Mario in Unreal Engine 4 is Creeping Me Out

Well, now they’ve gone and done it. A YouTube user called “aryoksini” is claiming responsibility for creating my first-ever uncanny valley experience with something that isn’t mimicking reality, which I didn’t even know possible. “Aryoksini” achieved this feat by recreating Mario in Unreal Engine 4, but something about it just doesn’t sit well with me.

In the video’s description, “aryoksini” writes, “All the environment assets were taken from the Unreal marketplace, all the character actions were scripted using blueprints only, all animations were re-created from scratch as well as the PBR ready textures.” So instead of seeing Mario explore Mushroom Kingdom, you’ll see him explore a variety of different environments that are extremely different than what you’re used to. You might think that’s the creepy part—seeing happy-go-lucky Mario explore an abandoned building straight out of a Resident Evil game—but that’s not it.

It’s the lighting. Nintendo has a very specific style of lighting; it’s not just bright and happy, but soft and friendly, too. It’s also in the animation, so as Mario here turns his head left and right, all I can think is that he’s a robot who killed Mario and is now wearing his skin. But hey, maybe it’s just me.

Even still, it’s really cool to see a familiar character in new environments. It’s a cool way to recognize and appreciate just how much care and craft goes into making even the most familiar of characters.