We all know what urban legends are. We also all know that with the power of the internet, urban legends and ghost stories have only grown in prominence. Some yahoo thinks they saw something or worse, wants to stir up some trouble and posts a story about it online and then it gets read and read and read and memed and read and memed until at least some percentage swear it to be true, it sort of becomes like the Mandela effect after a while.
Take the video game medium and then all of those urban myths become pretty much global. After all, more than urban legends about Jersey Devils, video games are global and universally played by a great percentage of the world’s youth, many of whom have been playing since the late seventies and eighties and grew up telling each other these supposed true stories in a zany game of telephone.
Is there a sex mini-game in Grand Theft Auto? Does Samus get completely naked after destroying the Metroid queen? Did anyone actually beat every single blue sphere level in Sonic the Hedgehog 1 with Knuckles? Does anyone know for sure? Here are some more video game urban legends.
15. Polybius – Government Sponsored Arcade Game
How better to indoctrinate a whole slew of new teenagers into adhering to government laws than giving them a crazy video game to play?
Did Polybius exist? And did it exist to help the Feds in their crazy mind control experiments? No, this isn’t the plot to some video game – it’s an urban legend about an arcade cabinet that was unleashed upon the suburbs of Portland, Oregon in 1981. Supposedly, the gameplay was so good, that is was more addicting than many video games, with lines around the block. Supposedly, the government’s Men in Black would occasionally come to snag its data as a method of recruiting soldiers.
The prevailing theory is that Polybius was actually an early version of Tempest, another video game that actually did cause one kid to fall ill, but within the span of a week three more kids got sick from an unrelated game – one got sick from playing Asteroids for 28 hours straight, trying to break a record, and two more died trying to do the same with another game, Berserk.
If all of this was true – it would make for one hell of a Spielberg sci-fi conspiracy flick, but for now the legend of Polybius is so well known, that there’s a cabinet in the Springfield Arcade on The Simpsons.
14. Ben Save In Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda is definitely one of Nintendo’s, as well as one of video games’, most beloved intellectual properties second only to Mario. The adventures of Link trying to save the perpetually doomed Princess Zelda constantly take the world by storm whenever a new game is upon us.
Seemingly there was something else lurking in the video game Majora’s Mask. According to the myth, a man bought a version of the game that was haunted. Already having a save file, “Ben” on the cartridge. The man deleted that file and started a new game, and then strange things started to occur – like Link being set on fire when the Song of Healing played backward.
Phrases like “Ben Drowned”, alluding to who this Ben possibly was, and “you shouldn’t have done that” have long been associated with this myth. While it was seemingly and in some way an obvious hoax (you can find the story on CreepyPasta.com), that hasn’t stopped legions of Zelda fans from believing this one.
13. Did Killswitch Even Exist?
The Soviets, the very same that gave the world Tetris also brought us an early survival horror game called Killswitch. However, no one could actually confirm or deny the game’s existence. Clearly, no one is talking about the 2003 PS2 game. It supposedly came out in 1989.
As the story goes, you choose between a young girl, Porto, and an invisible demon, Ghast, as you navigate your way through a haunted coal mine. But since players couldn’t see the invisible demon, most chose Porto who used her ingenuity to beat the game, which according to legend could only play once, because if you died or beat the game, it erased itself and the save files completely.
The legend continues to this day, saying that over ten years ago, a man by the name of Yamamoto Ryuichi supposedly bought a copy on eBay for $733,000 and decided to take a video of him playing the game, but all that was found was footage of him crying. Even though there is literally no physical evidence of the game ever existing, this urban legend continues to confound gamers to this day.
12. Blowing On NES Cartridges
If you want your childhood to be preserved, then skip to the next entry, because this one is sadly not true at all.
Early in home console history, systems like Atari, Nintendo, and Sega all had cartridges for their video games. Cartridges, and by extension this myth lasted until the very first PlayStation and disk based games became more of the norm. But for years, whenever your favorite video game that you played every day for hours on end after school stopped working, you’d take big breath in and blowing it out right into the cartridge, in theory getting rid of any dusts and germs that are stuck in the grooves of the game.
Like magic, for the most part, the game started working again. But PBS’ It’s Ok to Be Smart had taken a look at this one and determined that all you really had to do was take the game out and put it back in the system, the blowing did absolutely nothing, and might have even damaged your games.
11. PS2 Controller = Object Of Iraqi Warfare
Back in 2000, when the second PlayStation debuted, it was arguably the most anticipated launch in the history of gaming at that time. It was sold out everywhere, and if you had one, you seemingly were one of the few.
Saddam Hussein however supposedly bought several thousand PS2s, 4000 of them according to some reports. As the reason goes – the PS2’s 32-bit CPU processor when bundled together with other processors would be some sort of middle guidance system. While it was complete BS, that didn’t stop several media outlets from reporting on it.
Ironically enough, it would’ve been cheaper to buy a PlayStation 2 at the time then a chip which means, for the many that still have their PS2s, you might have an instrument of war sitting in your closet just collecting dust.
10. “L Is Real 2041”
No matter how many video game mascots come and go, no matter how many systems come and go, Mario will forever be the King. The face of Nintendo might be as famous as a certain mouse who lives in Orlando, certainly as far as video games go. His first 3D adventure, Super Mario 64 pushed the Nintendo 64 to its limits in one of the early examples of what the new system could do.
During the game, on a statue outside Peach’s castle was a curious sign engraved, “L is real 2041.” Gamers took this to mean that Mario’s little brother Luigi was an unlockable, playable character in the game after you grabbed all of the coins in the game, which was…you guessed it – supposedly 2041.
IGN even offered $100 to anyone who could prove Luigi’s existence. Nintendo would eventually issue a statement that Luigi is nowhere to be found in the video game. But the company did listen and made Luigi a playable character in Wii’s Super Mario Galaxy by collecting all the stars, talking to Rosalina and defeating Bowser again.
9. Pokémon’s Deaths And Seizures
When Pokémon Go came out in 2016, it reaffirmed just how popular this video game once was and still is. When the original game came out in 1996, it merged the two worlds of video games and collectible card RPGs into one highly addicting package and the mantra “gotta catch ’em all” became part of the pop culture lexicon.
During the first Red and Blue games on the original Game Boy, players could head to Lavender Town, a place that was supposedly haunted. The music for the level eerily set the tone in such a way that as the urban legend goes, it inspired over 100 children in Japan to commit suicide, and sometimes induce nosebleeds and migraines.
The story was posted anonymously to the site, creepypasta.com, which certainly doesn’t help the tale’s validity. However, it wasn’t the first time illness and Pokémon were connected – an episode of the kids’ show, Electric Soldier Porygon, featuring the team going inside a Pokeball. The effects evidently caused seizures and shock in almost 700 Japanese children. The episode has not been rebroadcast anywhere since.
8. Play As Rebecca Chambers In Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil isn’t the first survival horror video game out there, but it is the first one to catch lighting in a bottle and grab the video game world by storm, creating a franchise in the process that includes umpteenth movies starring the yummy Milla Jovovich.
The original introduced us to the S.T.A.R.S. team, a group of highly trained soldiers in the middle of a Zombie outbreak. The youngest and pluckiest member of the group was Rebecca Chambers, a background and support character who gamers didn’t get to take control of until the prequel game Resident Evil Zero in 2002.
But that didn’t stop the urban legend that she was a playable character in Resident Evil 2 – but you had to complete a slew of conditions at the front gate of the police station. Doing this would supposedly trigger a mini-game where you could play as young Rebecca. Oddly enough, the only real part to any of this was found by gamers who decided to keep searching Albert Wesker’s desk in Resident Evil 2 – fifty times in a row! If you’re persistent enough, gamers would see a lecherous picture of the young S.T.A.R.S. medic in her Raccoon City PD basketball uniform.
7. You Can Save Aeris/You Can Still Play As Aeris
Already six games into its illustrious history, Final Fantasy VII was a humongous leap forward in video game graphics, cutscenes, gameplay, and storytelling. The sheer scope of it pushed the original PlayStation to its processing limits and it is one of the few games that became an instant classic and genre defining and genre crossing games of all time.
The game was able to achieve this because of one of the most epic cut scenes in gaming history. Upon the climax of the first third of the adventure, your party suffers unspeakable loss as Aeris is skewered by Sephiroth in one of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire Final Fantasy series.
Much like in real life when people lose loved ones, gamers just couldn’t accept that Aeris was murdered and rumors started swirling with all kinds of different methods to keep her alive – have every character at level 99, have Cloud use the Apocalypse sword to level up Revive materia, even use the old school Game Shark to flat out cheat to help the little flower girl cheat death.
Sadly, just like in real life, there was no super secret way to save her. Aeris’ death was integral to the story and the tragedy, and watching her die for the first time was many gamers’ innocence being lost.
6. Michael Jackson Composed The Music For Sonic 3
Sonic 3 was a technical marvel for the Sega Genesis – a sprawling adventure that spanned over ten levels, introduced a new character, Knuckles; and for the first time in a Sonic game, the ability to save your progress – dying no longer meant starting all over again!
The music for the game was also on point and added to fun, helping to make Sonic 3 one of the best side-scrollers ever. None other than the King of Pop himself helped Sega with Sonic 3‘s music. Or at least according to the urban legend. As the story goes, Jackson composed the Ice Cap and Carnival Night Zones, along with the game’s end credits, which according to some sounds like the Glover One’s Stranger in Moscow.
There are two equally sensical theories both confirming and denying – Jackson supposedly dropped off a demo tape to Sega (which is how the picture happened), and worked with Brad Buxer, one of the game’s music directors ok the Dangerous album. The other prevailing theory – Sonic 3 came out right around the time Jackson was being investigated on molestation charges, and even to this day those within Sega continuously deny allowing Jackson to work on the game.
5. Multiple Mortal Kombat Unlockables
Quite possibly the most controversial video game series of all time Mortal Kombat took the world by storm in the early 90s and has never let go. It was Grand Theft Auto before Grand Theft Auto, blood guts and gore long before any games had blood guts and gore. It pissed off the government so much that because of Mortal Kombat we have a rating system for video games.
Every single game seemingly has tons of urban legends surrounding it; how to play as Reptile, how to see Sonya Blade naked, and all kinds of out-of-control urban legends around every single Mortal Kombat game thanks to its creators John Tobias and Ed Boon, who in the beginning love putting things like this into the game to build their brand.
Some of the most popular stories over the years were playing as Goro in MK1 (which finally became true on the Game Boy version), hidden characters like Ermac and Skarlet (which weren’t really hidden but thanks to fandom, became real), and of course being able to play as Kano and Sonya after defeating Shao Khan with a double flawless in MKII.
4. Crazy Kid Doomsday Cult In World Of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is so popular that, unless you live in a place without TV or the internet, you know about it. Many of us probably know at least one person who spent a good chunk of their video game life playing World of Warcraft and barely going outside.
Some geeks could tell you all about Star Wars or Marvel, or possibly could speak Klingon, then there are people who know all about World of Warcraft and the lay of the land and where to get what items from where the best places are to go maybe even where to catch a date.
Perhaps some savvy gamers even know where to go to find a doomsday cult that’s stuck right in Goldshire. There is a house that is normally abandoned in Crystal Lake, but at 7AM on the game’s clock, often there are six kids standing in the room and oftentimes they’re forming a pentagram. Gamers have also claimed to hear screams and the voice of C’Thun saying “you will die.” They never break their formation on the way to their house either from Stormwind City.
3. Tomb Raider/Nude Raider
To male gamers in the mid-to-late nineties, there were no hotter girls in video games than Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider. To sarcastic teenage boys, there were plenty of crass jokes made about “raiding her tomb,” but an obvious legend in the video game community was that there was a secret code to play the game with Lara, sans clothing.
We can debate how progressive it actually was to have a strong female character, albeit scantily clad in short shorts and a tight tank top playing the part of Indiana Jones in a globe-trotting adventure that captured plenty of imaginations versus this myth kind of ruining all of that good will, but thankfully Lara Croft and her games endured and have gotten even better over time.
The rumor still goes strong to this day; it prevailed with fake codes and secrets that popped up on the internet 1997. Moreso, the “Nude Raider” rumor has endured especially since crafty game modders have created nude Tomb Raiders into the PC version of the game.
2. Street Fighter’s Sheng Long
“You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance,” these were the words that Ryu spoke when defeating opponents in Street Fighter II. Nine words and a misinterpretation of Ryu’s Rising Dragon Punch, along with EGM’s April Fool’s joke and several publications referencing Sheng Long as a real character helped contribute this myth.
Bad translations have always been something that happens between original Japanese Kanji and American English, this phrase though had people believing Sheng Long was an actual character. Capcom, the creators of Street Fighter had no issue with letting people think he was some sort of super secret fighter, especially with kids feeding quarters into arcade cabinet the way Homer Simpson eats donuts.
The method to obtain Sheng Long was absolutely ludicrous and a near impossibility – using Ryu, get to M. Bison without taking any damage, then somehow you’re supposed to duel with him to ten rounds without hitting each other (which means he has to block everything you hit him with or somehow block his every move or more impossible, evade him for ten rounds). Only then will Long appear and the battle to the death will begin.
1. Every Bond Ever In Goldeneye
In the world of first person shooters, Call of Duty is the current measuring stick by which all other FPS games are judged. Plenty of old school gamers have a fondness in their hearts for the N64’s Goldeneye. It was one of the first ever games based on James Bond and to date, still one of the best.
While the game’s single player mode involved you controlling 007 as he attempts to stop an attack on London, it’s the four player death match mode that helped make it the standard-bearer for the genre for years to come. Played across college dorm rooms for many years, the mode helped to usher in where FPS games would go; stand alone story would not matter as much as the multiplayer fun.
Needless to say when Goldeneye gamers heard the rumors that you could play as every James Bond ever, fandom for the game hit a fever pitch. But alas it was all just rumors and innuendo – it was just an image hackers found. Rare, the game’s developer had gotten cold feet over rights issues and decided to scrap the idea.