6 Insane Video Game Fan Theories (That Make Total Sense)
Cohesive storytelling is a new thing in video games. The standard for nearly 30 years was to just fill the screen with whatever nonsensical lunacy lured the most quarters or sold the most copies, and even today it's hard for games to break away from that formula. So fans fill in the narrative blanks with their own theories, adding layers of meaning and symbolism the creators almost certainly didn't intend.
But occasionally, these crazy fan theories make a sobering amount of sense, sometimes more so than the actual games they're derived from.
Donkey Kong Country Is Anti-American Propaganda
On the surface, Donkey Kong Country documents the journey of a well-dressed gorilla across 40 epic levels as he seeks to reclaim a hoard of bananas stolen from his family by a crocodile monarch who saw fit to leave them strewn across an entire island continent rather than keep them in a single giant fruit basket.
"No no, just throw all the bananas down a mine shaft. It's more fun that way."
The Crazy Fan Theory:
As explained in this video from the Game Theorists, Donkey Kong Country is secretly a piece of anti-American propaganda about the Banana Wars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As that is one of the most baffling sentences in history, it requires a bit of explaining.
You see, after the Spanish-American War, the United States gained control of Cuba and Puerto Rico, giving the U.S. military a foothold in the Caribbean that it used to freely police several Caribbean states, such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Haiti. It frequently intervened on behalf of the United Fruit Company (now known as Chiquita Brands International), who illegally overthrew local businesses in those states to gain virtual domination of the banana trade (this is where the term "banana republic" comes from, which would later be used to unironically sell expensive clothes to yuppies).
We prefer our khakis with a generous helping of disenfranchised South Americans.
The theory goes that Donkey Kong Country is supposed to symbolize one of those Caribbean states (probably Nicaragua or Honduras), and all of its bananas are being stolen by an invading military force. Check this out: King K. Rool, the leader of the evil crocodiles, doesn't even like bananas, so that would suggest he's stealing them for some economically strategic reason rather than joyous gluttony. Same thing with the United States -- Americans don't love bananas so much as they love trade monopolies. And the president at the time of the Banana Wars was Teddy Roosevelt, a man often compared to a king, who had absolutely no problem beating the juggling Jesus out of any country that stood in the way of American imperialism, particularly those in the Caribbean. Roosevelt is King K. Rool -- even their names look similar when you put them side by side like that.
The resemblance is striking.
The game eventually has you fighting King K. Rool on a pirate ship, which seems odd (since he isn't a pirate) until you realize that the United Fruit Company and the U.S. military had a habit of enforcing their will with fleets of naval vessels. You're actually doing battle with Teddy Roosevelt aboard a U.S. Navy frigate.
Come to think of it, Roosevelt did have a cape like that.
Certain enemies in the game more clearly represent the U.S. military:
A later level reveals that the crocodiles are turning large portions of Donkey Kong Country into desolate oil fields, which is such a thinly veiled reference to American foreign policy that the final boss might as well be a giant neon cowboy in a huge pickup truck.
Yep. Two endangered species in a fight for their life against a flaming barrel of crude.
In actuality, the boss is a giant oil drum amid mountains of stolen bananas. So, pretty much the same thing.
Mario and His Friends Are Just Actors
Mario and his pals have been in just about every type of video game there is -- platformer games, racing games, sports games, fighting games, role playing games, even Mike Tyson's goddamned Punch-Out, which is a racist boxing game:
Originally titled Super Foreigner Assault Sim.
The Mario gang is unique in the sense that they don't seem out of place in any particular genre, because we accept them in pretty much any role.
The Crazy Fan Theory:
According to a popular fan theory that's been floating around the Internet, Mario and his crew are just a group of actors playing whatever parts the various games require them to.
There's no way Toad is union.
We've already talked about the idea that Super Mario Bros. 3 is actually a stage play, but it goes beyond just that one game. Think about all of the games the Mario characters appear in: Sometimes the characters are bitter, face-pissing rivals (even Mario and Luigi are at each other's throats in Mario Party and Mario Kart), and sometimes they're working together (Bowser is one of the good guys in Super Mario RPG).
There he is in the back, waiting for his moment to shine.
There's no explanation for the lack of overarching continuity other than that the characters are simply performers. In fact, the levels in both Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine are called "episodes" and presented just like episodes of an extremely Japanese television series.
This picture is one bleach dye away from being Dragon Ball Z.
And let's not forget Super Mario Bros. 2, the game that famously has nothing to do with anything, as if David Lynch briefly grabbed the reins of the series and steered it into a peyote-soaked night terror.
Come to think of it, wasn't that thing on the bottom of the baby from Eraserhead?
You can even see a flying camera crew in several Mario games (like Mario 64 and every iteration of Mario Kart), filming the action while sitting in artificial clouds like the goddamned Truman Show.
Although Mario gives a slightly more believable performance than Jim Carrey.
Animal Crossing Is Actually About a Child-Abducting Cult
Animal Crossing is about a kid who moves into a village full of talking animals and does chores for them, because Japanese video games tend to be completely insane. There are no missions or overall objectives -- you just sort of exist in the village, planting shit and talking to cats.
It's a wacky adventure of terrifying backrooms and harshly lit cat monsters!
The Crazy Fan Theory:
According to Games Radar's Brett Elston, Animal Crossing is all about a child being abducted and indoctrinated into a cult.
Animal Crossing begins with your character being forced to live in a village by a bizarre duck-turtle creature named Kapp'n, who is based on a kappa, a mythological Japanese creature that kidnaps children. In some games you just wake up in the backseat of Kapp'n's car on the way to the village, as if he drugged your juice box or hit you over the head with a blackjack, at which point he launches into the rapiest bit of pirate dialogue in video game history.
Seen here sparking an Amb-ARRRR Alert.
Once you reach the village, there is already a house set up and waiting for you, as if the whole village knew you were coming. But it's a crappy little hut with a stone floor, and your cruel animal neighbors immediately put you to work to pay it off, despite the fact that you could sleep outside in God's wilderness with the exact same level of comfort.
So now you're stuck in a village beneath a mountain of debt you didn't have any say in accruing, and you can't leave. If you try, you're turned away at the gates. You're now reliant on your captors for everything, and they never stop watching you. It's like The Wind in the Willows meets The People Under the Stairs.
This is the last warning before you wake up next to a horse head.
Even if you earn enough to pay off your home, the animals just upgrade it for you and bill you the difference, keeping you in constant debt (you have the option to say no, but they just ignore you and fix up the house anyway). The animals grind you into submission by making you repeat the same tasks over and over again while blocking your escape and acting like it's the most normal thing in the world. They're like a bunch of Stepford Wives in Disney's House of Mouse, and you're given no choice but to succumb and join them.
Metal Gear Solid 3 Is Nothing but a Virtual Mission
The Metal Gear Solid games follow our hero, Solid Snake, through a series of ham-fistedly operatic stealth adventures as he tries to save the world from total destruction while wielding a 1980s Kurt Russell mullet wig. However, the third entry in the series (appropriately titled Metal Gear Solid 3) is a prequel, detailing the exploits of Solid Snake's one-eyed predecessor and eventual nemesis, Naked Snake, as he tiptoes his way through a communist jungle in the 1960s, snapping necks and disarming nuclear weapons.
So, did they send Kurt Russell a check for these, or what?
The Crazy Fan Theory:
This one comes from Tyler Humphrey at Twinfinite, who posits that Metal Gear Solid 3 is really just a virtual reality training simulation that Solid Snake is participating in. Everything you see and experience in the game is all part of the simulation -- none of it is really happening.
Consider the evidence: At the beginning of the game, Major Zero (the Zordon to Naked Snake's Green Power Ranger) informs us that we are about to embark on a "virtuous mission." Naked Snake mishears this and asks, "Virtual mission?"
"Didn't you ever play Virtual Boy? Those goggles give me the headache of a thousand hangovers."
Granted, this is about as substantial a piece of evidence as Paul McCartney's bare feet on the cover of Abbey Road, but it gets us thinking about the whole virtual reality thing right off the bat. Furthermore, the previous game, Metal Gear Solid 2, was revealed to be nothing but a virtual simulation in a surprise twist during the game's climax. So the producers of Metal Gear are making damn sure "this might all be fake" is the neighborhood our minds are playing in as soon as Metal Gear Solid 3 begins.
Much stronger evidence occurs if, during the course of the game, you kill a man named Ocelot, who is a crucial character in the previous two entries of the series. Remember, Metal Gear Solid 3 is a prequel, so killing Ocelot would be like killing off Obi-Wan Kenobi in Attack of the Clones (although by that point, none of us cared anymore).
Come back when you're Alec Guinness.
Anyway, should you kill Ocelot, the game ends and you get yelled at for screwing up the future timeline ... by Roy Campbell, a character who does not otherwise appear in Metal Gear Solid 3. Roy Campbell is Solid Snake's contact in the other Metal Gear games. However, as we previously mentioned, a man named Major Zero is supposed to be your contact in this game, and indeed, every other time you screw something up, it is Zero's voice you hear scolding you about it.
Why then would you suddenly hear Roy Campbell's voice berating you about creating a time paradox? Because Metal Gear Solid 3 is just Solid Snake playing a training mission, and whenever you do something that alters the timeline of events, you hear Campbell yanking him out of the simulation like Jeff Fahey in The Lawnmower Man. Given what we already know about the crazy-bastardness of the game's creator, Hideo Kojima, this doesn't seem that far-fetched.
Mass Effect 3 Is Really About the Hero Getting Possessed by Aliens
The Mass Effect games tell the story of intergalactic hero Shepard as he or she (the character's gender and appearance are totally up to you) does battle with the Reapers, an ancient race of super-huge robo aliens known for wiping out entire civilizations, because when you're a planetoid cyborg, what the hell else are you going to do? Their two methods of civilization murder are good old-fashioned destruction and Borg-like indoctrination wherein they assume control of living beings and bend them to their will (see Animal Crossing, above).
Plus, somewhere in there Seth Green pokes a robot.
At the end of Mass Effect 3, you're given three options to supposedly end the Reaper threat: control the Reapers (Shepard dies), synthesis (which effectively turns everyone into Reapers), or destroy the Reapers (Shepard dies, probably). All in all, it's a pretty thankless and confusing way to end an epic trilogy (this is a phenomenon called "The Dark Knight Rises Effect").
The Crazy Fan Theory:
Shepard was slowly being indoctrinated by the Reapers all along, across all three games, and the ending of Mass Effect 3 represents their final attempt to assimilate Shepard. There is a fucking two-hour documentary assembled by fans that laboriously goes over every possible clue in the series, but we're only going to talk about the ending, because we just microwaved some Hot Pockets and they're starting to get cold.
Nothing complements a sci-fi epic adventure like 99 cents' worth of microwaved grease.
Toward the end of Mass Effect 3, Shepard gets blasted with a powerful dose of Reaper energy, like a hose of evil psychic techno-alien anger juice. The series constantly emphasizes that people get indoctrinated after prolonged exposure to the Reapers (and Shepherd has been around them for three games at this point), so fans suggest that this herculean laser zap was the final straw, and that everything afterward is a result of the Reapers invading Shepard's mind.
Walk it off, you big baby.
Check it out: After the blast, the world takes on the hazy fuzziness of a dream. Bodies mysteriously vanish from the battlefield and people appear out of thin air as if the rules of the universe no longer apply. Sounds a lot like a guy struggling with an alien-induced hallucination, right?
When you make the final choice to wield, join, or destroy the Reapers, all three options are color-coded, just like every other choice you've made in the entire series -- blue represents the good or just choice, green is neutral, and red is evil. Now look at this picture of the final choice in action:
If only life were so simple.
You would assume that the obviously blue-hued selection would be to eliminate the Reapers and save the Earth (good), whereas the red-stained option would be to take control of them to rule the galaxy (evil), right? You'd be totally justified in thinking that, and you'd also be committing a huge space error, because that assumption is utterly incorrect. The blue choice is to control the Reapers, and the red choice is to destroy them (the middle choice is to join the Reapers, but if you make that selection you should just eject the game disc and snap it in half because you're playing it wrong).
You might be playing it wrong, but it feels so right ...
So why would the blue choice suddenly be evil, when it's been good for the entire series? Because the Reapers are inside Shepard's mind, trying to influence your decision. We've already pointed out that it seems like Shepard is hallucinating during the entire final sequence -- the Reapers are just making Shepard see the evil choice as being the noble one in an effort to trick you into joining them and completing Shepard's indoctrination, and also to purchase all of the upcoming DLC packs.
"Microtransactions are the beating heart of the galaxy!"
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Represents the Five Stages of Grief
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is about an adventurer named Link trying to find his lost fairy companion Navi, because apparently he didn't get enough of her annoying bullshit in Ocarina of Time. On his way through the forest, Link gets mugged by a lunatic named Skull Kid and must go on a quest to track him down, completely forgetting about finding Navi in the process.
The Crazy Fan Theory:
This one has been floating around long enough that we're not sure who first came up with it. But there is a nice summary here explaining why the events of Majora's Mask are all occurring inside of Link's head and represent the five stages of grief over the loss of his friend.
"Hey! Avenge me!"
According to the theory, Link actually gets knocked out (or into a damn coma, depending on how long it takes you to beat the game) after he falls off his horse during the opening sequence, and the rest of the game takes place in his mind.
The first place Link gets to is Clock Town, where the mayor and his citizenry are preparing for their annual Carnival of Time festival in utter and complete denial of the hovering death planetoid leering down at them all from space:
"Boy, the crickets sure are ominously talkative tonight!"
That evil moon is going to destroy the world in three days unless Link can find Skull Kid in time, but every single person in Clock Town simply refuses to believe that it's there. Mutoh, the carnival leader, literally says:
"You cowards! Do you actually believe the moon will fall? The confused townsfolk simply caused a panic by believing this ridiculous, groundless theory."
And the soldiers seem confused when people start disappearing, as if the enormous murder moon isn't hanging in plain, horrific sight like a bloody chandelier:
It's either the looming death planet, or the snow cone stand ran out of cherry again.
That's denial, the first stage of grief. The people of Clock Town don't want to believe that their world is ending, and their denial represents Link's denial that his friend Navi is truly gone.
Link's next stop takes him to Woodfall, where the king adamantly believes (totally without justification) that a harmless monkey has taken his princess captive, because apparently this is a Disney movie. The irrational fury gripping the king and his people represents anger, more specifically anger over the loss of a loved one. That's the second stage of grief, meant to demonstrate Link's anger over Navi's twinkling ass bailing on him.
"Mickey Dolenz shall pay for his crimes!"
Bargaining, the third stage of grief, occurs at Snowhead, where Link finds a ghost named Darmani who wants to be brought back to life. Darmani is trying to strike up a deal to save himself from oblivion with someone who absolutely does not have the power to do so, sort of like Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad trying to barter his way back from the spirit world by offering a gas station attendant a pair of scratch-off lottery tickets.
"Seriously, I'll give you all of my Pokemon cards."
Next, Link goes to Great Bay, where a creature named Lulu is wallowing in self-pity over her lost eggs. This is depression, the fourth and most obvious stage of grief, because death is fucking sad.
Finally, Link gets to Ikana Canyon, where he battles his way up a tower and faces four forms of himself -- the four previous stages of grief. He climbs the tower and leaves them behind, achieving light arrows in the process. This is acceptance, the final stage of grief -- Link has faced denial, anger, bargaining, and depression and has moved beyond them, probably while a Bryan Adams song was playing.
Although "Summer of '69" might not have been our first choice.
He never does find Navi, which makes the grief theory seem all the more plausible -- instead of spending any more time searching for her, Link just goes on with his life, a phrase that here means "relives Ocarina of Time over and over again because Nintendo won't stop rereleasing it."
Related Reading: Hungry for more fan theories that make a crazy amount of sense? Click hard, dear friend. You'll learn about the 700-year murdering spree Wall-E must have gone on. We've got more fan theories to send your way- these ones are all about classic movies. Fight Club feels like a different film when you see the characters as grown-up Calvin and Hobbes. Still haven't had enough? Read these insane but convincing fan theories about kids cartoons.
We have a wild theory too- the Blues Brothers played a part in the bank robbery from Reservoir Dogs. Our evidence? Right here.