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Kill screens are points found in games, most commonly arcade games, in which reaching a certain level or stage will cause the game to crash, bringing play to an abrupt end. This error is usually the fault of a programming error or a design oversight that did not anticipate players being able to reach this point. Kill screens were brought to widespread attention after the release of the documentary, The King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, in which classic gamer Brian Kuh makes his way around the Fun Spot arcade to inform patrons that the kill screen in Donkey Kong is about to be reached.

As one of the most famous examples of a kill screen, reaching the 256th level of Pac-Man will cause the right side of the screen to be replaced by random symbols and letters. This happens due to the 8-bit level counter in the game, which can only contain 255 distinct values. The 256th value causes the game to crash; this is known as integer overflow.

Examples of Kill Screens

GameKill Screen Condition
Pac-ManStage 256
Donkey Kong22nd stage, 117th screen
Dig Dug256th round
Duck HuntLevel 100
GalagaInteger Overflow
FroggerInteger Overflow

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