The Mario Bros. series is a place where hitting a floating brick with your head and expecting money to come out is considered normal. These games are classics, so we don't even stop to think about the absurdity of what goes on in them. For something to be considered creepy within that context it would have to be pretty messed up -- like, for example ...
The Mario Party games can be pretty fun if you play them with lots of friends (and if you are an adult, it probably helps to be under the influence of some kind of mind-altering substance). Mario Party imitates the format of a board game with the added bonus that you can play them all alone without feeling like such a sad loser. (But really, you are.)
You aren't pretty enough to play Mario Party with people.
Most of the mini-games in Mario Party are pretty inoffensive -- except for this one called "Eyebrawl." It's just ... actually, there's no way to describe it. The game starts with the characters walking into dark woods at night -- which in itself is pretty suspect -- when these inexplicable floating eyeball creatures come from out of nowhere.
Mario games should not remind us that scene in The Shining.
The Super Mario Wiki informs us that the floating eyes appeared before in Mario 64, which is odd, because we don't remember them from anything except our nightmares. The objective of the mini-game is to move the wiimote in circles, making the eyes dizzy as they eerily follow your every movement with their, um, selves.
"Oh God -- everyone's watching! It's just like being at the mall!"
Once they become dizzy, the eyes explode into a cloud of smoke -- only to be replaced by increasingly bigger ones. The player who pops the most eyes wins. And then the nightmare is finally over, right? Not so -- it's only just began.
You see, most mini-games end with the winner doing a celebratory dance, but in this case, the celebration is interrupted when several small eyes appear out of nowhere and move towards the players. The winner starts screaming and runs away in terror, leaving the utterly shocked and terrified loser to be surrounded by the peepers in a scene that looks like what we think was happening off camera in The Blair Witch Project.
Meanwhile, the remaining big eye simply stands in the background, watching you in silence. The image then lingers there for entirely too long (about seven or eight seconds) before the normal game resumes. Keep in mind that the average age of the Mario Party player is probably, like, seven. If you're playing Mario Party with a son or younger sibling and you come across this mini-game, good luck explaining to them why this is happening to their character as they weep inconsolably.
"It was time that you learned there is no God, anyway."
Everything about Mario 64 is a little bit scary scary. The haunting music in the endless staircase. The big Chomp. That giant freaking eel that sneaks up on you in the underwater level. Even Mario himself looks like a complete maniac with these graphics.
They probably weren't going for a "guy who breathes heavily as he stares at you in the subway" look, but there you go.
But the scariest part is a scene in the haunted house level that serves no purpose other than making you shit your pants. As you explore the house, you come into a room with nothing but a piano in it.
But when you approach the piano, this happens:
It jumps at you, revealing a massive set of spiked teeth and an appetite for human flesh.
That's the actual music from the video, by the way (minus the scream, but that's the least scary part). It's exactly the same sort of unnerving background music you'd hear in a David Lynch movie.
Oh, and there's no way to stop the piano. There's no way to kill it. It'll just keep coming at you until you die. The only solution is to give up and escape. As we said, it serves no purpose but to make sure you never, ever sleep. So then you come out of the room and walk around the house, you know, to chill out a little, get yourself together ... and what do you find next?
In the early Mario Bros. games, whenever Mario or Luigi "died" they would simply jump back on the screen and give you a sort of "whoopsie daisies" look, as if reassuring children that they were in fact OK.
This taught an entire generation that you can fall into a pit without a whole lot of consequences.
Other times, Mario would just fall backwards raising his legs, like a little kid playing dead.
That's about as gruesome as video game deaths got back in the day. Technology, however, has allowed developers to get increasingly realistic in this area, and Mario games are no exception. Like in Mario 64, where you can hear Mario drowning and watch his limp body float to the surface. First he clutches his throat, as water rushes in:
And then he goes limp, floating face-down on the surface just as a real drowning victim does. A shadow of Bowser's skull floats in over the scene:
Many of the other death animations in that game include Mario yelling in terror as he falls from a great distance, desperately coughing and choking from poisonous gas and struggling helplessly as his body is slowly sucked into quicksand.
And in case you ever wondered what Mario's lifeless skeleton looks like, you can watch him being electrocuted to death in Super Mario Galaxy. That sort of thing leaves no room for uncertainty. There's a more definite quality to Mario's deaths these days, like they're trying to tell you that, yes, he is absolutely dead and it's all your fault.
No wonder Mario never made it as a plumber: He has no fingers.
Even "Game Over" screens have gotten creepier over the years. Fun fact: They're called that because they used to be just the words "Game Over" on a blank screen. Most of the time, you've just watched your character die an increasingly gruesome death, so the words should be plenty. Apparently, Nintendo thought we were wondering what happens to our characters when they die in the game. Hence the growing tendency to include unnecessarily detailed images of the characters looking utterly shamed and defeated.
And then there are the ones that show them looking like they're being tortured while floating in a black void, like in The Donkey Kong Country series:
Other times, they're more straightforward about the fact that you've sent your character to eternal hell:
Then there's the otherwise unremarkable Luigi's Mansion. An early version of the game included this disturbing game over screen:
"You no longer control Luigi. Only the voices control him now."
Apparently they realized it looks like Luigi is either about to murder his family or has just gotten through doing so, because they took it out of the finished game.