A game crash, also known as a game freeze, is when a video game freezes and ceases to respond to any input. Crashes typically occur when the game console's connection with the game is interrupted, when unrelated data in RAM is corrupted when a buffer overflows, its CPU is overwhelmed by how much it has to process, or when the game attempts to access data that cannot be read, either due to corruption or missing files. Most crashes are unlikely to cause permanent damage to the game or console, and simply require the player to turn the console's power off; that said, players can lose any data that was not saved prior to the game crash.
In the Super Smash Bros. series
As with any other game, crashes can occur in the Super Smash Bros. games, through a variety of different means. Glitches and hacks can cause them, though some rarer crashes can occur from normal gameplay.
Since the Nintendo 64 is a cartridge-based system, losing connection to the attached cartridge will cause the game to crash immediately. This connection is far easier to disrupt than other consoles featuring Smash titles, with a touch of the console being potentially enough to disrupt the connection and crash the game, and of course the cartridge can intentionally be removed to crash the game at any time. As such, Smash 64 is far more prone to freezing without the aid of hacks than its successors. Aside from hacks and physical disruption, the game is rather stable, with few methods existing for crashing the game.
Unlike the Nintendo 64, the Nintendo GameCube is a disc-based system that is notoriously durable and can effectively keep inserted games in place. As such, freezes in Melee from a connection disruption are rare. When crashes do occur in Melee, the game will completely freeze and cease all response to any input, though any in-game music will continue to play.
While Melee can occasionally lag the GameCube in certain circumstances, such as playing with multiple Ice Climbers on Fountain of Dreams, it is never CPU-intensive enough in normal play to crash the system. However, "black holes" created from the black hole glitch can strain the system to an exorbitant amount, heavily lagging the game when they are in play. If players create more than one black hole, or create a more intensive black hole (such as putting more Turnips in it or using multiple PK Fires on it), they heavily risk crashing the game, and will inevitably do so if they keep on making more black holes or keep putting more projectiles into one.
Crashes can also occur from attempting to improperly access incomplete data via the Debug Menu. Attempting to start a match with AKANEIA as a stage or NONE as a character, for instance, will cause the game to immediately crash, as can multiple other stages without proper hacks. Furthermore, using NPCs can crash the game; Sandbag, for instance, can cause crashes if the player attempts to attack with it, as it has no such attacks programmed for it, while winning a game with Master Hand, such as via the Name Entry glitch, can crash the game due to him lacking any programmed victory poses.
As several different revisions of Melee exist, it is possible for some glitches that cause crashes to be patched out in later revisions. For example, the shadow glitch, which causes the game to crash if players grabbed one of Mewtwo's Shadow Balls from its forward throw, is only present in version 1.0 of Melee.
Starting with Melee, a new method of crashing the game also became present: the game's disc becoming damaged. If the game disc has extensive abrasions on the data side of the disc, it can potentially prevent the console from properly reading data off the disc, leading to potential crashes, likely with a message stating that the disc could not be read. In Melee, the use of hacks, either via hardware hacks involving unofficial memory card add-ons or software hacks involving hacking the console, can potentially allow for data to be read off an alternate source from the disc.
Like Melee, console hardware-related crashes are rare in Brawl, as the Nintendo Wii is easily capable of keeping a connection with its inserted game in place, and can handle anything that can occur normally in Brawl. When crashes do occur in Brawl, the game will freeze and cease all response to any input like in Melee, but all in-game sound and music will also be frozen, resulting in a loud, sharp buzzing noise that will play until the game is turned off. Additionally, when crashes occur, the Wii must be shutdown by holding down the power button until the Wii turns completely off, or unplugging the console; just pressing the power or reset button will have no effect.
Crashes that overload the CPU in Brawl are rare. One known method to overload the CPU in Brawl involves the "Lucario Black Hole", where two Lucarios on the same team with maximum Aura stand back-to-back and charge their Aura Spheres, while another player on the same team throws fully-charged Hotheads into the space between the Aura Spheres. After several Hotheads are tossed between the Lucarios, the game will begin to violently shake and can lag; if too many Hotheads are added, or a third, opposing player gets trapped within the Black Hole, then the game may crash, as the CPU can no longer properly perform calculations due to being overworked.
Another way of crashing Brawl is using Waddle Dee Army on a bunch of Sandbags with Smart Bombs as the only other item turned on, in a match with 3 pairs of Ice Climbers. With Smart Bombs and Sandbags as the only items turned on, the Sandbags will only ever drop Smart Bombs. The large amount of explosions and objects on-screen can cause the game to crash.
Crashes in Brawl can also occur as a result of improperly modifying or hacking the game, owing to the relative simplicity of hacking Brawl. A common novice mistake is neglecting to include hacks that disable the loading of custom stages while using the Smash Stack exploit, as the game will try to load the exploit file as an actual stage. Another common novice mistake is improperly named or placed files on an SD card when using hacks, such as by placing a stage mod based on Smashville over Lylat Cruise instead of Smashville, and then going to Lylat Cruise in-game trying to play on the stage. Crashes can also commonly occur when a specific hack or code itself is unstable or simply not properly made, particularly in hacks involving the Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon and other transforming characters. Some overhaul mods, such as Project M, occasionally crash without warning in-game or during startup.
Crashes also commonly occur from playing in some modes where the hack is unstable or simply unable to be used in such modes; the Subspace Emissary and Tournament modes are notably unstable with hacks in play, and many gameplay modifications generally block off access to the mode as a result of this.
Like in Melee, however, a few glitches are still capable of causing crashes. The most infamous such glitch in Brawl is the grab-break glitch with Yoshi, where if a player grabbed by Yoshi manages to break out of the grab before entering Yoshi's mouth, the game will instantly crash. While causing some debate in the competitive Brawl community over how significant this glitch is (to the point where some players suggested that Yoshi could be banned from tournament play since the glitch would potentially be unavoidable whenever Yoshi is played), the crash is incredibly unlikely to occur in the middle of a tournament match, as the time between Yoshi's grab connecting and a character entering Yoshi's mouth is so small, it can only occur at extremely low damages and only with exorbitant mashing skills on top of very fast reaction to being grabbed; this glitch is so unfeasible to occur in practice that there are no known instances of the glitch occurring in actual play. Another glitch capable of causing a crash is the Chain Jacket glitch; the game will invariably crash if Sheik performs the glitch without having used a prior move. While this can occur in any match involving Sheik, a Sheik player would have to be intentionally invoking it to crash the game through it, thus the only tournament consequence of it would be the forced forfeit of the Sheik player causing it.
Like Melee, Brawl can also crash if the disc becomes damaged, likely with a message stating that the disc could not be read, though hacks exist that can allow for data to be loaded via an SD card or USB flash drive. In many cases, the use of such hacks can actually decrease load times, due to flash memory being considerably faster compared to reading data off Brawl's double-layered DVD. That said, disruption of these connections can still cause crashes, as the game can no longer properly read data from its original source. Gameplay mods of Brawl, such as Project M, can also crash if the connection between the SD card and the Wii is disrupted.
As Super Smash Bros. 4 features two different versions for different consoles, the specifics in game crashes for the game varies between consoles. That said, crashes related to the games are rarer than in previous installments, with no specific, repeatable method being available to cause a guaranteed crash. As both games can be patched and updated via the Nintendo Network, surefire methods to crash the game can also theoretically be patched out. A model-meshing glitch involving Nabbit on Mushroom Kingdom U that could cause crashing, for instance, was fixed in version 1.0.6.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, similar to Smash 64, can crash if the connection between the Game Card and the Nintendo 3DS is disrupted, as well as if the connection between the 3DS and its SD card is disrupted; compared to the Nintendo 64, however, these connections are more resilient. Generally when the game crashes due to a loss of connection, the 3DS will show an error message saying that the SD card or Game Card was removed, and can only be closed by shutting down the system or pressing a button to return to the HOME menu, causing unsaved data to be lost.
If Super Smash Bros. for Wii U crashes, the game freezes, and a loud buzzing sound is emitted, much like the Wii (but the sound itself only plays for around eight seconds, unlike it), requiring the console to be forcefully turned off by holding down the power button for a few seconds.
Like with Brawl, improper usage/placement/filenaming of mods on either version will crash the game upon attempting to use the mods. Certain mods can also be unstable and can suddenly crash the game during use for non-apparent reasons, especially on the character and stage select screens when attempting to load the mods.
Like Melee and Brawl, Smash 4 on Wii U can also crash if the disc becomes damaged, which can similarly be circumvented with the use of hacks to load files that can no longer be accessed through the disc, from an SD card or USB drive.
For digital copies of the game, crashes can occur if the game data saved onto either the 3DS's SD card or the Wii U's internal memory is corrupted; in this case, an online service offered by Nintendo allows the player to verify the integrity of the game's data and redownload the appropriate files to replace corrupted data. The 3DS version has also been reported to occasionally crash in Smash Run; some 3DS consoles also have problems running the game, with the fix focusing on replacing the console itself.
Main article: Slingshot Crash
Unlike in the past Smash games, if the game crashes, it will not freeze and make a buzzing noise; instead, the Nintendo Switch system software will automatically close a crashed game with a message saying that the game closed because an error occurred. If the game is stored on a Game Card or an SD card, removing the Game Card or SD card will crash the game with an error message. Several methods of crashing the game have been patched out in game updates following their discoveries.
Repeatedly using Villager and Isabelle's Pocket to 'play catch' with their forward aerials will crash the game. Additionally, under the proper circumstances, a Mii Swordfighter can crash the game if they use Gale Stab during Duck Hunt's Wild Gunman . Both glitches were patched in version 2.0.0; however, a similar glitch in Century Smash persisted, involving the Mii Swordfighter and Duck Hunt.
With the release of Piranha Plant, the game is prone to crash while playing on All-Star mode as said character, even corrupting save data. This seems to be because of a certain type of SD card, as reported by players who were unable to replicate the glitch without it, and Nintendo could not replicate the crash themselves.
Aiming Pit's Final Smash, Lightning Chariot, beyond the blast zone on certain stages will make the game crash. Using Joker's Final Smash, All-Out Attack, to finish certain Classic Mode matches can make the game softlock; though it does not crash, it stops responding to inputs, forcing the player to reset the game anyway.  The lock was likely due to its unique property of going straight to the results screen upon completion; however, it does not occur on the Spirit Board. Both of these glitches have been patched as of 3.0.1.
If a Mii Brawler uses Counter Throw on an Incineroar using Alolan Whip on another opponent, thereby leaving said opponent in a state of being invulnerable to grabs, the game will crash if the opponent is KO'd. Certain custom stage layouts crash the game if a character attempts to grab the ledge. The former glitch was patched in 3.1.0, and the latter was patched in 4.0.0.
In tournament play
While rare, game crashes can occur in tournaments, and some rulings exist as to what the appropriate course of action is in response to them.
If a game crash was caused by the actions of players, whether intentionally or unintentionally, all players considered responsible for triggering the crash either immediately lose the match, lose the whole set, or are even disqualified, as triggering a crash can be considered disruptive behavior, a particularly extreme form of stalling, or even a cause of bracket manipulation.
No official ruling exists in the rarer case of "act of God" crashes in which no active players can be considered responsible for the crash. In most tournaments, the match is restarted with the same characters on the same stage, with some tournaments adding the stipulation that players self-destruct to get stocks back to what they were when the game crashed.