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I was asked to clean out my father's house, after he had passed away. He was a HUGE gaming nerd. He even camped out for the release of the NES when he was about my age, nineteen.

He had them all: Atari 2600, Atari Flashback, Magnavox Oddysey 2000-5000, NES, SNES, N64, NGC, Wii, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advanced, DS, DS Lite, DSi, 3DS, Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 1-3, PSP, and a PS Vita. He might have even had the WiiU, if he was alive long enough for the release.

I was in my father's house, alone, cleaning out the basement. I grabbed one of the last cardboard boxes down there, and I noticed how light it was. Wondering why it was so light, I peaked inside, to find that one old NES game cartridge. It did not have a game label on it, it only had "MaRIo" crudely written by my father, with a permanent marker.

I became curious. Why was this game all by itself in a box? Why was the label torn off? Why was it written on? And why was 'Mario' spelled so crudely? Since my father handed me down all of his games and consoles, which included his NES, I decided to take it home and figure it out for myself.

I got home and set up the NES. I immediately popped the game and started it up. Things already seemed a little off. The game had no start-up screen. It simply just placed me at the start of the first level, of what appeared to be the classic game that we all know and love: Super Mario Bros. 

Well, the game is old... I thought to myself. Maybe it is just a little glitchy, and that is why it skipped the start-up screen. Dad DID buy it at its midnight release, after all.... So I continued.

As I expected, the game was rather glitchy. Sometimes, when grabbing a fire flower, it would make Mario small, and stars only worked 75% of the time. As well, Toad never said the message he had for you at the end of every castle. You know, "Thank you, Mario! But our princess is in another castle." He never said anything... that was, until world 7's castle.

"Only one step closer to becoming one of us!"

This message made me chuckle a little. I assumed my father had hacked the game for laughs, and that was why it was so glitchy before.

Things got... weird after that. In Level 8-1, the sky was a dark red, and the music was a little slower than usual. The whole level was nothing but five minutes of walking. No enemies or obstacles, just the ground.

Reaching the end of the level, I grabbed the flag. The ending fanfare did not play, and the fireworks sounded more like gun-shots than 8-bit explosions.

OK, that was strange. I thought to myself. What was the point in that? Oh well, on to the next. 

Level 8-2 was even stranger. The sky was an even darker red, and the music played even slower. This time, there were enemies. I was approached by a koopa troopa, and for points, I jumped on him. The delightful little noise that plays when you jump on an enemy did not play this time... Instead, there was a squish, accompanied with the crackling of bones and a slight groan. 

This was weird, and sadistic. It did not seem like something my father would do. In fact, he in no way condoned anything scary in my house as I was growing up. He never allowed my older sister or myself to play any scary games or watch any scary movies. We did at our friends' houses of course, but that is besides the point.

I moved on, and ran into a goomba. To make sure the earlier sound was not a glitch, I jumped on it. The same sound played. I was becoming... unsettled, to say the least. 

When I reached the end of the level, the same thing happened as it had at the end of the previous level. 

I noticed something even more weird. The spot on the screen that showed what level you are on did not display 'World 8-3'. Instead, it showed 'World', followed by the symbol on the flag at the end of every level, that looked like a skull. I know it is not actually a skull, but it looks like one.

The 3rd level of world "Skull" was even stranger. The sky was a dark red, much darker than before, and the music did not even play. The enemies that I came to were already dead. Their bodies appeared twisted and mangled, like someone had beaten them to death.

I reached the end. There was no flag or anything like that, just a castle. It had "Welcome, MaRIo!" painted on the front of it, with I assumed to be blood. Reluctantly....I entered.

The black screen that shows your status between levels showed that I had x0 lives, and I was in "World D-ED." I was pale and trembling with fear. Just what was this game?

The castle was like the first level of world "Skull"; there were no obstacles, enemies, or slow music. I walked straight for what seemed like at least fifteen minutes. My time reached zero, but the level kept going. 

It felt like Mario was not alone. Like... someone was watching his every move. My only questions were: What was Mario's mission in this sadistic, twisted game? What did he want to accomplish, and why? I had to finish the game to know.

Finally, I came to the end of the level. There he stood: Bowser.

His eyes were missing, and his belly appeared flesh-less. I prepared to fight him, but he quickly grabbed Mario. He began to laugh evily, realistically... sounds that cannot be made on an 8-bit console. It became clear to me. this was not a hack.

Bowser bit Mario's head off. Mario's body shivered and struggled as Bowser dragged him behind the battle scene. You know, where Princess Peach was supposed to be. 

I was expecting to see just Princess Peach - Oh, who am I kidding? I was not expecting anything that would save me from this nightmare. I saw a Toad, Luigi, and Peach. However, both Luigi and Peach had Toad heads on their bodies instead of their own.

Bowser grabbed the Toad's head, and stuck it on Mario. He placed him next to the others. Bowser then proceeded to rip his own head off, and began to pull out his intestines. 

Text appeared.

"Press B for a harder quest, and even YOU can become one of US!" 

I threw my controller at the screen. So hard that the screen actually broke. I ejected the cartridge and threw it at the wall. It fell into pieces, and I noticed that there was a note inside. I picked it up and read it.

"Dear Son,

You're next.


I threw both the game and the letter in the fire that I started in my fire place. 

I will never be able to get that satanic picture of my beloved characters like that out of my head. To this day, I cannot play Super Mario Bros... And the other morning, I woke up to see "MaRIo" carved into my arm.

To take my mind off of these things, I began looking through all of the other NES games. On top of the stack was Super Mario Bros. 2... However, the label was different. It spelled "Super MaRIo Bros. 2". The picture of Mario delightfully carrying the turnip was instead a picture of Mario with an angry Toad head, carrying Birdo's decapitated head instead of a turnip.

After that, I just decided never to play any Mario Game ever again. Whatever was on this game... could only be worse.

Thank you for reading. I wanted somebody to know about this before... something happened to me.

YouTube reading

Credited to SupremeKai4
Originally uploaded on December 13, 2012

Check out the sequel, MaRIo II.

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