If you were one of the few people lucky enough to get your hands on the recently released NES Classic, than you’ve probably already been relishing its retro aesthetic and extensive library, even as you curse its short controller chords.
But what you might have forgotten is that, because the NES Classic simply acts as an emulator for the old console and its games, it carries over some of the stranger bugs, glitches, and nuances of all the old games in its library. It’s a nice touch that adds to the quirky, nostalgic nature of Nintendo’s weird little boutique device. After all, the best glitches aren’t mistakes to be fixed or erased, but more like artefacts to be uncovered and explored; reminders that, in the end, games are unique and idiosyncratic, just like the people who create them.
Take the Minus World glitch in Super Mario Bros., for example. On World 1-2, if the player stands on the pipe at the very end of the level, moves to the far left, ducks while facing left, and then jumps while ducking, they will start moving right and travel through a wall into an adjacent room with three warp pipes. Another way of glitching the game involves smashing the blocks overhead in this location in order to get transported through the wall.
If the the player goes through the pipe on either the far left or far right, and the glitch has worked, they’ll find themselves in Minus World, a never-ending water level much like World 7-2 from later in the game. If the player dies, they simply go back to the start of Minus World. If they keep going forward, it simply repeats; a wet, 8-bit purgatory. In the Japanese version of the game, the glitch is even more extensive.
There are a lot of other glorious glitches littered throughout the NES Classic’s library, although some of them are more akin to “cheats” and “exploits” than regular bugs. In case you’ve forgotten, for instance, or were to young to ever experience it the first time around, entering the name “ZELDA” at the start of The Legend of Zelda will let the player automatically skip the first dungeon. Or in Punch-Out!!, if you enter “800-422-2602" at the beginning on the password screen, you simply hear a busy signal. That’s because the number is for Nintendo’s old tip hotline, which, oddly enough, Nintendo brought back online in the US for people who call 425-885-7529, because why not.
In Mega Man 2, jumping back toward the boss gate in Airman’s room will magically transport you to one of the later Riley stages. Although the game has pulled the second level of Skull Castle from memory, it also still acts like the player hasn’t left the room with Air Man, meaning the robot master’s attacks will still fly through the glitched-out space at Mega Man.
If you’re able to battle your way through the chaos, however, you’ll eventually find yourself in the boss room for the Skull Castle level. Nothing will load though, leaving the little Blue Bomber trapped in an empty screen with no way out.
The only glitches you won’t be able to experience with the NES Classic, unfortunately, are the ones that came from slotting the old cartridges into the original machine. But for that, you can always watch the below video from 1bit titled “Fade In Fading Dreamland.” It’s a compilation of actual glitches he recorded from his NES in the early 2000s.