It’s Valentine’s day! And while that means that most gamers are ignoring their beloved medium in the course of more worthwhile pursuits, let us not forget about all the great, wonderfully romantic moments that games have given us over the years. Here at TGR, our staff has lovingly cherry-picked their collection of the most romantic moments in gaming. Time to fall in love all over again. Be still your hearts!
Note: All of these moments contain MAJOR SPOILERS for their respective games. Read at your own risk.
5) Final Fantasy X: Pool Scene
Romance and Final Fantasy have been synonymous ever since players were forced to choose between Tifa and Aerith. We could’ve gone with any number of the series’ romantic moments, like the dance and fireworks scene from Final Fantasy VIII, or when Zidane comes back to Dagger in Final Fantasy IX. We decided to select Final Fantasy X’s passionate peak; when Tidus and Yuna first kiss.
Final Fantasy X was more of a love story than any of the other Final Fantasy games, its Romeo and Juliet-esque plot arguably as heart-wrenching as a certain famous, tear-jerking moment from the series’ past. This romantic tragedy was encapsulated within this one cutscene, where Yuna is reduced to tears by the thought of being unable to escape her death when the party will reach Zanarkand. OK, Tidus is a dog for being opportunistic, and he does have one of gaming’s most annoying voices. We’re thankful that he only says the one word during this scene, and all is forgiven thanks to its tender, skilful direction. The gorgeous illumination of the spring provides the perfect romantic backdrop, with Kiroro’s "Suteki De Na" encasing the scene’s passion movingly. It may be a little cheesy, but Final Fantasy X’s spring kiss is up there with the series’ most beautiful scenes.
Of course, Final Fantasy X-2 came along and completely ruined it with its perfect ending, Lucas-stylee.
4) Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Kakolukia
The Prince (of Persia) is a very unique character. Brash, arrogant, selfish, and compelled by his misguided desire for "honor and glory," the Prince is an extraordinarily unlikely hero. His naivety also places him among the most endearing. Farah, on the other hand, is one of the most self-assured women the medium has ever seen. She doesn’t care much for the Prince at first, and you can hardly blame her. You’d need the patience of a saint just to put up with him.
Late in the game, the Prince has a moment of doubt regarding Farah, leading to their defeat. In the wonderful following scene, the Prince and Farah are trapped in a cave, where they tell each other some of their innermost secrets, all done in voice-overs with little more than dust blowing across a black background. Though the Prince continues to be a bit of a jerk, he then apologizes, making him one of those characters you don’t always like, but can’t help but empathize with. He’s sort of the Gaius Baltar of the gaming world. The way Farah reaches out towards him and can see past his macho demeanor is truly endearing and shows a strength of character we rarely see in this type of game. She doesn’t fall for him because he’s strong. She falls for him because he’s weak. Atypical for this sort of game, yet highly typical of real life.
3) Grim Fandango - Closing Moments
"Love? Love is for the living." Who does Manny think he’s fooling? Behind that rough, suit-wearing, smooth-talking, calcified exterior lies one of gaming’s most endearing, determined characters. Spanning the Land of the Dead globe in search of a woman he hardly knows, yet knows he loves (whether he’ll admit to it or not), Manny Calavera the guy we all want to be. And Meche is the girl we all want to be with. Tough, depednable, witty, and always one step ahead, Meche is far from your average girl Friday.
In the game’s closing moments, Manny and Meche board a train to the Ninth Underworld, the land of eternal rest together. In the Land of the Living, I suppose this would be considered akin to mutual suicide. But in the Land of the Dead, this sort of thing is accepted behavior. Because, "You know, sweetheart, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: nobody knows what’s gonna happen at the end of the line, so you might as well enjoy the trip."
2) Shadow of the Colossus – Wander’s Journey Comes to an End
After finally plunging the last strike into the final colossus, the final nail in the coffin on the path to resurrecting your love, we see our hero, Wander, transported unto the scene of a priest and his guards performing some kind of ceremony regarding his beloved Mono, who was sacrificed because "she had a cursed fate," we’re told. As such, it’s unclear if the priest and his men are performing this ritual to harm or hurt her. When Wander arrives on the scene he’s covered in dirt, skin pale as a ghost, pupils gone, with short, nubile horns sprouting from his head. He can barely talk. He gasps as he makes his way toward Mono. The priest sees what has become of Wander, and orders his men to kill him. After being shot in the thigh with an arrow and stabbed in the chest, some black magical energy is released from his demonic mortal coil, which then envelopes his corpse as he turns into a demon, supposedly sharing occupancy with the demonic Dormin in the same body.
After the demonic Wander attacks some of his adversaries, the priest casts a spell in a nearby pool, creating a whirlwind that proceeds to pull Wander in. And here’s the part that kills me: as the now demonic Wander shrinks back into a man-sized silhouette, he still runs, crawls, and pleads his way towards his love, powerless to ever attain her, as he keeps getting pulled back. The player controls this, so it feels like there should be something you can do, some way to avoid this. You’ve come all this way, killed all these colossi, lost your horse, lost your body, for christ’s sake. She’s right friggin’ there! If only…gasp…if only…please…noooo!!! So beautiful.
1) Ico - Bridge Scene
How does one pick just one moment from Ico, a game that half consists of a young boy and an adolescent glowing white girl holding hands? It’s tough. The way they lay against one another on the couch/save points? Or Ico slaughtering his deformed brethren as he ceaselessly tries to resurrect his fallen beloved? Or the moment when an infected Yorda pushes the unconscious Ico’s boat out to sea, away from the crumbling castle? All great moments, but the one I picked was perhaps more powerful than all of them.
Late in the game, Ico and Yorda succeed in opening the castle gate; all that stands in their way to freedom is a bridge. Yorda, after draining all her energy in opening the massive gate, is limping along, while Ico pulls her towards their uncertain future. Midway across, the bridge begins to withdraw, Ico and one side, Yorda on the other. After an entire game of Yorda making leaps of faith where Ico would pull her up, this time Ico makes the jump back towards the castle and it’s Yorda’s turn to pull him up. Though she is frail, she never gives up. It’s not until a dark shadow envelopes her body, rendering her immobile, that she loses her grasp of Ico, as he falls to his near-doom. Both characters here display gestures of extreme selflessness for each other. Ico gives up any possibility of freedom and risks his life jumping across the chasm, while Yorda holds on to his dangling body ’til her last breath. Truly, utterly moving. I think I’m gonna cry.