Top 9 Urban Legends of Gaming
Urban legends carry with them that unmistakable element of fear that we long for in the deepest, darkest parts of our psyche -- you know, the one that goes crazy when we watch a great slasher flick. Part of us wants the horrific yarn to be true -- because wouldn’t that be much more interesting than the truth?
You might be surprised to learn these same types of grotesque tales run rampant in the video game industry. And we’ve got nine of the most unsettling legends out there to prove it.
Gruesome water cooler epics, like the soul of a young boy, trapped in one of his favorite video games, torturing players unlucky enough to obtain the cartridge. Bizarre transmissions from unidentified number stations, broadcasting encrypted messages that seem to predict the future. A mysterious survival horror adventure deletes all traces of itself from the computer on which it was installed. Oo-WEE-oo! These plot threads may sound like key components of a B-movie horror gem, but they were actually culled from the hundreds of video game urban legends floating around in the community.
It’s human nature to be curious. You’re probably all familiar with the “complete impossibly detailed and futile quest to revive Aerith of Final Fantasy VII” schemes or the old “do X to see Lara Croft naked” rumors swirling around since what seems like the dawn of time, but these tales are much more unsettling. Deliciously disturbing. And mostly untrue. But who cares? The greatest, most horrifying tales ever told sprang to life from exquisitely tortured creative minds. And we love ‘em.
Game: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
“You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?”
These chilling words belong to an even more teeth-chattering tale. The story of BEN spans YouTube/4chan user Jadusable’s experiences with a very peculiar copy of Nintendo 64 classic The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Perhaps “peculiar” isn’t strong enough a word -- more like completely screwed up. The haunted cartridge made its way to Jadusable by way of a strange old man (from a yard sale, no less), and went all the way back to a college dorm room for a quick play, upon which it began to reveal some terrifying secrets, the least of which a save file named “BEN.” Despite ignoring the file, Jadusable (later revealed to be named Alex) still found that many NPCs in-game would still refer to him by that very name.
Like any gamer would do, Jadusable decided to create a brand new save file, eventually deleting the old one entirely -- out with the old, creepy apparently glitched-out file, and in with the new, right? This was a no-go as well. After all the trouble the poor bargain hunter went through to start over fresh, none of the NPCs would refer to him by name at all -- in fact, strange distortions in the regular game began to occur. He performed the “4th day glitch,” which allows players one more day to save Termina from imminent disaster (an enormous, terrifying moon is about to crash into the continent), to no avail, instead being transported to the final boss battle with the menacing Majora. Bizarre, reversed music accompanied by garbled text and missing textures were only the tip of the iceberg. He traveled to Clock Town, normally bustling with NPCs. None were available.
Jadusable continued on through the apparently haunted world of the Majora’s Mask cartridge, finding his only solace in a reversed, horrific version of the in-game “Song of Healing,” and the occasional distorted laughter of the Happy Mask Salesman. Transporting to other areas by way of Link’s ocarina did nothing but trigger strange, broken messages. After much experimenting and observation throughout the game, eventually Jadusable found himself under constant surveillance by a chilling statue of what was believed to be “BEN,” and unable to escape the terrifying effigy at every turn.
Eventually, even more cryptic messages made themselves known through normal gameplay. And in the end, even more bizarre happenings began to occur in-game, leading Jadusable to eventually uncover the truth: that the young boy who previously owned the game had actually drowned, which would have explained a sizable chunk of the unsettling occurrences. Jadusable populated his YouTube channel with “evidence” consisting of clips from the game and creepy happenings...leading followers to believe all was true -- until Jadusable revealed the entire thing to be an elaborate story he himself planned while in college.
Hoax or not, it played host to plenty of nightmares surrounding The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and launched plenty of copycats. A worthy feat indeed, Jadusable, and a suitably creepy tale!
Pokemon Creepy Black
Game: Pokemon Red (Hacked)
Pokemon may be widely recognized as a relatively innocent affair, but its benign exterior belies quite a few disturbing realities. Take Lavender Town, for example -- nothing about the muted town (or its theme song) is comforting. The tale of Pokemon Creepy Black relies on this fact to weave such a devilishly creepy tale. As the legend goes, a bootleg Pokemon release known as Pokemon Black (before the release of the actual DS entry into the series) made the rounds with some chilling contents. Of course, it was simply a hack of Pokemon Red, but it was convincing enough to merit its own title.
An unnamed player discovered a peculiar Pokemon known only as Ghost in his team of six, right after obtaining the Silph Scope, used for identifying the various Pokemon in Lavender Town’s Pokemon Tower, where the spirits of deceased Pokemon still roam. Typically the Ghosts are later revealed as Gastlys and such, but Ghosts are not obtainable for battle. This Ghost was playable, and could use the ability “Curse.” Rather than simply halving the Ghost’s HP and “cursing” the opponent’s Pokemon with losing ¼ of its max HP each round, it simply KO’ed the opponent’s active fighter and removed it from the benched team. Not only did it relatively erase the Pokemon from existence, but a quick cut to a black screen and a distorted cry of the cursed Pokemon rang out briefly as well. Of course, this was all meant to signify the “death” of the Pokemon.
The player found this new and bizarre version of Curse made it a breeze to plow through the modified version of Pokemon Red, and continued on past the Elite Four’s defeat -- essentially, the end of the game. But after the credits rolled, a disconcerting epilogue was next.
The player, now the sprite of an old man, was studying the very same tombstones of Pokemon Tower. He had no Pokemon, and the overworld was now entirely devoid of NPCs or other sprites Lavender Town’s sinister theme looped over and over as the player wandered back to Pallet Town. The chain of events that occurred afterward were enough to chill anyone to the bone. A sequence of each Pokemon and trainer the player had used the curse on rolled past, eventually culminating in a battle with the very same Ghost the player had aligned with throughout the game, which ended up being a futile affair. Ghost could not be defeated, and the battle eventually came to a head with a sharp cut to another black screen. The player was forced to turn off the game and reset to return to a playable state...only to find the game file had been erased.
Of course, it’s pretty obvious that this didn’t actually occur, but fans and believers have created their very own extensive ROM hacks that attempt to mirror the events from the story. They’re quite accurate, and serve up some delectably creepy alterations to the familiar Pokemon adventure.