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Released in 1981

***.5 (94 total votes)

Game Summary

We need information.

Game Details

This game had a very limited release, one or two backwater arcades in a suburb of Portland. The history of this game is cloudy, there were all kinds of strange stories about how kids who played it got amnesia afterwards, couldn't remember their name or where they lived, etc.

The bizarre rumors about this game are that it was supposedly developed by some kind of weird military tech offshoot group, used some kind of proprietary behavior modification algorithms developed for the CIA or something, kids who played it woke up at night screaming, having horrible nightmares.

According to an operator who ran an arcade with one of these games, guys in black coats would come to collect "records" from the machines. They're not interested in quarters or anything, they just collected information about how the game was played.

The game was weird looking, kind of abstract, fast action with some puzzle elements, the kids who played it stopped playing games entirely, one of them became a big anti videogame crusader or something. We've contacted one person who met him, and he claims the machines disappeard after a month or so and no one ever heard about them again.

Until the ROM showed up.

Here's what we've found so far:

  • Found english strings "insert coin" and "press 1 player start" and "only" - looks like a 1 or 2 player game.
  • Text in the game says "(C) 1981 Sinneslöschen" Maybe a German company?

If anyone has heard any additional information about this game, we'd appreciate hearing about it.

Quick update, we just wanted to go on record here that Steven Roach is full of himself, and knows nothing about this game. We have it on good authority. No, Polybius is not a Tempest prototype. No, Polybius is not a vector game. Does the title screen look vector? No, it does not. We've recently received some new information about the game (today's May 16, 2009), and yes one of us is flying to the Kyiv, Ukraine area tomorrow and yes the trip is related to this information. Stay tuned.

"Maybe" Images

(fuzzy search, these MAY match the game, or they may not)

Title screen shot from Polybius. Member Ratings / Comments

***  by Lady_Eboshi. Comment: "The name "Sinneschlossen" is German for "senses-deleting" or "senseless" and I think Polybius was the name of a many-eyed monster in Greek mythology. Has anyone considered emulating it for MAME?" 2003-03-02 21:40:45Z

*    by marminZ80. Comment: "If the game really existed, the ROM would be ready for d-load on the www a long, long time ago. Sorry folks, it's a hoax." 2005-03-15 19:30:38Z

***** by Sh0wtime. Comment: "hard to believe this story is true when there is a picture, but nobody is able to get the ROM of where the screenshot was taken. anyhoo... my email is if you have the ROM and would like guinea pigs for your evil experiments with this game, I sacrifice my sanity for the sake of weird science." 2003-07-29 06:04:10Z

***** by Mappy. Comment: "This game should be emulated on MAME like yesterday. That will put a stop to all this BS. Or mabye it was already emulated, but it wiped out any memory we might had had of it. And what about the company?. Who are they. What other games did they release. Somebody has to know. " 2003-08-01 15:03:50Z

***  by SilentWes324. Comment: "Sinneslöschen means senses deleting in german and polybius was a greek philosopher. If you are looking at this site you probably read the artice in gamepro so maybe since more people know about it the truth can be discovered. If anyone has any information on where I can find the rom or any other information that might help please contact me at" 2003-08-01 22:58:08Z

***** by Emrys3177. Comment: "I have been reading a lot about this game recently, and am actually crazy enough to want to find it. Various sites and magazine companies have been reporting that a ROM of this devastating game seems to exist. If it truly is out there does anyone happen to know where it can be located or downloaded from? I want to be one of the few insane people to try it since Portland '81." 2003-08-03 15:27:20Z

***** by howardwen. Comment: "I call troll. I'm a videogame journalist and am investigating this. I am concluding this is a fabricated urban legend, perhaps to promote an independently produced movie (like what was done for Blair Witch). ONLY this site and list this game. If anybody can prove/disprove Polybius, then feel free to contact me directly: Howard " 2003-08-04 13:54:48Z

***** by immortalcold. Comment: "Polybius was a Greek historian who dabbled in cryptography. I have searched long and hard to find information on this game but everywhere I go the info is the same. A ROM reportedly exists but cannot be located." 2003-08-09 13:24:22Z

***  by armored_shadow. Comment: "Polybius was an ancient philosopher in ROman times, captured in Achaea by Rome." 2003-08-08 07:58:56Z

*    by Gamerman. Comment: "Come on, this thing is nothing more than an urban legend. There is no Polybius, or any ROM of it. This is just a fancy story that entertains conspiracy theorists. The screen shot is just a fake some dude must have made with Photoshop. A video game that makes people hate video games is a rediculous idea. The day they find a Polybius game will be the day they find the PS2s that Saddam Hussein networked together to launch missles." 2003-08-09 04:52:23Z

***** by kakabobo. Comment: "boooo! what is my name?!?! LOL RULZ" 2003-08-10 12:34:16Z

***** by polybiusinfofinder. Comment: "i found a polybius!!! it exists!!!! sadly, if u want to buy, i am willing to sell for no less then a million dollars. i have not played it, but i turned it on and seems to work fine. email me within 1 month of 9/20/03 with an offer. if u have a reason of why i should let u have the polybius for less, send me the reason why and ur offer. my email adress is warlord of darknes@ u have 1 month... 10/07/03 i have received 1 offer, however, am willing to lower the price to $900,000. not much time left....." 2003-10-07 15:35:50Z

***  by Big_In_PDX. Comment: "Would like to know what Suburb this game was alledgedly in. I do live in Portland, Oregon and I would go and investigate this." 2003-08-13 20:28:33Z

***  by ultimate12. Comment: "has anyone ever found a rom for this game and if so what system is it for?" 2003-08-14 13:08:07Z

***** by waffleking. Comment: "anybody out there who has this rom send it to me at if it exists, i have nothing to fear. i have a strong mind. I used to be a big conspiracy-theory freak so why the hell not?!" 2003-08-17 04:07:34Z

***** by mranime01. Comment: "i have seen a coin op machine of it but i didnt play it it looked stupid but when i read the article in game pro i rushed to ebay to see if it was still there but then it was gone so it does exist but i thought it was a real thing from the begining i mean the company name says it all....right?" 2003-08-17 11:06:24Z

*    by PolyBiusResearch. Comment: "This has already been saidbyh me months ago:Greetings people, I am part of a private group that are investigating in "PolyBius" And after reading your comments yes I have the rom but it only generates the title screen and makes this strange "swooEER" noise. I cannot release it. Another member in my group found it on the internet. Sorry but i would be kicked out. A couple new facts about polybius: People who played it have an urge toplay it again, even though they cant remember playing it. It changes your mood, people who played it reportadly were sad and after they couldnt be sad anymore...." 2004-01-06 21:55:11Z

**** by substance_frequency. Comment: "Hi, im agent substance and my friend agent frequency are here to finally unravel the international conspiracy, that is POLYBIUS. We will use all our knowledge and sources to help you out of this spiral of mystery. please if you want to contact us please e-mail us at if you need any information of how we have gotten so far, thank you. [Substance and Frequency] " 2003-08-19 07:48:02Z

**** by branochilly. Comment: "I too, as most people, have been searching for information about the game since reading about it in Gampro. I've come across a few people who say they are in a secret group doing research on Polybius. One such person posted here Why are these people afraid to let out info? Is it because it is all a hoax?" 2003-08-19 08:00:05Z

***** by OneeyedWilly. Comment: "Ok first off, this guy with his secret organization has posted in other forums too. + the game is highly addictive, but noone remembers they played it? "O i have a rom but my secret organization keeps it disclosed" then why are u telling us this? well anyways, polybius i believe exists. however, im not sure that all it says it does is true. though i do believe about the seisures and the nightmares. but men in black? come on. i am one of those paranoid conspiracy freaks as are all of you. but if u found the rom, wuldnt the government put a failsafe so that it doesnt work?" 2003-08-19 12:59:32Z

*    by nanojath. Comment: "Doesn't exist. It's just a silly rumor that has been bumping around forever. They debunk it on Snopes" 2003-08-21 13:47:51Z

***** by lord_sephiroth. Comment: "Well I have been searching for it for half a year now. I have collected a file of facts containing everything anybody on the net knows about it. Its out there somewhere... Anyone with info, e-mail me " 2004-01-23 15:19:37Z

***  by ShadowRune. Comment: "Come on now... As fun as this would be to belive in, it's nothing more than an urban legend. However, I like to pretend I have an open mind, so if any information surfaces to suggest his game is real, send it to Please." 2003-08-21 17:53:44Z

**   by bjiggle. Comment: "Take the Title screen, open in Photoshop and crank up the brightness and saturation. ummm.. cut n' paste? yeah.. fake" 2003-08-22 16:50:57Z

***  by blackstarlinersignal. Comment: "hmm, actually you'll get the same result from using that process on any jpeg screenshot - try it and see..." 2003-08-23 00:33:17Z

***** by Unknowner. Comment: "Polybius exists. The image floating around the net is a fake, but there are too many firsthand accounts to be simply a rumor... and for the record, Sinneslöschen means "Loss of Senses" in German." 2003-08-23 19:59:18Z

***** by daledelly. Comment: "I have located 1 of the polybius machines it works great but about 2 min. in the game it just restarts.But I no longer have it some one bought it from me and I did not tell anyone about it they just came to me and wanted it very badly!!!! The man had who bought it from me was very strange. HE MAY HAVE BEEN THE PROGRAMMER FOR IT I DO HAVE SOME SCREEN SHOTS OF THE GAME. I do not have a scanner to put the pics on put i can do my best to remake them on photo maker!!!!!!!" 2003-08-24 02:48:31Z

***** by mofugger6789. Comment: "i have actual screen shots of the game if anyone wants i will send them to and no not just a title screen and i remember my nephew gary playing that game while i was visiting them heh he didnt lose his memory but he did have horific nightmares and he wouldnt sleep for about a week nor would he go into the arcade afterwards.strange ain't it?" 2003-08-24 15:29:11Z

*    by ziel. Comment: "I don't have a rating for this game yet cus i have not played it. If anyone knows exactly where i can get this game email me please" 2003-09-06 21:56:39Z

**** by ninex2hi. Comment: "I have recently went over to my friends house and we have played this game polybius that he found online from a german downloading patch center and we have such a hard time concentrating on anything now. were not obsessed with the game but we ocassionally play it. its very weird it has word that your supposed to shot be4 it flashes at its top speed and the words tourn and flash and at night all i dream about is one of the flashing words" 2003-09-13 21:50:56Z

**** by Imajin. Comment: "Rated 4 for no apparent reason. I seem to have stumbled upon a site with polybius information. Is there anyone who can verify "PRG017"? Thank you." 2003-09-19 22:20:11Z

***** by pop_virus. Comment: "One of the managers at WICO remembered this game. It was designed by a guy named Ed Rottberg and was test marketed in a few of the Beaverton and Hillsboro arcades by Atari.The game used vector graphics to render rotating 3d mazes in space and the game looked a lot like an early Tempest prototype. The object of the game was to get through a maze without hitting a trap or a mine. As the game progressed it went into "strobe mode" making it difficult to navigate against the flickering background. Kids would occasionally spaz during strobe mode, or get dizzy watching the mazes spin." 2003-09-21 21:30:34Z

*    by keithdok. Comment: "" 2003-09-30 23:30:03Z

***  by kingspider. Comment: "Okay, people. Here's the situation. I myself am a skeptic. This means that when I first heard about polybius I wrote it off as rumour. But I was curious. I checked around for information about the game and came up with nothing. I forgot about it. I recently downloaded a batch file of emulated games and was looking through it. No Polybius. But I did find a file called polyplay. There seems to be a number of different games in this rom. I couldn't tell what they were called though because they were all in German. I looked polyplay up on and found that it has no info. If I happen to be stupid and many people know of this polyplay, just tell me. If not and these two games have something to do with each other, give me your email and I will send it (within a reasonable amount). " 2003-09-25 04:07:46Z

**** by Chaosking202. Comment: "Tih polybius to me is a test invention for the goverment or who ever would want to do damage to some ones brain. The screen shot looks fake , it it wear real i belive some one would have released more photos of it . right now i am using all my search program's , file sharing and anything els i can use to find the polybius rom or any information on it . The flashing lights and rapid rotation in the game , if that is even true . could contribuet to the memory loss , ther is a warning now on video games with rapid flashing may cause seizures . insomnia and horible nightmares could be the mind dealing with parinormal suggestions . now ther is the more based in reality explination . to me i belive that this game was created to brain wash or tamper with the mind . i belive the game creators would sought out by the goverment to make this brain eraser . if any one has any information about polybius at all please send me a e-mail at . thank you and keep seraching!" 2003-10-07 19:36:47Z

***  by AnonC. Comment: "I know this is a very exciting topic for those of you who are into conspiracy issues, but I would highly recommend that you abandon your search for information regarding the subject of this conversation. I say this in your own best interest. Those of you who have come too close to the issue have had to be taken care of unfortunately. I would encourage you not to pursue an action that would very likely endanger your own life and possibly the lives of those you love. I have been instructed to post this to any site that is engaged in active discussion regarding the subject. If possible, alert your friends who may be searching as well. Thank you for your time." 2003-10-10 17:57:22Z

*    by delusional_at_times_. Comment: "If anyone has any useful information on where this game can be found, it would be much appreciated. If this game can do what everyone claims it can, this could be the cure I've been looking for. My state-of-mind can't get any worse, so essentially I have nothing to lose. Pills don't work. Besides, I haven't played video games in years and this could be the one game that rekindles that love I used to have for them. If any one knows or attains new info about the game, email at: " 2003-10-17 13:24:02Z

**** by Scorcho. Comment: ""by bjiggle . Comment: "Take the Title screen, open in Photoshop and crank up the brightness and saturation. ummm.. cut n' paste? yeah.. fake" (2003-08-22 16:50:57Z)" Yeah, that sort of makes sense, but with extensive use in photoshop and other graphic programs I can tell you it would be MUCH easier to make something comepltely from scratch rather than searching out the right parts, and cutting and pasting them, so your theory does work, but it doesn't, now, supporting the theory of realism, the muliticolored squares could have just been noise eminated from the graphics on the screen, and on the side of skeptscism, it's pretty obvious, no other screen shots, no ROMs, but all I'm saying is that if it was a photoshop job, it was a very bad one. It's possible that the game was just a test version and caused headaches, and the story just got blown out of proportion from there. " 2003-10-27 10:33:58Z

***** by ekvetch. Comment: "First of all, I believe Polybius is real. After some research, I have found this site: "US Army Plays Games" - Read that part, and note the creator of Battlezone. Ed Rottberg. The rumored creator of Polybius. Now what gets me, is that the government used one of his games for training methods, and also supposedly hired him to create Polybius. Maybe it's just a coincidence, maybe it's not. That's all I have found out so far, I'll come back if I find out anything else." 2003-11-02 14:07:07Z

***** by MrFrauf. Comment: "haahhahaha this is by far the worst prank ive ever seen. These guys are pretending to leak it onto the net. It is funny though, since everything about it has been a vector game with flashy colours and this is a couple of blobs changing colours. The same day this file was made, a person posts on this saying he had played this game and tried to remember the parody maker slave2's name, and someone claims he had found it and gave out that link on another board. Attention seekers. Funny though." 2004-03-07 17:42:07Z

***** by Tnaegres. Comment: "I like the way a game that's never been played can cause so much hysteria/hype/discussion. It's been I dunno how long since hearing about something like this. Though this game is going to be impossible to find, I'm trying to find any info about it that I can if possible. All I know about this game is that I wanna play it, although we've all only seen the title screen, but since it was supposed to use vector graphics, it's obvious that the title screen shown is not real at all, because the real screen would actually look much simpler! I want to try to make something similar in the near future, but for now, I'll just read what I can find on Polybius. I've compiled much info on Polybius, but it's stuff everyone knows already and arguements from some forums I've visited. The picture may not be real, and the thoughts of this game's existence have kept me up at night, but we'll see how everyone will believe when a working Polybius ROM emerges at last!" 2003-11-16 21:45:10Z

***** by Night_Trekker. Comment: "Again, I can't really rate a game I've never played, so I'm only giving it a five-star rating because the concept intrigues the hell out of me. As far as the existence of Polybius goes, I'm pretty skeptical- all this talk and only a single, nondescript screenshot? I don't buy that. Still, the idea is interesting. I've seen a few films (bad ones) and stories that are probably based on the existence of a game that messes with the players' minds. I've always rolled my eyes and sighed in general embarrasment, but the notion that it could be based in truth is horrifying." 2003-12-02 21:28:18Z

***** by dantheharoman. Comment: "whilst i have not played this game it does exist. I live in Australia and back in 1996 i saw the machine. I knew nothing of it and Tekken seemed much more appealing. The arcade was in western australia somewhere my dad knows the name of the town if anyone is interested the machine may be there or not. Worth a look though. Oh and i never witnessed any men visit the machine and i was there a while." 2003-12-03 04:12:24Z

*    by Zhang. Comment: "It's fake, it's just an urban legend." 2008-10-07 12:38:55Z

***  by LiquidNitro. Comment: "My thought is, are you guys nuts?.. Go play Everquest or Tetris, then tell me if you find games insane." 2003-12-16 15:38:35Z

**** by Rhythmic5. Comment: "I wrote a philosophical, argue sort of type essay on Polybius, my views and my arguements. Check it out here, it's worth reading, believe me." 2003-12-24 01:48:23Z

*    by cootster. Comment: "How can you rate a game that doesn't exist? Oh, wait, it does exist . . . I've seen a dead cabinet for it only miles from where it's original home would've been in Southeast Portland. But, like I say, it was dead and non-functional. The cabinet I saw contained two paddle controls, somewhat like Arkanoid . . . Next to it was a perfectly working 1943, though, which would've gotten more attention from me anyway, because I HATE vector games . . . Just a thought, if Atari was behind this, Theurer (sp?) likely created it, he did Tempest and I, Robot, two games that are reminiscent . . . Someone should track down his contact address and ask him . . Personally, I suspect it was just a prototype for one of the above games mentioned, caused Pikachu Syndrome in more than the rare amount of people it occurred to, was toned down and then released. And that's the weakest Snopes debunking I've ever seen . . . " 2003-12-25 21:37:58Z

***  by flamingfook. Comment: "I think that this game was real, but I don't think all these things like black coated men and I don't blame the nightmares on them, and amnesia couldn't have lasted long. But if the game has strobe effects, as mentioned before, then it can be truly disorienting to the player. I have played a game that uses strobe effects, and cannot play over a few minutes. the strobes come in as you rank up. get to rank d to see them realy work. just click the maracas to get there." 2004-01-02 02:14:38Z

**   by i_survived_polybius. Comment: "I played polybius. and I remember it all. I can't post everything here, but if you want info, e-mail me at" 2004-01-14 09:25:21Z

***  by Imagremlin. Comment: "The videos on youtube are fake. The game they're playing comes from here: " 2009-03-27 20:33:22Z

***  by pr10. Comment: "Looks like someone is after some Polybius components: (in IE, use edit > find on this page, and type 'polybius') Hmm... " 2004-01-15 21:23:26Z

*    by silvertrain. Comment: "For the record., Polybius was a Greek historian/political philosopher who lived at about the turn of the 1st century BC. At that time the Romans had conquered the Macedonians & established political control over Greece. Polybius, who was sort of a Roman apologist, wrote a history of Rome's rise to power in the Meditteranean, which also included long discourses on the Roman constitution & Roman military organization. The most famous part of Polybius' history is Book 6 which contains his philosophy on the cyclical nature of governments: (ie they evolve/devolve from monarchy to tyranny then from aristocracy to oligarchy then from democracy to mob rule & thenthe cycle starts all over again)." 2004-01-18 22:58:14Z

***  by Ded. Comment: "I met one of the original programmers. He let me have the game and I think it really might have messed me up. His name was Snake2 I think, or Slain2 I think and he was the guy who made it. If you get it DONT PLAY IT. I had to come and warn anyone who will listen " 2004-01-26 23:59:28Z

*    by random_uv. Comment: "Definitely seen Polybius title lettering remaining on a standup machine. The actual game running was either some rotary descendant of Tempest, or Time Pilot or somesuch, this was years ago. I expect a video game requiring spatial concentration in the face of strong stroboscopic effects would really fuck people's heads. And be withdrawn after test marketing. No men in black necessary. And the old cabinets would turn up surplus here and there (chip shop in Glen Innes, Auckland, New Zealand). " 2004-02-06 22:52:16Z

**** by AncientGamer. Comment: " I dont find this hard to believe in.I still remember the infamous pokemon cartoon that caused kids to have sezieurs in Japan in 2000.This was probably something similar and quietly covered over by whoever published it for health concerns and liability.I doubt men in black had anything to do with this.Still its an intriging legend.I would love to play this game" 2004-02-12 21:25:35Z

***** by Vampenguin. Comment: "Hello I have been reseaching Polybius since i first heared about it. Please sent any info you wish to share to Thank You" 2004-02-24 16:08:00Z

*    by foureightone. Comment: "Polybius ROM found: If you really want to, visit the link below - and download Is it real? a hoax? I don't know, I'm not going to mess with it." 2004-03-02 10:31:08Z

***** by DemolitionMan. Comment: "found this on the net a couple of years ago, just hosted it tonight. maybe a hoax, maybe real, all i know is that the artifacts say at one time this was a real film photo, so any mods would have to have been done on the cellulose." 2004-03-31 21:34:13Z

***  by Arad. Comment: "I've just played this game on the computer befor I read the story. For me, it looks like a normal stupid game. If anyone want to ask me about the things that happened to (will happen [maybe]), just e-mail me (please no spam): or at ICQ: 241241132 " 2004-04-24 17:21:05Z

***  by Gamer8585. Comment: "I just downloaded the so called "polybius" game from I can't say for sure if it is the real polybius, but who ever made this version sure went out on a limb to convince you it was. It dosen't have any strobe effects or vector graphics, but my head did hurt a little after playing for a while, but it was probably from the mind numbing pointlessness of the game. Felt like a crapy verson of space invaders where nothing dies (execpt you) just freezes after it gets hit. The longer you remain alive the higher your score." 2004-04-27 23:22:04Z

***** by Demonstar3. Comment: "I think I found the ROM!!! it is here on This rom is dangerousily addictive. Play to believe! " 2004-04-30 20:33:11Z

**** by Icarus. Comment: "Maybe a Polybius Cabinet? Naaaah, it's a fake, i made it, it's so easy to do a Polybius Cabinet, but, i really think this game exists... maybe is not a Evil Machine of doom, but, it can be a game... can somebody put a URL to the ROM? :)" 2004-05-02 18:52:16Z

***  by Siege88. Comment: "All I gotta say is it took me about 5 seconds to realize this crap is fake. For one, the copyright name translates to "sense-delete". Whoever thought this thing up figured they were being clever, since that's exactly what the rumor says the game did. Obviously, if the game name was really copyrighted, it could be looked up at a patent office. And as a graphic design major in college, I can tell you those pictures were definately photoshopped. And not very well done either. And if you look at the titlescreen to Tempest (which this game is suppossedly similar to), Atari used roman numerals for the copyright date- and a much simpler title screen." 2004-05-04 00:49:40Z

*    by dragontoothmoon. Comment: "I've played this game, and I swear I have. And not the ROM - the real thing. In an arcade. It didn't give me amnesia or nothing, but I felt dizzy and didn't play anything else for a little while. It was just once, and it didn't seem to resemble Tempest as much as everybody says." 2004-09-06 05:29:09Z

***  by Zoghade. Comment: "Either someone has a very vivid imagination and went to a large amount of work to create an elaborate hoax, or there's a grain of truth to it. I think what pulls people in is the slight air of mystery to it. Unlike many urban legends, this one isn't so easy to debunk, and the people behind it (whether real or hoax) went to a good deal of trouble to give it meaning and depth. Even the name has a purpose to the legend. As for AnonC...he's definitely a hoaxster screwing around. If they took any action, it'd probably be to shut down certain sites, not just tell them to stop talking about it." 2004-12-06 21:00:34Z

*    by darth1. Comment: "Ok this is weird. I vaguely remember this game. Years ago I spent the summer with my aunt and uncle in Lake Oswego, Oregon. I think I was 16 or 17 at the time(I'm 32 now). Anyway, I would drive into Portland to visit this arcade there where you paid a dollar or so to get in, then each game was a nickel. Well I remember playing this game there. If I remember correctly it was only there on two of the times I went there. Really weird, I don't remember the gameplay but I remember not liking the game when I played it. The second time I was there I remember avoiding the machine. Had completely forgotten about that game until today. I was just looking up vintage games and stumbled across this. I never had nightmares or anything weird like that but I do remember not liking the game, and back then I loved anything inside an arcade cabinet. I'm guessing only a few were released and not much interest in them was shown so they weren't produced on a large scale. Or maybe a couple cabinets were produced back-yard style by local programmers. At that time Intel was just getting big and they were located around Portland. Could have been someones pet project or something. " 2004-12-09 13:46:43Z

***** by Slave2_is_my_bounty. Comment: "E-mail me with and/or for Ploybius information. I can tell you as much as I know." 2005-02-16 19:40:45Z

*    by Ionizer42. Comment: "Hey guys, i ve sat here all night reading the posts, after a while i decided to just do a very quick search in the morning before i had to go to work. i found a site that claims to have the polybius rom on it but since i work for a global company i decided not to take the risk of picking up a virus and pretty much destroying everything. so here it is: . peace (Y)" 2005-01-13 19:27:37Z

*    by Ausaria. Comment: "People are saying the game was a "secret project" created by a "secret company." Based on what everyone is saying the game is about, why would they want it to be a secret? If the game caused amnesia or seizures, that's no reason to keep it's entire existence a secret. It would just be an instance where the production company would recall the game and more or less apologize for any damage it may have done. It makes sense that they may have simply chosen to use a small suburban city (in Portland, OR) for guinea pig testing, but that is illegal. Why would they blindly test it on a public who could easily contact authorities and get the company into serious legal issues? For example, say a company programs a game to test the effects of visuals (in this case, the vector format) on the human brain. Say they want to see if it is possible to stimulate or disturb certain portions of the brain through lighting effects or disturbing movement rates. They would NOT just toss it out into a public arcade and test it on unsuspecting individuals. They would hire a group of trained professionals and testers to play the game, check for bugs, etc. A game is not released unless it passes a testing phase, and if the game existed it would have been pre-tested behind closed doors, and THAT'S when they would have assessed any psychological damage. (" 2005-01-16 20:35:25Z

**** by mace. Comment: "hi there im just going to say that the infomation going around the internet about a certain game called polybius too few info about this game there is a strong possiblity that the game once did excist but im a reporter im taveling to germany to search for clues and bring info those damn bastards in the goverment could even be behind this bizzare incident or even the germans we have to actually do something about this instead of just copying other info off other sites.ill bring back more info in a few weeks possibly 3 c ya thank u for reading." 2005-01-20 05:39:47Z

*    by DanAmrich. Comment: "Actually, all the investigation I did, including a few interviews, points to it being a hoax. No ROM ever appeared (despite claims to the contrary), and only two websites even report its existence. In fact, I think my "Secrets & Lies" story in GamePro debunking it (Sept 03, also on is about the only story you'll actually find on it in the mainstream press. I called it "inconclusive" in the article because I could not find much out at all, but I think it's pretty safe to call it false. Is there the capacity for video games to affect you? Sure--any time you get excited by a good frag, or feel paranoid or remorseful or touched by anything from Max Payne to Deus Ex to Final Fantasy III. Games can inspire emotion and, in some cases, epileptic seizures. But beyond that, be glad that there isn't a video game equivalent of "The Ring."" 2005-01-23 13:24:56Z

***  by suchatzi. Comment: "I'm surprised by the obsessiveness of finding this game or ROM, but the total lack of logic in doing so, people either. 1. copy text from sites made about the game, and post it in forums. spreading the same information over and over again around the net. 2. make up stories "yeah i played it and um what was my name again heheheh". 3. make new (and often poor) pics of cabinets, title-screens and even some apparently lame game where you're a triangle shooting amoeba at larger amoebae. I have a more sound objective, well actually i'm not even looking for the polybius rom, but I'm currently looking for two things: 1. The prototype ROM of Tempest (I only have the third revision, I need the first revision, second revision and prototype Roms, but mostly the prototype ROM. 2. A catalogue (or a pic of a catalogue, whatever) with the name polybius in the list, the name of magazines, catalogues, brochures or whatever from early 80's would help too. (do not waste time photoshoping catalogues i've studied a bit of computer graphics at university and can tell if it's faked) I am willing to exchange the aforementioned info/roms for everything i know about Polybius. Here's a taste of the Cake: (NEW info) - The SUBURBS in portland it was tested in are called BEAVERTON and HILLSBORO. - There was a SHIP called the SS POLYBIUS, it is now on the bottom of the ocean (no, the Rom is not hidden in the ship), it was sunk on the 27th of June 1942, the same date (not the same year) that the new yen was released in Japan, and the same date that Atari was founded. how are these things related? what does this mean you ask? well, nothing. but at least it's new info that i found in the library and not by scrutinizing stories on the internet. OK so you think that's interesting? well i'm going to give you one more slice of my cake: - Polybius square - made by Julius Polybius for communications, later to be used for cryptology - turns into code that looks like this: 43 24 33 33 15 43 there's a graph of letters you put together, look it up, it's even easier than morse-code. now if you encode something related to polybius you'll get a number... ok so that's all i'm going to say. ____________ Now go get those Tempest rom's and catalogues! /suchatzi " 2005-03-15 08:13:30Z

**   by ShadowBox. Comment: "I have no clue as to the true existence of this game, but like many of you, this "urban legend" and its air of mystery intrigues me for some reason. I'll research it and try to pull as much info as I can from Google, partly because of my interest, but mainly because I've nothing better to do, lol. It's probably not true, yeah, but it really IS interesting...mainly because I like to think that there's at least a kernel of truth to all myths." 2005-03-17 01:10:51Z

*    by crazylou. Comment: "As any relatively mild arcade geek might know, Tempest was originally a game where the tubes rotated and the player's "claw" stayed still. This was changed after it caused motion sickness to the tubes being stationary and the claw rotating, and apparently the Polybius name was just a prototype for Tempest. "Sense deleting" refers to a lead coders Herculean alcohol consumption. Someone clearly took the stories of a prototype game in Oregon causing motion sickness and added a load of Men in Black for good measure, before faking a ROM." 2005-04-20 19:25:37Z

***  by orma84. Comment: "" 2005-05-15 11:44:04Z

***  by rythemfox. Comment: "hey maybe the "power" it has over people is to make them search for times like half a year... " 2005-07-02 10:58:47Z

*    by newzealander. Comment: "hello, if "uv_random" could email me at '' it would be greatly appreciated, i went on a polybius quest in auckland and came up with nothing. any extra directions?" 2005-07-17 07:00:20Z

***  by Polybius. Comment: "Erp - I found another damned copy of the Slave2 version - I can tell that this is forged on all counts - the premise is nothing that I remember of the game. Yes, I, too, have played it, when I was young - can't remember much, but the screenshot I've seen is very similar to the real one. It was a maze game for sure - that's how I can tell that the game is a fake. In the "info" section, he mentions joysticks - and joysticks allow you to move in ALL 8 directions - up, down, left, right, and 4 ways diagonally. In the game - you can only move in the basic 4! Plus, he claims to have converted it in the early 90's, and the recreation of the music in this version uses a MIDI module called VST SuperPlug - a BRAND-NEW module, just came out a few years ago. I can tell by the snare drum sound - and in 1981, all games had polyphonic sound, like a cell phone ring. Sound devices that could recreate actual instruments other than a piano weren't invented until '84! HAH!" 2005-08-13 04:58:04Z

***** by lao12493. Comment: "Heyy everyone ive been interested in polybius ever since it had it on gamepro and i had this trippy ass dream where i was in a arcade booth and playing polybius and it was like the old old old school star wars all polygonal with flashing bright pink and yellow lights and i had a seizure in my dream it was pretty scary but im suprised no one came up with the idea to recreate the "polybius" rom. I mean all we need is a brain surgeon and a computer programmer and we are good to go rite?? whose with me?" 2005-09-29 22:19:45Z

***** by Jake101. Comment: "I dont have any info on Polybius itself but i do have some info on the men in black... this story is all true so dont start dismissing it as a hoax till you thought it over. I work in a gas station in the small town of stevensville in the niagara region in canada, i was working on a sunday afternoon (i think it was sunday) when a man in a black convertable pulled up to get some gas. the man 1st got out of the car then he stood neer the gas pump, i went out and asked him "How much gas would you like sir", and he handed me a crisp 20$ bill. i noticed the bill wasnt folded or wrinkled at all wich is wierd because it was an older 20$ bill. next i noticed his car was clean like really un naturally clean. no scratches or dirt or nothing. while i was putting the gas in i glanced over to the inside of the car (the roof was down) and i saw a Pure Black Briefcase sitting on the passenger seat (wich is odd because it was a sunday so not many ppl have buisness stuff to do). the man stood perfectly still like one of the secret service ppl you see around the president. he had a black suit on with black pants a black tie black sunglasses and black freshly polished shoes on. i dont know if he was a man in black but he seened to perfect( almost robot like) to be normal. i dont know what he was doing but he came from the same road that leads straight to niagara falls (whare there are at least 10 arcades) mabe the men in black are making another Polybius type video game." 2006-01-27 09:15:27Z

***** by Isaac356. Comment: "suchatzi, I found a site where you can get all of those roms you mentioned - With a little C++ knowledge, you can even play them in MAME. I tried this, and all I could get was a white line and dot (I suck at C++), so I hope you have better luck. Anyways, I give this game a 5, for two reasons, 1: no matter what anyone says, it's not a puzzle game, it's the prototype to Tempest, which was a freaking awesome game, also a 5, and 2: the legend itself is interesting; it could make a successful Stephen King story." 2006-03-18 23:00:41Z

***** by stevenroach. Comment: "I think it's about time I laid this to rest, however entertaining the speculation. My name is Steven Roach who is primarily based in the Czech Republic. Sinneschlossen was a company set up by myself and several other mainly amateur programmers in 1978 that worked on component parts for Printed Circuit Boards that saw programming as a limited but very profitable sideline. I think the fact that it wasn't the focal point of our business took the pressure off of us and hence we created some quality work which quickly gained a reputation within the industry. We were approached around 1980 by a Southern American company that shall remain nameless for legal purposes to develop an idea they had for producing an Arcade Game with a puzzle element that centred around a new approach to Video Game Graphics. They were very keen indeed to gain an upper hand in what was already a very competitive market so we were offered a staggering commission-based renumeration package to develop something special that utilised the technology. We developed the game in little more than two portacabins that were knocked together where we spent many stressful mornings, evenings & nights which was a great pity because it compromised our relaxed and innocently amateurish approach to our business in spite of the financial possibilities. Marek Vachousek was the programmer who came up with the name Polybius - he had studied Greek Mythology at Masaryk University and came up with the name because it sounded quite bold and mysterious, which is what we wanted quite simply. The inspiried graphics combined with the puzzle elements and scintilating gameplay was something to behold - we playtested it for hours and hours and it certainly was an addictive game that was well loved professionally and recreationally by all that played it. The company couldn't have been happier and we all thought we were on the verge of something very special indeed. We then received a phonecall stating that there were concerns within the company that the basic graphics which featured prominently in so many other games of the time were fine for the average gamer to spend hours at a time without any noticable physical or mental detriments but the intense and engrossing gameplay of this new step was very much an unknown quantity so the game was put back several months due to divided opinion within their board of directors, much to our consternation for breaking our backs to finish it on time. We received heartening collated playtesting figures and were then told that the game would receive a temporary limited release which bouyed us significantly but shortly after, we received terrible news - a thirteen year old boy from the Lloyd District of Portland, Oregon had suffered an Epileptic Fit while playing the game, only six days after the machines had literally been installed. One of the senior employees that I knew very well contacted me to tell me that it caused immense ripples of panic throughout the company who were of the opinion that they had "created a monster" as such. It may sound laughable now but please bear in mind that this was 25 years ago when the Video Game Industry was in it's infancy. Every effort was made to withdraw the game from the public domain as quickly as possible but the scaremongering was already out in force and a lot of the children were queueing up or daring their friends to play this supposedly nightmarish game. Company Directors descended on the town to assess the situation which may account for these reports of "Strange Men in Black Suits hanging around" and the machines were often taken in daylight, causing minor but noticable incidents. As far as I was made aware, only seven machines were distributed around the area and no other health-related incidents were reported. I heard "off the record" that the company made a one-off settlement to the boy's family and no more was heard, apart from all the internet-based speculation and resulting paranoia. We disbanded Sinnesscholssen shortly afterwards because we didn't want to restrict ourselves to the stringent deadlines of other companies and favoured distancing ourselves from the game in case of any lingering recriminations which could have done a great deal of damage to our personal and professional reputations which was our livelihood and with some of us having very young families, this was extremely important to us. As far as I'm aware, no ROM's or otherwise exist unless they remain in the bowels of the company that distributed it. We only received a basic payment in view of the fact that the game was withdrawn without nationwide or international distribution so we grew to loathe it and was often a cursed word whenever we used to meet up and still is today, which is a shame. I still believe we created something that should have changed the face of gaming and would have set us apart from the rest of the industry but Arcade Games were often compared to drugs at the time because of their addictiveness and we created something that small-minded bureaucrats perceived to be the Heroin of the Video Game World that's only crime was to be many years ahead of it's time. I'm sure people will doubt the sincerity of this so feel free to drop me a line at as I'm happy to answer any questions. Steven. " 2006-03-20 14:21:27Z

***** by MarrymeMai. Comment: "My company, DaFife Productions, is in the process of editing a film which I wrote, produced and directed based on this legend. You can check it out at Feel free to post feedback on the site. Thanks. - Dave " 2006-08-27 22:18:27Z

*    by theabyss. Comment: "fake ...just a legand. " 2008-11-09 18:51:02Z

***  by stonestn. Comment: "Truth on polybius I wish I had known this in the 90's its a tempest prototype only reason I know this is if anyone in 07 still has an atari jaguar play tempest 2000 on 2000 mode if I remember correctly on about the 25th to 30th level should be orange shapes you are fighting on. If you dont die at all hard to do by the 6th shape you are on the game will give you yet another 1 up followed by big word coming at you polybius it will then start flashing and display polybius yet again intill you finish the shape" 2007-04-05 12:41:45Z

***** by icecreamjonsey. Comment: "I am attempting to create a repository of all Polybius information at a page I call the "Polybius Home Page" ( I was also anonymously sent a cabinet image that I've never seen before. Probably faked in some way, but then again who can really tell. " 2007-05-23 12:58:47Z

***** by ziarunner. Comment: "Sorry if this has already been discussed, but the font used in the title screen is called Bius Titel. I have looked pretty closely, and it is definitely the same one from that famous title screen shot. " 2007-09-29 18:28:12Z

**** by sp93. Comment: "I HAVE THE GAME contact me via email if u want it" 2008-01-21 21:53:20Z

***** by POLYBIUSLIVES. Comment: " HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN?" 2008-04-11 18:46:16Z

***** by tomers113. Comment: "If a rom showed up, why keep it to yoursleves? GIVE US!" 2008-08-13 16:48:23Z

***  by ah_me. Comment: "its on youtube lots of bright colours bit like an early tempest." 2008-11-19 17:04:28Z

**** by headwyvern. Comment: "I know an arcade dealer who confirmed he can definitely find the polybius machine. Email only if serious about looking to find/purchase. Thank you for your time, Silverwyvern" 2009-02-16 23:39:28Z

***** by Prg107. Comment: "Hi all, I had the (bad) luck to get my hands on the ROMS of this game!!! (I thought it was an urban legend until then). After I while, I found an old version of MAME which made it run. After playing it I had the WORST nightmares of my life, for at least five days. People who wrote it knew what they were doing. Some days passed, I counldn't decide if I had to distribute this rare ROM to the public or to destroy it, finally I completely wiped it. Maybe you'll say I did the wrong thing, but I assure you that code was diabolic. I'm sure I've done the right thing & hope not to see it again." 2009-04-09 07:22:31Z

***** by Sinnesloschen. Comment: "ORATOR If you know something and want to collaborate. Polybius is real. " 2009-12-18 19:20:28Z

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This game page was created 8/3/1998 12:00:00 AM and last updated 5/16/2009 3:00:31 AM