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Mario Hack Confirms You're Being Watched

Super Mario games are well known for their various secrets. Who hasn't found the shortcut to World 8 in the original, or flown up to the warp whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3? These secrets have been covered to death at this point, but believe it or not, there are still things about the Super Mario series we don't have a handle on; some mysteries we've not quite been able to solve.

One such mystery involves a ghost in World 4-4 of Super Mario 3D Land.

"Of course there are ghosts in World 4-4!" you might say. "They're called Boos. Everyone knows that." And yes, it is true that there are ghost-like characters from the Super Mario universe in that stageBut there is something else lurking in the shadows of World 4-4; something far spookier. We've played Super Mario 3D Land ourselves, and were hesitant to believe we'd missed out on something so stirring. But believe it or not, there is an actual ghost watching Mario as he exits the level. Seeing it — and realizing it had been there when we sprinted our way toward the flagpole years ago — made this revelation all the more creepy.

We have to credit YouTuber SwankyBox for bringing the ghost of World 4-4 to our attention. Thanks to some hacking and some prime close-up shots, SwankyBox managed to not only give us nightmares, but also a better look at the specter haunting the level. He likened it to a digital interpretation of The Scream, a painting by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, and upon closer inspection, we definitely see some similarities.

That painting is pretty bone chilling itself, so anything that remotely takes the shape of the man portrayed in it gives us goosebumps. Fortunately, you'll never have to lay eyes on this ghoulish being again. You can take comfort in knowing that World 4-4 is the only place you'll ever encounter it.

Except it's not.

You can't shake this ghost

We were initially shocked to learn that we'd somehow missed the World 4-4 ghost while playing Super Mario 3D Land. But in all honesty, it's not that hard to do. The ghost only shows up for a brief time before fading back out of existence. So if you're in the same boat as us and had no idea this poltergeist was present, we understand.

Would you believe, though, that World 4-4 isn't the only place this ghost materializes? It sounds quite mad, as surely you would have noticed a ghost making repeat appearances during the game. But according to SwankyBox, the apparition isn't just waiting by the gates of World 4-4 to see you off in the spookiest manner possible: it's actually in every haunted level in the game. That means the ghost actually follows Mario to World 6-6 and World 8-5, as well.

And as if your hair wasn't standing on end already, the ghost doesn't just wait at the end of the level for you. In some instances, it's actually peering through the window.

What is this ghost, exactly? And what did poor Mario do to draw this being's interest? Unfortunately, we don't have answers for you. While we can now confirm the existence of this ghost, we can't tell you what its purpose might be. It appears that will remain one of the many Super Mario mysteries.

This isn't the only haunted Mario game

Believe it or not, Super Mario 3D Land isn't the only Mario title to include some rather disturbing and unexplained entities.

In Super Mario Galaxy 2, World 5's "Shiverburn Galaxy" level serves as the home for what many call the "Hell Valley Sky Trees." The name reportedly comes from assets in the game, which a hacker uncovered while trying to solve the mystery of the Sky Trees. As you can see, they look very much like ghosts or perhaps aliens peeking out from the horizon. But what are they, exactly? No one has any idea.

The Hell Valley Sky Trees are never spoken of in Super Mario Galaxy 2, and no other characters even seem to notice them. In that sense, they're just as much a mystery as the ghost found in Super Mario 3D Land. When you consider that Nintendo has never come out and explained these dark figures — nor the ghost in 3D Land, for that matter – it seems we're completely in the dark as to what it all could mean.

There are undoubtedly more secrets to be discovered in the Super Mario universe and more mysteries to try and solve. Should we stumble upon another interesting discovery, we'll be sure to let you know.