Video game romances are a fairly new phenomenon. Oh sure, Ms Pac-man set hearts a-flutter with her single working girl attitude and curvaceous figure of a literal sphere, but it was a hollow relationship. As video games typically leave a man without the warm loving touch of a woman games are needed to fill the void. And really aren’t games superior? Games don’t withhold sex in order to manipulate you into raking the leaves and taking out the trash. And a video game will never make you wear nice clothes and go out somewhere expensive. While they won’t betray you like that they are sadly unable to love you back. Until now when RPG’s have begun incorporating into gameplay what fans did on their own for years; attempt to simulate a real relationship. In many ways it’s still a work in progress as current video game romances run the gamut of awkward and creepy (any Bioware relationship), one dimensional (Harvest Moon games) or completely off-the-walls insane (Catherine for PS3). For better or worse, here are my favorite/most uncomfortable video game romances so far.
Commander Shepard and Anyone but mainly Liara in Mass Effect 1
I’m Commander Shepard and you are my favorite girl on the Citadel! There’s just no romance like Bioware romance! Widely touted as the new kings of RPGs (at least they were until Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, and Star Wars: TOR came out) Bioware brought the video game romance to the main stream. No longer confined to utterly psychotic Japanese Visual Novel games shamefully played with as much subtlety as possible, players could grow their romance freely as delicious icing on a quality cake of gameplay and story in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 1. Granted the only real romance to grow in KOTOR 1 was Bastila but really after her no other woman would do, because if you tried you would be cleaved in twain by her double sided lightsaber. The popularity of this otherwise superfluous gameplay element has since made its way to center stage in all Bioware games since. And since Mass Effect is a trilogy its romances span across all 3 games making it all the better. While each romance is insane in its own way I’m going to focus mainly on Liara’s, as she benefits from plot armor and seems to be Biowares favorite. For starters it’s weird because she is so young. Oh sure at the time of meeting her she says she’s well over one hundred but since her race lives to about a millennium she is at the maturity level of a teenager. The excuse that because her actual age is over 18 Earth years she is legal despite immaturity has been used several times before, Hal Jordan’s space girlfriend, the Dracula baby in Twilight that the Werewolf guy becomes a pedophile over, and in countless animes where the girl is of age but physically resembles a 12 year old (as that is when girls are at their most kawaii). But you know what? It’s not ok there either. It’s still sexualizing someone who is under the age of consent and therefore weird. Couple that with the fact that Shepard is a ship Commander and super special secret government agent with near complete freedom to do as he wants without prosecution and you have what sounds like the set up to most rape reports. Man of high authority and young intimidated girl. Out of all the 3 games in the series I like the first one the most but the romance with Liara was a wee bit suspicious to me. Of course I’m still guilty as I romanced her anyway but then I was going to hell already so why not.
The Player and Pia in Rune Factory 3
Rune Factory 3 is easily the best in the Rune Factory series of Harvest Moon’s Dungeon Crawler spinoff. This is in no small part due to the complete insanity of the townsfolk that’s so charming you can’t help but love the screwballs. While its hard to pick just one out of the group the most insane is Pia, the mermaid girl. She spends most of the game speaking in bizarre non sequiturs and swearing mass genocide against squid. She also turns into a mermaid when it rains yet still walks around on dry land with her fish lower body. If you are anything like me you read that and exclaimed that those were the traits of your ideal woman. There really isn’t much else to say about her really.
Nero and Kyrie in Devil May Cry 4
Nero had a bit of a rough introduction to people in Devil May Cry 4, most of his dialogue is yelling the name of his love interest Kyrie as she befalls one misfortune after another. Not since Inuyasha has an aggressive teenager spent so much time yelling the name of his girl. While it’s not discussed too much in game they do tell you that Nero was an orphan that was adopted by the church where he grew up with Kyrie who was like a sister to him. This makes it slightly awkward that they have a romantic relationship as adults. Sure they aren’t blood relatives but does being raised alongside a girl result in a romance?
Any version of Hawke and Anders
I didn’t want to keep picking on Bioware but they are generally the ones to add romance into their games. I considered Final Fantasy X with Yuna and Tidus but you really don’t have a choice in that one. Throughout Dragon Age 2 you Anders will tell you at great length the evils of the Templars and the cruel oppression of the Mages, such as himself. They took everything from him including his cat. And at the end of the game you discover just how far he’ll go to stop the evil Templars by essentially becoming the Osama Bin Laden of medieval fantasy. Best part of all is you can have sex with him regardless of gender! On one hand it’s wonderful that homosexual relationships are getting their chance, I wish it was under a less psychotic setting.
I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of romances in video games. I do hope that as time goes on it improves significantly but no matter what there are going to be weird ones. And I’ll be there, achievement or not!
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Kimo is a contemptuous old coot. With experience in video games dating back to 1988 and a schizophrenic range of games he boasts an impressive range of knowledge of gamings best, and worst. Dwelling in the desolate wastes of the American Midwest he brings to Z1Gaming a perspective that looks for positive qualities in even the worst games.