Unwinnable By Mistake / ZX Spectrum Games

There are many ZX Spectrum games which can become impossible to complete due to bugs. Search the World of Spectrum forums for "impossible": there have been at least two threads devoted to such games.

  • A particularly egregious example is Xavior, in which the end-game routine to unlock the final room doesn't work. This remained undiscovered for some 20 years because the game's designer went for quantity instead of quality, giving the game 4,096(!) rooms and thus making it infeasible to complete even on an emulator allowing one to periodically save one's position.
  • Impossible Mission centers on assembling nine puzzles to prevent a Mad Scientist from blowing up the world. The catch? There's a bug in the programming of the Atari 7800's NTSC version, and of the Sinclair ZX-Spectrum version, that makes the mission literally impossible: some of the puzzle pieces are hidden behind unsearchable objects, preventing you from obtaining them. This is specific to these two versions; the Atari 7800 PAL version and other formats have no (reported) problems.
  • The original release of Jet Set Willy can never be completed due to bugs — most notably, the "Attic Bug," which permanently corrupts the game's data because a certain enemy in "The Attic" level travels past the ZX Spectrum's video memory and overwrites game data. As a result, some rooms will from there on kill the player instantly as soon as he enters. The developer/publisher originally claimed that the bugs were intentional (saying that the affected rooms were filled with poison gas) but later released some memory-writing hacks to correct them. According to The Other Wiki, about half of the releases of Jet Set Willy (it was released on multiple platforms) were Unwinnable by Mistake. The Commodore 64 bug makes it impossible to reach all of the objects in The Wine Cellar; this has been corrected by fans, 27 years after it was originally discovered, by porting code from other versions of the game over to the Commodore platform.
    • Henry's Hoard, which is based on the Jet Set Willy engine (apparently without the knowledge of the original authors), has an unreachable victory sequence for a different reason. The last two rooms can only be reached when all 256 items had been collected. But some of the 256 items are in those last two rooms.
  • The Speccy port of Tiger Road is so bad that Your Sinclair took the manufacturers to court over selling goods of unmerchantable quality. The judge ordered the software company to release a version with the bug fixed. This was only after Your Sinclair tried to use an infinite lives cheat to complete the game - and found out that, at one point, you either get hit by a bullet or fall down a hole. (Many players got around this by rewriting the code.)

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