We all know Super Mario Bros. right? The colorful world of Mario and co. as they venture off to engage in light-hearted and wacky shenanigans with friends and foes alike? Of course you do. You'd have to have lived under a rock (or be really old) to have never heard of Mario at all.
...This game, however, is none of those things mentioned above. This game is what happens when you take Mario out of the happy-go-lucky Mario Universe and throw him into a game the likes of Corpse Party, The Crooked Man, Mad Father, Misao, and The Witch's House. This is the game called... (Mario) The Music Box.
Filled to the brim with gorn, this fangame created by Team Ari (lead by the talented artist Marios-Friend9) stars Mario as he ventures out to an abandoned home that's been close to the Mushroom Kingdom for over a century. People have gone inside it before, but there have been no returns. Princess Peach was also supposed to come along for the ride to investigate, but Mario left her behind for her own safety. Soon after making it inside, the plumber comes across a quaint little music box that was playing by itself. Little did he know, the "harmless" music box would set off a series of events that would serve to utterly break and terrify him (and the players) every step of the way while also trying to get him killed. As a horror/puzzle/survival game it tests the player(s) in a way where one little thing could lead to a pretty nasty Game Over. Have a Nice Death.
In 2016, a free standalone game titled (Mario) The Music Box -ARC- was released, which takes place during the "Missing" ending route of the original game. There, the player may choose to follow either an "Insane" or "Sane" path.
This game contains examples of the following:
- 100% Completion: Getting all of the journal entries and taking the "Puppet" ending route will instead give you the true ending.
- Artifact of Doom: As spoiled by the website to download the game itself, the titular music box is this, but not necessarily on its own. We don't find out why until much later in the game. It's what kept Alice sealed inside of it until Mario broke the seal by touching it. It becomes Mario's prison during the "Omitted Memory" ending route, and it seals Alice away for good (and Mario whom she dragged with her) during the "Sealed" ending route. It apparently fails to seal Alice away during the "Puppet" ending route (which leads to Mario getting taken over) and the True Ending route "Better off Lost" (it's smashed by Mario to completely free Alice so that her pacified soul can finally pass on).
- Battle in the Rain: This gets mixed with Rooftop Confrontation when Mario faces Alice for the last time in the "Omitted Memory" ending route. Somewhat enforced/justified in that Mario mentioned that it always rains in the area.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Jisatsu no Mori" translates into the "Forest of Suicide". Riba's name also means "beautiful".
- The Cameo: Princess Peach. She only makes a proper appearance near the end of the "Omitted Memory" ending route, and she's the only other Mario Universe character besides Mario and Luigi to make an appearance. This is especially egregious if you don't take the "Omitted Memory" ending route, because her only appearances would have been illusions and a spirit impersonating her who tries to inject poison into Mario. You can also hear what appears to be her on the phone with Mario (whether it's her or not is up for grabs, but it's probably not).
- Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: A recurring theme that is hammered into the heads of Mario and the player(s).
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Many of the deaths, which sport lots of blood and gore with Mario and/or Luigi being gruesomely murdered.
- Darkness = Death: Most of the mansion is dark, and wandering around carelessly results in deaths.
- Death Trap: The house is littered with death traps.
- Driven to Suicide: Some of the bad endings feature Mario or Luigi being driven to suicide, sometimes over the death of one or the other.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Played with but exaggerated in the sheer number of ways you can get a game over (all of which obviously result in death). There are some things that look like they may not kill you, some things that look like they are obviously going to kill you, and some things that are (in)active at certain points of the game with certain characters. Justified in that the house is cursed to where several vengeful spirits want the playable cast dead, and the other killers aren't just the NPCs.
- First-Person Perspective: A number of game overs treat the viewer to a lovely shot of the killer.
- Glamour Failure: Whenever someone's possessed, their eyes change color to that of the spirit possessing them.
- Haunted House: A house where people are said to never return from with many horrible secrets to it. It's also cursed up to its rooftop to add to the haunted factor.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: A heartbeat can be heard when something really intense happens, like a death.
- Hell Is That Noise: A few spirits make some pretty nightmarish sounds when they're on the prowl. The music also counts for most of the time.
- Hidden Eyes: Several villainous or otherwise threatening characters are usually portrayed without eyes.
- Leitmotif: Several remixed variations of the song Ensei (Yuki Kajiura being the original composer) make appearances throughout the game as the main theme. The title screen itself even has three different remixes of the song.
- Love Makes You Evil: Alice is the archetypal example, as her massacre was prompted by her loving husband, Riba.
- The Many Deaths of You: There's currently forty-seven different ways to get a game over in this game, all of them ending in death.
- Multiple Endings: There's several ending routes that are available depending on where you go after Luigi joins your party.
- "Omitted Memory": The ending route you're locked into if you go to the second floor from the former nursery room after Luigi joins the party. Luigi and Mario do manage to defeat Alice, wiping her out from existence, but as a result, her curse is left to spread. Mario, in an effort to save the Mushroom Kingdom from Alice's curse, takes it within himself resulting in his being completely erased from existence and from everyone's memories (except Luigi's, until Mario wipes his memory too).
- "Missing": Mario and Luigi decide to leave the house through the front entrance (which was gone after Mario first touched the music box). Unfortunately, Mario is possessed by Alice and kills Luigi, before heading out to engage in another killing spree and start the ritual she started long ago. A newspaper details Luigi's death and how Mario had gone missing.
- "Sealed": Mario and Luigi attempt to leave through the "Forest of Suicide" and continue into the mines. On this route, the player learns from Alice, Serina, and Riba the full truth of how Serina died, as well as the full story of how Riba was responsible for Alice's actions. Luigi ends up battling Alice and wins, but Alice takes Mario's soul with her as she's re-sealed. Luigi leaves the mansion and attempts to bring help, but he and Princess Peach's search party only find Mario's corpse in the mines.
- "Puppet": Mario and Luigi go through the forest as before, but before going deeper into the mines, they discover a note from Alice detailing her descent into evil, which was caused by a combination of Riba's influence and Alice's terminal illness. They use this knowledge to pacify Anna's vengeful spirit, and she encourages Mario and Luigi to not let Alice take Mario's body. The rest of the sequence from "Sealed", including Alice's defeat, happens as before, except that Alice doesn't take Mario's soul with her and the brothers head home. Late in the night, however, Luigi discovers that Alice was able to escape and possess Mario anyway.
- "Better off Lost": All of the journal entries are required to see this ending. Everything's the same as the "Puppet" ending route, but when Mario and Luigi exit the mine, Alice's spirit confronts them a final time and is instead pacified by Mario. Rather than imprison her, he reassures her that she's no longer subject to Riba's will, promises to never tell anyone else about what they found in the mansion, and smashes the music box to set her free. Alice finally fades away and Mario and Luigi return home in peace, Mario burning his journal entries on the mansion to keep his promise.
- Nintendo Hard: Before the Smashing Survival was put in place, players used to have to press specific keys in a long string of them before time ran out. This method of survival is still available for players who want the challenge, though it was noted to be notoriously difficult.
- Nothing Is Scarier: There are some cases in which you never actually see what happens to Mario or Luigi.
- Ominously Open Door: Downplayed in that whatever is behind any open door in the house you find (meaning any doors you find wide open) is dead. Such doors you can enter will both result in game overs.
- Our Souls Are Different: Spirits are said to mostly lack corporeal forms (even though most if not all spirits in the haunted house have a physical body), and angels are even mentioned once. Spirits that do have corporeal forms also tend to be hostile with few exceptions. Entities are mentioned (though they aren't given much explanation) and only two of them exist: Alice and Anna. The circumstances that allowed said characters to become entities are also different in nature.
- Permanently Missable Content: Certain areas will be blocked off for good after a certain point in the story, meaning you lose out on journal entries associated with the area or things you learn from them. This is especially frustrating because some rooms are not accessible all the time and the player may just forget about them by the time they are accessible. This becomes problematic because the player needs all journal entries to see the True Ending. If you saved at a certain point, then your only hope of getting the True Ending is to start all over from the beginning.
- Point of No Return: The game gives you two informed instances of this after Luigi is reunited with Mario. Another less obvious one is when Mario and Luigi pull a lever and have to make it into the deeper parts of the mines before the time limit is up.*WARNING* THIS DECISION WILL AFFECT YOUR ENDING
- Schmuck Bait: Some stuff in the house will very obviously kill you if you interact with them.
- Timed Mission: This used to be how survival portions of the game were, and this constitutes about three game overs should you fail them.
- Traitor Shot: Look for anything out of the ordinary to spot the traitor, including Glamour Failure, hidden eyes, psychotic smirks and/or slasher smiles, and Scary Shiny Glasses.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Figuring out certain things to do, especially if the player is attempting to get all the journal entries, because of the frequency of rooms becoming accessible
- Walking Spoiler: Alice and Riba are both tied up with some very big plot twists in the game. Even Mario himself counts, although less for himself as a character and more who he's possessed by.
- Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Frequently, Mario and Luigi will be drawn like this in response to some horrors of the mansion.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: There are some spirits who you never find out about at any point in the story (and some of them are better off left alone for the playable cast's sake).