Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I collect old video games - whether they're on the NES, the Genesis, the SNES, or even obscure things like the PC Engine. At some point, I visited a pawn shop in the city that was reputable for collectors of retro technology. While in there, I stumbled upon a game that was 'given back' multiple times.

The clerk gave me a SNES cartridge. It was oddly-shaped and colored, kind of like those unlicensed bible games from Wisdom Tree. The cartridge had a very yellow-ish neon tint to it and the label seemed to have been hand-drawn, albeit with good detail.

The name was simply "4," and had an illustration of four colored blobs next to one another. Thinking it was a generic platformer, I took it home to play. When I started it up, I was surprised that the game wasn't in English. I couldn't match with any part of the globe, but I would have to say it best-matched Southeast Asian typography.

Level one of the game was mildly eerie. It was a Sonic the Hedgehog-inspired game where you played as four different characters. The multi-character gimmick was a rip-off of Donkey Kong Country, as you had to break each character from a rusty cage.

This level was urban-themed and involved the player escaping from what seemed to be blob-type characters. All of the sounds in the game were either taken from other SNES games or seemed to have been poorly recorded. I noticed many low-quality voices, grunts, etc.

Besides the characters, the enemies and objects were terribly rendered and designed. Most of them were geometric shapes or sprite edits of things from other games. I also noticed that every time you killed an enemy, the Hell Knight scream from Doom played and a sentence of text appeared on the screen.

As creepy as it was, the red flags started to appear. Each time you 'lost' a character, the scenery and sprites became darker and less colorful until everything is black and white. As you progressed further in a level, regardless of how well you're doing, the scenery becomes gory and somewhat psychedelic.

The levels are all cliché: urban, forest, clouds, snow, etc. In the middle of the game, it appears as if it's designed so the player cannot progress and continually dies.

When you lose all four characters, the screen becomes very dim and, to my shock, a low-quality scream and unintelligible sentences blast at high volume accompanied by pixelated, low-resolution images of generic gory pictures that were presumaby from wars.

The final picture shown was a pixelated image of an Asian family at a wedding. The dimmed background turns white as a sentence appears on screen and a voice speaks the unintelligible language.

I thought the game froze but, upon inspection, it wasn't. I turned the volume way up and a low buzzing noise could be heard from the game as the screen dimmed again. The Game Over screen was a close-up shot of the four main characters looking happy. The screen gets darker, line-by-line.

Their faces become visibly sadder and sadder as a generic 'wah wah wah' song starts playing. The game did another buzzing sequence, prompting me to turn up the volume. Surprising me due to the noise and creepiness, a long, loud sound byte was played. It sounded like a man and woman arguing.

This went on for a while, when suddenly it stopped. The screen turned black and, in white text, three sentences appeared on-screen. I tried turning the SNES off, but I couldn't. I took out the cartridge and the image on the screen became distored, with the upper half being white. Becoming genuinely scared, I pulled out the power cord.

I couldn't turn my SNES back on. The whole 'corny horror movie' emotion overwhelmed me, so I took the game back to the pawn shop. The clerk didn't give me my small amount of money back (however, I didn't care about that), simply because he said he wouldn't know the cash value.


  1. Excellent story. Makes me wish I had hacking skills so that I could make a game hack based on this and use it to freak people out.

  2. Always stupid when they say they can't turn their system off. I mean really. It has a damn power switch.

  3. @ 2:09 Anon
    Just because its there, doesn't mean it works.

  4. This was pretty decent until it got to the part about "The system wouldn't turn on/off," and stuff. I hear it all the time. No offense to you, though.

  5. Instead of the system wouldn't turn off try this: my game flash and I couldn't stop seeing that final image through my head sevrel times this happened even when I returned the game.....(and so forth).

  6. lulz, Beyonce's album was the first thing that came to my mind IMO

  7. @ 12:22 Anon
    It's a shame she died.........or was that Whitney Houston...oh well, THEY all just look alike, so I can't tell....you know, they, as in celebrities.

    ...celebrities is another word for nigger right?