A lot of people know of the infamous video game Manhunt, released in 2003. It was highly controversial for the amount of gore and violence in it, and was banned in many places. It was later followed by an even more controversial sequel in 2007.
What a lot of people do not know of is the beta version of the game from 1999, the year production on the game began. Rockstar Games was just starting work on Grand Theft Auto III, but had in mind another game, which at the time was called BloodDance, a cheesy title which would later in production be renamed to Manhunt.
A few years back I worked at a GameStop a few minutes away from my apartment. I was really into video games and owned a lot of systems. One day I was stacking some new games on the shelves when I came across a CD case with a simple label on it with "BloodDance beta 1999". I didn't know where it had come from, so I ended up bringing it home with me later that day.
When I got home, I decided to check out what the disc was. I put the disc into my computer (it was the PC version of the game) and it loaded up. The opening looked a lot like the original opening, with the various gang members being shown. At the end of the opening credits, the title showed the original, however, instead of the white "Manhunt" logo it was replaced by a red "BloodDance" logo. This is where I knew right away that it was the Manhunt beta.
The main menu came up. It looked completely different from the final version of the game: instead of the original menu it was just a simple menu with "New Game", "Options", and "Quit". I picked "New Game" and it started up with a cutscene inside of a hospital, with the camera-like static. It then panned over to a dark hallway with the beta version of Piggsy, chainsaw in hand, walking down, slouching.
Gameplay began here. A box came up on the right side of the screen giving basic instructions: Kill. I messed around with the controls a bit. The arrow keys moved Piggsy, and the X key was the attack key. Those were the only controls.
The hospital was abandoned, except for the people lying in the various hospital beds that you could enter and kill them. After killing what seemed to be everyone in the dark hospital, the game quickly cut to another static scene which then turned into the "SCENE COMPLETED" menu.
Still nothing quite out of the ordinary yet. The loading screen came up and it said "DELIVERANCE". I was surprised, as Deliverance was the final level in the actual game. The gameplay just abruptly started, and it was inside of Starkweather's attic, the location of the original Deliverance level. Suddenly, the game stopped. "Fuck!" I said out loud in disappointment. I went to bed after that, deciding to just try it again tomorrow.
That night I had a nightmare that I was being chased by the beta model of Piggsy. When I woke up, the abrupt minute I awoke I could have sworn I heard a faint squeal of a pig. It was probably just my mind fucking with me, I said to myself. I looked over at the clock next to my bed. 4 AM. I tried going back to sleep but I couldn't. I HAD to play the game. Lucky for me I didn't have to work the next day.
I got up and went back onto my computer. My apartment was almost pitch black. I never bothered to turn on the lights. I started up the game and this time the menu displayed a new option "CONTINUE". Thank fucking god. I clicked it and it resumed right where I was the last time.
The level was almost identical to the final version used in the actual game, however, the graphics were a little reduced (it was an earlier version what do you expect). The main objective was the same as last: Kill. However, I couldn't find anything to actually kill. I almost shut the game off, but right before I did a clan of straight-jacket swearing creatures in smiley face masks came running out after me, so I killed them with the chainsaw as the objective said.
The game shut off again. I got frustrated so I stopped playing it. After a few days I had forgotten about it, until about a week later. I kept on waking up in the middle of the night, at around 3:30 to 4:00 AM, hearing the faint squealing, a chainsaw ripping into flesh, and what sounded like an infant crying.
I thought I was going crazy. I kept on hearing voices in my head, repeating "Kill" over and over again, just like the objective of the game. I finally took the disc and snapped it in half and threw it in the trash, hoping to never see it again.
Everything went back to normal after that. I stopped waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds and I stopped hearing voices. A few months went by and I had completely forgotten the game. It was now February 2007.
I went to work on a pretty normal day. A friend of mine who also worked at the store and I were discussing games when he brought up that Manhunt 2 was coming out. When I got home I looked up the game, and what do you know, a few days earlier Rockstar Games had officially announced the sequel to Manhunt.
It was then that I noticed the BloodDance icon was still in my desktop. I clicked on it and, to my misfortune, the game started. I opened up the disc tray and was shocked to see that the game I had snapped in half and threw away was in perfect condition, sitting in my disc tray.
The nightmares continued. To this day I am still waking up at 4 AM to the horrible noises that have been haunting me for five years now. I got a new computer a few years ago, but the disc somehow found its way back to my new computer, and no matter how many times I try to get rid of it, it keeps coming back. My life has seen a lot of change now, and it's never gonna be the same ever again.