Giving you goosebumps.

Nintendo are best known for creating lovable IPs including knockout sellers such as good old Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, Metroid and cult classics like Pikmin, Starfox, F-Zero and Fire Emblem. Nintendo’s extensive library is arguably the most prestigious in all of gaming and their family-friendly approach has ensured millions have been able to experience the quality products they develop year in, year out.

But what sort of company would Nintendo be if they didn’t indulge in their dark side every so often? It’s easy to think that Nintendo would want to stay as far away from suggestively creepy content as possible, right? Surely they’d think of the children? Why would they want to scare the living daylights out of them? Well, actually, they do it all the time. Here’s Nintendo’s top 5 creepiest gaming moments.

5.  Bowser (Super Mario 64)

Any platform game worth its salt should have a great villain to spur on the protagonist. And in Super Mario 64, Bowser really brought his A-game to the plumber’s N64 blockbuster. Taking a leaf out of SHODAN’s book (the main antagonist from the System Shock games), Bowser would often taunt Mario with messages of how futile his attempts to rescue Princess Peach really are. On top of this, the messages are accompanied by a deep, creepy laugh and a chilling, three-note sound quip.

Bowser knows how to play the Game of Thrones.

Even dying in the game is a somewhat creepy affair. Mario’s normally hapless and often amusing death sequence (in Super Mario Sunshine, his demise is always accompanied by a pathetic yet hilarious trumpet parp) is paired with Bowser’s maniacal laughter and an outline of his face that fades the screen to black.

4. Zero-Two (Kirby 64)

Sometimes you really have to wonder about Nintendo and the decisions they make. For example, taking Kirby – arguably their cutest, most kid-friendly franchise  – and throwing in a monster worthy of a Silent Hill game. Zero-Two is one of the most gruesome, disturbing bosses Nintendo has ever created.

Just one look at that picture should be enough to tell you that something is definitely wrong. For a start, its eye is completely, 100% bloodshot; it’s even starting to trickle down the side of its face! The vein-like wings don’t help either, and just to add to the sheer confusion of it all, the thing has a halo perched on its head.

Good luck sleeping tonight.

The thing is, something like this could probably pass in a Zelda, Metroid or Starfox game. At least the tone and settings of those games would allow for something as disturbing as Zero-Two. But Kirby?! Really?!

Oh, and read this, taken from Zero-Two’s page on the Kirby Wiki site: “The bandage on 0²’s head may be a reference to when its eye separated from the rest of its body in Kirby’s Dream Land 3. This would mean that there is a gaping hole beneath the bandage, left behind from when the eye broke away.”

That is an absolutely revolting piece of lore. What were Nintendo thinking?!

3. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Let’s not beat around the bush here: Majora’s Mask is a scary game. As the Zelda series’ equivalent of a Stephen King novel, it could very nearly be placed fully into the horror genre. We’ve already mentioned how downright disturbing the Happy Mask Salesman is, with his soul-rending glare made solely for the purpose of penetrating your nightmares. Here’s a quick look at some of the other frights and creepy oddities this twisted game has on offer.

First off, there’s the game’s secondary antagonist: the moon. What kid didn’t have nightmares the first time they looked to the sky to see this thing’s creepy grimace greeting them even at the crack of dawn?

One of Majora’s Mask’s key gameplay mechanics was the ‘three day system,’ in which Link literally has three days to save Termina from extinction via that huge moon. Knowing that the moon was always a looming presence, and that time was most certainly against you, made for an incredibly tense and often stressful experience.

Freaky through the medium of dance.

Of course this game debuted Tingle, a middle-aged, spandex donning scam artist. He’s creepy in his own (big) way, but he pales in comparison to the game’s final boss: the mask itself.

This lanky creep morris dances around the map, giggling away as if he’s completely clueless towards his importance in the game. That’s just downright unsettling!

 2. Who Are You Running From?

Nintendo’s Game Boy Camera didn’t do remarkably well in the sales department. Seen as a novel distraction as opposed to an innovative gaming device, it will arguably be remembered for one thing and one thing only: the scream-inducing faces that were hidden within…

In the one of the system’s menus, a “Run” option would present itself to the player. If selected, the game would freeze before showing one of many disturbing faces accompanied by the message “Who are you running from?” The answer? You! I’m running from you, you scary-faced loon! The creepy music that went alongside this traumatic event didn’t help matters either.

 1. Giygas (Earthbound)

Earthbound’s Giygas is probably the most prolific example of a kid-friendly game suddenly turning evilly scary. This end boss’ sole tactic is to scare the living daylights out of you. Giygas’s warped face, coupled with the distorted, out of tune music and eerie messages (“It hurts, Ness…”) is a nightmare incarnated. The story behind its creation, however, is arguably even more twisted.

Everybody hurts.

Shigesato Itoi, creator of the Mother series (with Earthbound known as Mother 2 in Japan), accidentally stepped into a showing of an adult film when he was a child. The film (1957’s The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty) featured a graphic murder which he mistook as a rape scene. In an interview, Itoi mentioned that “it all hit me really hard. It was a direct attack to my brain.”  He intended Giygas to be very much that same kind of attacking sensation; one of Earthbound’s central themes is the innocence of youth, something that is completely tarnished when Giygas shows up.

The film apparently rendered Itoi psychologically scarred, so much so that his parents began to show concern for his well being! So, if Giygas isn’t one man’s attempt at getting revenge on such a cruel world. he’s at least one of the most memorable, psychotic and purely twisted video game characters of all time.

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