Throughout video game history, developers have followed varying paths and processes to produce the end game. Some games ideas simply arose to fit around graphical demos, whilst some original ideas changed significantly through their development due to machine limitations or coding quirks. Whatever the process, you can be sure that end versions of games are always different from their original conceptions, whether through creative progression or complete fluke.
In this video I’ll be running down 7 now legendary game features which were created completely by accident during the development process.
#7 Lara Croft’s Breasts
Who can forget those sharp angled rack like features of the original Lara Croft? They were enough to inhibit the progress of any would be Tomb Raider needing to run at high speed deep through the jungle, but they quickly became an iconic lure of both teenage boys and grown men during the games original release.
As it happens though, those angular mammories cropped up due to some heavy handed mouse action under the grip of artist Toby Gard. Whilst playing around with the character dimensions, Tony apparently “slipped” and shot the sizing slider up to a gigantic 150%. This immediately caught the eyes of the male design team who insisted he kept the disproportionate dimensions.
As the team said at the time “Gard’s accidental one-fifty design made picking out a marketing strategy remarkably easy”.
Still at least we had a female protagonist for once.
#6 The Silent Hill Fog World
The atmospheric mist that you find inhabiting the original Silent Hill is a dimension that lies alongside the real world and the hellish other-world. It even carries through to later versions of the game and the film, with the implication that the fog world was created by Alessa Gillepsie and Dark Alessa to entrap the cultists.
But the real creators of the fog were the game developers themselves, who simply used the misty undefined smog to hide the draw distance limitations on the original Playstation. That’s right. Rather than allowing the player to see the landscape being drawn in front of them as they moved, the mist was added so that the system only needed to render objects in the immediate vicinity of the player. Genius.
#5 Metal Gear Stealth Elements
Metal Gear was originally intended to be an all out military combat action game, and indeed in many parts it is. But not exactly how it was intended.
Originally released for the 8 bit MSX-2 hardware specification. The technical limitations prevented the designer Hideo Kojima from displaying enough on screen bullets and enemy sprites for full on combat action. To account for this, and inspired by The Great Escape the gameplay was shifted from mowing down endless enemies to simply avoiding capture through stealth and cunning, with the game originally being titled “Intruder” to reflect this.
Back then, this wasn’t widely acknowledged as a significant point, but it helped future Metal Gear Solid games to stand out amongst other titles.
#4 Mario’s Tasche
Ahhh, Mario. The image of gaming. One, if not, the most recognisable video game character in history. With his iconic dungarees, hat and porn star style tasche. It’s hard to think of Mario looking any different.
Yet the tasche and the hat were really just fudges, rather than pre-conceived design choices. Instead of taking the unnecessary time and processing power to animate Mario’s hair or facial expressions, a hat was donked on him and a hefty tasche slapped on his face to make the whole thing easier.
So there we have it. Laziness can sometimes pay off in a big way.
#3 Accidental Combo System
Fighting games wouldn’t be what they are today without the combo system, and it all originated from this game… Street Fighter II. The undisputed king of the fighting genre.
During game development, whilst testing our the car bonus stage, producer Noritaka Funamizu noticed a coding glitch that allowed two punches to be executed in the same move. The glitch required perfect timing to execute on each occasion, and so, due to it’s difficulty was left in the game. But underestimating the games appeal and tenacity of it’s players, these combo attacks were quickly discovered and used to full effect by tournament players and aficionados of the game.
The bug quickly became an official feature and throughout it’s iterations was improved, enabling complex multi hit systems, which are now a quintessential part of the genre.
#2 Faster Space Invaders
Space Invaders is one of the most iconic games of all time. Developed by Tomohiro Nishikando in 1978, the aliens which slowly move across the screen becoming gradually faster provided the perfect difficulty curve for the revolutionary concept.
However the game isn’t exactly how Nishikando had originally conceived it. Bearing in mind this was the early days of electronics, the control program board was simply not powerful enough to move the enemy sprites fast enough across the screen, however he noticed that the processor was able to render the aliens faster, the fewer were on screen.
Rather than altering the code to compensate for this speed difference, he simply decided to leave this quirk in as a challenging gameplay mechanic. Which also made it one of the first games to offer difficulty progression, and the key reason that people found it so utterly addictive.
#1 Bat Shit Crazy Grand Theft Auto Police
Having recently covered the story of DMA Design, which is available in the video you can see on screen now, it felt right to mention a game by the legendary Scottish team. Grand Theft Auto, or as it was known then, Race ‘n’ Chase, was a multi-player racing game, with no real criminal objectives.
However, due to a coding glitch, the police cars went ape-shit. Rather than pulling you over for minor driving offences, they would smash you clean off the road, and cause absolute havoc – similar to the scenes we used to see on Police Camera Action in the mid 90s.
The developers realised that this was way more fun than sticking to the original racing missions and soon brought a more open world dimension into the game, upping the havoc stakes as they went, rather than removing the glitching code.
And this single quirk led to one of the most iconic video game brands of today.
So, there we have it. Thank you for watching this top 7 list of accidental game features. If you’d like more, feel free to click a video below or subscribe for future releases. You can also contribute to my Patreon to keep the channel going, share the video or just skedaddle. In any case. Thank you very much for watching, and good night.