Author: Unknown
Year: 2013

I collect old video games no matter what system they're on. NES, Genesis, SNES, even obscure things like the PC Engine. It doesn't matter to me. But there was a day I visited this pawn shop in the city that was reputable for collectors of retro technology. While in there, I stumbled upon a game that had been returned multiple times, all by several different people. It was a SNES game, oddly-shaped and colored. It was sort of like an unlicensed game, like those bible games by Wisdom Tree. The cartridge was yellowish (not from age, I don't think) and the label was hand-drawn, albeit with a decent amount of skill. The only identifying name on the cartridge was "4". There were four colored blobs next to one another in the art. I thought it might have been a generic platformer, so I took it home to try. When I started it up, I was surprised. The game wasn't in English, despite the cartridge being shaped like the ones sold in North America, but I couldn't even begin to identify what language it was. I would have to say it best matched Southeast Asian typography, but I'm no expert.

The game looked inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog, and you could play as four different characters. There were also inspirations from Donkey Kong Country, as to obtain the other characters you had to break each of them from a rusty cage.

Level one was mildly eerie. It was urban-themed, and it involved the player escaping from some kind of blob-type characters. All of the sounds in the game sounded like they might have been ripped from other SNES games or poorly-recorded for the game. For example, every time you killed an enemy you'd hear the Hell Knight scream from DOOM. There were a lot of low-quality voices, grunts, etc, too. Besides the characters, the enemies and objects weren't rendered or designed too nicely. Most of them were geometric shapes or edits of sprites from other games. As creepy as it was, even more red flags started to appear. Every time you "lost" a character, the scenery and sprites became darker and less colorful until everything went black and white. As I progressed further, I noticed that regardless of how well I did, the scenery became littered with gore and started looking quite psychedelic.

The rest of the levels ended up being cliches: urban, forest, clouds, snow, etc. In the middle of the game, it looks like you can't progress at all and you're forced to repeatedly die over and over. When you lose all four characters, the screen becomes very dim and (to my shock), a low-quality scream blasts at high volume. There might have been words, but I couldn't make any out in any language I recognized. This screaming was accompanied by pixelated, low-resolution images of generic gory pictures. I'm guessing they were war photos. The final picture shown was an Asian family at a wedding. The dimmed background turned white. A sentence appeared on the screen, and a voice spoke in some unintelligible language. I thought the game froze, but upon inspection, it wasn't. I could hear something. I turned the volume way up and there was a low buzzing noise. Then the screen dimmed again. Some text showed up, which I think was a Game Over screen. The four main characters of the game looked happy.

The screen began darkening line by line. The characters' faces became visibly sadder and sadder as a generic "wah wah wah" type song started playing. The game did another sequence of buzzing, prompting me to turn up the volume just in case. And then, a long sound byte played. It sounded like a man and woman arguing, but like before I couldn't make out any words. This went on for a while and suddenly stopped. The screen turned black and three sentences appeared on-screen. I tried turning the SNES off, but the power switch didn't work. I pulled the cartridge out and the image on-screen became distorted, with the upper half being white. I was getting genuinely scared, so I pulled the power cord. That finally turned it off.

I couldn't turn my SNES back on, but not because it was broken by this. The whole "corny horror movie" feeling was too overwhelming. I ended up taking the game back to the shop I got it from, but the clerk didn't give me my small amount of money back (not that I cared). He said he wouldn't know the cash value.