I know that most of these kinds of storeys don’t start with an in depth back story but I felt it was necessary to understand what I was going through before I got the game that drove me insane. Back when my family were together we all use to get along with each other. I use to live with my parents and my two older brothers. Trouble set between my parents, which caused them to divorce so now we go from one parent to another every month or so.
Because of this I tend to keep myself often playing video games to distract me from aloneness I feel. I do have friends but every time I go to my dad’s place I don’t get to see them. I don’t get enough attention. My two older brothers were always getting into trouble and are usually unpleasant to my mum or dad so naturally they always got more attention than me. I always kept to myself and I never caused trouble so my parents knew that I’d be alright on my own.
If I did have a problem, speaking to my parents was usually out of the question as they always seemed to be stressed over work, my brothers or each other. This is why the few friends I did have were very important to me because they listen to my problems and they would talk to me which helped me in times that I felt lonely. One of my best friends was Mac. Sometimes I use to call him Mac-Donald’s because of his name and the fact that he was slightly obese. I feel guilty about it when I look back.
I love to collect and play retro games specially PS1 games because they are very cheap. It means that I can buy a bundle of games or even buy a game even when I’m saving up for an expensive or new game without worry too much about how much of my pocket money is left. One day I had saved up some money but I didn’t really know what to spend it on. I went to my local games store and a PS1 game had count my eye. It was the price label that first took my attention. $30. I had to check the game’s cover. The game was called Usoda. It wasn’t a game I heard of before and when I asked somebody who worked for the store why it cost so much, they said “We never heard of it so we assumed it was rare”. This store was well known to have staff that didn’t know much the games. To be honest most people usually take advantage of the store because the lack of knowledge. The cover was interesting. Despite a very colourful and stylised handshake which filled most of the cover the title looked like it was scratched hard onto a wall which gave of an eerily feel to it. I found the cover to be appealing enough for me to buy Usoda.
When I got back to my Dad’s I put the game into the PS2 and off I went. The game worked and there was nothing out of ordinary about the start screen. Once I pressed start the game brought to the tutorials. Finally I would get to see what kind of game this was. It was a puzzle game similar to Portal. What I mean is that like Portal it was 3D puzzle set in a first person view. The main differences between Portal and Usoda are for one the game’s environment. Usoda was chirpy and set in grass plains whilst Portal was set in a lab.
Also instead of using the portal device to get you through the game’s focus on how you use your friend to help you. You and this “friend” had to defeat the various levels. You didn’t have any control over the friend as the friend was controlled by a computer. The friend wasn’t stupid although sometimes I would manipulate him by preforming acts like moving a boulder to fall next to him so that he would move. I mean I didn’t have to but it seemed to speed things up.
When the tutorials ended, a menu popped up asking what to name the friend. I usually name them after my real life friends because I guess I don’t see them enough and it sort of feels like their there even when they’re not. For example in Pokemon Red I named my Snorlax Mac because of his weight. I never told him about it because he’d probably be upset with me if he found out that I named a Snorlax after him. Since the friend sort of reminded me of Mac I decided to name my friend after him.
It was after that I swear he began to share some traits with the real Mac. For one in levels if I were to fall or get hurt slightly he would always check to see if I was alright. He would wait to see what you would want to do and he would if he was worried he would try to bottle up issues he had.
The levels for the most part were chirpy and fun. They were the best part of the game. I wished it had been like that forever but things did change. Not dramatically but little things every now and then. For example the feature of moving objects from a far distance became disabled. On another level when you would look at your items the level didn’t halt anymore. And as the game progress the levels stopped being set in plains and had more real life elements in it.
Levels like shops, streets and stranger’s homes replaced the simple colourful plains from the earlier levels. I didn’t like it because I felt that although the game had more variety in term of design, it had a darker tone to it. The levels would often switch from one theme to another without much of clue when it was going to happen.
Some of the levels I felt unease at. In one level I had get through a backyard with a vicious dog in it. I found it scary so I sent my friend out first. Although he almost fell off a couple of times of a fence I was using him to show me which parts were unstable or likely to wake the dog up. Another level had me trying to escape bullies. I ran off and left my friend to deal with them since I could escape the level to complete the objective without having to fight.
After those kinds of levels the friend would ask why I did what I did or ask why we couldn’t work as a team but I would always pick the option “There wasn’t anything I could do”.
Eventually I got on to a level and the goal seemed to be to steal a watch from a person. The level was a house. There was nothing unusual about. I thought it was empty and so did my friend. In fact I presumed there was likely a time limit due to the fact nobody seemed to be in. I got onto the stairs and it seemed my friend stopped me. I wonder what was going on and then he told me to keep the noise down. It was only after that we heard the snoring. It was coming from the same room as the watch.
Mac offered to go first and asked me to stay behind him. I clicked “OK”. It was after a few steps something hit me. Since me or Mac has to grab the item and only one of us needs to get back out to complete the level, I should get near the exit. This would also make it easier since Mac didn’t have to deal with a second person making noise.
As soon as the watch was required I just made it through the exit. I did just that and I head to the door and waited for the message saying the watch was taken. As I left the house game then loaded what seemed to be longer than usual.
I headed to the next level. I would have been able to explain the level but I didn’t pay much attention to it. Why would I since something was off about it. My friend wasn’t there. I thought maybe it was just for this level but I tried other levels and he was missing. What was going on?
I turned the console off and stopped playing it then and there. I didn’t think it was a problem but it started to get at me. What happened to him? Was it my fault? Did something happen to him on the level? But the main question I wondered was I’m a jerk and that’s why he left? I’m I selfish?
These questions would have left my head but it wasn’t long before I found out that Mac in real life went missing. Was this because of the game? That was a stupid idea but nobody really found out what had happened. Maybe I should of listened to his concerns and not about mine all of the time. Maybe I should of thought of his well-being over mine. Each passing day I got more frustrated because I couldn’t prove to myself that I had nothing to do with his disappearance.
It got worse and worse. As weeks passed, I often randomly burst into tears screaming “WHY ME?”, “WAS IT MY FAULT?” or even “IT ISTN’T FAIR”. For once in my live my parents paid attention to my problems and they went to get me help. The psychologist sat me down with my parents and told me to tell him and my parents what exactly was upset about. He then asked me to get the game and show it to everyone. So I put in the PS1 and I showed them the level of which he disappeared.
Everything was going well. I showed them the last level, what Mac was doing as well as the objective to the level. I then showed them staircase where I left the friend.
On the wall near the beginning of the staircase was a faintly written message “You won’t behind me, were you?”. These notes were seemed to go right through to the room with the watch. I looked at them. “Why were we ever friends?”, “Did you only care for yourself?”, “You were never aware of my problems, were you?”, “Why dose nobody care about me?” and on the door to the room “There wasn’t anything you could do” and the final message written on one of the room’s walls scratched hard onto the wall “Usoda”.