I am one of those people who missed out on video games during the earlier era. My parents were very strict about my activities and thought that video games were the devil. Instead, I grew up doing other activities like drawing and cooking. I was good at what I had studied during my earlier years. Later, I was able to move out and do things on my own after 23 years of living at my parents. Needless to say, I ended up buying some of the older game systems that I had missed out on. These happened to be the NES, SNES and the Sega Genesis.
After ordering a bunch of games recommanded to me by several people, I went to play through them and sure enough enjoyed most of the games like Super Mario World and Chrono's Trigger. After finishing Chrono's Trigger, I became interested in RPG's. I went to ask several people if they knew about anymore RPG's I would like. Surely enough, I was told about Earthbound which was a super rare game usually priced at about over 100 on eBay. I was unable to afford paying that much, so I decided to go on YouTube and search up a playthrough for Earthbound. I was amazed at what I saw, it was no wonder why the game was so popular.
A game that took place in a modern setting with an alien invasion. What more could you ask for? I spent the entire day watching the whole playthrough of Earthbound and became hooked to it despite having seen the entire playthrough of it. Sadly, I wasn't able to find a good deal on the game and gave up my hunt for a bit. About a month later, I got lucky.
After having been subscribed to a let's player that I know very well, he posted a video on YouTube announcing that he was trading a couple of games. One of those games happened to be Earthbound which was completely boxed. I grew excited and went to talk to him to see if I could get the game off his hand. After making a deal to give up my more valuable games which I had gotten over the past few months, I was able to finally strike a deal. (I refuse to give out the name of this person because I know he isn't to blame for what I'm about to talk about.)
After waiting a few days, the package containing my new game arrived. The box looked to be in perfect condition, something rare for an old game like Earthbound. I opened the box carefully and took the cartridge out leaving the huge strategy guide in the box. I inserted the game into the SNES flipping the power switch on. I watched the staticy screen form the words "The War Against Giygas". Afterwards the intro began to play out which is where I began to notice something strange. None of the sprites in the game's demo looked cheerful like how they were suppose to. Every character in the game including the four main characters had been modified to look depressed. There was also no music playing while this happened. Did I get ripped off? Had I gotten a terrible hack instead? I watched through the whole demo before deciding to go to the menu.
After selecting a new file in the main menu, Ness would walk in and still carry that saddened expression which wasn't even like him. He would carry this expression through the whole game, even if you had him riding the bicycle in Twoson. Every other playable character and NPC in the game would have the same expression as well. Despite the sprites having been modded, the game would play normally at this point making me think this was a weak hack. I continued playing the game until I got to the part to where I needed to save Picky. After leaving my house with Pokey and King, I had my first problem.
All of the enemies in the area would try to avoid me and run away the moment they saw me. This would usually happen whenever you beat a boss for that area, but even at level 1 the enemies still wanted nothing to do with Ness. Even if you were to corner them, they would only go right through the wall. All of them also having their sprites modified to look saddened. No matter where you went in the game, you would be unable to fight any of the roaming enemies because they would avoid you no matter how persistant you were. Because of this, it was impossible to even level up. I kept playing saving Picky and heading back down the hill until I got to the Starman Jr. After being threatened by him, the Starman Jr. immediately disappeared and Buzz Buzz continued his dialogue as if Ness had just beaten him. This was another problem about the hack, it would skip the boss fights as well.
After going in Pokey's house, the same theme that would usually play in that area wasn't there, instead it was just silence like the opening demo. After Pokey's father ended up catching the two going out, he sent them upstairs to scold them like the original game. There was a difference here, After Pokey's dad went up stairs, an odd sound effect was supposed to play, but instead there was what sounded like crying from a child in distress. After seeing Buzz Buzz getting smashed by Pokey's mom, I went to talk to him. What Buzz Buzz had to tell me was different then his usual speech in that part of the game.
Buzz Buzz began to talk to me about how I wasn't the chosen one and how the whole world couldn't be saved. Before fading away, Buzz Buzz still handed me the sound stone. During this whole scene, he acted like there was a much bigger threat then Giygas who was of course the antagionist of the game.
At this point in the game, everything played like it was supposed to despite the lack of being able to fight enemies and the depressing sprites. I made it to the Giant Step which was supposed to be the first sanctuary location in the game. After going to record the location, I headed back down. During the middle of my trip back, the game started to lag. The lag was awful, it caused the game's music to act up along with my character moving slower then before. After trying to get Ness to leave the area, a blue swirl appeared letting me know that I had hit an enemy.
I thought it was one of those Black Antoid enemies due to how tiny they were on the map, but it turned out to be a much different enemy. It looked to be a blue recolored smiling sphere from the Dusty Dunes Desert area found later in the game, only it looked to be just a blue orb without the smiley face on it. Was this suppose to be a new enemy added into this hack? The battle message popped up saying
"Friend begins to form around you".
The music playing during this fight was the unsettling theme that you would hear when Poo meditiated in Dalaam. Then another message immediately popped up asking me a question that I didn't know the answer to.
This text moved very slowly like how Giygas would talk to you during the fight against him, but who was Jacob? I remember playing Earthbound before and never saw anyone called Jacob in the game. There was a lack of background in the battle with it only being a black screen. I thought this was just an easter egg put into the game by the hacker as I began to attack Friend. I ended up doing only a few points of damage to the thing. It would then repeat it's question to me asking me where Jacob was. I grew frustrated after about 10 minutes of trying to kill the thing and getting nowhere with the fight. I decided to run away, but this wouldn't be the last time I would encounter this thing.
The more further I got in the game, the more frequent I would encounter Friend. After having gotten to Twoson and going to the Polestar Preschool, the game lagged again like it did back in Giant Step. Soon enough, the blue swirl appeared and I encountered Friend again. This time, I just ran away.
Because it was an invisible enemy on the map, the only way you would know it's around is when the game would start to lag. The third time I encountered Friend was still at Twoson, but I forgot where. When I got into this encounter, I noticed the background was completely different. Instead of the background being plain black, this time it was completely white. Just as I was about to run away, I saw something disturbing float across the screen.
It was of a silhouette of what looked to be a deformed child, but it was hard to tell. I began to feel uneasy as I watched the thing float across the screen. I wanted to get out of there, but was unable to do so on my first try. Afterwards, Friend began to ask me where Jacob was over and over again until the whole text box was filled with the question which took forever. When I tried to run away, I was able to get away which was a relief to me.
At this point, I wanted to try and finish the hack as quickly as possible. The only way I could progress any further was to sell the items I found in the gift boxes, so I could pay Apple Kid the 200 dollars he needed. This was because I was still unable to fight anything. I played through rescuing Paula and getting rid of the zombies in Threed. I was still getting attacked by the persistant Friend enemy, but there was nothing of interest except I found myself having trouble escaping from the fight the more I ran into him. I also ended up running into him twice while I was heading back to Threed from Saturn Valley.
The game was going very fast due to its nature of skipping boss fights. I was about to enter my favorite city in the game which was Fourside. I thought it was at least worth playing to get up to this point, but I was sadly mistaken. If you were to get to this part in the hack, it would be impossible to progress any further. When I entered Fourside, I tried to talk to a NPC resulting in some familiar dialogue.
I began to feel spooked out trying to talk to everyone else, but they would only ask me the same question. I tried to go see the Runaway Five, but was unable to get a ticket because of being asked that same damn question with no option of buying a ticket. I wanted to leave the city and go back to check on Threed. As I tried to head back, the game began to seriously lag which made me knew what was coming. When I got into the battle with Friend this time, I noticed the background to be all staticy. If you were to look carefully, you would see all kinds of deformed looking silhouettes in the background with some of them not even looking human. This time, it took a very long time to run away, but after about 8 tries, I was able to do so.
When I got back to Threed, I was still being asked about Jacob and knew what I had to do. I turned off the power to the game and then turned it back on in hopes that it would fix the issue with the NPC's. When I got back to the main menu, I noticed that my data had been erased. I was really annoyed, but noticed another file that I hadn't seen before. I realized that I started a new game so quickly the first time that I didn't even see this file. It turned out that the file was of a level 43 save with the file being named Jacob. Was this who Friend was referring to the entire time? It seemed like Jacob had played through half of the game, but decided to stop at around level 43. I knew it was a bad idea to select this file, but I did so anyway.
When I loaded the file, I was in Ness's house with the theme for it playing. Ness was also alone and didn't even have any of his party members to help him. There was a huge difference this time around. The home was completely wrecked with most of the furniture and walls looking to be mouldy. Everything looked to be completely ruined as if it had been a century since someone had come to this place. I wanted to go and speak to my mother in the game to see if she was still alright. That turned out to be a big mistake. After getting to the staircase, I saw the skeletion of my mother laying on the floor. I began to get scared at how dark this was and left the house as quickly as possible.
When I left my home, I saw that Onett didn't look any better. The outside of the house looked like it needed to be condemned right away. The grass was brown and looked lifeless while the trees looked bare and dried up. There was also no music playing in the background which fit very well for what I was seeing. I didn't even know if I wanted to see how the rest of Onett looked, but I decided to go towards the town anyway. On my way to Onett, I saw another horrifying sight laying on the ground. On the ground were the bones of what used to belong to various Spiteful Crows. I left the scene and heard the music to Onett slowly picking up.
This wasn't the cheerful music that I was familiar with. The instruments sounded very old as if the musicians were struggling to even play the theme properly. It sounded very depressing and nearly made me cry. There was also no one in town, but just the skeletions of the people who used to live here. This is what I was afraid of.
I was unable to get into some of the buildings because some of the skeletions were blocking the doors. There were a couple of places I could get into, but none of them had anything of interest and looked no better than how my place looked. While I wandered around the ruins of what used to be Onett, a message box popped up.
"Do I still have a purpose?"
After this, the game began to lag and it was the worse lag I had ever experienced. After the lag began to stop, I got into another encounter and knew who it was at this point... Friend.
This time the background was complete static and none of the silhouettes from before could be seen. The music was also changed to when Giygas was close to being defeated. Friend was grey now as opposed to being blue. Because I was level 42 in this save, I tried to attack Friend and was able to deal a bit more damage to it this time. Because of this, I wanted nothing more than to put that thing out of its misery. Friend didn't even try to ask me where Jacob was, but instead did nothing and would only cry throughout the whole battle. After a couple of rounds, I got another message.
"Do I no longer have any purpose?"
I continued to try and damage Friend until it gave me one last message.
Friend then began to disappear like any other enemy would in the game. Afterwards, I was returned to Onett without even a message telling me that I had won. I found myself unable to even move my character and just stood there. After 20 seconds, the game completely froze and the screen went black staying that way. I took the game out and tried to blow on the cartridge, but it wouldn't play. After trying to get the cartridge to work for about three more times, I gave up. To be honest, I was glad it was all over.
I had one more thing to take care of, I went to contact the person who had done the trade with me for this messed up hack. I was furious and demanded answers telling what I had just experienced, but left out some of the things in fear that he would think that I was a complete lunatic. He then told me that he was sorry and that he hadn't checked the game because he didn't want to open the box it came in and risk damaging the package. He told me he would give me back my games since he had gotten the box for free from someone who didn't even want the game anymore. Did this person happen to be Jacob? I guess I'll never know.
Since I felt bad, I offered to take back half the games I had traded him since I knew it wasn't his fault entirely. He told me I could just keep the game since it was worthless, so I did. I went to put it back in the box it came in, but saw something that gave me shivers.
The box that looked perfect before was now completely torn and looked to be mouldy as if it had been kept in a bad area for so long. The players guide wasn't any better, most of the pages had been torn out. Any of the pages that were remaining were now unreadable.
I threw everything out I had gotten that day.