If you’re pushing middle age like me you might have had an Atari 2600 as a kid. You might even have, like me, ‘fried’ it. This involves repeatedly toggling the on/off switch until the machine sort of half-crashed. It would still play the game but everything would be messed up. Space invaders would be luminous green, the rooms in ‘Bezerk’ would be shimmery and moving, that sort of thing.
As games got more complicated, the ways in which they could screw up got more and more elaborate. Apparently the way in which data streams were coded was such that audio data could easily get channelled through the visual subroutine and vice versa. When the game engine tries to make sense of this garbled data it deserves a medal for gamely soldiering on and not just crashing out immediately.
Watch the latest from the Angry Video Game Nerd, who showcases some great glitches. The highlight is undoubtedly ‘Rocky’ on the PS2, at about the 12.47 mark: