Top 20 Video Game Urban Legends

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Top 20 Video Game Urban Legends

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
The world of gaming has seen plenty of fascinating urban legends that have creeped players out. For this list, we'll be looking at the most tantalizing mysteries, myths, and falsehoods surrounding video games. Our countdown includes an unfrotunate shadow from "Luigi's Mansion" (2001), Lavender Town Syndrome from “Pokémon Red & Green” (1996), the Sasquatch from “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” (2004), Herobrine from "Minecraft" (2011), and more!
Transcript
Script written by Johnny Reynolds

The world of gaming has seen plenty of fascinating urban legends that have creeped players out. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most tantalizing mysteries, myths, and falsehoods surrounding video games. Our countdown includes an unfrotunate shadow from "Luigi's Mansion" (2001), Lavender Town Syndrome from “Pokémon Red & Green” (1996), the Sasquatch from “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” (2004), Herobrine from "Minecraft" (2011), and more! If there’s an urban legend you think should be here, let us know about it in the comments below!

#20: The Cow Dimension

“Diablo” (1996)

It’s funny to think about the origins for some sillier urban legends. In the original “Diablo,” a rumor spread about a secret cow level that could be accessed by clicking on a certain cow in Tristram a certain number of times. The level was said to be populated by anthropomorphic cow enemies, but no such level ever actually existed…at first. The myth became so widespread that Blizzard ended up putting a secret cow level in the game’s sequel. Blizzard also referenced it in many other releases, such as in one of the cheat codes for “Starcraft.”

#19: Lara Croft Nude Code

“Tomb Raider” (1996)

Gamers were pretty immature in the 90s…well, a lot of us can still be pretty immature. Regardless, a widespread rumor revolving around one of gaming’s leading ladies stated you could get her to adventure without any clothes on. Of course, there never was any code that got Lara to undress. But it was prominent enough to catch the attention of the developers, who included a sassy response at the end of the game’s sequel. According to co-creator Paul Douglas, this legend could’ve turned into fact if someone higher up in management had asked the development team to include such a code. But we’re grateful they refused.

#18: The Fetus From Hell

“Earthbound” (1994)

The main antagonist of this SNES classic, Giygas, is disturbing in many ways. But one of the ways in which he is not was the subject of a popular urban legend. Some players believed that the area leading to his final fight resembled a woman’s cervix while the boss himself looked like a fetus. This led many to claim that “Earthbound” was a veiled anti-abortion message. In reality, creator Shigesato Itoi based Giygas on a childhood experience of accidentally walking into the wrong theater and witnessing a violent murder scene. Some players just had creative imaginations.

#17: Saddam and the PS2


The PlayStation 2 was an impressively powerful console upon release, though some believed it capable of far more. Not long after its launch, a rumor began to spread that Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq at the time, was collecting thousands of PS2s. The reason? To combine them into a super computer able to perform advanced military applications. Yes, that is incredibly silly and most of us at the time knew the urban legend to be just what it was. Nonetheless, it still became fairly widespread among certain news outlets.

#16: Sonic.exe

“Sonic the Hedgehog” (1991)

Several gaming urban legends begin with someone receiving a cursed used copy of a game. The story here followed Creepypasta Wiki user JC-the-Hyena, who claimed to have gotten a CD-ROM titled “Sonic.exe” from a friend in 2011. Only when he began to play, he found that a demonic, red-eyed Sonic would chase Tails and other characters through the levels. More disturbing imagery was seen throughout, like dead animals and seeing the characters murdered by the villainous hedgehog. The creepypasta evolved over time and gained such a following that a fan-made game was actually created the following year.

#15: Ryu’s Master

“Street Fighter II: The World Warrior” (1991)

One of Ryu’s victory lines in the original “Street Fighter II” read,” You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.” Many players assumed Sheng Long was a hidden character and Ryu’s master, but the line was actually a mistranslation. In the Japanese version, Ryu would say, “If you cannot overcome the Shoryuken, you cannot win!” However, a 1992 April Fool’s Day joke on how to face Sheng Long from Electronic Gaming Monthly was spread by many other publications as fact. This prompted players to try the method to no avail. The myth of Sheng Long is ingrained in the series now, with “Street Fighter IV’s” Gouken, Ryu’s real mentor, being a direct reference to Sheng Long.

#14: Shadowplay

“Luigi’s Mansion” (2001)

Despite being set in a haunted house packed with ghosts, “Luigi’s Mansion” is still pretty lighthearted. But there is one sinister moment that many players picked up on. At a certain point, the mansion’s power goes out. Yet strangely, Luigi will then hear a phone ringing and answer it to speak with Toad. During this conversation, a lightning flash casts Luigi’s shadow on the wall, giving the haunting appearance of him hanging. The urban legend states that Luigi died at some point, apparently by suicide, and is himself a ghost without realzing it. It’s really just a lighting glitch, but it’s a highly imaginative theory all the same.

#13: A Walk Through Hell

“Sad Satan” (2015)

In 2015, YouTube channel Obscure Horror Corner claimed to have been sent a Deep Web link to a game called “Sad Satan” from an anonymous subscriber. The mostly black-and-white game was essentially a walking simulator where the player would be constantly confronted with disturbing imagery and distorted audio, such as interviews with different murderers. However, no one knows if the story behind “Sad Satan” is real. The gameplay was the last upload to the channel, and no one knows what happened to the owner. Some believe they created “Sad Satan” to get more views. But it took on a life of its own, receiving its own subreddit and game clones.

#12: The Lost Twisted Metal

“Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition” (2008)

When “Twisted Metal: Head-On” was ported from PSP to PS2, it came with some nifty bonus features. One of them was titled “Twisted Metal Lost,” a canceled sequel to “Twisted Metal Black.” However, your playthrough began with an explanation as to why it was canceled. Apparently, six of the game’s developers were killed in a plane crash. Two years later, a letter showed up at Sony’s offices begging the work to be released and signed by the six deceased developers. Prior to release, director David Jaffe stated there was a nugget of truth to it but that the real story had been embellished. Regardless, the urban legend did lend some interesting spookiness to the game.

#11: Like It Never Existed

“Killswitch”

According to legend, “Killswitch” was an old computer game where players could either play as Ghast, an invisible demon, or a girl named Porto. It was said to have been developed by a Czechoslovakian company called Karvina Corporation and that only 5,000 copies were ever created. Adding to the mysticism was the fact that, upon completion, “Killswitch” would delete itself from your PC. In reality, the legend was lifted from an obscure short story of the same name by Catherynne M. Valente. Fan-made versions have since been made. And we have to admit, a self-deleting game does make for a great urban legend.

#10: Paul’s Playthrough

“Petscop” (2017)

In 2017, a Let’s Play series began documenting a supposedly long-lost, unreleased PlayStation game called “Petscop.” The puzzle game initially revolved around the main character collecting strange pets. But as Paul, the player, continued on, he found evidence and references to a real-world crime. The crime in question revolved around a man named Marvin who kidnapped his own daughter, believing her to be his childhood friend reincarnated. The entire series, which is comprised of 24 videos, is impressively elaborate. And while the creator has come out to say it was all staged, it was still one Hell of a ride.

#9: The Sasquatch

“Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” (2004)

One of gaming’s most well-known myths revolves around a real-life one. Not long after the release of “San Andreas,” word began to spread of the existence of Big Foot in-game, specifically within the hills of Back O’ Beyond. Players stated they’d seen something resembling the enigmatic creature at night, though he’d vanish before they could get a good look. There was never any definitive proof of the Sasquatch’s existence in the game and Rockstar denied it. We’d later go searching for a similar strange creature, dubbed Ratman, in “Grand Theft Auto IV” when a blurry image began circulating online.

#8: The Specters of Shiverburn Galaxy

“Super Mario Galaxy 2” (2010)

Like all of Mario’s adventures, “Super Mario Galaxy 2” is full of whimsy. But there’s one strange image that has been perplexing us for years. By going into the first-person view and looking at the background of Shiverburn Galaxy, you can clearly see a group of shadowy figures in the distance. Digging through the game’s code reveals these specters are called ‘Hell Valley Sky Trees,’ whatever that means. Nintendo has never given an explanation as to who or what these figures are. That hasn’t stopped fans from speculating, of course, but we’ll likely never get a definitive answer.

#7: Squall Is Dead Theory

“Final Fantasy VIII” (1999)

“Final Fantasy VIII” was so gigantic at the time of release, it had to be printed on two discs. Its size has actually helped lead to an incredibly popular fan theory. At the end of Disc 1, protagonist Squall is stabbed by Edea. And at the beginning of Disc 2, he awakens with no wound. The theory states that Squall died in-between discs and that the second half is actually his dying dream. Fans have compiled mountains of evidence to support the theory, such as the latter half’s much more surreal nature. Director Yoshinori Kitase has debunked the theory, saying that Squall receives a non-fatal wound to the shoulder. But the theory has nonetheless persisted amongst fans.

#6: Herobrine

“Minecraft” (2011)

If a chaotic, white-eyed copy of your character suddenly appeared in your game, you’d probably be pretty creeped out. The myth of Herobrine states that a near-identical copy of Steve would randomly appear in the worlds of some players. He’d allegedly build strange structures, some of which should have been impossible like leafless trees and blocks with rounded edges. Creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson has consistently stated no such entity exists, though Herobrine has now become a fun in-joke for developer Mojang Studios. Some update logs will state “Herobrine Removed” among its changes.

#5: The Madden Curse

“Madden NFL” Series (1988-)

When something bad happens once, it’s an unfortunate incident. When it happens again, a strange coincidence. But when it happens more than a dozen times, that’s how you reach spooky urban legend status. Ever since Garrison Hearst appeared on the European cover of “Madden NFL 99,” and then suffered a horrendous ankle injury soon after, the Madden Curse has followed the game series around. Multiple athletes that have appeared on covers have received injuries, such as Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowksi. He appeared on the cover of “Madden NFL 17” before suffering injuries to his hamstring, back, and chest throughout the 2016 season.

#4: The Numbers Station

“Fallout 3” (2008)

Any urban legend that revolves around a game predicting the future is bound to be a bit eerie. For “Fallout 3,” a creepypasta began circulating around Galaxy News Radio. It stated that if you killed the station’s host, Three Dog, the station would then start listing numbers and bits of morse code in between music. Fans interpreted the codes and found several unsettling predictions, such as actor Gary Coleman’s death and the BP Oil spill, both of which happened two years after the game’s release. As interesting as it sounds, there’s no truth in the Numbers Station. Other predictions, like Queen Elizabeth II dying in 2014, were obviously false. And Bethesda denied the existence of any such secret messages.

#3: Ben Drowned

“The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” (2000)

As one of the creepiest games in the “Zelda” series, it makes sense that “Majora’s Mask” has an appropriately creepy urban legend. The story follows a guy who picked up a used copy of the game at a garage sale. Upon playing, he was met with a twisted, buggy version of the game. He was also constantly followed by previous owner Ben, represented by an unsettling Link statue, who he would soon discover drowned and haunted the game. The entire story was of course fabricated, but is one of the internet’s most famous creepypastas. And we can barely even touch on the wild directions the story takes.

#2: Lavender Town Syndrome

“Pokémon Red & Green” (1996)

Lavender Town is already a pretty unsettling place with its massive tower, a burial site for Pokémon. It also has some of the most unnerving music in any video game, which still gives us goosebumps all these years later. It’s this music that has led to one of the most famous gaming legends. The myth goes that, when the games were originally released in Japan, certain tones were implemented in Lavender Town’s theme that made children commit suicide. There has never been any evidence to back this up. But with music as spine-chilling as this, it’s not hard to imagine how someone could’ve come up with the story.

#1: The Phantom Arcade Cabinet

“Polybius” (1981)

While it’s likely that “Polybius” never existed, there’s really no way to be certain considering it was said to have appeared in the early arcade days. The legend states that the then-new game popped up in Portland, Oregon and became addictingly popular. However, that was by design. The story also states that shady men in black would visit the arcades, collecting data of the game’s impact on players. Obsessive players were said to experience a multitude of negative side effects, including hallucinations and seizures. A month after appearing, “Polybius” was gone. We can’t help but want to know everything about it, as even the origin year of the urban legend is contested.
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