Machine Hunter

We bought this PS1 game when I was in the second grade. Until then, the spookiest thing I encountered was Hugo’s Haunted House on the PC. Most of my childhood until then consisted of Double Dragons and TMNT and Saint Seiya and Reboot and Jazz Jackrabbit and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers! Oh, the nostalgia. Nothing intense existed in my 6 year old life. Except for this game. I doubt many people have played it, and I wouldn’t want them to. This game had one moment that scared me so much, my mother had to slap me for attention when I wasn’t responding to her calls for food. Apparently, I had closed the blinds and turned all of the lights off while playing, the only light buzzing from the tv in my room. I have not revisited the game since that episode, and I don’t need. I refuse to play this game again. I know what you’re thinking but no, this isn’t one of those creepypastas that take place at the end of the game, where some spooky skeletons pop out if you reach a hidden ending. This is just something that happened to me in the second stage.

I guess I should introduce this game a little. You were a morphing soldier, whenever you defeated a robot, of which nine models existed, you could walk into it and become the robot, completely healing your wounds. Your mission was to eliminate the enemy robots and rescue some innocent miners, playing from a top down view. At this point I was totally new to gore and ultra-violence so when I shot other humans and they exploded, it was different, shocking. As a six year old with no knowledge of kiting, the fighting was to the death. You shot the other robot until one of you died, and too often you got extremely close to death. The music… is some of the creepiest atmospheric music I have ever heard. Listening to it on Youtube creeps me out even now.

Oh, and you were not just fighting robots and humans and squishing rats and slugs on the floors that left the same pools of blood as humans, but you had to fight giant purple dragons that did AoE damage with absolutely no way of dodging. Unlike fighting a robot, you did not get to inhabit the dragon’s body, so you were running around with whatever sliver of health you had left. Fighting the next robot for its body was a struggle.

Somehow, I made it to the second stage. Once. At the beginning of the stage, you are told to get to the other end of the map, to some power generator, if I remember right, and plant explosives at two sites and escape. Ok, simple enough. Having a little more experience in fighting robots, humans, and dragons, I set out to learn this accursed map, which even now could confuse the crap out of me. There were two health stations throughout the first part of the map to which you could run back and heal before progressing, and they were necessary. This level relied on multiple walkways from which enemies loved to shoot, so fighting was not as simple as shooting down a bastard on the same floor as you. You had to find the damn stairs and walk up to engage them. Running from each new area back to the healing stations gave you a slightly solid idea of how the map worked, although taking a single wrong turn or teleporter put left you running around like an idiot in a joke prop store. The lighting was appropriate for a dank Martian cave, but not for my old ass tv.


Eventually I found my way to the east side of the map, the path towards the power generators. Keep in mind, I have spent at least 1 hour working my way through this damned map. I don’t spend as much time exploring this lava-ridden area as I do the last one so I reach the explosives sites and lay them down. Little did I know, I should have layed the closer explosives last…


A giant timer engulfs the screen, 2MINUTES,  1:59, 1:58, 1:57, 1:56, 1:55, 1:54, counting down with pulsating red and green lights, as if the stress of escaping was not nauseating enough.

The map that took an hour and a half to complete. I now had two minutes to return to the spawn point. My heart was racing. But I got lucky. I found myself crossing the correct paths, going through the correct caves, up the right flight of stairs, past all of the pools of red and green blood left by my enemies.

0:55, 0:54, 0:53, 0:52, 0:51

During the final minute the red and green lights that were flashing as the timer ticked grew brighter and louder with an annoying dark yellow.

I got lost, I found myself going in circles, freaking out at the timer, yelling at me, taunting me, “HURRY UP YOU LITTLE SHIT, RUN TO THE EXIT, DON’T DIE, DON’T GET LOST, FIND YOUR WAY, GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING, DON’T GET LOST, HURRY UP.”

Multiple tracks started appearing across the puddles of blood. Those were mine, I kept crossing the same puddles. Why can’t I escape this loop?

0:06, 0:05, 0:04, 0:03, 0:02, 0:01

The exit, I found it, it’s right there, I’ll make it, two more left turns, why am I so slow, I can see from around the corner, I’ll make it, THERE I’M ON THE EXIT SIGN, STOP COUNTING, WHY ISN’T THE MISSION OVER? I MADE IT, I’M HERE, NO, STOP, WHY?!




I have yet to find a Game Over or video game explosion as mind numbingly terrifying as this one. You have no idea how glad I am that audio and video of this stage does not exist on the internet.


  • About the Author

    Juan Soto enjoys reading mangas over watching animes, listening to what pleases me, majoring in Int'l Economic Policy with concentration in german, loves soccer, and plays video games for the story and not the the challenge. Yes, he is casual.

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