The Paper Mario series is filled with many quirky characters and vibrant locations. That doesn't stop it from having its moments.
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- The fact that in the very first minutes of the game, Bowser practically kills Mario. If the Star Spirits didn't hear him or if his body wasn't found...
- In Dry Dry Ruins, Mario can collect the Lunar Stone without a problem... until a Stone Chomp materializes out of nowhere and attacks Mario from above.
- Forever Forest, with its creepy laughing trees, giggling flowers, and Bootler's Nightmare Face.
- There's also the music that plays right outside Boo's Mansion. It only plays in this one area, but it's much creepier than any other song in the game.
- Tubba Blubba's Heart is Nightmare Fuel all on its own, but its charged attack consists of a swarm of mini corpuscles shaped like itself that squeezes Mario twice (all while making the creepiest sounds) and dealing a massive 12 points of damage!
- Tubba Blubba himself is pretty frightening, especially since he really is invincible and almost all of that part of the level centers around hiding from him. The Boos are all terrified of being caught by him and at one point, when Mario searches Tubba Blubba's house, he finds a Boo who came in with a group and ended up hiding after they got separated. (And for added Fridge Horror, consider that Mario sees no other Boos in the house besides that one.) It's all somewhat mitigated by the fact that Tubba Blubba turns out to not be such a mean guy and spits up the unharmed ghosts he ate, but anyone who doesn't know that will be pretty on edge throughout the level.
- Mt. Lavalava, a volcano that you have to traverse through to save Misstar. Not helped by the fact that after you save her, the volcano decides to erupt at this moment.
- Crystal Palace has an unsettling atmosphere, thanks to the isolation, subdued music, and plentiful doppelgangers.
- Bowser's Castle can be quite terrifying for younger players, particularly the part with a dark cavern that spans two rooms. In general, this Bowser Castle has a very ominous, isolated feel and is tied with Neo Bowser Castle in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team in its creepiness.
- The Magikoopas, Koopatrols and Bony Beetles in the caverns are very adept in seeing in the darkness, catching players off guard with First Strikes if Watt's field ability is not used, and in battle will attack Mario regardless if Watt's not the active partner (as the only way to defeat them in the dark is to have her out in the first place).
- If the player happens to answer three questions incorrectly at the second Bowser Door, they are greeted with the Anti Guys Unit that can obliterate unprepared players.
- Near the end of the castle, the player will encounter an imposter of Peach who claims to have escaped from her castle (unbeknownst to Mario that the real Peach is tied up). As the imposter tells Mario she'll follow him back down the hallway, the camera will begin to lose focus on her until she is gone from the screen when Mario's almost on the other side. When Mario turns around to check up on her, he sees a Duplighost instead.
- Peach's Castle near the end of the game is rather frightening, what with the dark lighting and almost no one around (until you meet up with Bowser or find a Toad in one of the rooms). The fact that this song plays while you're in the castle doesn't help at all.
Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door
- Chapter 3: In the Glitz Pit, you quickly get sucked into a mystery about the strange things that happen in the ring, and keep receiving mysterious emails from someone simply called "X". At one point, a Koopa who befriends you called King K tells you he's retiring and you see nothing more of him. Also, a character called Bandy Andy who tells you about the urban legends of the ring also stops appearing. You don't pay it much thought at first, until you're instructed to go into the storage room and find a secret staircase. When you enter the locked room at the top of the stairs and destroy the box in there, you find King K and Bandy Andy, lying unmoving on the floor with a fly buzzing around them. King K manages to weakly acknowledge Mario, and Bandy Andy tells him not to go to the ring at night. Then, they just stop responding to you. They get better after you defeat the boss, but it's seriously creepy. You can only imagine what would have happened if you never found them...
- And this has been going on for an undetermined amount of time. Imagine what must have happened to the other fighters Grubba did that too...
- It is very heavily implied that Grubba killed Jolene's brother Prince Mush (and probably other fighters) with his machine. The end of the chapter shows that he's still alive, though.
- The entirety of Chapter 4. It takes place in a very eerie region that's divided into three different subsections: Twilight Town, Twilight Trail, and Creepy Steeple. All three are subject to a perennial state of twilight, wherein the sky mixes otherworldly hues of pink and blue that contrast with the ominous, oversized yellow moon.
- Twilight Town is a gloomy hamlet inhabited by equally dismal townsfolk, complete with some very depressing music. The scenery consists of dead trees, a massive full moon with a deathly glow, and buildings that take on a uniformly listless shade of brown. It's actually a somewhat hospitable community despite the oppressively dour atmosphere (oh, and speaking of "dour", that just so happens to be the mayor's name - "Mayor Dour").
- It does not help that the town is cursed, and anyone in town could be turned into a pig at the stroke of a bell. Anyone. Even mothers trying to provide for their family, even the mayor of town, even the visiting sisters who aren't native to it and, by extension, even YOU!
- Twilight Trail is very similar to this (sans the buildings), except that it leads into a coniferous forest which becomes darker and darker as you venture further in. The music in this area takes a level in creepiness.
- Creepy Steeple is at the very end of the trail, and although small as compared to other dungeons within the Paper Mario series, it's a classic example of Big Boo's Haunt. Add to that the dimly lit hallways and stained-glass windows, and you've got a very unsettling place indeed. As with Twilight Town and Trail, the background music helps in establishing the atmosphere.
- So you've just beaten the boss — you weren't able to find out his name, even if you Tattled it — and gotten the suspiciously different End of Chapter sequence... and you and Goombella leave the room... except... why isn't the scene changing? Did something break, or... oh. You pressed A and... the silhouette you were fighting moved?! Yes, now you've got to get back to town, fighting spiked rock monsters, special Goombas with higher HP and the ability to charge up, and flowers that can put you to sleep along the way. And you're alone, without the benefit of any of your partners to help you deal damage or take a hit for you.
- Chapter 6: Oh, the Smorgs! The day when the Excess Express supposed to arrive Poshley Heights, Mario finds the train eerily quiet with no other passenger in sight. Mario has a talk with the Engineer at the front of the train when a smorg appears on the windshield with the Engineer and Mario does not panic before a swarm of Smorgs covers the whole windshield and the train. Mario is told to check on the other passengers only to find most of them were kidnapped by the Smorgs and he has to fight through the whole swarm of Smorgs and their combined form to save them.
- The Palace of Shadow itself.
- Riddle Tower. Especially thanks to the music and the cryptic text on the signs in each room - the middle line in all of these is unrelated to the other ones, and together these middle lines spell out a mysterious, cosmic message.
- The Shadow Queen is nothing less than pure evil. In the prologue, she destroys an entire city by sinking into the ground. She later goes on to create three dragons and use the Pit of 100 Trials as a torture chamber to those who would oppose her. If it weren't for the four heroes, she would have probably gone on to conquer the entire world. And when she's finally defeated, she curses the four heroes by locking them into chests. You later have to go through her palace, which gets more and more disturbing the longer you go through it. And then Grodus releases her, unaware of just how horrible she is...
- The way she heals herself. When Mario and Co. get her to half her health, she heals herself...by dragging the audience members into shadow. The player doesn't see what happened to them, but they're gone and she heals all the way to full health.
- In the US version of the game, the house in the back alley of Rogueport's main square simply looks like someone had broken in.◊ In the original Japanese version, it takes the appearance of a murder scene with what appears to be blood on the floor and a Toad-shaped chalk outline.◊
- Ghost T. He died on the Excess Express & he wants you to receive his diary for him. Reading this diary will result in him popping out of it & killing you.
- The four chests that give you the new paper abilities, the demons inside as Laughably Evil as they are, delight in cursing you but that's not the scary part. It's the fact that they were four "HEROES" who were transformed into evil demons and trapped for a thousand years, then again one could argue that they were still good and knew Mario couldn't defeat the Shadow Queen without the powers, and the evil was just an act.
- Hooktail eats the audience members to restore her HP after the first phase of her fight. Thankfully, you can still save them by attacking her.
- Cortez does the same thing only he apparently kills them and absorbs their souls, and considering he's undead...
- Not as horrific as Hooktail and Cortez, but Crump in his Magnus von Grapple 2.0 fight uses a vacuum to suck up the audience members and use them as ammo.
- The Happy Lucky Lottery is, for the most part, a very fun and bright interpretation of the lottery run by a big, enthusiastic Bob-omb named Lucky. It also happens to run based on the console's clock. Try to exploit it or accidentally change the time in some way, and Lucky will look frustrated when you load the game. Talk to him, and he'll reveal that there were shenanigans with the lottery and ask if Mario/the player was responsible. If you say yes, then Lucky will go absolutely crazy, repeating the same phrases over and over before shutting the game down. Or at least, so it seems. In reality, he'll charge you 500 coins for a new ticket and warn you not to do it again.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
- Bowser defeats Mario so thoroughly at the start that he's folded and crumpled up when Kersti finds him.
- Kersti's Suddenly Shouting modes, accompanied by a clashing cymbal.
- One of the very first Toads you rescue is grateful that you didn't rip his head when peeling a sticker off of him.
- One Toad at the beginning of the game is folded so much he's reduced to a tiny scrap of paper when you find him. He says that while Mario was folded 8 times, he was folded 256 times.
- When unfolding the plaza, one Toad gets stuck underneath it as they roll it out. He is trapped in the dimension outside of paper until you can save him.
- World 4-3, The Enigmansion. While it later gets quirky and relaxed, when you first enter the house, it's COMPLETELY SILENT. Nothing is heard, absolutely nothing... Well, all except for that creepy sound that sounds like screaming.
- The fact that you can STILL HEAR IT even after the Boos have been sealed amounts to Fridge Horror.
- Also, later, after you place a Toad picture in one room, you can return to it later. It reveals a Boo's face on the Toad. And it's a lot scarier that it sounds. It looks like one of those faces you would see in a screamer video, only worse. Seeing a scary face on something so innocent is just NOT RIGHT. Even worse is that it only happens when you head to the door.
- The remix of the original Ghost House theme. The saxophones and xylophones/music boxes just make it sound that much more worse, and it only plays when you first talk to the Toad steward and when you talk to him again while hunting for Boos.
- Big Boo attacks by chewing on Mario and spitting him out. This attack turns him invisible, and while Mario can't hurt him in this form, he can still hurt you.
- The dimension outside of paper. It's a multicolored void of... something, or maybe even nothing. It's present whenever a scrap or pieces of paper are missing, and it's seen every time the world is paperized. The music that accompanies is also extremely unsettling for a core gameplay mechanic used as often as it is.
- After you defeat Kamek for the final time, he begins shouting that Bowser will destroy you, before being cut-off in mid-sentence by turning to ash.
- Speaking of enemies turning to ash, this happens any time you score the finishing blow with a fire-themed sticker.
- Speaking MORE of enemies turning into ash, how about the fact that Bowser Jr. suffers the same fate as Kamek.
- Finishing them off with ice, water, or scissors-themed stickers will have them disintegrate into nothingness, melt away, or torn into shreds, respectively. This becomes all the more unsettling when you realize that the characters acknowledge that they're made of paper in this particular game. This can even happen to Mario, too, depending on the type of attack that does him in.
- Even being cut to pieces isn't as disturbing as what happens to you in Chomp Ruins if you get hit by the blades: Mario gets separated to tiny pieces of paper, for a split second, and he just continues walking normally after that.
- The nonstandard Game Overs can be frightening, especially if you don't expect them. You can die by sinking too much in quicksand or loitering too much in battle on a sand or swamp map.
- A Cheep-Chomp chases you through World 5 at one point. If it eats you, Mario is instantly killed.
- The whole idea of World 3. The whole forest has been polluted by Shy Guys and the creatures within are struggling to survive. Throughout the area, you see patches of purple sludge, sick bushes, and lakes and rivers full of toxins. Not to mention the background music is a bit depressing.
- Then there's Wiggler. Your whole objective for the world is reunite him with his body parts, which Kamek scattered throughout the area. He didn't even do anything wrong! Kamek made the accusation that he was associating with Mario when he had no idea who he was.
- A huge storm springs up as Mario and Peach head to Prism Island.
- Upon arriving at Prism Island, Mario and Peach witness a Shy Guy sucking all the color out of a screaming Toad with a straw, leaving behind a blank Toad-shaped piece of paper that lifelessly falls to the ground. Making it worse is that Mario and Peach interrupt them halfway, and the Toad yells at the Shy Guy to put his color back.
- One Toad seen in the trailer◊ has a hole in the back of his head.
- Mario can hit Toads with his paint hammer, leaving them half-crumpled for a while and covered in paint.