This Super Mario 64 Level Freaks People Out

This eerie level is different than the rest; it has also sparked a range of fascinating reactions from fans

Melody Sabouri
Nov 30, 2020 · 5 min read

The Wet-Dry World level is unlike any other level in Super Mario 64. Everything from the image in the sky, to the soundtrack playing in the background leaves you with an eerie feeling.

I first heard people talking about this negative emotional aura on YouTube, and I realized that I felt the same why while playing this level. I immediately became interested in how and why this feeling came to be.

After doing some digging on YouTube and Reddit, I learned that I wasn’t the only one to have this weird, negative feeling while playing Wet-Dry World.

What is Wet-Dry World?

Once you enter this level, you’re stuck in this enclosed space surrounded by four large cement-looking walls with a distorted image of the city above you. It also includes a hidden city area underwater.

Screenshots of Super Mario 64 taken by Melody Sabouri.

The unique thing about this environment is that you can adjust the water levels, which allows you to reach different areas and uncover different stars. If you want the world to be “dry” you touch the lowest pyramid looking symbol and the water goes down to that level. Mario will be able to walk around with the water that low.

For the water to be really high, you must climb to the top and reach the highest symbol. The higher you jump into the painting to start the level, the higher the water level will be. To get to the hidden underwater city, the water must be at the highest level so Mario can have access to enter the tunnel to lead him there.

Screenshot of Super Mario 64 taken by Melody Sabouri.

After you swim through the tunnel to reach the hidden city, there’s no visible sky. You get the feeling that there were once people living in this city but since it’s underwater, no one lives there anymore. This part of the level gives off an especially eerie vibe.

Screenshot of Super Mario 64 taken by Melody Sabouri.

Strange skybox

The term skybox refers to the image used as the background for levels in Super Mario 64. The image shown is a 360 degree view so it looks like it’s the sky in the level. The skybox in this level is an image of an actual city called Casares in Spain. If you look at the sun above this city, it looks a little wavy, like there’s water up there. It adds to the feeling of this level being an abandoned city underwater.

Image of skybox from Wet-Dry World. Source: Reddit.

Bland colors

The colors in this level are also pretty plain compared to the other Mario levels. It’s not sunny and warm or dark and gloomy like it would be in a night time level like in Big Boo’s Haunt. There are other ominous levels like Lethal Lava Land, Hazy Maze Cave, and the Bowser levels. When you enter those levels, you already have an idea that they’re going to be scary and dark. Wet-Dry World appears to be a normal level when looking at the painting in the castle, but once you enter the level, that all changes.

Why does this level have a negative emotional aura?

The way this level is designed makes you feel like you’re trapped in a drowned city. You also don’t know what happened to the people who used to live in this city. It takes the feeling of being trapped to the extreme.

The soundtrack is also different than any other level. The sound is similar to the song that plays in the underwater levels, but the middle of the song trails off into something a little more gloomy. This adds another feeling of being disoriented.

There’s also not a lot of other life in this level. The only monsters you see are a robotic water spider monster, a robotic mousetrap monster, and a bob-omb monster. The monsters in this level are all robots, which also adds to the feeling of this being an abandoned and forgotten city. It also makes it feel like it might be set in the future.

Screenshot of Super Mario 64 taken by Melody Sabouri.

In the other levels, there are often many other monsters around so Mario isn’t ever really alone. Without seeing all those regular monsters, Wet-Dry World seems extra lonely.

What people are saying about this level

This level is pretty popular among those who play Super Mario 64. After doing some reading on Reddit and looking at YouTube comments, I noticed a few general themes that people felt while playing this level. They mostly experienced the same uneasy sensation that I felt while playing this level. There were a few comments saying they didn’t get the hype that this level has, and some even thought of this level as their favorite.

Here’s a compiled list of some comments left on this YouTube video called The Mystery of Wet Dry World’s Negative Emotional Aura in Super Mario 64 by SwankyBox.

Compiled YouTube comments from SwankyBox’s video on Wet-Dry World.

As you can see from this list of comments, people generally had a negative reaction to Wet-Dry World. There was even one person who mentioned that this level was actually one of their favorites partly for this reason.

People either like this level or want to steer clear from it, but one thing is for sure, this level definitely leaves you with a lasting impression.

Super Mario 64 screenshot taken by Melody Sabouri.

You have to wonder what the game designers of Super Mario 64 were thinking when they designed Wet-Dry World. Did they know if would cause so many people to feel this negative emotional aura? Why does this level feel so different from the other levels in Super Mario 64? I still have so many questions, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

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