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October 24, 2014

Top 12 Scariest Nintendo Moments

Hello again, everyone! I've overcome my anger caused by last week's game, and now I realize Halloween is one week away! I'm really in the mood for some scary stuff. Thankfully, everyone's favorite video game company is here again! ...I meant Nintendo. It's up there, right in this article's title!

Nintendo doesn't go very often into disturbing territory- Oh wait, yes, it frequently does. But most of the time, the disturbing part is in the implications brought forth by the situations. The scariest moments aren't necessarily the ones that are scary as soon as you see them, but they become terrifying once you think about it a little more. There's just an art behind horror, which hides behind everything, as long as you make an effort to think about what's really scary in what you just saw. Heck, something that didn't seem too creepy at first can turn out to be very frightening once you take into account the details.

The examples below are all scary moments from the franchises we grew up with, moments that might have scared us more than we thought... and only now do we see the true horror. Though, to be fair, scary moments just had to show up in a medium where characters can get killed in thousands of different ways and come back, minus one life, to see it all again. And since this list is made from what I consider scary, you might find odd some of the choices; I guess I prefer realistic fears, even those set in unrealistic universes, to the unrealistic fears that pop up in fantastic universes like those pictured in the main Nintendo series. Enough talking: Let the countdown begin!

12. A monstrous, deadly instrument (Super Mario 64)
Gosh, that thing's got TEETH!
If I had to pick among the quick moments of horror from Nintendo series, I would have a lot of options in the possible deaths and Game Overs alone. If I had to pick a monster that marked me, it would be difficult. A jump scare that actually works? That's easier. Do the words “Mad Piano” mean anything to you? If you've played Super Mario 64 or, in particular Course 5, “Big Boo's Haunt”, you know what I mean. There's always been something unsettling about the Boos, who only creep in on you when your back's turned, so a whole level dedicated to them is bound to scare a few. But then Mario enters a rather empty room, with a piano sitting in the corner. Mario approaches... and suddenly twang! Zwang! Ba-waaing! The whole thing comes to life, the top turns into a giant mouth with sharp teeth, and the piano starts jumping towards our red-clad plumber! It's not the kind of thing you see coming. Sure, a piano in a haunted house may seem fishy, but with all the other things in there, a piano still seemed like the least dangerous object. This has scared many young gamers and even surprised some older players. And nowadays, when I see it while I play Super Mario 64 DS, I try my hardest not to hear the creepy notes caused by this moving piano. Brrr... Yet, that's relatively tame compared to the rest of this list... (probably because a piano cannot really leave its room, but I digress.)

11. Pollution, monsters running rampant (Donkey Kong Country)
A wonderful place will soon be wrecked by an ecological disaster.
Donkey Kong's Island is a beautiful place with many locales situated around a giant DK head carved in stone. It looks incredible with the Super Nintendo's 3D graphics. But that entire ecosystem is endangered by the evil Kremkroc Industries, led by the clearly insane King K. Rool. What are those factories for? No idea, but they're located near the top of the island, close to snowy mountains, and it's safe to assume the pollution is slowly descending to reach the rest of DK and friends' world. It's not scary? Yeah, we've been beaten over the head so many times with environmentalist messages that by the end, they stop meaning anything. A subtle environmental message is difficult to find. But here, the Kremkroc Industries are an entire world to visit, and it happens late enough in the game that you've got a taste of Donkey Kong Island's beauty beforehand, in the preceding worlds. In other words, you know this place is beautiful, and then you learn, too late, that the Kremlings are polluting it to make it uninhabitable. It's already happening, and you cannot stop it. Donkey Kong Island is doomed to be polluted by one of its resident species.

10. Your troubles suddenly grow enormous (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island)
The drawn style of Yoshi's Island could have been thought up so that kids don't piss themselves with fear while they're playing a game about a Yoshi traveling with a baby Mario on its back. This game is scary. Scary, scary, scary! Many enemies are scary, some bosses (who are all enlarged enemies) are scary, some settings are unbearably creepy... but the final boss takes the cake. Kamek grows Baby Bowser thanks to his damn spell, and the young Koopa grows so large that not only he destroys his own castle, but he is apparently thrown far away. During that fight, Yoshi has to throw eggs at this giant Baby Bowser to prevent it from getting too close, which means instant death. Giga Baby Bowser leaves nothing but destruction in his wake, and could very well be an unstoppable foe, if only there weren't balloons bringing giant eggs for Yoshi to throw in the bratty turtle-dragon's mouth. By all accounts, this battle should have been the end of Yoshi and Mario. They've been saved by a lucky coincidence. And without that random help, Mario would have never been there to save the Kingdom... because he would have been killed at the time he was an infant.

9. You see by yourself the effects of madness (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess... and a few more)
You don't need to be a human to be insane. All you need is a mind...
And it just so happens that every thinking being has a mind.
YOU could go nuts someday. No one's safe from insanity.
Ah, Zant... I don't think I'll ever stop making fun of you. No matter how threatening you seemed to be, in the end you were just a pawn in Ganondorf's plan, and a raving maniac at that. I'm not saying that you need insanity to be a good villain, but there is definitely something about madness that makes some evil characters even more threatening. Zant had been calm through most of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and then for the one true fight against him, he gives in to the madness and OHMYGOD is it suddenly worse. He laughs, he jumps around, he teleports himself and the hero in many dangerous places... He's what would happen if a clinically insane guy suddenly got superpowers. You know, magic powers used by evil entities is scary, but in a way, insanity is scarier. You start wondering how did the guy begin: Was he sane at first? Did prolonged exposure to darkness turn him crazy as well as evil, like it happens most of the time? There is something deeply fascinating and terrifying about madness, which is the reason so many horror stories deal with it in a way or another.
Then there are the ones who say a mad villain who suddenly goes mega-supra-bonkers is actually funny. To me, it depends on the character. Sometimes it's scary as Hell, sometimes it's funny.

8. Now your enemy has grown even larger (Super Smash Bros. Melee)
How could the world of Smash turn him into this
We had Giga Baby Bowser earlier; now we have Giga Bowser. Melee made Bowser even scarier by turning him into a complete demon. It was a shock, too, as this boss could only be seen if you beat the Adventure Mode in less than 18 minutes. A Bowser trophy would fall on the stage, get struck by lightning... and come to life, turning into the most horrifying incarnation you'll ever see. Mario fans knew Bowser would do anything to overcome his enemy, but he hardly ever transforms into anything scarier than what he already is. At worst, he just grows bigger to try and squash Mario, but he never tries to become more monstrous in appearance. Here? Holy crap, he becomes scary. Heck, Giga Bowser wouldn't feel out of place in a kaiju flick, if he was a few hundred stories high. The kicker, though, is that the final Event Match in Melee has the Player Character fight against Giga Bowser, Ganondorf and Mewtwo – a villainous team-up that most likely wouldn't work anywhere else than in a Smash Bros. Game. ...And then, in Brawl, Bowser gains the ability to become Giga Bowser thanks to the Smash Balls... This character was quite a surprise when it appeared, and trust me, when you're surprised by something scary, you will remember it a long time.

7. Leaving nothing behind but a desolated desert (Pokémon Colosseum / XD: Gale of Darkness)
This is a most unwelcoming place for Pokémon and humans...
I didn't get the chance to play those two games much, but my friend the Pokémon fan has them and absolutely loves them. Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness take place in Orre... a desolated wasteland where crime runs rampant. The place is such a wasteland that not even Pokémon want to live there! Not even desert Pokémon! There's a cruise ship in the middle of a desert, for Arceus' sake! That one was caused by a Lugia whose heart has been “sealed”, which basically means Team Cipher brainwashed a Legendary Pokémon into doing their dirty deeds. That cruise ship alone, crashed in a desert, implies all the passengers were killed, either by Cipher goons or with the ship's fall caused by Lugia. We never quite find out what made Orre the way it is now, but one thing's clear: It will never be a safe place. This story is the perfect representation of the dangers inhabiting the Pokémon world: Almighty Pokémon, the madmen who decide to use them for their own evil goals, and terrorism as a whole. Because that's what the Teams are: Terrorists. And all the dangers of terrorism these days are, sadly, truth. (For the sake of posterity, I must say that this article was published the same week an illuminated ally of the Islamic State shot a soldier outside of Canadian Parliament, then entered with the intent of killing more people. Earlier this week, another person who had become an ally of the Islamic State tried to run over three soldiers in Quebec with a car, successfully killing one of them.)

6. The demon hidden within a friend (Kirby and the Crystal Shards)
Those eyes on the Fairy Queen, on the right...
She's not alone in there...
I made a big deal about the Kirby series and how its dream land is just a cover for eternal nightmares. Just in case you didn't know, just take a look at Kirby and the Crystal Shards. The first final boss, Miracle Matter, is a powerful foe, but not quite terrifying yet. Until you realize, during the “victory” cutscene, that evil is still there, hidden under the traits of the fairy queen. You haven't won yet. Whatever Miracle Matter was, it was just an underling. Only once you've collected all the Crystal Shards do you see the true villain, 0² (Zero Two), brought out of the fairy queen's body. And it is terrifying. An angel form of Zero, a past boss who was just a bleeding eye; except this time it's got many means of attack. The boss itself wouldn't be so scary if the false ending didn't tell us this monster could take possession of other beings, which is and has always been a subject for horror stories, though it usually involves Satan. The boss fight itself wouldn't be so bad, if only 0²'s eye wasn't bleeding so much...

5. It's over, you can only wait for the end (Majora's Mask, Super Paper Mario, a few others)
Mankind kind of loves torturing itself with the apocalypse. Whether it's the Y2K bug, the Maya calendar, the second coming of Christ... name it, we've all heard at least one nutty “the world is ending” theory. Video games pull this through: The world really IS ending, sometimes. It's coming, everyone knows it, and unless the heroes can do something to stop it (and there's no guarantee there), they are all doomed. We've seen this story in a multitude of games, brought up in just as many ways. The only two examples I give are the descending Moon from TLoZ: Majora's Mask, and the growing Void from Super Paper Mario. That feeling of helplessness, the awful sentiment that you must accept what's coming, and life goes on despite this sword of Damocles over the world's head, ready to strike... Some villagers decide to live with it, or despite it, and go on with their lives as normal. Others start praying and helping heroes. Others succumb to madness. Stories about the apocalypse are a great way to study character psyches, and are ultimately linked to a primal fear most, if not all, of us have: The fear of death, the fear of the end of all that is.

It's coming... It's coming... It's coming... It's coming...

4. An individual with a dark past (Super Paper Mario)
Image by SpadeNightmaren on DeviantArt.
Don't you DARE tell me Mario villains
cannot be scary!
Sure, we might not know much about Dimentio, and he sure is a threat to the Multiverse (though there's nothing sillier than his final form)... But we often forget that before Dimentio, there was Count Bleck, whose backstory is tragic and horrifying. Part of a race of warriors, the Tribe of Darkness (what a reassuring name), Count Bleck (formerly known as Blumiere – no, really, look it up!) fell in love with a girl named Timpani. After Blumiere proposed to her, his father was enraged, and banished the girl from their dimension. Blumiere went on a quest through the multiverse to find Timpani, only all of his efforts were fruitless... enraged, angered, he stole the “Bible” of his world, the Dark Prognosticus, and thanks to its power, destroyed the entire universe he came from. He killed everything - and EVERYONE - in a universe. And his plans, from then on, involved destroying just about every other universe that exists. ...We see many elements of horror here, but the greatest is the cold-blooded destruction of an entire world's worth of people, most of which we can assume were innocents or, at the very least, not deserving of THAT. Some horror stories are only about one's extreme determination to avenge himself, which explores the psychological turmoil of such a revenge-hungry being and his descent into darkness during his quest. ...Or, in the case of Bleck, descent much farther into darkness than anyone of his tribe has probably ever gone. Other stories, especially those about cosmic entities, are about the immense amount of power they can possess, so much power that they could erase entire universes just thinking about it.

3. You see Death, now, at long last (Many, many, many games)
You lost. The bad guy wins, folks.
Ah, Game Over screens... Like them, hate them, see them. But they're there. In a way, Game Over screens were probably the first encounter some of us, as young gamers, had with death. And that's because kids' cartoons were usually too scared of discussing, let alone showing, death on-screen. (That's when 4kids and other companies weren't censoring stuff left or right to hide all mentions of deaths and murders from cartoons, logic be damned, "we must save those impressionable minds"!) Here? In most adventure games, losing implies death, and death means Game Over. Right? Either way, that means the Game Over screens have been a source of scares for a while. Whether it's Donkey and Diddy Kong looking wounded over a completely black screen (Donkey Kong Country), Link fainting over a black background (TloZ: A Link To The Past), or Mario being electrocuted, falling in a dark hole, drowning, and so on, with a silhouette of Bowser's face closing in on him (Super Mario 64/Galaxy)... Then there's Kirby trying, and failing, to wake Dedede (Kirby and the Crystal Shards)... There are thousands of ways video game characters can get hurt or killed, and we keep playing despite the unhappy ending, because we don't want it to end that way. Humans will look for the happy ending, as long as they know it's there, just out of reach for now. Game Over screens are often depressing, and we want to avoid them at all costs. Death is an unpleasant thought, and even if our characters will come back as soon as we turn the game on again, we just don't want to think about it. Game Over screens are scary, presenting us scenarios that should not have happened, because the game is programmed beginning to end, with the happy ending we seek.

OK, this one looks kinda silly actually.

2. Documented facts about creatures (Pokémon series)
The Pokédex: A source of many sleepless nights!
Yeah... you knew it was coming. The Pokédex is one of the most messed-up things you'll ever read in video games. Its purpose is simple, really: Document facts about the 719 species of Pokémon that exist. Every new entry in the main series has given a new Dex description to every existing Pokémon at the time of the game's release. And when you read those, you have to ask yourself what kind of movies the folks at Game Freak have been watching. Some of these entries are terrifying. Obviously, the Ghost-type Pokémon are the ones with the creepiest entries, but it's not rare to see those for Pokémon of other types. Some are disgusting, others are disturbing, some are insane, and others just leave you puzzled. We know that these entries have, in-universe, been written by children on their quest to find all the Pokémon, and children tend to have an active imagination. They don't understand everything about science yet, and thus they cannot explain every occurrence they see from weirder Pokémon out there. On the other hand, some of those descriptions are so outlandish and disturbing that the children either have psychological troubles, or have seen those horrifying things. Or, in other words: The scariest stuff described in some creepy Pokémopn entries might very well HAVE HAPPENED FOR REAL IN THEIR WORLD. The Pokémon Professors are subjecting children to all the horrors, both clear and hidden, of the Pokémon universe, making it sound like a fun adventure.

1. The abyss of time, source of endless horrors (Mother 3)
To be fair, you probably know Porky better as "that 'kid'
riding the spider mech in Brawl".
I hope that rings a bell?
Let me tell you the story of a boy named Pokey Minch, AKA Porky. He's never been really nice. But then he became evil due to an alien entity better known as Gigyas. While working under Gigyas, he was sent in the past, and granted the power of immortality; he literally came back to the present by waiting the 1,000+ years. That alone is a source of many scares. The next time the heroes see him, he is the mastermind behind the latest threat, and has become old and frail. He fights the heroes in his spider mech (remember that one from Brawl?), and when he's defeated, he hides in a capsule that cannot be destroyed in any way... and he cannot get out, either. And he cannot hurt himself. In other words – he will spend all of eternity in there, never to come out, alone forever and ever. Oh, that's not implications speaking. The creator of the Mother series has gone on record to say that Porky stayed over 5.5 BILLION years in that capsule. For your information, all life on Earth has gone extinct, the Sun has exploded, and there's probably no way this capsule will ever be found by something out there. As for what happened after those 5.5 billion years? No idea. But the idea of an eternity spent alone, with absolutely nothing to ease the passage of time, is the single scariest idea I have ever heard coming from Nintendo. Mother isn't the scariest Nintendo series for nothing... Heck, I could just have discussed Gigyas, that monster alone is probably the second scariest thing Nintendo has fathered (an alien that simply CANNOT be defeated; the only reason it is destroyed is because everyone prays – including the player). But as a social person, one who enjoys interaction and many pastimes, this is probably the scariest thought for me. Ever.


Wow, this was a LONG list. I'm not sure if that's because I needed to explain a lot more, or because I went more into analyzing why I found those moments scary... But that doesn't matter. I hope I've given you a few chills. Scaring isn't exactly what I'm good at. As you might have guessed, I prefer psychological and metaphysical horror above the other kinds, though I'm not above watching a good ol' slasher film once in a while, or Heck, supernatural horror films like Final Destination or Insidious? I was thinking about buying Oculus as soon as it comes out on DVD.

As for next week, Halloween winds up on a Friday. You know what that means: A Halloween Special! Can I give a clue? Hmmm... Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I can... but I can't get clearer than this:


One more hint: It's based on a scary moment I forgot to mention but should totally have had a place on this list. Either way, tune in next Friday for a little horror story!

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