Although it has different meanings depending on the type of technology, this is mainly about the video game version, which is to restart just the game without having to reboot 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, 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
- A notable exception is Final Fantasy XII, which had a way to return to the title screen from the pause menu.
- Both Kingdom Hearts and the Updated Re-release of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories has it. Kingdom Hearts II, however, does not.
- The Last Remnant on the PC has this by hitting Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R.
- 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.
- Unless you were using the Wii Remote and/or the Nunchuk in Brawl. The remote alone was A+B+1/2+"+", and plus the Nunchuk was Z+B+1+"+".
- 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 would reset all the trash before a boss, letting you kill them multiple times, doesn't work when the boss dies however, because that turns off the respawn timer until the hard resets, when the bosses come back too.
- Some games used Start + Select to boot back to the main menu or perform a similar reset function, these include:
- Some (but not all) Konami games on PlayStation 1 have the Start / Select / L1 / L2 / R1 / R2 input too. This include, among others, Mitsumete Knight, Tokimeki Memorial Private Collection, and Tokimeki Memorial Taisen Puzzle Dama.
- Shadow Hearts: From the New World claims to have one in the manual. However, the combination listed doesn't actually work.
- In Way of the Samurai, both the second and third game have soft reset methods. The second game requires all four shoulder buttons pressed along Select and Start. The third game reduces it to Select and Start only.
- The Mega Man games (or at least the Mega Man X Collection) has the L1 + R1 + Start + Select to go back to the game launcher.