Nintendo is in many ways the godfather of the modern games industry. Sure, Atari came first, but it was really this Japanese company that took the home console market by storm in the late 80s, at a pace that hasn’t let up since.
Several iconic franchises, classic characters, and landmark games have followed suit with a massive user install base that has even managed to grow larger with their new console: the Nintendo Switch.
So, what comes with a massive legacy like Nintendo's? Fan theories galore! The passionate fans of the company have been eagled-eyed over the years and are quick to point out plot holes, easter eggs, or awkward elements that have not been properly explained by the company themselves. Give credit to those theorists to put their own spin on events to have the whole thing thankfully make some sense.
Even stranger is some of these theories eventually became confirmed by Nintendo themselves, so you never know what a clever and dedicated fan can eventually narrow down from tiny nugget from a classic game. Still, some of the more darker concepts on this list seem like enthused reading between the lines... and if they were actually true, Nintendo is pretty darn twisted.
Those theories can escalate to insane heights and notions but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining to read about, so without further ado, here are thirty of these wacky theories for your reading pleasure.
Super Mario Bros 3 is the best entry out of the NES Mario games—but what about that weird opening that shows a theatrical production assembling? Was it just a bit of colorful flavoring to add to the opening titles, or was it an actual substantial plot point?
Several avid eyed gamers have actually theorized that Mario 3 is all an exaggerated stage show reenactment of Mario 1.
It was an interesting thought, but also smelled of over-analyzation of a cute little gimmick. Yet, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto ended up confirming the theory in 2015 after all.
So, this mega-popular fan theory has been officially put to rest by the game’s creator, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an awesome concept. After the straightforward narrative of the original numbered Mega Man games, the series jumped forward in time with Mega Man X, with several key characters missing—Mega Man himself, even.
Fan-favourite Zero was originally evil before turning into an anti-hero. Many fans assumed that in a meltdown he offed Mega and his entire backup crew. It surprisingly adds up to a solid concept even if it's been debunked.
Zelda's timeline grows more frustrating with every game—the events have never been confirmed by Nintendo of exactly how does everything click together, with fans left in the dark about how (and if) the games exist in a singular continuity.
Recently, an excellent theory helped explain all the confusion by stating what if every game was essentially a Hyrule legend tale about a story that happened centuries ago, and just like with all myths, details change, bend, or alter as the story is retold even if the essence stays the same.
Back in SNES days, the two biggest things you could play would be Street Fighter II and Super Mario World. What if both those games shared more then just being awesome games from 92?
Like that Mario and M. Bison are the same dude.
It's echoed in this fan art; both wear the similar clothes, they both have a stomping attack and aerial somersaults. Also, no one from Capcom has ever explained what the M in M. Bison stands for. Could it be a substantial identity for the plumber when he’s bulked up on power mushrooms?
Luigi's Mansion had Luigi hunting down ghouls in a large spooky house Ghostbusters style. Despite its darker premise, it was a highly kid-friendly. Yet, what if one incredibly grim easter egg was thrown in there for the adult players?
At one point while inspecting a room, eerie lighting is cracking sporadically to build the gothic atmosphere. At one specific point, lighting strikes and imposes Luigi's shadow elevated from the ground, appearing like it’s hanging and lifeless.
Was this a hidden meaning that Luigi had actually offed himself? Or was it just a glitchy shadow effect? We’ll probably never know.
Everyone’s favorite "furry animals meet space fighter pilot" franchise stands as one Nintendo’s landmark titles since the SNES days.
Yet, did you know there was a (theoretical) dark secret behind the talking creatures appearances?
In the earlier games, Fox and his pilot crew all sported robotic legs—was it just there to look futuristic and cool? Or was it a more grim reasoning behind it? An internet theory speculates that all of the animals had there lower limbs willingly sliced, so they could sport upgraded legs to battle the effects of the powerful G-forces that work against them in space.
Remember the Sunken Ship level in Super Mario World? It was filled to the brim with ghosts that would sneak up on you if you back turned. Ever wonder where that ship and the ghosts come from?
In the former game Super Mario Bros 3, you take on one of King Bowser’s flying battleships and destroy it in dramatic fashion. The bottom-outed location in the next game looks familiar enough for people to theorize that the two are connected—and all those pesky ghosts are the specters of enemies you offed. Pretty morbid stuff for a family-friendly platformer, no?
In Nintendo’s Pikmin franchise you solve puzzles with cute little creatures in an idyllic (if strangely isolated) Earth. If the player wasn’t distracted by the adorable Pikmin, they might question what the heck happened on the planet to be so empty.
Well, the Pikmin games take place in a far-flung future where humans no longer inhabit Earth.
Taking into consideration that the games have you scale across pieces of modern technology and relics, this confirms that something wiped out humanity not far from our own current time period. It’s a morose but substantial theory for these (otherwise) endearing games.
Another entry, another oddly morbid Mario theory; this time it focuses on the fireball ability from the main franchise.
In Super Mario World, if you hit an enemy with a fireball attack, they disintegrate and leave behind a coin. Other attacks don’t do this, only the flame powered variety—how come?
The idea goes that the fire is the only attack that actually disintegrates the enemies body, therefore the coin is the soul leaving this mortal coil. But it doesn’t stop there, noting that then every single coin in a Mario game is a leftover lost soul that Mario greedily snatches up.
Animal Crossing is a successful game for the little tykes to play with a seemingly innocent premise; a kid moves into a village inhabited by talking animals and you run around doing different chores for them—simple, no?
Not according to internet theorists who have concluded that secretly something sinister is going on.
That really those animals are actually snatching cult members who force your character to do labor. The premise is vague enough that you can quite easily impose this dark theory on top of it with it surprisingly making sense—if that was Nintendo's true intention is something else.
Some trivial history for you: the Spanish-American War had the US snatch a military monopoly over Caribbean states and fully take control of the profitable banana trade business. So what does this have to do with a platforming game where you play as a monkey that wears a business tie?
In Donkey Kong Country, it is theorized that the campaign is set on one of those Caribbean states with a Reptilian Military force the clear-cut bad guys. Is it possible the creators are flouncing a secret message with propaganda? It’s far-fetched but holds a surprising amount of evidence as well.
Ocarina of Time is, for many, the pinnacle of the franchise. The friendship between Link and his fairy companion Navi is a high point certainly. For many, it was odd how near the end she left in an anti-climatic manner. Who knows if she had a choice in the matter, though?
Fan theories have quite clearly pointed to the fact that now the fairy’s sole purpose for existence has come and gone.
She basically curls up in a quiet spot and passes on. A pretty melancholy concept only echoed forward on Link’s meritless search for her in Majora’s Mask.
Anyone who’s played through Metroid or Super Metroid is aware of the planet Zebes; it’s the main setting for both installments, as well as a major part of heroine Samus Aran’s backstory. It’s a barren and grim place filled with monstrous enemies.
Still, what’s strange is the familiar elements left over from Mario games; massive flowers, green pipes, etc. This has led to theories that Nintendo has connected the two franchise in a deeper manner then thought; Zebes is the blown-out remains of what was formerly the Mushroom Kingdom.
Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes remade the PS1 classic for the GameCube in plenty of welcome ways; it updated the blocky graphics, borrowed MSG 2’s revamped mechanics and made the iconic game available to Nintendo users.
Less popular was the tone the cutscenes had and felt out of character with the canon continuity (e.g. Solid Snake somersaulting off a flying rocket).
Longtime fans annoyed by this came up with an interesting concept; it can all be explained since it's a VR simulator for Raiden, it basically re-enacts the plot of the original game as he was in the midst of his soldier training.
Luigi doesn’t get the girl; he’s awkward looking, and heck—he doesn’t even get his name in the title. What if this was all a case of him downplaying his true strengths?
Info throughout overlooked Mario games have hinted at it, e.g. Super Paper Mario reveals he’s a reincarnation of a powerful Count and therefore is the only able to host a world-destroying artifact.
Other games have revealed that he has several hidden abilities that sometimes he cannot control. The theory states that Mario is the one that needs to be present to keep his ultra-powered brother in check.
Yoshi is a dinosaur that has the ability to lay ‘eggs.’ What’s strange about this? Well, he only does this after eating fruit or bad guys and, yeah... he’s also a male of the species.
So how is he doing this?
The theory is that he’s never laid eggs but in fact is pushing out a dino deuce. This is only further confirmed by the fact that Yoshi babies do exist but they’re found in boxes dug in the ground. Plus the ‘eggs’ contain items or enemies, so what’s he giving birth to? It’s a gross theory but also a valid one.
Mario (aka Jumpman) debuted in the Donkey Kong arcade, where he fought a barrel-throwing monkey (aka Cranky Kong). In the sequel Donkey Kong Jr, Cranky’s son is on a mission to rescue his dad from Mario who had him locked in a cage.
Yet, why is Mario a bad guy all of a sudden? It was the only time it happened in the franchise, so who’s not to say Jumpman wasn’t actually Mario and Luigi’s dad? They certainly are closer in age. This also means Jr officially offed Jumpman in the finale—kind of twisted, huh?
The fan theories based around the Pokémon series are many and varied, none stick as well as the one centered about the protagonists in the Red/Blue instalment—pretty much because it’s just a blatant fact that your actions are not very nice. The concept is centered around your rival Gary.
Gary is not all that bad, aside from the fact that he’s your competition.
Through the course of the game, you rob him, steal his title, get his foster father to disown him, and most harshly, straight up off his championed Raticate—seems pretty harsh for a good guy, no?
So Mario and Luigi are the Mario brothers? It’s always been a bit of confusing story point; is Mario their surname? If so, then is he named Mario Mario? One thing for sure, we’ve never found a clear-cut answer about it.
Who knows? It might’ve just been an odd lost in translation moment for the Japanese developers—but that won’t hold back a good internet theory.
One theory states it’s all due to the Mushroom Kingdom's culture in naming, or that when Mario formally introduced himself to the Royal Mushroom Court, they mistook Mario as the brother's surname.
It’s that classic trope for the original Super Mario Bros trilogy: Bowser snatches up Princess Peach, Mario comes to the rescue and goes from the castle to castle looking for her—but technically it only really happened once.
Super Mario Bros still happened as chronicled, part 2 was technical all a dream, and part 3 is supposedly a stage play re-enactment of the events of part 1—pretty clear-cut, no? Although the theory doesn’t delve into the events of Mario 64 or the rest—kind of convenient?
Majora’s Mask was dark and creepy compared to the upbeat Ocarina of Time. Many have questioned the strange shift, as well as several of the surreal story beats. Perhaps there was a greater reason for it all?
A popular game theory is that Majora is all about the ‘5 Stages of Grief’ in accordance with the departed.
With each of the major levels in the game acting as a blatant example of this. The final stage is ‘acceptance,’ yet what if it actually was Link stuck in a purgatory afterlife and it was him coming to acceptance of his own bereavement?
This title features underdog boxer, Little Mac, taking on the heavyweights of the world with a finale against ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson himself. Against these impossible odds, Mac reigns champion—but how come?
Internet theorists have of course come up with a whole twist on this question—what if Little Mac was an ill wannabe athlete and the entire spiel was a generous exhibition match created by the Make-a-Wish Foundation?
The obligatory celebrity cameo certainly helps cement this notion, regardless if it was really Nintendo’s intention or not.
Kirby is adorable and his games are cute and innocent, although in Kirby 64 it hints at something quite grim. In the level Shiver Star, there are several allusions that it used to be planet Earth. The space view has the blue planet greyed out, the environments are drastic and extreme.
The place is also overrunning with mad robots with no signs of humans in sight.
If there was more evidence to back up that this was actually Earth, it would stick that Nintendo really did insist that a Skynet type disaster was the end of us all.
The Super Smash Bros franchise has always been a bit of wish fulfillment for Nintendo fans as it pits all of the stalwart characters against each other in an arena beat down. Of course, it’s completely out of character for most of them.
Internet theorists have claimed that Nintendo wanted to not tarnish their characters name, so all these characters where actually toy versions of their iconic characters. The opening of the original Smash on the 64 very much alludes to this and it was eventually confirmed in 2015 by the Nintendo President.
Cult game Earthbound ends with a battle against the creepy final boss Giygas. Yet, some think the ominous entity is a baby at the time of the battle.
The notion is that the entity was too powerful to fight in his grown form, so the team of heroes goes back in time to battle him in this form.
They basically get rid of him in a more vulnerable state—nice. There are small details that allude to this, and to be honest the game throws enough twisted nuggets before that for it not to be a stretch.
Metroid trademark villain Ridley is a mean old space dragon that keeps coming back no matter how many times he’s offed. Considering several other characters in the franchise have kicked the bucket and stayed gone, what’s with this guy’s penchant for pulling a Jason Voorhees every installment?
Plus Ridley returns with stronger and better powers every time.
Fans theorized that there is a deeper intention behind it—namely that Ridley is actually an entity that is Chaos incarnated, an immortal force set on pushing the Samus character to her limit.
The Mega Man X series featured Mavericks, who were basically robots that would do harm to humans and robots alike. Fans have linked this up with the earlier original Mega Man games that our blue bomber hero was actually the first of these.
Heroic and a do-gooder for sure, but at the end of Mega Man 7 he attempts to off Dr. Wily in cold-blood in a moment that was completely out of character. The plot point has been ignored by the creators since—but not the fans who have managed to explain in a clever manner.
Wario arrived in Super Mario Land 2 as the bad guy who was an evil spin on the heroic plumber brothers. Since then he’s stayed on as a fan favorite and even landed his own spin-off titles as well.
But what if he was never that bad but just misunderstood?
The theory refers to the ending of Super Wario Land 2 when he’s defeated the dude doesn’t vow vengeance and simply shrugs it off. When he’s given the chance to wish anything from a genie bottle he chooses a peaceful life over everything else—sounds pretty zen, no?
A big old gross brain entity named Mother Brain is one of the major villains of the Metroid franchise, and one that has (supposedly) attempted to wipe all existence clean out the galaxy—or maybe that wasn’t her intention after all?
The theory spells out that Mother Brain was involved with creating the misunderstood Metroid creatures from the jump—they’re an intention to repopulate Earth was a concept that was eventually revealed, and one where she was just battling Samus in order for them to succeed.
Seems simple when you look at that way, huh?
You played a Mario game, right? It usually goes: Bowser steals Princess Peach, Mario goes rescue her—it’s happened countless times across many games.
Did anyone stop to think she secretly wanted to be captured?
The theory is that Peach was taken by force in Super Mario Bros, but during her captivity, she fell in love with King Bowser. After she willingly lets herself be captured to continue their romance, and avoid the relationship being found out. That would explain how Bowser keeps having all these kids with no wife in sight, wouldn't it?