For the original version of this story, check out Bound to Death.
Earthbound. A game that brings back many childhood memories to me, more than any other game. Sure, you can find a large fan base on it, but I don't see it being talked about that much. But hell, to me, Earthbound was the best game I've ever played, even better than other RPGs I played. However, even though I know of other games in the Earthbound series, I only ever played Earthbound, but when I learned of the Mother 3 Fan Translation, I really wanted to play it. Though, I thought it would be more nostalgic to play the original Earthbound before I got into Mother 3. It had been a few years since I played it, so why not? The thing is, I lost it when I was moving out of my parent's house. I was thinking of just playing Mother 3 and relying on my memories of Earthbound to guide me through it, but I knew, it just wouldn't be the same. I knew there was a flea market nearby, so I figured since my car was getting fixed, I'd just call my friend, and see if there was anything there.
Now, I wish that I had just played Mother 3.
My friend and I went to the flea market, and after I gave him some money, we both split up, promising to meet back at the entrance in 10 minutes with the game. However, 10 minutes passed, and we had no such luck with finding a copy of Earthbound, even though we were 100% sure we checked the whole flea market. Just as we were about to call it quits, I saw some guy with a blank expression setting up shop near us. I immediately went to him, and asked what he had. His face remained expressionless, as he reached into a bag and pulled out a cartridge of Earthbound. It didn't look broken, hell, it didn't even look like it was even touched. I asked him how much it was, and he told me it was 20 bucks. 20 bucks! Normally it would cost MUCH more than that. I definitely took it. I turned around, and as I walked, I suddenly heard a voice from what I think was the guy who sold me Earthbound. It sounded kind of like him, but at the same time, it sounded a bit more eerie. I remember those same goddamned words.
"Your nightmare begins."
I quickly turned around to face him, and asked him what the hell he said. He tilted his head, still expressionless, but I could tell he was puzzled. I swear to god he said it, but I decided to not waste my time. It could have been just my overactive imagination, that probably happens when you get nostalgic. Nevertheless, I told my friend. As a joke, he asked if I was smoking pot, but he also told me that maybe we should just throw the game away, as that guy looked funny. I told him that I’m sure it’ll be fine, and my friend just gave in, and drove me back to my house.
I got home, and I decided to pop the game in the SNES, and give it a go. The menu popped up, and I immediately noticed something. There was already 2 save files, despite the cartridge looking brand new, with the save file's Nesses being named "NIGHT" and "MARE". Now, that was really strange to me. Didn't the man say something about my "nightmare beginning", and now I see two save files named NIGHTMARE?... Nah, I figured it was some stupid prank. Maybe my friend was right, the guy was a bit ‘funny’, as he said he was, but I decided to cut the man some slack, maybe he just liked to have a little laugh and imagine the looks on our faces after the connection of nightmares.
I decided to leave the two save files, and I started a new game for the third file. I went with all the defaults for selections, and I started the game. Despite having been played, the game actually ran really smoothly, and I didn't have any problems, at least up until the death of Buzz Buzz. I remembered his speech, how he told the player how to defeat Giygas. However, the speech was different, in a strange way. Instead of warning me about Giygas, he warned me of "a greater enemy", and he told me to not go on with my journey, that it is futile to try to fight the enemy. Now, I know this was not memory problems, I definitely remember Buzz Buzz's speech not being like this. Something was wrong. Well, it was a few edited words, I was sure it wasn’t such a big deal. Buzz Buzz seemed to go back into his normal speech after his cries of protests, gave me the Sound Stone, and I went on with the game, although I wondered why someone would edit the game to change Buzz Buzz's speech. Sounds a bit disgraceful, but whatever. The rest of the game played without any difference from the original, at least.
... until everything went to hell.
I went through Giant Step, taking out Black Antoids and Attack Slugs, ready to fight the Titanic Ant once again. I think I over leveled a little, but I didn't care, I was excited to start collecting the "Your Sanctuary" melodies all over again. When I battled the Titanic Ant though, then I couldn’t pass it off as memory failing me or just a mere small text hack. The Titanic Ant, instead of looking like he was ready to defeat me, looked like he was heavily injured by something powerful that got to it before me. Its face was in an expression of pure sadness, and I didn't see the little Black Antoids that accompanied him. I wasn't going to make an excuse like "Oh, it might just be a quickly made hack". This was starting to get really strange. I decided to battle the Titanic Ant anyway, and every time it took its turn, instead of biting me or taking my PP, text formed, similarly to how Giygas would talk during his turns, except without attacking afterwards. I remember some lines...
"Why won't it end...?"
"Wake me from this nightmare... Please."
Well, I admit, I felt remorse for it and almost felt like not killing it, but I knew I had to. When I killed it with a PSI Rockin’, instead of the usual fading animation, its sprite turned into an animation that played once. It showed the Titanic Ant exploding, not with the classic "BOOM!" animation, but what an actual explosion looked like, accompanied with the Titanic Ant flying into pieces. I watched as the pieces of the Titanic Ant slowly disintegrated. Right before they disappeared for good, two more pieces of text appeared.
"The nightmare is over for me. But for you..."
"Your nightmare begins."
As the "YOU WON" text flashed on screen, I just stared at it for a while, as my palms sweat heavily, barely grasping onto the controller after what I had just witnessed. "Your nightmare begins." The man that sold me the game said exactly the same words. I almost considered turning off the game then, but I had to just see what other terrors laid in this game. I know, most people would turn off the game, but I was curious. Still, I really should have just turned the game off. I went to outside of Giant Step to get my first "Your Sanctuary" recording, and I saw the grassy field with the foot. As I started to record the melody though, everything suddenly started to look polluted. The trees suddenly lost their leaves, and the grass died, turning a brownish color. I also saw that the Giant Step had turned from a human footprint into…some weird footprint. I couldn't describe it past that it looked like some abomination of the earth had made the footprint. I recorded the melody, but instead of the normal Giant Step melody, I got a mess of distortion blasting from the speakers, and I mean blasted. It was loud as shit, but by the time I tried to turn the volume down, the "song" already ended. I guessed that the Giant Step melody got distorted but god, what was that?
I pressed on, despite what happened. I knew that scary things already happened in Earthbound, like Giygas, and the spirit of Poo's ancestors, but this was just really weird, and the worst part was, I didn’t know what to expect. I hoped that this hack or whatever was unfinished, and past the Titanic Ant, I'd just get normal Earthbound, and that everything that was fucked up would stop. Unfortunately, I did not get what I had hoped for, a normal Earthbound. Things only got worse from there. I kept seeing worse and worse versions of the Your Sanctuary bosses, all beaten up, and they all had grotesque animations that played whenever I killed them, depending on what PSI I used, whether they burned to a crisp from a PSI Fire, or by having their heads completely come off from a critical hit. Then after the bosses, I would see terrible versions of the Your Sanctuaries. The Milky Well was dried up, revealing a rotting corpse with maggots crawling out of it. The Magnet Hill had been crumbled to pieces, nothing but pieces of rock. The Pink Cloud was a dark red color, and the sky was pure darkness. However, this was nothing compared to what was waiting for me in Magicant.
I entered Magicant, and by now I was just expecting the worst. The first thing I noticed…well, you know how Ness was naked in Magicant in the Japanese release, yet he was in pajamas in the American release? Well, I swear to god, I had the American release, but when I saw Ness, he was in his naked sprite and there were noticeable chunks of his skin missing, leaving just bone. His skin wasn't entirely torn off, but was still skinless in tons of places. Wounds covered half his face, his torso, and even his hat was torn apart as if some animal got to him. I could hear ‘Giygas is Wounded’ in the background, instead of the regular Magicant music. The music wasn't blasting out of the speakers so I didn't find a reason to turn down the volume, even if it did creep me out. I proceeded through Magicant, and all the NPCs were all badly injured, the skin also torn from their bodies. I would talk to them, and all of them, including the shopkeepers, would just say "Help... me..."
Suddenly, I had a thought. Magicant's final enemy was Ness's Nightmare, right? What if the nightmare I kept hearing about was actually Ness's Nightmare? I had to find out the truth. As I kept going, I noticed that there were no enemies. Well thank god for that, I thought. But when I entered the Sea of Eden, I saw that all of the Your Sanctuary guardians were impaled on the spikes. Like, not the ball of light you see in the overworld but they actually looked like they were impaled on the spikes. Hell, the details looked too advanced for Earthbound, it looked like a more high quality version of Super Mario RPG. It showed in gruesome detail that the spikes had impaled all the Your Sanctuary bosses. The sight of their mangled, pierced, sad bodies had me horrified. Every muscle in my body tensed as I saw the dead bodies of the guardians. I had to finish this. I knew he was at the end. The nightmare. I reached the altar of Ness's Nightmare. I noticed he wasn't there. I walked on the altar. Still nothing. I said softly to myself, "Where the hell is he?"
"You've come to this place, and now you shall cease to exist."
Those words suddenly appeared as a text box. I suddenly saw a dark red version Ness's Nightmare manifest on the altar. It slowly manifested, as the background music changed to ‘Giygas is Fatally Wounded’ and slowly started to turn the volume up. By the time he was done reappearing, the music was blasting really loud. Please, god, let one of my neighbors wake up and help me from this madness, I thought. I wanted to turn the game off, but for some reason, I didn't want to. I knew this would haunt me forever that I didn't finish it, so I had to finish this.
"Your nightmare begins."
I was thrown into an encounter. Except, it was not Ness's Nightmare. The name of the enemy was Cole's Nightmare. Immediately, I had gasped from shock and confusion. Cole was my name, why the hell was it in the game?! I gave Tony a fake name back in Summers as it just felt weird to me that he talked directly to me, and I hadn't entered any names for the party members other than the defaults. But, I had to fight this nightmare. It was about as tough as Ness's Nightmare, but luckily I knew how to take out Ness's Nightmare, using every Bag of Dragonite I had saved up for this moment. Cole's Nightmare went down, or so I thought. He did the normal Earthbound death animation, but just as he disappeared, he reappeared.
"You think you defeated me? I will only die when you die. Now, I shall make the nightmare much worse."
He disappeared again with the normal animation, and then came the fated moment where Ness would suddenly become overpowered. Only instead of Ness's stats increasing, they decreased. Giygas is Fatally Wounded still played instead of the normal victory music. This time, instead of getting louder and louder like when Cole's Nightmare appeared, it got quieter and quieter as Ness's stats decreased instead of increased. I had also noticed Ness's HP and SP had also stayed on 0 instead of randomly increasing and decreasing. As I finally got the last stat decrease, when everything was quiet, no music playing, the text box suddenly turned the dark red it turned when someone in your party died. It read...
"Ness succumbed to the nightmare. Ness got hurt, and disappeared."
It suddenly cut to the party gathered around Ness's body. Ness disappeared, and I saw the sprites of Paula, Jeff, and Poo cry. Then, things got gruesome. I saw Paula do an animation I've never seen before. She suddenly scorched herself with what was apparently PSI Fire Omega, and her charred body fell to the ground. Jeff took out one of his Bottle Rockets, and shot himself. I witnessed his head blow up similarly to the Titanic Ant, as the explosion did not look like the classic "BOOM" animation, but an actual explosion. Jeff's headless body fell to the ground. Poo took out the goddamn Sword of Kings that took me ages to get for him, and then committed seppuku. It showed one last cut of their dead bodies, then cut to the Devil's Machine. The Devil's Machine music was playing, and I saw Ness's face emerge from Giygas. It seemed just like the final battle scene, only without the party. Then, instead of Pokey appearing, Ness's Nightmare floated down. Text appeared.
"A fool you were, to go this far. You could have stopped when you noticed things were grim, and they were not the same game you used to know. Now, gaze upon true terror."
My palms kept sweating as the text appeared and disappeared. After the text, it suddenly showed an animation of the Devil's Machine opening, and Giygas emerging from it. Again, this animation was not in Earthbound, as normally Giygas would emerge in battle, not in the Devil's Machine. It then showed a picture of the city from the intro, only without the words "THE WAR AGAINST GIYGAS!", and it showed Giygas floating in the sky. More text appeared.
"Giygas tried PSI Nightmare!"
Suddenly, the TV screen went dark, as if I had shut it off. I almost thought that it stopped, but it came back on, and then it showed images in the game that I won't forget. I saw various areas in the game, and people were being murdered in many ways like getting torn through with a knife, or getting blown up with PSI Rockin', by what looked like human versions of Cole's Nightmare. It then showed the inside of Ness's house, with Tracy and Ness's mom. More text.
"Mommy, where's Ness?"
"It's okay, Tracy, everything will be alright. Ness will be back soon..."
Suddenly, another human Nightmare appeared. It ran towards two of them. The screen faded to black, as a woman and a little girl's voice screamed.
"MOMMY!! NESS!! HELP!!"
It then cut to Polestar Preschool. It seemed to be a boarded up classroom, with some kids and Paula's mom and dad huddled in a corner.
"Where's Paula? Why isn't she here to help us...?"
"She'll be here, I know it, she'll be he-"
Another Nightmare burst through the door, and ran towards the cornered children, and Paula's mom and dad. Black again, and I could hear kids and a man and woman screaming.
"PAULA!! WHERE ARE YOU!?"
It cut to Tony huddled in his dorm room with the door boarded up. He was shaking with fear.
The screen cut to black again and from the heavy and piercing silence that came along with it, I could hear a teenage boy's scream.
Then, it showed Poo's castle, with Poo's master in front of everyone inside the throne room.
"Stay back! I will fight for Poo!"
A Nightmare burst through the door again, and seemed to immediately kill Poo's master. His sprite was flung against the wall, and the Nightmare proceeded towards the huddled people. Black, and I heard many screams of men and women.
"POO, PROTECT US, PLEASE!!"
Then, it cut to the Giygas fight, only there was nobody there but Giygas. No HP/PP screens, nothing. Then, the sprite of Cole's Nightmare appeared out of nowhere.
"You failed to protect your friends, and family. You went off on your own to fight a battle you could not win. Now, we are one."
He started to get closer.
"Look at me. See me? We are one. You will always remember me, because we are one. Look at me. Do you see me?"
By now, he was so close that his face and a bit of his torso was the only thing there.
"LOOK AT ME."
Suddenly, his face turned into my face, copied from top to bottom, only with a menacing glare and a grin that I’d be horrified at myself if I could make a grin like that. It wasn’t in SNES graphics either, it looked like the face of me in a photo, only with those features the nightmare added. As I gasped and dropped the controller from shock, the game suddenly shut itself off. I tried to reset it, but it was as if the cartridge was permanently broken. It refused to turn itself back on. I stared at the blank TV screen, wondering what I had just witnessed. This…nightmare or whatever, it had apparently wanted to be one with me. I just hoped I'd forget about this shit in a few years. I took the game out, and immediately called my friend, and told him that I wanted to find whoever gave me this game, and then make take back this haunted shithole of a game. I wouldn't even care about beating the man up, since not only am I not the strongest fighter, but I just wanted the game as far away from me as possible. We went back to the flea market, and thank god, the guy was there. I threw the game down on his stand that he set up, and I asked him what the hell this game was. He didn't respond. He just took the Earthbound game, and walked into the middle of the road, holding it. Oh god, I thought. I saw a car coming, I knew what he was going to do, but I hoped that he might jump away. At the last few seconds, he turned his head towards me, and said one last thing before the car hit him.
I couldn't get any sleep that night. After the car hit him, it just kept going, as if the driver didn't notice the man. A few screaming people saw him, and frantically dialed 911. Some saw his license plate, so they told the phone number that. The thing was, the response to them (as people shouted out frantically) was that the license plate was found as "invalid". The last time I saw him, it was him being put in the back of an ambulance. I haven't heard from him since. He could be dead for all I know. My friend drove me home, and I did not sleep at all last night. The next day, I wanted to do something, but I didn't want to even play Mother 3. I didn't even want to see anything Earthbound related. I just played some of the older Pokémon games. Finally, I felt like I could sleep, so that's just what I did.
That night, I had a nightmare.
I was in some sort of dark realm. It was just completely dark, no light at all. There weren't any walls apparently, but there was a floor. I kept running through it, trying to find something that would get me out of whatever this dream there. But instead of an exit, he was there. The nightmare was there.
"I told you. We are one. You will always remember me, because we are one. The nightmare has only just begun."
For the rest of my nightmare, I'd just be staring at his blood-colored statue-like body, in this realm of pure darkness.
To this day, I still have these dreams, only with more gruesome versions. Sometimes I'd see the nightmare, and sometimes, he would do a horrible reenactment of what the ghost of Poo's ancestors did to Poo for his trial to me. Sometimes, I'd be walking through those terrible versions of the Your Sanctuary locations, and I'd find the mangled versions of the Your Sanctuary bosses lying there, softly pleading for me to help them. I never touched another Earthbound game ever since, and have moved away from my home in New Jersey, just in case the damn thing is haunting my house. If that's the case, I hope nobody moves into that house. Although, he might have just moved with me, as I still have those nightmares.
I destroyed the game, using every tool I had. I smashed it with my hammer, I sawed it in half, just did everything I could to destroy it. I threw what was left of the cartridge into my fireplace, hoping to never see it again. But I know that it probably won't be the only copy. Please, do yourself a favor, and if you ever see a game of Earthbound, and you buy it since you really want to play it, but when you play it the things that happened to me happen in that game, please, just destroy it. I have a strong enough will to go on, but he will find a way to drive you into madness. He will try to get through to you, and mess with your mind at night. I try to stay awake by drinking lots of coffee, but eventually even that can't hold me out of sleep, then I end up in a really long nightmare, where he punishes me horribly for staying awake too long, and for trying to keep him out of my mind. So please, do not play this game.
My nightmare has begun. Don't let your nightmare begin, too.
Written by RedMageCole