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Top 5 Scary Urban Legends In Video Games -- You've Met A Terrible Fate, Haven't You?

MikeRougeau

Posted October 31, 2012 - By Mike Rougeau


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Top 5 Scary Urban Legends In Video Games -- You've Met A Terrible Fate, Haven't You?

We at G4 are no strangers to the urban legends of the gaming world; we've touched on the topic more than once in the past. But today we'd like to take a special look at five of the most terrifying myths about games—the ones that make us lock our doors and unplug our N64s for fear of pixels coming to life in the night.

It's Halloween, after all. And if a demonic version of Sonic is going to show up in your bedroom, or a song in a Pokemon game is going to influence you to kill yourself, now is when it's likely going to happen. It's probably best to avoid playing any creepy games at all right now—but that's not going to happen, is it?

Unless you want your loved ones to have to somehow explain in your eulogy that you were killed while playing Minecraft.

Top 5 Scary Urban Legends In Video Games -- You've Met A Terrible Fate, Haven't You?

Berzerk

We've talked before about Polybius, the 1981 arcade game that supposedly caused night terrors, amnesia, seizures, and even suicidal thoughts in residents all over Portland, Ore. Well, at least it didn't actually kill anyone directly—unlike Berzerk.

And while it's hard to prove even the existence of Polybius, much less that playing it would make you wake up screaming, Berzerk's murderous rampage in 1981 is verifiable fact. You can look it up.

It began with 19-year-old Jeff Dailey, who died suddenly of a heart attack in January just minutes after posting a score of 16,660 points (how devilish) in the innocent-seeming game. Less than ten months later, the same fate befell 18-year old Peter Burkowski. His only crime was achieving two high scores in fifteen minutes.

Some blame Evil Otto, the game's smiling, devious antagonist, but in reality it's unclear exactly what’s the cause of the Berzerk-related deaths. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but we don't really believe that for a second.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Ben

The story of Ben is a classic creepypasta, begun in a dark corner of the internet and propagated widely due to its sheer sinister appeal. The story involves a second-hand copy of Majora's Mask, its origin unknown. This particular cartridge had a save file named simply "BEN."

The unfortunate player who spread the original story erased the file and started his own, but something was off. The NPCs in Clock Town still referred to him as BEN; music played backward; Link would spontaneously erupt in flames; and he was hounded by a strange statue—the same one that appears when you play the incredibly creepy "Elegy of Emptiness" on your ocarina. Only this one teleported wherever the player went, seemingly taunting him with vague threats and menacing laughter.

It got so weird that the original player—the one being hounded by Ben—claimed he felt like he was in danger. And though the legend of Ben has grown and grown, that original player was never heard from again.

Okay, we made that last part up.

Top 5 Scary Urban Legends In Video Games -- You've Met A Terrible Fate, Haven't You?

Pokemon Red/Green/Blue - Lavender Town Syndrome

Let's be honest: the legendary Pokemon Black Version cartridge—rumored to be haunted by a murderous creature named "GHOST"—probably doesn't exist. On the other hand, Lavender Town, the Pokemon Red/Blue/Green town, that's home to the only cemetery in all the games, is definitely real.

The significance of the Pokemon cemetery shouldn't be underestimated. These games rarely touch on anything more serious than Team Whichever's latest plot to steal more Pokemon or capture some legendary monster. So for the game in this one instance to deal so directly with the death of Pokemon is unusual, to say the least.

But this myth has more to do with the music in the town.

It's undeniably creepy in the North American version, but the song we heard in the states is supposedly different from the one on the original, Japanese cartridge. That song was so disquieting—supposedly taking advantage of certain subliminally scary tones and frequencies—that Japanese children were straight up committing suicide after playing the games. The phenomenon was eventually dubbed "Lavender Town Syndrome." Presumably, Nintendo covered the incidents up and simply changed the song during the localization process, but we'll likely never know for sure.

Top 5 Scary Urban Legends In Video Games -- You've Met A Terrible Fate, Haven't You?

Sonic.exe

We're well aware that Sonic is no ordinary hedgehog, but if this particular urban legend is true, the blue blur may in fact be the devil incarnate. If that's not terrifying, we don't know what is.

The story unfolded on a message board, and the simplified version goes like this: a Sonic fan received a mysterious disc in the mail, accompanied by a note, from a friend, urging him to destroy it. On the disc he found a strange ROM of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, simply titled "SONIC.exe."

The title screen looked normal at first, but quickly changed to a demonic Sonic, with red, bloody eyes, portrayed in front of an ocean of blood, and with "SEGA666" in the corner. When played, the game transported each character (Tails, Knuckles, Dr. Eggman) to a hellish level, where an inescapable demon Sonic chased them down. Once the characters were caught, they were no longer selectable from the start screen. When all three were gone the screen was replaced with a terrifying image of Satanic Sonic, who loudly proclaimed: "I AM GOD."

According to the original story, the digital demon later manifested as a real-life, murderous plushie doll, and that was the last we heard about it.

Top 5 Scary Urban Legends In Video Games -- You've Met A Terrible Fate, Haven't You?

Minecraft - Herobrine

The Herobrine myth has been debunked, but it's fun to talk about nonetheless. The legend began with a fan's made-up "creepypasta" forum post, and it was so compelling that Notch and the other developers at Mojang even got in on it.

The story goes: Notch's brother, dead under mysterious circumstances, haunts the servers of Minecraft using an avatar known only as Herobrine. His eyes are dead white and his behavior is erratic; finding narrow, long tunnels and peculiar structures—like pyramids and underground dungeons—scattered around your world is a sure sign that Herobrine has paid you a visit. His inhuman gaze and unpredictable movements shook those who swear they’ve seen him.

Mojang added fuel to the fire with subtle nods, like bullet points in updates claiming that Herobrine had been removed from the latest version of the game. In reality, Herobrine was never in Minecraft at all. That's what they want us to think, at least.

How many of these gaming urban legends do you think are real? Are they just in players' imaginations, are they player-created mods, or are they something more? Will you think twice next time you see a strange-looking cartridge at a creepy garage sale around Halloween?

Top 5 Scary Urban Legends In Video Games -- You've Met A Terrible Fate, Haven't You?
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