I was only 11 years old at the time. My father and I had just went out and purchased a brand new Nintendo 64, black, and I was so excited to play it! I remember that a Super Smash Bros. cartridge was left under my bed after the last family moved out. I went to search and sure enough, there it was. A few dirt scratches and a giant red X marked over the back panel led me to believe it wouldn't work. I was eager to play it! After about seven minutes of waiting, my dad finally said the system was up and running and can play as soon as I want. I shoved the game in, turned it on, and plopped down on my bed.
My dad had left the room, him and my mom were going out and I would be home by myself (I begged for this.) As soon as they left, I turned up the volume and pressed enter on the controller. The screen went dark for five seconds. Remember, I had just bought this system and found the used game, so I knew it wasn't going to play perfectly, so I became impatient. After 30 seconds the game loaded up, a really loud screeching noise played for two seconds before a loud crash was heard. I dropped the controller on the ground and stared at the TV screen. The menu options loaded up, some distorted letters on the menus "1-PL ay e R" and "Op TIO n s". I just figured it was the wear and tear that caused these strange glitches and noises. I ignored it, picked up my controller, and went to VS mode. I browsed the gameplay options before going back to the submenu. I hit the character select screen, the screen flashed white, blue, and then finally red, a demonic sound "FREE FOR ALL" played. The game instantly shut itself off. Much to my dismay, I tried this a few more times to no avail. I picked up the game cartridge, proceeded to blow out any of the dust, and put it back in. I turned the game on, and the introduction video was lagging really badly, and the colors were inverted. As soon as Master Hand appeared, the screen instantly froze and took me directly to the character select screen.
Free-for-all was played normally, regular colors were displayed. However, in the slot where Ness would of been, I saw a picture of a real-life boy, his name displayed as "VICTIM". I proceeded to put my cursor and little number chip on his picture. The announcer said "GAME OVER" in a really loud, distorted voice, colors inverted, and the music seemed to go in reverse before the game flashed white and shut itself off.
Stunned, scared, and nervous, I began to believe that this was no ordinary name. No one named "VICTIM" who looks like a real boy should be in a cartoon fighting game. I decided to put the game to rest for the remainder of the day. My parents came back and I explained what had happened, and they were understanding of it, I showed them the game.
Everything played normal, no odd textures, sound was playing fine, and the "VICTIM" character was gone. My parents were happy that the game was working for me! But even I had my doubts...
After school, I came home with my friend, Clark. Both of my parents were working, so it was just me and Clark. I offered him some juice and cookies and I started up the N64. A loud alarm sounded saying all game data has been deleted. Clark had brought over one of his controllers from home and plugged it in. The introduction video was skipped completely, and the title screen only showed for a split second before the screen flashed white, and a loud screech was heard. The menus remained red, much to Clark's surprise. He stated that this is a lot different than his version of the game.
We finally picked the options (he showed me a fun way to play). When we got to the character select screen, all the character slots, except for the slot named "VICTIM" were gone. The "VICTIM" slot didn't have a picture of the boy anymore, just a greyed out silhouette. We put our markers on the silhouette and pressed start. We got to the stage selection screen, but a second later we were thrown back into the character selection screen, the "error/you can't do that noise" played. The "VICTIM" button had multiplied, my marker on one, Clark's marker on the other. After closer inspection, I noticed that our faces occupied the "VICTIM" slot this time. Clark told me he was feeling sick and was going home. He ripped his controller out of its socket and ran out the front door all the way home.
I was booted back to the title screen, and the words "TEAM BATTLE" played on a constant loop. I was so frightened, I turned my system off for the rest of the day.
I couldn't sleep at all, I just continued to stare blankly at my Nintendo 64. "Was it the game? Was it the system?" I continually asked myself these questions. I knew there was some sort of "outside force" controlling the game. It just doesn't make sense. I decided to take a break from the game for a few days. I'll come back to it later, maybe...
Today was a half-day at school. I decided it was time to test out the game again. I turned my Nintendo 64, nothing happened for a good 20 seconds, that is until the screen flashed all sorts of colors, the announcer was saying all sorts of crazy faces, and a high-pitched scream could be heard. It's like someone was trapped inside the system. Ten seconds later, the game took me to the character select screen, there was no character slots at all. The music was in reverse, and the cursor was upside down. However, it told me to start the game, so I did. It skipped the stage selection screen completely and the game flashed white, red, and then white again.
After the colors stopped flashing, I appeared on an empty stage. No characters appeared at all. No items spawned, nothing happened. There was no music, and occasionally a loud buzzing noise that only lasted a few seconds. The screen then morphed, swirling all around, and when it finally returned to its default position, a small human-like person appeared inside the system. The name VICTIM hovered over his head.
It was then I realized... I was playing as the VICTIM. The boy looked over at me and said "HELP ME!" I was so shocked, I couldn't move, all I could do was stare at the boy, as he hopelessly flaunted around the grey screen. I pondered whether I should shut it off... or try to communicate with him.
I talked to my TV screen, I was that desperate for answers. He didn't respond, he couldn't hear me. However, I was able to see him arrange the letters on the menus into the words "Shuuutt theee gaaammeee offffff... beeforrre ittt's tttooo laaaate". The screen flashed white. I listened real close, as if I was expecting answers. A loud scream pierced my ears and I quickly shut the system off. Who was that boy? Why did he want me to turn off the system? What did he mean by "before it's too late?"
I've hardly eaten anything. All I could think of was that boy using the letters of the menus to spell out a warning. I didn't sleep at all, my mind still thinking about the game and its mysteries.
I didn't pay attention in school, I had a few quizzes, but all I could manage to write was my name and a few doodles of the boy and the letters. I missed the bus going home, so I had to walk. I've been so uneasy the past couple of days. Maybe I should stop playing for awhile.
Or maybe not...
It was late in the evening, around 7, both of my parents were working late to about maybe 10. After some careful consideration I decided to turn the game on and see what I can do to help the kid. Once again I was greeted by flashing colors, and the distorted voice of the announcer saying "SUPER SMASH BROTHERS". This time, the game directed me straight into the DATA page. I looked through it, to find the boy, to no avail. All 12 of the characters had been unlocked, but the numbers were upside down, and instead of going from most KOs to least, it was the opposite. I went back a few menus and attempted to play the single player game. Sure enough, the "VICTIM" square was the only square that occupied the character selection screen. I placed my little chip on it, the announcer yelled "GO" in a loud, distorted voice. The screen spun, twisted, and morphed into the first challenge.
The announcer was able to get out the word "Versus" before loud static played in the background. The game sent me to Yoshi's Story and I was the "VICTIM" fighting against Samus. I went through each stage at the edge of my seat, the hair on the back of my neck standing up. Any wrong move, and this boy would be killed. I eventually made it to the last stage. I have a feeling this isn't a game anymore, that this is some sort of a cruel joke, however, it's not. This is more realistic.
When I got to the last stage, the screen froze for a good 30 seconds before I was booted to the title screen, the colors were so bright I couldn't see, the announcer's voice said "FAILURE" and the screen flashed before turning into pitch black until I managed to shut off the system. One thing I noticed was that the title screen didn't have Super Smash Bros. like it normally did.
I immediately turned the game back on, however, everything was back to normal. The "VICTIM" slot was gone, the data was back to normal, and the announcer's voice clips played normally. I finally drifted off into a deep sleep, the last thing I heard was the gurgling of my stomach.
After I woke up, I had a few pieces of toast with some orange juice and began to play. The introduction video came up normally, and the fire from the title screen came up, but the announcer said "GO" and I was already in the middle of the first challenge of "1-Player" mode, playing as the "VICTIM". I went through the stages, slightly faster than before, and I got to the final Boss, Master Hand. No music played, and Master Hand failed to appear, and "VICTIM" was just standing there in his idle animation. I waited two minutes for something to happen before the game registered Master Hand entering the arena as soon as he hit the stage, the music skipped every five seconds and the colors were inverting and then going back to normal, I got Master Hand down to 76% HP before the announcer said "FAILURE" and the screen froze. This was all too familiar. I'm doing something wrong. I got up and shut the system off and turned it back on.
I was determined to get to the end. After several more attempts, Master Hand loaded successfully and I was able to defeat him. After his death animation, the screen went dark for about 10 seconds, then a flash of red and white static, the game loaded up the credits screen, but none of the credits rolled. At this point, anything that happened was normal to me.
The announcer yelled "INCREDIBLE" as the picture of the boy smiling appeared on my TV screen. I pressed the "A" button and the unlock music and frame came up. It said "Player and VICTIM... you... win... this... round...." and the game returned me to the title screen. The screen flashed white and the words "THANK YOU, PLAYER" were written in red on the screen. I said, "You're welcome" and I shut the game off, proud of my accomplishment. Although I'll never be able to accurately explain this to anyone, I know what I have done. And I'll remember it for the rest of my life.
Day 11 (Epilogue)
The game finally returned back to normal. The "VICTIM" character slot hasn't appeared since we destroyed Master Hand and all the characters appeared normally, no colors spazzing out, music playing normally. If I didn't know any better, I would say that "VICTIM" was watching me from above. So I went outside, into the fresh air, looked to the sky and said, "Thank you, "VICTIM" with the first smile on my face since I bought the system.