When I was younger, I loved the GameBoy Advance. The games that came with it were absolutely fantastic, I loved clocking hours on each one. I was never very good at most, 'cause I was young, but I loved it at the time. Next to Pokemon, my two favourite games were Yoshi's Island, and Wario Land 4.
Yoshi's Island I was fine at. The levels were fairly easy to complete and I took my time on each one, getting 100% on several worlds. Wario Land 4 was different. I wasn't very good at all. There were many different button combinations you had to master to excel at the game. The temporary level techniques, like Domino Row's "Beat the dominoes in a race" were confusing and difficult. The bosses, well they were just nightmare fuel. They were incredibly creepy. Still, I find them creepy today.
It wasn't until I discovered my old Yoshi's Island, completed it 100% on all worlds, twice, that I realised one thing was missing. Wario Land! I figured because I was older now, and much better at gaming, I could beat Wario Land 4 once and for all. I did as a kid, but I had to have lots of help from my brother. I rummaged through all my old boxes, which has old games in it, but I couldn't find the Wario Land 4 cartridge anywhere. I asked my brother where it was, and he said he cleared it out a while ago to get some money for a new game he wanted. I was pretty sad at the time. I always knew that a ROM and emulator was an option, but I wanted to relive the moments as I did as a kid, and besides, if I did use an emulator, I'd be compelled to either use Gameshark or savesates. No, I had to have the cartridge.
I told a close friend of mine, an old-school Nintendo enthusiast, about my predicament. He listened, and he said that he had the cartridge. I asked him if I could borrow it, but he just offered it to me, free. Needless to say I was grateful, but I wondered why he would just give it to me. I asked, and he said "I didn't like it. It was too creepy..." Well, I had to agree. It was a creepy game for when I was young.
When I got home from school, I got my GBA out, and popped in Wario Land 4. It started up after the Nintendo indent, and it begun with the familiar introduction of Wario almost running over a cat, but I already knew what it was, and I was impatient to get into the game. In the "Select Save" menu, I was immediately weirded out. The first save hadn't been played yet, so it just said "New Game", but the second save, the bottom one, had all the bosses defeated and it had "Corrupted." as its title.
That was weird, for several reasons. First, you'd think that the game would just delete the save or something, because it wasn't playable anymore. If it was corrupted, it'd probably have different colour text, like red or something so it could stand out slightly. Lastly, why would they put a period on the end of the word corrupted? It probably means something like "This save is corrupted.", but they had to compensate for size. I knew I was overthinking it, so I just selected the top save and, the game worked fine. I cleared the Entry Passage in no time. I wasn't expecting Spoiled Rotten's change in facial expression though, heh.
I played for a few hours each day for the next few days, and before I knew it I had all CD's, jewel pieces, and was about to face the Golden Diva. She was as creepy as I always remembered her. The Elizabethan masks, and when she runs out of different masks, the face underneath. It made, and still makes my skin crawl. Anyway, I cleared her pretty easily. I mastered all the button combinations, so I could bring her health down quickly. I cleared the game and got the perfect ending. Finally, my childhood was relived!
I packed it one day to go to school to give back, but I forgot my friend allowed me to keep it. I left it on my desk for when I got home.
When I got home, I longed for more Wario Land. It's the sort of game where you beat it once and you want to do it again. I was ready to reload my "Clear" save and fight some bosses, but I misclicked. Pressing the A buttons when the game loaded were something of a ritual, but my finger was hovering over the DOWN button on the D-Pad, so I must have pressed it accidentally on the save screen.
Before I realised, I pressed A, and then something weird happened. The game actually loaded "Corrupted."
So, it wasn't a corrupt save. It was an actual level name. I'd never heard of it before. It definitely wasn't part of the game.
I was in a passage, as the smaller version of Wario who navigates around the Pyramid. The wall colour was very dark. The colour of the floor in the central pyramid. What? Three levels were greyed out, as well as the boss room. The mini-game room wasn't there. The level I was hovering over was called "Corrupted." the level picture was plain white.
I tried to go back, into the central pyramid to find out where I was-- but Wario wouldn't go back. I tried pressing B multiple times, I even tried LEFT on the D-Pad, but he wouldn't leave. I had no choice but to press A and load the level. Wario jumped onto the frog statue to open the vortex. The frog statue chimed once, but Wario remained silent. Traveling through the vortex, Wario made no sound, not even that scream he does.
Upon arriving into the level, everything was black except the foreground. Wario was in some sort of big hallway, like the one that builds up to a boss battle. The background was jet black, what he was standing on was lighter black. All you could see was Wario. When he entered the level fully, he said his trademark:"HURRY UP!", and a timer appeared. No music played, the level was silent. The timer had --:-- which was weird.
It was something of a puzzle to work out where to go, but I knew it was a hallway as soon as I just decided to go right, and I could continue in that direction. It was very odd, maybe even enough to put my friend off the game. But it got worse as I continued. There was a flash of light, once, twice, a third time. A light was flickering on and off. It would remain on for about three quarters of a second before turning off for a full second. The background was very weird... it was Cractus. Not a moving, live Cractus but it was some kind of concept art. It was Cractus, with that angry expression he has when you jump on his head. His saliva was not white but red. Blood? Well he had some of whatever it was smeared along his face, it was mostly around his teeth and lips, he must have eaten something? Well, I sped to the end of the hallway, it was just a wall, I knew it was because I bashed into it.
What happened next was strange, Wario just left the level. Much like where you reach the beginning vortex after planting the bomb in the level. There wasn't even a vortex, he just left.
He screamed like he does normally upon his return. Keyzer wasn't following, though. After returning, Wario didn't do anything. He didn't have any sort of reaction. His face was just... emotionless, blank. The door ahead of him opened, even though Keyzer wasn't there, the lock fell off as when Keyzer opens it. Wario still didn't react.
I was taken back to the passage, and the next level illuminated. The level picture was still white, but the level name was different. It had "Corrupt..ed.." as its title. I got a bit more nervous. Seeing as what happened last time was Cractus in the background, I thought the only thing that would change this time was the actual boss. And I was right. It was the same hallway before, the same flicker of the lights, but Cuckoo Condor was there, in it's clock shell, and the claw just let go of a body, which was lying on the floor dead. The body had no head, it was just a carcass, blood spilled all over the floor, and the blood was smeared around Condor's claw. Blood and gore never disturbed me, but it was certainly interesting, and I'm certain it was enough to put my friend off the game. I reached the end and was taken back, and this happened twice more, for the final two levels.
The next one I found pretty funny, Aerodent. The teddy bear balloon had sat on a person, blood was all around its ass, and it had that smiley expression it always has. The same happened again when I exited the level.
The final one was Catbat, and this one I found quite weird. Catbat had blood on its claws, and there was blood around the mouth of the bat on its head. The body on the floor this time though, I could see it... it had a yellow shirt, with purple overalls... Wario!? I was a little confused, but I rushed to the end of the level. I decided enough was enough for one day, and I wanted to see what the save game title was for the "boss".
The next day, I started up Wario Land 4 again, and pressed A, and the savegame menu appeared. The second save file was "C--R---DDDD."
Let's take a look at this boss then, I thought. I hit A, and surely enough Wario was in the passage, and I braced myself a little. I hit RIGHT on the D-Pad and Wario moved up one. To the boss: "Golden Diva". Huh? She's not supposed to be here...? I pressed A, and it loaded the mini animation of Wario walking to the boss door. That regular creepy music still played, though. The walls were golden, like the actual animation. The hallway was still the same, and the background music played. The item shop was even accessible! The music was a nice change from the silence on this save file. I didn't have any medals though, so I couldn't buy anything.
I carried onwards through the hallway to the boss door. I braced myself, and pressed UP.
The door opened slowly before Wario, and he was drawn inside. Everything was the same. The background... the Diva's appearance. The only thing that changed was the cat, it didn't rush in this time and try to protect me. Instead, her masks duplicated into 4, and floated around her like they normally do. I thought to myself: I'll play along. So, I defeated the Golden Diva, after about three tries. Wario looked happy! The pose he does when he defeats a boss appeared! But then--- the screen cut to black.
It stayed like that for about 10 seconds, in which time I was tempted to turn off the GBA, because I thought that it's the end, and it just played out a little differently. But the screen illuminated! It was the scene in the desert, like in the main menu when Wario is driving in his car, except it must have been the post-game scene. Wario's car wasn't there, and there was no music, it was just silent.
About 2 seconds later, the screen began scrolling to the right, in the direction Wario drives in the post-game scene, but it was going much slower. Wario's purple car came into the shot, and it scrolled further up, revealing a bloody Wario leaning on his steering wheel, dead. The car had been totally wrecked at the front, smashed into a rock.
The game cut the black, and it remained that way for several minutes. I assumed nothing would happen, so I just shut off the GBA. I restarted it, and got to the main menu. "Corrupted." had been deleted. The save file just had "New Game" as its text, so I clicked A anyway, and the game reset to normal.
It was certainly a weird... well, I don't even know what it was, an error? A hack? But it stopped me playing Wario Land 4 for a while.