Thursday, February 11, 2010

Video Game Relationships: A Trail of Broken Hearts

 By Dan Apczynski

After many hours of frantic shoulder-button mashing, inventory management, and lengthy encounters with compelling (if glassy-eyed) characters, I wrapped up a bender tour through Dragon Age: Origins (incidentally, my favorite game of 2009). Among the many things that impressed me about the game was the opportunity to embark on a romance with one of the game’s peripheral characters, especially since each romantic engagement led to a unique set of endgame consequences.

Alas, my romantic track record in video games has already shown me plenty about the likelihood of “happily ever after.” Simply put, video game romances are doomed. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve cobbled together a few of my personal favorite closed-ended romances from games past.

Lost Love: Starcraft’s Sarah Kerrigan
Why we fell for her: Kerrigan was a strong female character in a game full of dudes, giant bugs, and an alien race of planet-worshipping smurfs. So yeah, a little like Avatar.
Why it didn’t work out: She turned into one of the giant bugs. And yes, in a weird way, that was kind of hot, too.
Why we still pine for her: Honestly, the voice acting! News that Kerrigan’s original voice, Glynnis Talken, would be dropped from the sequel inspired internet rage. (Later reports revealed her replacement to be Tricia Helfer, which helped to mitigate any hard feelings.)
But is there a future? Yeah, just as soon as Starcraft 2 comes out. Just kidding—Starcraft 2 is never coming out.

Lost Love: Grand Theft Auto IV’s Michelle
Why we fell for her: She really seemed to care, even for pitiable, penniless Cousin Niko. For a while there, it seemed like no matter what we did, she was always willing to give it another shot—maybe we should’ve been more suspicious of that, come to think of it. She also had a thing for dudes on motorcycles, hinting at a wild side we never had the chance to fully discover.
Why it didn’t work out: She was a fucking spook.
Why we still pine for her: It’s not every girl who gets thrown off the back of your motorcycle and will still take you back.
But is there a future? Nah, we quickly moved on to the entertainingly vapid blogger/socialite/freak Alex. Although we had to buy nicer clothes, first.

Lost Love: Princess Toadstool
Why we fell for her: Did we ever, really? Mario’s girlfriend-by-default just always needed to be saved, and we certainly fell into enough spike- and flame-traps for her.
Why it didn’t work out: Always, another castle.
Why we still pine for her: She turned out to be a real tour de force, when she wasn’t locked in a dungeon by a giant turtle (see Super Mario Bros 2; Super Mario Kart).
But is there a future? You’d have to ask someone who still plays Nintendo games—I’m afraid I dumped the princess (and Mario, for that matter) years ago.

Lost Love: Fable 2’s [insert random spouse’s name here]
Why we fell for her: Truth be told, we were intrigued when we let out a giant fart and whoever-she-was thought it was funny. Shortly thereafter, there was a lot of pressure to buy a ring. Before long, we were married, but it’s hard to say what changed beyond that.
Why it didn’t work out: It turns out marriage is really boring. Always with the stupid gifts! Anyway, after some partners counseling, we discovered that a great way to spice things up is to sacrifice your spouse at the Temple of Shadows. (If you’re my real-life fiancée, and you’re reading this, don’t go getting any ideas.)
Why we still pine for her: She could bake a mean mutton pie—played hell on our waistline, though.
But is there a future? You’d think a vacation to the Temple of Shadows would have meant the end of things, but it turns out there’s a whole TOWN of women that look, sound, and act just like her. If only I had a ring…

Lost Love: Final Fantasy VII’s Aeris Gainsborough
Why we fell for her: Our favorite flower girl of all time, Aeris was innocence, beauty, and power wrapped into one. She asks Cloud to be her bodyguard in exchange for a single date. Apparently, the size of your sword matters quite a bit.
Why it didn’t work out: In a scene that has been heralded as one of the top gaming moments of all time, Aeris is offed by Sephiroth. It’d be a crime of a spoiler if it hadn’t already been spoiled to death.
Why we still pine for her: She was just taken too soon! (Sob)
But is there a future? Alas, Aeris = worm food.

So that's about that. If you have some more doomed relationships that I missed, feel free to leave them in the comments. I've been hearing a thing or two some new Bioware installment called Mass Effect 2 (maybe you've heard of it?), and I'm looking forward to meeting some new virtual ladies and watching them suffer by my choices.


Kirk Hamilton said...

Just finished ME2, and as it turned out, good old Blade Shepard had a doomed love affair of his own.

It was a good one, too, snuck right up on him.

Alas. His heart will go on.


Dan the Man said...

Man, the Titanic has to sink. It's just the way of things.

(Cue Celine Dion.)

Kirk Hamilton said...

In this instance, I'm not so sure it did.

I think that if I had invested a few more points in the Titanic's tech abilities, she might've shrugged off that Iceberg attack.

But hindsight is 20/20.

Tim Mackie said...

If I may continue in the Final Fantasy vein (20-year-old spoiler alert), I always felt really bad for Kain at the end of FFIV. No, he wasn't the main character, but I always empathized with him due to the string of bad, often traitorous decisions he made in the name of love, which, of course, made him more repulsive to Rosa and made Cecil look that much better to her.

Also Ninian from Fire Emblem 7 (the first GBA one released in America). Statute of limitations is probably up on that spoiler also, but just in case anybody hasn't played it yet that wants to I'm not going to say it here.

Kirk Hamilton said...

They should call a spoiler from over 10 years ago a "Spoiled Spoiler."

Geddit? Like spoiled food? Um... er... nevermind.

Anyway, word, re: Kain. I didn't have a chance to play that game until the DS remake, but what a tragic figure... Dude just had a fatal flaw. Or, like, five.

David said...

I can't quit Princess Peach. Never! I do wish she'd move less often.

Chris said...

Cortana. How can any videogame relationship conversation be complete without mentioning the virtual, yet totally stacked computer core hologram from the Halo series?