I used to be fascinated with NES games. I played all of the classics using Emulators. I never knew at the time that it was illegal to download NES ROMS online and play them with an emulator, but when I found out that they were, I decided to make up for it. I bought myself a NES from eBay along with all of the games I shamelessly pirated. These games included The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Megaman II, Abadox, Felix the Cat, MC Kids, DuckTales, and most importantly, Super Mario Bros (along with 2 and 3). Once I bought them, I played them on the NES just for fun (even though I already had emulators). I tried them all. First I played Metroid, then Abadox, then Super Mario Bros, and then the rest of the games. I never completed them, I just wanted to be sure that they were working. I enjoyed playing them on the console with a real controller rather than on a PC with a keyboard. A while later, I decided to play Super Mario Bros on the console.
The game played well. I got to world 2-3 before I put the controller down and stopped playing because I just wanted to take a break. Although being the smart guy I am, I turned off the console instead of leaving it on to play later. I felt stupid when I did but it didn't matter. It didn't take all that long to get to world 2-3, so I decided to take a break and get some housework done, and play it later.
I forgot about it until the next day. When I woke up next morning, I remembered that I was gonna play the game again. I grabbed some coffee, turned on the game, and begun playing. When I hit the start button and started to play, there were no enemies. I turned the game off, blew into the cartridge, and put it back in. But when I started playing, there STILL were no enemies. I was mad and thought that I broke the game. I kept playing just to see what would happen and to see if it would crash or not. I got to the flagpole and there was no flag on it. It was just the pole. Mario grabbed it, and didn't slide down. He just jumped off and went into the end castle. At this point I expected the game to crash, but it kept playing, and it brought me to world 1-2.
World 1-2 was the same, but it was underwater. I was worried when I saw it but at the same time it just could've been a problem with the cartridge, so I kept on playing to see what would happen. The end pipe was blocked off with Seaweed. At this point, I was confused. It looked almost like somebody put the seaweed there purposely, but this was a cartridge and the game worked fine before. There was a springboard there and by fiddling around with it, I used it to get me over the bricks and to the warp zone. The Springboard being there somewhat freaked me out, but it only really hit me that something was drastically wrong when I decided to try going to the warp zone. It brought me there, but instead of it saying "WELCOME TO WARP ZONE", It read "GO TO WORLD 0" The left and right pipe looked like they were gonna bring me to a world called World 0, and the middle pipe looked like it was gonna bring me to World 4.
I was scared. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I took a picture of it to prove that I was really seeing this.
It shocked me unbelievably just because I KNEW something like this couldn't happen. I could have just turned off or even unplugged the console if I wanted to, but instead, I went to World 4.
The level was 4-1 and it had a night theme to it. Lakitu wasn't there. I completed the level and went to world 4-2. World 4-2 looked like it was underground but it had a weird daytime theme set to it. There was once again, no enemies. I continued only to find that part of the level was blocked off by a pipe. So I went to the secret warp zone and once again, it said "GO TO WORLD 0". I defied the text again and went to World 8.
World 8 had a snowy-underground theme. It looked like it was trying to be creepy but still, I pressed on. The level was filled with floating Bloopers like the ones found in the Japanese Super Mario Bros 2, along with some other enemies. I dodged them and went to world 8-2. It was the same thing. Night-Snow theme, Underground music, and floating Bloopers. I completed the level, went to world 8-3, and it was the SAME THING! I continued to 8-4 and finally a change of scenery. It was the original 8-4 castle, but all of the enemies were floating bloopers. I beat the level, and the final message came up:
"DONT PIRATE GAMES"
"I WOULDN'T STEAL FROM YOU"
I froze in fear for nearly a full minute. I couldn't believe what I just saw. Apparently this entire game was a
warning telling me to not pirate games, but after realizing that, I still was baffled.
"How could this happen?" I said out loud to myself. How could a game change itself to warn me about pirating Nintendo games? How could it know that I pirated the games in the first place? I already made up for my mistake by purchasing the real games, so why? Why did this happen? That's something I couldn't figure out. But it gets worse. After restarting the game, it didn't change. There were still no enemies in 1-1, it was still underwater in world 1-2, and so on. I wanted to figure out this mystery. I called my friend who knows a lot about NES games. He is good at dumping Nintendo ROMS straight from the cartridges. I would've just asked to play the games on his NES before downloading the ROMS to my PC. But remember, I didn't know at the time that downloading NES ROMS from the internet was illegal.
I gave the game to my friend, and it played the same on his Nintendo as it did on mine. I told him that when I first played it, it was fully functional. But the second time I played it, the game changed entirely and that I have no idea how it could even happen. He told me that it might've been some kind of hacked game. He said that he would dump the ROM for me.
After dumping the ROM, it worked just like it did in an emulator as it did on both my NES and his NES. He said that he would check the contents of the ROM and call me when he was done. I went back home feeling frightened about the whole situation. He called me about an hour later. He told me that it was the original ROM of Super Mario Bros and that some software he used could prove that. He said that it looked like a complete hack of Super Mario Bros and it looked exactly like somebody took the original ROM and modded it. But he told me that there was absolutely no code in the game that could change the ROM contents. When I told him "But the game played normally the first time, how could the game change itself?", he responded to me in a stern voice "Don't pirate games, I wouldn't steal from you", and he hung up.
At that moment, I knew what happened. I figured out the mystery. I nearly laughed at how scared I was (for some reason). My friend found out that I pirated Video Game ROMS (somehow), so he made a hacked game to warn me to never pirate game ROMS again. Ironically, this happened when I just found out that pirating Video Games was illegal, but I'm sure that had no relation to what he did. He hacked the original Super Mario Bros ROM to make it into the weird game I played, and he put it on a cartridge. Then overnight, he swapped out my cartridge with his. It was GENIUS! It was a dark but hilarious prank. After realizing that, I went back to his house and said to him "You're the one who made that hacked game, aren't you?". He denied ever making it, and to this day, he still denies ever making a hacked game that will scare me. No matter how much I tricked him and convinced him to tell me the truth, he just wouldn't, and he actually started getting angry at me for asking about it so much.
My friend isn't a constant compulsive liar, but when he has to tell a lie, he does VERY WELL at it. Thing is, he didn't have to tell a lie. Even if he did make the game, I still wouldn't have pirated NES ROMS again. Either way. I knew this was just a prank of his and to this very day, he still denies ever making the hack. I got the ROM file off his computer, and put it on the internet for you guys to download. But don't download it without owning the original copy of Super Mario Bros. Remember:
Don't Pirate Games
I wouldn't steal from you.