watch the video below to get a taste of the sheer scale in which the old Sega Genesis classic can be messed up. While the steps aren't things you would naturally do during gameplay, that they can be done without cheat codes shows how unstable some of these old games were:
I could watch ORKAL's videos for hours, and I wish there were more stages in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, purely because I wish I could see more ways in which he can mess the game up based on the limitations of its own mechanics. He's not glitching the game through any sort of cheat device or hack; he's simply using methods that can be replicated in the game by anyone, as long as they know what buttons to press and when to press them. This tells us a lot about how video games were once made, and how much more stable things are now. While top-tier games do sometimes still have freak-outs, they are rarely, if ever, to the extent that Sonic can be ruined. I would recommend all of ORKAL's Sonic glitching videos - I revisit them often; it never gets old to me watching Sega's digital world collapsing under its own weight.