I didn't think for a second that I could experience this horrible thing. It was a crazy thought and it all just jumped on me like I had never believed. Why could a game console that was so popular make me feel so crushed on the inside that I could never touch it again? It all started on a day in which I was in my room at my house, playing my Super Metroid game on my old SNES, when I suddenly got bored due to my lack of keeping focused for a long time, and I shut off the game for a while, mainly because the console was heating up like it normally tends to do since I've had it since I don't know when. I suddenly had this urge to look through all my gaming stuff just to check to see what other games I had collected over the years for old times sake.
During my young years, I had become a big collector of many games and gaming merchandise. I had bought every game that was for the SNES and Nintendo 64, since I was a big fanatic of Nintendo and all of the games that they produced. I also saw my old Sega Genesis console, all dusty and everything, just lying there like a dead weight on the floor. I remembered buying that Sega in 1995 when I was 12 years old, and I remembered all the games that I had bought for it. It was a great system and the games were really good, but I never played it as much. I had all the Sonic The Hedgehog titles and I owned quite a number of other Sega games, mainly because I was a collector. I remembered selling all my Sega titles because I had just grown out of the console, so I knew I had no more games for it.
I decided to see if my Genesis still worked, just because I had this urge to make sure that all my consoles worked. I plugged in everything and turned on the power button, and it seemed to work, but I heard a crackling noise, and the power to the outlet went out. I was shocked and said, “Fuck!” out loud. Luckily though, I knew how to fix the outlet, so I fixed it and tried the system again, but it didn't come on this time. "Shit, it broke," I thought to myself. I remembered that my friend downtown owned a pawn shop that sells old games, which is where I got most of my games from, and he knew how to fix old consoles, so I drove downtown to his pawn shop, which was called “Nostalgia World Pawn Shop”, and I went in.
I saw my friend at the front counter and he looked happy to see me. I told him about my console and he said he would fix it for 5 dollars. I payed him the money and he went straight to work. He was known as the fastest game fixer in the town, and I'm surprised that he never went into that type of business, but oh well I guess. While he was working, I noticed a man walk in with a small box full of old Genesis games. He looked real angry looking, as if he was mad about something, and he was wearing a baseball cap and black sunglasses. He slammed the box on the counter, jolting my friend up from fixing my console. He told my friend, angrily, that he got ripped off and these games were garbage and stupid and not what he wanted. My friend told the man that all sales were final and he couldn't return the games due to them being rather old and not wanted by anyone. He got real angry then and proceeded to grab a sharp knife from his pocket and tried to stab my friend. I ran up and tried to stop him, but he pushed me off and sent me into the floor. Luckily, a policeman was walking by and ran in and got the guy off of my friend. He arrested the guy on the spot and sent him out of the store. He said something to me that really made me sweat for a minute, “Boy, if you play any of those games, you will regret you ever did.” Those words were really weird to me. How could a bunch of old games be regrettable to play? Either that guy was on drugs or he was just trying to scare me after I had tried to stop him from attacking me and my friend.
I looked at my friend, who was in total shock from this happening. I went up to him, and he looked at me and said that the console was done. He packaged it for me and I took it. I noticed that the games were still on the counter. I wondered if those games were as bad as that guy had said, and I got a little curious. I asked my friend if I could take those games home, since I didn't have any games for my system. He said he didn't care since they weren't store property anymore, so I took the box and left 10 dollars for my friend since I knew he would need it. As I drove home, I could still remember what the man had said. I couldn't think of games being like that. Nostalgia can be a real bitch sometimes, really.
I got home and rehooked the Genesis up, knowing that the outlet was fixed. I went ahead and took a look inside the box to see what games were in there. There were about 4 games, since the box was rather small. I skimmed through and the 4 games had no stickers or numbers on them and the names were written on a piece of paper, which was in the box. The games written on the paper were, 1. Altered Beast, a fun game that I played a good chunk of as a kid, 2. Street Fighter 2 Special Championship Edition, I loved that game a lot since I had the SNES version, 3. Sonic The Hedgehog, a really great classic game, and number 4 had no name. It was just a blank space. I wondered why that was. It must have been a special game or something, so I decided to plop in that game first, just to see what it was.
The console booted up like normal, but just after the Sega logo appeared, the game froze right there on the logo screen. I wondered why it did that. I guessed that the game was old and was just worn down. I took it out and grabbed some rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab, and cleaned the inside of the game. After that, I put it back in and it finally went past the Sega logo, but nothing came up. Just a black screen and a message that read, “You took the games, and now the real game begins, Scott!” That creeped me out. How would a Genesis game know my name and how I took the games from the pawn shop? I didn't know, so as I proceeded to take out the cartridge, another message popped up, catching my eye, saying, “Are you ready for the real game?” and a yes or no option popped up. I tapped A on my controller while it was highlighting the no option, but the game wouldn't let me pick no.
I just decided to take out the cartridge, but I heard a strange noise emit from the game, which sounded like a gunshot in 16 bit, and the text box now read, “If you do that, you will never again feel nostalgia and know what being crushed is like” I was a bit scared by that, but I still took out the cartridge and took my old hammer and smashed it to bits. I swept up the pieces and dumped it into the trash. "Whew," I said, "what a wake up call." That game had to be some joke, I thought. It had to be. I went ahead and chucked Sonic The Hedgehog into the console. The game booted up like normal, but when it got to the Sega screen, it said the usual SEGA! Jingle, but it sounded really weird, like it was in static or something. I figured it must be old, which would mean that all these games would have a similar problem.
The title image loaded up like normal, and it seemed to be normal, but the music in the background was just silent. "Weird," I thought, "this game must be hacked to have no music." I pressed Start and I was put in Green Hill Zone Act 1. The level was fairly normal, music was playing right and the level didn't have any noticable glitches like the SEGA screen did. I went through the level and got to the boss fight with Dr. Robotnik. He looked really different than he did in the real game. He was wearing a baseball cap and black sunglasses and looked really angry. He looked just like the man from the store! "This is a hack," I thought, I knew these games had some weirdness to them. Even though I was weirded out by seeing the man in Robotnik's contraption, I fought him anyway, and landed 7 hits on him. When he hit Sonic, and since I had no rings from being hit earlier in the fight, Sonic lost a life and he died like normal. But something was weird about the game after I had returned to it.
I was transported to a new level called “Regret Zone Act 3” Regret Zone? What the hell? I knew that this was a weird hack, but I went through the level anyways. The level looked like an inverted Green Hill with black skies and purple murky water in the background. The grass was colored a dark gray and had black spots on it. The enemies looked like savages instead of the funny looking robots of the actual game, and they looked like they could just kill Sonic with one touch. The music was just Green Hill, but backwards and slowed down. The level was really difficult and I had 6 lives when I entered, but I was down to 1 and had 4 rings when I reached the boss.
The boss this time wasn't the man from before, instead the game's timer went up to 9:59 and the screen cut to black, with the death sound being played slowly and weirdly. A message popped up saying, “I told you that you would regret playing, now you will be Nostalgia Crushed!” and Sonic's sprite appeared on screen, looking all messed up. That made me jump for a second, because it came on screen out of nowhere. His face was mangled and had blood coming out of his wounds on his arms and legs. The pose he was in was his death pose and I heard music in the background, which sounded like the Game Over music from Sonic CD, but reversed and in 16 bit. I was totally scared at this point, and I took the game out and put it in the box. This was weird. I must have been seeing things because I know that this couldn't have happened. That image of Sonic was just too much. I guess I would play another game at this point, just to get that image of Sonic out of my head.
I put in Altered Beast next and the Sega logo didn't appear at all, it just jumped me into the game. The voice that is heard at the beginning wasn't the same as from the real game, this one said, “That didn't work, huh? Looks like you will have to be shown another way then.” My character popped up on screen and I noticed right away that it wasn't the same character from the Altered Beast game, no, it was Sonic! The same Sonic from the game I just played, face still mangled and his body was all torn up. As soon as Sonic appeared, the level background went from the usual to that of Regret Zone, and the music changed to the same as from that zone. I was really getting freaked at this point. Was the man really right?
I played the game and it seemed as if the gameplay wasn't changed, Sonic did the same things as the normal A.B. character can do. I noticed that when I took damage, I died in one hit. I got to the boss and it was the man again, in the form of the first boss from Sonic 1. Why was it doing this? This boss wasn't in the actual game, but rather how could this boss be put into this game? I tried to fight it, but the man just took the wrecking ball and hit Sonic once, effectively killing him for good. The man was laughing and then the screen cut to black and went right to the first level of the real game. The character popped out and as soon as that happened, he suddenly just died from nothing. WTF, I thought? As soon as the game revived the character, he looked just like Sonic did, all torn up and mangle faced. He stared right at me, as if trying to tell me to stop playing.
I tried to hit reset on the console, but it kept coming to this screen, and when I tried to pull out the cartridge, the game was so hot, I couldn't touch it. I went for the cords and tried to rip them out so I could end that character's pain and suffering, but my hands got eletrocuted every time I touched the cords, so I had no choice but to witness this. I moved the character forward reluctantly, and while I was moving, the music started to fade in and out and was slowing to very ear-spitting tones. I got to the end of the first level, when suddenly, the screen cut to black and the character's body popped up on screen, looking mangled and everything. The same message from before now read, “You never learn do you? These characters will continue to die because of your nostalgia. You now know what being nostalgia crushed means.” I was now really fucking freaked out.
The game finally cooled down, so I chucked it out and threw it across the room. I couldn't do it anymore. These games were fucking haunted by that man and he was paying me back for trying to stop his murder. I just turned off the console and went to sleep. That night, I had really horrible nightmares about what I witnessed. All the characters that I loved and grew up with were becoming mangled and bloodied as I played the games. I was feeling “Nostalgia Crushed” just as the man had said. I also heard the man's voice in my sleep. He kept saying, "Keep Playing!" over and over and it really drove me to the breaking point. He then lunged at me in my dream and I jolted up. I was sweating from head to toe and my body felt really hot at this point. I took a long look at my Genesis and knew what I had to do. I had to defeat the man and get those words out of my head.
I put in the last game, Street Fighter 2 and it started up really weird like. The main screen didn't show up but rather a message popped up saying, "You haven't had enough, have you? Well then, prepare to feel real pain!" I was taken to the character selection screen and noticed that the music wasn't there. It was just a mish-mash of 16 bit sounds, which sounded terrible, but I didn't care, the man had to lose. There were only 5 characters to pick from, despite there being 12 in the actual game. The characters were Zangief, Ryu, Ken, Sagat, and a mystery character that had a lock symbol on it. I chose Ryu since I knew all of his combo moves and as the game started, it only revealed to have one fight, and the screen said Ryu vs. The Man. The avatar looked almost the same as the man that I had seen from the store, and the one who killed Sonic and Altered Beast. This was my chance to beat this fucker once and for all.
The level that we were in was of course, Regret Zone and the music in the background was that same music from that level. The health bar for Ryu was only 1 while the man had 4 health bars. That was unfair, I thought, but he needed to feel my wrath for making me feel the way I was. Before the fight began, a text box appeared and it read,
“You know that you have just stepped into my world, now. You may have stopped me from killing your friend, but you won't stop me from killing you! If you think that you can beat me, then give it a try. Try to take this character and fight me with him, but I guarantee you that he will suffer like Sonic and Altered Beast did.”
I wanted to say something back to him, but I knew I couldn't talk to the game. The game finally said simply, Fight!, instead of Round 1! Fight! I guess that this fight was going to be a 1 rounder. The fight began and I went to attack the man, but he quickly dodged and hit Ryu with a series of punches and kicks that knocked my health to low in one shot. I suddenly felt a real bad pain in my chest. I cringed for a minute and the man looked at the screen and spoke in text, “You will feel the same pain as these characters will. If they all die, you will die with them.”I got back up from the pain and, knowing the stakes were high in this fight, I proceeded on in fighting him. I did manage to hit the man once, but it only dealt a little bit of damage. Damn, I thought, he's going to be a really hard one to beat.
He hit Ryu again and Ryu fell to the floor, not moving. More pain was shooting in my sides now as I looked at Ryu on screen. Was he dead, I thought. The screen cut black for what seemed like a few seconds and Ryu was shown to the screen, looking mangled and bloodied. The man popped up on screen and a text box appeared saying, “Now you know how these guys got hurt like this. I murdered them with the same knife that your friend was going to be murdered with. Hope you can beat me with the others, because if you can't, then you will soon join them in Hell.” I felt really angry now as I picked Zangief next.
As the battle progressed, the man kept dealing a shit ton of damage, causing me more pain and he lost 1 health bar to Zangief, but he defeated Zangief and of course, like with Ryu, the screen cut out and Zangief was shown on screen. The man's sprite looked like it was laughing now as I picked Ken next. Still more pain as I fought and with the man only losing quarter of a health bar to Ken, he killed Ken and it showed him on screen. Then I picked Sagat and destroyed his second health bar, but the man pulled out his knife and hit Sagat once, since I hadn't taken any damage with him, thank god for that, but when the man struck Sagat, I felt a really bad pain in my leg, and I noticed blood trickling down from my pajama pants.
The man, after showing Sagat to the screen, said, “Now you feel real pain. If you wish to stop, then by all means, go ahead. I dealt you enough to scar you for life. If you don't wish to die, then don't pick that final character.” He was laughing really hard now and the sound of his laugh sounded like a demonic laugh in 16 bit. I was really feeling very weak, the man had stabbed Sagat and now my leg bled out. I couldn't go on, maybe this was the end. I felt that my life was fading away from me, when suddenly, something flashed before me. It was all the characters that the man had mangled and killed, and they looked like they did before the man killed them in game.
It was Sonic, Altered Beast, and all 4 Street Fighter characters that failed to defeat the man. They were standing before me, telling me not to give up, and to get revenge on that evil man. I must have been dying, because I felt that they could really see and understand me. I couldn't give up, though. That man had to be stopped. I suddenly got back up somehow, taking into consideration as to what the characters said, and looked on the screen. The man looked shocked to see me alive, and he said in text boxes, “I can't believe that you didn't die. Oh well, if you pick that character and fail, then you will die no matter what.” The screen came up and the mystery character was revealed. I was surprised to see who it was! It was me, looking like Ryu and had a determined look on my face. I selected myself and was taken to the fight screen.
The man still had 2 health bars, but I noticed that I had 2 health bars as well. This was great, I thought, but I knew that the man could easily pummel me and make me lose all of my health, so having 2 health bars probably wouldn't have helped. He just looked at my character and sneered, with a text box saying, “So the final character is you, huh? It doesn't matter now, because you will be dead along with those others who thought they could win." My character just stood there, not phased by what the man had said. The game said “Fight!” and the final battle ensued. I knew he was tough, so I tried to evade as much as possible, while my hits on him dealt minimal damage. His attacks were actually dealing minimal damage as well, and the pain I felt was not as bad, so I felt I could win this.
The battle raged on for what seemed like 5 or so minutes, and I got him down to low health, and I still had 1 full bar of health left. The man didn't give me the opportunity to beat him, and he performed his ultimate attack! He hit my character with some kind of vacuum attack, and my health went down to the same amount as he had, while his health went up to 1 full bar! As he did this, I felt like I was being tortured and the pain was excruciating. I couldn't believe it! The man absorbed my energy and took it for his own! I was weakened, having very low energy to move on, and my character on screen looked the same way.
The man just looked at my character, and then looked at me, and then a text box appeared saying, “You know you can't win. You will now feel the same pain that the other characters went through. You are now Nostalgia Crushed!” He pulled out his knife and moved towards my weakened character. There was nothing I could do, he was going to kill my character, and of course, me as well. As he raised the knife in the air and proceeded to send it down at my character, the screen started flashing white, and suddenly, the man was knocked back and my character was brought back to his feet, with his determined look put back on his face. The man looked shocked to see this, and said in text box, “What is this? This is IMPOSSIBLE! I can't lose here, not in my world!” Another text box popped up, I was guessing for my character to speak, and it read, “You are sick and twisted, man. Killing video game characters just to crush someone's nostalgia is just a sick thought. This new power that the characters you killed gave me will be you loss. This will show you that no character in video games ever die to someone like you. This is the end, you evil psychopath!” The text that was in those text boxes were exactly what I was thinking. Could my character know my thoughts and show them on screen?
I saw my character move forward and with the text box saying, “DIE, YOU MURDEROUS COWARD!”, he hit the man with a punch and cleared out the man's health bar in one hit! “NO!!!!!” showed up in text as the man slowly started to fade into nothingness. The final text box read “You may have won, but I promise you, you haven't won for real.” and the man's sprite disappeared. The game just cut to black and froze right there. I was feeling really glad that this was all over. I took the game out and set it in the box, and unhooked all the Sega stuff and put it in the closet.
I called the ambulance to get me to the hospital to look at my leg and stuff. As the medical people were putting me into the ambulance, I could still remember what I had gone through, and the man's voice was still in my head, saying, “You will soon join them...” over and over again. I was in the hospital and was resting for my surgery, I watched the news and it had a story in which the same man that I fought with on the game was being put to death for attacking people through technology and for murder. I never knew that he did it to other people, but at least now, he was paying for what he did. I never could touch that Sega again after what I went through with the man, so I was, as he had put it, Nostalgia Crushed.