I am a collector of assorted hacks and bootlegs of video games, this is a portion of my journal about these strange and exotic oddities of gaming.
I am writing again because of another hacked game I came upon, this time a hacked Earthbound cartridge. From my previous encounter with Slenderman the Game I felt a little uneasy of buying another cartridge, but since it was near Halloween I decided to buy one to see what it's like. It happened to be a hacked Earthbound and a normal Earthbound Cart at the local fleamarket, Green Dragon.
The seller I always go to for hacked games had a few Earthbound hacks for me. One had a low quality scanned label on it, another had a sticker on it named "Winterbound", and the last was the most interesting. The bootleg was on a blank SNES cartridge with "Earthbound" written in red sharpie but was smudged. The seller said they couldn't get the game to work due to lockout but from what they were told from the previous owner that this was a rather nice hack with some eerie stuff in it.
Seemed fitting for my Halloween game so I bought the bootlegged hack for $8 while later I picked up the official game for $50, I was able to get it cheap because one seller had to get rid of his SNES games without knowing prices and the reseller, who usually inhaled games like they were his sustenance, was sick.
When I brought the games home the SNES first locked out the hacked cartridge. To counter this I made a cartridge specialized to bypass the lockout chip for my hacked games. I succeeded and was greeted to the games 1st intro which was unchanged.
After I started a new game I saw burning houses, heard 16-bit screeches, and the music to the Sonic CD's boss battles, yea that creepy song, which was somehow sampled to play on the SNES. With a story that said this.
"In 199x, in a small town in America, the evil demon Giygas was unleashed. He destroyed the town and soon spread throughout the land. The only one left alive was a small boy named Ness. However, Giygas had something in store for him in the near future..."
Ness awoke to the sight of his half destroyed house. As I walked to the door a text box appeared.
"It is quiet except for the sound of burning wood. Something has happened to your family, your friends, your town, and soon... You... Get dressed and leave QUICKLY!"
The screen faded out and in to Ness now dressed with his clothes slightly chard. I navigated through the wreckage of the house and stumble into the sister's room. There I find a present with the item "red bat", I equipped it and realized that the present was next to a jumbled sprite of Ness' sister.
The body from what I could tell looked bitten and scratched, as if by some animal, and fought the foe off with the bat. I saw a trail of pixelated red paw prints leading out the door and followed it downstairs.
There I found the bodies of Ness' Mom and their dog, King, who looked rabid and as if he was beaten with a blunt object. the Mom looked the same as Ness' sis did, torn up from bite marks and scratches, making it obvious what had happened.
Ness was staring at the mess locked in place like a cutscene for a minute before returning to normal. Then I noticed the music... It was the Onett theme in reverse with occasional changes in pitches and speed. This song continued through both Ness' house and in Onett. This scene was both sad and eerie at the same time making me to start to feel a little depressed.
"This hacker sure does know how to put on a mood." I commented aloud. "I hope the rest of the story can get even more twisted." I was getting ready for what was yet to come anxiously.
Searching around the area of Ness's house and Onett I noticed Pokey's house was completely gone as if it didn't exist which for some reason felt a little odd to me. Also the Treasure Hunter's house was destroyed with his dead body nearby, burnt. At the top of the hill there was no meteorite but a burning tree with several dead bodies around. After finding little in Onett except for the dead mayor and an empty hospital.
I went to Twoson and could only find a few spiteful crows that gave me only 2-3 exp when I defeated them. Also instead of the 16 bit sprite of the crow it was the 8 bit sprite from the original Mother on the Famicom, the sprite that originally had a cigarette in its hand- err, wing.
The music changed to the same kind of corruption Onett had but this time it was Twoson's theme, made sense. In the town the only noticeable thing was that there were less dead bodies than in Onett implying that this destruction was spreading slowly. After I started advancing through to the next town I noticed that there was less and less destruction till the game started playing fine again. The only thing was that I was underpower now and still had no companions. In fact, There were no companions, as if they had been erased from the plot entirely leaving me alone.
When I got to summer everyone was noticeably gloomy, The Runaway five were getting ready to leave the town and said to Ness "Run", "Drive", "Swim", "Don't", "Stop" in order of left to right. After this point some NPCs were telling Ness strange things like "You're running out of time" and "You're too slow, you'll kill us all." So I left Summer as soon as I could without having to do any quests. In fact, all I had to do was walk directly to the end.
As the game progressed things became drearier from the fact of impending doom for the characters. The music tracks progressively became more depressing the farther in game I went and colors started to fade into black and white. Sprites had more and more depressing facial expressions as well. Just think of the knowledge that your inevitable death is soon as if you are on death row and that was what the characters were thinking.
By the time I made it to Saturn Valley which had my most favorite song was in reverse and slowed, the game was also completely black and white. Mr. Saturn was frowning and almost crying with antenna drooped saying nothing. Then it was time to go back in time as a robot. When I entered Giygas's lair I noticed that my robot looked worn and beat. I had no chance of winning.
When I entered the boss room Pokey right away sent out Giygas without saying a word and then disappeared. While fighting Giygas he was saying more than just his usual dialog. These included "You... have no help" "No... friends" "No family", "No prayers".
I was only level 3 which came after 4 hours of getting petty amounts of exp from spiteful crows and inevitably lost. Instead of the retry screen a cutscene appeared of the Earth being turned to fire. A caption below read:
Which translated out to "Look what you have caused."
"If it hadn't have been for YOU Ness would have made it." Before cutting to black with the text:
Just as I thought this was the end a loud 16-bit scream emitted from the TV as an image of a mutilated face of Ness appeared with the caption "YOUR FAULT!" before cutting to black. After nothing happening after a minute I shut off the console.
I realized that the end was made to depress who was playing into guilt and empathy however it didn't work as I posses neither of the two feelings as I can get through most anything gory and not feel a difference however I still had a slight bit of depression hanging on me for a week after playing.
The game is now in my personal collection with no expectation of being played soon, although it is the most intriguing piece of my collection of the macabre of Nintendo...