Sonic the Hedgehog

Author: Unknown
Year: Unknown

As a child, I really loved playing the Sonic the Hedgehog games on the Sega Mega Drive. Sadly, when nostalgia hit me one evening, I found out our console broke when we moved. This meant my mom threw out all of our old games. I decided to search eBay for a pre-owned Mega Drive after that. I stumbled across one that had a starting bid at a rather cheap price (£6!), including delivery. The description claimed it came with the first Sonic game, but within the pictures all I could find was a cartridge with a handmade label. It was more or less a piece of paper taped on, with the words "Sonic the Hedgehog" written on it in messy handwriting and a crude drawing of Sonic. I thought nothing of it – a lot of people aren't very nice to their cartridges, after all – and decided to bid on it. Despite it having a day left for bidding, I won the item. I proceeded to pay, left my feedback, and my items arrived within three days. The Mega Drive itself was in surprisingly good condition, considering the price. It was almost brand new, other than smudged fingerprints all over it. I blew into the cartridge (old habits die hard) and inserted it into the cartridge slot, then turned on my TV and the console.

The TV screen flickered on, showing the familiar image of the Sega logo fading in left-to-right. Instead of the joyous chorus chanting "SEGA!", there was a blast of static that lasted longer than it should have. When the title faded in, things were seriously wrong. The title screen showed a polluted island. Black sludge was pouring into the sea, and there were dark skies and lightening. The music was slower and in a dissonant minor key, and when Sonic parked out of the logo in the center, he looked genuinely terrified and afraid. I thought this must have been some sort of hack. I hit start, curious to see what I would find.

I saw Robotnik, in graphics far more realistic than I thought was possible for the time, holding a lifelike rabbit by the ears. He looked full of malice and hatred, and his pince-nez glasses glinted as he revealed a machete in his other hand. He held it up to the defenseless animal's throat and slit it, blood pouring out like a fountain. Robotnik began to laugh. It was almost like he was in the room with me – it was so realistic. The game cut to Green Hill Zone, where the music was replaced with a low, droning buzz. The background looked just like the title screen's and, again, Sonic looked visibly shaken. His skin was paler and he appeared to shake with fear. When I pressed left down, he began to cry. Nevertheless, I decided to play through as normal. I thought it was some sort of cruel joke. Eventually, I ended up losing rings against a Buzz Bomber. The noise when I lost my rings was a harsh ringing, and I heard Robotnik chortle once more. His face flashed in the stormy background. Sonic hit the floor and I lost control of him. The Buzz Bomber began to descend on Sonic's helpless body.

It stabbed Sonic, and all I could hear were tortured screams. I couldn't take my eyes off the crudely animated sprites of Sonic writhing in pain as the Buzz Bomber rammed into him. This went on for a good 30 seconds before the thing flew off, leaving Sonic's bloodied corpse behind. The screams subsided as the screen faded to black. I heard incredibly deep murmurings in a language I didn't understand – it was some East Asian language like Japanese or Korean, I think. Again, Dr. Robotnik faded into view. This time, he was holding Sonic by the head. Sonic was so realistic-looking this time. He was crying, begging for mercy. There was sheer terror in his cries. This time, though, Robotnik didn't have a knife. He broke Sonic's neck, the sound reverbating as I watched. I was "treated" to the sight of Robotnik kicking the defenseless corpse of the hedgehog around, blood flying everywhere. Sonic's spikes were breaking off. The whole time, distorted sounds of Robotnik's laughter and Sonic's screaming played.

Messages appeared in Japanese with a selection box in English: Yes or No. I chose Yes, somehow driven to continue (and also hoping this was a continue screen). I appeared back in Green Hill Zone, but this time there were graves where the totem poles should have been. Sonic was even more afraid, looking directly at the screen as if begging me not to continue...but I felt I had to. When Robotnik appeared at the end of the level, there was a blast of loud synth sounds. Robotnik's face was contorted with sheer disgust for the hedgehog. Before I had a chance to attack, Robotnik's wrecking ball slammed into Sonic and crushed him against the side of the screen. Once more, the screams played, but this time the screen began to glitch terribly and turn grey. It almost looked like television static. I went to turn the game off. Before I had a chance, I clearly heard a very deep voice speak. "This was your fault, and your fault alone." I looked back at the television and Robotnik's face, the one from before, occupied the entire screen.

The words "Game Over" flashed over his face. Sonic's realistic carcass fell and landed on top of the letters, sliding off and hitting the bottom of the screen. All that could be heard was Sonic whimpering and crying. He asked, "Why did you do this? Why?" I promptly ripped the game out of the console and threw both straight into the garbage. To this day, I've never seen that eBay seller again. My computer returned 404s when searching in my browser history, and my feedback history didn't show the feedback I gave. Additionally, anyone I asked on the eBay forums claimed they couldn't find the user, and speculated he never existed in the first place.