When I was six years old, on Christmas Day, I received my first gaming console ever: the N64. I still have that same console to this day, as well as all the games I ever got for it. My all-time favorite game for it has to be Donkey Kong 64.
Even as a young kid, I was determined to beat it, and did a couple of times, even to 101%. There is a lot to love about the game, and over the years, I have always found time to go back to it.
As one tends to do with old games they love, a few months ago I decided to challenge myself. I was going to put a handicap on what I could allow myself to do in the game, but still be able to beat it. What I planned to do was not use Tiny for any Golden Bananas, and just for her boss battle in Frantic Factory. I was not sure if it was even possible, to be honest; I had not played it in a year before I started, and I did not do any research of whether it could be possible. However, I had a feeling it could.
All went as planned through the first part of the game. Despite the long period away from the game, I still seemed to have my skills. I got all of the Golden Bananas I could get with DK and Diddy in Jungle Japes in about an hour.
After unlocking the first lock to K. Lumsy's cage, I opened the portal to Angry Aztec. I quickly made my way over to the building that housed Tiny's prison, and began to solve the puzzle. For whatever reason, I decided that I would stop and come back later; I guess I did not want to unlock Tiny until I absolutely had to. However, as I was going back to the pool to leave, Diddy stopped. The camera went back to Tiny. Her speech bubble came up.
"Hey! You better not be leaving me in here!"
I blinked and hesitated for a bit. As far as I could remember, that was not supposed to be there. Then again, I had never left the puzzle half-done, so maybe it was just something new that I had not noticed before.
As the camera panned back to Diddy, I decided to go ahead and finish the puzzle. After I finished hitting the buttons to spell out KONG, the gate to Tiny's prison lowered. She went through her usual celebratory animation. Strangely, as her bubble came up, it started out something different than before.
"I knew you wouldn't forget me!"
I knew that was not supposed to be there. The rest of her text was as normal as I could remember though, and she bananaported to the tag barrel and left the Golden Banana. I went to collect it, then proceeded as normal. I thought about the weird text, but figured that it was just something new that I had never seen before. It was nice to see something refreshing and new in such an old game, even if it was a little weird.
After that, I went through Angry Aztec as per usual, up to the point where it was time to save Lanky in the llama's temple. I had kept the promise to myself and had not selected Tiny in the tag barrel, not even scanning over her, so all was well on that account.
I activated the instrument pad with DK, the llama spat into the lava, and I had DK shoot the coconut switch to open up Lanky's prison. Lanky rolled around and made his usual noises, but after he said that he would be in the tag barrel, he added something else.
"...but I don't think it's safe to be next to Tiny, so choose me quick."
Now I was getting confused. I wondered if my brother had somehow hacked the cartridge. Since he had done so in the past, I figured he could have. After all, it was just text that was altered; that could not be hard. I was getting more interested by it anyway, so I extended my intended playtime by another hour.
Just to humor Lanky, I quickly headed to the tag barrel after collecting his Golden Banana and chose him. However, I noticed that, even though I had not moved over her, Tiny started stomping the ground as if I had gone to her but did not choose her. Again, it was odd, but I quickly forgot about it as the parrot came down to inform Lanky that he also had 5 Golden Bananas to find on the map.
Everything kept going as normal as I got Lanky some of his coins, and got enough bananas between DK, Diddy, and Lanky to get to the boss. Each time I went into the tag barrel all that time, though, Tiny would stomp the ground and whine, as if throwing a fit. I just kept thinking that it was either a glitch, or a part of the hack I was certain my brother possibly did to the cartridge. After I beat the giant dragonfly, I exited the level and headed over to the little island with K. Lumsy's cage. He opened up paths to Frantic Factory and Gloomy Galleon, and I chose to go to Frantic Factory first.
Upon entering the portal, as usual, the camera flashed over to Chunky in his cage hanging above a square room. Instead of pleading for help when his speech bubble came up, he said something different.
"No need to save Chunky...Chunky is safe up here!"
Now I knew something was up, but I was still getting interested. It seemed that the other Kongs were getting afraid of Tiny for some reason. I thought it was funny, and I wanted to see how far it would go. My curiosity made me work a little faster to get to Chunky. As I went into the tag barrel to select Lanky to get him down, I noticed that Tiny was jumping up and down, stomping the ground with both feet as she yelled. I watched her do that for a few seconds, before I finally hit the A button to get Lanky out of the barrel.
I went up the pipe and stomped on Lanky's switch, and Chunky's cage fell. Instead of looking at his arms and waving, he looked scared and shook his head, going "uh-uh!" as he flailed his arms. His speech bubble popped up.
"No, Chunky not safe now! Why did Lanky friend do that?"
Then, without even talking about how he collected green bananas, the bananaport sent him to the tag barrel. My intrigue was starting to turn into a slight concern by this point, but I forged on, just to see what I was getting into. After collecting the Golden Banana from Chunky's cage, I sent Lanky back to the tag barrel. As he jumped, instead of making his usual noise, he seemed to say, "Oh no."
When inside the barrel, he looked over his shoulder to Tiny, who was jumping and stomping with some sort of deranged determination, and it sounded like she actually said the words, "Pick me now!" speaking each word as her feet stomped on the floor.
The other Kongs seemed a bit scared, especially Chunky, who was biting at his nails. I took the long way around to select him, and as the cursor passed over Diddy and DK, they both seemed to say, "Please," before going to their usual animation of disappointment of not being picked. When Chunky was selected, he got to his knees and begged to be picked. I did so right away. All the while, Tiny was still throwing a fit. When Chunky hit the floor, he wiped his forehead as the parrot came down to tell him about his five Golden Bananas to collect.
A few moments of hesitation later, I paused the game, saved it, and turned it off for the rest of the day. I was giving myself some time to do other things, as well as ponder about what I had just witnessed. After a couple of hours, I decided to call up my brother and ask him if he had done something to the DK64 cartridge. He asked if I had lost it, and I told him about what I was doing, and what had happened.
He swore that he had nothing to do with that, and that he had not hacked that cartridge. It sounded like he was telling the truth. With my prime suspect shot down, I was left wondering what could have possibly caused all that. Not that it matters much, but unlike most stories of this nature, my dreams were normal, as far as I can remember.
As I got up the next morning, my first thoughts were about DK64, and whether or not I should erase the file and start anew. After I had breakfast, though, I just could not help but wonder what was going to be next, so I went back to the N64 and started up the game.
A little bit unexpected by me, the title screen and intro were normal. As I got to the file select screen, however, I noticed that the banana of the file, which had the game data with Tiny, was peeled. The banana inside was purple, the same color of bananas Tiny was supposed to collect. Supposing it was supposed to be a message, I chose the file, and noticed something off.
In Lanky's place, there was a blue X. As far as I knew, that was never there before. I felt a few butterflies in my stomach as I pressed the A button to start playing, but as it loaded, everything seemed fine. The music was normal, nothing was wrong with the map, and DK seemed to control fine. I relaxed a bit, and had DK jump into the tag barrel so I could choose Chunky and go back to Frantic Factory. That was when I saw it.
Lanky was lying flat on his back, immobile. His long arms were sprawled out behind him. His eyes were closed, his tongue laying out of his mouth, and there was a slit on the side of his overalls. It did not take much examination to tell that he was dead.
Instinctively, my eyes wandered over to Tiny, who was not throwing a fit this time. Instead, she was waving like normal. I swore I saw a glint or something from her left side. Just to see what would happen, I scrolled over to Lanky and pressed the A button to select him. All that happened was a speech bubble came up from Tiny.
"That won't work. Lanky won't be necessary anymore."
I sat there for several seconds, just trying to wrap my head around what just took place. I was beginning to fear what would be next, but I suppose that just drove me to continue. I shook my head, then scrolled over to Chunky and continued to Frantic Factory.
After collecting a few Golden Bananas with Chunky, I decided that I would focus on collecting bananas to feed Scoff with, so that I could use Tiny for the boss. I ran around as Chunky until he got his banana medal for 75 bananas, then I went to the tag barrel to get out Diddy. As the selection popped up, I noticed that Lanky was still there, in the same position. Tiny had resumed stomping up and down as she had the day before. For whatever reason, seeing that made me think that I should go ahead and feed Scoff Chunky's bananas, so I kept him and went through the portal. Troff and Scoff seemed oblivious to the situation, and the blue hippo happily ate Chunky's green bananas.
After Chunky ran dry, I sent him back into the tag barrel, and Tiny was still throwing her fit. Lanky was still there, dead, and a fly, similar to the ones in the Big Bug Bash bonus game, was flying around him, almost comically so.
I noticed that both DK and Diddy seemed to be shuddering and just barely glancing over at the enraged Tiny's direction. I noticed that I was, too. It made me think that I should probably erase the data and start anew, but no one ever accused me of being that bright. Instead, I avoided Tiny and went to Diddy, who seemed to thank whoever he believed was the power above before he fell out of the barrel.
As I ran through the level finding red bananas for Diddy, I started to notice that the enemies were not actively pursuing him as they usually would. They would still give chase if he got too close, but he had to be much closer than usual to prompt the action. Perhaps it was just my imagination going wild; then again, perhaps the enemies were just showing pity for the Kongs.
Either way, I still ran through the level, picking up bananas, as well as a couple of Golden Bananas since they were on the way, until Diddy had his Banana Medal, as well. I quickly sent him to see Toff and Scoff, and fill the blue hippo with more bananas. I was close to the goal to meet the boss, so I hurried and put Diddy into the tag barrel. That was when I saw that Tiny had struck again.
Chunky was flat on his stomach, arms out to his side. There were several tears in his shirt, and his tongue lulled out of his mouth. His neck was twisted at a grotesque angle, where I could see the bones pressing out. More flies were flying around Lanky. I could see holes on his body; I assumed that the flies were eating his rotten corpse.
I felt like throwing up, but I managed to stomach it as I looked at DK and Diddy. Both were just looking at the bodies. Tiny was waving again, as she was the first time I saw Lanky's body. In her hand, however, was a large knife. I went to go select Chunky, knowing that Tiny would say something, and she did.
"You shouldn't have ignored me."
That was all that speech bubble said. DK and Diddy looked horrified, and I am sure I did as well. Just wanting to get it over with, I went around to select DK and took him out of the barrel.
I must have been panicking, as I started making sloppy mistakes. I ran into a few enemies, missed some easy jumps, and even forgot how to pull out the gun a few times. Even so, I managed to get a few more Golden Bananas, as well as 90 of DK's bananas.
It was enough to finish feeding Scoff, so I went to the portal and proceeded to the feeding pad. However, as soon as DK hit the pad, the camera zoomed in on Toff, and a speech bubble came up.
"Are you sure you want to do that, DK?"
Before I knew it, the screen had turned dark. I was given the option to press A for yes, and B for no.
I was not expecting that, so I had already pressed the A button. DK started to feed Scoff until he was fat enough to push Toff's pedistal to the key. Toff leaned over and unlocked the door, and the faces of the Kongs flashed by, except for Lanky and Chunky, who had a blue and green X, respectively.
As expected, it landed on Tiny's face. However, as it did, it suddenly turned into a purple question mark, as if she was not unlocked. At first, I did not think it was possible, but given what had already happened, I was not too surprised when I found that Tiny was gone when I had DK jump in the tag barrel. What I did find inside, though, did make me lose the contents of my stomach.
Lanky's corpse had so many holes in it. They were deep enough that you could see his ribs, his lungs, stomach, and some of his skull. Chunky now had an arm missing, and you could see the tendons hanging down where it was ripped off. His shirt and back were ripped open, and you could clearly see his spine. From the way it looked, it was as if something had taken a few bites out of him. Diddy was not in the best of shape, either. He was on his side, and he was missing one of his legs, and his tail. Both wounds were trickling blood. However, he was still moving, somehow alive. As I quickly selected him, he started to speak with his speech bubble.
"T...Tiny...watch out for...not safe..."
This was all he could say before the speech bubble cut itself off. Diddy stopped moving; his chest was no longer rising and falling. It appeared that DK was the last Kong.
I had to walk away for a bit after that, but I could not bring myself to turn the game off. I just had to finish, but I could not do it right away... not after what I just saw. Before I took a break, I had DK exit the tag barrel and paused the game, so that I would not have to witness that gruesome sight upon walking back. I went out to have lunch. While I was out, I called my brother again and told him about what happened that morning. He proceeded to call me a liar. I told him that if he wanted to see proof, to just head over and see for himself.
Something in my voice must have gotten to him, because he got quiet. Eventually he spoke to me in a serious voice. He told me that it would probably be best if I stopped playing before I started to think it was real. I just brushed him off with a joke. However, something about how I was acting must have been off, because when I looked around, I noticed that people were looking at me rather funny. I told my brother I would call him later, hung up, then hurried out the door and back to my car. After sitting in it for what seemed like hours, I started it up, took in a deep breath, and headed back for home.
When I got back to my house, I was not sure what to expect. I slowly walked back to the game. All of these different possibilities played through my head of what I would see on the screen. To my amazement, nothing horrific or out of place was there. Feeling a little relieved, I unpaused the game and tried to think about what to do. I moved DK around the room a bit, until I swore I heard a plinking noise. Going up to the boss door, I saw that the key to K. Lumsy's cage was just sitting in front, acting as if it belonged there. Curious, I touched it with DK, and it acted as if it was a legitimate nab, though DK seemed as confused as I was. He was looking around wildly in all directions.
The animation ended, and the portal to Toff and Scoff closed. However, before I could do anything, the game sent DK to the outside of Frantic Factory, on the overworld map. At this point I just thought that the game was playing itself, but I was still somewhat in control. I moved DK out of the lobby, and went to unlock the lock to K. Lumsy's cage. As the key turned, he started to celebrate. Yet to my surprise, the camera panned to the outside, and the rock that held the cannon to Fungi Forest broke. It was not supposed to do that until you got the key from Gloomy Galleon. With the way things were going though, I knew it was intentional. I felt knots tying themselves in my stomach, but I kept going. I sent DK to the cannon and let it fire him off to his next destination.
As DK entered the lobby, I noticed that B. Locker was not in front of the portal. The portal was just open. Also, the color to the portal was off; the background part of it was red, and the letters "DK" were blue. I knew I was not going to be facing a pleasant time, but as I said before, no one accused me of being bright. I sent DK inside, and attempted to brace myself for what would come. I failed miserably, and I let out a few frightened noises after I saw what I just got into.
Fungi Forest was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I found myself in, what the game seemed to call, "Tiny's Torture." The map was like something out of Dante's Inferno, or so I thought at the time. The ground was just grey, with the "dirt" paths a lighter shade. The place was bleak, and devoid of all color and life, except for the background, but even that felt lifeless. All there was to see was a raging inferno of flames and fireballs, as well as the sounds of faint crackling.
In the place where the clock would have been for Fungi Forest, there was a giant stone statue of Tiny. It had a stoic look, and its eyes were wide and made of rubies, with some black material for pupils. One hand was raised level with its head, and it held a clock in the shape of a lantern. Each tick echoed menacingly throughout the map, as if to signal that there was not much time left.
Its other hand was lowered to its side. It held the stone likeliness of DK's head, with his mouth agape and missing one eye. The camera hung on that shot for a full minute. The more I looked at it, the more I noticed that I was shaking. My stomach felt like a rock. My heater was on, but I felt rather cold, and was shivering uncontrollably. I felt tears going down my cheeks. Even so, I could not stop now; I just had to know what was going to happen.
The camera swung back to DK. He was shuddering and rubbing one of his arms, and I could hear him whimpering. It was then that I noticed that there was no music playing; the only sounds that could be heard were the crackling of the fire and the echoing ticks of the clock.
Everything just felt heavy, as if the end was truly near for both DK... and myself. The camera went back to the statue of Tiny, and a speech bubble was produced from the mouth area.
"I'm sorry if I seemed angry," the statue said, "but it was rude of you to ignore me. I never ignored you. It left me feeling dead inside...all I wanted was attention."
A yell screeched through the area after the message ended. It sounded like Tiny, but with a lower pitch. Then, the speech bubble came back.
"But you just forgot all about me! Do you know how that hurts? I showed Lanky and Chunky and Diddy... and now, I'll show you!!"
Another yell screeched through. The statue blinked twice, and the mouth slowly formed into a scowl. The lips opened to show her teeth. The speech bubble came back after the scowl was complete.
"I don't want to make this easy on you."
The camera panned back to DK, who looked as horrified, as I am sure I did. In front of him, a tag barrel appeared in the air, though it was as grey as the ground. As I looked at it, I noticed that the faces of the other Kongs were there, except Tiny, of course. Each of their heads looked very disfigured, and their fur was mangy and dirty, or so it appeared to be.
"Go, be reunited with the ones you lost," the statue said again. "See if you can survive!"
It seemed like a good idea to obey the Tiny statue, so as soon as I regained control of DK, I had him hop into the barrel. I immediately wished that I had not. I almost screamed at the sight that invaded my eyes. The slaughtered Kongs were back, but in a zombie-like state. They all were grey, and each of them had spots that were not fully healed, allowing me see their bones, their entrails. I could even see Lanky's beating heart. None of them moved until I scanned over them, and even then, the movement was slight.
Unable to think of what to do, I just chose Chunky. As he hit the ground, his large intestine fell out of a hole in his abdomen. When I moved him, he stepped on it, making a grotesque "squish" sound. Just the sight of it made me feel a pain in my lower gut. It took me a while to regain my composure. When I did, I just started to move Chunky towards the Tiny statue, as there were not any of the tunnels that would normally lead to the other areas of Fungi Forest. With each second, the ticks echoed. It felt like it was a drill digging into my eardrums, trying to find its way into my brain.
Without warning, after a few minutes of stumbling towards the statue, a strange creature came from out of nowhere. It had a hunched back, and its head was tilted at an odd angle. It had long, brown claws, blue eyes had sunk back into the sockets, and a mouth full of long, yellow fangs. It ran its claws straight through Chunky's gut. The melon health meter did not even show up; instead, the camera just went back to the tag barrel.
Zombie Lanky came out. However, I could still see the sight of the creature sinking its fangs into Chunky's head, spewing the lifeless blood all over the lifeless ground. I could not even move the joystick as I watched the gruesome display. I felt paralyzed. I accidentally hit the B button, though, which made Lanky's arm extend like usual. Except this time, as it reach full length, his decayed wrist snapped off and made his hand fly towards the creature, hitting it and making it look in Lanky's direction.
It dropped what was left of Chunky and sprinted on all fours towards Lanky. I still could not touch the controller; I just let it happen. It grabbed Lanky, hoisted his rotten body over its head, and ripped him in half. His entrails spilled onto the beast, staining it with the grey, lifeless gore. It was then that I noticed the creature was wearing a denim outfit of sorts, with a white-petal flower on it.
That was when I realized...that thing was Tiny!
I kept feeling sicker and sicker as the camera hung on Lanky's top half, which Tiny discarded to the ground. She had gone back to Chunky's corpse and resumed devouring it as Diddy came out. I grabbed the controller again and had him run back towards the portal. I could feel my heart beating hard as I turned the camera around to put it behind Diddy. It began to beat even faster as I saw that the portal was not even there; it was just a grey wall, with no hope of exit. In a panic, I turned him around and started to run around to the other side of the map. Tiny did not seem to notice Diddy, but I did not want to take any chances and kept pressing B to make Diddy do his cartwheels in attempts to make him move faster. Each time he did a cartwheel, though, clumps of his decayed fur fell to the ground, exposing more holes in his body.
I had this strange feeling to take at least Diddy or DK to the Tiny statue. So, despite my fear, I changed Diddy's course to it. As he drew closer, I rotated the camera to look at where I last saw Tiny. I let out a yelp as I saw there was nothing there, not even the corpse of Chunky. Desperately, I smashed on the B button, trying in vain to make Diddy move at mach speed or something; it was no use. From above came this horrid version of Tiny, landing on top of Diddy and smashing him in a disgusting display of violence. His ghostly blood sprayed upon the ground, and several of his innards spewed out. Tiny leaned down and started to devour what she could of her kill once again.
DK fell out of the tag barrel shortly after, and I wasted no time. I had him start to roll towards the statue, not sure what it would accomplish, but feeling that it would at least do something. Perhaps it was just my imagination, but the ticks from the clock seemed to be growing louder, and the echoes lasting longer. It felt like all my warmth had fallen to my feet, though I could feel myself starting to sweat.
My eyes just focused on DK, the only being with color on the map, except for the crackling flames. It was hard to hear under the ticks, but I swore I could hear Tiny gnawing on Diddy in the distance. My right leg started to shake uncontrollably as I guided DK to the statue, though it seemed like an impossible goal; it was like one of those dreams where you tried to get to the door at the end of a hallway, but it always was just out of your grasp. I kept trying, though; it seemed like the only thing I could do.
I never got the chance to see what would happen. With a final, deafening tick, the clock stopped, and text flashed across the screen.
"TIME RAN OUT!"
DK stopped in his tracks, shaking and looking around, before Tiny swooped in and grabbed him. After that, the screen faded black. I thought my chest was going to collapse in on itself, my heart was working so hard. I just did not know what to expect, and I knew that I did not want to see it. My body felt like a stone, but I got up and reached for the power switch on the N64, and turned it off.
I was not sure if that was a bad move though. Even though the switch went down, the orange light stayed on; the N64 was still running. It seemed that, whether I liked it or not, I was going to see DK's fate. As I sat back down on the couch, I felt like his fate was going to be my fate as well.
The screen started to come into focus again, and what I saw forced me to look away for a bit, as I knew what was going to happen. DK was strapped into a torture device of some sort. Iron bands with rope were tied around his wrists and his ankles. This device was laying against the scowling face of the Tiny statue. He struggled, in vain, against his bonds as the camera panned back to show that there was a balcony in front of him. On it was Tiny, in her regular form. The camera swung to a close-up of her face. She wore a sadistic, toothy smile as a speech bubble popped up.
"No one else to pay attention to but me now."
She let out a giggly laugh.
"Only me to play with after I'm done with DK."
She pulled out her feather crossbow, and fired it at one of the eyes to the statue. Wheels attached to the torture device began turning, pulling on the ropes that were tied to the iron bands on DK's wrists and ankles. They started to pull them apart. DK let out a yell of pain as Tiny walked closer to him, brandishing a bloody knife. The camera forced me into a first-person view from DK's perspective. It made me watch, through his eyes, as Tiny's face turned from a sadistic smile to a look of pure rage. She stabbed the knife forward violently, right into DK's gut.
I felt as if she had stabbed me, too. Though it was just an illusion, I yelled out in pain and looked down at my gut, just to make sure I was not cut open. When I looked back up, Tiny was reaching into the cut she made into DK, and pulled out his small intestine. I felt sick and in pain as she ripped at them with her teeth, gnawing away at them. Splatters of gore sprayed with each bite.
I could not hold it in; I threw up all over the floor. The creak of the wheels turning was all I could hear, other than DK's yells of pain. He looked around, and forced me to look at his arms and legs. A sick tearing sound invaded my ears. My shoulders and hips started to ache; I felt it was because I knew what was about to happen to DK.
It seemed like an eternity of agony before the camera swung out of first-person view, and focused on DK just before his right arm was torn off by the device. Tiny slurped out all of his intestines and laughed with the gore on her lips. DK's left arm was the next to go, with the sinews of muscle hanging out of the wound. Both of his legs were ripped off simultaneously. The blood poured out of him as he let out a last yell of pain.
The screen then faded to black again, and Tiny came into focus. Her hands were behind her back, an evil smile on her face, and she just giggled. Her speech bubble popped up.
"I think you've learned your lesson... Now, back to the beginning...and do it right this time."
After that, she faded away, and Game Over showed on the screen.
I was sent back to the title screen, with Diddy doing his mine cart game. Hesitantly, I hit the Start button and went to the file select screen. The file that had the game data was erased completely, showing no trace of what just happened. After I saw that, the system finally turned off, leaving the TV screen dark. I slowly got up, turned off the TV, and went to go get a paper towel so I could clean up my puke.
A few days later, for whatever reason, I started playing the game again. I started a new game, got to the point where I unlocked Tiny, and then picked her. The game has been running perfectly ever since, with no anomalies.
I don't think that I will be attempting that challenge run ever again.