Video games deliver to us a fairly wide breadth of characters, relationships, and situations. One delivery mechanism that blends intrigue, emotion, and depth is the in-game romances we encounter throughout our narrative arcs. Face it, gamers, you like to maneuver your characters to eLove. We all do. It is part of the escape.
And the video game world is chock full of them. We have entire franchises centered around the feelings of one character to another. But we also have short, fleeting bouts of love that resonate far longer than they appear on the screen. We've come up with a list to celebrate those romances, enduring and brief, cataloging those that have made the greatest impact on the gaming community, pop culture, and gamers individually. Please enjoy our look at the top ten romances in video game history.
10. Max Payne & Mona Sax
Max Payne 2
Though Max Payne 2 was not quite the seller as its predecessor, the relationship between Max and Mona resounded through much of the gaming community when the game was released. It was tragic, a doomed relationship from the start, with hot, powerful Mona and tortured, handsome Max fighting against all odds to unearth and understand feelings for one another. And in the video game world, very few things are witheld from us, so the bitter end of Max and Mona was shocking and heartbreaking.
9. Leon Kennedy & Ada Wong
Resident Evil Series
Leon and Ada have a highly disfunctional relationship. Over the course of two games, we see them involved, arguing, and pulling knives and guns on each other. But the way that Ada sticks her neck out and sabotages the plans of those out to kill Leon, it is apparent that she has the hots for him. They may not have a traditional romance, and they may not always get along, but things are a lot tougher in a zombie-infested world. And they make do by getting seriously, critically injured for one another numerous times.
Final Fantasy VII
One of the reasons that Final Fantasy VII has stuck with gamers for so long is that it was one of the first games to legitimately leave us wanting. Aerith was killed partway through the game, and the lack of closure and unfulfilled potential pissed us (and Cloud) off something fierce. The whole rest of that game felt like a revenge mission to cease the life of Sephiroth, who did the deed. And that feeling of anger and pain still resides within many people when they think about Final Fantasy VII.
7. The Prince & Princess Farah
Prince of Persia Series
Her physical skills complement his. He can manipulate time to bring her back from the dead so they can be together. Really, they are perfect for one another. But in all seriousness, the relationship these two forge in The Sands of Time remains the best of the series, and the Prince is at his most heroic and vulnerable when fighting alongside (or saving) the Princess.
6. Guybrush Threepwood & Elaine Marley
Monkey Island Series
You gotta love when a powerful, intelligent woman falls for a well-meaning and kind, but otherwise unremarkable, dude. Gives the rest of us hope, right? Well, that sort of relationship is precisely what makes the Guybrush/Elaine romance so wonderful. She takes the reins as the dominant one, leading with her strong personality -- not your typical damsel in distress. But Threepwood is no pushover, sure he's excitable, but he's clever. And together they make a great, memorable couple.
5. Gordon Freeman & Alyx Vance
There is no relationship in all of gaming that has produced more sexual tension than the one that resides silently between these two Half-Life 2 heroes. Alyx Vance, arguably gaming's most wonderful, vital female, cares deeply for silent and stoic world-saver Gordon Freeman, and you can see it in her brilliantly-rendered facial expressions each and every time she and Gordon must part. And because of Gordon's silence, we, as gamers, are much more receptive to it.
Shadows of the Colossus
The relationship between Wander & Mono is one of the rarest, most unique romances in all of gaming history. With hardly any backstory, we see our hero, Wander, traverse mountains, lakes, and valleys to resurrect the catatonic Mono, a woman with no exposed ties to him. And with each monolithic Colossus that is felled on Wander's journey, we feel their reunion grow closer and closer to reality. Yet, we learn, this brash and violent ritual does not yield what is expected.
3. Pac-Man & Ms. Pac-Man
Okay so there's no deep connection here, or well, any connection at all -- but in some ways, Pac-Man and Mrs. Pac-Man are gaming's power couple. She may have only been forged as a mod in his likeness, and he may be just a round yellow pie-shaped thing, but these two bastions of the 1980s game culture live on in one of the most iconic video game romances of all time.
Super Mario Series
Mario is probably the best male companion one could ask for. No, he isn't tall, dark, and handsome, but he will go through anything to save his lady. And while Princess Peach is probably the most-kidnapped person in history, she serves as the perfect objective for Mario to retrieve. And he does so getting maybe a nose-kiss, and nothing more. These two make up gaming's most memorable and famous couple, though (like many of the greatest) their relationship is almost totally un-physical.
Legend of Zelda Series
Subdued as it may be, the relationship between Link and Princess Zelda is one that permeates most of the major Legend of Zelda releases, over decades and consoles. Never overtly called-out and not yet actualized, this tacit romance has shaped one of gaming's greatest franchises, and has embellished the epicness and added loving nature of each of Link's quests. And we have never had more fun, or tried more valiantly, to save the girl (and the world).
Honorable mentions: Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher (Uncharted 2), Master Chief and Cortana (Halo Series), James and Mary Sunderland (Silent Hill 2), Ico and Yorda (Ico), Tim and the Princess (Braid)
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