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10 Bizarre Urban Legends That Are Related to Video Games

by Jeffrey Morris
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Just in case you do not know, an urban legend is a humorous or horrific story that is widely circulated and believed to be true, especially one that the teller claims to have witnessed firsthand or heard directly from another person, but that is actually false. There is no way we would forgive whoever told the first urban legend. Although these stories make our lives much more interesting, the fallacies they spread can also be bothersome.

When thinking about urban legends, we can only conclude that the internet age has not helped things. In the past, you could only spread an urban legend by word of mouth or by dial-up telephones, but now, you can spread an urban legend all over the world with just a few clicks on your computer or smartphone.

Video games have also had their fair share of urban legends—we find some of these stories funny, while others are strange. But worst of all, some are downright creepy. Here are ten video game urban legends that are just bizarre.

Related: Top 10 Freaky Urban Legends Hidden In Songs

10 The Madden Curse

The Madden NFL Curse..

In 1998, video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) decided to start using images of professional football players as the cover for its Madden NFL games. Previously, the cover image was that of John Madden himself. The first professional football player to be used as a cover image was Garrison Hearst—the reason for this is not far-fetched. Garrison had just broken the record for total yards, which included both rushing and receiving in a season.

Garrison Hearst was the official face of Madden NFL ’99, but the year after, he suffered one of the most horrible ankle injuries in football history. As if this was not bad enough, football player Barry Sanders, who was on the cover for Madden NFL 2000, announced his retirement without playing a single game the following season. The Madden NFL 2000 cover probably suffered the biggest Madden Curse effect. When Electronic Arts decided that it couldn’t have a retired player on its Madden NFL 2000 game, the company re-released the game with Dorsey Levens as the cover image—he went ahead to injure his knee that season and was never the same again.

The Madden Curse appears so real that out of the 22 players that have been used as the cover of the game over the past twenty years, sixteen of them had troubling or shortened seasons immediately after their image was used by the Madden NFL franchise. The Madden curse remains an urban legend but a bizarre one.[1]

9 Diablo: The Secret Cow Level

The Weird Legacy Of Diablo’s Secret Cow Level

The secret cow-level urban legend is one about the video game Diablo. The legend claims that when a player gets to the Tristam area and clicks on a specific cow a specific number of times, a “Secret Cow Level” is immediately unlocked, and the player gains access to that level. This is actually false and a confirmed urban legend. However, there is a unique thing about this particular legend—it became so popular that the makers of the game ensured that a “Secret Cow Level” existed in the sequel to the game—Diablo II. This shows that when an urban legend becomes popular, it can become real.[2]

8 Brutus the Bulldog in Animal Crossing

The Legacy of Brutus (Animal Crossing Urban Legend)

The urban legend of “Brutus the Bulldog” is a legend about the game Animal Crossing. Although the game is a very adorable franchise from Nintendo, it has its own fair share of video game myths. After the release of the game, fans started spreading a rumor of a merciless video game character named “Brutus” who would move into the village during the night if the player was away from the village for too long.

If “Brutus” moves into the village, it will do unusual things to the village, making the game crash. The legend of Brutus is completely false. There is no element of truth in it. One thing that is bizarre, however, about this entry is that the game Animal Crossing has several urban legends. We find the game’s urban legends one too many for a single video game.[3]

7 Halo’s Unknown Ghosts

The Ghosts of Halo

The legend of the “unknown ghosts” of the video games Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo: Reach is that video game players encounter random video game characters appearing from thin air midway through the game. These characters are not part of the plot or regular gameplay. They have no gamertag and cannot be killed. Also, whenever these unknown video game characters score a kill, the name is credited to “The Guardians.” The question is, who are these “unknown ghosts”?

The developers of the game have explained the reason behind the appearance of these “unknown ghosts,” which is severe network lag. In addition, video game players who intentionally “overload” the map can also encounter this problem. In actual sense, there are no “unknown ghosts” in the Halo video games. They are just the effect of glitches. A bizarre thing about this scenario concerns the sight of an uncontrollable ghost that cannot be put to death appearing during your gameplay: it will likely scare any video game enthusiast. And no one wants to play a game that is already lost from the outset.[4]

6 Duck Hunt: Shoot the Dog

Why Do People Hate the Dog in Duck Hunt So Much? – Retro Bird

In the video game Duck Hunt, a player gets to shoot ducks and score points if he aims and hits the creature. This is how the game is played. It is important to remind you that Duck Hunt is a video game that emerged in the age when video games were just testing the waters. There was one little detail about the game that we could not understand. We assume that the video game developers either forgot it or left it out on purpose. So this is the urban legend: At the start of the game, a dog walks across the screen and leaps into the grass, and ducks begin to emerge from the grass. As they emerge, a player is expected to shoot them and score points. If the player, however, misses, the dog emerges from the grass and mocks the player. The dog laughs out loud in a way to annoy players.

The untoward conduct of the dog eventually led fans of the game to concoct an urban legend that it was possible to shoot the dog and put an end to its antics. Of course, this is false as far as the game’s original version is concerned. The dog cannot be harmed. Any attempt to shoot the dog would end in futility.

Players who find it difficult or impossible to forgive the dog have to play the arcade version and wait for a bonus round, where the dog leaps out to mock the player. This is the only way the dog can be shot—BUT this is the arcade version, not the console version. We would never know why it was impossible to shoot the dog in the console version. Did the programmers forget or deliberately leave out that detail? We cannot say. All we know is that the story of being able to shoot the dog was probably the most popular video game urban legend of that era.[5]

5 Saddam Hussein Acquired PS2 Consoles for Military Purposes

Saddam Hussein’s PlayStation 2 SUPERCOMPUTER ! – Gaming History Documentary

Just like the previous item on this list—this is also really weird. In 2000, an urban legend emerged that Saddam Hussein had acquired as many as 4,000 PS2 gaming consoles with the intent of developing some into a crude supercomputer for military use. Some people even speculated that the consoles were being stockpiled by the Iraqi military because of its 32-bit CPU, which might be used to develop a formidable technology that would launch long-range missiles with high accuracy.

We know that the age of Saddam was a crazy time, but we can smell the truth of this urban legend from afar. Saddam Hussein was only probably trying to entertain his soldiers with one of the best games on the market at that time. *Wink*[6]

4 Paris Attack and the Sony PS4 Connection

Special Report: Paris Attacks Aftermath & Manhunt

The Paris terror attack that took place on November 13, 2015, was a series of coordinated terror attacks that shocked the world. Terrorists struck the city just outside Stade de France while an international football match was ongoing. These extremists also attacked a concert hall, restaurants, and bars almost simultaneously.

In the aftermath of the attack, police raided terrorist hideouts in Brussels, and at least one PS4 console was seized. This led to the urban legend that PS4 consoles were the medium of communication of the terrorists that planned and executed the attacks. This is one of the cases where an urban legend spins off an established fact. The advocates of this urban legend simply capitalized on the fact that a PS4 console was seized during the raid. At any rate, it is important for us to state that the attempt to tie Playstation 4 consoles to the terror attack has been labeled a hoax.[7]

3 Sony Receives Note from the Grave

Twisted Metal: Harbor City – The Most Creepy Lost Media EVER

In 2003, Sony decided to develop a follow-up game for Twisted Metal. The proposed name for the sequel was Harbor City. Four levels of the game were completed before Sony decided to cancel further developments under the pretext that six members of the development team had died in a plane crash—we couldn’t verify the alleged incident. In 2007, Sony claimed to have received a note from the six members who died while working on the project that the four levels that were completed before their death should be released to the public. What a disturbing urban legend. If Sony could create urban legends—then it is a safe bet that urban legends have come to stay.[8]

2 The Legend of Pale Luna

A Video Game with a Deadly Secret – Pale Luna Creepypasta Story Time // Something Scary | Snarled

The Legend of Pale Luna is a bizarre one. The story goes that in the days before streaming became possible, independent game developers used to meet in person and swap floppy disks. There was one such game that was circulated within the San Francisco Bay Area. It was called Pale Luna. For one mysterious reason or the other, the game was never spread outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

The story goes that Pale Luna is a text-based video game with a few words on the screen at the start of the game. The player must get the correct word combinations in order to proceed. Many players attempted the game but gave up because of its difficulty. However, one player named Michael Nevins was determined to see it through to the end. After several hours of trying, he got the correct combination and was able to unlock one stage after the other till all that was left were coordinates in the form of latitude and longitude. Seeing that the game could not progress beyond this point, Nevins decided to check out the coordinates.

The next day, he went out with a map, a compass, and a shovel. He navigated the park trails till he got to the coordinates he got in the game. When he started digging, he unearthed the badly-decomposing head of a blonde-haired girl named Karen Paulsen. The remainder of the body of Karen Paulsen was never found, and the developer of Pale Luna was also never seen. As weird as this sounds, this tale is nothing but an urban legend. Whoever started the legend of Pale Luna needs to get a real job.[9]

1 Bigfoot: The Stubborn Legend

GTA SA Myth – The Truth About Bigfoot

The legend of Bigfoot is a very stubborn one. It initially haunted humanity in the physical realm, but now it haunts our video games. Bigfoot as a legend first came into public consciousness when a Northern California newspaper reported sightings of human-like footprints that were 16 inches long. A popular urban legend, Bigfoot has haunted the imagination of the American public for more than a century. Video game enthusiasts now also live in fear of Bigfoot.

Some fans of the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas reported sighting Bigfoot within the gameplay, and the urban legend caught fire on social media. In fact, so popular was the rumor that Rockstar Games had to state that there is no Bigfoot in the game.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen