I could never in my wildest nightmares have ever imagined the horrors that could plague even the most simple of life's enjoyments. The darkness that could invade any world, whether it be real or fictional. It all started the day me and my girlfriend were talking about video games we used to play growing up, and games that we used to enjoy. Over the years of my childhood I have collected several games pertaining to several different consoles, but we both found the topic of the Nintendo 64 to be the most fun. So, that day, we decided to pick up one from my uncle's video game store and perhaps even pick up one of the greatest Nintendo 64 titles, Super Mario 64.
Now, when we got there it took some time and a lot of browsing but we were able to find the game after about an hour or so in several bins he had placed throughout the store- the only copy he had it appeared. As well as that, we had found an N64, the very last one that he had in stock ironically, and best part about it was, he gave it to us for free! He told me that it had been bought and returned nearly fifteen times since it came into his possession and now he was just looking to get rid of it. He also told me that, ironically, the game was always returned with it as well, as they always seemed to be bought together. He had heard that something was wrong with one or the other, and that some people even went as far as to tell him that the they were evil, made in Hell, things like that.
Seeing as how he only heard the story from three out of fifteen customers I brushed it off as just some hysterical story told by people who decided they simply didn’t want to keep the system, an excuse if you will, and gave him 20 dollars for Super Mario 64 (cheap jerk gave me the N64 for free though...). We went back home after being gone for about an hour and a half.
When I got home I laid the system by my living room TV and started to rummage through old boxes where I kept all sorts of old games, ranging from classic Atari games to the ever popular Dreamcast. It was actually sort of strange, because in these boxes I found that I owned every major console except for an N64; well until now anyways. I pulled out my box with all of the N64 games in it and began to dig through it. I found games like “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” as well as it's sequel “Majora's Mask”, and two Castlevania titles for the system itself (Castlevania 64/Legacy of Darkness) and so on. Then, it was time to hook it up!
After everything was set up my girlfriend decided that she wanted to put in Super Mario 64 first, and after some effort the game was ready to go. “It's-a me! Mario!” It called out in it's upbeat pitch. My girlfriend decided to mess with Mario's face a bit before finally pressing start on her purple controller and the screen transitioned to the file select screen. There were some files already on the game, in fact all four slots were filled, each having just started the game because there were no stars on any file, so we started deleting them. After we deleted one (file 1) however, the game froze, and there was a deafening screech coming from our TV speakers, and it sounded almost as if someone was screaming from the game itself. My girlfriend turned off the system after about five seconds.
After a moment or so she flipped it back on and we went back to the file select screen. Strangely enough, the file that we had deleted on file 1 was back, and this time it had 66 stars, even though previously it had none. So, once more she deleted it and again it made a loud screeching sound (this time I would swear to God that it was louder than before), to the point where we both fell back while covering our ears. As I was closer to the plug then the system itself I jerked it out of the wall.
This time, before we bothered trying, I took the game out of the system and took it into the kitchen. It turned out that it was really dusty, which explained, at least to me, why the game was reacting the way it was, although it was still weird. After cleaning it with a q-tip I took it back into the living room. I handed it to her, she plugged the console back into the wall and we were ready to go. By now it was getting dark out. There was no light in the room and we couldn't plug in our lamp because the system and TV took up the outlet, so we were forced to play in the dark. For me, something didn't feel right, because for some reason I was filled with a sense of nervousness that I could not quite explain. I shook it off and turned on the system.
When we were back to the file select screen each file that was there previously was gone oddly enough, which to me confirmed my suspicion that it was just a dirty game messing up. So we started a new game on file 1 and the screen lagged like it were a CD or something, but after about a minute started up normally. We got the opening scene with Peach inviting Mario to the castle, and the camera, as usual, followed up the pathway to the giant green pipe which Mario leaped out of. She was in control of the game and took Mario directly to the castle.
When she opened the door to the castle there was a prolonged pause which made me nervous. Once again the loud screeching that ruined our game previously shot through our ears and it felt like glass was jabbed into my eardrums. We were both overwhelmed because of the terrible screaming and could not even think to reach the system to the plug. After about thirty seconds it stopped and we looked up to the TV. Mario had somehow found his way to Big Boo's Haunt, as the mansion that had never appeared this creepy when I used to play it loomed over Mario's head ominously. “What the Hell?” I said as I regained myself. My girlfriend was still getting herself together and it took her a minute to process what was going on.
I took the controller now and took a good look at the mansion itself. It was nothing like what it was supposed to be, it had castle like features actually and was covered totally in blood and rust. The sky had black and red colors about it, complimented by the black clouds that seemed to pass by in an instant. I noticed that a new tower was now coming out of the mansion, and upon getting a good look at it I noticed several figures hanging from it. The whole screen faded to white, like it does in the entrance room when you look up at the skylight and go to the world that you obtain the wingcap in.
When Mario reappeared he had somehow made it on top of the tower, on a platform that went all the way around. The sky had a gloomy look to it as each cloud passed over the tower, as dark as the night sky, and lightning began to rule the sky and illuminate the clouds in it's thunderous wake. I tried for the first time to move Mario forward but a bolt of lightning stopped any movement that I was willing to make at the moment; I dropped the controller. My heart began to race, I didn't know what to expect, and I could see by the look in my girlfriend's eyes that a strong sense of paranoia had overcome her, because I constantly noticed her looking back behind us in the shadows that covered the room. With hesitation I took the controller in hand and moved Mario forward about a foot or so before something fell from the top of the screen and the camera zoomed in on it.
It was depiction of Mario... with a noose around his neck. We both yelled out and I dropped the controller on the floor; I moved back as quickly as possible. Mario's clothes were ripped all over, exposing several parts of his body. Underneath the clothes we could make out stab wounds from either a knife or a dagger which more than likely caused the blood splatter all over his skin and remaining clothing. But the most grotesque part of the image were his eyelids and mouth, sown shut with blood trickling down his cheeks and chin. I was appalled at the gruesome site, my heart was racing, and I would swear to this day that at the moment the dead Mario fell from the top of the screen that I heard something run into my bedroom. All of the hung figures were of Mario, all the exact same, with eyelids and mouth sown shut and stab wounds all over their bodies. I worked up all the courage I could muster, I again unplugged the N64, which turned off, but not at that instant. Before the TV screen went black the hung Mario's face, underneath his sown lips... was smirking at us.
I didn't want to get up, not even to turn on the lights. I wanted to remain in that exact spot sitting down because at least there I felt somewhat safe. But for my girlfriend's sake I plugged in the lamp and lit the room up. Everything was peaceful, perhaps a calm after the storm, and I took a deep breath and sat back down. I couldn't get that image out of my head, that smirk, I felt powerless as to what my mind wanted to remain on. I sat on the floor next to my girlfriend and hugged her, picked her up and took her to bed. Who in the hell would make a game like that? It had to be the game, it had to be hacked, it's the only thing that made any sense to me. What I saw in that game I would define as evil in it's sickest form.
Without a word between us we laid in bed for what felt like hours before one of us finally broke the silent. She told me that she wanted to get rid of that game as soon as possible. As it was already late I decided that it would be best to wait until tomorrow, because I was sure that my uncle's store was closed and Gamestop doesn't take games that old. So we stayed in bed and agreed that we would not play that game again... but I couldn't get it out of my head still, I wanted to know why, or how this was done. My curiosity got the better of me in the end and after she had fallen asleep I quietly got out of bed, went back into the living room, plugged in the N64 and... didn't turn it on. Didn't have to. The game started itself, and not only that, picked up exactly where it left off. I was astounded by this because I had never seen the Nintendo 64 do anything like that. Right then and there I knew that there was more to this than I knew and I had to know what. I was... fascinated; drawn in perhaps.
I got a good look around the tower. Despite being disgusted I was morbidly fascinated by the entire scene. The paranoia it could convey was... intriguing. After a few minutes of looking around I pressed the pause button and again the screen faded, this time to black. It took me all the way back to the file select screen and I found myself with more questions than answers; all the files were back, again! File 1 had 66 stars, while files 2, 3, and 4 had none. I tried to remember back to when we picked the file, and I was certain that they were not there before. I tried loading file 4 first and in response the game showed me a picture of Mario dead in a pool of his own blood with his eyeballs and entrails hanging out, after a shudder it allowed me to hit B and go back. I tried loading file 3 and again I got another appalling picture. It was Mario once again staring directly into the screen with blood shot eyes that looked so close to real that I really thought that they were. His mouth was gaping open and his tongue missing... well, it was missing from his mouth at least. I examined further and realized that Mario's tongue was wrapped around his throat and that he was being strangled with it. I heard a chuckle of sorts... not from the game, but it sounded like it was directly behind me. I ignored it against my better judgment.
I tried to start up file 2 now, and a video began to play. Mario was strapped down on a table in a decrepit version of the castles entrance hall. The stones were all black, blood oozing from the cracks between each of them. Curtains that hung from the ceiling were tattered and falling apart , they appeared to be worn with the years. In the background Peach and Toadstool were strapped to both sides of the door that lead to the basement area, Toadstool had the mushroom on his head torn off. I could make out his skull showing through the still fresh wound... he was obviously dead. Peach sent me into a state of awe. Her skin was peeled off and all I could see fully formed was her head, which remained untouched. “Jesus Christ...” I said silently as the video continued.
Mario struggled for freedom as the door upstairs opened and a black mass slowly came through, it's footsteps solemnly echoed through the silent hall. The curtains on the ceiling blew casually to it's passing as it moved down the steps towards him... Mario pulled and pulled but found no way to escape the situation that he had found himself in; and in response he began to beg for his life... and pray. The black mass inched ever closer to the hero, it seemed as though... Mario gave up. The black mass walked around the table and stopped directly in front of Mario. Again the hero begged, pleaded for his life. He told the black mass that he would do anything, only spare him for any crime that he committed against it. I saw a tear roll down Mario's cheek and he closed his eyes tightly. A rope tied around his neck, he gagged and took in only heavy breaths. I couldn't see a hand so much as touch the rope, or where it even came from, but it was indeed there, with just enough slack so that Mario could breath. Deep lacerations cut through Mario's clothes and blood by the gallons covered his him in a crimson pool. He screamed, begged, pleaded, asked for death, but it was not given to him, not yet anyways.
The cuts continued until the floor was covered in the dark red liquid exuding slowly to the floor. Finally, the swipes and stabs ceased all together, and there was a deep, methodical silence that only Mario's gasps of misery filled. Before I could so much as think on what I had just seen his eyes and mouth were forced shut and I could see it for myself, a black needle going through both of his eyelids and mouth simultaneously, effectively silencing him other than his muffled screams. Even more blood came from the fresh wounds and covered up his face. The rope tightened around Mario's neck, although he made no effort to escape. It was over. After a few short grunts Mario was silent all together, with not so much a breath or a movement. His face was terror personified... and even though this is a video game, the pain one would have to endure, the torture... my God. Again, before the screen faded to black, that Mario smirked at me. I sat in silence the title screen with Mario's head came up on screen. Only... it wasn't the same Mario. The background was all black and the Mario was the same Mario from the scene that I had just watched. He had that smirk still on.
After much debate I decided to keep going. I went to the file select screen and, with all the courage that my heart could muster, I loaded File 1, 66 stars. The game loaded to a demonic laugh and a black sky filled with blood red clouds. Repeatedly, I could hear a dark, brooding voice saying “Game Over” like Mario would after you lost all of your lives. The Mario that I was controlling was the same Mario that I had seen killed and on the title select screen. Screams, torment, bodies littered the pathway to the castle, the bodies of Peach, several Toadstools and at the end, a dead Bowser, who's head was missing and who's bodies was impaled on a pike right outside of the bridge. I entered the castle and found myself back at Big Boos Haunt. I didn't question it anymore... I just went with it. The scene had not changed, not even slightly, and ignoring all of the graphic details I entered the mansion, to what I was sure would strike my heart in some way, shape or form.
I could feel something; something circling and enclosing around me. I ignored it. I had to. I needed to know what this was, or what was going on. Something whispered in my ear, I was sure of it. I gulped as the screen transitioned to the entrance hall of Big Boo's Haunt, the room with all of the doors. The bodies of faceless Mario's were hung all over the ceiling, illuminated only by torches. I could feel sweat trickling down the back of my neck as I saw a stand alone figure all the way on the upper balcony. I moved Mario slowly towards it. I was afraid, I’m more than willing to admit that, and have never been more afraid in my life.
I jumped up the steps, one at a time, moving cautiously and carefully. It was another hung man that was for certain, but who it was I'll never forget. As I reached the body, I hesitated, but zoomed in on it. I began to tremble, my hands barely holding the controller. The figure was indeed a man hung by a rope. That man had his eyes and mouth sown shut just like Mario and was bleeding profusely from his eye sockets. That man, in all of his pain, was me. He let out a scream, something haunting and bone shilling, a wale like nothing that I had ever heard. The screen began to flicker and turn to static, I tried to turn off the system, I tried to unplug it and nothing worked, the TV wouldn't even turn off. I saw my corpse through the static burning as it's haunting wale had yet to cease. Mario turned his head 180 degrees and looked at the screen, and with a smirk on his face let out a wale just like I did. My head began to hurt and throb, I fell to the floor, and the last thing that I remember from that night was seeing a black mass hovering over me.