80s, 90s, Quick Lists, Video Games — October 7, 2013 9:05 am

6 Video Games You Thought Were Broken, But Weren’t

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With the large number of video games out there, particularly in the early 80s, it’s understandable that that they won’t all be winners. Some of them, however, looked straight up broken when you inserted the cartridge into the system (wow that sounds dirty). Here are six games you may have returned upon first playing them.

6 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Atari 2600)

Try to hold back the shock.

Of course the infamous Atari E.T. game would be on this list! Released just in time for the holiday season in 1982, E.T. was a complete rush job. Being a rush job doesn’t mean something is necessarily broken, though—yes the E.T. in the game was lime green, yes you’re constantly falling in pits, and yes the theme song sounds like E.T. himself is just shitting in a recorder. But really, what kind of video game were you expecting for E.T. in 1982? Steven Spielberg was hoping for a more Pac-Man-y one and while seeing a big lime green E.T. head gobbling down Reeeeeses Pieeeeces would be amusing, I see why creator Howard Scott Warshaw did what he did.

5 – Pac-Man (Atari 2600)

That seems about right.

Pac-Man was huge—hell, Pac-Man is still huge—but this thing was crazy back in the day. In 1982, Atari released their version of Pac-Man, a port of the super successful Namco arcade, for the Atari 2600 system. Unfortunately, Atari programmers had a lot less memory to work with, which explains the odd maze shape. The pellets and ghosts are redrawn every frame (or four frames), which creates that irritating flickering. They did they best with what they had, and what they had was hardware that made it impossible for the original Pac-Man to be ported to the Atari 2600.

4 – Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) (XBOX 360, PS3)

I’m going to get those Sonic forum people pissed with us again…

Not broken, it just sucked.

3 – X-Men (Sega Genesis)

Dick move, programmers.

After defeating Mojo, you may have searched high and low looking to somehow reset the computer to stop the virus from being emitted and found that there was no way to reset it. So what now? You’ve gone over the level a million times, and still nothing. Those dick programmers (I say that lovingly) didn’t mean “reset the computer” inside the game, they mean it literally—reset your Genesis. But be careful, or else you really will break your game and have to start all over again.

2 – Superman 64 (N64)

They really went all out for Superman…

It’s 1999 and you’re in line to buy the new Superman game for N64. You’ve never experienced real 3D, so your expectations are low and you’re okay with that. You get home, pop in the cartridge, and… what the shit? Instead of anything awesome, you’re flying through hoops. I won’t blame Titus, the company responsible for Superman 64, for the crappy game concept—that was all Warner Bros’ doing. But, the game does have some quirky glitches. The game’s engine itself isn’t that great, resulting in frame rate drops and the ability for Superman to fly through walls and journey outside level maps. I do have to hand it to Titus, they re-did the game for the PlayStation, but by the time it was almost ready, their license had expired and they were unable to get a new one. So, is this game broken? No, but it may as well be.

1 – Yars’ Revenge (Atari 2600)

If that’s not a glitch, then I don’t even know what’s real in this world anymore.

Although Yars’ Revenge was a best selling game for the Atari 2600, if you’ve played it, you may have thought there was some dust on your copy, causing a big bar of scrambled pixels to jut across the screen. In the game, you’re a bug named Yar that must shoot through/nibble at a barrier (that big glitchy bar) to defeat the enemy, Qotile (not a valid Words With Friends play). That’s right, that glitch was on purpose and uh, also serves a purpose, and keeps Yar safe from enemy shots for the most part.

What video games did you assume were broken? Let us know in the comments below!


  • I always assumed Rygar for NES was broken because I could never met anyone who beat it. Same for Top Gun. I remember playing the Atari Pac-Man. It was pretty awful.. I still played the hell out of it though. LOL.

  • Cheetah Men 2! That is one rare, expensive, and terribly broken game!

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