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Digital love: our favourite video game relationships

With St Valentine’s Day yesterday, Kim takes a look at some of the most romantic relationships in video games. Pull your loved-one and controller close…

Kim says…

St Valentine’s yesterday saw gamers all over the country put down their controllers in favour of red roses, boxes of chocolates and candlelit dinners for two. But there’s no reason why video games can’t feature on the day of love; in fact, some of the most emotional stories ever known have been told through the digital medium. To help you celebrate your amour, we’ve been looking at a range of titles to bring you our favourite romances – from those that will bring a tear you your eye to those that will have you going on a rampage until your sweetheart is avenged.

Note: some of the summaries reveal plot details so if you want to skip the spoilers, you may wish to move forward to the next game.

Tidus and Yuna from Final Fantasy X:

Name: Final Fantasy X
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Release date: July 2001
PEGI rating: 12
Genre: RPG
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PS Vita
More information: Official website

Both Tidus and Yuna may fit the typical fantasy archetypes, but these star-crossed lovers end up falling for each other in a surprisingly real way. Once the curtain falls on Final Fantasy X both have grown in measurable ways and developed a connection that’s much deeper than just rescuer-and-rescued.

In a remarkable plot twist, it turns out that Tidus isn’t ‘real’ and the fulfilment of their mission to defeat Sin will result in the end of his existence. Yuna attempts to embrace her dearest but finds him fading away as they desperately try to hold on to one another – one of the most heart-breaking finales ever seen in any media. The story continues in Final Fantasy X-2, proving that true love never really dies.

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Sam and Lonnie from Gone Home:

Name: Gone Home
Developer: The Fullbright Company
Publisher: The Fullbright Company
Release date: August 2013
PEGI rating: 16
Genre: Adventure
Platforms: Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
More information: Official website

You may never meet Sam and Lonnie while playing Gone Home, but their presence is everywhere as you explore the Greenbriar’s empty house. From their secret notes passed to each other at the back of the classroom, to Sam’s journal entries and Lonnie’s mix-tapes; the personal items found throughout the rooms first reveal a teenage crush, then a relationship impacted by homophobia during the 1990s.

This is one of the most human and touching love stories told within a game, a believable tale that’s grounded in the real world and focused on people as complex individuals. Sam and Lonnie’s relationship is as difficult as it is sweet, and wherever they are now we hope they’re still together and happy.

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Ico and Yorda from ICO:

Name: ICO
Developer: Team ICO
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: September 2001
PEGI rating: Not listed
Genre: Platform, puzzle
Platforms: PlauyStation 2, PlayStation 3
More information: Team ICO Wiki

Trust is at the very heart of ICO. Even though the game’s protagonist and the mysterious Yorda speak different languages and are poorly equipped to handle the twisting and dark castle they find themselves trapped within, they take off hand-in-hand on their quest for freedom.

Ico is constantly by Yorda’s side, always ready to pull her away from the shadow demons and their ruthless queen. There’s an ever-present melancholy to their escape as both characters are outcasts who have nowhere else to go even if they do find a way out. However, watch past the credits and you’ll find that they’re still together, waiting to see what the future holds for them – one of the most heart-warming moments in the history of gaming.

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Guybrush and Elaine from The Secret of Monkey Island:

Name: The Secret of Monkey Island
Developer: Lucasfilm Games
Publisher: LucasArts
Release date: October 1990
PEGI rating: 12
Genre: Adventure
Platforms: iOS, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
More information: Monkey Island Wiki

She’s a strong, beautiful, competent swashbuckler who’s the governor of a pirate-infested island. He’s the loser pirate who just happens to have a rare knack for solving puzzles, duelling with insults and holding his breath for ten minutes. Elaine and Guybrush are completely dissimilar and yet they complement each other in surprising ways – the differences that should keep them apart actually make them a great romantic comedy-duo.

While their romance is improbably, their affection for each other is genuine and has been tested by voodoo curses, zombie ghost pirates and actual death. Not all partnerships have to be as serious as the other relationships within this article. The Secret of Monkey Island series shows us that the best partners are those you can have a good laugh with and who think that your flaws make you perfect.

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Wander and Mono from Shadow of the Colossus:

Name: Shadow of the Colossus
Developer: Team ICO
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: October 2005
PEGI rating: 12
Genre: Action, adventure
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
More information: Shadow of the Colossus

Sometimes love can make you do crazy things, like trying to bring your deceased girlfriend back from the dead by entering into an ominous pact with a formless voice to slay sixteen towering beasts. Mono is successfully revived after Wander has killed the last of the colossi, but his deeds are sadly rewarded by demonic possession and a painful death.

Wander essentially traded his life for that of his partner, and that’s an act which is as loving as it is tragic. Although they do eventually end up back together it’s not in the way they would have hoped for. With barely a word spoken, the story in Shadow of the Colossus ends up being more powerful than a lot of the other romantic tales in video game history.

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Johnny and River from To The Moon:

Name: To The Moon
Developer: Freebird Games
Publisher: Freebird Games
Release date: November 2011
PEGI rating: Not listed
Genre: Adventure
Platforms: Linux, Mac, PC
More information: Official website

To The Moon’s love story isn’t a sub-fact of the main plot: this title centres on the elderly Johnny and his deceased wife River. Set in a future where doctors can grant you ‘wish fulfilment’ before you die using a machine that changes your memories and implants artificial ones, our male protagonist wants to go to the moon but can’t remember why.

It’s up to Doctors Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts to figure out this conundrum and while they work back through Johnny’s real memories, we see both the good and bad times during his relationship with River. It culminates in the sweet moment when they first meet as kids at a carnival and look up at the stars together. Their partnership feels totally believable and their devotion to each other is touching to watch; even the most hard-hearted gamer would be forgiven for shedding a tear at the game’s end.

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Nathan and Elena from Uncharted:

Name: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: November 2007
PEGI rating: 16
Genre: Action, adventure
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
More information: Official website

Although Nathan has ended up saving Elena occasionally throughout the Uncharted series so far, she’s still able to hold her own in shootouts and climbing sequences and has done her fair share of saving too. This makes them equals and, despite some of the outlandish places the franchise has ended up in, it’s one of the reasons why their story has stayed grounded in reality.

When Nathan’s new love interest, Chloe, was introduced in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, players were worried that this spelt the end for Elena – but she returned midway through the game to remind her hero just how good they are together. He ultimately becomes a better man thanks to the pretty journalist and always finds a way back to her. Where will their next adventure take them in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End?

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Mario and Peach from Super Mario Bros.:

Name: Super Mario Bros.
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release date: September 1985
PEGI rating: 7
Genre: Platformer
Platforms: 3DS, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, GameCube, NES, SNES, Wii, Wii U
More information: Official website

No list like ours would be complete without gaming’s most famous couple. They’ve literally had a fairy-tale courtship: any time Princess Peach is in trouble, Mario automatically drops everything to rescue her. As far as we can tell, the most he’s ever received for his heroic efforts in the Super Mario Bros. series is a chaste kiss on the cheek but he’ll down his plunger at a second’s notice to run to his sweetheart’s aid.

Some might say that this is something of a one-sided relationship, with Mario saving Peach’s domain and getting little more than a piece of cake in return. There’s also the obstacle of the harsh class-boundaries within the Mushroom Kingdom to drive the couple apart. But the plumber looks forward to his girl being kidnapped by Bowser against the following week, all so he can earn a few more seconds of sweet sugar.

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Join the discussion and let us know about your favourite video game relationships. We hope you had a great St Valentine’s Day yesterday – lots of love! ♡

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One thought on “Digital love: our favourite video game relationships”

  1. To be fair, with most Final Fantasy’s you can say there’s a brilliant relationship in there somewhere 🙂 FFIX is the one that stands out as the one game that even made me cry because of how beautiful the end is. So can’t wait to play that on the PC soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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