You've likely heard of the mandela effect, false memories of things that you "remember" from the past. And you've probably experienced it at least once. There's the whole "Berenstein" and "Berenstain" Bears conspiracy theory, leading some people to believe in the existence of parallel universes. You might "remember" something that isn't actually there in a movie you've watched many times over the years. The mandela effect can happen with pretty much anything.
Video games are no exception. I never experienced the mandela effect with anything other than a video game. One game in particular: Super Mario RPG. Even though I'm not really that into RPGs, Super Mario RPG is my favorite Mario game on the SNES and possibly my favorite game on the console. I first played it in 1999/2000, and played it a lot up until 2004 or so. I not only rented it, but I also bought a copy with the box and manual at a rental store that closed in 2001. But as much as I liked and still like the game, there is something about it that's been bothering me for over twenty years: a possible false memory.
What I "Saw" and "Remember"
This occurred when I rented the game in 2000 or so. The particular copy of the game I rented was pretty well beaten, as I remember every level in the game being selectable. I decided to check out Nimbus Land, the area in the game that's above the clouds. I went inside the castle and explored. I walked into a small room with some stairs that apparently led to another room, but I couldn't go in. Why? Because Mallow was standing at the bottom of the stairs, guarding the room. I seem to remember him mentioning that his parents (King and Queen Nimbus) were in the room, and wouldn't let me in. Even though Mallow was inside the Nimbus Land castle guarding a room that his parents were apparently in, he still appeared with Mario in battles.
I never saw this again. I rented the game again later, and it was just like the way we all know it. As mentioned above, I bought the game at a (different) rental store that closed in 2001 so and same thing: the game was the way we all know it.
Writing to Nintendo
I used to write to Nintendo a lot. Sometimes I would send letters to the game counselors, or order manuals, accessories, Nintendo Power magazines, and Player's Guides.
This memory I have bothered me every bit as much (and probably more) when I was a kid. I wrote a letter to Nintendo in 2000 but didn't send it, either because I thought they would think what I "saw" and wrote was "stupid" or because I simply forgot to send it. I still have the letter after all these years, as well as the envelope.
It reads (typos and punctuation errors included):
"To Nintendo Game Play Counselors I need help with Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars again. I'm in Nimbus land now and there is something I can't figure out. I rented this game a couple of times and in the Nimbus land Castle there is a room where Mallow stands guard in and there is another one that Mallow's Parents are in but Mallow is standing guard and won't let me in do you think you can help me with this part?"
I'm glad I didn't send the letter, because they likely wouldn't have known what I was talking about (or would they?). I'm also glad I still have it.
Reading About Other Player's Memories
in 2003/2004, I asked about this on GameFAQs. As expected, no one knew what I was talking about. But apparently, I'm not only one who remembers different things in Super Mario RPG.
On GameFAQs, a user mentioned he rented the game and remembered the "Gate" level (the last level in the game) being selectable at or near the beginning of the game. Another user mentioned an area called "Mario's Factory", which was said to be the same as the Factory seen near the end of the game except you could walk on the Conveyor Belts.
Were there different versions of Super Mario RPG at some rental stores or...did some people, including myself, experience the mandela effect?
Looking at Issues of Nintendo Power
i bought several issues of NP in the early 2000's, some of which answer player's question's in the Counselor's Corner section and other's show easter eggs in the Classified Information section. None of these magazines show or mention what I saw.
A few years ago, I bought issue 77 of NP and noticed a preview showing a beta version of Super Mario RPG. Some of the areas shown in the pictures look similar to the final version of the game, while other areas look very different or aren't even in the game. Once again, I didn't see or read anything about what I saw that one time I rented the game.
To this day, no one seems to know what I may or may not have seen while playing Super Mario RPG over twenty years ago. There are rumors that some rental copies were different, but as far as I know that wasn't proven true. I guess it's just a false memory. The mandela effect can happen to just about anyone, whether they're watching a movie or TV show, reading a book or magazine, or playing a video game. In my case, I have a false memory of something I "saw" in a video game.
Since 2021, I've had a Japanese copy of Super Mario RPG. It's a little unfortunate that I'll probably never know the truth about what I "saw" or whether there really were different versions of the game at rental stores or not.
Edited by MegaMan52
Fixed typos and added pictures