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Nightmare Fuel / Paper Mario

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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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    Paper Mario 
  • Forever Forest, with its creepy laughing trees, giggling flowers, and Bootler's Nightmare Face.
  • 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. 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.
    • That's not getting into the fact that Bowser made him invincible by cutting out his heart.
  • Crystal Palace has an unsettling atmosphere, thanks to the isolation, subdued music, and plentiful doppelgangers.
  • The music that plays while sneaking in the corridors of Peach's castle in the sequences between chapters isn't too creepy, but when you arrive there as Mario just before the game's finale, it's downright sinister. Not helping matters is the dark lighting, the emptiness, and that it's an eerie, slowed-down remix of the final showdown with Bowser after he's fully powered by the star rod.
    Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door 
  • 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 in manic distress as he comes very close to exploding in your face before he shuts 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.
  • 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.
  • Functionally, how Twilight Town works isn't too weird in its own right. You must have a name and have it attached to you to both enter and exit… except what do you do when a supernatural opponent steals your very appearance and even manages to steal your name? Now you're trapped in a world of perpetual twilight where said invincible villain can use everything you know and can even convince your allies to fight against you. Worse yet, the villain can apparently even steal entire letters right out of the alphabet, so even if you did know his name in order to be able to make him vulnerable, you'd be supernaturally unable to defeat him without realizing this detail and finding a way to speak the letter you need.
    • To make it worse, think about it from Mario's perspective, this creep has just stolen his identity and the only way he can get it back is to guess his name… which he doesn't know and has (seemingly) no way to find out. If it hadn't been for Vivian, Mario could have been stuck there forever!
    • In the start of Chapter 4, every time the bell tolls, somebody in town gets turned into a pig. The citizens of Twilight Town live in constant fear of this fate, and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it.
  • Twilight Trail is very similar to Twilight Town, 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.
  • Halfway during Hooktail's Boss Battle, she tries to bribe the characters into sparing her and if you refuse to accept all three of her attempts of bribes, she begins to leave behind. At first, you think the battle is over and she's getting away, but then she lunges for the audience and eats them alive! Complete with the eaten audience's dying screams while the others are panicking and fleeing. It's also scary because this just comes out of nowhere.
    • Oh, and a couple of later bossesnote  repeat this stunt, in case one incident of audience slaughter wasn't disturbing enough.
  • 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.
  • Mario's body when Doopliss takes it over becomes pretty unnerving with its facial expressions and posture not seen from Mario otherwise. His eyes become wider and hollow, and do not blink; his body more hunched over, and his voice becomes metallic. When fighting against Doopliss alongside the Shadow Sirens at the Palace of Shadow, he uses this ghastly form of Mario when copying his form.
  • Oh, the Smorgs! The day when the Excess Express supposed to arrive to 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 not panicking 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.
    • If you want some foreshadowing that something terrible happened to the passengers when you were asleep, try going to the train's shop and talk to the toad who works there. When you enter the shop, you notice the shop toad lying on the ground. When you try to talk to him, the bubble text just says ".........." His mouth doesn't even move like normal, which could lead to some first-time viewers thinking he actually died during the night invasion. Fortunately, it's revealed in a later visit that he was just knocked out
  • 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 it into the ground with her omnipotent powers. 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. When she's finally defeated, she curses the four heroes by locking them into black chests for a millennia. You later have to go through her palace, which gets more and more disturbing the longer you go through it. Then Grodus releases her, unaware of just how horrible she is…
  • The Pit of 100 Trials. According to Grifty, the Shadow Queen created this dungeon and filled it with powerful monsters. She threw people she didn't like into the pit and left them to the mercy of the monsters down there. Sometime after her defeat, the pit was closed off from the public. However, it can be personally experienced at any time of the game. Though it starts off as easy, the pit will reveal its true nature at about floor 50 as the floors get darker, the air gets "super-dank" as Goombella puts it, and worst of all, the cryptically brutal enemies. To top it all off, there are no save and heart blocks! Seriously, the Difficulty Spike is truly terrifying, and Super Paper Mario would return the concept twice
    • The creepy and mysterious music heard throughout it complements the experience once the Difficulty Spike takes place.
    • Bonetail, the eldest of the "tail" siblings and the strongest enemy in the game who's at the bottom of the pit. Unlike its siblings, it's an undead, skeletal dragon, having died of old age and starvation. This only further demonstrates how nasty the Shadow Queen is… whether or not it's harder than her and how well you'll do in the fight depends on how many HP, FP, items, star power, etc. you have left.
    • It's very rare, as only a few non-Danger Marios are willing to return to floor 100, either because they don't want to go through that hell again or they don't expect anything new. The thing is, if you do, there is this very unsettling ambiencenote  proving that it's even worse with Bonetail absent. No one's there anymore. Bonetail's gone and it's completely empty, devoid of any life. Only you, your partner, this track, and that feeling. So there's indeed something new: one of the absolute creepiest scenes in the series…
  • Beldam's abuse of Vivian is disturbingly realistic. It's not just childish insults. Some of what Beldam calls her are just straight up nasty, along with flat out misgendering her in certain versions of the game. That's not even getting into the fact Beldam straight up gaslights her twice! While the ending of the game does show them making up, to some, that only makes things worse because it's eerily similar to tricks abusers pull in order to lure their victim back into their grip...
  • The bad ending, where Mario joins the Shadow Queen. It is implied that she brainwashes Mario and party to be her eternal servents, and then afterwards we get a narration text box describing how the Shadow Queen engulfed the world into eternal darkness. Made even worse is that in the Japanese version, Mario's sprite changes into his "Doopliss impostor" sprite after the brainwash takes place.
    Super Paper Mario 
  • Every place where you can actually see the purple Void in the background, especially considering that it grows with time.
  • Megabites, as well as their variations, are flying skull-like enemies that can randomly, and suddenly, appear in almost any level, with the earliest known sighting being 1-3, simply flying in from off-screen. While they aren't especially scary looking, there's a certain creepiness in their appearance, especially the basic Megabites, with their large, red eyes. Especially jarring is encountering them while 3D.
  • Pictured above, Mimi. Just MIMI!! Her transformation sequence into a giant spider is one of the scariest things in any mario game. She twists her head entirely around, The Exorcist-style — complete with the sounds of her spine cracking in multiple places — and grows extra legs with her head hanging upside down. If you flip while Mimi is in spider form, you can see the gears inside her, too. Even worse, in Chapter 2-4, if you slouch for too long in an area while being chased by her spider form, she spawns at your location. With the change of music, this can very well be a Jump Scare. It's even an In-Universe Nightmare Fuel moment as most people around her when she's in her spider form get scared or feel intimidated.
  • The first time you go into the Sammer Kingdom, it's increasingly obvious that the huge void in the sky is growing and there's not enough time to save the place after recovering the Pure Heart. What's even worse is that the inhabitants are completely aware of their imminent demise and even allow Mario and company to bypass the Duel of 100 in a desperate attempt to get the Pure Heart into their hands in time. The party doesn't even come close to getting the Pure Heart before they're forced to evacuate. You go back after it's destroyed, and all that's left is an endless white void with occasional monochrome debris. Nothing Is Scarier at its finest. The music makes it even worse.
    • Speaking of the music, there's the sound of a heart monitor flatlining in the background. It makes sense in-game too, since the Pure Heart in this level has been turned to stone.
    • Even Bowser, the main villain of the first game who, despite being one of Mario's allies at this time, hasn't truly reformed yet, says, if you're playing as him while entering the World of Nothing for the first time, "This is messed up! I'm all for being evil, but this is just overkill!"
  • Remember Captain Gills, that little fish you set free into the reservoir in Flipside? Checking on him between chapters reveals that he's been getting bigger, he now has giant fangs, and there are bones littering the bottom of the reservoir that only continue to accumulate as the game goes on. It's never explained what, or who, those bones belonged to. The most reassuring explanation that could come from these would be that they could just be the bones of some animals that live nearby the reservoir, but it can't be certain.
  • The Underwhere has one particularly disturbing enemy and one of the most deranged places in the game:
    • The Underhands are disembodied hands that slowly pursue the player when they are in grabbing range. They are found either in deep water or in dark areas; in the latter, they are usually hidden away in out-of-the-way places, ready to sneak up on you.
    • The River Twygz. Pretty tame if you stay near the surface; go any deeper and be prepared to encounter Underhands and to listen to this masterpiece. The "music" has a bunch of garbled voices in the background. Most of it's either backmasked or too distorted to understand, but there is one clear line:
    • Even the Overthere Stair, which is pretty much the path from the underworld to heaven, has a disturbing surprise: you can see The Void in the background covering the blue sky — indicating that it was not just going to destroy every world of the living, but also erase the afterlife, thus not just killing everyone, but completely erasing them from existence.
  • The Final Boss, Super Dimentio, a monster that Dimentio created by merging with Mr. L and the Chaos Heart, a giant monster who has a fairly disturbing face that resembles Luigi's, and is initially unable to be harmed just like Count Bleck. When he's defeated, he ends up being decapitated and still surviving for a brief period of time before his head explodes.
    • The theme music (of Super Dimentio) 'The Ultimate Show' begins close to Dimentio's own theme (Affably Evil at its finest), before the music seemingly "cracks" to reveal the rest of the tune, a remix of the aforementioned Dimentio's theme, the Chaos Heart, and Mr. L.
    • Can we say Dimentio in general? He is probably the evilest character in the entire Mario franchise. Hell, he's arguably one of the most vile and dark characters in any Nintendo game. He tricks you into killing a peaceful dragon, betrays Count Bleck, turns Luigi into Mr. L, and tries to destroy all of reality, all because of a vague prophecy. His evil plan and status as a jester almost make him into a kid-friendly Kefka (likely his inspiration).
    Paper Mario: Sticker Star 
  • 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...
    • 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.
    Paper Mario: Color Splash 
  • 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.
  • In the Indigo Underground, Mario finds the sixth member of the Rescue Squad has already been drained of color... and the apparently normal Slurp Guy folds its head backwards to look at you and inches forward using its body, like a worm. The ensuing battle starts with Mario failing to run away, the music is replaced with "Psycho" Strings, and the Shunned Guy can only be hurt by fire.
  • The Game Over cutscene. Mario falls flat on the ground. Then, a group of Slurp Guys jump out of nowhere and proceed to suck Mario's color dry, turning the entire screen white as it zooms in on them before fading completely. The Game Over message itself is in black and white.
  • If Mario loses the game of Snifit or Whiffit: Seabed Edition, a large urchin pops the air bubble he's in. Mario turns blue and starts flailing his arms as the screen goes white.
    Paper Mario: The Origami King 
  • Origami Peach's demeanor is unsettlingly distant, and her mind has been warped to Olly's will as she asks Mario three questions, then drops him down a trap door, no matter how he answers.
  • One scene in the beginning has Mario seeing the shadows of two Folded Soldier Shy Guys drag a Paper Koopa Troopa into the dungeon cell, then throw him onto the Stapler, which turns him into a Folded Soldier.
    • Not to mention Bowser was in the cell and was forced to watch his own men be transformed by Olly’s magic. Bowser at one point even demands Olly to leave his men alone, but he’s unable to do anything since he’s folded up and held by a clothespin.
  • Bobby and Mario head to The Princess Peach, a luxury cruise ship which has been wrecked by a Paper Macho Gooper Blooper. The music, the scenery being wrecked, and the toads you find who complain in vague terms about what happened, all add up to a very tense atmosphere, which isn't helped when the thing that attacked comes back.
  • Really, the amount of Body Horror this game gets away with thanks to the characters being made of paper and going against living stationery can be very unnerving to see. It's most prominent with Hole Punch and Scissors, who actually damage and remove parts of characters as opposed to just pinning them in place or wrinkling them or similar. It'll make you look at your paper-cutting implements in a different light for sure...
  • The Paper Macho Chain Chomp. It can shred Piranha Plants into nothing but confetti in mere seconds, and chases the party at multiple points. Get caught by it, and you'll be treated to a scene where the monster pounces on a terrified Mario before the screen fades to black, followed by audible crunching noises, and there's no way to fight back. Speaking of, there's a really good reason there's a save block just before the third split in the path to the Spring of Jungle Mist. Pick the wrong path, and the Paper Macho Chain Chomp will leap at your party from the trees. The screen then fades to black as a high-pitched scream is heard, followed by the crunching of the monster's jaw. Cue Game Over screen.
  • There's a bit in Shroom City where you're searching for Luigi somewhere in town and come across a particularly shady Snifit running a carnival game. It starts out comedic as you have to guess what he's feeling from his completely expressionless masked face, topped off with overly dramatic zooms and pauses. But if you lose three times, he adds in the caveat that you've lost not only your coins, but your freedom as well. The sudden dark turn in an otherwise goofy scene is jarring enough, but should you choose not to play again, which you just might if you're now convinced it's a waste of time, or fail three more times after playing again, the result is Mario being sucked into a giant magic lamp with his brother. Thus, the Mario Brothers are trapped inside of the lamp for all eternity. Game Over.
  • In Hole Punch's domain, you encounter Toads that have had their faces punched out by him, leaving a gaping hole that you can see right through. During the battle itself, he can also take chunks out of Mario. It's really unsettling to see Mario with holes in his body, making him look pockmarked and about to collapse if he takes another hit.
  • Scissors in a world made of paper equals absolute terror. It first appears as part of a Cerebus Callback to its initial use in Sticker Star: It cuts Bowser Jr. into pieces. Pieces that, given their shuffling, are still aware. It gets worse by the time you actually meet it: It's proud of being (supposedly) invincible and rends all of Bowser's army into assorted minion confetti before turning it into a mish-mash goliath because it can and all of these pieces are sentient and screaming for help. Given that this is Paper Mario and the boss you're fighting is a pair of scissors, being on the wrong end of its blades leads to exactly what you would expect. Scissors also treats Mario and co. to some of its creations. Cutout Soldiers are one-dimensional black cutouts of paper in the shapes of human-proportioned figures, with the small versions linking together like creepy paper chains in battle and the larger ones looking like zombie-walking skinny humans. Also, your companions get snatched away by an entity called the Handaconda, a coiled snake-like ribbon of paper with a cutout hand on the end. These creatures are probably the spookiest things in the game and they're the only completely original enemies to debut, making them all the more surprising. Non-scripted encounters play the Unsettling Area battle theme to top it all off.
  • The 1,000 Fold Arms finisher for Stapler, if only for how... unsettlingly brutal it is in comparison to everything else. Stapler is portrayed as an Angry Guard Dog in the game, and in this finisher, Mario picks it up and snaps it in half with a loud metallic CRUNCH. And since Stapler has been snapping at you throughout the entire fight, Mario just snapped this thing's jaw! If Stapler wasn't… well, a stapler, this kind of violence would never make it past the censors.
  • Olly folds Peach herself into a tapestry in the throne room of his new castle, effectively killing her as he talks about how better she is silent. Worse still, to the inhabitants of the Paper Mushroom Kingdom, this would be akin to making a chandelier out of human flesh.

Alternative Title(s): Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door, Paper Mario Color Splash, Paper Mario 64, Paper Mario Sticker Star, Paper Mario The Origami King, Super Paper Mario