That's the story of how I set out to find these mysterious Nintendo jokes. I knew it to be a fool’s errand. Sure, Pixar is replete with hidden off-color jokes for parents. Those Hollywood types sold their soul long ago. But Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto would never debase themselves to such icky stuff. I was wrong.
Hidden in the deepest recesses of Mario and Zelda and Pokémon were the most surprising references I’ve ever encountered. Also most were not hidden at all, and like, right there for you to see. I was appalled. I also laughed a lot. Sure, my childhood had been completely corrupted just like those no-good icky Hollywood sellouts had done to me, but these are really funny. You might think that you’ve seen a bunch of these jokes before. I can assure you that you will find some new ones here. I had no idea how weird Paper Mario was, or how many people wanna get with Link—even going back to Ocarina days. And Pokémon? Not as cute and fluffy as you thought.
24 The Pokéballs On Her
To prove that Pokémon is more off the wall than you might think, may I present to you Exhibit Facepalm: a lady trainer making an innuendo about where she hides her pokéballs. Now she may be hiding in them in any number of innocent places, I hear your protest. But do you really think Nintendo doesn’t know how this sounds? Of course, they do. It was intentional. I’m afraid she’s packing her pokéballs like she’s smuggling them through customs. Shigeru Miyamoto was standing behind the designers the whole time, spreading some gelatinous substance everywhere, and ordering them to do it. Is there no stopping this man? When will it be enough, Shigeru!?
23 Toadstool's Midnight Fun
In Super Mario RPG, Mario finally gets access to Peach’s bedroom. Players quickly discovered there’s a secret item hidden behind the fireplace marked “Peach’s ???” The Princess gets super embarrassed and throws Mario out. In the Japanese version, the item has 3 Xs. That’s right. Princess Peach got as made as your mom did that one time you went rifling through top-drawer without permission. This joke is so raunchy for a Mario game, it blows my mind they kept it in. Legend has it that the developers desperately tried to release the game without any innuendos. They were almost successful, but Nintendo had a break-in the night before the game was finished. Traces of Jelly were found next to the monitors in the morning.
22 Everybody Wants Link's Master Sword
When I played Breath of the Wild, I was struck by the constant onslaught of not-so-subtle remarks that everyone in Hyrule wants Link’s Master Sword. I had chalked it up to a one-time thing, but looking back on these past titles, I realize there were references to Link’s attractiveness throughout the franchise. I chalk it up to some strange clause in Shigeru Miyamoto’s contract. Take this screenshot: with a wink-wink, nudge nudge, an NPC tells Link that he could run a different business if he looked as good as him. Now that could mean a variety of things, but I just lied and it really only means one and we both know it. This dude is talking about a Magic Mike-themed Legend of Zelda or maybe a Hyrule institution run by Game of Thrones’ Littlefinger.
21 Zero Dark Mario
This gag is an old Paper Mario classic. It’s a prime example of meta-humor, meaning a self-referential joke calling attention to the creation of the game itself in the outside world. It’s also a perfect showcase for the Paper Mario type of humour, which is often edgier than the rest. A Shy Guy locks Mario up and warns that he can’t do more without raising the game’s rating. It’s a clever way of making you imagine the horrible things he’d do to Mario without any of it being explicit. Since I still have a word count to hit, I’m going to describe them to you. Naturally, Shy Guy would perform every move from Zero Dark Thirty. Then he’d probably take Mario boarding on the water…. I mean, in a fun Super Mario Sunshine way… yeah.
20 Tastes Like Milk
Banjo-Kazooie wasn’t messing around with their suggestive material. Midway through the game, Banjo has the honor of attending “Grab-A-Sailor-Night.” I’m going to just let that name sit for a while. At the event, you can spend five doubloons to buy a tankard seamen’s brew. It’s just the kind of adult joke that makes the ESRB grind its teeth. They have to allow it because it has a perfectly innocent meaning. Is it Rare’s fault if their brew is milky white and delicious? Fun with homophones! Again, I’m impressed by Rare’s brazenness. They didn’t let the fact they were making a kid’s game stop them from being absolutely filthy.
19 A Geek's Dreamland
If you thought Kirby would be safe from suggestive innuendo in wholesome Nintendo games, think again. In Kirby Dream Land 2, the developers show us exactly what their Dream Land looks like by designing a level in a very peculiar way. The blocks obviously resembles a familiar shape, which the designers needed to have described to them because they had no references themselves to draw on. If you think about it, Kirby is a pretty suggesting character himself. He’s an anthropomorphic ball whose entire purpose is to suck and blow things. To the developer’s sorrow, Shigeru Miyamoto proposed the idea himself. Kirby’s hoovering is a metaphor for the rate at which he goes through boxes and boxes of Jelly.
18 Breaking And Entering Hearts
I am going to go out a limb and posit that there is no Nintendo game more suggestive than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. During his travels, Link reads a woman’s diary and she mentions how she’d like him to tune her bow because “it’s been WAAAY too long.” In case the capital letters and multiple As didn’t tip you off, it’s signed “Lonely Arrow Girl.” This episode is not an aberration. Throughout the entire game, everybody is talking about how hot Link is. Since all of this is clearly canon in this world, it makes you wonder how Link is responding to all these advances in the mature version of this story. It’s more than likely he’s saving Hyrule by slowly repopulating it himself.
17 Nintendo Couldn't Help Themselves
Consider Nintendo’s dilemma for one moment: they have branded themselves as a family-friendly console yet their motion controls lend themselves best to shooters. How do you reconcile the two? By creating a game where characters shoot paint at each other instead of metals projectiles and instead perish slowly at all the toxic chemical exposure in their lungs. It seemed like a good family friendly compromise… until Nintendo couldn’t help but release one of the many adult jokes they’d been holding back. It’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re writing splat your ink zone all the time. Marina adds a suggestive ellipsis, showing that Nintendo isn’t above the occasional tongue-and-cheek adult barb even in their most wholesome shooters.
16 Ample Stage Presence
Paper Mario is famous in the Mario series for having the edgiest humor. Nowhere is that more prominent than in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Mario gains many new friends to help him out on his journey, but none quite have the design that Madame Flurrie does. Madame Flurrie is a wind spirit and former starlet who quit life in the spotlight to focus on her health and being sassy full-time. Her character definition here refers to her ample… stage presence. A sure sign… that there’s some other material here that relies on ellipses. How else are the Nintendo writers going to signal to you that they’re hilarious and in on the joke?
15 He's Keeping It... For A Friend
What is it with shopkeepers in The Legend of Zelda series? Every single one of them has some weird creepy interest. Here Link stumbles into a shop wearing a girl’s mask. The shopkeeper apparently can’t keep his focus and even offers to look after the mask for a while. That wouldn’t normally give me pause if it weren’t for the ellipsis “…” right before he says it. Ew. Since Link is a silent protagonist, we can only guess at his reactions to these requests. Perhaps he is mortified as we are. I like to imagine him as blissfully unaware of the human cesspool that is every single Hyrule town. Plot twist: Ganondorf is really the good guy trying to rid the world of all these sick and twisted townspeople, but Link keeps setting them free.
14 These Hidden Jokes Are Getting Too Subtle
I know Banjo-Kazooie was made by Rare, but it was released on the Nintendo 64 and so I’ll count it as a Nintendo game for our purposes. Also this list isn’t exactly my dissertation and I can do what I want. Speaking of people who do whatever they want, Rare don’t give a flying fig. Take careful note of this level from Banjo-Kazooie seen from bird’s eye view. Notice anything strange? Take a good a long look and study it for multiple hours. That’s right ... it's ... it's... you got i. What’s terrific about this is that the developers at Rare probably got it past the ESRB with no issue. As seen from the ground level when played, it’s hard to tell there’s anything odd here.
13 A Filthy Old Koopa
In the original Paper Mario, Koopa Koot has you running all manner of errands for him but none are more scandalous than the tape favor. It’s because he doesn’t go into details here that our minds run wild at the implications of what could be on the tape. That’s exactly what Nintendo wanted. It’s not hard to imagine that the tape is of the amateur variety you hide behind the bible on the shelf. Teenagers today can access all the all kinds of weird content at the drop of a hat. They don't know what it’s like to enjoy a good old grainy video tape as quick as you can when your parents step for two seconds.
12 I'm With Dateline Hyrule
I’m sure readers reasonably wonder whether or not we’re overreacting to all this bizarre subject matter. Still, there’s no room for doubt with this joke (that again, yes, actually appears in a Nintendo game). Do I even need to spell this one out for you? Shigeru Miyamoto is at it again, being as creepy humanly possible. The Gerudo, the Amazon-esque female race of the series, are incredibly open about their needs — especially in Breath of the Wild. Major plot points center around the Gerudo women scouring Hyrule to find people to love. So it’s no surprise here that a Gerudo warrior is using some heavy treasure chest-related innuendo to get up on Link. It's quite a bizarre thing to stuff into a game that kids of all ages are going to play...
11 Link Seeds The Fertile Field
The Legend of Zelda series has no shortages of jokes about grown-up fun times. This screenshot is a perfect example. Plowing, of course, refers to the act of using large farming implements to cut furrows into soil. For those unaware, the word is also an old slang term for… using a large implement in soil. That may sound the same but it ain’t.
Farmers pretty much relied exclusively on agriculture-based talk. So whichever writer snuck this gem in at Nintendo didn’t mean for the kiddies to pick up what he was laying down. Nice NPC lady is throwing herself at Link here, which as we’ll see in this lesson, is a fairly common occurrence across the series. If Link could talk, you have to wonder what he'd say about it.
10 Nailing The Tutorial
Notice anything in this dialogue box? I sure hope you did otherwise you’ve learned nothing from my painstaking lessons. Yes, there’s an ellipsis. That should be our first signal that there’s creepy subtext here. But in all honesty, this barely qualifies as subtext. Princess Peach all but stops short of using the most on-the-nose nailing metaphors. Notice how Peach pauses before calling Mario her friend… like he’s MORE than a friend! She says he jumps on things and hammers them when necessary. I think we know when it’s necessary. Mario is essentially the Drake Figure in the Hotline Bling magnum opus. When necessary, he swings down to Peach’s castle late at night and helps her lay down some carpeting.
9 ...That's Not My Leg
As previously established, Paper Mario is the most jaw-dropping of the Mario games— and therefore the best. It seems that Mario has gotten a little too comfortable with his pals in Paper Mario. Naturally, he unwinds in the same way that every hairy moustached plumber unwinds: with a good long soak with his buds. Toad tells Mario straight-up that they’re not good enough friends to bathe together without wearing anything. There’s no subtle innuendo here. It’s astonishing that Nintendo was a-okay with Mario and his Toad friends chilling in a men’s spring and talking about eyeing each other au naturel. Maybe Mario’s princess never was in another castle. Maybe his true love was his mushroom-tipped bro all along.
8 The Old Onixes And The Cloysters Speech
I have to hand it to Nintendo here— this one is quite subtle. It’s the perfect type of adult gag; if you’re a kid, you go on playing the game having no idea what was just insinuated. If you’re a grown-up, well, you also don’t get the joke because you’re a grown-up who plays Pokémon and therefore you’ve never been with opposite gender (kidding, of course). Seriously: I’m only kidding. The opposite is true. For those who don’t get it, the joke here is that the young couple has chosen Onix and Cloister— two Pokémon that best visually represent what they are doing when they’re leveling up their relationship. Man, the designers had huge pokéballs pulling this stunt.
7 Mega Man Walks In On Mega Ma'am
In Mega Man Legends 2, Mega Man proves to be a Mega Boy with a certain episode involving a shower and a woman. When a girl announces she’s going to take a shower, the player has the option to walk up and open the door. The screen then cuts to black and she yells, “Eek! What do you think you’re doing!?” Mega Man closes the door… but then he pumps his fist in the air triumphantly and victory music plays. Not so funny now. “Mega Man, why don’t you take a seat over here?” No one is going to invite you to parties if this is the creepy way you behave. No, it doesn't matter if you have your own video game franchise or not.
6 Riding A Big Onix
If you thought we were done with twisted Pokémon jokes, we have hardly scratched the surface. At one point the player encounters a female trainer who volunteers some uncomfortable information about her love for long, hard… Onix. The way she talks about how she wants one could easily have bumped the games rating up a notch. The character then promptly defeats her Onix and destroys her love life in one fell swoop. As we’ve seen, this isn’t the first time Onix has been used as a stand-in for anatomy. I mean, what about Dratini or Gyarados? Do they not even rate as cheap stand-ins for this stuff anymore. There's a wide range of Pokémon like this, Nintendo, you might as well run the gambit!
5 Brokeback Pokémon
This very well might be the most out there content on the list— and that’s saying something. The screenshot here is taken from the version of Pokémon Black and White before it was localized. The main character gets to go on a Ferris wheel ride with a young woman or a beefy, hairy man depending on, uh… the player’s preferences. Should you choose the man, he gets very comfortable and chatty inside the ferris wheel and asks if you’ve ever had a lover. It’s unclear whether or not it’s all a joke or both of you are into it and Team Rocket Is Blasting Off Again. Needless to say, this is quite the surprise find tucked away in a simple kids video game...
4 These Jokes Go Places...
This is a joke from Paper Mario: Color Splash that turned out to be as ill-fated as the Wii U console itself. At one point during the game, Mario and five mushroom fellas are gathered to perform a dance called “the shuffle.” But then one Toad makes a joke about it ruining his career, calling it “Shufflegate: Exposed.” Zoe Quinn, a game developer at the centre of the GamerGate controversy, called Nintendo out on twitter for making light of her suffering. Others were quick to point out that the “-gate” suffix was universal to any controversy and not aimed at Gamergate specifically. However, the fact the joke took place in a video game context meant it naturally would be compared to gaming’s biggest “-gate” controversy. In either case, Nintendo offered an apology and denied any reference to GamerGate.
3 Secret Of Womana
Secret of Mana was a SNES Squaresoft RPG that is beloved among fans, though many would not include it in the RPG pantheon alongside Final Fantasy. Still, Secret of Mana kept up with the craziest of them. One of the moves you can perform is a Charm Spell on enemies. The attack animation flashes an image of a pin-up style woman baring it all in a magazine above the character’s head. Back in those days, developers could get away with quite a lot of innuendoes considering you had to sorta squint at the screen to make out any lewd content. Nineties parents didn’t notice either. But they knew what they were doing... they knew and should be ashamed.
2 Tingle Feels A Tingle
Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland is a Nintendo DS game released in 2006. The game stars Tingle, The Legend of Zelda’s most flamboyantly gay tertiary character. So it comes as some surprise when there’s implied action at the end of the game. In fact, it’s hardly even implied. When Tingle saves the day, there is a sequence where the fairy woman rewards him with certain favors. She blows a giant bubble around them so the player can’t see and Tingle has an uncomfortable moment ... for a long time. If that doesn’t convince you as to what’s going on, the screen turns pink and flashes hearts. Yes, Tingle gets a tingle. Nobody asked for this game— besides a very slippery Shigeru Miyamoto.
1 A Hard Work Of Art
Players can collect all kinds of crazy items in Animal Crossing. In particular, the game is a major hit for millennials as it caters to their unachievable fantasy of owning a fully-furnished house. Sometimes the automate dialogue doesn’t sync too well with the items in question— or depending on your perspective, it syncs perfectly. Redd here has collected a statue, which she likes very very much. Legend has it that Nintendo’s own Shigeru Miyamoto posed for the photo. This as extra curious as none of the developers asked him to do so, nor were they aware until he was standing on top of the desks ready to be drawn like one of their French girls.
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