Friday, May 27, 2016

The NES cartridge that was too scary for me (not fake this time)

This was a former rental, as you can see

When I found this old cartridge in my big box of games it really brought me back to my childhood, as many NES games do. This one, however, brought me back to a very specific part of my childhood: the part where I was a fearful diaper boy.

As a child, if I went walking in the woods alone I convinced myself that the sound of leaves springing back up in my wake were the footsteps of Jason Voorhees, come to take my head off.

Freddy Krueger was under my bed (and wearing a chef's hat for some reason).

Chucky was in my closet rolled up in a sheet of posterboard.

Dracula was behind the shower curtain doing god knows what.

And if I EVER heard the Tales From The Darkside theme tune you know my ass was disappeared.

The point I'm trying to illustrate is that once something took hold in my mind it tormented me without end. Even things that weren't supposed to be scary would give me the mild creeps--to pick a totally random example, NES games. The blank, black scenery in Super Mario Bros' underground stages were downright eerie to me. 

Metroid too. Screenshots from here and here.

Though it was of course a result of the limitations of mid-80's NES development, this bit of visual shorthand came across to me as mystifying and somewhat sinister--what's going on back there that the player can't see?

Maybe that sounds like a bit much. I'll be the first to tell you that I let the most innocuous things get to me as a child; but least I wasn't alone in having the ass scared out of me by Friday the 13th's maze like cabin areas and Punch-Out style Jason attacks.

I'm digressing too much. What I wanted to talk about today was the game in the photo...when I was around ten years old I found myself alone in the room with this cartridge and decided I couldn't handle it anymore. I took a kitchen knife and scraped the label off!

as you can see, I've gotten a lot better at removing cartridge labels

 Look familiar? If you're really up on your NES packaging you can probably guess what was so god damn scary I had to destroy a game that now sells for upwards of $60+ on eBay:


...I know, pretty spooky. Looking back on this now I have no idea; she's wearing a beautiful dress and carrying a parasol. Maybe if she didn't have those Judge Doom-esque eyes it would be a little less silly, but most likely this label got to me because I had in-game context for the image that truly traumatized me:

I swear to you this was terrifying in 1991! Even when I knew how to beat the skeleton I was reluctant to play this part for fear that I'd slip up and use the wrong item somehow, triggering the boneface and scary music.

So that's the story of how I couldn't handle the label art for Uninvited. Maybe I should have saved this tale of terror for my Halloween posts?