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14 Hidden Backstories You Never Knew About Your Favorite Games –

CAUTION: This list contains plot spoilers for various video games.

Video games are arguably the most diverse type of media and while lots of titles avoid storytelling, there are plenty of games that incorporate compelling storylines. While most backstories are associated with the RPG genre, a surprising amount of different games also boast rich narratives. Sure, not every type of genre needs an interesting or intriguing plot to make it fun to play, but providing a narrative solidifies the purpose for why a player is going out on their adventure and justifies the events that are taking place.

Although most games that want to include a story will do so in a rather obvious way, such as straightforward objectives issued by an NPC in a single-player campaign, there are some titles that hide an elaborate backstory. The narrative is purposefully difficult to uncover, with bits of information spread out here and there like a delectable bread crumb trail. Other times, the story is just hidden due to technical limitations preventing a studio from including everything they want in the game. In some cases, publishers opt to sell extra content to fans in the form of DLCs.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that the most popular games in the world have hidden backstories that are as bizarre as they are interesting. Check out the list below

The Backstory In Super Mario Bros. Reveals You Are Killing Innocent Civilians

Photo:  Nintendo

Almost every Mario game in existence follows the same basic premise: Bowser steals away with Princess Peach and it’s up to the Italian plumber to rescue her. However, Super Mario Bros. (1985) was slightly more gruesome. As it turns out, everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom had been turned into bricks and stones, so you were actually murdering innocent citizens when you ran through each level smashing blocks to collect coins and power-ups.

The instruction manual for the original game confirms this, saying: “One day the kingdom of the peaceful mushroom people was invaded by the Koopa, a tribe of turtles famous for their black magic. The quiet, peace-loving Mushroom People were turned into mere stones, bricks and even field horsehair plants, and the Mushroom Kingdom fell into ruin.”

Centipede Is About A Magic Elf Battling An Evil Wizard

Photo:  Atari

When Centipede was first released in 1980 by Atari, many people assumed that the top-down shooter was about a spaceship fighting giant alien insects. After all, many other arcade games of this type featured science fiction scenarios and the limited graphics of the time meant it was difficult to render detailed sprites. However, future games and an entire comic series revealed that the backstory to the game was entirely different. The main character is in fact an elf named Oliver who is battling an army of forest creatures that have been turned against him by an evil wizard.

Mario Wasn’t The Good Guy In The Original Donkey Kong

Photo:  Nintendo

Mario is arguably the most famous video game character in the world and is universally seen as a heroic protagonist. However, that was not always the case. The backstory for the original arcade version of Donkey Kong reveals that Mario was not exactly the most likeable person in his younger days. While the game establishes that Mario is attempting to rescue his girlfriend Pauline from the ape who has kidnapped her, extra material for the title explains why Donkey Kong stole her away in the first place. It turns out that the gorilla was actually Mario’s pet and that he had been cruelly mistreated at the hands of his owner, prompting his act of revenge.

That Paddle Is Actually A Spaceship In Arkanoid That Must Eventually Face A Floating Head

Photo:  Taito

An evolution of the concept first introduced in Pong, Arkanoid is a game where players try to bounce a ball at a collection of bricks with their paddle to clear each level. While this type of game doesn’t appear to need a backstory, the creators came up with one anyway. The paddle at the bottom of the screen is actually ship called the Vaus, the sole surviving spacecraft fleeing from the destruction of its mothership, the Arkanoid. Unfortunately, the Vaus gets trapped in a warped version of space by a mysterious floating red head called Doh, and must escape the dimension by destroying the obstacles blocking its path.

Portal’s Aperture Science Got Its Start Selling Shower Curtains

Photo: Valve

Valve games are often teeming with complex and intriguing backstories, though in most cases, such rich details are presented in the form of hidden extras or additional media (like DLCs or comics). That’s the case in Portal concerning Aperture Science, the fictional science organization credited with birthing GLaDOS. According to official sources, Aperture Science started life as a developer of shower curtains, with the portal technology created to assist in the production of shower curtain technology.

The company founder began to lose his mind as he became ill and set about creating a three-step R&D plan including the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver (a technique to counter the Heimlich Maneuver) and the Take-A-Wish Foundation (to take wishes away from terminally ill children and give them to healthy adults). As for the third, he stated, “Some kind of rip in the fabric of space… that would… well, it’d be like, I don’t know, something that would help with the shower curtains I guess.”

The Spartans From Halo Were Kidnapped As Children And Half Were Killed In Genetic Surgery

Photo: 343 Industries

Throughout the Halo series, players control super soldiers known as Spartans to battle the Covenant and the Flood. These armored combatants aren’t simply normal men and women placed inside special suits. The real backstory behind their creation is far more depressing: a fictional military known as the UNSC kidnapped the Spartans when they were young children and put them through years of extensive training to become the best soldiers. They then underwent a series of surgical augmentations and genetic enhancements that killed half of those involved before being sent into battle in the iconic suits.

Winston From Overwatch Escaped An Ape Uprising On The Moon

Photo: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch is a multiplayer team-based FPS developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. Being Blizzard’s first original IP in nearly two decades didn’t stop developers from coming up with some fascinating stories about their cast of characters. Perhaps the strangest is the gorilla, Winston. He was the result of gene therapy manipulation by human scientists who wanted to experiment on long-term exposure of living creatures on the moon. The highly intelligent ape lived for years under the tutelage of Dr. Harold Winston until the other gorillas on the moon colony rebelled and overtook their human masters, prompting the Overwatch character to escape back to earth.

Team Fortress 2’s Story Begins Back In 1850

Photo: Valve

For a game that doesn’t have any form of singleplayer or campaign mode, Team Fortress 2 has a surprising amount of plot detail that has been told through video and comic installments. The story begins in 1850 with Zepheniah Mann and his two sons, Redmond and Blutarch, as they travel to the United States to expand the family business. When they arrive, they find that the land they bought is actually just useless wasteland. Feeling that it isn’t useful for anything else, the elderly Zepheniah leaves half of the land to each of his sons for them to battle each other for all eternity. Not wanting to do the dirty work themselves, the sons hire groups of assassins and mercenaries to do the fighting for them.

The Main Villain From Destiny’s The Taken King Was Once A Female Insect Queen

Photo: Bungie

One of the main criticisms of Destiny when it initially launched was that it seemed to be incredibly short on story. Fortunately, with subsequent releases of downloadable content and updates, more information was provided about the game’s villains and races. These details are still kept separately from the game in the form of Grimoire cards, which reveal the origin story of the Taken King’s main bad guy, Oryx.

It turns out that the alien king was born as a female named Aurash, who was one of three daughters to the Osmium King. After journeying into the core of a gas giant, the three sisters eventually found an evil force known only as the Worms and agreed to morph with them to become more powerful. Aurash took on the king morph, taking the name Oryx to become the patriarch of the Hive.

Earthworm Jim

Photo: Playmates Interactive Entertainment
Sega released Earthworm Jim for the SNES in 1994. It’s a run-and-gun platformer where you play as an earthworm—Can you guess its name?—that fights enemies and wears a special suit that gives it human-like abilities. It’s all a bit vague and amorphous. Like, have you ever wondered how Jim got that suit?

The answer, as it turns out, is pretty disappointing: it just fell on top of him out of the clear blue sky. And those enemies he’s fighting? They want the suit for themselves. Really. That’s it.

Fallout’s Vaults Were All Secret Experiments That Cruelly Tested Dwellers

Photo: Bethesda

Many players of the Fallout series may be unaware that the vaults that kept everyone safe during nuclear war were not just safe havens. In fact, they were all used for experimentation, with the inhabitants tested as lab rats in a variety of different conditions and circumstances in each individual vault. This includes having vaults with only members of a certain sex, vaults with only children, vaults where the dwellers had to sacrifice a person every year, and even a vault that pumped psychedelic drugs into all its inhabitants. While the scientific trials run by Vault-Tec don’t play a big part in the overall plot in each of the games, there is a surprisingly detailed history of the experiments.

Super Street Fighter II Was A Plot To Recruit Martial Artists Into An Evil Organization

Photo: Capcom

Fighting games often try to include some sort of story, though it often boils down to the participants kicking the crap out of each other because they do not get along for various reasons. Super Street Fighter II was a bit different from Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game, an RPG tie-in game that explained exactly what prompted the fighting tournament. It revealed that the tournament was set up by M. Bison as a way of recruiting new martial arts experts into his evil psychic organization. The fights would allow him to see who were the best combat specialists and would psychologically weaken them to make it easier to corrupt their minds.

Tingle From The Legend Of Zelda Has A Weird Obsession With Fairies

Photo: Nintendo

From the moment he was introduced in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Tingle became one of Nintendo’s weirdest characters. In his role as a map seller in the game, he floats around on a balloon to survey the lands and create his maps.

“But as soon as we got that far in the process,” said Zelda producer Eiji Aonouma, “we realized anybody that would fly through the air making a map has got to be a really weird person. So at that point we decided, okay, we’ll go with this and make him a really weird guy.”

Thus, this small cartographer was given a very strange backstory. To make him weirder, Tingle’s defining trait became an obsession with the forest fairies that Link grew up with. In fact, he’s so crazy about the fairies that he even dresses up like the creatures and is attempting to transform himself into one.

Dota 2 Is Actually About Two God-Like Beings Locked In An Eternal War

Photo: Valve

Even though plotlines aren’t usually at the forefront of MOBAsValve created a holistic and complex plot to justify the events of Dota 2This backstory was largely hidden away inside comics and in-game books, weaving an intricate story of the Ancients and how they are the remnants of two God-like siblings who had been imprisoned above earth after fighting with each other. These two parts of the same primordial being escaped when they crashed onto earth, with the largest debris becoming the Ancients you have to defend during battles in Dota 2.

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