In this article, I will take a look at some of the best and worse romances ever in videogames. It’s Valentine’s Day, so pucker up and lay one on me. Alternatively, just enjoy reading this romance-focused article.
“Love is a game that two can play and both win by losing their heart.” – Eva Gabor
Valentine’s Day Special: Best and Worst Romances From Games
Please note that by “best”, I don’t mean they’re perfect together. It’s more that it’s a well-written romance. Some of the picks below focus on aspects of romances such as infidelity, overcoming adversity together etc. First up, Alan Wake.
BEST: Alan Wake and Alice Wake, Alan Wake
In Alan Wake, we’re given a well-written romance. Things aren’t perfect. It’s clear that Alan may never become the husband that Alice needs him to be. He’s obsessed with creativity, he has substance abuse issues and his insomnia threatens to drive a wedge between them. Yet for all of his problems, Alice doesn’t give up on him. Marriage isn’t perfect. It can be challenging to make it work. So this one made the list for a realistic portrayal of marriage and love.
WORST: Mario & Princess Peach, Mario Bros (& every other Mario game)
Princess Peach is rubbish. She’s been kidnapped over twenty times – by Bowser, by his associates etc. In more recent years they’ve at least made her a playable character but for a long time, her being kidnapped was all that passed for a story. On the bright side, her existence does mean we got this Family Guy gag in the video below.
BEST: Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher, Uncharted series
You have to hand it to Naughty Dog. They know how to write convincing characters. From the witty banter to the sentimentality, it’s easy to believe in these characters – and in the love they have for each other.
WORST: Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad and Maria, Assassin’s Creed
Altaïr is broody, unemotional and the dullest lead to grace any Assassin’s Creed game. He doesn’t make for a great romantic lead character but that’s okay – because this isn’t a great romance. The “romance” seemed to be tacked on when Ubisoft realised that in order for Desmond to be his descendant, he’d have to have sex at least once. Cue chasing a cloaked figure. Oh – it’s a woman! We must now have sex atop this tower. And then, Altaïr vanishes. I bet he didn’t even keep up his Child Maintenance payments.
BEST: Vincent, Katherine and Catherine, Catherine
This is a story of pressure, infidelity and the fear of breaking someone’s heart. A commitment-phobic Vincent is being pressured by his girlfriend Katherine to commit – to get married and have a baby. Along comes Catherine – fun, wild and available. Is she a demon or a delusion? Will you remain true to Katherine or be tempted to choose Catherine instead? Personally, I tended to opt for Catherine. She seemed a better match for Vincent. Neither Katherine nor Vincent are necessarily terrible people but some people just shouldn’t be together. This game has a lot to say about romance. It’s also got a lot of sheep and it is the most challenging puzzle game I’ve played and one that I still go back to.
WORST: Tidus and Yuna, Final Fantasy X
I’ve already covered why Yuna is one of my least favourite RPG characters in the My Top 5 Most Annoying RPG Characters article. To really twist the knife, the romance between Tidus and Yuna is rubbish too. It’s not helped by a cringe-inducing script. There’s so many awkward, unrealistic scenes! In places, the script is so bad that I can almost imagine that it was written by a thirteen year old boy who had no concept of what romance was really about. What? It was actually written by a nine year old boy? Well, in that case…”You’ve done very well! It’s a lovely story! Here – have a gold star.” As Final Fantasy XV was a sausage fest, at least there weren’t as many awkward romance scenes.
BEST: Your avatar and any female character, Persona games
One thing that I love about the Persona games is the Social Link system. It doesn’t always end with romance but when it does, it’s often great. I also like the amount of choice on offer in these games. You’re not forced into a romance with a character that you as a player may not actually like. Also, the characters in the Persona games have realistic problems to face in the real-world. The only thing they’re missing is choices for same sex romances or the option to play as a female character and romance males. That’s one thing that BioWare’s games have over them at least. You can consider the BioWare romances to be honourable mentions.
It would also be nice if other characters made more of a reference to you being in a romance with somebody when you’re committed to them. Still, if you haven’t already played Persona 5, you really should.
WORST: Sonic and Princess Elis, Sonic the Hedgehog
2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog is the cute and cuddly face of bestiality, featuring a princess who falls in love with a hedgehog. It’s so bad, it almost makes Mario and Peach seem like Romeo and Juliet by contrast.
What are your favourite and least favourite romances from games? Please comment below and let us know! More importantly, I hope that you have a happy Valentine’s Day.