I first discovered video game emulation when I was about 14. I had a blast replaying games I had beaten as a child and discovering other games that I had missed the first time around. I stopped messing with it after high school to focus on college and do college things. About 2 years ago I settled down into a regular job (good old 9-5) and I had gotten back into emulation to pass my spare time.
I got ZSNES, Dolphin, DreamEMU, ePSXe, and Visual Boy Advance on my home computer & work laptop. After digging into some of my favorite games for a while (occasionally when I should have been working) I realized I had forgotten an N64 emulator. How I could have forgotten the N64 I will never know, but I did. So I was at work one day on my computer when I found a lull in my work. so I googled "best M64 emulator" (with quotes). I noticed the typo the second I hit enter, but I got a matching result. The first and only result was "MUl864, the best N64 emulator on the internet." All i could think was "SketchyAsFuck.exe", but my anti-virus said it was safe so I decided to click on the link.
The web page looked nice. Well organized with a banner and everything. Nothing that screamed "virus". I clicked download and got an installer. I installed the emulator and double clicked the resulting executable. A window popped up and it looked like any other emulator with the name "MUl864" in the top left corner. The only thing that set it apart from other emulators was a search bar in the upper righthand corner. Inside the search bar were the words "Enter ROM name here". I had experienced a similar function in a bitorrent application that I regularly use, but I have never seen it in a game emulator.
I decided to give it a shot and searched 007 Goldeneye. This brought up a second window with "MUl864" still in the left hand corner, but the window itself was filled with links to 007 Goldeneye ROMs. I clicked the first one and after a second it popped up in my main emulator window. I figured it was safe then so I did the same thing with Conker's Bad Fur Day, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Pokemon Snap.
I loaded up 007 first and all I got was a black screen. I closed the window and tried it again wondering if I was missing something. This time the game loaded up just fine. I enjoyed some nostalgia for awhile clicking back and forth between the MUl864 window and a window filled with paperwork as coworkers walked past my open office door. I sat and played for a few minutes until I heard my boss, Jack, walk in and say "you're not at home yet?" I looked at the clock on my desk. I had started playing just after lunch at 1-ish, It was now 7:00 PM. I had played for 6 hours.
"Oh, shit. wow. yeah, I should get going." I packed up my computer after saving the state on 007 and picked up my phone. I clicked the power button on my cell and it said 5 missed calls... fuck. My wife had tried to call me 5 times. she must have been worried sick. I didn't call her back. I wanted to postpone the argument for just a little while longer.
When I got home the shouting match started. It ended what felt like hours later with "sleep down stairs til you learn how to use a phone, jackass." I got some blankets and a pillow from the hall closet and sat on the couch leaning against the armrest. After a few minutes I decided to get my computer back out to play some more. I figured it would cheer me up. I opened MUl864 and loaded up my 007 save state... nothing. It was black. I reloaded the emulator and tried again... nothing again. The screen was just black, "Fuck" I had lost all my progress. I punched the couch and threw my head back with a sigh.
I made a mental note that the save state function must cause a critical glitch in the emulation of the game and decided to load up Conker. It loaded up fine and I played for a while. I started to feel pressure in my forehead. I ignored it until it was a full on migraine. I set the computer aside and rubbed my eyes. They burned when I closed them. I stumbled to the medicine cabinet and got some pain medication. I checked the time as I passed the living room clock. "Jesus," it was 6 AM. I sat back on the couch and looked at my computer screen. Conker was just standing there looking at the screen. I stared at him for a second before realizing he was in the starting area. "did I fall asleep before I even started the game? What the hell was I doing?" I said genuinely trying to figure out what the hell I had been doing since 11:00. I decided I just must have fallen asleep and dreamt about playing.
At work I was sitting in my office dealing with the usual bullshit when I suddenly found myself playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I got to the Goron section when I felt that splitting headache again. I was compelled to keep going. just a little while longer. I thought playing the game would take my mind off of it. I mean, if I stopped I would just have to keep staring at the screen doing paperwork. So I played. I kept playing. I started at around 1:00 like last time, after lunch, but the next time I looked at the clock it was 12:30 AM. All the lights in the building were off. I checked my phone, 1 missed call and 1 text. The text said: "Fine, be a child. don't answer your fucking phone, don't come home. see if I care, motherfucker."
"Jesus christ. I played for 12 hours," I leaned back in my chair, "What the fuck happened? Did I aggree to lock up the office? Why didn't I hear the phone? Why can't I remember," I slammed my hand down on the desk. "I need to see a doctor." I looked back at my computer. Link was standing in Hyrule field as a teen. I saved my game and shut my computer down. I locked up the office and went home.
I knew I would be sleeping on the couch so I curled up with a blanket and pillow and went to sleep. I dreamt of video games. Link, Sonic, Mario, Conker, Pikachu, and others all calling for me to play. They started begging, then screaming, then crying. They needed my attention. I could feel the pain in their anguished voices. I woke up in a cold sweat. Only 3 minutes had passed. I sat up on the couch and took a breath. I felt a need to keep playing. I thought maybe it was because of the dream. Maybe seeing all my favorite characters begging for my attention triggered my own desire to play them. It didn't feel like that though. It felt dirty. It felt like a compulsion. I ignored that though and booted up my computer. I had to play. I speed ran through 007, then Conker, then OOT, I was on a roll. I was pumped. I played through the headache, through the migraine. I couldn't stop I was burning through my library. I was euphoric. My eyes started to burn, my heart pounded, my throat went dry. I didn't care. I just kept playing.
I woke up in a hospital blinking groggily into fluorescent lights. My wife ran to hug me when she noticed I was waking up. “Where am I,” I asked.
“You've been in a coma for three days. You were slumped over your laptop on the couch, God, I thought you were dead. They don't know what happened, they said it looked like a cocaine overdose. What the fuck were you doing?"
"I was just playing some games..." We got home and I immediately got my computer. I had to figure out what was going on. It had to be the emulator, that's the only thing that changed in my life recently. I ripped the files apart. I scoured this emulator trying to figure out what caused this reaction. Deep in the files I found a .WAV, a sound file. it was set to play whenever emulation started. I played the file and I heard this weird warbling tone. It made me feel sick again so I immediately stopped it.
I did some googling and found that the file was called a binaural beat. These are audio tracks that claim to cause various, including drug-like, effects when you listen to them. Most posts I read claimed they were fake or scams, but maybe they just weren't doing it right. Maybe you need visual stimuli or it needs to be so quiet you can't even notice it. I googled the emulator again and found nothing. I looked everywhere for it. It was gone. I don't know what happened to it. I don't care. Use ANY other emulator but this one. Never let MUl864 onto your computer. never play it. It will cause addiction. It will cause pain. It could have even killed me. I don't know.