Before bringing out a product—in this case, specifically a game or program—it must be tested. The stages of testing are typically called Alpha and Beta, but may include Gamma in some companies. Alpha testing is done by the developers themselves, while Beta testing is done by a specific, outside team called Quality Assurance. In late phases of beta testing (this phase rarely called "Gamma", "Open Beta", or "Release Candidate"), select members of the public are allowed to test the game. During Alpha and Beta tests, those doing the testing seek out bugs, note them down, and forward them to the parties responsible for fixing them. Those developers then either fix the bug, delay the fix due to whatever time or business constraints, or declare it as "will not be fixed". Ideally, testing will last long enough to fix the most noticeable bugs.
However, sometimes, this isn't the case. Software may be rushed for any number of reasons, which may include: a holiday release, desire to compete with another company's product, a studio's closing, or outright laziness. When this happens testing can be shortened or outright skipped. This results in buggy, unstable programs that no one likes.
Companies take note: Spending time fixing any errors before releasing a program is a lot easier than trying to fix them after it's released. It results in fewer complaints, too! One of the problems is that marketing and development are done by different people and sometimes even different companies. Once the publisher starts to nag the developer, rushed games happen...
On the other hand, companies may have to do this, particularly small ones. Not all companies have enough time, discipline, or money to go through all the development stages for what they're planning, and so have to release in the hopes enough people will buy it to get them going to go through the rest of the stages for them to better perfect it and then get attention to those changes to make more buy it later.
Naturally, the Obvious Beta skips the regular testing to go straight to release. In extreme cases, games have gone straight to release before it even enters the testing stage at all. To add to some confusion, the current paradigm in mainstream development renames and redefines some testing stages. Alpha for instance can be (depending on the company) used to denote a technically finished product (it's feature complete and could theoretically ship though it's probably still got issues of varying degrees) while beta can be used to note the same only with far less game-breaking bugs. Thus when the players talk about betas and a finished product with a developer, it can often mean two dramatically different things.
See Beta Test for more on the process and see Perpetual Beta for when the developers no longer have an excuse to update things. See Porting Disaster for when this occurs in a particular port of the software to a certain platform.
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General (Video Games)
Nearly any game translated by Natsume (most typically Harvest Moon) will have some game-breaking bugs upon initial release; typically they're not present in the Japanese versions (though in one case, specifically Harvest Moon DS, Natsume translated an already buggy version after a fixed version was released in Japan, though bugfixes were applied to later English translations, fortunately for future buyers but not for those already owning the game). Worse, they work with consoles, so all you can do is hope that they'll release a new version without them, to no fanfare or announcement. (Fortunately, all current consoles have the ability to patch games, so hopefully Natsume will take advantage of that.)
Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns 3D, a special North American-only release for the Nintendo 3DS, was bugged, causing the game to crash by crossing the mountain, or by excessive use of the animal brushing minigame (a feature made just for the 3DS version). The game was released in November 2011, and there has been no patch. Yeah.
Madden NFL has a rather ridiculous amount of bugs every year, likely caused by its strict once-every-August release schedule. Interestingly, the NCAA football series is generally much tighter, because they build it on the previous year's Madden engine.
It's arguable that due to the internet functionality of the current generation of systems, beta versions of console games are now much more likely, since the developers can update the games after release. (Doesn't mean they will, of course...)
The vast majority of Massively Multiplayer Online Games are released in a varying state of buggy, due to a tight schedule. They usually get better (see Anarchy Online, for instance), but particularly bad cases can break the game before it begins.
However, new content added later will often suffer from the same issues all over again, which can make the overal experience border on Perpetual Beta.
A new development strategy for online games has come to be called "Early Access." Most famously used by the developers of Mount And Blade, the idea behind this is that online users will be allowed to buy a pre-release game at a steep discount and dive into playing it, with the expectation that they will form a game community and ruthlessly seek out and mark bugs for destruction. It also helps fund production.
The arcade version of Beatmania IIDX ran on a custom-made and very complicated PCB (it actually used a consumer DVD player controlled via a serial port to create video overlays, amongst other things), until the ninth version, whereupon it was dragged kicking and screaming onto a Windows XP based PC platform. The transition was anything but smooth; as well as the general bugginess of the code, the game's timing measurement and response speed were extremely bad, two things which are critical in a music-based video game. It wasn't until the 11th or 12th version that things were almost back to normal, though the home releases continue to exhibit smoother and more responsive gameplay than the arcade ones.
The same applies to the 2600 port of Pac-Man, which Atari released as soon as they got their hands on the programmer's alpha version. The two games are often mention as single handedly causing The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, which is probably an exaggeration... but Lord, they didn't help.
The Atari 5200 itself, especially its controller, designed by someone who had never played a video game before. The controller was the first to feature a pause button and the analog joystick was ahead of its time, but it didn't center itself and was prone to breakage. Working controllers are incredibly rare.
The board game Betrayal at House on the Hill originally shipped with several errors in the instructions — particularly in the game's various Scenarios. (For example, the Underground Lake is on an Upstairs tile.) This obviously could cause gameplay to grind to a halt as the confused players tried to sort things out... which was made much harder by the game's primary conceit: that one or more of the players pulls a Face Heel Turn and starts actively working against the group. Errata for the game can now be found online.
The sixth volume of the GrailQuest series, Realm of Chaos, appears to have suffered from a severe lack of playtesting before being released (see the page for details).
One of the most notorious is Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. Well beyond Obvious Beta, this is just some pre-alpha code that was hacked together into something shippable. It's something akin to what what a game looks like in the first month of development, when the team is expecting a 2 year development cycle.
For example, although it's supposedly a racing game, there are no opponents*
Technically, there is an opponent car, but it doesn't do anything but sit at the starting line indefinitely. There is a patch available that will get it to move, but it still stops right before crossing the finish line (as there's no code for what happens when you lose a race), so it's impossible to not win.
, no timers, no obstacles, and no collision. Trying to drive over a bridge causes you to fall straight through to the valley beneath, but that's okay because you can drive straight up the vertical cliff on the other side of the valley without even slowing down. You can drive over mountains, through buildings, and off the sides of the map at your leisure. In fact, the only possible way to lose is for the game to crash. Admittedly, the game does crash pretty frequently. It's also worth mentioning that there's a level that doesn't work, your brake lights float a noticeable distance behind your vehicle, it's possible to drive infinitely fast in reverse, sometimes the game's code has trouble distinguishing between starting and finishing, so you win the race immediately...
Just to add insult to injury, the available race mode is actually the custom race mode (presumably the first to make as it's easiest to test). The promised main campaign, which the back of the box claims involves evading police on public highways, does not exist.
Test Drive Unlimited 2 suffered from a swarm of bugs and server issues when it was released on the PC. Since it had online activation and needed a connection to the game's master servers to play, the game would flat out refuse to let players start up the game, and it would often kick them out of the game without warning, due to massive server overload. The day-one DLC was broken and would eat player's in-game (monopoly) money, and the game had several gamebreaking promotional cars like the Bugatti Veyron SS.
The PC ports of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee and Stranger's Wrath as part of the new Oddboxx...they're more like Obvious Alphas at this stage. Terrible performance on even high-end gaming computers for Xbox ports that have had no graphical upgrades aside from resolution, resolution options with a nondescript "Low", "Medium", "High", and "Ultra" for the latter (1024x768, 1280x960, and 1600x1200 making up the latter three) that require an .ini file edit if you need a different res (say, 1920x1080), issues with the controls such as not being able to move with a gamepad in Munch's Oddysee and unchangeable inverse look in Stranger's Wrath...even at 50% off for the whole Oddboxx on the first day, a lot of people are understandably pissed. At least they've promised patches to clean this mess up and even grant Stranger's Wrath the updated graphics intended for the PS3Updated Rerelease, though whether we'll ever get them is another question.
Empire: Total War, which has been somewhat fixed with a lot of patching. If you want to see what it was like on release, fire up the Road To Independence scenario, which for some reason seems largely unaffected by the bug-fixes. Marvel as your AI willfully ignores an order you've give dozens of times, and when it does listen, interpret your order to move 12 feet forward to mean go play grab-ass in a forest 5,000 miles away.
BohemiaInteractive's fanbase all know that their games are not playable until a year or two after release for them to be patched.
This is pretty much expected for any MMORPG immediately after release—game companies can't really test the game under the conditions it's supposed to handle (i.e., thousands of simultaneous players) without releasing it for retail. Sometimes the MMORPG is initially released as a clearly marked Open or Closed Beta (generally to those players who've pre-ordered the game), so bugs at that stage are entirely understandable and should be highlighted to the GMs. Most major bugs will be ironed out by the time the paying customers hit the world, but many minor ones will likely remain for some time.
Another sign of Obvious Beta in MMOs — bugs aside — is large gaps in content. Often an MMO player will see the starter zone polished rather well, hit level 20 or so, then find that there's absolutely nothing but literally days of solid Level Grinding before you can attempt the rest of what they bothered programming. Conversely, they may not have actually bothered programming much after the starters anyway.
Muelsfell: Rise of the Golems: since coming out of "Beta" over a year ago, there are just as many, if not more, bugs than there were in Beta. The new features and new monsters are particularly bad.
Anarchy Online version 1.0 was this, to the point where the original version would effectively force you to reinstall Windows.
Flanker 2.0 was so unplayable that the cleaned, definitive version was... Flanker 2.5. Falcon 4.0 was the same as well.
Streets of SimCity is a SimCity spinoff in three dimensional plane Wide Open Sandbox driving game which you can drive around cities. Unfortunately, it's riddled with tons of bugs. Likewise with Sim Copter except with a helicopter. Both are good games with a good-sized fanbase, they just happen to have a lot of bugs. Still perfectly playable, it'll just crash every half hour or so.
The newest Sim City game has had an extremely messed up launch. Traffic AI was moronic, with buses following each other in congo lines, fire trucks stuck in loops if the place on fire was on an intersection (if they didn't get stuck in the many backlogs) and cars only would take the shortest route possible, no matter how jammed the road is with traffic. EA was clearly ill prepared for how many players would get on their "always-on" DRM servers, forcing them to cut features and sending many players in queues that could reach an hour long.
The PC version of Red Faction 2 had a multiplayer mode that didn't allow multiple players, and showed pickups as 2D sprites in spite of the working 3D models in the "Single Player" campaign. The campaign itself was a veritable glitch-fest, and the best ending was essentially impossible to get legitimately due to a bug where some civilians whom you were supposed to save would chase the player's vehicle down so they could die on contact, which was completely unavoidable.
Disciples III: Renaissance was a Base Breaker for many reasons, but its glitchiness was universally reviled. Lowlights include long load times, bad triggers, and an overly aggressive AI that is content to ambush the player from offscreen and destroy his essential party. For an added bonus, due to the way the game's autosave works, such an ambush requires loading from a manually created save, as the autosave triggers at the end of the player's turn—meaning he has no resources to prevent it, even if he knows it's coming.
Most of the later VGA adventure games suffer from a profound lack of testing, and can crash randomly based upon any number of bugs. The worst example is probably Quest For Glory IV.
Police Quest: Open Season has countless bugs that randomly crash the game, corrupt saved games, or make the game unwinnable.
Ultima IX. The ending chapter of the Trilogy-of-Trilogies. The greatest RPG ever. And it was released as a mash of crap, unplayable on most hardware that was available at the time.
Erik Wolpaw of Old Man Murray: [Ultima IX is] ...a game in which programming errors battle each other gladiator-style for the privilege of crashing my computer...
The original, unpatched version of Ultima VIII: Pagan is completely broken. What was released was basically an unfinished alpha version. Remember: Ultima VIII is the one where Electronic Arts wanted to turn it into an action RPG. Imagine a Mario game where it's impossible to estimate how far you need to jump and every gap has an instant-death pit. Unpatched Ultima VIII is like playing I Wanna Be The Guy blindfolded. With a mouse.
Though it had no real Game-Breaking Bug, The Witcher was such a bad case that the developers took pains to make up for it by producing the "Enhanced Edition" (free as an upgrade), which in addition to being "The game as it should have been released," also came with a host of bonus in-game content and eight complete language packages (audio and text).
Enforced in that the game was considered to be a niche product for a fantasy novel only really known in Poland at that time, so the international interest was a surprise and the localization rushed, resulting in sloppy English.
A recurring problem in the X-Universe series of space sims. In X3: Reunion, the main plot had multiple unpassable stages.
The company is so notoriously bad about this that several gaming sites have had to re-review their games after several months of bugfixes make them properly playable. In an interesting twist, they usually end up providing substantially more features than was actually promised in the original Obvious Beta.
Egosoft has a history of releasing several minor patches after the game is out, then exactly one year later releasing a super-patch that fixes and improves the game to "how it should always have been" status. The smart (and patient) player will add one year to the release date of any Egosoft game.
The expansion packs to Final Fantasy XI are egregious in this regard. If you buy them on their release date, one is not so much buying an expansion as one is buying access to a couple new areas without a whole lot to do in them and the promise that over the next eighteen months, they'll gradually let you access all the stuff they promised on the box.
Final Fantasy XIV was released lacking so many features, and with so many known serious game design problems, that it was more of an obvious alpha. Unusually, the developers actually apologized for it and canceled subscription fees until it is up to snuff (estimates are until the PS3 release, which is still TBA)—essentially, putting it right back into beta!
EverQuest was terrible at release: mobs randomly could or couldn't enter water and some areas they couldn't travel to/from, and there was bad pathing, falling through the world, inaccessible zones, instant death drops from falling 2 cm, and the boats didn't work consistently for years.
Hellgate London was released in a woefully buggy and unbalanced state, after a too-short beta period. It rapidly improved... but by that time, most people had already written it off.
The first two STALKER games shipped with a great many glitches and bugs. Clear Sky was especially bad, where the state of the game could change between quick saves.
The first game was also rushed in many other ways: translation errors in the English version meant a lot of confusion ["shotgun" was translated as "rifle" and "attic" as "basement"], vital NPCs could die in random locations, it was possible to sequence-break to the point the game took ten minutes to finish, and there was a lot of obviously cut content. Fishing around in the game files showed entire missing levels, fully-programmed weapons that never actually appeared, and camera settings for drivable cars and helicopters. Most of the dummied-out content can be restored via game mods
Evil Genius, though a perfectly playable and fun game, has some bugs that are unforgivable. Examples include the impassable Persian rug, and the science henchmen who actually make your plans harder to complete. These bugs can be fixed with a simple edit of game files (conveniently stored in text form), but since the developer went belly-up shortly after the game was released, you have to do it yourself.
Epic, a space flight sim on the Amiga, Atari ST and PC, shipped in a hideously unfinished state. The waypoint system would only point you to a single target even if you'd already destroyed it, the manual was confusingly written and incomplete (including a statement that an ion "is a particle of FILL IN LATER"), the cheat was printed on the control summary card, and early versions of the game crashed so often than many retailers returned their copies and refused to buy fixed ones. To make matters worse for buyers, the game received rave reviews in several magazines based on alpha code and published anything up to seven months before it was actually released.
Fallout 2 shipped with some gamebreaking bugs (your car vanishing, as well as certain quests that would cause the game to crash if you tried to complete them, for example) and quite a bit of cut out content that leaves certain minor plot-lines completely unsolved. Fanmade patches, such as the Fallout 2 Restoration Project seek to restore the missing content to a playable state.
Fallout 3 didn't have any obviously missing content, but had serious stability issues, with crashes still not uncommon even in patched versions. In addition, an entire new story branch was added after the original ending with DLC, although this could be argued as being more due to disappointment with the original ending than incompleteness.
The most blatant bugs were the glitches that occurred if you did certain missions in the wrong order that made the game Unwinnable, such as starting "The American Dream" before finishing "Scientific Pursuits". The fact that the game allowed you to attempt this without compensating the programming for it norletting you know about any of this things was a major oversight on the developers' part.
It also has a bug that screws the Pip-Boy's ability to receive radio music if you're running the game on Windows Vista or newer. What happened was that DirectSound, which the game uses, doesn't work properly with Microsoft's new and shiny UAA driver architecture which is used by Windows Vista and newer, but Microsoft decides to officially announce DirectSound as being dead instead of fixing it, shipping the broken library with the Direct X 9 runtime for Windows Vista and 7 instead *
Despite shipping with Direct X 10 and newer, some Direct X 9 libraries are not included and need to be installed separately
. There is no exceptions to this except laziness, Microsoft already made the announcement while Bethesda was still developing the game and they had the chance to change away to a different audio method. But they didn't. And they have yet to fix the problem to this day.
Also, where do I find 556 mm*
rounds in the game? Seriously, check out the ammo required by the Assault Rifle!
Fallout New Vegas. There's no blatant content removal unless you really look, but the bugs are out of control, ranging from simple graphical glitches to bugs that crash the game, corrupt saves, or make items unobtainable. Also, the load times are much longer than in Fallout 3, despite them both being made on the same engine. Also, a patch released a day after release rendered the game unplayable on some systems, requiring another patch the next day to correct it.
World of Warcraft suffered from this for quite some time, though it has (mostly) stopped doing so.
In the early days of Burning Crusade, for example, the final bosses in the two main dungeons were not only horribly unbalanced to the point of being effectively undefeatable, but the first time that any guild managed to kill Lady Vashj, she instantly respawned and killed the entire raid.
Silithus in general was an Obvious Beta zone. It was this little corner in Kalimdor that, for some reason, wasn't covered in the guide, but there were actually a few quest chains in there. Strange. When you entered, you found this wall that you couldn't get past; literally half the map of Silithus was unfinished. It also became an obvious beta (along with Eastern Plaguelands) for an attempt at creating world PvP. It was later finished in patch 1.8. However it still is plagued with a problem of mob-density, but it had been improved in other patches.
Expansions typically have growing pains and players pretty much expect it, but Cataclysm was notoriously buggy at launch, largely due to the sheer amount of content Blizzard crammed into it with a relatively short beta testing period. Numerous quests were glitchy or outright broken (Vashj'ir being the biggest culprit), mob spawning was out of control, phasing caused any number of headaches, achievements were busted, you name it and it was screwed up. Loads of hotfixes were a daily occurrence for weeks, and even after the first major patch (4.1), there's still lingering issues.
Artix Entertainment like to do a fairly tolerable version of this, on purpose. Both Dragonfable and MechQuest were initially released in a fairly unfinished, but playable, state, only available to paying players of their previous games. There was only one (or practically no) quest, only a few items, no stats, one or two areas, very few monsters, etc. The players play the game, offer suggestions and report bugs to the devs, and slowly, the kinks are hammered out and the product is released to the public. New content is then continually added and modified throughout the lifespan of the game. In the pre-release Mech Quest design notes, Artix mentioned that, due to time constraints, the game would be released without thorough Beta testing, and the players would just have to see whether it broke or not. He dubbed this practice "Gamma testing," and so far, it seems to be working out just fine.
Gothic 3 Forsaken Gods, the standalone expansion to the third game, is this in spades. The game is so bugged it took a 240 MB patch (latest one) to make the most basic features (like shield parrying) work properly, and it's still a bug riddled minefield anyway. It also has worse cell load skips than its predecessor when unpatched, and is prone to crashing and generally taking its massively high requirements and running underpar at best. As further insult to injury, the whole game was made by developers totally unfamiliar with the engine who slapped this sucker together in a few months and was shoved out the door before it had been properly playtested, basically rendering it critically flawed on arrival.
Many, many versions of Windows have been hit with this over the years:
Legend has it that the Windows ME launch party coincided with the filing of the 500th Urgent bug entered into the tracking system.
Vista seems to have released in a similar state, but it was very usable after Service Pack 1. Certainly every Vista videocard driver released in the first 6 months of Vista's life qualifies, as they were responsible for the majority of Vista crashes. The stated minimum hardware specifications being optimistic to the point of outright misleading didn't help either.
Microsoft has a history of this: Word 3.0 for the Macintosh was released in 1987 with about 700 bugs.
MS-DOS 4.0 suffered massive problems on its release in 1988, including poor compatibility with older programs and even a number of potential data corruption issues. This one wasn't entirely Microsoft's fault, though — IBM were the main culprits here, as they forced Microsoft to shoehorn in a number of OS/2 features at the last minute, then insisted on releasing the resulting product before adequate testing could be done. This lead to a subsequent 4.01 release which fixed the major problems. You'd think Microsoft would have learned something from this experience, but unfortunately it was just the beginning.
The original release of Windows 98 was horribly bugged, to the point of being physically unable to run longer than 49.7 days without crashing due to a serious timing bug - though this was a rarely seen problem, as the system was overwhelmingly likely to crash from any of a zillion other bugs way before such an uptime could be achieved. It was so bad that that they had to release a Second Edition in order to patch everything. (Admittedly, 98SE went on to become the most stable and successful branch of that version of Windows.)
It's often said that the even releases of Windows are the Obvious Betas where Microsoft likes to experiment while the odd releases are an attempt to perfect the previous release. This is most visible when noting the differences between XP and Vista, and Windows 7 and the current concepts for Windows 8. In essence, what happens is that windows releases a new OS (such as vista) which quickly garners a reputation as crap due to unforseen bugs. Even after the bugs are fixed, no one wants to buy "that crappy, buggy vista." So Microsoft releases a "new" OS (Win7 in this case) that is essentially the previous one with all the bugs patched out. Windows 8 is a bit of a subversion because while the radical UI changes have become the subject of a huge Broken Base, stability and performance have so far not been an issue.
It does seem though now that Microsoft does seem intent on bucking the "every other version is good" trend. Probably the most significant thing they've done is actually offer up new releases with widespread, freely available public beta testing, something they had never done before Vista*
and probably did because people were going to pirate leaked builds anyway, as happened with the paid beta programs for 2000 and XP
. Ironically, the beta releases of both 7 and 8 ended up being much more stable and useable than the shipping versions of many of their Obvious Beta predecessors.
Developers at the small set of companies who were sold Microsoft's Visual Interdev when it was released were dismayed to see the splash screen labelled 1.0a and a large Alpha after the name. The actual product crashed regularly, lacked key documentation, generated non-functional code, and had unremoved warnings that it was not for public release, possibly making it an Obvious Alpha.
Windows XP is also guilty of this, but not at first. Start with only a few programs at first, but don't horde the computer with loads and loads of files, or it will refuse to take so kindly and tell you that "You are running very low on disk space." If you only have loads, but not enough to fill an elephant, the icon in the balloon will be a ! triangle. If you have more than loads, the icon will be a red X circle, which is the standard error icons.
The initial demo release of Painkiller Resurrection was an absolute disaster — the developers accidentally released a much older version of the demo than they had intended, and it shows: loading up the level takes a good five minutes, particle textures appear as orange-brown cubes, the finicky draw distance causes distant church towers to hang in the air miles away, and players couldn't even finish half the level because a physics-enabled rope bridge kept tossing them over the edge or pushing them straight through itself.
The Steam release of the game wasn't much better either, thanks to dodgy AI programming, painfully long load times and frequent crashes. And even in the retail version, the multiplayer mode is an absolute joke: Players can dart up along walls, the weapon pickup models are completely botched, and firing the electrodriver crashes the game on the spot.
Daikatana was noted for excessive delays/slippages and a ridiculously arrogant advertising campaign. It shipped with broken AI, insanely unfinished levels, and dozens of bugs and glitches. The game was a mess in co-op as well: Cutscenes (and their subsequent event flags) were removed entirely, causing the players to spawn stuck behind closed doors that were supposed to open in cutscenes. The Readme recommends playing the single-player mode first to get an idea of the story. The co-op has a host of bugs on its own — the best being a glitch that causes players to spawn stuck to the floor, telefragging each other in an infinite loop.
Supreme Commander shipped in an Obvious Beta state including severe game balance issues that had been identified during Beta testing but weren't fixed prior to launch, pathfinding problems, engine problems and hardware compatibility issues. Despite being promoted heavily as a DX10 showcase, the DX10 support was never added; in addition, the promised SDK and editors never materialized due to proprietary code used in them.
It is rare to see an enemy in an unpatched copy of Hidden & Dangerous 2 not floating ten feet above the ground. Other show-stopping bugs include not being able to interact with any object in the level [including mission objectives], enemies moving behind locked doors they have the only key to, and the AI's disturbing tendency to blow itself up if left with anything explosive.
Jurassic Park Trespasser was more like a beta design idea. Instead of a regular FPS setup, the player controls the character's right arm by holding down keys and moving the mouse. Aiming a gun requires careful alignment of both the player's body and their arm to line up the iron sights, which makes combat impractical. Further, the game was equipped with a severely broken physics engine that, according to The Other Wiki, allowed the player to lift several-hundred-pound steel girders with one arm but did not allow the player to be pulled over a Chest-High Wall by that same arm. The very same physics engine also lacked friction, meaning stacked objects would simply slide or push off one another if misaligned regardless of mass. (On the flip side, this very physics engine may have very well inspired later works such as Half-Life 2, as it was very advanced by 1998 standards.)
Also, since any stowed melee weapon Sticks to the Back, and since a weapon's damage is determined when the weapon intersects with a character model, some weapons actually cause continual damage to the player when stowed.
The game's 3D engine rendered distant objects as scaled sprites, which popped abruptly into polygons as the player approached them. It was released at the dawn of the era of hardware 3D acceleration, and actually looked worse when run with a 3D card; software mode used system memory to store textures, whereas the accelerated version was limited to the small texture memory of contemporary 3D cards. The software mode also used a clever form of bumpmapping which was incompatible with 3D accelerators, and so as a consequence the game looked better and ran faster in software more than with a 3D card.
Hearts of Iron III, a World War 2 strategy game, shipped with extremely broken AI. The AI countries would join factions seemingly at random; it wasn't uncommon for Japan to join the Allies or the US to join the Axis. Save games got corrupted all the time. The game ran incredibly slowly even on computers that far exceeded the system requirements and crashes were very common. The AI failed to research certain very valuable techs, giving the player a huge advantage. Totally improbable events, particularly involving naval landings, happened practically every game, such as Brazil invading Germany in 1941.
Valve in general have a habit of releasing games with Game Breaking Bugs, although they are generally prompt about patching them. However, they also have a habit of releasing patches that cause brand new bugs in addition to fixing old ones (and sometimes not even that; they've "fixed" the spy's backstab register twice so far without actually fixing it). Special mention goes to the 2010 Half-Life 2 update, which ported the entire game and its Episodes over to the newer version of their engine but introduced a host of new problems, at least some of which are present on all or at least most users' systems. The patch was released in May 2010, and to date only one bug (which made the AI crash at a critical point) has been patched.
Elemental - War of Magic was released in a buggy state. Given that it's Stardock, this by itself isn't too terribly surprising. What is surprising is that said "buggy state" is horribly, horribly buggy and received more patches (six) in four days than GalCiv2 and Sins of a Solar Empire did the month of their respective releases. And it's still missing content, like competent AI. If Brad Wardell is to believed, this was deliberate — as a substitute for Copy Protection. Reviewers did not wait for the six patches to hit before slamming the game for being unfinished.
Elite 3, a.k.a. Frontier: First Encounters, is a great game, and the fact it's still played after more than 10 years (after being reverse-engineered and spawning advanced graphics clones with the same gameplay) proves this. But Gametek took Executive MeddlingUp to Eleven, went behind Frontier's back and released the closest thing to a complete version they had (or so Frontier's official site says). Ugly bugs spoiled the release as a result. For example, when flying into the atmosphere of a gas giant to scoop up hydrogen fuel (a useful (and oft-used) feature in the previous two games in the series), as soon as the scoop activates, the game crashes spectacularly.
Even after the game was patched, it still refused to run in anything that wasn't a pure DOS environment - which prompted the aforementioned hacking of the game by the fans over the years so that they could at the very least run it in Windows.
In Frontier - Elite 2 (at least on the Amiga version), game breaking bugs appeared over time (150 hours or so). It, therefore, most irritated players who had put the most into the (otherwise excellent) game. It basically became impossible to access the bulletin board to take missions and other features became disabled. The fact that Game Tek released several improved versions cemented its position as an Obvious Beta for those who played it for the requisite length of time.
Might and Magic VII was nowhere near as bad as IX, but it still has an assortment of problems - overpowered and underpowered classes, extreme laziness in the sprites (they didn't even bother with palette-swaps and just tinted them single colors) and obvious unfinished content.
Dungeon Lords was released with many missing features, despite them being stated in the game manual and advertised as such. Buttons, sliders and icons were present in the game and didn't do anything. Game patches gradually implemented some of those elements. The developers later released a collector's edition with "new stuff" which were actually, you guessed it, the missing features... which still didn't made the game complete in the end. To add insult to injury, the very last patch doesn't upgrade the original release to the "collector's edition" version.
Star Trek: Legacy. The Xbox360 version wasn't too bad, although it suffered more bugs than a console game really should. The PC version on the other hand was a total mess, riddled with bugs and controls that obviously hadn't been tested properly, if at all. Also, when players looked through the game directory, they found huge chunks of legacy code from the ancient Star Trek: Armada engine, just proving how little effort had truly gone into the game's development.
The author of Slime Forest Adventure freely admits that the game is a Beta. To make up for that, if you buy it now, you get free updates for life.
Pool of Radiance: Return to Myth Drannor was so buggy that some gamers reported it destroying their OS. Even the install shield had a crippling bugs which prevented players from installing the game to a folder other than the default. It was so bad that the developer needed to release not just an update patch, but a completely new installer, meaning the user has to download this to install the game rather than going through the autorun setup from the disc. Most users would not be aware of this fact and will install it from the disc anyway, making it pointless.
After the closure of Black Isle Studios, producers of Fallout, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment, the studio was 'resurrected' through Spiritual Successor studios made up of much of their old staff, Obsidian Entertainment and Troika Games. Both studios have become renown (or reviled) for their tendency to release pre-finished or incomplete games:
Knights of the Old Republic 2 is Obsidian's crowning example. Due to Executive Meddling by Lucasarts pushing for a Christmas release, much of the last third of the game is missing, including lots of voice files and code left in that details entirely new planets, a more satisfying ending, and a bit more character exploration and personal sidequests. A fan mod was eventually released to try to implement some of it.
Neverwinter Nights 2 was fairly buggy upon release and suffered from memory leak issues and a lack of polish. Then both expansions introduced Game Breaking Bugs that made the previous campaign literally unplayable: Mask of the Betrayer made a Plot Lock in the original campaign fail to unlock, and Storm of Zehir deleted all of MOTB's voiceovers. And then when several more minor bugs introduced by SOZ were still extant, Hasbro sued Atari over Forgotten Realms license agreement violations and all patches stopped.
Alpha Protocol also has several bugs, including some that include flags not being thrown correctly in response to some of your actions and leaving you with odd results. Trying to sneak into the US embassy in Moscow will make the game think you butchered your way in, and Shaheed will mysteriously come back from the dead in the epilogue if you arrest him.
Temple Of Elemental Evil was riddled with several bugs and was generally unstable as heck. There is also references to some minor cut content in the second town.
Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines was playable from the outset but had many physics flaws and bugs. A number of Troika programmers stayed on after the company went bankrupt and was able to finish an official patch that fixed many of these errors. Fans latched on to this and went on to produce several years' worth of unofficial patches that have fixed most of the game's errors and restored cut content.
Dragon Age: Origins is rough around the edges in hindsight. First of all, the endgame (everything post-Landsmeet) is extremely bugged, failing to recognize who was made ruler of Fereldan and even your character's gender. Also, the Dwarf Noble-only sidequest, "The Prodigal Son", was so bugged that it is literallyUnwinnable without mods. Most of the DLC post-Warden's Keep were notoriously full of bugs and glitches upon initial release, most notable "Return to Ostagar" (which had to be delayed for over a month because it was practically unplayable), "Awakening" (which even those who liked it agreeing it was most likely rushed) and "Witch Hunt". Thankfully, the combination of patches (both Bioware and fanmade) and special mods have removed these issues, or at the very least mitigated them.
To this day (in the Xbox 360 version, at least), "The Prodigal Son" will sometimes pop up in the "Completed Quests" folder with the notation that you failed to provide a noble home for your son...even if your character isn't a Dwarf Noble and has no son.
Dragon Age II had some problems on release, including a way that the game could be made Unwinnable early on by killing a major NPC who is important to one of the late-game mandatory quests. Save file corruption has also been known to happen. Patches have fixed most of these, though even with 1.04 Sebastian and Isabela's character quests for Act III have to be completed at the beginning of the act or the game will crash when you play them (and with Sebastian's you can't have Anders in the party unless you also have Fenris). The game also has an overuse of Cut and Paste Environments and has a small variety of enemies. The developers have confirmed that these problems were the result of a rushed development cycle.
Several of EVE Online's expansions have been considered this, although CCP has got better over time, many earlier ones introduced Game Breaking Bugs, lag and desync issues, which then required entire patches dedicated simply to resolving those.
Dark Sun Wake of the Ravager was plagued with such issues as disappearing doors that left the player permanently stuck, NPCs who continued to speak and act after death, inability to complete quests, and best of all: enemies, allies, terrain, and even equipment vanishing permanently for no good reason. An official patch fixed only a small amount of game-breaking problems. Completing this bug-encrusted piece of shit is only possible through extreme abuse of multiple save slots.
Oblivion has the "honor" of Game Breaking Bugs all over, even early on the main quest, even with the a number of official patches, a fan patch, and fan patches for the fan patch (The first fan patch stopped updating, with the 2nd patch working on untouched bugs and additional patches for the downloadable content/expansion packs) applied.
Morrowind, of course, had a number of bugs on release but its expansions landed like a wrecking ball: Tribunal had a number of elite assassins attacking you night after night regardless of level, and having the audacity to even installBloodmoon rendered both the original campaign and the Tribunal expansion unwinnable and broken. A fan patch had largely taken care of this until Bethesda released their own which just created loads of new problems and questionable design decisions (Ice Armor going from the best new light armor to a mediocre medium, among others).
Skyrim carried on the trend; however, most of the Obvious Beta was with the PS3 version rather than the PC, which Bethesda is used to. A couple patches have been released to assess bugs, but plenty of bugs remain. Some of which will intentionally never be fixed because they're funny. While still buggy (with players reporting having to console-command through quests due to broken quests), the game's arguably the least buggy of the Elder Scrolls game next to Morrowind.
Daggerfall takes the cake, however. Even though several games were shipped with design flaws or glitches, Daggerfall was the worst. How bad was it? You could at least complete the main quest in the other games without a bug making the game Unwinnable. Daggerfall was also the game where one of the patches included an official tool entitled FIXSAVE.EXE, which as its name implies, was meant to repair errors in savegame files because they were too common to tell all affected players to restart the game. They also ended up publicizing some cheats, such as a dungeon teleportation spell, because the glitchy collision system in the engine tended to let people slip between the world geometry and into "The Void", where they'd fall forever otherwise, and because of the game's use of randomly generated dungeons could often result in dungeons without exits.
The PC release of Rampage: World Edition was a literalObvious Beta. IF you were able to get it to run at all, it had the words "Beta Release" in all four corners of the screen.
Lords of Magic remained beta for a very long time after release. The developers admitted they rushed it out to cash in on holiday sales.
While League of Legends went live without many hitches, Yorick the Gravedigger could be considered this. When he was released, he was considered "Worthless" because his abilities were, well, practically a beta. It also didn't help that his ult was supposedly changed from development to release and was full of bugs.
On the Glider PRO CD, the final star in "Grand Prix" appears in a room whose title promises one more. A half-built, unplayable sequence of rooms lies beyond. The house was supposedly completed, but no patch was ever released.
Oregon Trail 5th Edition, especially version 1.0, is riddled with glitches and compatibility issues; it requires a patch to work at all on XP (otherwise it crashes on launch), and is not compatible with Vista. Stick with II or the 25th Anniversary Edition.
Having been shipped hastily just before the company went under, the Mac-only RPG Tomb of the Task Maker has a few noticeable glitches and Dummied Out content. Read the section on underdevelopment on this site.
The sequel to Sword of the Stars, Lords of Winter, was released as a literal beta in November 2011 due to an erroneous upload of a pre-release candidate to the Steam servers instead of the intended release candidate. It was successfully replaced by the release candidate 24 hours later, at which point the delighted audience discovered that the actual release candidate wasn't much of an improvement and was riddled with several bugs. Kerberos Productions have yet, as of January 2012, declared that they feel the game is at the 'release' stage and bugfixes keep coming out on a near-weekly basis.
Might and Magic: Heroes VI is this despite testing including open beta. At the moment of this entry developer is working on a patch that should fix some issues that were known since then; fan created bug list contains over 120 issues and quite a bit of them almost game breaking.
Postal III. While the Postal series isn't known for its high production values, the game's initial release suffers from frequent crashing on some systems, the AI failing, broken Steam achievements, sound issues, among other things. Additionally the style was quite a departure from what RWS had in mind before Akella took over production, making it much more cartoonish. Free-roam mode was cut and later put out in a patch and there is no multiplayer, despite its development being credited, as it was canned at some point. Also, the game was quite underpromoted and wasn't out on Steam until two months after its official release date, instead having to be purchased directly from RWS' website or other minor retailers. Reception (fan and critical) is mixed to negative, with one of RWS' developers saying "the whole thing was rather tragic".
Magicka had numerous game-breaking or crashing bugs on release; multiplayer was especially buggy, and laggy because it used ridiculous amounts of bandwidth (far more than an average FPS game). After many of these bugs were fixed, the developers added the "Bug Staff" and "Crash To Desktop" spell to the game.
Cities XL, a SimCity clone suffered this. An Updated Rerelease, Cities XL 2011, fixed most of the huge bugs, but many remain.
Merit Software's Command Adventures: Starship can become unplayable about halfway through. When you attempt to send a team to a planet, the default action sound will 'bleep' three times and you're kicked back into space. At times, you'll find crew members vanishing and eventually it gets so bad you can't even get into the shop and other sections of the Starbases. Merit intended Starship to be the first in a series of Command Adventures games but it ended up being a Franchise Killer instead.
o3 Games gave too much control over The Outforce to their publisher, who committed Executive Meddling upon it, pushing it to be released with only the Terran campaign finished. Even worse, the units for the Terran, Crion and Gobin races have identical capabilities, even some of the unit names are the same across all three. Nonetheless, the AI is killer, it may have been the first RTS to support unlimited group sizes and the graphics are beautiful. Multiplayer also works and there are no game breaking bugs. It just needed more time in the oven to bake in more content and de-clone the three races.
LEGO Island 2 was beyond rushed in the middle of its development. Almost 50% of what was intended was cut entirely (for instance, there was going to be a cave area with many more sub-games). Not to mention, the fifty percent we did get didn't even look half-complete; the physics were basic, the graphics were very texture-filled, the instructions would barely give you a hint on what to do, there was no replayability, the load times were inexcusably long (sometimes going as long as two minutes), and it was filled with various glitches, not uncommonly game breaking. The PSX version was based off this one, so it too was incomplete in the same way. The GBA and GBC versions weren't, though, although opinions still tend to vary on them.
The PC version of LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 is so full of game crashing glitches, it's unplayable.
The PC version of Dead Island at launch turned out to be a earlier developer build instead of the final retail build, and the Xbox 360 developer build at that. It even came with a built-in noclip button.
Freeware metroidvania Legend Garden suffers from this. It's Unwinnable by Mistake, over half the bosses are hideously broken, things have a tendency to get stuck in walls, and some items are unobtainable.
The Sims 3 seems to be suffering badly from this. How badly? This badly. And what makes it frustrating isn't just that most of the glitches come from expansion packs, but also by the patches themselves, because they're designed to work with the upcoming expansion packs, which messes up your game in its own right (e.g. telescopes not working and sims being unable to marry) and if you do buy the new expansion, of course it brings in its own set of glitches, prolonging the cycle. And when it first came out? If you gave your sim a unique hair colour, the game would glitch them bald. In a game that's essentially virtual paper dolls, this was especially glaring.
The Metroid fan game Metroid; Beginings [sic], made with Flash in 2005 and discovered by Retsupurae in 2013, qualifies on a spectacular level. The collision detection is so buggy that it's not uncommon to fall through the floor for no apparent reason, and it's possible early on to get stuck in a door — the twist being that opening the door doesn't fix it. It also has No Ending, in that the author simply did not program one into the game. Lest you think we're kidding, the player who recorded the footage confirmed this using a Flash decompiler.
The newest SimCity was released in a miserable state, which mostly stemmed from only two really big issues, the traffic and the DRM. The traffic in the game could easily bring any large city to a grinding halt, since drivers always would take the shortest route instead of the fastest route (for example, all the cars would pile onto a single lane dirt road while ignoring the slightly longer four lane avenue), sometimes going in endless loops, public services tended to follow each other (so having buses would only increase traffic woes instead of helping them, while firetrucks had serious problems putting our more than a single fire at a time), and other such nonsense. Meanwhile, the servers just couldn't handle all the players in the game, with wait times that could exceed an hour, money disappearing into the ether when gifted to another city, and just crashing at points. EA was forced to take features out (most notably "Cheetah Speed") just to prevent the servers from imploding.
It also came out that the game flat-out tricked the player by showing a much higher population than the city actually had, so you'd think your city had enough people to run it even as everything ground to a halt because of lack of manpower. And that the exceedingly diminutive maximum city size was artificially restricted - by using an exploit it was possible to build outside the borders to no ill effects.
Far Cry: Vengeance for the Wii was a mess of a game with laggy framerates, cut content, and sloppily-done visuals, obviously rushed out just to put a Far Cry game on the Wii for the sake of it.
The in-game Loading Screen hints in Time Shift frequently refer to features that don't actually exist and the rewind function spends much of the game disabled because the developers didn't feel like resolving the minor issues that it could present. For example, if a character is scripted to open a door, then the player could have used the rewind function to be either inside the room before the door opened, or outside of the room after it closed.
Haze at first was promoted as having a new task-based AI system which was licensed by Free Radical Design, then found not to work at all on the hardware they were designing for. The game slipped for over a year, with early trailers having nothing to do with the final plotline. The end result had obvious missing functions [the two rifles were clearly designed with underbarrel mounts], poor visuals, stodgy AI, ridiculously repeated samples and a disjointed, pretentious plotline. Since FRD had promoted all their other projects as using the distinctly unimpressive Haze engine, they duly lost all their custom and collapsed shortly afterwards.
The Last Remnant for the Xbox 360 is plagued by massive slowdown during battles which, coupled with the amount of grinding that you have to do and Loads and Loads of Loading, makes the game drag to an infuriating extent. The PC version successfully fixed all of these problems and even included a Turbo Mode to make battles go faster. You'd think that they would be working on a patch to fix the graphical problems in the Xbox 360 version, but seems to have been abandoned entirely. The Playstation 3 version that was supposed to come out simultaneously with the 360 version has vanished entirely into the ether and Square refuses to speak of it.
The King of Fighters XII has been accused of being an obvious beta. The playable character roster had been cut nearly in half between XI and XII (a few players have browsed through the index files of the Xbox 360 version and discovered files for several unused characters in the game such as Yuri and Takuma Sakazaki, fan-favorite Mai Shiranui, and even long-unused Fatal FurySub Boss Hwa Jai), the main arcade mode is little more than a glorified time trial with only five stages and no proper end boss (though some would argue that given SNK's reputation for making extremely punishing bosses, this change would be a good thing), and until a version 1.02 patch fixed it, the netcode for online play was extremely unreliable, leaving some players stuck on the loading screen for minutes before even being able to select a character.
The developers were surprisingly up-front about this in later interviews. Executive Meddling led to them having only 9 months to develop the game instead of the usual (for that series) 12 months.
The 2010 reboot of Medal of Honor is a glitchfest riddled with game breaking bugs. Electronic Arts doesn't usually rush out games like this. What were they thinking? One level has a huge glitch that causes an entire section of the level to go missing, leaving only the bottomless void.
If Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One was ever tested, it wasn't done very thoroughly; the game's makers and testers never picked up on the fact that the invisibility cloak (when it actually works) breaks most levels wide open, causing event triggers to fail, enemies to simply stand stock still and, hilariously, putting it on while fighting the final boss causes you to win the entire game almost instantly.
Kung Fu Panda 2 for the PS3. While the Xbox 360 version is sub-par in its own right, the PS3 version looks like a meeting pitch prototype that was shown to a publisher in order to get further development funds but got shoved out the door as a finished product instead.
The original Wii version of Tales Of Graces was recalled in 2010 due to the number of game-breaking bugs and glitches. It went alright on its first playthrough, but on repeat playthroughs the game just imploded on itself. Sometimes the music would glitch during fights, too.
The Silent Hill HD Collection was made with incomplete versions of the games' source codes—because Konami had lost the complete codes—with predictable results. However, Konami is patching the PS3 version to correct the problems (sadly not the X360 version though), and SH2 works fine now.
Soul Calibur V was released with only 1/4 of its story mode completed due to the development team running out of time.
Blacksite: Area 51 was released in an obviously unfinished state, to the point that project lead Harvey Smith admitted it went straight from alpha to gold. Among other things, visual glitches and oddities run rampant (intel and ammo frequently floats in midair, there's no animation for NPCs entering vehicles, so your teammates entering a Humvee is represented by them standing next to the vehicle and reappearing inside of it), the squad control and morale mechanics barely work, the game is short on content (short campaign, only 6 guns and a bare-bones multiplayer mode) and the final boss had no AI before patch, he simply stood still after the end of his short scripted behavior.
The PS3 port of The Orange Box was handled by EA Games, with disastrous results. Team Fortress 2 got hit with this the hardest, it's near unplayable on the PS3.
The Wii port of Sam & Max: Season 1 suffers from countless problems: The cursor getting permanently stuck in the lower-right corner of the screen, horrible texture compression (leaving several visual or text-based gags incomprehensible), random crashing, long loading times, the list goes on. Whatever you do, never, EVER buy the Wii port.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD fell victim to Summer of Arcade. Summer of Arcade is a special event that Microsoft holds for Xbox Live Arcade every year. It's held because Microsoft wants to get some timed exclusives (or permanentexclusives) to the Xbox 360. Tony Hawk HD was one of them. As a result, one of the levels (Downhill Jam) is so glitchy it's borderline unplayable, the physics aren't polished, some of the tricks are glitched, and there's a huge glitch where you can't use tricks that you buy.
The PS3 port of Bayonetta was infamously horrible, with more load time than gameplay and awful visuals and frame rate when compared to the Xbox 360 version. A patch was eventually released that alleviated the terrible load times by letting you install the entire game onto the PS3's hard drive. The issues with the sub-par visuals and low frame rates were never addressed.
Mercenaries 2: World In Flames was another EA victim, with not only glitches with terrain that would occasionally cause vehicles to act as if they'd run into solid walls while going across level surfaces, objects to spawn on top of buildings that had previously been destroyed so that they were just suspended in midair, and most glaringly, in-game tips to use Vehicle Repair Crates and Vehicle Ammo Crates to repair and reload your vehicles despite neither of these items actually being present in the game. These issues were especially problematic in light of the game's release having already been delayed for over a year by the time it came out.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 - Episode 1 was essentially an experiment, as its glitchy physics engine can attest to. Sega was depending on its reception to determine what should be improved in Episode 2, or whether there should even be one. It being downloadable and not actually a physical release gave them less to lose.
Like the Silent Hill HD Collection example earlier, it is rumored that the reason for this is that Sega lost the source code for the game. You'd think these companies would store these source codes in a safe place.
Like it's its high definition cousin, it was rushed to come out on Sonic's 15th Anniversary. The developers did a quick and dirty port job, inserting the Sonic 1 map data into the Sonic Advance engine. The problem was that the engine was designed to handle data created around the GBA's 240x160 screen resolution, while Sega Genesis games use a higher resolution, so the Sonic 1 data overloaded the engine, making it take up too much memory.
Sonic Chaos for the Game Gear is essentially a beta version of Sonic Triple Trouble. All the levels are very short and devoid of life, with little to no badniks around. The physics are also very clunky, and even though you can play as Sonic or Tails, there is only one available ending: Sonic's default ending. Beating the game as Tails or as Sonic with all emeralds will lead up to a generic "Congratulations" screen.
Sonic Chronicles was released in the late beta phase. While still highly playable (and enjoyable), it had an abnormal amount of cut-content (including pretty much the entire soundtrack, which was just fan remixes downloaded from the internet in Midi format). What evidently happened was that BioWare was acquired by EA and decided to work on Dragon Age, since they had already fulfilled their contract to Sega. This isn't so much of a case of "poorly-released game" as it is "Game could have been much better than it actually was."
Mortal Kombat Advance in theory was to give a bone to MK fans wanting to play UMK 3 on the go with their Game Boy Advance back in 2002. Midway, however, handed the license to an outside third-party away from Ed Boon and his team and gave them four months to turn it out for a quick profit. Unsurprisingly, the game came rife with glitches, incomplete AI (either motionless or cheating), and unresponsive controls. The game proved to be a bit profitable for Midway, but this kind of practice foretold the future bankruptcy of the company.
The original Pokemon games, especially the original Red and Green, released only in Japan (after five years of development!), were notorious for this. The updated Blue engine, despite fixing some of the more painful bugs, was still a mess, with the infamous Mew glitch, Glitch city, the old man exploit, as well as MissingNo, due to being a beta and because of some of the shortcuts taken to fit the game on the cartridge. Even the Updated Rerelease Yellow didn't fix much. By Generation II, which uses an upgraded engine, most of the bugs were fixed, but exploits involving the PC boxes that had a similar effect to the Mew glitch (i.e. manipulating cloning and PC boxes to get any Pokemon) remained. Note that this isn't always a bad thing — the games were indeed playable (and many glitches you had to actually go out of your way to exploit) but it was one of those rare instances where they released a late beta and it actually worked.
Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny for PSP was obviously rushed out for a Summer Holiday release. It is supposed to be a port of Soul Calibur IV with extra characters and modes...but to get it out in time, there is no story mode or proper arcade mode. The options mode doesn't let you adjust the difficulty or number of rounds, the create-a-character mode is very lacking, and there is no money system or internet play. The game's makers lampshade this by saying that it's a 'simpler Soul Calibur game for novice players'. Tekken: Dark Resurrection, which came out several years before, is not lacking in any of the modes its home version offers, and thus, Broken Destiny could have been much better.
The original has a few lines left in Japanese. Considering how many lines there are, it's possible that the beta testers couldn't find them all... except that one of the lines has to be seen in order to get FIVE of the six Multiple Endings. Also, one of the skill descriptions is Blatant Lies, being the exact opposite of what the skill really does.
The DLC for the North American version of Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days had so many bugs and glitches that the developers actually had to pull them from PSN so they could work on fixing them. When first released, they had no voice, but random noises played whenever the characters would say something during battle, such as menu scrolling and selecting sounds, and their attacks were completely messed up in area and damage (to the point that Sapphire's Ultimate move did reverse damage, thus healing enemies). The DLC was later put on back on sale with the attack glitches fixed, but the random noises still play up when they are fighting.
Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified for the PlayStation Vita. The graphics aren't up to PS Vita standards. The enemy AI is abysmal. The single-player campaign can be finished in less than an hour. Multiplayer is very hard to get working properly, and the maps are small. Oh, and Nazi Zombies is conspicuously absent.
Action 52 was, at its most generous, an obvious alpha. In fact, it was pure incompetence. For example, while any competent NES game would switch levels by swapping out the bank that holds the level data, Cheetahmen (and other Action 52 games with more than one level) accomplished it by swapping out the entire PRG ROM. The net result is that every level is in fact a different game, which is why bugs can occur in some levels but not in others, why each Cheetahman's level set has different sound effects, animations, etc., and why the end result cost $200. Some of the different levels in games have the same level number.
The NES version of Strider looks like a late-beta, due to things like uneven collisions, odd borders for platforms and walls, enemies and NPCs that appear and disappear at weird times or don't disappear when they should, and a poor translation. The third-to-last boss does not disappear or change in any way after his defeat, and the final boss simply does not appear in his room for several seconds. When he does, he just pops into the middle of the room as if by a glitch. the first Data Disk you analyze unlocks Australia as a stage, even though the actual clue in the disk refers to the location of the Attack Boots you get at China. Not only that, there's no reason to go Australia until very late in the game (its the final area you need to explore before visiting the Red Dragon). Further credence to this theory is the fact that the Japanese version was canceled before the release of the arcade version, even though a tie-in manga adaptation was already published for it.
Sega Master System
The port of Battlemaniacs for the Sega Master System, which only saw release in Brazil but was intended to be released in Europe as well. The most obvious signs of the unfinished port are the missing, misplaced and incomplete cutscenes and music.
Super NES/Sega Genesis/Sega Mega CD
In Super Double Dragon, it's impossible to catch your own boomerangs, knives do way too much damage, you can't switch weapons once you pick one up... The Japanese version, Return of Double Dragon, which came out a few months later, is more complete than the American version (it even has an additional level, albeit a rather glitchy unfinished one), but is obviously far from finished (the game still lacks any sort of plot or even a proper ending). See also Bad Export for You.
An obscure Super Famicom RPG by the name of Maka Maka exemplifies this. This game had several obviously unfinished parts and many bugs, some of which are game breaking. In fact, word has it that the game was released in its prototype form due to time constraints.
The somewhat obscure Japanese Sega Mega CD sequel to the Genesis semi-classic El Viento, Annet Futatabi (Annet Again), was released in a very unfinished state. The protagonist's flashy spells are all unfinished, usually resulting in just a single animation frame blinking in and out. Basic combat controls work correctly, but enemies swarm you any time you get knocked down, effectively making getting up an impossibility. Enemies and even bosses will occasionally wander off screen and not return for anywhere between 1-5 minutes... or never, making the game randomly unwinnable. It is little surprise that the game was never released outside Japan.
The initial release of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, while nowhere near as bad as other examples on this page, did have a load of glitches (such as getting stuck in the walls in Carnival Night Zone), but most of these were fixed when locked onto Sonic & Knuckles.
The game, despite its excellent regard in the community, is very clearly rushed (and when the game was explicitly divided into two parts so it could meet the deadline, that should be obvious). Particularly pairing Sonic and Tails together then using a second controller to have Tails lift Sonic while he's looking up can cause an almost innumerable amount of glitches and odd effects (this could easily have been solved by having the screen recenter when Tails is lifting Sonic but instead it stays in the same state as when Sonic is looking up, which can cause collision errors with things that are just outside the screen).
The first Jurassic Park game for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive wasn't buggy, but it certainly had an "unfinished" quality to it and the enemy AI was pretty pathetic overall. Velociraptors, for instance, were the scariest and deadliest dinosaurs in the film, but here became slow, lumbering idiots who basically waited to get shot. Two things support the theory that it was a rushed project: the first being that the actual beta ROM is almost identical to the finished product, and the second is that developer Blue Sky software later released a loose sequel Jurassic Park Rampage Edition which ratcheted up the action and made all the dinosaurs significantly more dangerous enemies (for instance, Velociraptor encounters are now downright scary, and the T-Rex still only appears from the shoulders up, but now she chases you). While the original was still an okay game, it's pretty obvious that Rampage Edition was the version Blue Sky meant to make the first time.
The original Star Ocean came with several crashing bugs, an item creation system whose success rate in some circumstances was so low it almost wasn't worth trying, items that were obviously meant to exist (and referenced in places) but couldn't be found, and a final dungeon that (story-wise) came out of nowhere on a planet you couldn't explore. The enhanced remake for the PSP corrected most of these issues.
Sequel Star Ocean: The Second Story on PlayStation had a game crasher that would "randomly" occur after completing a battle, the overworld/dungeon screen would fail to load, leaving just a black screen and no music, forcing a reset.
The game crashes if you push any button while the screen is black. It's not black for long, but if you happen to do it by accident, especially in the Cave of Trials, well...
Mega Man X6 has shades of this, what with its rushed localization, resulting in incredibly sloppy translation and leaving the original Japanese voices in the cutscenes, the lazy level design, and a sound test which is missing several tracks. This shouldn't come as a surprise when you realize that not only was the game assembled in less than a year, it was never supposed to be made to begin with—Keiji Inafune had already moved on to Mega Man Zero at the time and intended X5 to be the finale of the X series, but Capcom wasn't content with milking the series, resulting in the creation of X6, released just when the PS1 was on its death knell in the states.
Space Station Silicon Valley famously shipped with no collision detection enabled on one of the souvenir objects, making it impossible to pick up.
The North American release of Suikoden II has several places where dialogue simply wasn't translated at all. And because Konami also removed the Japanese font, the result is characters who speak indecipherable gibberish (see the second screenshot.)
The German version also has untranslated dialogues, like Lorelei, Gordon and almost the entire Rokkaku Village speaking in french.
The N64 port of Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine was so full of Game Breaking Bugs that it was only released as a Blockbuster rental (or a direct purchase from LucasArts). One of the most memorable glitches had to be the fact that in one level, when you tried to drop into a cave since access seemed impossible, when Indy fell in the water and you tried to resurface, he just swam through the air. Effective for getting in the cave, but he just drowned.
Superman 64 has insane glitches, horrible controls, awkward animations, a very short draw distance, largely nondescript textures, a telling lack of content (well, unless overuse of Pass Through The Rings counts as content), two years in development and not much to show for it... it's basically unrefined in nearly every aspect. Where it gets REALLY interesting is the actual beta release was BETTER than the finished product... apparently due to Executive Meddling, the company was forced to change a lot, as they began to run out of time...
WWF Smackdown! for the PS1 is clearly an Obvious Beta of WWF Smackdown!2: Know Your Role. They were both made in the same year and built on the same engine, with many things being left over from the first game in the second. The oddness about the first game is as follows:
The menu descriptions are written in sloppy English, including a Create A PPV mode called 'Match Making'.
The season mode is limited: hardly any backstage story, no feuds, the ability to skip matches, and the ability to be eligible for pretty much any title at the same time with little reason.
The create a character mode is limited with the only parts you can select being head, upper body and lower body. In the sequel, the same parts return as 'standard' parts, individual parts now are under 'advanced'.
Instead of unlocking characters, you unlock their parts.
The original copies of Spyro: Year of the Dragon were very glitchy due to being rushed for release before the Year of the Dragon ended. However, the Greatest Hits and Platinum releases fixed these problems and this game is regarded by many as one of the best games released on the PlayStation.
In the American version of Arc The Lad II, completing the pyramid dungeon takes the player back to the nearby town, where all character sprites, including that representing the player's party, are invisible, with only their shadows showing. Exiting the town will cause an error message to pop up, but the game continues normally afterward.
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was released in an infamously unfinished state and garnered many comments from reviewers along the lines of "it might be good when it's finished". Problems included the inability to dual-wield weapons despite Lara's twin holsters, the sea monster with an un-textured belly, Lara's ability to beat a timed door puzzle without the allegedly necessary jumping upgrade and Lara's clothes miraculously changing themselves.
While far more solid than Angel (outside the PS2 version), Tomb Raider: Underworld is also quite buggy, with various rough edges and some Gamebreaking Bugs.
Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly. You can swim in the air if you get through a certain gap in the net in a pond, allowing you to swim to later levels and do the boss battle early. If you're directly above or below something but actually far away from it, it sounds close. Spyro sometimes freezes and slides around like he's ice-skating. Visual effects go wrong a lot. Sometimes you arrive in a level and have to wait for it to appear. NPCs twitch and bounce like spastic jello molds for no good reason. Sometimes the dang thing just freezes. When you press "Look", occasionally Spyro would headbutt instead of looking. There are copious spelling errors. The gateway to the second world sometimes doesn't work.
A Hero's Tail on PS2 was glitchy and the camera sucked, but it wasn't as completely disgraceful as Enter the Dragonfly.
Nippon Ichi also ran into this problem with the US version of Ar tonelico 2, which has a Game-Breaking Bug around the endgame, a badly translated fourth Cosmosphere, and even spots where there's still kanji floating around.
Grandia III is a case of this. The whole bit about airplanes and flying that the game makes a big deal about early on in the story is almost completely abandoned once you actually get a plane, the second disc is very rushed, and one of the main villains is Put on a Bus, never to be seen again.
Vexx is complete from a gameplay perspective, and everything works. But the story is rather skeletal (with tons of hints that it was supposed to be much grander), a number of power-ups/game aspects pop up all of once and are never referenced again, and certain things in the main game hint at a multiplayer mode that simply never happened.
The Dreamcast port of Slave Zero, which was one of the few games released in the first year of the system. All of the ingame music is removed with only the intro and ending themes remaining, the menus in languages other than English are glitched and not fully translated, the framerate is far lower than the PC version and dips inexplicably during the cutscenes and the game is filled with all manner of bizarre bugs, such as falling infinitely off a Bottomless Pit or getting killed by the checkpoint transition and becoming invincible as a result. It's still playable enough to narrowly avoid Porting Disaster status, but superior PC-to-Dreamcast ports showed Infogrames plainly didn't care and rushed the game to get a quick buck.
The Japanese release for Tales Of The Abyss was actually an Obvious Beta. There were several items that were Dummied Out (Hi-Ougis and cut-ins that weren't accessible in-game, a potential part in which VAN was playable) as well as several bad bugs (Tear and Jade freezing while casting in overlimit) and plenty of Good Bad Bugs (being able to go anywhere on the world map, perfect because there are parts that can be Lost Forever). What appears to be a Regional Bonus for North America was actually more of a completion, despite several bugs that weren't removed (Luke has an extension to his Mystic Arte if Ion is in the party; Guy and Natalia have two Mystic Artes; Fortunes Arc has an extension; the final boss has a second Mystic Arte; Nebilim had around SEVEN Mystic Artes added; the cameo bosses not only have their cut-ins, but Phila and Rid actually had two).
You also have the cutscenes and world layout. After you complete certain cutscenes and the stages with it, you go back to the world map, giving you some kind of free roaming until the next cutscene continues the game. Although this free roaming zone tends to be really linear, you could go back to previous part of the world map, even though you were not meant to do so. Literally. Doing so means that all the cutscenes and stages get reset, meaning that you would have to play all of them again until you reached the point where you screwed up. The game just treats you as it was your first time reaching each zone. This can be seen after you complete Cavern Catastrophe, where you can find a tunnel that will get you back to N.Sanity Island.
It's hard to tell if Drake Of The 99 Dragons was ever beta tested at all, or if it just sucked. If anyone had played it before release, it would have been obvious that the controls were absolutely miserable and impossible to use.
Red Ninja End Of Honor, or Kurenai Ninja: Kekka no Mai (Dance of Blood) in Japan by Vivendi Universal Games. On paper, it is very much a potential Tenchu-killer, with its wire-based action, greater emphasis on platforming and maneuvers, Seduction mechanic, and artwork done by D.K who later did the art for NieR. On implementation, the game, while not exactly buggy, is completely unrefined. The wire combat, despite having a versatile potential, is often too situational (for a main weapon, being situational is not good). Camera controls were atrocious, and poor camera with platforming is a recipe for disaster. Level designs can only be described as malicious, relying too much on Bottomless Pits and other frustrating design choices. Platforming elements were consequently also harsh, with one level segment entirely relying on it. Items were often of no importance or too much importance, with no happy medium in-between. While the controls work for most times, the "wall run" mechanic relies on dashing, which is accomplished by pressing forward long enough. In a stealth game that rewards precision, that is a very vague input design, causing tremendous frustration. Despite controlling a lethal Miss Fanservice, the vaunted Seduction mechanic is too randomly-determined to be of any practical use. The use of CG animation in the ending is downright atrocious, and the soundtrack is very much below-par. The most griping point is that, with a few more playtesting and refinement, the game could have been much better, especially with a camera fix.
The Korean release of The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords Adventures includes the elusive Navi Trackers mode. This mode is an Obvious Beta in the Korean release - nothing, I repeat nothing is translated even though the rest of Four Swords Adventures is. Even after almost six years of waiting (FSA was originally released in 2004 in other regions and in Korea in 2010), Koreans still don't get Navi Trackers in their own language.
Even the game packaging is an Obvious Beta. Although the game's logo is translated on the title screen, the logo on the outer box is not, despite the fact that the rest of the outer box is translated. The inner box (containing the game disc) the game manual, and even the game disc itself (containing the Korean edition) aren't translated - they seem to be surplus from unsold Japanese editions. The inner box even has a CERO rating instead of a Game Rating Board rating. At least the game software itself is in Korean...
The rushed PAL release of Metropolis Street Racer for the Dreamcast was riddled with game-breaking, save-corrupting bugs. Sega quickly recalled it, but the second version was still somewhat buggy. The third PAL release, as well as the NTSC release, were more solid.
Dual Hearts feels this way at times, given the constant fuzziness of one world's graphics and the choppiness of the storybook stage.
Some gamers argue that even systems often count as an Obvious Beta. Consoles and handhelds, especially the latter, often have an Updated Rerelease/Updated model released a couple years later that addresses several bugs/design quirks. This can sometimes lead to the original models seeming a bit odd to play after you got spoiled by the newer ones. The Sega Genesis alone had a lot of models, some of the later ones with the Add ons built in.
Many cell phone models often fall into this trope, considering how many updated models come around that improve bugs and complaints about the previous models.
Nokia's 3600/3650, for one, was the butt of numerous complaints due to its unique circular keypad layout. Some people actually found the keypad easier to use, though. Nevertheless, an updated variant of the phone, the 3620 (3660 for the Eurasian market) was released with a conventional layout, and a 16-bit, 65K colour screen compared to the 3600's 4096-colour display.
The Sony PSP models, although the PSP GO was often considered a downgrade by fans - and it's also, arguably, an Obvious Beta for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, affectionately dubbed the PlayStation Phone.
Truth be told, though, no PSP model had serious issues from the get-go (except perhaps the GO, though its issues were conceptual rather than executional). They slightly improved the hardware here and there (notoriously downgrading it instead for the 3000's screen), sporadically added features (such as the HDMI link) and made the console progressively smaller; however, the drive to keep putting out newer models was mostly due to Sony's paranoid attitude toward modding - namely, to not ever allow it. Every new version would fix the exploits that made it possible to mod the earlier model, in a wack-a-mole game that brought Sony little success and only managed to stall the sale of newer, less modifiable systems in favour of older ones - generating a florid second-hand market.
The Wonderswan, a portable Bandai system released only in Asia, had an original monochrome version released in 2000, followed by the Wonderswan Colour shortly afterwards.
The infamous toilet bowl-shaped Atari Jaguar CD addon, which, due to faulty connections, rarely worked at all.
Dr. Insano, who struggled to get one working to review a game: [N]ot only is it prone to hardware failures, it's prone to about five different ways it can fail. It can fail if [it] isn't perfectly placed on the [Jaguar]. It can fail if the contacts aren't clean. It can fail if the Memory Track cartridge isn't perfectly set, and it can easily fail because the laser itself or the motor mechanism are defective, and they often are, and in [Spoony's] case, it would often fail because the lid is so poorly designed that, when closed, it actually closes too tightly and mashes the CD against the inside of the drive, preventing it from spinning, and that could easily cause additional internal damage[...E]ven when I did get it to work [it] still froze all the time, and I do mean all the damn time!
When the same was attempted by The Angry Video Game Nerd, he couldn't get it working either, and so handed off his Jaguar and CD addon to Richard DaLuz. DaLuz, in his capacity as creator of the NinToaster and SuperGenintari (a NES, Super NES, Genesis, and Atari2600 in the same box), seemed like if anyone had the skillset to get such things working, it would be him. Even after he soldered the CD addon to the console, thus eliminating any possibility of a connection problem, it refused to work.
Early adopters of the Xbox 360 found themselves acting as beta testers for the machine's cooling system. Then as beta testers for the various fixes for this. Depending on who you believe and which motherboard variants you include, the failure rate within 3 years was anywhere between 30 and 70%, with many customers requiring multiple replacements. Arguably these issues were only finally fixed (although die shrinks and the ability to install disc images—avoiding the extra heat, wear and noise from the 12x DVD drive spinning constantly at full speed—helped, they couldn't solve the fundamentally flawed cooling model of pushing hot air out a rear panel which the air vents had to share with various AV connectors) with the release of the slim redesign 5 years after the original launch.
OCZ's "Agility 3" series of SSD hard drives featured a controller that was prone to failure, which was fixed in the next generation.
AMD's "Bulldozer" series of CP Us, known as the FX series, serve as an example. AMD introduced a new process with the Bulldozer, which involved pairing every two integer cores with a single floating-point core, and using an extended pipeline for instruction execution in order to ramp up the clock speed (a technique known as "hyperpipelining", which Intel had previously experimented with in the Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors). Unfortunately, these new techniques failed to boost the new chip to Intel's performance standards, and in some applications, they actually performed worse than AMD's previous-generation Phenom II chips (mostly due to the large penalty for branch prediction failures introduced by the extended pipeline).*
It's worth noting that Intel had the exact same issue with the P4, and that's the issue that allowed AMD to elevate themselves from a second-tier chipmaker to genuine competition for Intel
The second generation core developed with this process, "Piledriver", may not have quite caught up to Intel's performance levels, but it did fix many of the mistakes of Bulldozer and represents an objective improvement over AMD's older chips.
Andrew Hussie admits here that Homestuck's first Act 6 Act 3 Intermission walkaround game was one of these. It was programmed in a new way, with HTML 5 instead of flash, and Hussie didn't see any need to keep it from being posted while it worked for 90-95% of people. And this way, they could use the readers to test it and figure out what the problems were for later flashes.
Later walkaround games had an actual gamma test phase, releasing the game to the 20,000+ kickstarter backers so they could signal bugs and get them fixed before the full release.
After the whole Siri-released-in-beta thing, Apple would have learned their lessons... right? Nope. Presenting iOS 6 Maps. Where to begin... The whole mess started when Apple chose to remove Google Maps as a native app in iOS 6, replacing it with their own. The result? Something that would make Steve Jobs hang his already dead self in shame. Entire cities have been renamed, designated as hospitals, or covered by clouds in satellite view. The general consensus now is that the product is something that seems to have been thrown together without a second look. It gets even worse as the new iOS Maps have no public transit routes and route planning is sketchy at best, and God help you if you even think about trying maps anywhere other than US. The worst part in all of this is that iOS 6 Maps is going to be on the iPhone 5... whether you like it or not.
Google's response was of course to make a freely downloadable iOS Google Maps app as soon as possible (it took a few weeks). Some with iPhone 4 actually delayed updating to iOS 6 to give Google time to put up its app, and once it was up updated and replaced the Apple app with the Google one. While you cannot remove iOS 6 Maps, you can banish it to a lonely screen you never look at.
Microsoft have a bad reputation for this; Vista is the most notorious and damaging example but it stretches back at least as far as Windows 95. To their credit, it's usually sorted out after the first few months, but upgrading to the new OS before at least Service Pack 1 is a bit of a gamble.
Quantum Of Solace is said to be this, due to the 2007 Writer's Guild Strike. The movie had to be written as it was being shot, which is almost ALWAYS a terrible idea. There are flow and editing problems that are very clearly patched together. Daniel Craig has gone on the record saying he will walk off the set if he's ever dragged into such a mess again.
Clive Sinclair, head of Sinclair Radionics and later of Sinclair Research, which brought the ZX Spectrum to Britain and helped kickstart its home computer market, valued minimalist designs that the British public could afford, at the cost of neglecting to have his creations properly tested and polished. By far the most infamous example is the Sinclair Black Watch, an early digital watch that used an LED and sold for either £17.95 or £24.95 depending on whether you got it in a do-it-yourself kit (like most home electronics of the time) or preassembled. The kit was notoriously difficult to assemble; it had a battery life of only ten days (resulting in many preassembled watches arriving already dead) and its batteries were just as difficult to replace; its integrated chip could be destroyed by static from nylon clothing; and most damning of all, it was unreliable in keeping time because it ran at different speeds depending on the weather. Oh, and just for kicks, it could explode if you left it powered on for too long. The product was such a gigantic flop that Sinclair Radionics would've gone bankrupt if the British government hadn't stepped in to provide subsidies.
The World God Only Knows has an early story where Dating SimOtaku Keima Katsuragi struggles to get through one of these. Filled with just about every bug imaginable, the biggest one he has to overcome is getting stuck in a loop that prevents him from reaching the ending. Not only that, but trying to save the game will fry his PFP, so in order to find a way around the loop, he has to try every. single. route. And when he finally does manage to get past the loop, the result is corrupted graphics and text that make it completely unplayable.
"Mad Snacks, Yo!" in Homestuck is a skateboard game riddled with glitches that get the Player Character stuck in walls or other decor elements, assuming the game doesn't crash first.
In episode 5 of Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, the characters play an MMO game using virtual reality headsets. The game is in a playable state, but the first enemies they encounter haven't even been programmed with attacks yet, nor does the main character Kodaka have any abilities to use despite being a "wizard". There are also balancing issues as the boss they fight is a bit too tough, though to be fair their healer was taking a nap (since she's only a 10 year old) and they weren't coordinating their moves very well either.
Kenneth the Page of 30 Rock once invented a game show similar to Deal or No Deal in which contestants had to choose which model was holding a case full of solid gold. They caught on in no time that it was always the model struggling with a case full of heavy gold bricks.
The Price Is Right was first a local show in New York City called The Sky's The Limit. When Monty Hall brokered a meeting between creator Bob Stewart and NBC about the show, a pilot for the network was worked out under the name Auction-Aire. It became The Price Is Right when it finally premiered in 1956.
Several of the pricing games in the 1972 revival were born out of previously failed pricing games. For instance:
The idea of zeroing in on the correct price after an initial guess — i.e., binary search" — was first tried in a game unofficially called "Bullseye." Here, the contestant was given a range and a limited number of guesses (seven) to arrive at the correct price. After the game was deemed an unmitigated disaster, a new version of the "binary search" concept was tried, this time marrying it to a clock and giving the contestant an unlimited number of tries within a 30-second time limit, repeating the process up to twice. That came — called (inventively enough) Clock Game — remains a TPiR staple to this day.
The idea of selecting the digits from small prizes worth less than $100 to form the price of a car was first attempted in a game called "Double Digits." For some reason, this game didn't work ... but the producers didn't give up on the idea. An overhauled game saw the contestant being shown four prizes, one at a time, and their prices, from which they chose one of the digits to eventually form the price of the car. Only this time, the contestant — after being given a chance to change any digits they thought were incorrect — was given a Temptation: either take the prizes they were just shown as a sure-thing buyout, or risk them for the chance to also win the car ... but they had to be correct about each digit in the price or else they lost everything. Temptation — the game that rose from Double Digits' ashes and became a lasting success.
Wheel of Fortune went through a lot of these, in both pilots and the final series. Merv Griffin was working on a hangman-based game show, but the infamous NBC daytime executive Lin Bolen suggested a shopping aspect be added to lure in the ladies. Unfortunately, the 1973 pilot Shopper's Bazaar hosted by Chuck Woolery took this a little too far: while the basic gameplay of the early era was almost there, the set looked like a cobbled together, 1960's department store, the wheel and puzzleboard were quite cheap looking, and the scoring system was quite complicated. The next pilots in 1974 were closer to the Wheel people knew and loved, but were hosted by an admittedly drunk Edd Byrnes. The eventual NBC premiere kept the format from Byrnes' pilots, but restored Chuck Woolery as host.
Prior to Wheel of Fortune's permanent bonus round being implemented in December 1981, there were several prototypes played, usually during sweeps weeks or other special occasions. These earlier versions had the difficulty of the puzzle dependent on the prize selected. Hence, if the player was playing for a car – during these special weeks, these were luxury or sports cars, in lieu of the usual economy and base-model sports cars – the puzzle would usually be difficult and have only a few instances of the common letters (R, S, T, L, N and E), while the less-expensive prizes (such as perhaps a $1,000 tea service or a trip to Acapulco) might be fairly easy to solve and have several instances of those common letters; also, the contestant was afforded just four consonants in addition to the vowel. Like the permanent bonus round, the time limit was 15 seconds ... but this time, the puzzle was simply predetermined and purportedly had no bearing on the prize selected.
Even with the permanent bonus round, there have been changes. For the first eight years (counting from its introduction on the daytime show to the 1989-1990 syndicated season premiere), the contestant simply chose a prize he wanted to play for; starting in September 1989 (on the syndicated version only), the prize was chosen by blind draw and announced only after the solution was revealed, regardless of the result. Also, starting in the fall of 1988 (on both the daytime and syndicated versions), the contestant was given R, S, T, L, N and E to start and then had to give three more consonants and a vowel (a "Wild" card, introduced in 2006, allowed one additional letter if the contestant held it from the main game); the timer was then set to 10 seconds, down from 15.
Jeopardy!: Reportedly, early episodes in the original NBC daytime run had just five categories per round, instead of the usual six. The sixth category was added in after too many episodes saw the contestants speedily whiz through the board and left too much time at the end of the half-hour.
According to The Encyclopedia Of TV Game Shows, the show began with six categories. The first six on its 3/30/64 debut were "Television," "Women," "Fictional Characters," "Odds And Ends," "American History" and "Science." The first DJ categories were "U.S. Geography," "Sports," "The Funnies," "Words," "Opera" and "Famous Names." The first Final was "Famous Quotes."
Let's Make a Deal: The "Door 4" game on the 1984-1986 version saw several incarnations of this game:
Very early playings saw the contestant shown a sure thing (a prize package of about $1,000-1,500) and asked whether he wanted to risk it for whatever amount was behind Door 4 (between $1 and $5,000).
Later, the contestant was asked to spin a carnival wheel, marked with amounts of $100 to $5,000 and then – after the amount was determined – asked whether he wanted to risk the cash and spin the wheel a second time to hopefully better his winnings. (Even if the contestant declined, he was asked to spin again to see what would have happened.)
The most famous version awarded the contestant a check (at first, $750, then $1,000) and asked if he wanted to give it back in exchange for a spin of the wheel. The top prizes were $4,000 cash and a new car. (As before, the "let's just see what would have happened" came into play if the contestant declined.)
Tattletales was previously a syndicated show called He Said She Said. And even before that, it was being developed in 1963 under the name "It Had To Be You." When it was re-developed for CBS, it had the working name "Celebrity Match Mates."
When Tattletales premiered, it used the format of He Said, She Said at first – the celebrity partner asked to relate a story and then give a one- or two-word clue that he/she thought their spouse would be able to identify them by to win cash for their designated section (the "rooting section") of the audience. Less than three months into the run, a second part of the game – "Tattletale Quickies," which were multiple-choice questions posed to each of the celebrity couples – was expanded to become the only part of the game, with four such questions asked per show.