Urban myths and video games once went hand in hand. At a time when the internet was not as popular and only used by a select number of people, facts could not all be checked, which led to many a myth regarding video games cropping up. This period of history has given rise to the phrase "don’t believe everything you read on the internet."
Sometimes these urban myths were just plain lies, debuting from the first trolls on the internet, who just wanted a good laugh. Others were theories by a handful of people after having witnessed something strange or creepy in a video game but without any tangible evidence. Some of these even made their way into future video games as an homage to the popular myths.
Over time, these myths have become quite famous as a fun glance at how there was a time when everything couldn’t be easily fact-checked on the internet, and people relied on self-proclaimed experts. Here is a look at five such video game myths from the past.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinions.
5 urban myths about video games that once haunted the forums
1) Saving Aerith - Final Fantasy 7
Final Fantasy 7 was originally released in 1997 across a multitude of platforms by Square Enix. The game followed protagonist Cloud Strike along with his party of friends as they took on the evil Shinra Corporation. But the game also featured one of the saddest twists in video game history.
This came in the form of beloved party member Aerith Gainsborough being killed by antagonist Sephiroth. This was such a shock because players invested a lot of time with their party members, getting to know them. Additionally, Aerith was a potential romance option, which might have further put off those players who had gone on a date with her.
Immediately after the game’s initial release, rumors spouted of ways to save Aerith somehow, involving some humorously ludicrous steps to apparently accomplish this. Needless to say, all of these claims were false, and history has it that Aerith’s death in the original game was one of the saddest video game deaths ever. However, her fate in the remade 2020 game is still up in the air.
2) Unlocking the gore - Mortal Kombat SNES
When Mortal Kombat was first released in 1992, its USP was the realistic gore (for its time). This also meant that the video game was put under the microscope for including so much visceral fighting, earning it some amount of complaints. And while MK is still widely known for this aspect, developer Midway decided to tone down the gore for the SNES release of the original game.
Thus, for the home SNES version, all the red blood in the game was recolored to grey sweat, and many fatalities were tweaked to remove any gore, making them look just funny. As the frustration of SNES players grew, Nintendo magazine decided to pull a prank as an April Fools gag.
The magazine included a set of instructions on how to unlock the original gore-filled version of the video game, which was supposedly still in the code. While many such steps were included, the most hilarious would be taping a penny to the side of the cartridge to make it heavier, as the original game operated out of a heavier cartridge. Many a young children fell for these cruel tricks by Nintendo.
3) Taking off Lara’s clothes - Tomb Raider
The first Tomb Raider game was launched in 1993 by Eidos Interactive, which saw protagonist Lara Croft travel across various locations, raiding tombs and recovering artifacts. This was also the first instance of players wondering if they could take Lara’s clothes off because video game players just can’t help themselves.
As this desire grew, so did the ingenuity of trolls on the internet. Soon a rumor arose of a nude cheat inside the game, which, if executed properly, would give players a Lara Croft model, sans the clothes. A fake nude cheat made its way into a 90s gaming magazine, which didn’t really help with this issue.
It seems that the developers got wind of this and did indeed include a secret cheat code that could be put in for Tomb Raider 2. This news soon spread through the rumor mill, and players eagerly waited for their dreams to come true as they typed in the cheat. Although what they got was far from what they had expected, as the cheat, when fully inputted, made Lara explode into a dozen or so pieces.
4) Bigfoot - GTA San Andreas
With GTA video games doing a great job of emulating real life while also dialing up a crazy few notches, it was only a matter of time before a real urban myth made its way into the game. This happened spectacularly for GTA San Andreas, which was released in October 2004 by Rockstar Games.
Legend spoke of Bigfoot appearing in the wilderness of the video game, seen walking amidst the trees. Although to see this creature, the right conditions had to be met, otherwise it was hopeless. As for what the right conditions were, it seemed that no one could make up their minds, with one account saying one thing while another said the opposite.
While it later turned out that no such Bigfoot was present in San Andreas, aside from what modders put into it, developer Rockstar definitely noticed this obsession. This is seen when they put in a Sasquatch in Red Dead Redemption and a guy dressed in a Bigfoot costume to hunt in GTA V.
5) Herobrine - Minecraft
Minecraft, for the uninitiated, is a huge open-world sandbox video game developed by Mojang, with its creator being Markus ‘Notch’ Persson. Here, players can tackle the story mode or play around freely, creating structures and other architectural designs using resources and materials found around the world. While it was officially released in 2011, it was still available to play since 2009.
Around 2010, however, a strange mystery started unfolding when a user on 4chan reported seeing another player in their singleplayer mode, looking exactly like the game’s Steve skin but with glowing white eyes. This figure would create strange constructs and disappear when approached. The user also claimed that an account titled Herobrine sent them a message on 4chan with the single word saying ’stop.'
This led to a tumultuous tide of theories cropping across the forums, with people claiming to have also seen this strange figure. Other theories concluded that Herobrine was the name of creator Markus Persson’s long-dead brother (although Persson has denied such claims). After many years of Minecraft since then, with players having gone through the game’s code a hundred times over, Herobrine was nowhere to be seen.
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