Video games have their own share of urban legends, and many of them are creepy rather than not. Dig deep enough and you’ll find haunted game cartridges, mysterious seizures, and forgotten, forbidden areas. Sometimes they might seem goofy, but the deeper they get, the darker they are. Dare to learn more?

Lavender Town Syndrome

Many years ago, before Pokémon Red and Blue released in America, something iffy was allegedly going on with Japanese children playing the games. There were reports of kids falling ill, and some even committing suicide, after exploring Lavender Town, home of the Pokémon Tower, where trainers put their dearly departed Pokémon to rest. The background music was the cause of the insanity. The music, in all of its eerie dissonance, contained tones so high only children could hear them. Future editions of the game have since altered the Lavender Town theme.

Super Mario Galaxy 2
H...h...hello? 

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Shadow People

If you ever head to Shiverburn Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and look up to your left, you might notice something strange. No matter where you go, you’ll always be followed by shadowy figures in the distance, silently watching. At first, it’s hard to deduce what they are, but if you look closely, they look like some sort of creepy spirit.

If that’s not bad enough, the sky texture near these figures is named BeyondHellValley, so throw away any assumptions you had of these guys being nice. The figures themselves are dubbed HellValleySkyTrees. The only part of that name that’s not misleading is the “hell” bit.

Haunted Majora’s Mask

This cheery little tale first initially cropped up on 4chan, the notorious internet image board. One user claimed to have discovered an unlabeled copy of Majora’s Mask with a single save file titled “Ben” already on the cartridge. There’s nothing too special about that, but things got pretty creepy soon after.

Starting a new game, the player noticed that all of the NPCs called him Ben. The player deleted the “Ben” save file and started anew, assuming that would solve the bug. And then the game turned. Music began to play backwards, and the player was constantly followed by a model of Link and chilling screams. It sounds like silly playground tales, but the video footage is actually pretty creepy.

Polybius
Who knew retro-games had so much power over people. 

Polybius

In Portland, Oregon in 1981, a crop of arcade cabinets called Polybius allegedly popped up across the town. Those who played it were said to complain of mental confusion and suicidal thoughts. Some believed the cabinets were placed by the government to test peoples’ responses to mind control, reporting men in black who would return to the cabinets weekly to mine the data stored in the game.

World of Warcraft
The Upside-Down Sinners in Karazhan Crypt

Karazhan Crypt

MMOs are fascinating living worlds full of undiscovered secrets and mysteries. Take this locked, unused dungeon in World of Warcraft. Seemingly abandoned by the developers, this crypt exists just outside of Karazhan and is barred by a gate. That didn’t stop determined explorers, though, who found ways to exploit abilities to pass through the barrier and into the dungeons beyond.

What people found was quite … dark. Descending into the first room, you come across a bare crypt with a well. Naturally, you jump down, because why wouldn’t you? A convenient pile of, uh, corpses catches your fall. That all seems fine though, so you carry on until you’re forced to swim into the now-flooded chambers. Swimming to the surface, figures come into you view, which, as you draw closer, reveal themselves to chained corpses floating upside down in the murky depths. Blizzard eventually added an invisible wall to the crypt gate to prevent people from glitching into the dungeon, but it’s likely still there, deep below the outskirts of Karazhan.

Majora's Mask
Feel like you're being watched? 

Photos via Gameinformer, Blumhouse, Warcraft Less Traveled, Zelda Dungeon, Filfellin

Jessica is a freelance writer based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can read other stuff she writes on VICE, Rock Paper Shotgun, and Geek & Sundry.