Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem has always been Nintendo’s black sheep. For a long time, Eternal Darkness was Nintendo’s only M-rated property. It was a horror game with nods to Lovecraft lost in a sea of family-friendly Super Mario games. While the game gained widespread critical acclaim, it sold very poorly and the series was left for dead. While the heroine Alexandra Roivas had a cameo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo has very rarely referenced the game’s existence.
A gamer’s worst nightmare
Eternal Darkness is best remembered for its Sanity Effects. Developer Silicon Knights wanted to have the game stand out from other games in the genre by playing up its psychological horror. The game’s Sanity Effects are meant to not only scare the player but to make them question their own sanity. Certain effects are meant to be seen from characters’ perspectives, like Alexandra seeing herself in a bathtub filled with blood. Other, more sinister effects are meant to gaslight the player themselves. These include creating a fake “blue screen of death” or pretending that the controller becomes unplugged during very inopportune moments.
The most infamous Sanity Effect, though, was the game pretending to wipe memory cards. When saving, there was a chance that a message would pop up asking if the player wanted to delete all of their saved games. No matter what option they picked, the game still appeared to delete everything on the player’s memory card. Then, barely a second later, the game revealed it was all a joke.
Shigeru Miyamoto wasn’t too thrilled when he heard that the developers wanted to add this fakeout. Denis Dyack, one of the game’s directors, recalled that Miyamoto was nervous gamers wouldn’t take too kindly to being told their data was corrupted.
“Denis, what if someone looks at that and gets really angry and throws their GameCube against the wall because they think it’s bugged out? Is that our fault?”
Despite his worries, Miyamoto still gave them the go-ahead and the scene became one of the most notorious scares in horror game history.