Millions of kids around the world have grown up on Nintendo. The video game behemoth has put out multiple classic games and franchises, establishing themselves as one of the most beloved companies in the industry. They’ve been popular for a long time and because of that have millions of fans across multiple demographics. While they are often associated with children’s games, a large portion of older gamers still remain loyal to Nintendo’s staple franchises like Mario, Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda – attracting gamers of all ages. Nintendo tends to get a lot of love, but they’re also the target of some of gaming’s craziest conspiracy theories.
From secret societies to dark hidden meanings within games, the list goes on and on. With so many influential and critically acclaimed titles in their repertoire, fans have had a ton of material to work with when theorizing. What’s most shocking about some of these theories is despite the relatively innocent nature encompassed by most Nintendo games, some of these actually seem feasible. That’s not to say that these are credible in any way, but some of them offer interesting viewpoints and analysis unique to a fan base that’s spent a lifetime experiencing and immersing themselves within these worlds. The credibility of it all aside, here are the top 15 Craziest Nintendo conspiracy theories.
15 The Mario Universe is All an Act
Our first entry on this list is a pretty old one. The Mario series is one of gaming’s most beloved and celebrated franchises. Plenty of kids have grown up on following Mario and friends as they go on their ever growing series of adventures. But did you ever consider this, that the Mario Universe itself is just one big act? According to one conspiracy theory, signs point to this holding water. There’s the character selection screen in Super Mario Bros. 2 that’s set up like a little stage. Then there’s Super Mario Bros. 3 where everything is presented to the player as though it was an actual stage play. Part of this theory was actually confirmed when creator Sigeru Miyamoto stated that Super Mario Bros. 3 was to be considered as a stage play.
14 Giygas is Really A Baby
EarthBound might not be very widely known among the gaming community’s younger demographic, but it was one of the most well received games of its generation when it was released. One of the most memorable parts of the entire game is the final boss fight with Giygas. While already disturbing in its own right, this next theory goes the extra yard in trying to creep fans out. The theory speculates that Giygas is in fact a fetus which Ness and company traveled back in time to defeat before it could gather enough power to destroy them. While the imagery and sound effects used for the boss fight were disturbing enough without this weird side dish to accompany it, the “Giygas is actually an unborn fetus” theory definitely adds a new level of crazy to it all.
13 Donkey Kong Country Is Anti-American
One of the most beloved platformers on the SNES, Donkey Kong Country often evokes feelings of nostalgia among older fans. However this crazy theory would pretty much sour that sentiment were it found to be true. It all starts off with a simple question, “What country are they in?” It’s not exactly made clear where Donkey Kong and crew are throughout the game. And it’s probably not important. But according to this theory, the game takes place in the Caribbean. This theory revolves around the Spanish-American War and America giving produce distributor Chiquita a monopoly on the fruit business. Bananas being stolen by invaders sounds a lot like what King K. Rool does throughout the series. Could it all be an allegory for American imperialism? Maybe. But it’s more likely about some monkeys wanting their Bananas.
12 Any Pokémon Go Conspiracy Theory
Remember when Pokémon Go came out? It was huge. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call it a worldwide phenomenon. People of all ages were out and about collecting Pokémon, interacting with family and friends and munching on some hardcore nostalgia. But just as sure as the sunrise, this phenomenon was bound to get some negative press. Aside from all the health hazards that were caused by certain negligent players, there are a ton of crazy theories revolving around the true nature behind Pokémon Go. There are so many that follow the same main theme it’s just easier to lump them all together. Most of them are all government conspiracies, from the US government using it to survey citizens to it being a deterrent from the news or former First Lady Michelle Obama using the app to get kids to go the hell outside. Whatever it is, it used to be fun.
11 Mario is a Sociopath
This theory, courtesy of “The Game Theorists” might sound pretty weird to most Mario fans out there. In fact, it would sound weird to anyone who’s ever heard of the franchise. After all, Mario is the hero. He has been for three decades now. But he very might as well be crazy. The idea that this stout Italian plumber who goes around the Mushroom Kingdom stomping enemies, abusing animals and taking all sorts of suspicious substances is a little bit off his rocker isn’t too ridiculous once you think of it. Despite its childish aesthetic and generally fun atmosphere, the Mario series does include a decent amount of violence – all perpetrated by our old friend. So is Mario crazy after all? Well he’s about as crazy as you make him out to be.
10 The Hidden Truth Behind Smash Bros.
Another interesting theory floated around by “The Game Theorists” involves the iconic Super Smash Bros. Series. Beloved by many, Smash is great to have in your library when you’re expecting friends and can account for hours of fun – along with frustration. But this theory would have you look at the series in a tragic light. The theory claims that the entire series is a gamification of the life of creator Masahiro Sakurai. With Master Hand representing Sakurai’s creative influence and Crazy Hand representing his resentment towards sequels, of which the Smash series has had three. The room featured in each game changes with each entry, gradually transitioning from that of a child’s to a young adult. In the series’ latest entry, the Master Core character was introduced, apparently representing Masahiro’s desire to put the franchise behind him. As interesting as this theory is, it’s probably a stretch to believe it in its entirety. Though some of the symbolism that’s brought up here is pretty convincing...
9 The Legend of Zelda’s Swastika Maps
Oh boy, they just keep on getting worse don’t they? Let’s take a look at another Nintendo behemoth this time and examine one of the most disturbing conspiracy theories involving Nazi symbolism and The Legend of Zelda. Now, it’s understandable to be a little weary of suspecting one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises of sneaking in any sort of distasteful content into their games, but the almighty internet would cast suspicion regardless. The theory goes like this, the maps in the original Legend of Zelda game made up different images, one an eagle, one a snake and another being a swastika. While the subsequent outrage following this discovery is understandable, the whole implementation of Nazi ideals is blowing the situation way out of proportion. Remember, Japan is a Buddhist country. While the symbol has sadly been marred by the terrifying history it now represents, it was originally a symbol of good fortune in Buddhist culture – and is otherwise known as a Manji.
8 Princess Peach is Bowser Jr’s Mom
First appearing in Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser Jr played the antagonist in this 2002 platform game. Initially introduced as the mysterious “Shadow Mario,” Bowser Jr eventually revealed himself to be the King Koopa’s one and only son, subsequently explaining what compelled him to tag the majority of Isle Delfino. Long story short, Bowser Jr was convinced that Princess Peach was his mother, which is proven to be untrue by the end of the game. However, Peach never actually denies the claim. Trivial yes, but for a theorist suspicious nonetheless. No other viable candidate for Bowser Jr’s mother is ever introduced in the games. The game developers themselves acknowledge that they know the mother’s identity, but refuse to let it out. Could it be in order to avoid disturbing the relationship between Mario and Peach built up throughout the years? Or could Bowser just be starting his kid on the “everyone hates Mario” bandwagon early? You never know.
7 The Poké-War Theory
Fighting is common in the Pokémon series. It’s hardly a foreign theme for the popular franchise, as the main objective involves competing with other trainers by constantly battling with other trainers – improving and bonding with your Pokémon along the way. It’s all innocent enough, but what if there was something more to it? The Poké-war theory has been floating around for a while. Is it so hard to believe that within such an innocent and generally wholesome world like Pokémon’s that there’s a war going on somewhere? Well as the years went by, the theory became easily disputable. One of the main points for their being a war was the initial lack of paternal figures in the games. Though there are plenty of paternal figures in the Pokémon Universe right now – including the main character’s own father in Ruby and Sapphire. So that point goes out the window. One immensely more convincing piece of source material is some dialogue with Lt. Surge. Surge himself is obviously some kind of military man, but aside from his appearance, it’s something that Surge says to the player that really gives this theory any sort of legitimacy. He says "my electric Pokémon saved me during the war," which does suggest some sort of conflict. How true this is though is still a mystery.
6 Link is Dead During Majora’s Mask
Though it’s mainly aimed towards a younger audience, you can find many inklings of mature themes throughout the Zelda games. With Majora’s Mask being the darkest game in the entire franchise, it’s not too surprising to find a few (disturbing) theories floating around there. The strangest and most haunting being that Link is dead throughout the game. There are way too many things to go over, but let’s just hit some important points. First off there’s the Elegy of Emptiness, an ocarina song that makes copies of characters – dead characters. Where’s this going? Well the thing is Link can actually make a copy of himself. Termina could also be seen as a sort of purgatory, with Link meeting a bunch of NPCs similar to those he met during Ocarina of Time. Then there’s the Happy Mask Salesman. Upon meeting him, his first words to Link are “you've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" The only other time he says this is whenever the player allows the moon to crash into Termina... effectively killing everyone.
5 Lavender Town Syndrome
Originally started as a creepypasta, this Pokémon conspiracy theory won’t die down and has continued to live on in the hearts of theorists everywhere. For those familiar with it, Pokémon’s original “Lavender Town Theme” was a creepy, unsettling death march-esque song that derived from the cheery, energetic soundtrack. Lavender Town itself was a pretty dark inclusion into the Pokémon lore. Then there’s the Lavender Town Syndrome theory. The story goes like this; the initial version of the Lavender Town theme contained certain high pitched sounds that led children who heard them to commit suicide. This was eventually covered up and the original theme replaced by the one we’re all familiar with sans the suicidal tones. It’s a fun little story to creep you out when you’re ill-advisedly browsing the web at 3 AM but that’s about all there is to it.
4 Luigi Dies During Luigi’s Mansion
In case you haven’t noticed, the list has been getting pretty grim. That trend doesn’t slow down here. Often overshadowed by his brother, Luigi got his shot at the spotlight in 2001’s Luigi’s Mansion. With a definitively creepy atmosphere often uncommon in other Mario games, Luigi’s Mansion immediately set itself apart from other series entries. However one of gaming’s most frightening conspiracy theories comes from this title. The idea that Luigi is dead originates from a scene in the game where Luigi answers a phone in the attic. As lightning strikes, it creates a shadow facing him, visible only to the player. The shadow looks just like Luigi though something is off. It seems as though Luigi has hung himself. Scary stuff and definitely way more mature than that E rating suggests. However, the easiest way to debunk the theory is that the shadow is actually a glitch making Luigi’s shadow appear slightly higher than it really is. So which is it, standard glitch or terrifying secret message? You decide.
3 Gunpei Yokoi was Killed by the Yakuza
To those of you who are not familiar with the name Gunpei Yokoi, sit down and listen to this brief lesson in video game history. While Yokoi’s name has been largely forgotten by younger gamers, he is forever tied to one of gaming’s most revolutionary consoles – the Game Boy. Yokoi served as the designer of the Game Boy along with being the creator of the Game & Watch handheld system. Yokoi died on October 4th, 1997 after being struck by a car. A simple and unfortunate accident has been turned into a hardboiled detective thriller by online theorists as some assume that Yokoi was in fact killed by Yakuza (Japanese mobsters) on the orders of Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi. The reasoning’s differ. Some say it was because Yokoi was planning to leave the company and either start his own or work for a rival developer, other’s say it was due to the huge failure of the Virtual Boy console which Yokoi created. Surprisingly enough, there’s nothing remotely concrete to prove all of this, making it just another whacked out theory.
2 Animal Crossing Abduction
How can such an innocent looking game have inspired such a terrifying theory? Well once you hear the details, it might be a little more plausible to believe. In Animal Crossing the main character is brought into the village by Kapp’n. Kapp’n is actually modeled after a Kappa. What’s a kappa? It’s a mythological Japanese turtle monster that steals children for the laughs. Upon arrival the player is put into a “home” and almost immediately after forced to work by the inhabitants of the village in order to pay for it. The whole thing has an eerie feel of things not being what they seem, a common theme in isolated communities where – unlike larger cities and towns – most people know each other along with a few secrets as well. What’s worse is the cramped nature of the player’s home makes it seem like an actual prison. Kidnapping, child labour and confinement. Great.
1 The Illuminati Killed Satoru Iwata
This is undoubtedly the most ridiculous, out of your ass, tin foil blabbering to find itself on our list. Which is why it’s such a great choice for the top spot. Former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata passed away back in 2015 after suffering complications from a tumor. However some theorists aren’t content with that explanation (tumors – who gets those anymore, right?) and took to a slightly more convoluted way of examining Iwata’s death. The story goes that Iwata held onto a majority of power at Nintendo even as the company struggled and some might have wished for his resignation. The theory then goes on to explain that the Freemasons control Japanese society through mindless fun – video games being one of their primary resources – and that Iwata was very much unwilling to go along with the charade. So thus he was taken out, his illness used as cover-up and the video game world left shy one of its greatest innovators.