My favorite game when I was growing up was Super Mario World. I loved that game, but over the years I sold away my copy while keeping my SNES. I had been seeking it ever since.
“Why not just order it on Amazon? Or get the Game Boy Advance version? Or the Virtual Console? Or, god, just download an emulator?” my friends said to me. But I would not be dissuaded. I needed to scour yard sales until I found a copy of this extremely common game.
It took me years. And what did I find? NBA Elite 2011? Garage: Bad Dream Adventure? Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill? Some grey cartridge labeled “EARTHBOUND 64 FINAL PROTOTYPE”? All trash. I threw them away in search of the real prize. And one day, I found it.
Sure the name on the cartridge was SUPER MARIO BLOOD and the artwork was a rather grim Bosch painting but it was the game I loved! I slapped down five Washingtons and walked away with the prize.
“I have it bro, I have the game!” I called my friend.
“Yeah, well, five minutes on the internet and I could get every SNES game.”
“That’s risky, bro. I once heard of a guy who downloaded a pirated copy of Minecraft and was killed by that ghost who follows Notch around screaming GUILTY, GUILTY.”
“Yeah well I once heard this horror story about someone who downloaded DOTA 2.”
“And what happened to them?”
“They had to play DOTA 2,” he said, hanging up.
I popped Super Mario World into my SNES and already there were worrying signs. The Mushroom Kingdom wasn’t…right. The friendly faces in the background were scowling skulls, and everything was drenched in photorealistic blood. And then the name popped up: SUPER MARIO BLOOD. The 3D Mario from Super Mario 64 popped up and said, “It’s-a me, a mortal creature about to pay for his unforgivable sins.”
Uh, that’s odd, I thought. The SNES wasn’t capable of true 3D. Could this be a rom hack?
I pressed on. The first level seemed normal beyond the fact that the mushrooms were skulls and the background was a blood-red sky, marked by the occasional three-eyed pyramid. But then I leapt on Yoshi and I heard a terrible sound. It was like Giygas in Earthbound, or Kefka in Final Fantasy VI, or any number of non-terrifying sounds from non-horror games that I’ll compare things to because I think my readers only know about video games and nothing else.
At the start of the second level I couldn’t move, Mario just dived right into the water. Before drowning he said: “Mmmmmmmmph. MMMPHHHHHHHHHHH”. Oh my god, could Mario be the Pyro?
And then back on the title screen the title changed to MARIODROWNED.
“Mark! Mark! You gotta fucking hear this!”
“No I don’t,” he said before hanging up.
But I’ll tell you my experiences on this blog. I’ve figured it out across multiple playthroughs. I have no reference to anything other than video games so I constructed an elaborate conspiracy theory where I believe Mario killed his brother Luigi because Luigi stole something from him, possibly killing Aerith – no, not Aeris, you baka gaijin, you do not understand the purity of Japanese media the way I do, for even though I am from Ohio I am a major otaku who understands every nuance of Japanese culture, from anime to video games (the only two forms of culture in Japan), I once met an Oriental exchange student and told him about my love of anime and he told me he was from China and I told him, “Same difference, right?” before imitating his accent and then he never talked to me again and reported me for supposed “racism”, I don’t know why, that word is one of endearment and anyway you can use it for armor – but to get back to my theory, it was LINK working with NATHAN DRAKE who killed JOHN F KENNEDY for the ILLUMINATI, as seen in Deus Ex.
Back to Super Mario Blood: I…had to keep going. In real life I noticed no negative effects on my psyche from playing this game but I knew it was harming me, somehow, despite just being a mildly eerie video game I could very easily put in a box and forget. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t go to class, I didn’t even call my good friend Mark, or any of the many other friends I very clearly have.
But I reached it. I reached the end. I navigated a sea of dead Luigis and the messages on the walls: REPENT SINNER, GOD LOVES YOU, SALVATION FOR ALL WHO ACCEPT HIM AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR. What does it all mean!?
I navigated all this and reached a bridge, like the ones Bowser waits on. It was time. It was time to face Bowser’s evil test.
But then I saw…not Bowser, but Luigi? And he said, “HELLO. WELCOME TO THE FAMILY INTERNATIONAL’S NEWEST GAME. THE YEAR IS 1990 AND WE MUST USE TECHNOLOGY TO FIGHT TECHNOLOGY. ARE YOU PREPARED TO SEE THE TRUE ENEMY?”
YES, YES I WAS.
A…video began to play? A music video?
“Don’t go, Cathy don’t go..Cathy don’t go to the supermarket today!!!”
Before my eyes I watched a music video on the horrors of the grocery store scanner, how it would steal our souls. Was this whole game just an attempt to get 80s technophobes to find religion???
It was…about as horrifying as these awful video game creepypastas. Shit, Slenderman is scarier than these stories and he’s just a faceless mannequin who stands around in the background of student films! At least the BENDROWNED guy created videos of the “scary” activity and exploited actually eerie elements of the game. Most of these stories slap some blood onto a screenshot of the Toad house and start screaming about how THE BLOOD WAS PHOTOREALISTIC. And why do all of these stories involve old NES-SNES games or Minecraft? Does disk-based media block ghosts? Can’t Steam occasionally fuck up and add a ghost to a download? I mean, have you SEEN the shit they allow these days? At least one of those Early Access games has got to be haunted.
Terrible, just terrible.