The urban legends of every era always seem to reflect whatever teenagers are doing at the time: Forty years ago, they told stories about serial killers attacking kids making out in cars and escaped criminals hiding in someone's backseat, because they didn't have jetpacks yet. Today, most young people seem to spend their time sitting or standing in front of video game screens, so it makes sense that we should get legends like ...
In a game like Mario, you're usually too focused on not falling off the crumbling catwalk into the lava below to ever really stop and look around. Especially in Mario Galaxy, where you are zipped across space from one world to the next, the vastness of the game world just whipping by you in a blur.
For the same effect, we recommend huffing spray paint.
But if you ever do get the chance to stop and stare into the distance, you'll find some extremely creepy shit. Specifically, in one level of Super Mario Galaxy 2, if you switch to first-person view and look in a certain direction, you can see shadowy figures standing at the edge of the galaxy.
Anywhere you go on that level, if you look up and to the left, they'll always be there. You can't come any closer. You never meet those "people," and nobody in the game ever mentions them.
They're just THERE.
So this is basically a video game version of the Slender Man urban legend. Fans have already started seeing them in other levels, writing fan fiction stories about them and speculating on what they could be: Local villagers (that is to say, aliens) watching Mario from afar? Those weird-looking giants from Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask?
But couldn't they just be, we don't know, trees or something? Well, somebody got curious and started sifting through the actual files of the game. And this is where things get really fucked up.
Turns out the sky pattern for that area is called "BeyondHellValley." "Hell Valley" isn't the name of that level, or any level in Mario Galaxy. It doesn't even sound like something you'd find in a Mario game. As for the shapes themselves? They're called "HellValleySkyTree." Ah, see! They're just trees. Now let's pull out the image file itself ...
THEY ARE NOT TREES.
So what the hell, Nintendo? Some claim "Hell Valley" is the Japanese name for that level (which wouldn't be surprising, actually), or the name of a beta level that was abandoned ... but none of that comes anywhere near explaining why those dudes are there and what we did to make them look at us that way.
In some ways, the virtual world of an MMORPG is just like the real world; where the real world has creepy-ass abandoned hospitals and prisons that no one would dare spend the night in, games like World of Warcraft have hidden areas that were closed off and abandoned by game makers but still exist if you know how to sneak in. And they're equally creepy.
Real and virtual subways are both filled with shadowy rapists.
Take, for example, the unused dungeon just outside a game area called Karazhan (sometimes referred to by players to as "Lower Karazhan"). It's a dungeon that was apparently scrapped partway through development, and in front of the entrance is an impassable gate. But just as with that old abandoned mine outside of town, you can sneak in (in this case, you can get around the gate by way of various glitches). And inside, you find this:
Among the typical WoW dungeon maze of tunnels, you find The Upside-Down Sinners. It's exactly what it sounds like: an underwater room chock full of handless, eyeless people, chained upside-down and left to drown.
Popular speculation is that Blizzard backed down from using the dungeon because they were afraid that it might bump the game's rating to M, but there's no real way to know.
"This shit's getting dark. Let's just throw some murlocs in a cave and use that instead."
But that's not all the creepiness WoW has to offer. The first town you encounter after the human starting area is a place called Goldshire, and it has its own dark secret.
A house on the edge of Crystal Lake, which is just east of town, is normally empty. At 7 a.m. on the game's server clock, however, you can sometimes catch six little kids in the room, standing in a strange formation.
You think that's creepy? They used to stand in a pentagram.
Some players have heard strange noises, like banshee screams or the voice of C'Thun, a former high-end boss ripped straight out of the Cthulhu Mythos, saying, "You will die." You can even follow them from Stormwind City, the human capital, all the way to the house, and they never break their cute little pentagram formation the whole way.
Aw, you kids are just adorable with your little satanic games!
Creepiest of all, though, is the music that plays when you enter the room.
It's completely custom music, found nowhere else in the game, and if there's one thing Blizzard likes even more than re-using art, it's re-using music. (If you don't believe us, go to any inn in the game.) That means it wasn't some lone weirdo who programmed these kids' behavior. They had to get the music department to construct an all-new piece to go along with them.
There are only two characters in Portal -- the one you control and a deranged A.I. called GLaDOS. You spend the entire game jumping through GLaDOS' hoops, solving the teleportation-based puzzles she leaves for you (on the promise of cake) and slowly piecing together that something's fucked up here.
And thus was born a particularly virulent meme.
Finally, at the end of the game, you meet the real GLaDOS, a huge, robotic entity. You fight her and you win and everything's great (albeit in an "... or is it?" sort of way).
But have you ever taken a close look at GLaDOS?
At first she looks like a mess of machinery and cables, but if you look closely, she actually resembles a human figure hanging upside-down. That's not a coincidence: If you play through the game with the commentary track on, Jeremy Bennett, the game's art director, says, "Eventually, we settled on a huge mechanical device with a delicate robotic figure dangling out of it, which successfully conveys both GLaDOS' raw power and her femininity."
Man, that's hot.
Originally, according to Bennett, she resembled an upside-down version of Botticelli's "Rise of Venus":
But her final model doesn't really look like that at all. The posture is all wrong. In fact, the people at game-ism.com think she looks more like a woman who has been bound and gagged:
So what does that mean? According to the folks at that site, all GLaDOS wanted was to be free (a goal you help her achieve when you kill her). As for how she got like that in the first place, sometimes it's better not to know.
So Mario games are full of creepy stuff, apparently. Knowing that, we're not so shocked to find out that Mario fans are always looking for hidden conspiracies in those games. We are, however, a little disturbed by what they've actually found.
We didn't think things could get much creepier than the live-action, pedo-stache-tastic movie. We were wrong.
Take Luigi's Mansion for GameCube, which is about Mario's taller, greener brother hunting ghosts in an old mansion. According to an urban legend that keeps popping up in the always-reliable gaming message boards, if you go to a certain room, stand in a specific spot and wait for lightning to strike, you can see what looks like Luigi's shadow hanging from the ceiling. As if he had just committed suicide.
But that's ridiculous, of course. We'll even go ahead and disprove this rumor by taking a look at that part of Luigi's Mansion and ...
... oh, shit. That does look remarkably like someone's shadow hanging from the ceiling, in a game about haunted mansions and ghosts.
There's some debate about what it actually is: Some say it's a glitch, while others claim the game was originally meant to be much darker and this is one of the many leftovers from the beta version ... but they're all ignoring the simplest answer: Luigi has been a ghost all along.
And then there's Luigi's girlfriend, Princess Daisy, possibly the most fucked-up character in Mario history. If you don't believe us, do a YouTube search for "Hi, I'm Daisy!" Apparently, when they included her in Mario Kart: Double Dash for GameCube, they only gave her a single spoken phrase ("Hi, I'm Daisy!"), causing her to repeat the same thing over and over and over like a murderous psychopath.
Few things freak us out more than Princess Fucking Daisy.
But in case you don't think that's disturbing enough, how about the fact that she has a third eye in the back of her head? If you win Daisy's trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, go to the trophy gallery and zoom in until the camera clips underneath her hair. You can see something that clearly should not be there.
Luigi was afraid to say anything, being unfamiliar with female anatomy.
This could be a modeling error, but what's odd is that it doesn't look exactly like Daisy's regular eyes: It's all misshapen and gross-looking.
This is not how third eyes should look at all.
This is so well-known that Daisy's third eye was later incorporated into her character in M.U.G.E.N., a freeware fighting game that takes random characters from different franchises. Oh, and it shoots lasers: