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Urban legends about video games... part 2

FeatureMay 18, 2018 at 1:43a PSTby Czarny Wilk

Urban legends about video games... part 2

Video games have their myths… some dark, other fascinating… Some most likely made-up, while others confirmed to be 100% genuine by different investigators.

Urban legends, the myths of today – whatever you wish to call them, humans have always had a propensity for unexplainable stories. Those who enjoy being afraid are constantly on the lookout for such tales, which they eagerly share with others. Like Chinese whispers, the stories get blurrier every time they’re recounted, losing some details and gaining new ones in the process. Decades later, it’s hard to tell what’s true and what’s just a figment of somebody’s imagination. However, there’s no shortage of amateur detectives, who eagerly devote their time to verifying urban legends – with different outcomes. Sometimes they do succeed, managing to prove that the stories that only a few people believe, actually did take place.

The video games industry is no different. There are plenty of legends, some of them really dark, others genuinely fascinating. Some are most likely fake; others were proven to be 100% true. A while ago, we have shared with you the first part of creepy urban legends – now, it’s about time for a follow-up. After all, we’ve merely scratched the surface, so here are another two odd stories. Again, we’re not trying to judge how much truth there is to them – the decision is up to each and every one of you.

A letter from the afterlife

Twisted Metal is a popular series that’s been accompanying PlayStation almost since the first console was made. In 2001, the first PlayStation 2 installment of the series was released, entitled Twisted Metal Black. The game was reasonably successful; hence, the sequel got a green light.

Twisted Metal Black – Harbor City was the working title of the game that was supposed to take the deadly arena car fights to another level, offering highways that linked different maps, creating an impression of a single, consistent gameworld, rather than a bunch of unrelated arenas. On top of that, the game was supposed to allow players to leave their cars and resolve disputes with bare hands.

The revolutionary entry in the series wasn’t released, however. In 2005, two years into the production of Harbour City, six key members of the devteam died in a plane crash. After the tragedy, Sony decided to bin the whole project.

The iconic clown isn’t the scariest thing about Twisted Metal. - 2018-05-18
The iconic clown isn’t the scariest thing about Twisted Metal.

And that would be the end of the story – if not for a mysterious letter that reached Sony’s headquarters in March 2007:

We are disappointed to hear of your decision

To keep the world from seeing the last

Of our work ...We beg of you...

Show them all what we have done...

Show them our last earthly deeds

...If you doubt our existence look to the

Dark past for proof that we are who we say

For in the dark past you will find proof

That we know what the future will bring...

The letter was signed by the six team members who had deceased in the crash two years earlier.

In a rather grave atmosphere, the employees of Sony gathered the four completed levels of Harbour City and combined them with the conversion of Twisted Metal: Head On, released for PlayStation 2. The most dedicated fans, who uncovered all the game’s secrets got a special reward: not only were they allowed to try the four levels themselves, but they also unlocked an image of the letter...

This is what the letter looks like in Twisted Metal: Head On.
This is what the letter looks like in Twisted Metal: Head On.

Ben drowned

4chan is the biggest imageboard in the world. Its popularity is perhaps only exceeded by its bad rep. It was there, in the place sometimes referred to as “the black hole of the Internet”, the nest of all the web’s most abhorrent stuff, on the seventh day of September 2010, that a young student going by the nickname Jadusable posted a thread, where he told others about his unusual struggle with a most bizarre version of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for Nintendo 64.

The extremely lengthy post was a detailed account of the entire story. It went like this: when touring local garage sales, the young lad, named Alex, ran into a rather mean old guy, who happened to be in possession of a game he was looking for. The cartridge looked rather unimposing – gray color, no labels, only a slapdash caption that read “Majora”. Jadusable didn’t really mind and asked about the price. “It’s free,” was the answer. “It used to belong a kid about your age. He no longer lives here.” That sounded like a bargain, so the author of the post accepted the offer and bid his farewell. “Goodbye, then,” said the old man.

Unexpectedly, he found that these last words disconcerted him. An irksome idea that he must have misheard the old man bothered him on the way back. After arriving at the campus and booting up the game, he found that his guts were right. The cartridge contained a savegame of a user called BEN. Jadusable soon realized that the old man actually said “Goodbye, Ben.” He actually felt sorry, thinking the poor guy must have confused him with a relative, or someone like that. He created another savegame and simply named it “Link.”

Despite the appearance of the cartridge that suggested it’s a bootleg, or perhaps even a developer’s beta, the game was working like a charm, save for sporadic artifacts from time to time. Only one thing felt a bit off – the NPCs were usually referring to the player as “Link”, according to the profile name, but sometimes, for whatever reason, they used the name from the other savegame – Ben. This eventually annoyed Jadusable, who decided to delete the other save, which he had wanted to keep around simply out of respect – it seemed to corrupt the game, though. Gave him eerie feelings, too. On one hand, that helped, on the other… not really. While the NPCs did actually stop using the name Ben, they also stopped using any kind of a name to address the player – a blank space was left in these spots. Jadusable felt annoyed and quit the game to take care of other things.

He came back the following night. It soon became apparent that there’s something very wrong with the game. Quite inexplicably, the protagonist was moved to an arena, where you usually fought with the last boss. The arena was almost completely empty… except for one character: Skull Kid, hovering in the air nearby and constantly following the player.

Jadusable, now seriously puzzled, ran around the arena for a few minutes, and was about the reset the console, when suddenly, on the screen appeared a line from a totally different part of the game. It read: “You’re not sure why, but you apparently have a reservation…” Trying to keep calm and convince himself that the game couldn’t possibly be attempting to communicate with him, Alex did a few more laps around the arena, just to see what would happen.

Sure enough, he did get another message. The game asked: “Go to the lair of the temple’s boss?” allowing the user to press “yes” or “no.” The choice was only apparent, though. The screen dissolved to white, and another line appeared, simply saying “Dawn of a New Day.” A little while later, the protagonist was transferred to a place, that evoked the most bizarre, scariest feeling Jadusable ever felt.

According to his account, he suddenly succumbed to a feeling of depression so terrible he was surprised such a penetrating emotion is even conceivable. His character was taken to an odd location called Clock Town, with the background music being played in reverse, and with absolutely no other characters around. Instead, he could feel that something else was watching him from concealment. He wasn’t afraid for his avatar in the game – he felt genuinely concerned for his own safety. The music would become even louder, reinforcing the impression of an impending disaster. Nothing actually happened, though, but the looped soundtrack started getting into Alex’ head.

Sometimes, Alex thought he’d heard a voice of one of the NPCs, but the place was perfectly empty all the while. There were other things to arrest the attention, though: missing textures, fragments of the location in which the protagonist was moving through the air… The area just seemed corrupted… Irreversibly corrupted.

Alex, who just wanted to go back to his childhood’s classic, had never in his life felt as lonely and depressed as in that moment, exploring the ostensibly dead Clock Town. He was on the verge of bursting into tears. He tried to escape the location, but the game would always take him to the starting point. Jadusable didn’t know what to do, but he was sure he wasn’t going to enter any of the buildings. He just had a hunch that it would expose him to whatever was the source of the abhorrent thing...

Trying different ways to escape the terrifying trap, he decided to try and drown Link in a nearby pond. That’s when something happened. The screen showed Happy Mask Salesman for a split second, smiling. Not smiling at Link. Smiling directly at the player. A moment later, and the game went back to Clock Town. Opposed to Link, stood a statue with the avatar’s image on it. Shivers ran down Jadusable’s spine. He tried to turn away and escape the ominous countenance of the figure, but it was constantly following him.

This was the moment when he almost lost it. It never occurred to him to turn the console off, though. He was trying to escape the statue, while Link was subject to weird, jerky movement that Alex had never seen in the game. The screen flashed every now and then, showing the smiling Happy Mask Salesman, just to get back to the statue.

Eventually, after hitting a dead end, he tried to attack the statue – to no avail. Not knowing what to do, he expected the worst. The screen flashed again, showing Happy Mask Salesman. Link looked right into the camera. Looked, apparently, at Jadusable – with the same, unsettling expression he had seen on the statue before. He started running, but the figure was more aggressive now. The game switched locations, but he was still pursued. Eventually, the screen turned black, once again showing the line: “Dawn of a New Day.”

This time, Link was moved to the top of the clock tower – accompanied by the levitating Skull Kid. Jadusable decided to try and hit him with an arrow. To his surprise – it worked. The weird character backed off after the attack. So he tried again, and again, until the game told him: “That won’t do you any good. He hee.”

Black screen appeared, and then the scene repeated – Link was atop the clock tower again, accompanied by Skull Kid. This time Jadusable tried attacking him with a sword – the result was identical. The third time, he used Ocarina, but that didn’t help at all. The screen went to black, and Alex was expecting the game to be loaded again, but that’s not what happened. The console started producing this weird noise, as if it was working way above its capacity… sorting out huge amounts of data? The same scene appeared on the screen again right after that. This time, though, Link was lying on the ground in a position that wasn’t in the original game. He was looking into the camera – with Skull Kid right behind him. Jadusable was stunned. Staring into the screen, he was unable to do anything. About half minute passed, and there appeared another caption: “You’ve met a terrible fate, haven’t you?” and then the game went back to the title screen.

Jadusable opened a list of profiles, and discovered that his profile had been erased. Instead, there was a new one, named “Your turn.” After choosing it, the student saw the dead Link again, with Skull Kid behind him. He quickly reset the console in order to see whether the profile list has changed again. Indeed, next to “Your turn,” there was also a new one. “BEN” – exactly the same profile.

That’s when Alex plugged the console from the power socket. He couldn’t sleep the entire night. The next day, he took his friend and went to see the old man, from whom he’d obtained the cartridge, but there was no one there. They only saw a “for sale” sign. Alex went back home and wrote it all down with the intent of posting it somewhere on the web. He knew that something was wrong and he wanted to find out what that was exactly: who Ben was and what was his significance; who the old man was… Jadusable also decided to record his playthrough to show this all to the Internet.

That’s how the unfair struggle began. He would post subsequent parts of the game along with his written account, showing everyone the haunted game. The struggle eventually revealed the true fate of “BEN,” but it did not end well for Jadusable, or anyone, who tried to follow his footsteps. Even today, there are people trying to uncover the secrets of the “Majora” cartridge.