I’m sure as a kid you probably knew some other kid in the schoolyard who would spout all kinds of nonsense. ‘My dad works for Nintendo and gave me the Gamecube 2’. Or ‘if you do this trick in Tony Hawk’s 2 in this specific spot that’s basically impossible to do, you’ll unlock Mew who was hiding under the truck’. Or something. There was a lot of rumours that would float around before the internet and data-mining games became a regular thing.
Some of these rumours really took off, spreading far and wide. Usually, because they had some kind of solid in-game hint that was related to cut content, or perhaps was just obscure and strange enough to capture the minds and imaginations of those who stumbled on them. So I thought in today’s Obscure Pixels, we’d take a look back at some of the best urban legends to surround gaming history.
Reviving Aerith in Final Fantasy VII
Aerith’s death in Final Fantasy VII is one of the most iconic moments in gaming history. Having such an important character just die left players shocked, saddened, but also thinking, ‘surely that can’t be it’. There had to be more to it, right? Your main healer, Cloud’s possible love interest, such an integral character to the plot can’t just die and never be seen again, right?
That’s what a lot of players thought, and so the race was on to try and figure out if it was possible to revive her. Supposedly, the rumour that it was even possible came from an employee at Squaresoft (now Square Enix). Though everyone else on the development team said it was impossible, as it would ruin the drama and impact of the scene.
So, what methods did people try? Some folks thought that the most useless underwater material, otherwise used for one optional boss battle, was the key. By levelling it, players could dive underwater and rescue Aerith. Other players thought the key was in being extra nice to Aerith in dialogue options, while also choosing the nastiest options for Tifa, the rival love interest.
The rumours were fueled by data miners discovering scenes after Aerith’s death, by hacking her into the party, she had new dialogue, as well as a ‘ghost’ of her appearing in the Church you first meet her in.. Though this is likely a side effect of Aerith’s death possibly taking place at a later point, as her death was decided on relatively early in development, while the ghost is just a very interesting glitch. This is enforced in other scenarios when she’s hacked in, the game will forcibly remove her or even crash.
So, alas, Aerith remains dead no matter what you do. But perhaps it’s for the best, otherwise, we wouldn’t have one of the most iconic moments in gaming.
Obtaining the Triforce in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ah, Ocarina of Time. A game that’s been so thoroughly taken apart and put back together again that the current speedrun world record is a little under 4 hours for a 100% run. And yet, it still holds such an air of mystery about it. Rumours and theories have swirled around this title since it was first released, but the biggest of those was always how a player could get their hands on the legendary Triforce, an item which is actually obtainable in other titles in the series.
A lot of this was kicked off thanks to images from early on in the game’s development when the game was very different, visually. A brown-haired Link that looked a lot closer to the SNES era Links, an eerie environment, and an image of Link holding the Triforce was circulated far and wide and when players couldn’t recreate that in the final game, they thought they were missing something.
Methods ranged from the believable to the absolutely outrageous. Some thought you had to beat the Marathon Man (which is impossible, by the way, even with hacking). Others thought you had to free the Zora and take a mysterious path under the ice through to the Unicorn Fountain. Which seemed more possible, as there was indeed a secret path under the water that child Link couldn’t access, though it just leads nowhere.
Others said it was in the non-existent ‘sky temple’, that could only be accessed through cheating, or through some near-impossible feat. But, unfortunately, it’s just one of those things that can be put down to wishful thinking.
Banjo-Kazooie’s Stop ‘n’ Swop
This one is a particularly interesting one in that its a rumour built off something in the game that’s very much tangible, able to be found and interacted with but leads nowhere. The idea behind Stop ‘n’ Swop was that players going through Banjo-Kazooie could collect various items. Those items were even shown to the player at the end of a perfect run of the game. There were numerous eggs and a mysterious key.
Once players had collected the items and bought Banjo-Tooie in anticipation they were… Quickly disappointed to discover that the mysterious Stop ‘n’ Swop actually went nowhere. Originally, the idea was that the Nintendo 64’s game data could be stored in the consoles RAM for up to 10 seconds, giving players plenty of time to swap the cartridges and reap the rewards. Though a stop was put to this once a revision of the hardware was released with the internal RAM holding game data for only 1 second, making this impossible to complete.
There was also the fact a lot of the items couldn’t be obtained without using cheats, adding fuel to the fire as players speculated ‘legit’ ways to obtain them in both games, and unlock… Something! To this day we don’t know exactly what was supposed to be unlocked.
Rare still kept with the idea when they released the games on Xbox Live, using the feature to unlock additional content in Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts, but we still don’t really have any answers for what it was supposed to be used for.
Bigfoot in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
Considered the rumor that kickstarted the mystery hunting craze in the Grand Theft Auto series, players swore up and down they’d seen the hulking Sasquatch roaming around forests, and with the cut content controversy of the Hot Coffee situation, players began to think it was entirely possible that it was cut content with hints left in the game.
Strangely enough, this is one of those stories that players swear is still possible, and given the other strange occurrences in San Andreas (mostly due to glitches), some people still think it’s out there, waiting to be definitively found.
It was later discovered that Bigfoot was indeed meant to be in the game, but was only in beta versions. Though this hasn’t stopped people swearing they’ve seen him, lurking in the forests. The rumour became so persistent that Rockstar even began taking advantage of it, hiding hints and playful jabs in various other Grand Theft Auto titles and even extending it to Red Dead Redemption.
Check out last months write-up of Obscure Pixels here!