Paper_Mario_64: Cease to Be
Ever have that one game that you adored growing up? A game that you still love even after it wore down due to new games? I have, and I bet all of you have had games like this too. This game happened to be Paper Mario, for the Nintendo 64. Let me give you a brief overview of what this game is before I go into the story. Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 was the first in my personal favourite video game series. Unlike most other games starring our fat Italian hero, this is an RPG! Obviously not the first Mario RPG, but it's set apart from the other Mario RPGs in the sense that... it's made of paper, visually. The game is known for its lighthearted humour and simple, yet dark storylines, which balances the overly childish feel with a sense of "Hey, this is serious", and my response to that is... Yes. Anyhow, I'll start with the story.
How it began...:
It was only roughly three or four months ago, when life was getting tough for me and my family. With divorced parents, and a brother who dislikes me, things got stressful easily for me. What helped me through stressful times though, was to look back on my past and play video games from my childhood!
One night, I was sleepier than I've ever been before in my life, yet I couldn't get to sleep, for the life of me. Stressed out due to a fight with my brother, I couldn't shut my eyelids, so there I was on my computer one day, browsing the 'interwebs' for the lulz. Also didn't help that I lived next to a busy road with cars roaring every few minutes
As I grew more tired I realized I needed the rest, but I had one last thing to do before I went to sleep. I logged onto my email address at 3 AM in the morning. Three new messages. Great... Opening my inbox, I really wondered who the hell could have emailed me at this hour.
First two messages weren't important at all, just junk alerts from websites I haven't used for years, though the third caught my eye. From my father, who lived on the other side of Canada. He had told me that he was sending a gift for Christmas day tomorrow!
At that moment, I was pretty eager, and I knew I needed some rest now. I closed everything I had up, shut off my computer, and went to the bed next to my computer, awaiting tomorrow...
I was already halfway downstairs before I realized that today was Christmas day that morning, and my face was eager. My brother was fast asleep, and same with my mother which was disappointing but whatever. I knew the gift would get here today, and since my family was asleep, it wouldn't be under the tree. I made my way to the porch, happily, and opened the front door to my house, opening the crappy mailbox next to my wall. I felt... a parcel!
I snatched it out eagerly and looked at it. Written in it in red pen ink, was "From: Dad. Your welcome!"
I rushed inside, and opened it, hoping it was something great... Inside was a wrapped gift, and a card. I opened the card slowly and read it, and it stated this:
"Hey, my young man! I know this gift means a lot to you, you used to own it before. Bought it at the new game store in the city. Enjoy. Lot's of love, Dad."
This got me even more excited and I tugged out the wrapped gift, which was in a square shape with a curve... I unwrapped it swiftly, and I noticed that it was a Nintendo 64 cartridge! I flipped it over to the title... and I felt a wave of nostalgia hit me like a truck. Paper Mario, one of the greatest games of all time. I was a bit confused that the game itself wasn't in the original box.
I couldn't wait... and so I took off downstairs, into the basement, where my old TV and old, rarely used Nintendo 64 laid in await for this day... I slammed the cartridge in, turned on the TV, grabbed my controller and slid a chair. I was in for hella' an adventure.
Into the Game
The Nintendo 64 started fairly enough. It glitched out a tiny bit for the first few seconds of start-up, but it was understandable. I haven't used it in years. The titles of the developers shown up one by one, and then the title screen popped up, with the catchy, upbeat, innocent music that defined this game. I sat there for a bit, listening to the music, and the little title sequence of game footage played like you see in most games. Seemed intact enough, I guess.
I clicked start and the game seemed a slight bit choppy while it was transitioning from the title screen to the save screen, but I again dismissed it for being the lack of time I've used the console. What struck me odd was that out of the four save files, one of them was used. It was named, "BETA TEST". I wasn't as surprised, though. I was prepared to face the fact this was a used copy of the game considering that it was not in the original box you get at stores, though the name of the save file struck me odd. Was this a beta of the game? I didn't know, but oh well.
It also struck me odd that unlike the other files, the used one only said the name of the file, not the progress, time, or anything.
I didn't delete it though, but I didn't play it at first. I created my own save file, and named it something witty: Bananas. Yeah, witty. Sarcasm. The game started as usual, Parakarry delivering the mail to Mario and Luigi's house, Luigi fetching the mail, and bringing it into the house and talking to Mario. Right then, a speech bubble should have appeared with a few lines of diologue, but it didn't. Luigi just stood there oddly, with the letter in his hand. I had full control of Mario, oddly enough as well. You shouldn't get control of him until you get into Peach's Castle!
Oh well, it was probably just a bug... But why not explore? I mean, this shouldn't happen in the game. I walked Mario towards the exit to his house... and a text bubble popped up, "Locked"... That was odd itself. Locked, even though the door didn't have a lock on it and this was a bugged area. Why would a developer put a lock in an unintentional bug?
Not sure what to do, I walked up to Luigi and tried to interact with him. Upon clicking the A button... Mario fell down to the ground dead. Not gory, just the usual game over animation, with the game over music. I pressed to continue and randomly appeared in the clearing near Goomba Village!
Alrighty... That was odd. Maybe the game will resume to be normal from here on out? Don't know. So I walked to my right and went towards Goomba Village. When I entered the village, no music played and the area seemed empty. Nobody, none of the friendly Goomba family. The houses were still there. I entered the Toad House, confused. The Toad was there, though the toad appeared to be in the corner using an animation that seemed to be cowering, but in a way that matched the game's atmosphere. Odd... Was this a hacked version? Or was this truly the beta?
I went to talk with the Toad and I got the response, "Existence." ... What was that supposed to even mean? I clicked the A button again, trying to talk. "Existence." I clicked A again. This time I couldn't interact with toad...
I was becoming confused. I was able to interact with the bed in the room, but I wasn't sure if I should do that. I was at full health, afterall. I went towards the door, and tried to exit, and a speech bubble from the Toad popped, "Locked together, the door will not budge. Please end this." The door didn't open. I walked towards the Toad again, and it said, "End the game. Turn it off." I tried to talk again many times and got the response "...". I gave up, and noticed that the bed was interactable. I clicked A.
Right now, I wasn't that scared. More of confused really. It seemed like a hacked, darker game, nothing more. But when I clicked A to interact with that bed, I got a game over, but instead of getting the typical game over screen, I got a textbubble.
"Cease to Be, game over. If you are reading this, wake up. Please wake up and see what you have done. Please show me you are better than this. Wake up."
The bubble started to fade away, and after ten seconds of blackness, another bubble appeared.
"DON'T WAKE UP. DON'T WAKE UP. DON'T WAKE UP. AWAKEN OR CEASE TO BE. DON'TWAKEUP.IBEGOFYOU."
That finally got to me. Freaky. I still dismissed it as a hack, though, and whoever created this was one fucked up bastard. I sat there for at least two minutes and realized that this last text bubble won't disappear. I turned off, and on my Nintendo 64 and the title screen was silent and different. It said this, "Cease to Be" with a picture of what looked to be a bed underneath the title.
I started getting nervous, and went into the save file selection. My save file, Bananas, was renamed to Rest in Peace. The third saved file was named, "YOU_ARE" and the fourth was named, "ERA_OUY" I was getting nervous, theses profiles weren't used when I created Bananas...
I tried to enter these two save files and I got the message, "There was trouble loading this save."
I was getting sweaty. This wasn't right at all. I only had one option because I was afraid what would be in Rest in Peace. It was to go into "BETA TEST"
And that I did. I entered and I immediately got put into the Forever Forest, though it didn't seem right. No music at all, and I heard the crackling of fire in the game, though saw no flames. The sound of crackling fire was the first thing I really noticed, and it overpowered my ears. There was also a hint of static in the noise too, making the sound seem like a cluster of loud, eardeffening madness. Mario was partnerless in the forest as I tried to walk him about, though he seemed to be moving on his own as if I were in a cinematic. Mario seemed to appear normal enough, and the world seemed normal except for a lack of enemies and that there was a bit of static every now and then covering the screen. With each different area Mario enterered, a chat bubble appeared. In the first area he went to, the chat bubble said, "NO!"
The second, "Cursed."
The third, "You doomed yourself."
The fourth, "Why did you kill us all?"
It kept on saying dark, harsh, and unclear things until Mario finally entered Toad Town, where the static noise and fiery crackling was louder than ever, and it was on fire, though nothing appeared to be there except for one person, Princess Peach, standing there alive. Mario uncontrollably walked up to her, and disturbingly enough, she lacked a face.
In the midst of flames dancing around, Mario seemed entranced, as he walked up into the embrace of the faceless Peach, and static started to appear as nearly clear, and slowly began to solidify into whiteness. Before the game became unwatchable, I noticed one thing. Mario's face too, disappeared, and the exact second before the entire screen was lost to static, the words, Ceased to Be, appeared, as well as what appeared to be Princess Peach and Mario dead below the words, faceless. There was no blood or gore. It just seemed to be two faceless bodies, Mario and Peach, below the words.
The crackling of flames disappeared to static and the screen disappeared to static... and in shock, I threw my controller and broke my TV screen. This wasn't a hacked game, this was hell. It had to be. This was hell...
And to this day, I still do not understand what it meant by saying... Cease to Be.