Anything popular enough eventually gives way to some pretty weird myths. We have myths about film, about television… and more video game myths than you can shake a cheat code at.
Some of these “myths” are just products of wishful thinking (like players hoping they can save Aeris in Final Fantasy VII). Others are weird fan theories that developers make come true in the sequel (hello, cow level of Diablo 2).
However, some myths are just downright weird. Here are the eight strangest myths surrounding your favorite games and consoles.
Where do video game myths come from? Many of them originate in weird “creepy pasta” style stories online. That is the case with Herobrine, the alleged ghostly monster of Minecraft.
It all started with online forum posts by someone claiming they had seen a spooky figure in their game. This alleged figure looked like Steve but had no eyes. The character would run into a mysterious fog when this player walked towards him, and the player later swore he found structures made by the secret sprite.
Minecraft creator Notch didn’t exactly help. At first, he denied that this creature (dubbed “Herobrine”) had ever been a part of Minecraft. But the patch notes for a later update mentioned “-removed Herobrine,” which some players take as a joke and others take as a confirmation.
2. Bigfoot in GTA: San Andreas
The Grand Theft Auto series took increasing pride in making realistic recreations of cities like Miami and, later, San Andreas. It shouldn’t be surprising that by recreating parts of our world, they brought in some of our most persistent cultural myths.
Take Bigfoot for example. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has some pretty remote areas, and many players have sworn that they could see Bigfoot on the grounds or in the trees. As in real life, though, no one could capture photographic proof (such as a screenshot) of his existence.
Throw in some early community modding efforts to add the creature in and you get the most persistent GTA rumor ever created.
3. Nude Lara Croft
While the character of Lara Croft has come a long way, it is no secret that she is well-known for her “assets.” The character’s well-endowed, polygonal breasts are a defining feature. And it took no time at all for them to spawn a predictable myth: that there was a code to make Lara Croft naked.
Put simply, there was never any such a code. Modders would later do their thing and add nudity, but the actual game developer knew such a code would be the “kiss of death” for their rating and sales.
The real punchline here is how basic and blocky her actual chest was. All a nude code could do is let players see a beige triangle with no cleavage. Not exactly titillating!
4. Sheng Long in Street Fighter 2
Sometimes, the myths are baked directly into the game. When players saw a certain Ryu victory screen in Street Fighter 2, it spawned rumors of a secret character.
Ryu claims players “must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.” This was never a playable character. But an April Fools’ Day joke by Electronics Gaming Monthly made countless players think he was real.
The rumor was so persistent that they finally made the character (now known as Gouken) playable in Street Fighter IV.
5. Fallout 3 Knows the Future
Fallout 3 is set in a distant, post-nuclear future. And certain secrets in the game made players think the developers had knowledge of our actual future.
Players could pick up transmissions throughout the game that had numbers and Morse code in them. Pretty soon, there were intense rumors that when translated, some of these transmissions predicted everything from Gary Coleman’s death to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Ultimately, Bethesda dismissed this as a hoax, but this didn’t keep some players from scouring the game for more “predictions.”
6. Haunted Majora’s Mask
Most video game companies switched to disc-based games a long time ago. Nintendo’s lingering fascination with cartridges helped make one of their most iconic games into a crazy creepy pasta myth.
The story goes that someone picks up a used copy of the N64 game Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. There was a save file named “Ben.” Despite the player starting a new game, characters kept referring to him as Ben. Weirdness continued after he deleted the save, with the game glitching out and leading to his discovery that “Ben” had died by drowning in real life.
All of this was an elaborate hoax. However, the writer stoked rumors by posting YouTube videos of an edited rom to a fanbase that really wanted to believe.
7. Blowing Into Cartridges Fixes Them
Here’s a myth that has been around longer than most of you have been alive: that blowing into a cartridge helps fix it when the system is not reading your game.
The myth is persistent because you likely tried this yourself back when you owned a Sega Genesis. A game doesn’t start, so the gamer removes the cartridge and blows on it. Then, the gamer puts cartridge back in, and now the game works. So, how can we say that blowing into cartridges doesn’t work?
When a game doesn’t start, what’s really happening is that the cartridge didn’t line up with the pins correctly. Taking it out and putting it back in just gives you another chance to line things up. Actually blowing air does nothing!
8. The Government Made a Killer Mind Control Game
Once upon a time, arcades were dark and mysterious. And, according to myth, even dangerous!
There has been a decades-long myth that Portland, Oregon had an arcade game called Polybius. Players would allegedly play the game and collapse into seizures thanks to its strobing lights, leading to the removal of the game.
If that’s not wild enough, the myth claims that the government was testing the game on players before secretive men in black carted it away. Sorry, conspiracy theorists, this myth has been debunked.
Did you blow into game cartridges as a kid to fix them? What’s the craziest video game myth you ever heard? Sound off in the comments below!