Yep. We’re not just talking about the Pac-Man machine in Dodgy Bob’s Shit-Stained Gameatorium, which was right next to the toilets and had all manner of suspect stains on the joystick. You’d probably have caught cholera or the plague or something just looking at it, true enough, but this is worse. Much worse. This is freaking Polybius, right here.
Now, this is one of those BS urban legends which isn’t remotely true on any Bizarro world. But it’s damn creepy, that’s for sure. Which is all that counts around here.
The whole thing centers around said mythical arcade cabinet. Supposedly, this rare game was made in 1981 by Sinneslöschen (German for ‘Sense Deletion,’ Creepypasta reports), a puzzler/shooter that only saw the light of day in a couple of arcades in Oregon.
From the footage (which is to say ‘footage’) that exists, this one looks like a mash-up of Space Invaders and Asteroids, with a dash or two of pure crazy-ass thrown in. It was inexplicably popular, the story goes, despite reports of all kinds of bad shit happening to those who had played.
All the usual haunted video game tropes befell them: headaches, nausea, seeing scary figures out of the corner of their eyes, even suicide. The report goes on to say that one arcade owner swore that the Polybius arcade cabinet was often visited by mysterious men in black, who were ‘collecting data’ from the game.
The game was, apparently, rammed full of subliminal messages. The meaning and motive of them remains a mystery, but it’s possible that dastardly and bastardly record companies were trying to cultivate Bieber Fever in a new generation a decade before his birth. Whatever the case, it’s believed that Polybius was a government experiment of some kind.
Copies would disappear overnight, and all machines were gone around a month after the game’s release. Much like Cotton Eye Joe, we don’t know where it came from, or where it went. Or what the hell it was doing while it was here. If it ever was. But that’s the fun of the creepy urban legend.