Myths and legends exist in all walks of life. This is especially true with something as popular as video games, which have grown exponentially in the few decades that they’ve existed. From the very first game to more recent titles, video game myths have existed for cheats, secret characters and endings and a lot more. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the biggest gaming myths and debunk them.
Pokemon – Lavender Town Syndrome
You wouldn’t normally associate a word as dark as suicide with a Pokemon game, but that’s exactly what happened with the very first Pokemon games in the series. We’re talking about Pokemon Green, Red and Blue from way back in the day. Lavender town was a pain to get to, but once you got there things went from being a pain to plain depressing. This was basically a ghost town and a pokemon graveyard. However, the thing that really unsettled players was the creepy soundtrack. The Japanese version (Green) was apparently so creepy and horrifying that it made kids go crazy and drove them to suicide in the hundreds! While the kids committing suicide part is completely untrue, the music was returned for global release because it actually was a tad jarring on the ears.
Madden – The Madden Curse
A pretty well-known myth, but probably something most of us wouldn’t really be bothered about since it concerns the NFL. The EA Sports Madden NFL games to be precise. Dubbed the Madden Curse, it was basically a myth that athletes from the NFL featured on the game’s cover were cursed and would get injured the following season. This apparently happened for several years in a row, to the point where fans would lobby against their favourite players showing up on the game’s cover. Here’s the thing, the NFL is a very rough sport, and injuries happen frequently. It’s safe to say that it was all just a coincidence, however, we’re sure players who are called to be the cover of the game still keep the curse at the back of their minds.
Final Fantasy VII – Saving private Aerith
The original Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation is a classic and a game that both introduced and popularised the JRPG genre to the western masses. It was a game with an epic story and a memorable cast of characters, both companions and villains. One of the protagonist’s closest companions was the young flower seller, Aerith. Over the course of the game, both the protagonist Cloud and you the player, got to know Aerith better, as she joins your cause to take down the megacorporation Avalanche.
The game then pulls the carpet out from under you when she’s murdered by the game’s primary antagonist Sephiroth, in a move no one was expecting. This devastated most of the people playing the game, and rumours and myths quickly started spreading that you could actually save Aerith. Steps included doing crazy amounts of grinding and convoluted steps and even being able to sacrifice Tifa instead of Aerith.
Well, they were all nothing more than myths. There was no other alternative, Aerith had to die and that was that.
Minecraft – Herobrine is coming
There are plenty of myths and rumours surrounding Minecraft. Doesn’t really come as a surprise considering how big the game is. There’s little you can’t do in the best-selling game of all time. Of all the myths and legends surrounding Minecraft, the biggest is probably Herobrine. Herobrine is a character that resembles the default Minecraft Steve but has glowing white eyes. He is said to be a ghost that haunts single-player Minecraft worlds and disrupts player builds and constructs weird structures. We say ghost because the myth is that Herobrine is the ghost of Minecraft creator Markus Persson’s dead brother. Spooky for sure, but completely untrue. Markus Persson has denied the existence of Herobrine, heck, he doesn’t even have a brother. Herobrine does not even exist in the game’s source code, but it’s still pretty popular to this day.
Street Fighter 2 – You must defeat Sheng Long!
In Street Fighter 2, Ryu had a line that said “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance”. That clearly seems to point to someone martial arts master named Sheng Long, right? Maybe even a potential character in the game?! See how simple it is to get a myth going?
It didn’t help when Electronic Gaming Monthly, a popular gaming mag at the time, confirmed the existence of Shen Long in the game as an April Fool’s joke.
Turns out, it was just a bad translation, with Sheng Long actually referring to Ryu’s Shoryuken. There was no Sheng Long. That didn’t stop people from spreading the myth that a long and complicated series of tricks could be used to unlock Sheng Long in the game. As compensation though, Capcom would go on to release Gouken in Street Fighter IV, to fill the shoes of Sheng Long.
PlayStation 2 – now with missile guidance!
This one’s pretty old, and definitely already debunked, but it’s a classic so we’re mentioning it here anyway. The two-generation old PlayStation 2 was a powerful console for its time, with a host of new features that had never been seen before. It was so powerful that people thought you could use them to power nuclear missile guidance systems! Technically, we guess you probably could turn the PS2 into one, but you’d need to do so much modification that it would be an entirely different thing at that point. The myth began when rumours began circulating that then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was stockpiling PS2 chips because they could power missile systems as we mentioned above. It became a pretty big thing at the time, even making global news. Complete bull though.
Blowing on cartridges to make them work
Even if we didn’t own an original Nintendo back in the day, a lot of people did own the rip-off TV consoles which had a million games on a single cartridge or cassette. And of course, if ever the cartridges weren’t working properly for some reason, the age-old trick of blowing into the cartridge would solve the problem and it would start working just fine.
Only, blowing into the cartridges actually damaged them. If you checked all cartridges carefully, you’d even find a warning asking you specifically not to do that. Every time you blew into a cartridge, you were actually spitting into them, which just sped up their degradation. Yikes.
GTA: San Andreas – The elusive Bigfoot
The Grand Theft Auto games are always swimming in controversy and rumours. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas especially spent a good amount of time in the limelight for its many controversies and rumours. The infamous Hot Coffee minigame for instance, which we’re not getting into details about. Just know that the game was pulled and re-released without the minigame. This led to gamers hunting down more such hidden features within the game’s world. One of these things was an apparent Bigfoot sighting in the game’s world.
Soon, the internet was flooded with photos of the supposed Bigfoot that was roaming the San Andreas countryside. It didn’t end there, the myth was that spotting the creature was very rare, and getting close prompted it to run away. Others still stated that getting too close would make it attack you. This myth has pretty much been confirmed to be untrue by the developers, however, there were some mixed responses, where some devs claimed there is “something” in the woods, and others said the creature was present in the game’s beta but removed.
Pong – not the first game ever?
Normally when you think of the first game to ever be released (to the public), you think of Pong, the simple and easy table tennis inspired game that was released in 1972. That’s actually a myth! The first video game to ever release was actually a game called Computer Space, created by a company named Nutting Associates, and it was released exactly one year before Pong, in 1971. The creators of Computer Space, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabne, would eventually go on to found Atari. This was the first game where the concept of creating a machine for a game was started (unlike now where we create games for existing platforms), i.e., the birth of the arcade cabinet. Unfortunately, the game didn’t do too well and was too complicated for its time, the simpler and more popular Pong that was released soon after easily eclipsed it.
Mortal Kombat – Unlocking error macros
Another one from the Arcade gaming era. Mortal Kombat saw its fair share of controversy thanks to its depiction of violence and gore. These of course helped its fame catapult even more. Players were obsessed with the game, and of course, they were able to get into hidden menus in the game, which is how the existence of the hidden character Reptile was discovered. However, in the hidden menu that showed Reptile, there was another name spotted, right below Reptile. This name was Ermac.
The claims for how he could be unlocked and several methods to unlock the hidden character started making the rounds soon after the discovery, with even popular gaming magazines pitching in, claiming to have letters sent to them by readers with instructions on unlocking the hidden character.
Those of you who play Mortal Kombat now already know that Ermac is an actual character in the game, but he didn’t exist at the time. There weren’t even plans to make him. Ermac simply stood for Error macros. The developers eventually added Ermac to the game in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, after seeing the hype surrounding Ermac thanks to this myth.
007 GoldenEye – Bonds, James Bonds
007 GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64 is one of the most prolific games of its time, and one of the epochs of the FPS genre. While the story followed that of the movie, the game was most remembered for its multiplayer. Up to 4 players could take on each other on several different maps, and there were a bunch of different characters you could play as. This included Bond himself, and a bunch of characters from the GoldenEye movie. The myth was that one could apparently unlock the past James Bond actor skins in the game, including Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Sean Connery. While definitely a myth, it was almost the truth, because the developers actually wanted to include the previous Bonds’ but weren’t able to secure their likeness for the game.
Sonic 3 OST feat. Michael Jackson
Around the time Sonic 3 was released, there were rumours flying about that Michael Jackson composed some of the music in the game. Some of the music in the game did actually sound like his stuff, so the rumours and myths were not unfounded. The myth continues that Jackson was even going to get end credits for the music, but opted out because he wasn’t happy with the end product. The other side of the coin is that Sega wasn’t happy with all the negative press he was receiving at the time and dropped him. Sega still denies Michael Jackson having any involvement with Sonic 3 to this day, however, over time it looks like he actually might have contributed to the game’s OST, but pulled out because he wasn’t happy with the sound performance on the SEGA Genesis console.
A myth that we’ve probably never heard of considering the golden age of arcade gaming never happened here. An interesting myth nevertheless, is about the arcade game Polybius. Polybius was reportedly available to play only for a month, it supposedly magically appeared overnight in Portland, Oregon, from out of nowhere. For the single month that it was available, it had gamers lined up to play it because it was incredibly addictive. Of course, the rumour doesn’t end there, the arcade cabinet was supposedly maintained by men in black suits which led to the rumour that the game was actually the government testing out a new weapon. Those who played the game would suffer from amnesia, insomnia, night terrors and hallucinations. If that wasn’t all, once a month was over, the cabinet disappeared the same way it appeared, never to be seen again. None of the myths or rumours has been proven true, and while there are developers who have claimed to have worked on the game, we still don’t know for sure. This one is still a bit of a mystery.
And there we have just a few of many gaming myths debunked, or even proved true in some cases. We’re sure there are many popular ones we’ve missed, we simply didn’t have any more room for them. But do let us know what your favourite gaming myths are by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.