It doesn't matter if your childhood happened in the '80s, '90s, 2000s, or you're a kid right now...anyone who has been a young gamer any time in the last four decades can make the claim that they "grew up" playing Nintendo games. And for any generation, growing up with Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Kirby, et al has largely been a warm, happy experience.
If you want your memories of playing Nintendo games as a kid to remain bright and sunny, this is your last chance to click out of this list-- because if you proceed, your fond, innocent childhood memories of Nintendo games will be forever tainted. You've been warned.
19 Mario The Heartless
Yoshi is a loyal companion, willing to do anything for Mario. Mario, on the other hand, is content to use Yoshi and then discard him without a second thought-- even for something as minor as trying to get to a higher ledge.
It's not so bad when Mario springs off of a Yoshi to reach a higher platform in general, but when he does it over a chasm, well...let's just say that every time you've ever done that, you've sent your poor Yoshi plummeting to his doom. Hope those coins were worth it.
18 Kill It With Fire!
Making their debut in the American version of Super Mario Bros. 2, Shyguys have worn masks for the entirety of their existence. In fact, they've been wearing masks for so long that it's easy to forget that they are even wearing masks to begin with.
Artist Marcos Lopez not only didn't forget, he decided to envision what a Shyguy might look like under his mask. And...wow. All we can say is please, for the love of Birdo, put your mask back on and don't ever take it off again. Not that we're ever going to be able to forget what we've seen here...
17 This Little Kirby Went To Market...
As the story goes, when the original Kirby game was being designed, a round pink ball was just used as a placeholder while they decided what the main character was going to look like. However, that placeholder ended up growing on the designers and they left him as is-- and the rest is video game history.
Kirby has always worn shoes, leaving one to wonder what his feet actually look like. Maybe you never wondered that...but after you see this unsettling drawing of Kirby with realistically-proportioned human feet, you'll never not think about it whenever you look at him.
16 Three's A Crowd
With as many different creatures as there are in the Pokémon series, it's not surprising that a lot of them are completely bizarre. But more than how weird some of them look on the surface is the strangeness that is only hinted at.
Dugtrio is a Pokémon that looks like three long, round creatures jutting up from the ground, not showing what the complete threesome actually looks like. One idea is this concept image, which imagines Dugtrio as three musclebound, almost-naked men in a permanent-- and unsettling-- entanglement. This is another one you'll never be able to unsee.
15 Toad Loses His Head
The Mushroom Kingdom is inhabited by a race of creatures that are like miniature humans with mushroom caps for heads-- and is also ruled over by what appears to be a normal human female for some reason.
And we accepted that for the last 30+ years, until someone pointed out an episode of the old Super Mario Bros. cartoon that shows a Toad taking off the mushroom cap like a hat. With that in mind, artist Julia Petit took that to its disturbingly obvious conclusion and imagines a Toad thinking his mushroom top was a hat...only to find that it isn't when he tries to remove it.
14 Trust Me, I'm A Doctor
In the span of just a handful of years, Mario went from a construction worker, to a plumber, to a referee, to a golfer, and some other things, all before suddenly revealing himself to be a doctor.
When you consider that there was no way he could've found the time to successfully complete medical school while working all those other jobs and also rescuing the princess a couple times, it becomes quite disturbing to think of the medical procedures he might have performed despite not being remotely qualified to do so.
13 Candy Girl
It isn't just gross and/or scary elements that early Nintendo games got away with thanks to primitive graphics-- there are also some things of a sexual nature that were sneaked into NES and SNES games that would be borderline NSFW if translated to modern visuals.
Donkey Kong Country introduced a character named Candy Kong who served as the keeper of the game's save points, and sure, her lusty attitude and curvy figure was definitely hinted at-- but when you see how Candy was actually intended to look, you'll realize just how busty and improperly dressed she truly was for a game made for young kids.
12 Realistic Jiggle Physics
There's this trend among fan artists to take video game characters and make them look "realistic," typically to disturbing effect. It's creepy enough with humanoid characters, but when they start taking more fantastical creatures and giving them lifelike, human features, that's when the true nightmare fuel is ignited.
Jigglypuff is one of the cutest of all the Pokémon, giving even Pikachu a run for his money. But after seeing this art of Jigglypuff with human eyes and skin-- coupled with grotesquely stubbly arms and legs-- it'll be hard not to imagine this freakshow underneath that cute exterior.
11 Mario's The Bad Guy...Duh
In the instruction manual for the original Super Mario Bros., it is explained that all of the bricks in the Mushroom Kingdom are actually the kingdom's residents, who have been transformed into blocks by King Koopa. It also states that the Goombas were normal citizens who are under King Koopa's spell.
So what does that mean? It means that Mario shows up and goes on a killing spree, not only stomping all over innocent creatures who are just under an evil spell, but smashing apart the ones trapped in blocks-- and all because he's hoping to find a few spare coins.
10 The Master Sword?
While it doesn't happen as much anymore (except intentionally/ironically), a common misconception in the early days was that the main hero of The Legend of Zelda was, in fact, Zelda. The fact that Link wore what looked a bit like a short dress didn't do much to steer people away from the assumption that he'd have a feminine name.
Of course, what Link wears is a tunic. But what's under the tunic? That was a rhetorical question-- we know what's under the tunic. And, unfortunately, the many diminutive characters in his world know it first-hand. No wonder he has switched to pants for recent games.
9 Baby Mama Drama
In Super Mario Bros. 3, we were introduced to the Koopalings, a series of youngsters that were said to be the offspring of Bowser and served as the end boss for each of the game's worlds.
Wait a minute, though-- who is the mother of the Koopalings? There aren't any females in Bowser's army, and the only member of the fairer sex he is known to spend any time with is...oh. Oh boy. Where does one get a DNA test in the Mushroom Kingdom?
8 One Mean Mother
Here is another example of how the early Metroid games would be downright disturbing if they were ever remade with modern visuals. The main antagonist of both the original Metroid and third installment Super Metroid was Mother Brain, who, is, well...a giant brain.
In her first appearance, she's just a pulsating brain in a giant jar that Samus pummels with missiles, which would be gross and unsettling enough-- but in Super Metroid, she grows arms, legs, and an eye, which would make her more at home in Silent Hill if she was translated into more detailed visuals.
7 Save The Turtles
Mario has spent most of his video game career pummeling turtles, many of whom seem to just be mindlessly pacing back and forth and going about their business-- he could just as easily jump over them or step around them, but he doesn't. He jumps on them and then kicks their shells into walls and off of cliffs.
Accepting that Mario is actually a violent bully is hard enough, but when you consider that he might be beating up on friends or relatives of the beloved Ninja Turtles, you really start to wonder if Mario is even remotely a hero.
6 Lost In The Tropics
One of the more niche Nintendo-developed NES games was StarTropics, an action/RPG that starred a man named Mike as he looked for his archaeologist uncle. It is considered something of a cult classic and was given the chance for more people to discover it when it was included-- somewhat surprisingly-- in the lineup for the NES Classic.
There are some pretty creepy encounters in StarTropics, though most are limited in the reach of their horrificness by the NES's visual capabilities. As this art piece proves, Mike had some to endure some truly terrifying moments that would make StarTropics a horror game if it got a modern 3D remake.
5 Ultra-Ultra-High Definition
Some people complain that Nintendo tends to release consoles that aren't as powerful as the competition, and that Nintendo's games don't look as good as the games on the corresponding PlayStation or Xbox.
But we would argue that Mario doesn't need to look any "better" than he already does-- and this nightmare-inducing image of a realistic Mario proves that. Does Mario really need to look "real?" No. No he doesn't. He can look like a cartoon character until the end of time if this is how a more realistic Mario would look.
4 Hungry Eyes
A lot about Kirby as a character is kind of horrific if you really stop and scrutinize it. After all, his primary gameplay mechanic is that he gulps up his enemies, and then makes the choice to either spit them back out as a projectile or swallow them whole and absorb their abilities.
Kirby gets away with that terrible behavior because of how cute and cuddly he looks. But by simply changing his visuals-- but not his actual behavior-- as this art does, it becomes much more apparent just how disturbing of a character Kirby truly is.
3 Watch Your Ears, Little Mac
For a generation of kids, Mike Tyson was mostly just the incredibly tough boss at the end of the classic NES game Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. They were probably aware he was a real boxer, but didn't know much about him.
Of course, those that do know about the real Mike Tyson know that, in his prime, he was an absolutely brutal fighter who would knock opponents out in seconds and leave them in sad shape. In later years, he became infamous for biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear. When you put all that together, it's pretty terrifying to think of what he actually would've done to a fighter half his height and weight. A fighter like Little Mac...
2 Hard To Swallow
A lot of Nintendo games during the 8- and 16-bit days had pretty dark, violent, and/or gruesome elements that the company got away with thanks to the limitations of the technology at the time. To take some of those elements out of bright, colorful, cartoonish sprites and re-imagine them more literally would reveal just how disturbing some of those things actually were.
Things, for instance, like the titular creations in the Metroid series. But more than just how much scarier the Metroids would be with more realistic graphics was what happened when one would bite or even eat Samus-- and this art shows us just how disturbing it actually is when we see it more plainly represented.
1 Goodnight Moon
The ever-approaching, world-ending moon that is constantly looming in the sky in the divisive The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask was scary enough for the kids who played the game-- and that was with the Nintendo 64's primitive, blurry, low-res visuals.
But when that moon is re-imagined by fan artists to look more the way it was probably intended to look, that's when it becomes apparent just how terrifying it really was. Anyone who says Nintendo only makes fun, light, non-threatening games clearly just haven't been paying attention.