The posters looked like the kind you got in issues of Nintendo Power, but they weren't exact matches. There was an Earthbound poster of a frightened looking Ness staring at the background that shows up when you fight Giygas, a poster of Sonic in the drowning position in a very dark underwater city, and several others.
Sadly, the game selection wasn't very good. They covered systems going all the way back to Atari 2600, but they only had 10-20 games for each, most of them common ones everybody has, or those crappy games no one wants. I didn't find anything I was interested in and was about to leave, when something caught my eye. It was a gold Zelda: Ocarina of Time cartridge.
I already had the game of course, but I had to examine this cartridge because of how beaten up it was. The cover was almost entirely torn off, the plastic was cracked and chipped in many places, and there was something that looked like a burn mark on it. The cart was only $1.99, and for some reason I felt drawn to buying it. The clerk didn't say a word to me, he just took my money and I left with the cart.
After leaving the store I started to wonder why I had bought a copy of a game I already owned in such horrible condition, but since I had it, I decided I might as well see if it actually worked. I put it in my N64 and turned it on, and was immediately greeted by Redead shrieks against a solid red screen. I turned off the system, took the cart out, put it back in, and tried again.
This time I saw Zelda's character model lying face down, slowly rotating, while Ganon's laugh played. I tried once more, and actually got the intro screen this time, but I couldn't get the game to respond to the controller, and a slowed down version of Hyrule Castle Town's music was playing.
Cartridges were capable of some rather odd effects when they were broken or tampered with while a system is turned on. I had heard about cart tilting with Nintendo 64 games, and since I wasn't going to be able to play my new cart, I decided I might as well try messing with it. I put the game in one more time, getting some glitchy character models while what sounded like cymbals clashed repeatedly. I started bending the cart, and to my amazement, this actually made the game start the intro screen, with normal music, and my controller was working. Two of the files already had saves on them, so I selected the third and started the game.
The game started with the Deku Tree's monologue, but the text was different.
Death is the only thing this cursed land is good for. The cruel goddesses created life only to toy with it, and laugh at the pain of those they gave it to. I wish for death.
The last sentence repeated itself several times, filling up six text bubbles with it being said over and over. The game finally switched to Link, having his nightmare. It happened pretty much like the normal game, but Ganon had Zelda's face. Link woke up, there was no Navi, he simply screamed as he awoke from his nightmare, and got up on his own. I had control of him, and went to Kokiri Village. There was no other characters there, I couldn't go into the houses and the hole you crawl through to get the sword was missing, Since Mido wasn't there, I simply went to the Deku Tree.
No cinema happened, but the dungeon was open, so I went inside. The dungeon looked nothing like the one in the game, it looked like the inside of a castle. There were no enemies and I didn't have any items, so I just explored. As I went from room to room, the sound of children laughing got louder and louder. I finally dound a sword, it was stuck through the ribcage of a skeleton, as if he had used it to kill himself a very long time ago.
I picked it up and the item text said, "You got the Hero's Sword. Will you be wise enough to use it for the right purpose?" At that point, a Majora's Mask style wizrobe appeared, the old man kind. He didn't move as fast as the ones do in MM, and I was able to kill him with the sword. He slumped over instead of exploding or fading like you'd expect a Zelda enemy to do and said,
"You have taken my life, but I will be avenged. My pet will deliver my vengeance."
The doors to the room locked, and I heard growling and the sound of heavy feet running. This went on for at least 20 minutes. I was getting scared, more frightened than I should be for a video game character. Finally, a gigantic wolf enemy burst into the room. I tried to fight, but my sword had no effect and he mauled Link to death, leaving a bloody corpse behind. The game froze on a shot of Link's corpse, there was no game over screen. I tried to play the game again, but no matter what I did to the cart, it would never display anything besides that final shot of Link's death.