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The gaming community is home to some of the weirdest myths and legends. It shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing as how “interactive media” and “active imagination” tend to go hand in hand. Indeed, you don’t have to dig very deep to find convoluted secrets, haunted game cartridges, and everything in between.
What’s funny is that many of these stories scream “FAKE!” in retrospect, but at the time, plenty of people fell for them – yes, even some folks who aren’t normally lumped into the gullible crowd. Were you one of the victims of these gaming rumors?
Mew and the S.S. Anne (Pokemon Red/Blue)
There are few games that have a fanbase as loyal and passionate as the Pokemon series. Though the franchise is 18 years old, Pokemon has always been a community-driven game, starting with Pokemon Red and Blue in 1996 all the way to Pokemon X and Y in 2013. It’s fascinating to remember what kinds of fan rumors and theories were circling around way back then.
Consider all of the excitement surrounding the 151st pokemon, Mew. I distinctly remember scouring the Internet (back when it was in dial-up infancy) looking for ways to add the infamous Mew to my team. The most compelling theory? Circumventing the S.S. Anne.
Originally, players would not have access to the “Surf” ability prior to the plot taking them aboard the S.S. Anne. However, by trading a Surf-learned Pokemon through a link cable prior to reaching the S.S. Anne, players could hop into the waters and navigate around the ship into lands that were intended to be off-limits.
Lo and behold, that area was home to a suspicious-looking truck that never appears anywhere else. According to the rumor, Mew was in the truck and you had to perform all manner of interactions to coax him out. Of course, it turned out to be an elaborate lie, but it’s amazing how far people were willing to go to unlock legendary Mew.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake
At the 2005 E3 convention, Square Enix released a tech demo meant to showcase the full capabilities of the PlayStation 3 console. In order to maximize hype, the tech demo recreated one of their most famous titles, Final Fantasy VII. Funny enough, the hype was too much for fans of the game and they ended up jumping to unfounded conclusions.
To be clear, Square Enix never implied that this video was more than a tech demo. Where did people get the idea that it signified a full-blown remake? For that, we look to the ending credits of the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children which included a message of thanks to the “Final Fantasy VII PS3 Team.” It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to interpret that as “a team working on Final Fantasy VII for the PS3.”
And the rumors seemed reasonable. What better way to win over instant adoption of a new console than to remake one of their most successful games of all time? Logically, it worked out, but reality doesn’t always follow logic.
The rumors proved false and fans continue to hope for the highly-anticipated remake of one of the best JRPGs of all time. For now, they’ll have to settle for emulated Final Fantasy VII instead.
If there’s one game that lends itself to myths, rumors, and urban legends, it’s Minecraft. When you have a sandbox world that has no narrative of its own, it’s human nature to create your own sense of narrative as you play. But the most compelling stories are the ones that tap into a world of mystery and “things that ought not to be”.
Sometime during the alpha phase of Minecraft, the story of “Herobrine” began to circulate around the community. A user started a new game and did as he would’ve done in any other game: chop trees, mine rocks, build a home. Then, at the edge of his foggy vision, he spotted another character looking back at him. Except he wasn’t playing multiplayer.
The story goes on to claim that the mysterious character, named “Herobrine,” was the brother of Minecraft‘s creator, Notch. Yet, when asked if he did have a brother, Notch replied, “I did, but he is no longer with us.” Thus sparked an entire sub-culture around the “Herobrine” character and related scary stories.
Of course, it turned out that Notch never had a brother and the story was indeed faked, but the inside joke of Herobrine lives on in the hearts of Minecraft players and is living proof that this game is more than just building amazing virtual worlds.
Ben Drowned (Majora’s Mask)
Have you ever heard of the haunted Majora’s Mask cartridge?
In 2010, a story emerged on the Internet about a college student and his experiences after playing a used video game that had once belonged to an anonymous kid. At first, it seemed like a regular copy of the game, but as time passed, strange quirks began to show.
The story is too long to summarize with a few paragraphs. If you’re a fan of video games and strange stories, you owe it to yourself to give it a read. Yes, it was later debunked as fabricated, but the story is written so convincingly that many gamers did fall for it. Even knowing that it’s fake, the story remains gripping on rereads.
The Polybius Experiment
Perhaps the scariest of all video game rumors centers on a mysterious arcade game called Polybius that was released only in a handful of suburbs located around Portland, Oregon back in 1981. The arcade machine itself was notable for being entirely black and some witnesses claimed that “men in black” would come by every once in a while to collect data from the machines.
The game proved to be very popular, even addictive, so much so that people would form lines just waiting to play it. Eventually, however, players began to suffer from strange side effects that included amnesia, insomnia, night terrors, and even suicide. Even stranger is the name of the company that created the game, Sinneslöschen, which is German for “sensory deletion” and has led some to think that Polybius was actually a government experiment.
The origin of the Polybius story is unknown and has never been proven or disproven, though the lack of hard proof could be seen as evidence that it isn’t real. Then again, we may never know for sure.
Be honest: At the time these rumors were at their peak, how many of them had you fooled? I’ll admit that I fell for at least one of these. What other gaming rumors have disrupted entire communities? Share some of your favorite gaming hoaxes with us in the comments below!