I still can’t believe what happened.
I worked at the arcade. It was only briefly, because the arcade closed down after about eight months. The arcade was in this small building that used to be the local Goodwill store until it moved to a bigger building. After that the building was for rent and in came the arcade.
The arcade had some of the newest arcade games, which made its closing surprising to me. I have to face the fact that arcades don’t really stay in business much these days, because people can play games in their own homes. But still, you can’t get an experience like “Dark Escape 4d” at home, or anything with motion simulators for that matter.
The arcade dedicated one section of the building to classic arcade games. They had Pac-Man, Donkey Kong Junior, Road Blasters, a Black Knight pinball machine, TRON, and a bunch of space shooters, among other titles.
Right in the corner of the classic arcade games section was an old Rally-X. When gamers actually did come in to play games, Rally-X wasn’t exactly their first choice. It actually was a bit dusty, and it was pretty old looking, not in very good condition. I remember trying to scrub off some obscenities someone wrote on the machine in permanent marker. Ugh, I hate it when people make my job harder!
One day after work I noticed the Rally-X machine was actually on a level. I guessed someone had abandoned their game, and felt sorry for it, so I played it. Yeah, I’m strange, I know, shut up.
Anyhow, I went over and grabbed the joystick and began moving the car around, but I couldn’t find any flags, and there was nothing on the radar. There were no rocks, no enemies, no flags, nothing but the little blue car. I was about to unplug the game and plug it back in, when a loud crash sound came from the game, scaring the crap out of me. I looked up to see what happened and saw the words, “Don’t do that!” on the screen.
“What the crap?”
Then the game over screen came up and it went back to normal.
I looked in the quarter box and discovered that there was no quarter in the box at all. No one had been playing. The next day I put in a quarter during break and played the game, but nothing happened. So I stayed after work that night. Sure enough, the game started without any quarters being inserted, and there was nothing but the car. I decided to try something. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, knowing full well this was crazy, and then started talking to the game.
The machine buzzed for a moment, and then the word “Hello” appeared on the screen.
I was a bit startled, since I wasn’t even sure that was going to work. I stuttered for a bit, trying to think of what to say next. I decided to start off basic and asked, “What’s your name?”
In response the title screen came up, but instead of “Rally-X” it just said “Rally.”
“That’s your name?” I asked, to which the game replied with the game theme. I assumed that I was talking to the racer shown on the side of the game. So I talked to Rally for a while, and I came back every day after work. I noticed none of the other games talked, just Rally. I asked Rally why this was, to which he replied that he was better than the other games, which surprised me since he never seemed full of himself before. One day he asked if he could tell me something, and I said sure. Then all of the sudden the text he used to talk turned black. It said “I came into this world with high expectations.
”I had good graphics, unique game play, all of the ingredients to a successful game. In 1980 at the AMOA trade show, I was told I was the best of the best. But I didn’t even come in third place. I still don’t understand it. I did moderately well, but I can’t get over this fact that I didn’t live up to the expectations placed on me. What made Pac-Man better than me? We were both maze games, but for some reason people liked his maze better than mine. He got his own cartoon, for Pete’s sake! And what did I get? One sequel and dozens of cheap rip-offs.”
After reading this I felt slightly disturbed that Rally knew so much about the outside world, but I also felt sorry for him. Then, he started ranting about how his graphics were better than Pac-Man’s and Defender’s and how he should have become famous. He wasn’t sad, like I initially thought. He was jealous and bitter. Eventually the game went back to the start screen, and when I tried talking to the game I realized the janitor was right behind me asking what the heck I was doing still here and why I was talking to a video game. It was closing time and I had to go home. I didn’t get much that sleep that night. What Rally said bugged me.
At work a kid came to me with a problem. Pac-Man wasn’t working right. I looked at the screen and saw the game was on the kill screen that usually popped up when the player reached level 256, but the kid had just started the game. I gave the kid his quarter back, and put the “Out of order” sign on the machine, but I saw the car from “Rally-X” drive across the screen. No one else seemed to notice.
I didn’t want to stay after work that day, but I was worried Rally might do something worse if I didn’t. I put my phone on a charger before going to go talk to Rally. When I went to talk to him, he was bragging about what he had done, and it kinda sickened me how sadistic he was being, taking joy that the game was out of order and might be taken out of the arcade. He started going into detail, saying he could imagine it rotting in a scrapyard (I don’t think he really understands broken games don’t go to scrapyards like broken cars do) and he implied that he was going to take out some other games next. I got really mad. He was taking out other games to try and get gamers to play his. I started yelling at him, telling him how sick and crazy he was, not caring if the janitor or anyone else heard and thought I was crazy.
When I was done, for what seemed like hours but was probably only a few minutes, the room was silent. Then, the game screen started flickering. The screen showed Rally, furious at me. He stated that he could do whatever he wanted, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I told him I could and went for the plug to prove my point, but when I touched it, it burned my hand. The game was making loud high pitched sounds, my hand was throbbing with pain, and I started crying, I was so scared. Then the screen stopped flickering, the game sounds stopped, and all was quiet except for my crying. I got up and looked at the screen. “I’m sorry” it said. I was confused, and then the game broke down. The whole cabinet was hot. Rally had overheated himself in his rage.
Some repairmen tried to see what had happened, but they couldn’t explain how a game just suddenly overheated. My employer concluded that because the game was so old, it had malfunctioned, but I knew better.
One thing I know is that Rally isn’t dead. You see, my phone which was charging suddenly had a Rally-X background, all the ringtones were replaced with Rally-X sound effects and music, and I now have Rally-X Rumble on my phone. I guess Rally figured out how to make sure he would always be able to get someone’s attention. Once I got an angry phone call from someone who had received a prank phone call. I still think of Rally as a friend, and sometimes I still talk to him. Whenever I ask about that last incident, he changes the subject. It appears to make him uncomfortable.
Rally knew what was going on outside of his game. I don’t know whether all games are capable of this. Like I said earlier, none of the other games in the arcade talked to me. But was that by choice, or because they were incapable? I tried asking Rally, but he still says it’s because he’s better, so I guess I’ll never really know for sure.
Written by PyroGothNerd