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Nightmare Fuel / Sonic the Hedgehog

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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/scorpius_3.png
This is Scorpius. You may scream now.
No, not even the Blue Blur can be trusted not to give kids nightmares.


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     General 

     Sonic the Hedgehog 2 
  • In the 2-player vs. mode, when one player finishes a level, it starts a 60-second countdown for the other player to try and finish. The drowning music is once again involved (see folder above).
  • The Chemical Plant Zone is mostly remembered because of the quickly rising purple water with no air bubbles known only as Mega Mack, making any comeback to the surface more and more difficult as time went by, eventually culminating in an inevitable instance of the drowning countdown. This is referenced in Sonic Generations, where Tails remarks about how "and that pink water really makes me nervous for some reason." drives home how even Sega is aware of the level's infamy.
  • Aquatic Ruin Zone features stone with Robotnik's face carved on it, randomly activating arrow traps, and of course, water for Sonic to drown in.
  • The teleportation boxes freaked out some people as well, what with the music and the whole screen turning white as seen here.
  • In the Genesis games 2 and 3/Knuckles, there's a few kamikaze enemies (Asteron in Metropolis, Jawz in Hydrocity).
  • Mystic Cave Zone has a particular part in which the player must grab a vine or else drop into an inescapable pit of spikes, able to trap even Super Sonic.
    • Thankfully, the 2013 mobile re-release of the game turned it from a death trap into a Warp Zone to Hidden Palace Zone.
  • Playing around with savestates on this game and Sonic 2 Retro Remix with an emulator can result in a messy outcome.
  • The infamous Sonic 2 prototype has the infamous blank stages: Wood Zone Act 2, both acts of Cyber City Zone, and both acts of Death Egg Zone. No level, just glitched (if any) background) and plummeting to your death three times. Even worse, playing Death Egg Zone, which has no music, shuts off the Z80 processor, preventing sound from playing again until you reset.
  • Oil Ocean Zone's music is a bit creepy. What elevates it into Nightmare Fuel territory is that if you input a code on the wrong menu (entering 1-9-9-2-1-1-2-4 into the Options sound test rather than the stage select sound test), which not only give the player 14 continues, the music starts playing throughout the entire game, even if you navigate outside of the options menu. Worse, all sound effects are disabled!
  • When you actually reach the final boss of this game, specifically the last robot Robotnik gets in for this particular boss battle, the music that plays can be downright disturbing. What makes it Nightmare Fuel is the oddity and eerie calmness that its sounds make. The atmosphere this creates, after you have probably died several times just to reach this point, is that this calmness is probably what Robotnik feels every time he kills or roboticizes animals for whatever self-serving goal he has in mind. Exacerbated by the fact that the bot's movements are so slow and graceful, the worst part comes when this is only half of the way the robot moves because then its claws make a jab at whoever you're playing as gracefully but not so slowly. It's clear that Robotnik's got no problem killing who you're playing as cruelly just as he did to countless other animals. And it is very easy to die again at this point.
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     Sonic Spinball 
  • "Pinball Fortress" may sound cheesy. It isn't.
  • Unlike milder Badniks, Rexxon tries to eat Sonic whole...
  • In this level, the music is disturbing enough, but the painful screech sound Scorpius makes is way too fitting.
  • The boss of Lava Powerhouse, Roboboiler, is this because of its appearance: Four disembodied Robotnik heads that vomit magma every time they're hit.
    • Fall down the drain during that boss battle, and Sonic falls to an area where he is hanging mere feet from a lava cauldron by a chain. The game gives you no instruction on how to escape the trap, so if you haven't encountered it before or read a guide before-hand, you're forced to figure out the right button combination in a high-stress situation, hoping you don't make the wrong move, all before the 5 second countdown expires.
  • The fully-functional Roboticiser with eyes.
  • Fall down an outlane and you get the Scare Chord and a Have a Nice Death message in red text.
    READY TO FRY? TOO BAAAD...
  • The Game Over music is pretty Jump Scare-inducing. You can easily put it to these lyrics: "OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO..."
  • Sonic's Death Throws are a lot creepier, with Sonic even letting out a distorted scream as he flies off the screen.
  • The 256 glitch levels that can be accessed through hacking are all sorts of nightmare fuel. WARNING: Sensory Abuse.

     Sonic R 
  • The Tails Doll. Even though fans "made him creepy," an Uncanny Valley Creepy Doll based off Tails that has a BLOOD-RED gem dangling over his head is rather creepy enough already.

     Sonic Heroes 
  • Final Fortress is perhaps Eggman's most massive Airborne Aircraft Carrier to date, and when you're in the level, you're surrounded on both sides by dark mechanical corridors, flashing lights (which do not light up the place), metal conduits, and caution markings. All of this happens thousands of feet in the air, in the middle of rough weather. The music is quite possibly the most mournful, ominous, and heavy piece of music ever made for a kids' game.
  • Neo Metal Sonic's transformation into Metal Madness in Last Story, and his scene in the cutscene before Sonic goes Super Sonic, can both be scary to younger audiences: perhaps as a form of Audience Surrogate to that, the six-year-old Cream is shown during the scene being hugged by Big due to how terrifying it is to her (probably doubles as a mini Heartwarming Moment).
    • Even Eggman's army of Egg Pawns and Metal Sonic's army is fleeing the scene in sheer terror when Metal Madness appears.
  • Egg Emperor, Eggman's Implacable Man of a final mecha. The Boss Battle takes place on the aforementioned Final Fortress.
  • The last leg of Lost Jungle. It starts with a group of black frogs, which summon rain that kills plants, trying to drown you in the swamp by making the platforms beneath your feet disappear. Then, when you get away from them, a giant alligator bursts out of the swamp and starts chasing you. The rest of the level is a mad dash towards the finish line across a series of vine swings, with the alligator snapping at your heels all the way, where one mistake will likely mean instant death.
  • Arguably, the ghosts in Hang Castle/Mystic Mansion. They appear out of nowhere, have a creepy laugh, simply fade when hit (just before reappearing in a couple of seconds), and even the characters admit that they make absolutely no sense. And as if that wasn't bad enough, imagine dropping into a room swarming with them, with walls that appear to be made of TV static. And in case you were going to get vindictive and try to Chaos Inferno all of them... they're immune to Team Blasts. Have fun.
    • Also, in the Super Hard Mode version of Hang Castle, they will appear in much bigger sizes. Particularly, if you go to a small room, you will notice a giant laughing pumpkin head is appearing right in front of you, filling up the entire room.
    • Mystic Mansion in general. With switches that make statues and paintings come to life and attack, hallways that never end until you find the way out, doors leading into nothing, and the aforementioned TV static room, the entire place is one massive Mind Screw.
  • The energy storage tank at the end of Power Plant for Teams Sonic and Dark was responsible for quite a few nightmares in younger players (in more ways than one). You're trapped inside a giant metal cylinder and have to climb all the way to the top, being chased by a rising wave of energy that looks quite a bit like lava and burns you on contact. Not only is it intense and claustrophobic, but it's all too easy to screw up and die.

     Sonic Advance series 
  • The first Sonic Advance uses a fairly pleasant — and unused anywhere else in the game — sprite depicting Eggman's "pointing" artwork as an after-credits message, as a stinger, telling the player "Hey, go collect all the Chaos Emeralds!"... with a pitch black background. The message in the second Advance game, on the other hand, has a slightly modified version of the Eggman "menacing-and-greedy" sprite from the Sonic Advance 1 intro, still with a black background, telling the player to collect the Chaos Emeralds, but this time in all caps with a Scare Chord thrown in for good measure. The image itself can be seen at the bottom of this page.
    • It doesn't help that collecting any of the Chaos Emeralds, especially the last two, is absurdly difficult. The Special Stages in this game are thoroughly Nintendo Hard.
  • Sonic Advance 2 is one of the only games in the series to pose the question "what happens when Dr. Eggman's space stations are destroyed?" Well, it turns out that they descend to Earth and destroy whatever area they land in a giant explosion.

     Sonic Riders 
  • Sonic Riders is a game you'd think has absolutely no potential for nightmare fuel whatsoever... until you race in the Digital Dimension track, the first half of which is a hellish landscape with creepy gargoyle statues and skeleton hands that try to drag you into a pit. Its potential for inducing nightmares is lampshaded in mission briefings as Storm the Albatross says he's scared of the place. The second half of the track is Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Sounds like a relief, but it comes across more as unnerving.
  • In the game, all characters can attack each other. These attacks change as the racers collect rings and level up. Most of the attacks are quite cartoonish and comical, but Sonic's Level 3 attack happens to be spinning into another racer and repeatedly and brutally smashing them into the ground as Sonic spins, while the sound of bones cracking is heard.
    • Those who aren't bothered by said attack, well, they've probably crashed into walls so many times they're pretty sure they're just hearing the usual collision sound.
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     Sonic Colors 
  • The closest Eggman has gotten to a true Moral Event Horizon in the games: He tried to capture an entire alien species, the s, just so he can use their life energy to power his machines, which could've brought the s to extinction if Sonic and Tails failed to stop him. Eggman's master plan was to use them to power a mind-control weapon that's powerful enough to enslave the entire universe.
  • From the Wii version, the Sonic Simulator theme, which in the DS version is orchestrated.
  • Run out of Drill power while still underground and you die. It's the ONLY that can kill you if it runs out. Thankfully not the case if you're using Drill underwater, but then again, it's water.
  • Purple and Violet s. They were once normal s that were captured by Eggman and forced to obey him, and as such were turned into this and this.

     Sonic Generations 
  • The Time Eater kidnapping Eggman after the Death Egg Robot boss fight. Hearing Eggman begging Sonic to save him doesn't help at all.
  • The appearance of the Time Eater. We find out that it's actually an Eldritch Time-Destroying Mecha found and utilized by Dr. Eggman of the future right after his recent defeat from Sonic Colors. Even worse, when Eggman explains how he found the Time Eater, the player is shown gray scale images that show the rotund scientist discovering said monster in deep space with Orbot and Cubot, as his is their fate at the end of Sonic Colors. However, once Eggman sees the Time Eater, he goes after it on his own, leaving Orbot and Cubot in deep space forever.
    • Despite this, the robot duo somehow manages to return to the Earth.
  • The gate to the Final Boss fight with the Time Eater looks huge and daunting, the music stops when you're around it, and until you insert all seven Emeralds, it's completely silent.
  • The implications that Sonic's friends may actually be self-aware while petrified: According to Tails, when he was petrified, he felt like he was helplessly floating in a limbo without a body. Tails even says he's going to have nightmares from it, and we can't blame him.
    • If that doesn't convince you, also consider Cream's line if you complete Speed Highway with Modern Sonic.
  • The newly-designed GUN military truck. After exploring the high-def redesign of City Escape, a player who hasn't seen previews would expect the truck to simply drive down a hill at reasonable speed like the original, but now it is much bigger, faster, and equipped with three gigantic saw blades and rocket boosters, with the worst regard to human safety, as it proceeds to smash through a building quickly. As for all those cars that were just knocked about, they explode upon touch.
    • It's also pretty frightening during the Classic Stages. It skirts the line of the Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror, where its sporadic slamming into walls, crashing into you and anything else around you, actually smashing and flattening you against the wall if you aren't careful, and trying to drive into a wall while you're not even there is either terrifying or hilarious.
  • This fan theory involving Eggman's plan in the game. Made even worse in that Sonic Forces shows it to be absolutely correct.

     Other Games 
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has the haunted mansion racetracks: the scariness, here, is a given, considering they come from House of the Dead.
    • In All-Stars Racing Transformed, the X-Ray Sparks that are the result of being electrocuted reveal that the characters' skulls have no eye or nose sockets, or even teeth. Granted, the characters' skeletons were most likely drawn sloppily and featureless because the developers figured that they shouldn't waste tons of polygons on something that the gamers will only see for a few frames, but still!
  • The Game Over screen for Sonic 3D Blast: instead of the words "Game Over" simply flashing on screen after the last life is lost, the screen turns a pale blue as the letters for "Game Over" appear, set to the Game Over theme from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, then at the very end, the screen just shatters.
    • The Genesis version of The Final Fight has been considered unsettling by some, due to taking place in a featureless black void.
  • Metal Sonic's appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 4's alternate ending is a bit unnerving, when unexpected.
  • One of the most creepy moments was the open interpretation of the incomplete ending of the Game Gear version of Sonic 2, in which Tails gets kidnapped by Dr. Robotnik. If you don't collect all the Chaos Emeralds throughout the game, then you do not gain access to Crystal Egg Zone and have the bad ending credits, at the end of which Sonic looks up and sees a constellation of Tails in the sky, which could very well pertain to Tails' presumed death. Youtube user WhoIsThisGit had a field day with that one.
  • The bad ending of Knuckles Chaotix shows the final boss overlooking a city (possibly Newtrogic High Zone) in flames.
    • The final boss is rather terrifying, with its blood-red color scheme and vicious fangs plus copious shading that gives it a truly menacing appearance.
    • And if the player fails to collect all Chaos Rings, he gets right back up after his defeat and everything goes red — we can assume that he's viciously tearing you apart. Cue aforementioned Bad Ending.
  • The Game Gear game Tails Adventure has a boss where you're trapped in a room and must use Tails's mini-robot to defeat Dr. Fukurokov. To do this, you have to navigate the robot through a tiny maze to reach a rock you must push onto the boss's head. He looks startled momentarily, then falls on his back and stays that way.
    • Tails Adventure in general can be pretty jarring, going from robotic enemies for most of the Sonic series to live ones here. Noteworthy is Speedy's second boss fight. He blows up. And seems to visibly spasm while it happens.
  • The arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog can be a little frightening. The story of the game is that Dr. Eggman/Robotnik has captured Sonic, Mighty, and Ray and puts them on his island that contains various death traps. The object of the game is to run from the beginning to the end in each level in one piece. The catch is the aforementioned traps such as giant tornadoes, gigantic stalactites, spike walls, and circular blades (which Eggman can activate with a push of a button). There are more in the game; the point is that it shows how determined Eggman is and how far he will go to destroy Sonic and friends. You can hear in his voice during the course of the game that he really loves torturing Sonic.. That scream he lets loose at 1:14 proves this.
  • Sonic X-Treme, even though it is cancelled and this soundtrack may not be real, has a pretty unsettling game over tune.

     Non-Game Media 
  • Super Sonic in Sonic the Comic. Unlike in the games where Super Sonic is merely a super-powered form of Sonic's, he is Sonic as a super powered sociopath who wants nothing more than to kill and torture anything in his path, preferably slowly.
  • The plot of Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik's Laboratory is Robotnik transforming animals into robots. Not too different from his normal plans, you may think; but rather than capturing animals and throwing them into machines, he's invented a device that'll transform the physical body into something "useful". For example, Johnny Lightfoot is transformed into a mop. Worst of all, the creature that is transformed is fully conscious and aware.
    • Then there is a slight malfunction and the machine transforms a group of crawlers into "something resembling crawlers but made out of spaghetti", and they slowly fall apart with shocked expressions on their faces.

    Fan Works 
  • Sonic 2: Long Version has Genocide City Zone, a dark gloomy city with a Faceless Eye cloud looming over it, and chained skeletons hanging from the ceiling that look like rotten corpses with their brown rags. At least the original soundtrack of the game is kept, so the music works as a Nightmare Retardant.
  • The online continuation of Sonic the Comic by the original writers shows what happened to Robotnik after the Sonic Adventure adaptation — reduced to a drooling madman who is said to "rarely sleep" and is focused entirely on revenge on Sonic. And as of #250, he's been wired into a Drakon war computer, speaking through a synthesiser, and it only partially restored his sanity.
    Robotnik: The Drakons found me a broken shell, but then they placed me in this machine. My brain is the control chip of a vast supercomputer. On a whim, I can direct millions of my robots to attack wherever I choose. All that they see, I now see.
  • Sonic.exe started as an urban legend of an unreleased Sonic game on the Sega CD that was possessed by some demonic force which caused the game to change into a hellscape, with Sonic having black eyes and red pupils that bled and a Slasher Smile. Of course, fan games and ROM hacks based on this urban legend were made, each one more nightmarish than the last.
    • One in particular is An Ordinary Sonic Rom Hack. The game begins like normal until you push start and the title screen is replaced with a more nightmarish version. The actual gameplay remains unaltered until thirteen seconds pass, then the zone you're in transforms into something more akin to hell, with immortal enemies and rings that actually reduce your ring count. After a while, an evil Sonic doppelganger appears and chases Sonic, accompanied by an off-key version of the drowning theme, and if he catches you, you die. If the player gets a Game Over, the game returns to the SEGA logo... until a digitized render of the "I AM GOD" picture appears with a distorted version of the SEGA voice. Witness the horror for yourself.
  • Sonic Gather Battle is frightening on two levels, the first important one being that the game is malware. When installed and launched, the game's DRM will send information about the player's computer to a remote server and monitor for either cheat engines or searches for cheats in a browser. If it detects either a cheat engine or searches for cheats, the DRM will interfere with the game in a nightmarish fashion: either changing the backgrounds to black and blue and adding red ghost enemies that render the game difficult to play, or changing the background red and adding creepy eyes before frightening ghosts invade the screen, followed by a "YOU DIED" screen. All this for the stupidest of reasons: the game's creator was paranoid about people stealing his sprite edits (it didn't work). The game has since been discontinued, all official download links are now dead (other download mirrors exist, but should be avoided), and the game has been rendered unplayable to everyone regardless of whether they did anything to trigger the DRM. The DRM's frightening effects have been recorded for posterity, and the developer has been permanently banned from all future Sonic Amateur Game Expos.
  • Metal Sonic is a creepy character when you think about him. How do you make him worse? Well, there's one fan theory as to why Metal Sonic remains Robotnik's greatest challenge to Sonic: it's because Metal Sonic is no robot, but actually a time-traveling, roboticized Sonic from the Bad Future seen on Little Planet. That's an unnerving idea in itself, that Sonic's deadliest rival is actually a Fallen Hero version of himself from an alternate timeline, but it gets worse: this same theory postulates that Metal Sonic is trapped in an And I Must Scream situation, with his consciousness locked away amongst the programming, aware of his actions but unable to control himself... worse still, being stranded in this alternate timeline with a doppelganger of himself may be driving him insane, and his hatred of Sonic is now less a matter of programming, and more a broken, twisted mind struggling to deal with a situation it can't handle. There's a video on the theory here, which really highlights just how unsettling it is.
    • Said video also theorises that Metal Sonic's plan in Heroes is a direct result of this, as he makes a point of declaring he's "no longer afraid of anything", a strange thing for a seemingly emotionless robot to say, but makes perfect sense for the theoretical roboticised alternate Sonic. The video also theroises that his declaration of becoming a "robot overlord ruling over a robot kingdom" is a twisted form of acceptance of what happened to him - he won't be alone if he inflicts his fate on others...
    The Sega Scourge: "Some would say that this sounds far too inherently villainous for something Sonic the Hedgehog would do, I see nothing villainous about it. What I see is acceptance of fear, heartache, and alienation. I mean, if everyone's a robot, Metal Sonic would no longer be alone, would he?"

  • This Sonic fan-artist had the idea of creating an AU in which Modern and Classic Sonic are separate entities (surprisingly though, this is not thanks to Generations - many of her artworks of this AU were posted in 2009) and are aware of themselves as video-game characters and SEGA's mascots. As a result of the harsh backlash against Modern Sonic and the tensions between SEGA and the fanbase, Modern suffers from a severe breakdown and lashes out at Classic Sonic, subjecting the poor hedgehog to bloody violence and abuse.
    • It's also a Tear Jerker because Modern Sonic's behaviour and his venting on little Classic Sonic provides an insight into a situation that could very much have happened between the two.
    • Thankfully this is an AU, and Generations and Forces have shown that the two Sonics are extremely good friends, with Modern acting as an older brother figure and mentor to Classic.
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