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Nightmare Fuel / Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

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The second, oft-overlooked installment of the Mario & Luigi series may retain the trademark wit and comedic antics fans have come to expect from Mario RPGs, but one thing the game is also well remembered for is for its surprisingly gloomy tone, in sharp contrast to what is expected from Nintendo's most iconic world, most often cited as the single darkest game starring the portly plumber to date second only to the third Paper Mario game. Those looking for a bright and sunny Mario game may wish to look elsewhere.

  • The Shroobs, period. Simply put, their presence and its impact on the story alone is the reason Partners in Time is so often regarded as one of the darkest games in the franchise. Most antagonists in the franchise are fairly comedic, with the likes of Fawful and Bowser himself, and even if they're not, their underlings will generally be silly, such as Grodus with the X-Nauts. The Shroobs, on the other hand, are simply introduced as a creepy race of extraterrestrials on a faraway planet who spend their time idly searching for a new planet, which they find in the form of the Mushroom Kingdom's planet. They waste no time in invading, and within what's most likely the span of a day in-game, they've managed to both wreck Peach's Castle and transform it into their own base using their armada of UFOs. On top of that, they speak entirely in a foreign language, meaning they lack any goofy dialogue to laugh at either, and whilst they're not completely foreign to being involved with little gags during certain scenes and in-battle, it does little to lighten the presence of their threat.
    • Amid their untranslatable, foreign dialogue spouted throughout the entire game, one recurring, two-character phrase written in Shroob language is dropped constantly by members of the species throughout the adventure. Before engaging Princess Shroob in combat, her text is translated, and she ends her monologue by saying the phrase once again, finally showing us what they've been repeating so often since the beginning of the game - "Destroy."
      • It gets even more unsettling when Elder Princess Shroob starts chanting it right before their battle starts.
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    • And that’s just them as a race. Their leader Princess Shroob is quite possibly the most psychopathic character, after Dimentio and King Boo, in the whole Mario franchise. She has her armies raid and destroy innocent towns and villages, drain Toads out of their vim, which is their life force, to use for fuel for their ships, and feeds Princess Peach to Petey Piranha for no other reason except pure sadism. She is one horrific character in a lighthearted game.
    • Thankfully, Bowser's got them on ice.
  • The player's first real encounter with the Shroobs? We're treated to a Toad falling from the sky, mumbling something about a village, and proceeding to be abducted by one of their saucers as soon as the bros leave him, and soon afterwards, the village mentioned is found - Hollijolli Village, a Christmas-themed town that's been wrecked by the Shroobs, with destroyed houses, a complete lack of villagers outside of the mayor, who is abducted as soon as he comes out of hiding, no less, and with a depressing, lonely rendition of Jingle Bells for the background music to boot.
  • The next area visited by the Shroobs, Toadwood Forest, manages to be even worse than Hollijolli Village. We learn that they abduct Toads and strap them to trees in order to suck their "Vim", which is seemingly their life energy, and send it to their factory to be converted to fuel for their saucers. Throughout the area, Toads can be found strapped to trees, often drained of color, as if they've become part of the trees themselves upon having their life force drained, and most of which can be spoken to, almost entirely weakly pleading for help or barely managing to describe how they feel.
    • In the factory itself, the vim sucked from the Toads has the appearance of green liquid with images of sad Toad spirits inside it. Although this is likely not the case, given the ending, the spirit images have led some to believe that they are the souls of the Toads, sucked out by the Shroobs.
    • The Vim could also be the Toads's blood, as it's implied it flows through the Toads's bodies, making it even worse. Heck, even that creepy goblet Princess Shroob holds could have Vim in it.
  • Toad Town is possibly the perfect area to sum up the ambiance of the rest of the entire game. Every building stands derelict and abandoned, if not outright flattened, save for one shop. Every street is completely empty, save for the Shroob invaders, scouring for survivors. The different sections of town are locked off with bars and walls, the cracked Toad engravings and patterns a grim reminder of what has happened. However, despite all of that, the proper killer is the music. It's not happy and jolly like Yo'ster Isle, it's not heroic, it's not evil and daunting, it's... melancholic. In a Mario game. It slowly drags on, quietly pinging in the background, occasionally rising up into something more dramatic, before being pushed back into the hopeless pits of despair that the once cheerful Toad Town have become. The worst part? Throughout this entire sad trudge through the purple, corrupted streets of the old Capital of the Mushroom Kingdom, other than the two senile grandmas and the endless waves of invaders, there's not a single soul here. Then, suddenly, it hits you - Every single Toad that once lived in this city that wasn't killed has since been dragged off to the Vim Factory. Every single one is going to be farmed for their life force, if they haven't already been. Every last one.
  • The theme of Shroob Castle. Dark and foreboding, it hints at the many, many enemies you'll spend your time fighting against.
    • Speaking of Shroob Castle, the time hole leading to it opens long before the area is explorable - There's something incredibly frightening about the ominous portal crackling with electricity on the top floor leading to the locked entrance of the obviously late-game dungeon, where little can be seen except of the corruption performed by the Shroobs even on what little can be seen of the area. Oh yeah, there's no music in the exterior area, either.
  • The Elder Princess Shroob. She is a giant mutant with numerous tentacles for legs and for arms, and a hideous face. To make it worse, she even attacks by shooting down her own men.
    • Their battle music is an example of Soundtrack Dissonance as well. Not as heavy as what's above, but still notable.
  • When Peach first goes on her trip, she is accompanied by two Toad attendants, Toadiko and Toadbert. By the time you encounter Toadiko, she is already near-lifeless, as she's already been captured and that most of her Vim has been sucked away. Then, she is found out and turned into a Shroob mushroom, presumably dying. (If she didn't, it's even worse.) Toadbert traumatically loses his memory for most of the game, and as soon as he recovers it, he is promptly turned into a Shroob mushroom as well. In both cases, this is softened by the fact that they, like all of the Shroobs' victims, recover (Toadbert even returns as comic relief in the third game), but still, this is some hardcore stuff, especially considering we don't even know how long they've been like this.
  • The Yoob, who eats every Yoshi it encounters in sight (and later the Mario Bros and Baby Bowser), which are later encased in eggs which would most likely make more Yoobs to help conquer the Mushroom Kingdom.
    • Inside Yoob, you can see him wince in pain when the Babies use the hammer or the Baby Drill. The latter is especially wince-worthy if you consider that Yoob just had something drilling into his flesh and is moving underneath it. Though, thankfully, once he falls asleep, he no longer feels it.
  • Peach and Kylie getting eaten by Petey Piranha. It's almost as frightening as Jabba's method of execution in Star Wars.

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