Urban Legends of every era always seem to reflect whatever teenagers are doing at the time: Forty years ago, they told stories about serial killers attacking kids making out in cars and escaped criminals hiding in someone’s backseat, because they didn't have jetpacks yet. Today, most young people seem to spend their time sitting or standing in front of video game screens, so it makes sense that we should get legends like ...
#5. The Girl Is an Atomic Bomb - Braid
On the surface, the critically acclaimed indie hit Braid is a straightforward platformer like so many 8- and 16-bit era games. You play Tim, a dude who can reverse time and uses his powers to find a missing princess, Mario-style. But the simplistic gameplay is deceptive; the symbolic and ambiguous ending hints at a larger, stranger story (SPOILER: The "princess" you're trying to rescue isn't exactly happy to see you). And beyond that, Braid has a creepy secret that you couldn't possibly find unless you're psychic. Or someone just tells you about it. Whichever.
Hidden throughout the game's five worlds are seven secret stars. The game doesn't give you any acknowledgment that they're even there -- no achievements, no hints, no clues, nothing. You can get through the whole game without even knowing they exist, and even if you know what you're after, they're exceptionally difficult to find and obtain. One star requires waiting in a screen for two hours just to get to it and another can’t be acquired if you’ve already completed the second world.
So what happens after you gather the seven stars? Nothing, at first. If you return to the game's final level, however, there's a slight difference. As we mentioned, the level is pretty trippy to begin with: At first it looks like you're helping the princess escape from a bad guy, but then it turns out you're watching the situation in reverse and she's actually escaping from you. But play it after you have the hidden stars, and the level is subtly changed in such a way that you can actually catch up to the princess and touch her ... at which point she begins flashing freakishly and you hear the sound of a nuclear bomb detonating.
So that game with cute enemies, pretty environments and an innocent quest to rescue a princess is apparently all a metaphor for the creation of the atomic bomb: or, more specifically, how its creators possibly wished they could turn back time and undo all the damage. Of course, that's so far removed from this colorful run-and-jump game that it really proves how out-there some of these conspiracy nuts are. Oh, wait, did we mention that the game's epilogue features a quote from Kenneth Bainbridge, the head of the Trinity atomic bomb tests?
""Now we are all sons-of-bitches" after the detoation of the first atomic bomb.
#4. Hidden Dungeons and Possessed Children? yes in World of Warcraft
In some ways, the virtual world of an MMORPG is just like the real world; where the real world has creepy abandoned hospitals and prisons that no one would dare spend the night in, games like World of Warcraft have hidden areas that were closed off and abandoned by game makers but still exist if you know how to sneak in. And they're equally creepy.
Among the typical WoW dungeon maze of tunnels, you find The Upside-Down Sinners. It's exactly what it sounds like: an underwater room chock full of handless, eyeless people, chained upside-down and left to drown.
Popular speculation is that Blizzard backed down from using the dungeon because they were afraid that it might bump the game's rating to M, but there's no real way to know.
But that's not all the creepiness WoW has to offer. The first town you encounter after the human starting area is a place called Goldshire, and it has its own dark secret.
A house on the edge of Crystal Lake, which is just east of town, is normally empty. At 7 a.m. on the game's server clock, however, you can sometimes catch six little kids in the room, standing in a strange formation.
Some players have heard strange noises, like banshee screams or the voice of C'Thun, a former high-end boss ripped straight out of the Cthulhu Mythos, saying, “You will die.” You can even follow them from Stormwind City, the human capital, all the way to the house, and they never break their cute little pentagram formation the whole way.
Creepiest of all, though, is the music that plays when you enter the room.
#3. GLaDOS Bound and Gagged - Portal
Finally, at the end of the game, you meet the real GLaDOS, a huge, robotic entity. You fight her and you win and everything's great (albeit in an "... or is it?" sort of way).
But have you ever taken a close look at GLaDOS?
At first she looks like a mess of machinery and cables, but if you look closely, she actually resembles a human figure hanging upside-down. That's not a coincidence: If you play through the game with the commentary track on, Jeremy Bennett, the game's art director, says, "Eventually, we settled on a huge mechanical device with a delicate robotic figure dangling out of it, which successfully conveys both GLaDOS' raw power and her feminity."
Originally, according to Bennett, she resembled an upside-down version of Botticelli's "Rise of Venus":
But her final model doesn't really look like that at all. The posture is all wrong. In fact, the people at game-ism.com think she looks more like a woman who has been bound and gagged:
So what does that mean? According to the folks at that site, all GLaDOS wanted was to be free (a goal you help her achieve when you kill her). As for how she got like that in the first place, sometimes it’s better not to know.
#2. The Shadow People of Hell Valley - Super Mario Galaxy 2
In a game like Mario, you're usually too focused on not falling off the crumbling catwalk into the lava below to ever really stop and look around. Especially in Mario Galaxy, where you are zipped across space from one world to the next, the vastness of the game world just whipping by you in a blur.
But if you ever do get the chance to stop and stare into the distance, you'll find some extremely creepy stuff. Specifically, in one level of Super Mario Galaxy 2, if you switch to first-person view and look in a certain direction, you can see shadowy figures standing at the edge of the galaxy.
Anywhere you go on that level, if you look up and to the left, they'll always be there. You can't come any closer. You never meet those "people," and nobody in the game ever mentions them.
So this is basically a video game version of the Slender Man urban legend. Fans have already started seeing them in other levels, writing fan fiction stories about them and speculating on what they could be: Local villagers (that is to say, aliens) watching Mario from afar? Those weird-looking giants from Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask?
But couldn't they just be, we don't know, trees or something? Well, somebody got curious and started sifting through the actual files of the game. And this is where things get really messed up.
Turns out the sky pattern for that area is called "BeyondHellValley." "Hell Valley" isn't the name of that level, or any level in Mario Galaxy. It doesn't even sound like something you'd find in a Mario game. As for the shapes themselves? They're called "HellValleySkyTree." Ah, see! They're just trees. Now let's pull out the image file itself ...
So what the hell, Nintendo? Some claim "Hell Valley" is the Japanese name for that level (which wouldn't be surprising, actually), or the name of a beta level that was abandoned ... but none of that comes anywhere near explaining why those dudes are there and what we did to make them look at us that way.
#1. Luigi Is Dead and Daisy Is Deformed - Mario Universe
So Mario games are full of creepy stuff apparently. Knowing that, we're not so shocked to find out that Mario fans are always looking for hidden conspiracies in those games. We are, however, a little disturbed by what they've actually found.
Take Luigi's Mansion for GameCube, which is about Mario's taller, greener brother hunting ghosts in an old mansion. According to an urban legend that keeps popping up in the always-reliable gaming message boards, if you go to a certain room, stand in a specific spot and wait for lightning to strike, you can see what looks like Luigi’s shadow hanging from the ceiling As if he had just committed suicide.
But that's ridiculous, of course. We'll even go ahead and disprove this rumor by taking a look at that part of Luigi's Mansion and ...
That does look remarkably like someone's shadow hanging from the ceiling, in a game about haunted mansions and ghosts.
There's some debates about what it actually is: Some say it’s a glitch while others claim the game was originally meant to be much darker and this is one of the many leftover from the beta version ... but they're all ignoring the simplest answer: Luigi has been a ghost all along.
And then there's Luigi's girlfriend, Princess Daisy, possibly the most fucked-up character in Mario history. If you don't believe us, do a YouTube search for “Hi, I’m Daisy!” Apparently, when they included her in Mario Kart: Double Dash for GameCube, they only gave her a single spoken phrase ("Hi, I'm Daisy!"), causing her to repeat the same thing over and over and over like a murderous psychopath.
But in case you don't think that's disturbing enough, how about the fact that she has a third eye in the back of her head? If you win Daisy's trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, go to the trophy gallery and zoom in until the camera clips underneath her hair. You can see something that clearly should not be there.
This is so well-known that Daisy's third eye was later incorporated into her character in M.U.G.E.N., a freeware fighting game that takes random characters from different franchises. Oh, and it shoots lasers.