Although it has different meanings depending on the type of technology, this is mainly about the video game version, which is restarting the game without rebooting the system (i.e. a Hard Reset). This is mostly to save power (especially in handhelds) and time (especially in disc systems, which have long boot-ups). Modern consoles tend to have this built into the system, where pressing a specific button brings up a menu that allows you to quit your current game and return to the system menu.
This can take two forms:
- Choosing to return to the title screen from one of the game menus. This is so common that it doesn't really need examples (save for any game that plays with it).
- Pressing a button combination that returns to either the title screen or just before.
A soft reset can have the effect of leaving the randomization values the same as they were before the restart, whereas a game or system with hardcoded starting values will return to the first string of values on hard reset.
- Arcade machines typically have some kind of "Test" button that boots the machine to a menu for configuration or testing. This also effectively resets the software without rebooting the machine entirely.
- The Game Boy may have been the Trope Maker for the second form. Since the startup process took up extra energy, this was likely a way to save battery life. The combination is Start, Select, A, and B all at once. The Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance had this as well.
- Schematics show◊ that the cartridge was in charge of the reset line of the processor. This meant the software was responsible for resetting the device or at least handling the input.
- The GBA port of Tales of Phantasia was a rare game that didn't have this option.
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening also didn't have the function. Instead, that combination was used to bring up the save game screen. A lot of people were confused, probably because they thought it would reset the game if they tried it (an NPC in Mabe village helpfully points this feature out, though.)
- Like the Game Boy, SNES cartridges have a reset line that can hardware reset the system, as well as the cartridge itself, in the case if it uses a co-processor. Of course, since the SNES has a physical reset switch, activating this through software was rare.
- Nintendo DS games instead have the combination of Start, Select, L, and R, almost certainly because Start and Select got moved to the other side of the system.
- The 3DS in general has the classic L + R + Start or Select for soft resetting the games. This is probably because it'll take longer to go to the Home menu, quit the game, then restart it.
- The Dreamcast and Saturn both had requirements set by Sega where pressing Start+A+B+C (Saturn) or Start+A+B+X+Y (Dreamcast) would cause the game to return to the title screen, or, if already at the title screen, the system boot menu.
- The TurboGrafx-16 had a soft reset activated with select + run.
- Square Enix games typically had soft reset combination that was consistent. On the SNES, it was L + R + Start + Select. On the PlayStation family, it's L1 + R1 + Start + Select. Or in the PlayStation 4's case, L1 + R1 + Start + Touchpad button
- Dynasty Warriors games let you return to the main menu by pressing Start and Select at the same time.
- The button combination that quits out of a mode in Super Smash Bros. and sequels is L+R+A+Start. If it's a single-player mode like Target Smash/Blast, it's just Z. When using the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, it's either A+B+1/2+"+" (for the remote alone) or Z+B+1+"+" (for the remote and Nunchuk).
- People grinding raid reputations in World of Warcraft usually use a soft reset found under the raid leader's "Reset instances" button that has a fundamentally similar effect. This resets all the trash before a boss, letting you kill them multiple times (note that this doesn't work when a boss dies).
- Many games used Start + Select to boot back to the main menu or perform a similar reset function, such as the Tekken series, the home versions of DanceDanceRevolution, the first two Tenchu games, and Monster Rancher 2 (where you have to hold them for 10-20 seconds to avoid accidental pressings).
- Some Konami games on PlayStation 1 have the Start / Select / L1 / L2 / R1 / R2 input too. These include Mitsumete Knight, Tokimeki Memorial Private Collection, and Tokimeki Memorial Taisen Puzzle Dama.
- Subverted with Shadow Hearts: From the New World - while it claims to have one in the manual, the combination listed doesn't actually work.
- The second and third games in the Way of the Samurai series have soft reset methods. The second game requires all four shoulder buttons pressed along Select and Start, while the third game reduces it to just Select and Start.
- The Mega Man X Collection has the L1 + R1 + Start + Select to go back to the game launcher.