Spine-tingling dens of gaming horror await you...
While commonly associated with bright colors and happy characters, Nintendo fans know their games run the full gamut of human emotion: love, hate, sadness, and yes, crippling, all-consuming fear. From your moaning zombies to man-eating pianos to haunted temples, Nintendo’s assortment of creepy critters and nail-biting scenarios have ruined many a childhood, spawning no end of fan theories, art tributes, and therapy sessions.
Still, who can’t resist a good scare? With the Halloween season upon us, it’s only natural we gravitate to the spooktacular, and with Nintendo finally investing in an actual theme park, us horror-jaded gamers must now ask ourselves this: of all of Nintendo’s ghostly haunts, which would make for hair-rising Halloween attractions? In this list, we review eight most accursed locales, so turn off the lights, grab some treats, and watch for ReDeads as we take a trip down into the Nintendo underworld.
1. Big Boo’s Haunt (Super Mario 64): Of all the spooky levels within the Mario-verse, it’s hardly uncommon to declare Big Boo’s Haunt as the creepiest. As the years have gone by, players who’ve grown up with Super Mario 64 have noted how the game feels unnervingly isolated, not the least in the pervasive emptiness of its hub in Peach’s Castle. While likely an unintentional byproduct of the game’s 3D landmark frontier, Big Boo’s Haunt elaborately instills dread with the howling winds, moonlit skies, ominous music, and yes, spooky ghosts – all whom, upon their defeat, whisper an eerie proclamation before disappearing into the ether: “Ghosts…don’t…DIE!”.
As a haunted house, Big Boo’s Haunt has its work cut out. Aside from its horde of Boos, the mansion’s a veritable maze of doors and traps. With one wrong step, an unlucky visitor will find themselves tumbling into a fire-spewing merry-go-round, wherein a half-minute loop of creepy carnival music will reduce even the surliest of guests into a quivering mess, begging for the aural torment to end. Meanwhile, other haunted inhabitants lie guised as everyday furniture, not the least in a certain hungry piano ready to traumatize a new generation of unsuspecting children.
Did we mention the giant eyeballs, floating books, and the Big Boo overseeing the joint? Perhaps the owner could frame itself as the big cheese, daring visitors to conquer its haunted chambers. Might the promised reward of the fabled Ghoul Medal finally be fulfilled…?
2. Threed/Belch’s Factory (EarthBound): Who doesn’t love some zombies? One of the more memorable scenarios of cult-favorite EarthBound, the town of Threed’s experiencing something of a zombie apocalypse, heralding supernatural phenomena in the vein of ghosts, Boogie Tents, and lazy pizza delivery men. And just who is behind this heinous invasion? None other than Master Belch: a giant, sentient piece of barf who has enslaved the eccentric Mr. Saturn race to mass-produce the delectably nasty Fly Honey. Can Ness and the gang even hope to take down Giygas’s stinkiest, grossest, most disgusting follower and bring daylight back to Threed?
Much as I’m willing to spread the EarthBound gospel, I can readily admit this is all wildly ambitious for something so tongue-in-cheek. Really, you could just reduce the zombie scenario to either one location and the innate narrative arc – complete with oppression, capture, escape, and taking down the big bad – would instantly sell it. With a gross-out concept so dependent on the senses, it’d be a prime opportunity to overwhelm the five senses. Belches from hidden loudspeakers? Check. Odorous scents from the Fly Honey production facility? Check. Utilizing fake-puke for the Master Belch animatronic? Uh, just a rubber and plastic model would suffice.
Plus, hey, how about arming participants with Zombie Paper, Bad Key Machines, and Fly Honey? Bonus points for incorporating the infamous Three-Minute Wait behind the waterfall.
3. Shadow Temple (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time): The N64’s masterpiece has no shortage of creepy haunts that’d make for some spine-tingling tours, and there’s no better candidate than the Shadow Temple. Described as the embodiment of “Hyrule’s bloody history of greed and hatred,” these blood-soaked halls house everything from tools of torture to nightmarish denizens ready for you to join their ranks.
You don’t need to be a Hero of Time to deduce how a Shadow Temple attraction would work, with potential visitors being tormented by automatic guillotines and deceptive illusions. Guests could also enjoy being kidnapped by Wallmasters or eaten alive by ReDeads and Dead Hands, clutched in their clammy, slimy grips as their flesh is torn apart. Throw in a Ship of the Dead ferrying visitors to the underworld – an attraction besieged by Stalfos knights, not to mention topped off with a frantic capsizing– and you have yourself an unforgettable Halloween.
Still, concluding things with a bongo-playing demon might be a bit of a buzzkill. In this instance, the Shadow Temple’s cousin in the Bottom of the Well would make for a suitable alternative. Aside from the novelty of an underground attraction, the alluring concept – a den of horrors festering beneath a sleepy village – is prime for some blood-chilling lore. Might the countless bone piles speak to the sins of the legendary Sheikah tribe?
4. Phendrana Labs (Metroid Prime): We imagine this one would cost a pretty penny due to all the special effects and high-end sci-tech, but this heart-pounding sequence from Metroid Prime deserves every last cent to do it justice. Buried deep in the icy valleys of Phendrana Drifts, those power-hungry Space Pirates are busy researching and cultivating the deadly Phazon radiation while raising the eponymous Metroids. Surely, all those state-of-the-art glass containers – carefully inspected to be as fragile as possible – would keep those Metroids at bay…right?
Wrong! With their inevitable escape, a blackout dims the entire hideout into impenetrable darkness, leaving visitors fumbling around as they dodge everything from life-hungry amoebas to deadly lasers. Only the aid of a red-hot Thermal Visor will help them escape this multi-floored labyrinth, but good luck finding it – your only potential tour guides in Space Pirates are too busying fending off and recapturing the Metroids, and they’ll have no qualms shooting down any intruders that cross their path. (Really, what’d you expect? No honor among thieves and all that.)
…Okay, so it’d probably just be an elaborate escape room. Imagine navigating a series of rooms as per the enthralling Space Pirate logs from the original game, where you’d have to navigate clues within their testimonials to escape the dreadful labs before you’re “captured” and subject to Phazon experimentation. (In that regard, the Frigate Orphean would also be a great choice – race against the clock to escape the doomed Space Pirate facility before it self-destructs!)
5. Haunted Hall (Donkey Kong Country 2): What’s Halloween without a haunted ride? Hailing from Donkey Kong Country 2, this forbidden library rests deep in the ghastly woods of Gloomy Gulch, but this is no time for a repose – any primate who dares step foot into its abandoned halls will find themselves strapped to a deadly roller coaster, appropriately themed with skull-themed carts and hounded by Kackles. These skeletal Kremling ghosts who, in loyal service to Kremling Krew pirates, will hunt down trespassers in a fatal game of chase.
An ominous twist on Donkey Kong Country’s famed minecart levels, this iteration remains unique for its stressful countdown: a timer influenced by the Plus and Minus Barrels littered across the tracks. Passengers who grab Plus Barrels will accumulate precious seconds to buy time until the ride’s end, but touching a Minus Barrel will inch you ever closer to death. Should time run out, participants will have their souls stolen in service to Kaptain K. Rool for all eternity. Bummer.
Maybe the Plus/Minus barrel system would be a bit much for an actual ride – rollercoasters are all about letting loose along a rocketing thrill, so juggling a more cerebral activity would be antithetical to that goal. (Not to mention impractical.) As it happens, both the Japan and Orlando variations of Super Nintendo World are incorporating a Donkey Kong-themed rollercoaster complete with minecarts, but they’ll be based on the modern Retro Studios games. If you close your eyes, perhaps you could visualize the icy presence of a Kackle floating behind your ride.
6. Submerged Castle (Pikmin 2): Okay, so we’ve encountered more than several specters on our list here, but how about a paranormal blob ready to steamroll anyone who dares to plunder its watery domain? Submerged beneath the perilous waters of Pikmin 2’s Perplexing Pool, the unsettling ambience and eerie music immediately give the impression something’s off about our latest treasure-hunting expedition, and our fears are proven well-founded upon the thundering crash of the Waterwraith, a relentless phantom whose stone rollers guarantee but one thing: death.
Inducing an indescribable dread upon all who encounter it, the Waterwraith will pursue all visitors who linger too long on any one of the Submerged Castle’s five floors, hungry for its sweet-themed treasures. There is no method to stop it: even spacefaring captains armed with Blue Pikmin – the only member of the Pikminicus family that can navigate its watery trenches – don’t stand a chance. Only upon the final floor will the pursued find a chance to strike down the deadly apparition, as the plump Purple Pikmin are the only living being dense enough to petrify the being into physical reality, reducing it into a confused, pathetic mess.
How would a real-life Submerged Castle work? Well, “otherworldly ghosts crushing participants to death” is probably out of the question, so how about a spooky “life-or-death” treasure hunt? Visitors would have to scramble and find delectable treats – true to the vision of Halloween – in an indoor, dimly-lit maze before some dude in a five-dollar “Waterwraith” costume comes around and hunts down participants; you’re caught, you’re out. Rinse and repeat until the final floor, where beanbags substituting for Pikmin slay the ghostly beast. Cue candy for the lucky survivors! (And an honorary bottle cap worth 100 Pokos; hey, c’mon, that’s more than a year’s salary at Hocotate Freights!)
7. The Last Resort (Luigi’s Mansion 3): What, you didn’t think we’d forget the obvious candidate in Luigi’s Mansion, did you? The phantom manor from the first game’s an obvious choice, but the towering hotel featured in Luigi’s Mansion 3 would make for a more memorable locale. Owned by the lovely Hellen Gravely, it turns out that The Last Resort’s a literal tourist trap, as Ms. Gravely’s teamed up with King Boo to permanently imprint their new guests into ghoulish paintings for all eternity!
With eighteen floors of horror from the original game, there’s an ample selection of ghastly ghost hunts to replicate. Problem is, Luigi’s Mansion 3’s hotel is such an inspired concept that it’s difficult to select any one scenario. Do we start with the disco floor, wherein a funky otherworldly DJ’s ready to lay down the beat on guests? The creepy-crawly greenhouse, crowded with sentient, oversized plants lorded over by a cranky groundskeeper? A twisted funhouse, full of mind-bending tricks magicked by a trio of magicians? Whatever the case, only with Professor E. Gadd’s guidance will participants escape from the haunted hotel, not the least in arming brave ghost-hunters with the Poltergust G-00.
Alas, no Gooigi included, but surely all that vacuuming will lend itself to an unforgettable scare via innate puzzle-solving and ghost-sucking action, no?
8. My Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Town: Alright, I know what you’re thinking: what on earth is this doing here? As any longtime Animal Crossing fan will tell you, the life-simulation series is a hotbed for conspiracies – be it the suspicious stitches laced across Zipper T. Bunny to Tom Nook’s rumored mafia connections, it’s clear something’s going on beneath the sunny façade of Isabelle’s smiles. I regret to inform you, dear reader, that in the Happy Home Designer 3DS spin-off, I was horrified to discover my human avatar was none other than a front for Nook’s Homes’ authoritarian agenda.
Based on a true story, those seduced by the free housing are eventually subject to violent fascism. On the surface, the main hub town seems innocent enough with its mom-and-pop stores and homely diners, but a closer inspection its “school” reveals it’s nothing less than a vile torture dungeon preying upon the weak and helpless. Those who fail to comply with its reeducation facility are subject to the raging inferno that is its gymnasium, where victims are subjected to eternal gymnastics amidst the flames and endless loops of Mr. K. K. (Which, naturally, must be sung along under the banner of Nook’s Homes’ big cheese: “Oh, Tor-ti-mer we val-ue~ Your up-standing rules and mores~”)
There are other infernal facilities littering the town. For instance, the office is such an extreme example of Big Brother surveillance that it’d put Orson Welles to shame, what with all the camera-embedded Lucky Cats peering over the stalls to ensure the hapless employees are hard at work. Meanwhile, the restaurant is but another front for cruel and unusual punishment: the workplace kitchen is a literal hellscape, with all the cooks forced to dance across magma to serve none-the-wiser customers. (And the “hospital?” You don’t even wanna know.)
Naturally, to even consider replicating such a snake-pit for amusement purposes would be a gross violation of workplace standards. In fact, by the time the cops came prowling, Copper and Booker pulled up to find the place long abandoned. Rumor has it they’ve since relocated into a remote patch of the tropical seas, where the likes of Lottie and Niko have continued their oppressive practices just underneath the law’s notice. Beware advertisements for the “Happy Home Paradise”, for as seen below, all vacationers will surely be subject to a totalitarian lifetime of agonizing radicalization underneath the sun.
And thus concludes our haunted tour. Did we miss out on your favorite haunted level? Let us know in the comments below!