In the 90s, the video game industry had started to mature. With consoles in every home and arcade cabinets in every store, kids had more access to games than ever before, and the playground talk would often be about games.
Lots of bragging, lots of boasting, and lots of lies? Yup, lots of lies.
Before the internet, word of mouth is often all we had. You could learn the basics through play. But if you wanted secrets or cheats, you had to get that information from a friend, and you had to trust that information to be true.
Some rumors were small and innocent exaggerations, while some mistruths spread like wildfire across the country and were the cause of countless wasted hours. Some rumors were so big they were even publicized as fact.
We are here to call shenanigans on this fake news with
Top 7 Video Game Rumors in the 90s Schoolyards.
Luigi in Super Mario 64 (L is Real 2041)
One of the most popular and longest-running game rumors is the existence of Luigi in Super Mario 64. If Mario 64 was originally to be a 2 player game, it would make sense that Luigi would be hanging around somewhere, right?
Most believed that Luigi was frozen in the statue in the middle of the courtyard. On the statue, it was written “eternal star” which was interpreted by some people as “L is real 2041”.
There were different myths regarding the unlocking of Luigi. Collecting 2041 coins was the one that gained the most favor as to the “2041” reference on the statue.
The desire to find Luigi was so great that IGN even put a bounty out for anyone that could unlock him. It was eventually announced by Nintendo that Luigi was not present
Update: Fast forward 24 years and we now know, L is real! A recent leak of Nintendo’s source code for SM64 contains the model for Luigi, proving he was there all along.
Lavender Town Syndrome
Lavender Town Syndrome was one of the scariest schoolyard game rumors in the ’90s. In fact, I still find it pretty creepy to this day.
It was rumored that several children in Japan were committing suicide shortly after reaching Lavender Town in Pokémon Red and Green.
The cause was said to be due to the high frequencies in the music for said town. Because children can hear a wider range of frequencies, it could only be heard by them.
While there is no evidence that such incidents actually took place, the story sounded plausible, especially after you learn that the developers later changed the game’s music to a lower frequency.
Sheng Long in Street Fighter 2
In the mid 90s Street Fighter 2 was HUGE and the rumor of Sheng Long was perhaps the biggest and most talked about hoax of the time.
Sheng Long was a mystery character that sparked a huge debate among gamers. It all started with a mistranslation of Ryu’s famous special move, the Shoryuken.
When losing to Ryu in the North American release, he would state, “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance”. People believed Ryu was referring to a person named Sheng Long, when in fact it was his rising dragon fist move.
Although attempts to correct the mistake were made, it was too little too late. The SNES instruction manual already had reference to Master Sheng Long, and EGM released an April Fools article with images of the fighter in game, and the myth was solidified.
Unlocking Sonic and Tails in Super Smash Bros. Melee
In 2002, Electronic Gaming Monthly wrote that defeating 20 enemies in Cruel Melee would unlock Sonic and Tails. At the time, the idea of Sonic in a Nintendo game is something that fanboys from both sides would have been thrilled about.
Defeating 20 Melee enemies doesn’t even seem like a very difficult task. But alas there was no such reward for your efforts.
Of course, EGM eventually announced it to be an April Fool’s prank. Perhaps out of guilt, they sent copies of Sonic Adventure 2: Battle to players that did actually manage to get through a 20 Cruel Melee onslaught.
Nowadays Sonic is on many Nintendo systems, appearing alongside Nintendo characters in several games, including the Super Smash Bros series.
The Blood Code for Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat was one of the first digital fighting games with extreme graphic violence and death. The violent scenes including bloodshed sparked a debate across countries declaring it unsafe for the kids to play.
When porting the game to the SNES, Nintendo took steps to downgrade any scenes of extreme violence. They even went as far as changing the blood color to grey, and calling it “sweat”
But in a time of cheat codes and rumors it was widely shared that if you enter the correct controller inputs, the color pallet for the sweat could be swapped out and you could enjoy the game in all of its hemoglobin glory.
Sadly this was untrue and if you wanted to play an accurate facsimile of the original at home you would need to opt for the Genesis version which was completely uncensored.
The Nude Code For Tomb Raider
Lara Croft was the first big female leads in a video game. Yes there was Samus, but since you had to finish the game to reveal the fact she was a woman, it was not exactly a selling point.
Regardless of being a strong female role model, it was her popularity with teenage boys that helped move sales.
While the graphics looked good, there were some assets in the game that stood out. Assets that are still discussed to this day.
Lara is a tomb raider and has to maintain a fit body, but it is her breast to body size ratio that gained the most attention. Women come in all shapes and sizes, but Lara seemed a little misproportioned up top.
So when word spread that there was a code to remove her clothes, you can understand why some were interested. While many kids (Ok adults too) would love to have gotten a look under Lara’s top, the legendary code that reveals all does not exist.
You Can Obtain The Triforce In Ocarina Of Time
The Triforce is the most iconic symbol in the Zelda franchise and it is the most powerful item in the Kingdom of Hyrule.
As a kid playing OOT you wanted to collect everything you could, and if you could actually collect the Triforce you would try everything to get it.
A gamer from Colombia claimed to be the first to obtain the legendary item and had the screenshots to prove it. While most of us did not have the internet at the time, word of this achievement still circulated.
It was an easy rumor to believe. The Zelda franchise has always been known for secrets, and if you look on the inventory screen, there is even a spot for the three pieces of the triforce right there smack in the middle.
Unfortunately, the screenshots were fake, the spots on the inventory screen were just decoration and every child had their dream shattered. Thanks internet.
Were you one of the ones spreading these rumors? Let us know what you remember most in the comments below