The most bizarre visual glitches discovered in games

Glitches have always been a part of video games—in fact, with such complex coding, it's a minor miracle that today's games don't glitch out constantly. Of course, while glitches like the famous Pac-Man kill screen bug just made us say "whoa!", the realism of modern games can produce bugs that run the gamut from weird and quirky to scream-your-face-off scary. 

The Sims 4: demon babies

The Sims series has produced more than its share of weird glitchy moments, and since the games are reality simulators, many of them tend to be particularly surreal. Patches regularly pushed out by publisher Electronic Arts do a fairly decent job of holding back the tide of weirdness, but if you think that's going to stop YouTubers from recording every single last glitch present in the game at release, think again.

The birth of a baby is always a joyous occasion for your Sim, but in The Sims 4, it can quickly turn into a David Lynch-ian nightmare. For no apparent reason, your little tyke can come out deformed in ways that no actual child could ever survive. With eyeballs stuck to the end of spearlike antennae protruding from the sockets and twisted, misshapen limbs and bodies that would make Picasso faint, gamers could be forgiven if their first instinct was to try to set their child on fire. A patch fixed this glitch, but the internet never forgets.

Overwatch: map goes 'seeya'

Overwatch's Oasis map has a distinct visual style, retaining the futuristic art deco aesthetic of the rest of the game with some uniquely Middle Eastern architectural flourishes, and gives players new hazards to deal with in the form of lots of busy traffic. While gamers were happy to linger in Oasis checking out the map's brilliant design, sometimes the map itself decided it didn't want to stick around.

While Oasis features a nominal share of cute and funny glitches, the map glitch can have players experiencing an existential crisis. Repeatedly jumping in a certain spot causes the ground to completely disappear; cars plummet into the abyss, and your character is literally left hanging in endless space as the game's physics go out the window. Fortunately, this glitch has a pretty easy fix—just wait it out long enough, and you'll die. See? Easy!

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: swimmin' in the Upside Down

If you're one of the millions of gamers who passed on the Wii U, you missed the most wildly creative, visually stunning, and punishingly difficult entry in the entire Donkey Kong Country series. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a game that cannot be defeated without dying dozens and dozens of times, but will keep you playing with sheer charm and dazzling design.

The game's water levels are among its most brutal, but Shipwreck Shore—its second level—allows you to pretty much bypass the whole thing by taking advantage of a glitch. Grabbing the first DK barrel, returning to the level's start and chucking the barrel while jumping just right allows you access to an apparent hidden aquifer underneath the level, where the surface world sometimes appears upside down. You can even traverse the level's horizontal portion while staying behind the scenes. Swimming merrily along in the Upside Down might seem pretty weird, but we must say we've seen stranger things.

Tom Clancy's The Division: The world is an illusion

Tom Clancy's The Division features another map glitch that makes you seriously worry for your player character's mental well-being. After all, they don't know they're characters in a video game, and they have a difficult and dangerous job to do. Imagine if you were in the middle of a long work day, which hopefully involves very little getting shot at, when the façade of the world suddenly started to flicker, revealing the underlying framework of the universe. A façade that threatened to slip away completely, and take your sanity with it.

Standing in just the right (or wrong) spot and positioning the camera in a certain direction will cause this to start happening, and once it's started, it only gets worse. If it happens during a mission, good luck defending yourself from enemy fire while the entire world shimmies, jiggles and tweaks all around you. If it happens during real life, please wave hello to the Elder Gods for us as as you descend into the depths of howling madness.

Goldeneye: Source: tweakin' with doors

The online multiplayer game Goldeneye: Source is a fan-created full conversion mod of Half-Life 2, faithfully recreating Rare's classic first-person shooter on Valve's much smoother Source engine. As complete renovations done by amateurs go, it's pretty awesome, unlike the house you lived in that one semester. But it was bound to have a bug or two, and one in particular may haunt your dreams.

Shooting an NPC while it's standing in a doorway, and causing it to enter its death animation just as the door closes, results in a prolonged and bizarre demise for your unfortunate enemy. The NPC will get stuck in weird poses, intermittently tweaking out; shooting at it again will make its death throes even more wiggy and physics-bending, until it ultimately collapses in a twisted pile. This can be done as many times as you want, which raises the question of why all the other NPCs don't stay the hell out of the doorways after seeing what happened to Jim.

Luigi's Mansion: the nose goes

The Nintendo GameCube classic Luigi's Mansion has long been considered one of the creepier titles in the Mario universe. Aside from a famous glitch (or Easter egg, depending on who you ask) that appears to show Luigi's silhouette hanging from a noose, there are bugs that allow you to cheat your way past entire levels and even the entire game. Among the many visual glitches are one that should be pretty alarming to any big-nosed Italian plumber.

If you're able to edge Luigi closer to a mirror than you're supposed to, his reflected image will suddenly become schnoz-less. As you can see in the screencap, he looks pretty surprised about it. Since the game does take place in a haunted mansion, there may be a couple of explanations here: either the mirror is enchanted and has a weird sense of humor, or Luigi's nose is a vampire.

Fallout 4: insane horror everywhere

Fallout 4 is an awesome game. It sold untold truckloads of copies, earned rave reviews, and won a ton of awards. It's also incredibly buggy, and when it glitches out, it glitches out super hard. Usually in the form of insane, faceless horrors that twist themselves into monstrous shapes or people casually standing around with crushed, skinless heads—and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

One glitch causes animals to merge with objects, then start multiplying themselves (and parts of themselves) while hovering demonically in midair. Another can cause your character's death animation to spiral wildly out of control, sending you pirouetting hundreds of feet in the air while contorting into unspeakable positions. Once again, publisher Bethesda has done its best to patch all of these bugs out of existence, and once again, the internet has done its best to log them all for posterity—you can find about a million videos on YouTube breaking them all down, if you don't feel like sleeping for about a week.

Red Dead Redemption: animals are people too

Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption was called Grand Theft Horse by some, although nobody was really saying that was a bad thing. Like the GTA series, the game was full of glitches that could send it totally off the rails, like turning your horse invisible or having it suddenly become a rocket sled. But the game's most bizarre moments came when it got its animal avatars mixed up with its humans, and it did this in multiple crazy ways.

Players could famously encounter a woman whose head was mashed up with that of a donkey, who would let you hop on and ride her as far as you needed to go—this same glitch could also spawn roaming cougar-men, flying bird people, and horses mashed up with elk. Sometimes, the game could get screwed around enough to let a horse briefly ride its human, which really makes for an interesting visual. We're not saying Red Dead Redemption 2 should exclusively feature human-riding horses…unless we're saying exactly that.

GTA V: drowning in paperwork

Speaking of GTA, the venerable series has entire online forums dedicated to all the bizarre glitches and bugs it's produced over the years. Grand Theft Auto V kept the tradition alive admirably, with dozens of areas that feature bugs, hidden vehicles, and places where you can venture off the map. One glitch in particular straddles the line between hilarious and terrifying, and may really freak you out if your job causes you to stress over excessive paperwork.

If you spawn as Michael on the film set, you'll be standing next to a guy holding a clipboard. Threatening him with a weapon startles him, and startling him causes another clipboard to pop out of nowhere. If you happen to be using, say, the Tommy gun, this can result in a rapid and ongoing series of startles that causes a fountain of clipboards, which begin piling up around the hapless man. Keep at this long enough, and the poor guy will actually fall screaming into this pool of clipboards and vanish forever.

Minecraft on Nintendo Switch: spastic screenshots

An especially odd bug has wiggled its way onto Nintendo's new Switch console. Though the versatile system has seen its fair share of technical hiccups (don't get us started on the Joy-Con sync troubles), some owners say their units are actually functioning autonomously.

After players installed Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition, their Switches became sentient, taking screenshots completely unprovoked and seemingly at random. The glitch was first documented in April during a livestream of the game, and though the trouble started with Minecraft, it doesn't end there. The glitch has spread across every bit of the six-inch Switch screen, its library of games, and its home menu. Reddit users, Nintendo support forum posters, and journalists have reported varying degrees of the glitch, stating that their consoles have even flicked on from sleep mode to start up another round of screen snaps. Others have seen their Switch activate the screenshot button up to 20 times in rapid succession.

This is eerily reminiscent of those '90s urban legends about popular toys coming to life (remember those Furby horror stories?), but thankfully for us in the modern day, some players have found relief in a hard reset. Just press down the power button, wait 10 seconds, give it a final tap, et voilà—no more free-fire screenshots. For now, anyway…

MLB The Show 17: The Wicker Man

Not to be outdone, Sony San Diego's MLB The Show 17 can saddle your character player with a handicap that's a lot less whimsical and a lot more terrifying. The game allows you to custom-create players from the ground up with a Sims-style interface that uses sliders for some features, such as hair length. In fact, it's this very slider that can glitch out during your character's creation, turning into a monstrosity from which Freddy Krueger would run shrieking in terror.

The character's head essentially becomes a vaguely head-shaped bundle of sticks (or perhaps dry spaghetti, it's tough to tell), which is more obvious when you pan around—from the front, it pretty much just looks like he picked a fight with an angry meat grinder. All-too-human eyes blink forlornly from inside this mess, causing the observer to feel the immediate need to claw their own eyes right the hell out.

The strangest part is that it wasn't a critic or gaming website with an advance copy that pointed this glitch out—it was the developer themselves. Sony San Diego had been hosting Twitch streams leading up to the game's March 28 release, and the glitch was unveiled as something the team has been "working on" during a series on graphical improvements. It's a bit unclear if this means that they're working on fixing it, or that they decided to make MLB The Show a survival horror series without telling anyone.