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What the hell is Nintendo teasing with this creepy smiling man video?



What the hell is Nintendo teasing with this creepy smiling man video?

A new teaser trailer for something called Emio is already one of the strangest things Nintendo has ever done. On Wednesday, the family-friendly game maker posted a 15-second teaser that centers on a spooky mystery man wearing a smiling paper bag mask. It’s unsettling enough that Nintendo has flagged the video as age-restricted and, in some countries, prefaced the trailer with the warning that it “contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing.”

The only other thing to appear in the video, outside of the creepy, trenchcoated man, is the kanji 笑み男, meaning emio, or “smiling man.”

Nintendo fans are puzzled about what Emio is, with some joking that it’s edgy viral marketing for the Switch 2 or speculating that it’s a first-party Nintendo horror game. Naturally, Hideo Kojima’s name is being tossed around, because teasers are his trade. (Kojima is already busy with Death Stranding 2, OD, and Physint.)

Outside of the spooks-played-for-laughs Luigi’s Mansion series, Nintendo rarely dabbles in horror. The most prominent examples of Nintendo exploring the genre are M-rated games like Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, both of which were developed by third parties and published by Nintendo. Some Nintendo fans have already started speculating that Emio could be something new from Koei Tecmo’s Fatal Frame team, but there’s no solid evidence to support that.

Emio might also be a project from Bloober Team, developer of the Silent Hill 2 remake and the Layers of Fear series. Bloober said in 2023 it was working on a new game codenamed Project M with studio Draw Distance that was being developed for Nintendo platforms. Draw Distance has since been removed from that project, which is now being worked on by Bloober Team under a subsidiary known as Broken Mirror Games. That subsidiary has just one post on social media, a message of congratulations to Nintendo that also includes a piece of mysterious concept art.

With the Nintendo Switch nearing the end of its life, maybe the folks behind Mario and The Legend of Zelda have decided to get a little weird, and throw some curveballs at the console’s aging audience. Whatever the case, as viral marketing goes, it’s already working.

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