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A Glitch Made a Family Game into an Urban Horror Legend, and Here Comes Its Sequel

By Johnson Ge
Aug. 8, 2023 updated 10:31

On July 28th, the highly anticipated adventure game Natsu-Mon: 20th Century Summer Vacation (なつもん!20世紀の夏休み) was officially launched on Nintendo Switch, and quickly gained viral attention for its relaxing summer scenes, unique gameplay, and sense of freedom, however, not for the reason you might expect. It is actually the spiritual sequel of a game that inspired an eerie urban legend 20 years ago, because of a horrifying glitch.

Boku no Natsuyasumi (translated as "My Summer Vacation was released back in the year 2000 on the original PlayStation. The protagonist arrives in a rural town on August 1st, embarking on a month-long summer vacation filled with simple pleasures, from catching insects in the mountains to interacting with family members. On August 31st, after the protagonist finishes writing their diary and reflecting on their various experiences, they eagerly await their father's arrival to take them home the next day.

A screenshot of the Diary in Boku no NatsuyasumiA screenshot of the Diary in Boku no Natsuyasumi

And for some players, this is where the horror begins. An unexpected bug in the diary would cause the game to progress to a date that should never exist - August 32nd. As the game goes past its supposed end, creepy things begin to happen. First, the protagonist’s uncle's entire family would mysteriously vanish from their home, leaving behind an eerie emptiness.

If the player then chooses to sleep, the game would actually advance - into August 33rd. The family is now back, in a way that is hard to recognize. Their cousin's torso was only half intact, and they had unnaturally green eyes. Their aunt's torso had vanished, too, leaving only floating limbs. The uncle?  He’s now a disconcerting mass of colored blocks. Even the protagonist themselves begins to undergo disturbing changes, while all the characters seem oblivious to these abnormalities, continuing to gather around the table to cheerfully exclaim, "Let's have our breakfast."

A screenshot of the Boku no Natsuyasumi shows everyone in the uncle’s family has some sort of graphic glitch.A screenshot of the Boku no Natsuyasumi shows everyone in the uncle’s family has some sort of graphic glitch.

On August 34th, when the player opens the diary, they are greeted with unreadable garbled code instead of the usual contents. The strange occurrences in their uncle's family have become more severe, to the point where even the protagonist himself is starting to transform into indistinguishable blocks.

A screenshot of the Boku no Natsuyasumi with the glitch.A screenshot of the Boku no Natsuyasumi with the glitch.

Not only that, but the text in the game's dialogue has also turned into a jumble of meaningless strings and fillers. This bizarre situation continues until August 36th, when all the characters, except for the fixed scenes in the house, become completely unrecognizable. Eventually, the game freezes after the protagonist falls asleep.

A screenshot of the Diary in Boku no Natsuyasumi where the date changes into meaningless strings.A screenshot of the Diary in Boku no Natsuyasumi where the date changes into meaningless strings.

This bizarre ending of the PS1 version of "My Summer Vacation" inspired countless interpretations and speculation. Some believed that the game's background design, set in 1975, and the room decoration, reminiscent of Japanese horror movies, meant that the protagonist had fallen into a time gap starting August 32nd, disappearing from the real world entirely. As players discovered this "ending" approximately two years after the game's release, some even speculated that it was hidden content of "My Summer Vacation." Consequently, "August 32nd" gradually became a terrifying urban legend among players.

In 2010, the game director, Kaz Ayabe, finally responded on Twitter, claiming it was nothing but a save glitch. He also mentioned that the PSP version of "My Summer Vacation" had fixed this bug, wishing everyone a happy time playing on August 32nd. However, this didn’t put all the rumors to rest. After all, the thrill of discovering such horror hidden beneath a fresh and cute game is truly exhilarating.

This urban myth is one of the reasons why the recently released Natsu-Mon: 20th Century Summer Vacation caught so many eyes. And players are still trying to find the alternate reality that might be hidden underneath the newest entry. These explorations resulted in many people messing with and transforming the game into a "children's version of GTA" or Natsu-Mon of the Wild and garnering millions of views.