Back in the day, people would tell scary stories around campfires that seemed just real enough to freak everyone out. Suddenly, every innocuous rustling of leaves or sound of footsteps felt like the signal of a serial killer or terrifying supernatural entity. Now, we do it that with YouTube videos and fake chat logs. These horror stories that deliberately blur the line between fact and fiction using familiar online formatting are called "creepypastas." The most popular ones, like Slender Man or Candle Cove, tap into the deepest fears of the online generation and spread uncontrollably. "This is probably fake," you say, but you're never really sure.
As you might expect, there are plenty of popular and spooky video game creepypastas. BEN Drowned, for instance, is a well-known creepypasta about a haunted copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a game that didn't need any outside help being totally unsettling. Join us for a journey into a hellscape that will make you question everything you know about the digital delights you've enjoyed your whole life.
At some point, everyone has had to give up a favorite video game from their childhood for some reason or another. Maybe you hastily traded it for another game or your parents got rid of it when you moved out. Regardless of how it was lost, you want to get it back and relive one of your formative gaming experiences. Totally understandable.
In the famous and aptly named NES Godzilla creepypasta, author Cosbydaf tells the story of how he acquired a new copy of one of his favorite childhood games, 1988's Godzilla: Monster of Monsters for the NES. It's a simple action game where you move Toho's iconic kaiju around a virtual chess board and take on other movie monsters in sidescrolling action sequences. Nothing to be afraid of, right?
The only problem is that there's something deeply wrong with this new cartridge Cosbydaf found. At first, it seems like he's glitched into unfinished areas with new monsters that were cut from the final game. Through an incredibly lengthy series of posts, we see dozens of images showing the game's gradual descent into a pitch-black void of terror.
Graphical effects that shouldn't be possible on the NES, unspeakable monstrosities that aren't from any Godzilla movie and bone-chilling personality test segments are just a few of the oddities Cosbydaf encounters along the way.
NES Godzilla Creepypasta has eight long chapters and an epilogue, told from the first-person perspective with dozens of images to support the terror. It's well worth your time, but without spoiling too much, it eventually deals with some heavy topics like suicide. Just know that going in.
Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas is commonly regarded as one of the best open-world RPGs of the last decade. Its invigorating post-apocalyptic world and nuanced storytelling made lasting impressions on tons of players. With worlds so huge and full of stories to find, you could make up a quest, post it on 4chan and people would believe in it. Such is the case with the sad tale of Lone Wolf Radio.
Lone Wolf Radio is a real location within Fallout: New Vegas. It's an abandoned trailer in the desert with what appears to be equipment for radio broadcasting alongside bloodstains and some dire graffiti. It's pretty typical video game environmental storytelling that seems to hint that whoever lived there before wasn't especially happy with the state of things.
It's just vague enough that someone decided to turn it into a fun and shocking video game urban legend. A post that circulated on sites like 4chan spread the myth that this seemingly insignificant trailer was going to be part of a quest line with extremely disturbing subject matter. According to the legend, Lone Wolf Radio was to be hosted by Lone Wolf, a character who would go on unhinged rants throughout each in-game day before suddenly ceasing his broadcasts at 11:00 p.m. He would return at 3:00 a.m. with a different child each night, who he would murder live on-air.
This supposed quest line would task players with either stopping Lone Wolf or joining him. That unthinkable second option would give the players a perk that would allow them to kill other children in the game world, something the Fallout games don't let you do otherwise. The creepypasta claims the quest was cut because it was too shocking, but Obsidian still has recordings of Lone Wolf killing children on his radio show in their archives. To say "yikes" would be an understatement.
Plenty of video game creepypastas twist aspects of real video games you either have or haven't heard of to make their chilling narratives work. We've seen two examples of that already with Godzilla and Fallout. What if some master internet storyteller crafted a horror narrative that leaves you questioning the very existence of the game it's about?
That's the story behind International Mystic Soccer Night Dominion, an oddball soccer game for the PlayStation 2 that supposedly reviewed and sold so poorly in Japan that it never got released anywhere else. Regardless of its reputation, author Aria Salvatrice wanted to shine a spotlight on one of their favorite lesser-known games, so they wrote a game guide complete with art and screenshots.
Unfortunately, this is kind of an old one so the image links are now broken, meaning you'll have to use your imagination. Oh well. It's actually pretty fun that way because the game Salvatrice describes in this walkthrough is a bizarre, half-scary and half-hilarious assemblage of concepts unlike any other.
International Mystic Soccer Night starts off sounding like a goofy but totally believable Japanese sports game about a futuristic women's soccer league where athletes use special songs to gain abilities in matches. As you keep reading the walkthrough, the game keeps sounding more and more depraved. For example, one character's song "creates a directional cone of malady and sorrow at point-blank range."You know, soccer!
Eventually, there's talk of strategically murdering referees and using blood sacrifices to gain advantages.
International Mystic Soccer Night might not be the creepiest of pastas, but it's the one I wish was real the most.
Let's go back to the realm of horrible, depressing things happening in familiar video games we all love. Our next creepypasta is similar in nature to NES Godzilla, but about a much more popular game: Pokemon Silver.
Pokemon Lost Silver is a genre classic. It starts with the author stating his desire to replay the Game Boy Color classic Pokemon Silver in anticipation of its Game Boy Advance remake Pokemon SoulSilver. However, his mom threw out his old copy, so naturally he has to go find a used copy at GameStop. However, it seems GameStop never tested this used copy, because several things are amiss about it.
There's a previous save file already on the cartridge, which readers of a certain age will remember as one of the more fun parts of buying used games or renting games in the days before discs. The author loads the save and finds that it's played 999 hours, recorded every Pokemon in the Pokedex and beaten all the gyms. Oddly enough, though, the character is simply named "..."
The character's constantly changing party usually consists of Unowns, the mysterious Pokemon whose symbol-like shapes make up a whole fictional language. The author is a hardcore fan, so he can read this language and the party lineup usually spells out something ominous, like "LEAVE." As he traverses this empty, glitched out version of one of his favorite games, he finds a sad story about what happened to the previous owner of the cartridge hidden among the strange bugs and Pokemon nicknames.
Pokemon Lost Silver is one of the most enduring video game creepypastas for a reason.
Our final creepypasta is perhaps the most bizarre and involved of all, and it's a recent entry into the video game creepypasta canon. Petscop is the story of an allegedly unfinished PlayStation game that is the subject of a YouTube Let's Play series run by a guy named Paul. He claims he came across a copy of the unreleased game and that he's not lying about any of it.
On the surface, Petscop looks like the kind of quirky, obscure games that came out all the time on the original PlayStation back in the 90s. You play as a cartoony blob man who walks around crude, 3D environments trying to capture a menagerie of weird looking pets. It doesn't take long, however, for things to get downright sinister.
Paul exits the game's happy-go-lucky first level and finds a dark, foreboding area full of strange sights and references to something called "rebirthing." According to Kotaku, that's a reference to the sad, true story of Candace Newmaker, an unstable child who was killed in 2000 when her parents put her through a junk science experiment called rebirthing therapy.
There are 10 videos in the Petscop Let's Play series and tons of extracurricular information to dig through when you're done with those. This is a classic internet rabbit hole that's fascinating whether the game is real or just an elaborate ruse made by "Paul."
Game Theory has a lengthy video you can watch right here if you want to learn more about the story surrounding the game. You know, if you don't feel like sleeping tonight.