Which gaming urban legends are true?
Stranger things have happened
Do you hear that? That indistinct roaring on a westward wind? That is the sound of thousands of tin-hat nerds crying victory to the skies, and it has everything to do with the discovery of the Atari E.T. desert dumping ground of yore. With the striking of sacred ground in the New Mexico desert, an urban legend that predates some of you reading this page has been proven true: Atari did, indeed, dump worthless cartridges in the desert. Its proponents can now hold their heads high, knowing that the truth has been brought to light and they were right all along, neener neener neener!
If something this bizarre--a company entombing truckloads of stock in the desert under cover of night--could be true, it makes you wonder what other crazy video game urban legends might not be so crazy after all. Here we have a list of other video game urban legends that could be true, and our judgment on just how factual they might be. So get out your magnifying glass and that value-pack of aluminum foil, and let's get to it!
The Madden Curse is real
You'd be hard-pressed to argue that sports fans aren't a little superstitious--these are people who have conniption fits if their lucky jersey gets lost before a game, because there is no possible way their team will triumph without magical fan hoodoo. That in mind, you could easily dismiss the Madden Curse--the idea that any player who appears on the cover of a Madden NFL game is doomed to injury--as more of the same. But then you realize that the correlation between cover appearance and athletic pain has been pretty high over the past 10 years, to the point that fans have actively voted down their favorite players to keep them off the front of that plastic cover.
Verdict: Football is a sport where three-hundred pound men plow each other over like speeding trucks. Chances are they would have been injured regardless, and the curse has confirmation-bias written all over it. While it can't exactly be proven or disproven, I think the existence of a Campbell's Chunky Soup curse that predicts the exact same thing is pretty telling: if you're famous enough to be the face of a brand, people on the field are going to hit you. Hard.
Polybius made people go crazy
Polybius is the stuff that government mind-control conspiracy theorists dream about. Supposedly appearing in arcades in Portland, Oregon, in 1981, Polybius was a game so addictive that people came to blows over who got to play it next. They then succumbed to intense anxiety, night terrors, and suicidal tendencies, and black-suited G-Men showed up to study the effects of the game before it disappeared entirely. A copy was supposedly found in a storage locker in Oregon a few years ago before going missing, and anonymous internet commenters have claimed to be in possession of game ROMs, though they have yet to make an appearance anywhere.
Verdict: It's suspicious how this game seems to appear somewhere only to vanish again right after. It also bears a striking resemblance to an early version of Tempest that had more benign negative effects. Thus, we have two options: Polybius is the result of imaginations gone wild, or a conspiracy to make teenagers suicidal for reasons. Eh, let's call this one 50/50--the US government did dose people with LSD without telling them, after all, so it's not entirely above this sort of thing.
A Final Fantasy 7 remake is already in development
Final Fantasy fans have been clamoring for a remake of Final Fantasy 7 for at least 17 years. Rumors of a redo have intensified over the years as each new installment in the series gets prettier and prettier, and in 2014 the demand is at a fever pitch. Some bemoan Square's choice to ignore their fans and not release a gorgeous HD remake that is their Jenova-given right. Others, however, know Square's game and say that a new 7 is already in the re-making. They point to leaks by industry sources and the PS3 tech demo as proof that development is well underway, but it's just unreleased for some reason.
Verdict: Even if this isn't true now, it undoubtedly will be one day. While Square's current stance is that a remake won't hit shelves until a new Final Fantasy manages to surpass FF7's quality, there are still good reasons to remain hopeful, and who knows--maybe it's all just a cover. Sneaky, sneaky Square.
Saddam Hussein used PS2s to build a super computer
Technology is a lot like math: it permeates almost every part of our lives, and 5/4 of people don't understand it. That's why every threat involving technology can be instantly scary, even something as simple as a PlayStation when exported into the wrong hands. Back in 2000, reports surfaced of a suspicious amount of PS2 consoles being shipped to Iraq, and it was concluded that Saddam Hussein wanted them for their chips. That somersaulted straight into the idea that the combined processing power of a dozen PS2's could be used to build a supercomputer, a missile guidance system, or a drone aircraft, and we should all fear for our lives against such a technological wonder.
Verdict: Considering the USA landed on the moon with technology comparable to a modern-day VHS player, this one could totally be true maybe. Can you say weapons of mass destruction? Hussein was almost certainly stockpiling an array of PS2s for, umm, nefarious use. And by nefarious, we mean he liked the Persona series. Or he just wanted to bury a bunch of PS2s in the desert to one-up Atari.
The Legend of Zelda proves Nintendo is full of Nazis
So you're 10 years old, playing some Legend of Zelda, having a grand-ol' little kid time. It's all good, clean fun, smacking around bad guys and tromping into dungeons and--wait a second. Is that...? Once Legend of Zelda hit Western shores, there was a flurry of talk over the supposed "swastika map" that appears in the game's third level. While it may be backwards compared to a typical swastika, that's a pretty distinct shape, so it seems unbelievable that it would get past the development stage without someone noticing. So what, did Nintendo just want attention? Press for their new game? Is the Axis alliance alive and well?!?!?!?1/1/
Verdict: Not exactly. While the mirror of that shape is recognized as the infamous swastika in the West, it's actually a manji, a Buddhist symbol of good fortune--heck, the levels even called Manji. In Japan this shape is about as controversial as a triangle, so its not as salacious as your pre-teen self remembers, and doesnt speak to Nintendos supposed Nazi sympathies. Probably.
Killswitch has vanished off the face of the planet
Ah, Killswitch--a game that turns the creep factor up to 11. Produced in the late '80s by Russian developer Karvina Corp (which has since completely vanished), it starred a young girl or an invisible demon, depending on who the player chose. Then she (because no one ever won with the demon) would travel through a coal mine, platforming and completing puzzles until she reached the end of the game--at which point it would delete itself entirely. Perhaps the final remaining copy was sold in 2005 to a man named Ryuichi Yamamoto for $733,000, and he planned to record himself playing it. However, only one video ever surfaced: a clip of Yamamoto at his computer, crying. Oh, um, wow.
Verdict: Creepily enough, this urban legend is one of the most likely to be true, since the technology to do it did exist. The why is harder to answer: if they were trying to send a message, they probably should have been clearer, but if their goal was to freak out a bunch of people for no reason, then mission accomplished. Also, the video of Yamamoto? As far as we can tell, totally doesn't exist.
Half-Life 3 is ready to ship
All shall love Gabe and despair. Despite years of fans waiting, pleading, even protesting outside the Valve offices before they could be neutralized with pizza, the studio has said nearly nothing about the next installment of the cliffhanger-afflicted Half-Life series. Some worry that the project will simply never come to be, that Valve's priorities have shifted and the moon will crack into cheese crumbles before Half-Life 3 disks grace store shelves. Another faction, however, has a different idea: Half-Life 3 is already done and ready to ship, and has been for some time. Valve is just waiting for the right moment, the perfect time to release it into the world, so they can maximize trolling potential and throw their fans for another loop.
Verdict: They would, wouldnt they? Tormenting us with half-glimpsed HL3 T-shirts and project announcements that dont even mention their most beloved series. Holding it back, waiting until we're at our wits' end. Why do you torture us so, Valve? Why would you do this to us? Why?!
And it all really happened to my sisters hairdressers aunt
Creepy or conspiracy, hopeful or just plain sad, many of these urban legends promise to torment us for years to come. But if Atari can teach us anything, it's that maybe, someday, there's a chance theyll be put to bed. What urban legend do you want to see proved true? What do you think has merit, or is a total hoax? Tell us in the comments below, because the truth is out there.
And if you're interested in more, check out the creepiest urban legends in games and the most disturbing Pokemon rumors.