6 Bizarrely Creepy Moments from the Mario Universe
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 ...
Mario Party 8 -- Bizarre Happenings in the Woods
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."
Super Mario 64 -- The Killer Piano
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?
Various -- Super Mario Faces of Death
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.
Super Mario Sunshine -- Bowser and the Princess's Love Affair
Here's one of the great unanswered questions in the Mario mythos: who is the mother of all of Bowser's children? There are eight of them in all, and Bowser bends over backwards to conquer random desert and water kingdoms for them to use as sandboxes. Yet, we've never seen a Queen Koopa.
Someone had to spawn these wretched abominations.
Super Mario Sunshine addresses this question head-on. In the game, Mario has to rescue Princess Peach (as usual), only this time the kidnapper turns out to be not Bowser, but his previously unrevealed eighth son: Bowser Jr. When asked why he was doing all this crap, he said the reason was because he wanted to protect his mother:
Bitch is straight-up kinky.
And in case you think the boy was just confused or misspoke or that we're taking it out of context, watch the cut-scene yourself:
There are plenty of appropriate reactions to a spiked turtle creature claiming you gave birth to him. Shock, revulsion, outright denial through shouting "inconceivable!" -- which would be an apt word choice in this case. Peach, however, chooses none of the above. Instead, she gets this expression on her face:
... and after a moment of shocked hesitation, says, "I'm your momma?"
The kid replies, "Yeah, papa told me all about it."
At this point she should say, "Well, your dad's confused, because I would remember banging a giant turtle" or "You have me mistaken for someone else -- someone with a much, much bigger vagina."
But, no -- instead, Peach says, "So you're Bowser's son?"
Oh, the perils of magic mushrooms!
That's right. When he called her "momma," it all made sense to her once she found out Bowser was the father. That is, she knew she had banged Bowser, gotten pregnant and abandoned a child at some point, but just needed to know that this was that kid.
"I can't remember most of the 80s, on account of all the coke."
If you're not understanding why this is creepy on a level with giant forest eyeballs, enjoy this video of giant turtles boning:
Now imagine Princess Peach is on the bottom.
The creepiest part is that this does sort of make sense: For every main character in the Mario series there is a female counterpart with the exception of Bowser, so it stands to reason that Peach birthed that monstrosity. We've already pointed out that she keeps allowing herself to be kidnapped, as if she and Bowser had some sort of weird fetish game going on. Add that to the fact that every special event Peach invites Mario to (eating cake, going on vacation, celebrating a festival) somehow turns out to be a death trap, and it's like Bowser and Peach are continually trying to get rid of Mario but he just can't take a hint.
Mario is the only thing standing in the way of a happy family.
And while we're on the subject of interspecies sex ...
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga -- Post-Op Bowser
Gender-bending is a strangely recurring concept in the Mario series. Birdo from Super Mario 2 was described in the instruction booklet as a boy who thought he was a girl, and a character in Paper Mario: Thousand-Year Door had similar gender-identity issues (made more troubling by the fact that he/she has a crush on Mario).
All the fly ladies have a crush on Mario.
But the Game Boy Advance RPG Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga trumps them all. The game's two main villains are Bowser and some witch named Cackletta. The Mario brothers defeat them both in due time because that's how they roll. But the game doesn't end there, because that would make too much sense. No, instead what happens is that Cackletta's soul possesses Bowser's unconscious body.
There's no way this was consensual.
That's not the weird part, though. What happens is that Cackletta's soul in Bowser's body doesn't just mean Bowser's body has a new rider in the passenger seat, it means that Bowser becomes fused with whatever Cackletta was in the first place, creating something called ... Bowletta.
Which is basically Bowser, but with heaving bosoms.
Bowletta can also turn into Dark Bowletta -- which is basically Al Jolson, but with heaving bosoms.
Anyways, this new villain is so powerful that the Mario brothers are forced to come up with a zany scheme to defeat it that includes making Luigi dress up as Princess Peach -- you know, just in case you thought it was only the villains who had issues with gender identity.
Another disturbing thing here is that if you search "Bowletta" on Google Images, most of the results are fan arts. Apparently, Bowletta's one and only appearance was enough to capture the imagination of dozens of weirdos with DeviantArt accounts. Do not, for all that is holy, search with the filter off.
Just what we wanted to see.
Super Mario Bros. -- The Minus World
The fact that this one was an unplanned glitch only makes it scarier. The Minus World is a hidden level in the original 1985 Super Mario Bros, game, but here's the thing: Nobody put it there. It's essentially a collection of raw game data which, through sheer coincidence, manifested itself in the form of a playable level.
A ghost in the Game Boy, if you will.
The way it works is this: You know the "warp zone" at the end of Level 1-2? When you reach it, there are three pipes that let you skip ahead to a different World, up to World 4.
And this is why nobody has ever seen the rest of world 1.
However, if you enter the warp zone through an alternative path, you can go into the first pipe before a destination level is assigned to it by the game.
Notice there's no "4" above the pipe.
As a result, the game doesn't know where to send you, and you end up in a "non-level." The reason the screen shows a "-1" is because the game always tries to read the symbol above the pipe to figure out where you're going, and in this case, the only symbol is "absolute nothingness." So instead of showing something like "7-2" (World 7, Level 2) it shows you " -1" (World nothing, Level 1).
What you'll find inside the Minus World goes against everything you know as a Mario player: In the U.S. version of the game, Mario is stuck in an underwater level that repeats itself in an endless loop, so it just goes on forever until an enemy kills him or the time runs out. The Japanese version, however, is several levels long, and you can see insane stuff such as underwater enemies on land, a sometimes decapitated flying Bowser and an underwater flagpole without the flag.
Like this game needed to be more insane.
Perhaps more troublingly, a couple times you can see Princess Peach just floating there, minding her own business -- which is pretty bizarre, because she's the rarest character in the game. You only see her at the end. If this is randomly generated, shouldn't that be a turtle or something?
The laws of probability do not apply to this place.
Some dudes have gone even further by hacking the game go beyond the American version of -1. Basically, if you use a level editor to add a flagpole in the middle of the "endless" level, you can force the game to send you to whatever's next. Others have used the same technique to find out what's after World 8 (the final world), and the answer is: even more freaky stuff.
Why would this happen?
It's that corruption of the familiar that makes this so unsettling. Chances are, most people reading this have played this game one or two or 97 times. Finding out all this stuff is hidden inside something so familiar is like accidentally stumbling across a secret room in your childhood home and walking in on your mother doing it with a clown.
Peter File is a mild-mannered reporter by day, but by night, he is usually asleep.
For more games that went too far, check out The 10 Most Terrifying Video Game Enemies of All Time and 6 Baffling Old-School Video Game Commercials.