For many years, there has been speculation about a mysterious arcade game known as Polybius. Supposedly released in 1981, the game apparently featured flashing graphics and subliminal messaging that could negatively affect those that play it, with the title even being implicated in government conspiracies relating to mind control.
It’s an interesting story, and one a lot of websites have delved into over the years. There’s a Snopes analysis of it here, where you say it’s an obvious gag. There are numerous articles on wikis like Wikipedia, Creepypasta and TV Tropes about the game and its effects on gaming culture.
Basically, lots of people have spoken about it and lots of sources exist about the game online.
But forget all these sources. Because now there’s a much better one.
Created by a YouTuber only known as Ahoy, this source is a full documentary that takes a deep look into the legend and the history behind it. Clocking in at more than an hour in length, it’s a fascinating video that can be watch here:
And damn, you should definitely watch it. Because it is an amazing documentary.
Why? Because RetroAhoy has really dug in deep to investigate this story. He’s spoken to everyone involved in the legend, including known Polybius hoaxer Steven Roach. He’s looked back through the history of Coinop.org to see when the page was added and what changes were made.
Heck, he’s even gone as far as to download gigabytes of Usenet posts and retro magazine articles to see when the name started popping up in the public consciousness. Forget typical gaming journalism based on a random Twitter post or two. This is real investigative journalism, complete with tracking down sources and decompiling fan made tributes to figure who made them and for what purpose they were created.
It’s an amazing example of video game journalism, and perhaps the best example of its field that I’ve seen in more than 20 years.
Which in turn makes me wonder. Could something like this be possible for other video game urban legends?
Because Polybius isn’t the only major one out there. The Triforce has been sought in Ocarina of Time ever since the game’s launch in the 1990s, and has spurred thousands of urban legends you can find on the internet. Luigi being present in Super Mario 64 is another one, as is the whole ‘L is real’ theory. Same goes for Pokémon and its Mew myths. Or for nude codes in various games. Aeris surviving in Final Fantasy 7. Etc.
Someone willing to put in the same amount of time and effort as Ahoy could track these down. I mean, someone’s already tracked down the Purple Prizes hoax for Super Mario 64 DS by similar means. Blowing the lid off the Triforce, PokeGods or L is real could all be possible with enough time and effort.
So, if you’re a video creator looking for a project, why not give it a shot? This could be your road to glory. It could be what gets you thousands of upvotes on Reddit, articles in every major gaming site on the planet and a loyal fanbase willing to support you handsomely on Patreon.
And it could be the start of a new era for video game journalism. An era where shallow clicks and controversy baiting is replaced by lengthy documentaries and investigative articles about interesting subjects like this one.
Thank you Ahoy. You have done an amazing job here. Let’s hope your video will be the first of many more like it.