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Ghoul’n USA?

Area man disturbed to find spirits apparently haunting vintage video game

Zach Huffman

Staff Writer

October 11th, 2018

Alexandria, VA - Like any 90s kid, James Cotton remembers many fond days spent playing 1994 racing game Cruis’n USA in the theater arcade after being dropped off by his mother for a movie. So when James came across a cheap Nintendo 64 and a copy of the 1996 N64 version of the game at a neighbor’s garage sale, he was obviously stoked to play it again. Unfortunately, all too quickly his dream video game became a nightmare.

“It all started when I got the game back to my apartment,” James said. “I immediately set up the system and sat down to play. At first everything seemed fine. I picked my car and course, but then, before the girl in the bikini could even wave the starting flag, her skin melted off and she started screaming.” Fuck. That. Shit.

While most of us would have noped right out of there, James decided to stick around and see what other differences the game might contain.

“I was excited to unlock the school bus, because that was my favorite vehicle playing as a kid,” said James, “But now, there are children with black eyes staring out the back windows the whole time you drive it. It’s pretty unnerving.”

Another change James quickly noticed is to some of the sounds in the game. “Playing this when I was younger, sometimes you’ll be driving along and a woman in the soundtrack will start going ‘Ooh-ah, ooh-ah,’ which sounds almost kind of sexual and I always thought was weird,” he said. “Well now, those have been replaced by what sounds like a whole coven of witches screeching on May Eve.”

Other changes to the game include sudden dark clouds covering the sky and violent lightning storms, an old man in a long coat with a hook ominously watching passing drivers, clouds of swarming bats obscuring players’ views, and a gibbous moon in the night sky.

Although he’s admittedly no demonologist or expert on spirits, James believes that the main entity haunting his copy of Cruis’n USA takes the appearance of a furious-eyed skeleton. “I first saw this guy after I came in first place on a race despite the game throwing all those clouds of bats at me,” said James. “When I got to the finish line, instead of all the bikini girls dancing, it was a bunch of skeletons, which is pretty normal for this game. But then, one big skeleton wearing a Green Day t-shirt comes up in the foreground and starts giving me the middle finger, which had never happened before. He looked livid that I had won the race.” Whoever this evil being is, he has had what seems to be a personal grudge against James since this race, often appearing on a skeletal motorcycle during races and firing jack o’lantern bombs at James’s vehicle, a feature that was not in the original game.

According to James, the entity’s abuse has gotten even worse, and often takes the form of personal insults. “Pretty often he’ll turn directly to the camera and call me ‘fat boy’ or say that he’s going to kill me,” said James. “I’m not in the absolute best shape, but I don’t think that that kind of language is really appropriate.”

Although the spirit seems angriest when James defeats him in a race, his own skills seem decidedly lacking, with James reporting that he has only lost twice to the skeleton, with one of those times being because he didn’t bother to pause the game when he received a phone call, something which seemed to infuriate the entity even more than usual. “I just don’t get how he’s so bad,” said James. “I mean, I guess he like lives in the game right? You would think he’d be the best player ever or something.” Despite the spirit’s fixation on James and his anger when defeated by James, the creature regularly performs even more poorly in races, oftentimes coming in fourth or fifth place, or even worse.

James has also been surprised by the decoration of the spirit’s skeletal motorcycle, which sports a Clinton-Gore ’96 bumper sticker on the back. The skeleton will regularly rail against the Contract with America—the political program put together by the Republican Party prior to its takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994—and occasionally breaks into chants of “Four more years.” “I guess it makes sense that he thinks it’s still 1996,” said James, “But I actually looked it up, and the game came out in December that year, which was after Bill Clinton was reelected. I feel like he should know that. Also, I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, so I don’t think I should be getting yelled at about Newt Gingrich all the time.”

Whatever the true nature of the game’s haunting is, James, we wish you nothing but the best. And to the entity trapped in Cruis’n USA: may you find peace in the next life or at the finish line.


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