Broken Cartridge

Author: KI Simpson
Year: Unknown

A few months ago, I noticed a small classic video game store that had seemingly popped up out of nowhere on a street I walk by quite often. I'm always on the lookout for a variety of older, hard to find games. Naturally, I went inside. It was a very small shop - about the size of a bedroom - with wooden walls that were bare, except for several video game posters on them. They looked like the kind you got in issues of Nintendo Power, but they weren't exactly the same. There was an Earthbound poster showing a frightened Ness staring at the background that shows when you fight Giygas, a poster of Sonic in a drowning position in a very dark underwater city, as well as several others. Sadly, the selection of games wasn't very good. They covered systems going all the way back to the Atari 2600, but only had about 10-20 games for each. Most of them were either really common ones everyone had, or crummy ones no one wanted. I didn't find anything I was interested in and was about to leave when one game caught my eye.

It was a gold Ocarina of Time cartridge. I already had the game, like most, but had to examine the cartridge because of how beat up it was. The cover was almost completely torn off, the plastic was cracked and chipped in many places, and there was even a burn mark on it. The cart was only $1.99 and, for some reason, I felt drawn to buying it. The clerk didn't even say a word to me. He took my money and I left with the cartridge. After leaving the store, I started to wonder why I had bought a copy of a game I already owned, especially one in such horrible condition. Since I had it, though, I decided I might as well see if it actually worked. I put it in my N64 and when I turned it on, I was immediately greeted by ReDead shrieks against a solid red screen.

I turned the system off, pulled the cartridge out, put it back in, and tried again. This time, I saw Zelda's character model lying face-down, slowly rotating. Ganondorf's laugh played the entire time. I retried again and actually got the intro screen. It had a slowed down version of Hyrule Castle Town's music, and the game wouldn't respond to any buttons on the controller. Now, older games were capable of some rather odd effects when they were broken or tampered with while a system is turned on. I had heard about this thing called "cartridge tilting" with Nintendo 64 games, though. Since I wasn't going to be able to play the game properly, it seemed, I decided to try messing with it. I put in the game once more, this time getting glitched out models while what sounded like cymbals crashed repeatedly. I slowly started tilting the cartridge in the slot. To my amazement, this made the game get to the intro screen with the usual music playing. This time, the game actually responded to the controller, too! Two of the files already had saves on them (shocking, as a lot of cartridges broken like this don't keep their save files too well anymore), so I selected the third and started a new game. As usual, the game started with the Deku Tree's monologue, but the text was different.

"Death is the only thing this cursed land is good for. The cruel Goddesses created life, only to toy with it and laugh at the pain of those they gave it to. I wish for death."

That last sentence repeated itself several times, filling up at least six text boxes. The game finally switched to Link, who was in the middle of having a nightmare. It was the usual opening cutscene, other than that text and a couple of texture glitches (Ganondorf had Zelda's face). Link woke up with a scream. Navi wasn't there, so he got up on his own. I had control of him at this point, so I exited Link's house. Outside in Kokiri Village, there were no other characters. I couldn't go into houses, either, and the hole you have to crawl through to get to the Kokiri Sword was missing. Since Mido wasn't blocking the way, I went directly to the Deku Tree without any issues. No cutscene played, but the dungeon was open, so I went inside. It looked nothing like it did in the normal game. It looked more like the inside of a castle. There were no enemies and I had no items, so I explored as much as I could. As I went from room to room, I could hear children's laughter. It was getting louder the further I went.

When I finally found a sword, it was sticking through the ribcage of a skeleton, as if he had been struck through the chest with it (or, worse, may have killed himself with it) a very long time ago. I picked it up and a text box appeared. "You got the Hero's Sword! Will you be wise enough to use it for the right purpose?" At that point, a Majora's Mask style Wizzrobe (the old man type) appeared. He didn't move as fast as the one in Majora's Mask and I was able to chase him down and easily kill him with the sword. He slumped over instead of exploding or fading, as you'd expect an enemy in a Zelda game to do. Instead, he said something.

"You have taken my life, but I will be avenged. My pet will deliver my vengeance."

The doors locked. I began to hear growling and the sound of heavy feet running. This went on for way longer than it should have, and I was becoming more and more frightened than I should be for a video game character. Finally, a gigantic Wolfos burst into the room. I tried to fight it, but my sword had no effect. The Wolfos mauled Link to death, leaving only a bleeding corpse behind. The game froze on that shot and there was no Game Over screen. No option to continue or quit. I attempted to play the game again, but it was never the same after that. It would only show that final shot of Link's corpse, no matter what I did.