Gaming

15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities

Heard the one about the video game that predicted the Deep Water Horizon tragedy?

Or the harmless Nintendo game that was linked to a spate of child suicides?

Like the arts of literature, theatre and film, the modern medium of video games aren't without their quirky conspiratorial hooks.

From bizarre fan theories to genuinely troubling urban legends, these are some of the weirdest gaming stories the internet has to offer.

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 30

    Pokemon is set in a post-war civilization

    Ever noticed how Pokémon Red and Blue lacked a significant adult presence?

    Think about it. Why kids are being left unsupervised to capture, train and battle wild animals is that there most of the adults – particularly the majority of men?

    Because of war. A vast, terrible global war, that’s reduced core services such as the police and health care reduced to female-only staff, while the game’s only male characters are usually reprehensible criminals, often tied up with Team Rocket. The Vermillion city Gym Leader, Lt Surge, is a damaged veteran who talks of how his Pokémon saved him “during war”.

    Sure, there was Professor Oak – but he was possibly too old to fight. That, or he just skipped conscription.

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 31

    (Animal) Crossing the Rubicon

    There's lots to do in the happy world of Animal Crossing!

    Like planting new flowers! Or collecting some fossils! Or fishing!

    It's such a merry, wonderful world! Until you start thinking about why you can't leave. And why you arrived on a bus, all by yourself. And why you don't have any bodily functions... 

    The reason? Because you're dead, and this happy world of work is actually purgatory. Yaaay!

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 32

    The Madden Curse

    One of the best recorded and obviously coincidental 'curses' in video game history surrounds the Madden NFL series and its choice of cover star.

    As many as 12 players to have appeared on the cover of the game have gone on to have awful or bellow-par campaigns: Peyton Hillis (pictured) received so many injuries in the 2012 season that he only played 10 games, making only three touchdowns.

    You can read the full list of 'victims' here.

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 33

    The Deepwater Horizon prediction

    Another lovely forum-stimulated rumour concerns Fallout 3's weird radio signals.

    Throughout the game's depiction of a post-apocalyptic Washington DC, players can pick up radio broadcasts - sometimes in the form of Morse code. One of those sequences read as follows: "nine-four-five four-two-zero two-zero-one-zero. Accident in the gulf, several dead. Oil spill apparently averted"

    Weirdly, this is the exact date of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, which occurred at 9:45 on April (four) 20th (two-zero), 2010. BP initially said the spill had been averted, before it proceeded to go very wrong. 

    Before you start peppering Bethesda with emails as to what form of dark magic they were using to write the game, you should note the game also predicted the Queen would die on 1 September 2014 - which she very much didn't. 

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 34

    Squall didn’t make it in Final Fantasy VIII

    Remember the Edea boss fight in Final Fantasy VIII? The one that sees Squall impaled by a large shard of ice and falling into a void moments before you scramble for the box to plop disc two into your PlayStation?

    When you boot up to play the second disc, not a single team member mentions Squall’s defeat, nor his apparently miraculous recovery and lack of large-shard-hole. Weird, right? There’s a very well put together theory that Squall didn’t make it through the Edea fight.

    The second disc is actually Squall’s ‘final fantasy’ – a point at which the game becomes a lot less grounded in realism, taking on a dream-like quality.

    It’s a wild theory, with a lot of ifs and buts, but it’s worth replaying the game with this in mind. 

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 35

    The fatal Berzerk high score

    Berzerk, an eighties arcade game that saw you fight off waves of evil robots.

    Two players, one Jeff Dailey and one Peter Burkowski, both successfully achieved the high score of 16,660. Both dropped down dead moments after securing the high score from apparent cardiac arrest

    Both could have suffered from a case of 'Sudden Death Syndrome', linked to an unknown heart condition which can be triggered by elevated cardiac activity - like maxing a game's high score. Or, if you like reading internet forums, it's because the high score contained the number of the beast - 666.

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 36

    The creepy crypt of World of Warcraft

    There's hard evidence that this place exists - what's intriguing is the lack of official comments from Blizzard on why it's there.

    In the original build of World of Warcraft was an "abandoned" dungeon, known as the Karazhan Crypts. While closed off from the rest of the game, a glitch that saw players die outside the crypts walls would occasionally allow them to resurrect inside. What they found was... disturbing. Piles of corpses littered the floor, and in one underwater section was a series of inverted drowned figures - all missing their hands and feet. 

    Apparently Blizzard feared that this section of the game and it's backstory would be too dark for their 'T' rating, pushing it into an 'M' category - thus it was blocked off. It's never been deleted. Which is super creepy. 

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 37

    The Lavender Town suicides

    A rumour steeped in hearsay and forum speculation, and probably the darkest gaming urban legend out there.

    The story goes that after Pokémon Red and Green was released in Japan (27 Feb, 1996) there was a notable rise in the number of cases of nausea and migraines in children aged between seven and 12. Some even committed suicide.

    The cause? An eerie set of discordant notes that the youngsters encountered in the Lavender Town section of Pokémon. You can hear it here. Before the game received a world-wide release, the tune was lowered to a less sinister octave, apparently nullifying the effects.

    It's not clear if this myth is anywhere near as well known in Japan, as there's a significant lack of translated news reports on the event. Creepy, but almost certainly rubbish.

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 38

    Super Mario Bros. 3 isn't 'real'

    Well sure, it's obviously not real - it's a video game.

    The point is this - Super Mario Bros. 3 isn't a game at all. It's a play - a stage performance, with Mario in no real peril at all. Miyamoto recently confirmed that the game's curtain, hanging stage blocks and flat worlds are actually all pointing toward the game being a "stage performance". 

    We don't know what to believe any more.

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 39

    Donkey Kong Country's political intentions

    This incredible 'myth' has one foot in history, the other firmly in "just go with it".

    After the Spanish-American War, the victorious United States gained control of Cuba and Puerto Rico, allowing it to police several Caribbean states, such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Haiti. The United Fruit Company was supported by the US, illegally overthrowing local businesses to dominate the banana trade. 

    Now, within Donkey Kong Country, it's thought that King K. Rool represents the US and the United Fruit Company, pinching bananas (despite not even liking them) and embarking on a final battle aboard a naval ship - which the US navy used to police the Caribbean states. There's also the small matter of the crocodile forces turning much of Donkey Kong Country into oil fields - coincidence? 

    We don't really know.

    Full theory

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 40

    All the Mario characters are just actors

    So Super Mario Bros. 3 is definitely a stage play... but what if it's not just the sibling's third instalment that's an act? What if every Mario game has just been a performance.

    In addition to there being little continuity between all of the Mario games (Bowser was a good guy in Super Mario RPG), there are multiple references to "performance" terms throughout the franchise: Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine both refer to their levels as "Episodes", the Mario Party games are essentially reality TV and many of the Lakitus (flying Koopas) carry cameras. 

    If anything, it makes the whole franchise even more charming than before.

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 41

    Metal Gear Solid 3 didn't really happen

    You might be starting to notice a trend here - but it seems that video game fans are obsessed with the idea that their games aren't "really happening".

    Another virtual lie we've all played through is Metal Gear Solid 3 - which is nothing more than a simulation. In addition to mishearing Major Zero describe our mission as a 'virtual mission' during a briefing (which plants this conspiratorial seed), there's an altogether odd sequence if players happen to kill Ocelot - who can't die, because the game's a prequel, and Ocelot appears in later games.

    Should you kill Ocelot, rather than hearing Zero have a go at you, you'll hear Roy Campbell's voice berating you about time paradoxes and mission failure. Which is weird, because Campbell isn't your contact for the rest of the game - unless, Solid Snake is actually playing a training exercise, and Campbell is standing by to slap your wrists if you ruin it. Right? Yeah, thought so.

    Full theory 

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 42

    Mass Effect 3 was all a lie

    Remember Mass Effect 3? The conclusion to a superb trilogy, whose ending left the majority of fans wanting to chew the game disc in angry frustration? Well there's an interesting take on what that cop out of a finale might actually have meant.

    Essentially, in one show down with the Reapers (an insect-like alien force intent on chewing up resources and either killing or assimilating the inhabitants), the lead character Shepherd is zapped by a big Reaper beam. This isn't good news - as throughout the game series, you've learnt that exposure to Reapers leads you to being indoctrinated by them.

    It was the final choice of the game that really got under the skin of gamers: throughout the franchise, a 'Blue' choice is seen as good, 'Red' is evil and 'Green' is neutral. However, taking the final 'Blue' choice saw you take control of the Reapers and rule the galaxy like a bad ass - while 'Red' killed them and saved the Earth. What gives?

    Because Shepherd has been converted - and as such a 'Good' choice for a Reaper drone would be to join them and rule the galaxy. 

    You can watch a two-hour documentary all about it here. Or just carry on with your life like normal.

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 43

    The Neo-Nazi Message

    You probably haven't played Front Mission: Gun Hazard - a side-scrolling RPG shooter for the NES. It was a hit in Japan, and a relative flop in the Western world.

    Which is probably why the media failed to draw attention to the rather embarrassing inclusion of a Neo-Nazi rant included in the game's bonus final scene.

    If you listened incredibly carefully, you'd be able to hear a piece of garbled English audio at the end of the game - which was actually a recorded phone call from Combat 18, a British neo-Nazi group, which includes the charming line "We’re gonna burn your building down, you f*ckheads".

    You can hear it here.

  • 15 ridiculous video game conspiracies and oddities 44

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden South Park

    Back in the day (around 1998/1999), PlayStation discs carried a limited amount of game data. A big game would be shipped on more than one disc, which often left extra space just knocking about... unless you were a developer for Tiger Woods '99.

    For an inexplicable reason, the first release of the family-friendly sports game saw the developers use up the disc's extra storage space with a the pilot episode of South Park, with the adorable title Jesus vs. Santa.

    While you wouldn't find the episode on your PlayStation, if you popped the disc in your computer you'd be able to find it after a few minutes of clicking through its files. Around 100,000 copies of the game were pulled from shelves, before it was re-released without the offensive TV show.

    Full video here