10 dark theories about Nintendo games that will ruin your childhood

Rated E for eerie

You can find kiddy games on just about any console, but no one beats Nintendo when it comes to supporting family friendly titles. For Microsoft's gun-toting Master Chief, Nintendo has the power-stealing puffball Kirby; for Sony's apocalypse-surviving Ellie, Nintendo has the dainty Princess Peach. But for all the cute-and-cuddliness of Nintendo's mascots, there are some really dark theories surrounding its biggest games.

But what's even creepier is that many of these theories make perfect sense. Ever wonder why Little Mac is such a good fighter, or what Shy Guys really are? Whether you look at the Super Mario or Metroid universe, someone has connected the dots to offer twisted scenarios that, if true, will ruin your sweet childhood memories. For instance...

You're the villain in Pokemon Red & Blue

I'm not here to talk about the whole "Pokemon is like dog-fighting" thing, though that metaphor has tainted the Pokemon series for a long time. For now, put that thought out of your mind and focus on the simple plot of the original Pokemon Red and Blue. You're just a kid getting his first Pokemon, setting out to become the champion. Simple and harmless, right?

Actually, you're pretty evil in Pokemon Red/Blue. First off, you totally murder your rival Gary's Raticate. Think about it: after a particularly grueling battle aboard the SS Anne, you encounter Gary in Lavender Town--the distinct home of dead Pokemon. When he asks if you know what it's like to lose a Pokemon, you battle again, but his Raticate is gone. Tragic. Later, you encounter Gary as he becomes the Pokemon Champion--a title you quickly steal from him. Then, during the game's ending scene, Professor Oak scolds Gary and congratulates you. Did I mention that Gary is an orphan raised by his grandfather, who just happens to be Professor Oak himself? Killing Gary's Raticate, robbing his championship title, stealing the praise of the only adult that loved him--three strikes, you're a dick.


Shy Guys are failed genetic experiments

Shy Guys are quite the Mario mystery. They've partied, karted, and played sports with the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom crew, but always while wearing a featureless white mask. What's behind that mask, you ask? This theory suggests hideous disfigurement.

To understand their plight, you must first understand how another Mario staple, the Magikoopa, is made. A series of dangerous procedures removes a Koopa Troopa's shell, endowing the creature with magical powers. But what happens when those tests go wrong? Shy Guys, that's what. And you know something is definitely amiss under those masks--watch Shy Guy's ending for Mario Power Tennis, and you'll see Luigi's horrified reaction to what's under there.


Metroid Fusion is an experiment too

Metroid heroine Samus is no stranger to dark, abandoned planets. After all, her battles with Ridley and Kraid across worlds inhabited by space pirates make her the bounty-hunting badass she is. Backing her up the whole time is the Galactic Federation, a spacefaring organization that aids Samus and her fellow hunters--or so it would seem. Much like the previously mentioned Shy Guys, the entirety of Metroid Fusion might be a failed Federation experiment.

The Space Pirates--the villains in Metroid Fusion--constantly upgrade themselves with genetic experiments. It makes sense that the Federation would do the same to keep up with the bad guys. Samus is sent to stop the the X-Parasite outbreak in Fusion, which was caused by the Pirates...right? Except they were never present at the virus' source, which means the outbreak has to be the Federation's fault--they've sent Samus in for containment and cover-up. Taken a step further, it's not out of the question that the Pirates themselves are Federation experiments. What else aren't they telling us?


Luigi dies during Luigi's Mansion

Luigi's Mansion is already a dark Nintendo game--I distinctly remember playing through certain rooms for my younger brother, who was too scared to do it himself. It's a house full of dead people (as in, ghosts), after all. In fact, Luigi himself might be dead too.

At one point in his ghost-busting adventure, Luigi answers a mysterious ringing phone in the attic of the mansion. When he does, a lightning flash reveals a shadow on the wall--not an ordinary shadow, but one that shows Luigi dead, hanging from the rafters. There are two theories here, both of which kill off our green-garbed Italian friend. One simply says he was dead the whole time, but the other is pretty convincing. See, this phone call occurs only after Luigi blacks out from a certain boss fight. Maybe it's not a blackout, maybe it's indeed a death, but it's spine-tingling no matter what.


Kirby 64 has a post-apocalyptic earth level

You can always count on Kirby for an overly adorable adventure--Kirby's Epic Yarn is the epitome of needlepoint charm. But there's something quite unsettling in an earlier adventure, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. One world might actually be a post-apocalyptic Earth. It seems not everything is cute and cuddly in the pink blob's life.

The world in question is Shiver Star. At first glance, it's just an off-white icy planet. But look a little closer, and you'll see outlines of Earth's continents. The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa--these are all clearly visible. Head down there, and you'll explore an abandoned mall, a creepy experimental lab, and an empty city with a big robot boss. It seems Earth met its demise at the hands of overconsumption and unstoppable man-made machines. Submarine Kirby, meet Apocalypse Kirby.


Donkey Kong Country is anti-American

Ah, Donkey Kong Country. It's probably the best-looking platformer to grace the SNES, with memorable tunes to boot. But just where is this country that DK and crew jump through? If one theory is to be believed, those countries are in the Caribbean.

First, a brief history lesson. After the Spanish-American War, the United States began sticking its nose into various Caribbean islands' business; the US actually forced various fruit companies out of business to give Chiquita--a brand sticker you've certainly seen--a monopoly. Bananas being stolen by invaders? That's, like, exactly what King K. Rool does in the Country series. His troops look an awful lot like military men too, with their orange grenades and khaki outfits. And Donkey Kong does live on an exotic island, so...holy crap, is K. Rool an analog for the president?


Mario is a Russian Communist

When you build a Nintendo-themed list, Mario is never safe from scrutiny. We know so little about the Mushroom Kingdom--for instance: Why does everything have eyes? Actually, we do know that one: Bowser transformed the people of the kingdom into inanimate objects. Of course, they might prefer that to the way the Mario wants to run things--with Communism! Say what?

Yep, Mario is a regular Stalin (it's a mustache thing). First, look at his clothes. There's a lot of red there, and when he grabs a Fire Flower, his outfit becomes red on white--the colors of the Russian flag. Speaking of which, remember those nice flagpoles at the end of every level? The flag on top sports an upside-down peace symbol--which Mario promptly lowers every time he reaches a castle. And what does he raise in its place? A white flag with a red star, clearly the star of Russia. This whole series of castle conquerings is only so he can reach and overthrow Bowser--a king of the Koopas. Communists overthrowing kings? That's totally what happened in the Russian Revolution. Toadsworth must be Rasputin or something...


The Star Fox crew are amputees

Star Fox is a sci-fi title, so it's not out of the question that characters have cybernetic implants of some kind--hell, in the future we'll probably attach phones to our ear drums. But what's disturbing about this theory is that it suggests the Star Fox team, or any Arwing pilot for that matter, have had their legs amputated. But this isn't some life-saving Civil War gangrene operation.

Here's a bit of military trivia: piloting a jet under high G-forces causes blood to drain to the lower parts of the body--pilots can easily black out. But if there are no lower parts to go to, the blood circulates normally. The only way Fox and his crew could even survive is if they've had their legs removed. Still don't believe me? Look at this Nintendo Power cover of the team. Those aren't normal legs--they're prosthetics.


The Legend of Zelda has always existed in weird half-kiddy, half-adult state. The cutesy style of Wind Waker ends with a sword through Ganondorf's face; the innocent Princess Ruto gets swallowed by a giant, bile-filled fish. And Majora's Mask is darker than a Tim Burton fan's diary. In fact, Link might actually be dead during the whole thing.

There are too many examples to fit into this paragraph, so I'm going to focus on the biggest two. First, let's check out the Elegy of Emptiness. It's an ocarina song that lets you make a statue copy of yourself--quite handy for puzzles. But it only makes copies of characters that have died. By wearing the Deku, Goron, and Zora masks, you can make copies of the Deku Butler's son, Darmani, and Mikau, respectively. If you don't recognize those names, know this: those characters are definitely dead. But when you play the Elegy of Emptiness without a mask, you still make a copy--of Link. Second, when you meet the Happy Mask Salesman, his first words are "you've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" The only other time he says this? When time expires, and the moon destroys Termina. Poor, poor (totally dead) Link.


Punch Out is orchestrated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Little Mac is a hero to many--a too-short-for-the-ring scrapper who takes down big bad boxers from around the word. Impressive...unless the whole thing is staged. In fact, Little Mac is likely quite weak and sickly, with a career faked by the lovely Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Make-A-Wish only grants wishes for kids under 18--Little Mac is 17 at the time of Punch Out. Check. The boxers all essentially throw their fights by attacking in patterns and eventually go down in an over-the-top collapse. Check. Mike Tyson takes a break from biting ears to make a celebrity cameo. Check. All signs point to Little Mac having some sort of terminal disease, wishing he could just be a big, strong championship boxer--even taking down a great like Mike Tyson. OK, I have to make a donation real quick...


Just a theory

Is your childhood ruined now? Blame the forum posters who crafted these dark theories. Are there others out there that you believe? Do you have a game theory of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

Craving more video game theories? Check out the weirdest theories about the Pokemon universe, or gaming theories we actually want to believe.

Freelance Writer

Tony lives in Maryland, where he writes about those good old-fashioned video games for GamesRadar+. His words have also appeared on GameSpot and G4, but he currently works for Framework Video, and runs Dungeons and Dragons streams.