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Plugged In

Fact or Fiction: Video game myths revealed

Plugged In

Monster Truck Destroyer

Everyone loves a good story. The problem is, some of the
best ones are totally false.

That's especially true in the prone-to-exaggeration world of
video games, which is rife with kooky legends and inaccurate information. As it
turns out, however, some of the tallest tales are perfectly legitimate. Read on
as we confirm or bust some of the biggest myths in gaming.

There's a South Park episode hidden in an old Tiger Woods game.

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South Park

Long before South Park became an
omnipresent television staple, it was all over the Internet. In 1995, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were paid $2,000 to make an animated short for a Fox network executive. The film, dubbed "The Spirit of Christmas,"
featured the then-unknown quartet of foul-mouthed tots from South Park and quickly spread like wildfire online.

An unknown developer at EA Sports was one of the many to download and watch it -- which wouldn't have been a big deal, except when the publisher mastered the game disc for the PlayStation version of Tiger Woods '99, it accidentally copied that folder off of the server as well. That meant the 5-minute short shipped with the game.

You had to put the game disc into a PC and dig around a bit to find it, but it was there - and ultimately EA had to recall the game due to the inclusion of the profane cartoon.

Fact or fiction? Fact!

The mafia developed a game console.

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The Gizmondo

Organized crime has at some point had its hand in virtually ever corner of the
entertainment industry, but what about video games? You certainly won't find La
Cosa Nostra's fingerprints on the Xbox, PlayStation or Wii, but dig a little
deeper into the annals of gaming hardware and things get much murkier.

The Gizmondo, a handheld system released in 2005, never took
off. In fact, with less than 25,000 units sold, it's the worst selling handheld
of all time -- and for good reason. After the system died, though, more details came out about one of its executives: Stefan Eriksson, who allegedly ran a loose Swedish criminal
organization known as "Uppsalamaffian" (The Uppsala mafia) before
joining the company.

He left in spectacular fashion. After wrecking an Enzo
Ferrari sports car (worth $2 million) in 2006, Eriksson's house was raided on
suspicion of embezzlement, grand theft auto, drunken driving, cocaine
possession, and weapons charges. He served three years in jail due to a plea
bargain and has since been deported to Sweden.

Fact or Fiction? Fact!

A built-in code let you undress Lara Croft in the original version of Tomb Raider.

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Lara Croft

Lara Croft was a geek sex symbol years before Angelina Jolie donned the famous short-shorts.

Even the blocky graphics of the original PlayStation weren't enough to turn off some overly hormonal players, and it wasn't long before whispers began in gaming channels that the developers had created a cheat code for the original 1996 game that stripped Lara to her birthday suit as she quested for Atlantis.

It turned out to be little more than the fantasies of love-starved teens, however, as no code was ever actually built into the game. But the talk did inspire some modders (who obviously needed to get out more) to create a patch called 'Nude Raider' that accomplished the same goals. Eidos ultimately shut it down with a cease and desist order.

Fact or Fiction? Fiction!

Michael Jackson wrote the music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

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Sonic the Hedgehog

Michael Jackson created some of the most iconic music of the '80s and '90s, but did that include video game tunes as well?

The singer lent his image to Sega for titles like Space Channel 5 and Moonwalker, but after his death, rumors began to circulate that he had secretly worked with the publisher to contribute music to the third Sonic the Hedgehog game.

In 2009, Jackson's composer and musical director Brad Buxer
addressed the reports in the French magazine Black & White (which calls
itself the "official magazine of Michael Jackson"), saying Jackson
did, in fact, write some Sonic 3 compositions, but the performer wasn't happy
with the sound quality in the consoles. Frustrated by the process, he chose to
have his name removed from the credits, but the music remained.

There's evidence to the contrary, though. And Sega still refuses to divulge the whole story, giving this myth nearly as much staying power as the King of Pop himself.

Fact of Fiction? Neither? Both? Let's go with the Mythbuster's hedge answer and call this one "Plausible."

E.T. almost killed the video game industry.

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E.T.

E.T. was as big as it got in 1982 -- but just one year later, the Reese's
Pieces-munching, bug-eyed alien found that going home was much easier than
going to the Atari 2600.

By rushing the development process and bypassing QA in its
E.T. video game, Atari ended up with a confusing, buggy title that lacked any
viable entertainment qualities. Consumers avoided it, and the company
ultimately buried millions of unsellable copies in a New Mexico landfill.

Alongside a few other missteps, the debacle brought an
abrupt end to that generation of consoles. Several publishers filed for
bankruptcy in the following two-year period, prompting analysts to question
whether home video games would survive. It was only the U.S. release of the Nintendo
Entertainment System in 1985 that would turn things around for the industry.

Fact or Fiction? Fact!

Mario is a communist.

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Mario

He wears a lot of red and looks a little like Stalin, so it was inevitable that in the conspiracy-filled Internet someone would start to wonder if Mario was actually harboring a Communist agenda.

He was, after all, trying to overthrow a king. And the flag he put up at the end of every level had a red star. Building a case, block by block?

Alas, it's nothing but the usual rampant paranoia of chatrooms. Mario was designed to wear red and blue because the contrasting colors helped the character stand out against the background, and that famous moustache was simply an easier option than drawing complex facial expressions back in his early days.

It turns out has no ties to the Communist party -- just the Mario Party (all eight versions of it).

Fact or Fiction? Fiction, comrade!

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