It was a nice day outside, especially just after a week-long storm. I had spent almost every Saturday in my local game shop, Slackers. The place was just local, I think; I hadn’t seen any other stores.
The shelves always had new weekly stock to check out. They even had music sections that I would occasionally browse. The owner of the store was pretty nice, at least 30 or so, pretty laid back. I had just gotten a Game Boy Color which was a bit after its release (2000) so I went, as usual, to the game boy cartridge section.
There was an interesting cartridge on the very top shelf; I was only 12 so I couldn’t quite reach it. I found the stool that was kept around here somewhere and was finally able to reach it. The cartridge was hard to take off the shelf, almost stuck on there. After about 30 seconds of prying it finally broke off. The cartridge was still intact. The cartridge had no label, just simply written in sharpie “free”. I basically just shrugged and asked the owner about it.
“Is this game free?” I said with a surprised look.
The owner took it from me and just shrugged as he saw the label.
“I guess it is.” He then handed it back to me, and then went back to reading his magazine.
I put the cartridge in my pocket as I began my usual round of the new stock, all the usual stuff; Pokémon, Kirby… stuff like that. After I realized I couldn’t buy anything anyhow, I went home. All the way home I was strangely intrigued by the blank cartage, I was ready for anything. When I got back to my room it was just as I had left it, a typical 12-year-old's room. Spiderman posters left and right, supplies ready for school on Monday, and my old clear Gameboy on the bed. I jumped into bed and popped the cartage in; while it was loading I was expecting some crappy game that never took off.
The Menu was what looked like an 8-bit field of grass; A setting sun in the distance. There was also no title, just in big bold letters “START”. I pressed start and was almost instantly placed on a flat plain. The sun in the menu was now at the very top of the screen. My character had a hat and a t-shirt on, pretty pixelated. I began to walk forward with the arrow button and soon encountered a block. I touched the block and instantly died. I was taken back to the menu.
During the next game I played, the sun seemed lower by about 1 pixel. I figured out that “A” was jump so I jumped over the first block that killed me. The same process happened for about a minute. Finding a block then jumping over it. I encountered a pit after a while, just 1 block wide.
Seeing no challenge I jumped. I hit some sort of invisible wall and fell into the pit. I press the start button on the menu. The sun seemed about 3 or 4 pixels lower, nothing too odd; it just unnerved me a bit. I arrived at a pit, which seemed to be the one I came to earlier. I got over the pit this time, feeling a bit accomplished. After a bit of walking I came across a sign; the sign was very detailed for a GBC game. The game told me to press B to read the sign.
“Don’t let the sun set…”
The sun, by what I had noticed, had been setting more and more each game. I wondered what happened if you did let it set without completing the game. I just touched the block over and over again. Each time the sun setting more; the screen getting darker. My heart was racing, I felt so rebellious, which was a mistake. The sun finally set, the screen almost pitch black. I touched the block and died again. The next time I played it was broad daylight in game. I just began to walk, and walk…and walk. I seemed so interested in absolutely nothing. I felt myself getting absorbed into the game. I was just walking.
So one day the world blacked out. I was placed in a game store, and waited to be picked up by a kid again. I was picked up and played, interesting kid. So I was walking, then I ran into a block and died. The next kid suffered the same fate, but I felt a decade-long spell being lifted as he did so. I was free. So that made me wonder, am I nothing but some sick and twisted game, doomed to walk a plain for the rest of my life, doomed to pick up cartridges in game shops? Maybe it’s not so bad; taking a walk sounds nice, doesn’t it?