I bought Fire Red once when I was going through an old garage sale.
It was worn and chipped but the inner workings were still in great condition. The box art was faded and greenish thanks to being left out under the sun no doubt.
The thing that struck me as odd was that there was clearly holes made in the eyes of the charizard on the cover and a big hole on its chest over its heart.
I asked the owner and showed him the box and the cartridge. He almost flinched when I was displaying the items to him. I could see fear in his eyes. Real terror.
I couldn't get him to answer me about the wear and tear, so I asked how much the game cost. He pushed the game away and waved his hands, "It's free, leave please."
I stumbled slightly and looked at him. "Are you sure old man?" He nodded and turned to speak to another customer. I actually considered putting the game back, NO ONE acts like that when you try to buy something from them.
Regardless I took it home and put it in my DS. My screen flickered and the classic startup played, nothing unusual at first. If you ever doubt something, consider taking the option your mind offers.
So the new game option appeared and I began my adventure. Professor Oak was standing there, ready for me to name myself and select my pokemon. The strange thing was that his sprite was missing a mouth, and the eyes were wide open.
It was eerie because he usually had a very agitated expression on his face. This sprite was missing details that made him Professor Oak. Without the eyebrows, his eyes were wide and without the mouth, he look frightened.
I quickly moved on and looked at my starter selection. Out of the three slots available, only one was selectable. The others were greyed out. A charmander was the only available pokemon. This didn't bother me at all.
I love charmander, I always begged my friends to pick him when I'd watch them play and if they didn't I'd complain. I just love that he's like a baby dragon. The one available to me wasn't orange though.
It was a male, the sprite was solid white with a black belly and a barely visible white flame coming off the tip of its tail. I was perplexed by this because shiny charmanders are the only reason the sprite would look different, on top of that they were yellow, not white.
This little charmander also had a black spot on it's chest, similar to the area on the box that came with the game. His eyes were white and the bounce animation was awkward when I chose him. As I checked his stats, I noticed that he was already named.
HATRED. I couldn't figure out why the game was providing all of these changes to my adventure after I selected a new slot. I assumed that somehow, the previous owner's save had transferred. But that didn't explain a damn thing when I saw all of the errors and sprite alterations.
I finally set out on my quest with my charmander and was instantly challenged after walking 5 steps from Oak's lab. The challenger was a black silhouette of your main rival when you play Fire Red through.
His name was listed as, "..." and he had no throw animation, just an eerie stance and a pan down animation. His first pokemon was a squirtle named, "leave." I was shocked, fighting someone this early in the game, HATRED's stats would never compare to this random event.
My character threw out charmander and the fight was on. I tried to select 'run' but the option was greyed out. There was no escaping. I only had HATRED, so I felt like the fight was already over. I selected 'fight' and a very strange set of options appeared.
One of the moves was called, "Failure." Another was, "Ripped." The last two said "Heart" and "Out." The nature of these names disturbed me, was the game trying to tell me something? I selected the attack called Failure. I was scared to try the other 3.
HATRED reared back and screamed as it damaged its own self with an altered version of the flamethrower move. His hit points went from 25 to 15 and my eyes widened. The caption on the attack also worried me, "He WAS a failure!"
The squirtle attempted an attack and missed HATRED. It was my turn to attack again. "Failure" was greyed out now. I could only select the other 3 now. I reluctantly picked "Ripped." HATRED once again reared back and screamed as the same screen effect happened, again, he hurt himself instead.
His hit points dropped from 15 to 10. The caption read, "So I punished him." My eyes began to glass over, I couldn't believe what was happening. Again, the enemies squirtle attacked and missed HATRED. Fear overcame me as my options fell before me. Continue on and find out what the game was trying to tell me or drop it and never touch it again.
I finally decided I wanted to know. I selected, "Heart" next. HATRED did nothing. No scream, no animation, this time the squirtle cried out in agony as half of its HP dropped immediately. The caption read, "I do NOT tolerate failure."
Again, squirtle missed. My final option lay before me. After selecting, "Out," the enemy squirtle disappeared. The caption read, "leave has died!" I was in shock. "Died?" I said aloud. My rival threw out another pokemon and the third sprite pokeball vanished, he was only going to throw two.
The new pokemon was a pikachu named, "NOW." I froze. Leave now. That's what my rival was telling me. Did I dare continue and find out what HATRED was trying to tell me? After giving it some thought, I decided to finish the fight. It was only a game. Only a game.
My fight options were all greyed out still, except for, "Out." I picked the attack and watched as HATRED reared back and used the attack on the pikachu. My rival's pikachu was put over into the red upon impact and the caption read, "I RIPPED HIS HEART OUT."
The game froze after the caption appeared on my screen. I stared blankly for a moment and then the background began fading to black. All that remained untouched by this anomaly was the caption. Slowly HATRED and the enemy pikachu disappeared.
I shivered as the white text suddenly attained a glow around the edges. The text faded and two white circles grew out of the black nothingness. I strained to see if there were details I wasn't seeing or if the circles were actually getting bigger.
Suddenly, they stopped growing. They flickered and morphed the same glow effect that the text had previously. A white noise exited the speakers of my DS. It was small at first and I didn't realize that it was coming from the system.
Then the sound of someone groaning joined the noise as it grew louder. A third circle appeared beneath the two glowing orbs and I realized that they matched the shape of a charmander's eyes and mouth. It was HATRED.
The noise grew louder and I tried to silence it, but the spinner wasn't effecting the volume. The third circle grew wider, creating the gaping maw of HATRED. I dropped the DS and clutched my ears as the sound of white noise and groaning became unbearable. The screen flickered and then went black.
Silence followed and I remained standing with my hands on my ears. I watched the DS intently, waiting for it to happen again. Nothing happened. I believed I was finally done with this nightmarish experience. And then, white text appeared on the screen.
I slowly got down on my knees and picked up the DS to read what it said. "Goodbye RJR."
My DS was stuck that way until the batteries died. Even when I shut it off and back on, the screen reappeared with the same text. I removed the cartridge and then charged it. When I turned it back on, the text was there, still haunting and glowing.
Since then, I've gotten a new DS and have thrown away the Fire Red cartridge. I couldn't stand the thought of someone else playing that horrible game, to find the terrible outcome.