A Haunted Story of Majora’s Mask Demystified

September 12th, 2010 by

MMMajora’s Mask is arguably one of the creepiest and scariest games in the Legend of Zelda series! However, it may just have become the creepiest of all games today. A story was posted last week at Creepy + Pasta (a blog that posts various scary stories) posted a blog about a haunted copy of Majora’s Mask. You can read through the long story of a boy’s horrific adventure playing this game by clicking here. The boy was also kind enough to videotape his horrific adventure. These videos are embedded at the end of this post. Is this story real or fake? As a avid paranormal researcher, and a Computer Science Major, I hope to give some insight into this story.

The story in short
This boy goes garage sale shopping, looking for games for his roommate’s N64. He visits an older gentleman, who gives him a cartridge with “Majora’s Mask” written on it for free. He takes it back and sees a game save named “BEN”. He deletes this game save and creates his own save. He then performs the 4th day glitch. Then a series of events happen which leads him to believe that the game was haunted. These events send him to random areas in the game, both glitched and normal areas. Random NPC’s (non-playable characters) start popping up in random places, especially the human statue from Elegy of Emptiness. He believes these random events are a result of paranormal activity. He believes that there was some event involving a kid named Ben. He goes back to the neighborhood where he bought the game, only to find the old man gone. He talks to a guy nearby who tells him a story of a kid involved in a accident that ended his life; the kid’s name was Ben. Eventually, after enough playing through this glitched or haunted game, he learns that Ben drowned.

How this can have a reasonable explanation
GlitchesWhen first analyzing this story, my first assumption was that the game wasn’t hacked. All his misadventures were either glitches of the N64 system or maybe it was real paranormal activity. This was a tough, but fun story to analyze. My theory is that his game’s addressing sequence was glitched. Without getting too much in depth, the addressing sequence is the mechanism that the game uses to load data from the cartridge into the console’s own memory. This data can be music, text, sprites (game characters), textures, etc. All this data is stored on the cartridge with addresses.

For most of this explanation, I’m going to use an analogy to make my points as understandable as possible. Let’s say that I am the N64 and there is this book. This book is the actual game, and I can write on it and read from it. The book contains instructions, data, etc about the actual game, and when I read all this, I’m able to show it on the tv or make the sound be heard. I won’t know if this book is fully correct or not. There could be pages missing or typos, and I as the N64 am not smart enough to notice the mistakes. The addresses I mention before will be pages and line numbers. If I’m reading this book and it tells me to go read some data about a cut scene, it’ll give me a page number and line number. I will then go to that page number and look for that line number.

n64For example, if I want to play the Happy Mask Salesman theme song, I need to find the page where this song is located. I can read some data from the book, and it may tell me where the location of this song is. However, it may be wrong and give me the wrong page number and line number. I’m a dumb old N64, so I will assume whatever I’m reading is correct. I may go to this page and line number and get something totally different than what I was supposed to. I could be reading the page of Skull Kid’s Theme song, and I won’t know any better. Then I will play this song on the tv.

The weird locations Link gets sent to is harder to explain. Lets say Link is running around Termina. When Link runs into a door, there is a small load time. This means I (the N64) am going to a new page and reading the data. I read the data, send data to the screen and speakers. Like I’ve said before, I can’t guaranteed the integrity of this data. As the gamer you may expect to go into a room with boxes, but I may read the page about Stone Temple. Since I read the page of the Stone Temple, that’s the data I will send to the tv, and that is where Link is going to end up.

Now for the odd characters in odd locations. Since this book is already messed up, I’m probably going to read a bunch of wrong stuff anyways. I may read to load a ChuChu sprite, but since the pages are messed up I’ll mistakenly read a page of Epona. The final result is you see Epona where the ChuChu was suppose to be.

For the odd game save titles, think back to where I mentioned that the N64 has its own memory. When the N64 reads data from the cartridge, it will save some of this into its own memory. It does this to make the program/game flow faster. This can include game saves. Going back to my analogy, the gamer tells me to delete the game save on the cartridge. I’m very obedient, so I do it. However, I wasn’t told nor did I read anywhere to delete it from my own notepad. My personal notepad is same thing as N64′s own memory. I like it because its just easier for me to read and write on. Anyways, I may read to save the data from my notepad back to the book. Simply put, this undoes the gamer’s earlier decision to delete the game save.

For the odd music being played backwards, this can be explain by something called Little Endian Order. This is where you store data in reverse order. For example, I have a piece of data like {1, 2, 3}. Using Little Endian Order, I would write it as {3, 2, 1} in my notepad. As the N64 console, I’m not aware of this mistake, and I may read the data as {3, 2, 1}. If the numbers represented a piece of music, I would be playing the song in reverse.

GlitchesFinally for the odd song of Elegy of Emptiness, consider this little more special compared to the previous examples. I read that I need to perform the Elegy of Emptiness effect when the gamer tells me to do, so I’m going to sit and wait till the gamer tells me to do it! However, if the book is messed up, I may not read the part that tells me I need to wait for instructions from the gamer. So I may randomly perform the Elegy of Emptiness without even being told by the gamer!

As you can see, N64 isn’t a very smart machine. It’s like any other computer, and will always do what its told, even if it glitches, breaks a program, or a video game. It is the role of the computer programmer to make sure the program or video game run smoothly. However, the data (or the book) stored on the cartridge can also be damaged or corrupted. This occurrence can also cause glitches and breaks. It happens because computer data is stored in bits (0′s and 1′). It isn’t that difficult for one or more bits to switch or be damaged. This can happen because of static electricity, being played/used a lot, or something else. If the data gets corrupted it can mess up the entire flow of the program (or reading the book).

If the game was truly glitched, then those were some weird coincidences! The glitches happened in a way that made it seem like the game was haunted. This could be more then a coincidence. As a Computer Science major, I don’t like the idea of ghost controlling the program flow of a game. Though since I don’t really have a way to say it’s impossible, I suppose there’s always the chance that it could have happened.

What most likely happened
GlitchesWhat if the game was reprogrammed (commonly known as hacked)?. What is stopping me from overwriting some of the data on the game cartridge with a new data. If I have access to any and all data (characters, textures, music, etc), then I can use them to re-write the flow (story) of the game. If I were to write it based off a tragedy in real life, I could make the game seem like it is haunted from that tragedy. The guy talks about the game cartridge being labeled with only “Majora’s Mask” in pen. I could semi-easily download a ROM, hack the data, burn it to the game cartridge, and label it whatever I wish.

If the game was hacked, then this whole thing would make a lot of sense. That would mean the random glitches were not random, but intended. I’m personally more favored towards the hacked explanation because my Computer Science instincts tell me so. However, there may be others who do not believe this. So I’m curious what you guys think? Are there believers that this game was truly haunted, or is the general opinion that it is hacked? Please comment!

The supposed videos of the incident

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