My Top Ten: Gaming Myths?

Everyone loves a good Urban Legend or myth, especially when it is related to something you know and love. Here are my top ten myths of gaming and whether or not they turned out to be true.

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  • Tomb Raider – Lara Croft Nude Code: Alright, there is a way to patch the PC version of the game to replace Lara’s clothing textures with textures detailing (as much as those low-res textures can “detail” anything) her various lady parts. But what about those poor console owners who had perfected their camera manipulation techniques so they could rotate and zoom-in one handed? Rumour had it that there was a button-press code that removed those pesky clothes from our heroine and made the dangers of a rough-stone wall and a grab ledge even more immediate.
  • GTA: San Andreas – Hot Coffee: So an urban legend usually turns out to have a tenuous relationship with the truth but in this case it is bang on the money. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a mini-game in the original build that allowed you to enter your girlfriend’s house for coffee after a successful date. Obviously, as soon as the PC version was released someone hacked the code and released a mod that allowed you access to the mini-game. The player was able to simulate “bumpin’ uglies” by pressing up and down rhythmically until the “excitement level” reached maximum. Rockstar suffered heavy legal action because of it and went on to reference the incident in GTA IV by having Nico refuse to go into his girlfriend’s house when she offers.
  • Sonic 2 – Hidden Palace Zone: An area of the hugely anticipated sequel to perhaps the best platformer ever made which was shown off in early build previews but eventually scrapped for the full game. Eager gamers refused to believe that the zone was cut from final release code and spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the hidden level. Which didn’t exist. Sega found this hilarious. So much so that they teased us by putting a level called… yup, you guessed it: Hidden Palace Zone to Sonic and Knuckles.
  • Mario 64 – Play As Luigi: In most Mario games you can make a selection to palette-switch the sprite and play as Mr. Jumpman’s under-achieving, overly-clingy brother, Luigi. Not so in Mario 64, the first 3D offering. Fans were convinced that Luigi must appear in the game somewhere and tried many tedious ways to unlock the presumed “secret content”. They were wrong, of course. Luigi was planned for the game and very early demo builds included him and Mario in the world but there was no way to meet him in the retail release.
  • PlayStation 2s as Missile Guidance Systems: Who knows where this one came from? I mean, it is possibly true that Saddam Hussein placed a large order for PS2s and it is certainly true that due to complicated legal phrasing the Sony console was subject to an export law that said it could be adapted for military use. In later years some boffins even managed to link a load of them together and make a rudimentary “super computer” but there has never been any shred of evidence that the former Iraqi dictator was stockpiling PS2s. A bit like WMDs then…
  • Atari Buried Millions of Games in the New Mexico Desert: This rumour sprang up due to the famous video games crash of 1983 when companies pumped all manner of tripe into the video games market in North America and simply oversaturated the market, causing it to collapse and only recover in 1985 when Nintendo (a Japanese company) released their NES. Two of those games which were largely considered almost unplayable were the Atari port of Pac Man (I’ve played it, it’s terrible) and a game based on the movie E.T. which I haven’t played but I’ve often read of its incredibly poor quality (apparently it had only six weeks of development time. SIX WEEKS?!). People stopped buying them and suddenly Atari had to get rid of them. So they absolutely did just dig a big hole and chuck them in. Thankfully the site was covered in concrete so the chances of those abominations ever escaping are slim.
  • Final Fantasy VII – Reviving Aeris: Often cited as the most shocking event ever to happen in a video game anywhere ever in the whole history of the world. Ever. During the course of Final Fantasy VII (Final? I think not…), Square’s tedious explore-em-up, they killed off Aeris. She’s dead, some big girly angel thing with half a wing and very pretty hair did it with a big sword. But for those four people who hadn’t had enough of the game universe by now it was simply an excuse to continue aimlessly wondering around, partaking in random battles and looking for a way to bring Aeris back to life. There was even a glitching “ghost” of Aeris at one point that added credence to her importance and the possibility of resurrection.
  • Street Fighter II – Defeat Sheng Long: Don’t you just love the early video games market? I do. I love the way it was a Japanese thing that had yet to be sullied by Western commercialism. Here’s what I mean: SFII was a massive Japanese arcade hit so they were going to send it to “The West” to make some cash from those crazy capitalist coin-droppers. One problem: The game was all in Japanese. Who wants to waste money on expensive translators when you can just do a half-assed job? Nobody. So when Ryu said “You must defeat Shen Long to stand a chance” western players thought this meant a hidden final boss in the game and spent months trying to work out how to unlock Shen Long. It was a mis-translation or mis-pronounciation of “Dragon Punch” or “Shoryuken” which players literally had to defeat in order to stand a chance against Ryu. Capcom have seen the funny side though and now often include Shen Long as a character.
  • Sony Made the PlayStation for Nintendo: This is another one which is, in many ways, true. Nintendo asked Sony to develop a disc-based peripheral to increase the power and media capacity of their upcoming Super Nintendo (similar, I presume, to the doomed Sega Mega CD). Just before the announcement was made Nintendo boss Yamauchi backed out because he thought the deal would give Sony too much power. Sony pressed on and started earnest development of the PlayStation system which, as late as 1993, was planned as featuring a cartridge slot to accept SNES games.
  • Military Experiments With Mind Control via Arcades: The year was 1981, the location Portland, Oregon. Rumours surfaced around a cutting edge video game called Polybius which supposedly rewarded extensive players with nightmares, disrupted sleep patterns and torturous visions. Oh, and I almost forgot, it gave them amnesia too. Who knows if this is true or not, there have certainly never been any games of that name discovered and nobody can be found who remembers playing it. Maybe the arcade cabinets have all been buried in the New Mexico desert and the unsuspecting gamer’s Polybius-inspired bouts of amnesia have covered up the nefarious conspiracy. Maybe that’s why Saddam wanted all those PlayStation 2s!
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