Alexander Lucard: Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hopefully you have something special lined up over this long weekend for you and your loved one. Today, on Hallmark’s favorite holiday, we here at Diehard GameFAN have decided to take a look at our favorite couples in gaming. A romantic pairing for a romantic holiday.
We’ll kick things off with my choice, which is both adorable and yet insanely logical. I went with Hamtaro and Bijou from the highly underrated GBA game, Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak. Now I realize a lot of people reading this have never played this game, nor would they have chosen two characters from an anime licensed title. The fact of the matter is that the Hamtaro video games have all been excellent, even if you’re not a fan of the anime or cute kiddie characters. In fact, it was my original recommendation of this game back in 2003 that caused me to meet fellow DHGF staffer Matt Yaeger, who is generally a GTA/Saint’s Row/insert title of anime game with zombies here gamer. You know what? Even HE ended up loving Ham-Ham Heartbreak, because it turned out to be both the best Adventure game for the GBA, and insanely adorable to boot.
There’s probably no better game out there in terms of love, simply because that’s what the entire game revolves around. Hamtaro and his true love Bijou have to save the concept of love from an evil demonic hamster named Spat. Yes, evil demon hamster. Yet he still manages to be utterly adorable with his little trident and little beanie. Spat is running around causing couples to break up, friends to feud and causes general bedlam to ensue. It’s up to Hamtaro and Bijou to save the day by reuniting couples and restoring true love to the ham-ham population.
Ham-Ham Heartbreak was developed by Nintendo and written the script team from the Hamtaro anime, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the few licensed titles to not only be good, but one of the best games in its genre. It pushed the GBA to its limits in terms of graphics and sound, and the game matched up with the characterization of the ham-hams and storytelling style perfectly. It practically reinvented the Point ‘N Click genre, by not only giving you two protagonists but changing how you normally proceed in these types of games. With most Adventure games, you have to collect items, and either combine them or use one object on another to open new areas. In Ham-Ham Heartbreak you actually have to learn actions, which are called “Ham-Chats” and are words from the funky hamster slang the ham-hams use in the cartoon. You’ll have to get new words to open new lines of conversation. It’s through these bits of dialogue that you repair relationships, get sunflower seeds and learn new dance moves. Most of all, this game looks at the interpersonal relationships between the hamsters, both in terms of friendship and true love. Even if you’ve never seen an episode of the cartoon before, you’ll really get to know Bijou and Hamtaro and why they love each other. The same holds true for couples like Sandy and Maxwell. Even the most hardened faux macho sad sack of a gamer that only wants blood guts and boobs from their games will feel their hearts grow three sizes the day they decide to play this.
As the DS is backwards compatible with the Game Boy Advance, this is the perfect game to track down for a little holiday themed fun. It’s a great way to get back into adventure games, a great first game for your lady love (if she isn’t a gamer already…) and a chance for yourself to fall in love with the cast of a critically acclaimed and yet highly underrated game put out by Nintendo. Best of all, the love and adventures shared between Hamtaro and Bijou are a great example of that romantic storybook love we all try for. You’ll see lots of couples in the below list, but for my money, there’s no better (or cuter) couple in gaming than these two ham-hams. Awwww. Little Hamsters, big adventures! So cute.
A.J. Hess: There’re a lot of videogame couples out there. My choice for best couple are the Miis that my wife and I made. Great couple, really. Anyway, for non-user created content, I have to go with something from a relatively recent game. Jackie Estecado and his girlfriend Jenny Romano from The Darkness.
Now, it might seem an odd choice to pick a couple from a game where your goal is to devour the still-beating hearts of mafia goons as they bleed to death after the hail of gunfire you’ve poured into them, but hear me out. Jackie and Jenny have an actual relationship in this game. Sure, he’s a mafia button-boy (who’s hosting an extra-dimensional monster, but ignore that for now) and she’s not much more than a waitress, but that’s the point. It’s so very real. He’s trying to get enough money to get out of the bad lifestyle he’s in. She’s just trying to get by with her little job. She’s got an awful apartment in New York City with a TV up on a milk crate that they watch old comedies on. You really get the feeling that they love each other. The fact that she is voiced by Lauren Ambrose, who was coming off of her very acclaimed run on HBO’s Six Feet Under series certainly helps, as Lauren is a very good actress.
I really like this couple because how they are real people, not just video game characters. Again, ignore the demon. Jackie doesn’t have any special abilities going on. He’s not the clone of a dead god. He’s not a Jedi. He’s not even a former Special Forces operative with a mysterious past. As for Jenny? She’s not a nuclear physicist. She’s not a pilot. She can’t disarm a nuclear weapon while you cover her. She’s not the living embodiment of the planet’s immune system. Hell, if you got bitten by a zombie, she’s not even going to be able to whip up a cure for you with common household chemicals.
Yes, this is a love story that ends in tears, but it’s still more romantic than 99% of other video game relationships.
Ashe Collins: Well, my wife says Yuna and Tidus from Final Fantasy X and X-2, but I’m going to have to go with Lenne and Shuyin from Final Fantasy X-2 instead. While Tidus and Yuna do have a decent couple thing going on, I have a soft spot for the tragic love in what I read, play, and watch and Lenne and Shuyin deliver on that in spade.
Lenne and Shuyin are in love long before the events that shaped Tidus and Yuna. But there is a war that has come to Zanarkand. Lenne is one of the many Summoners being called to the front lines to fight and Shuyin is terrified of losing the woman he loves. In a desperate attempt to end the war he attempts to hijack the Vegnagun to eliminate all of Zanarkand’s enemies in one fell swoop. Lenne stops him from following through and they are ambushed by soldiers and killed. Before she dies, Lenne tells Shuyin that she loves him, but he can’t hear it as he’s almost dead and the fury flies make him live that moment over and over again for centuries after.
After growing in power, he tries to reach out to Yuna, who he believes to be Lenne, and through a very touching and heartfelt concert, Yuna’s dress sphere shows the people of Spira the tragic tale and unites them. Yuna finally understands why Lenne is trying to destroy Spira with Vegnagun. Yuna then leads the Gullwings to stop Shuyin and Lenne is able to reach out to him again. She then guides Shuyin to the Farplane so they can be together again.
This really touched a cord with me, and there have been others that came close, but I really liked Lenne and Shuyin as a couple.
M.L. Kennedy: The greatest romantic couple in gaming is obviously that of Princess Peach and Bowser. Think about it. The dino-turtle formerly known as King Koopa has kidnapped the Princess formerly known as Toadstool numerous times. I would say around a dozen.
She’s never gotten killed. She never seems to get hurt. Suspicious, wouldn’t you say?
Furthermore, Princess Peach has been shown to be a skilled warrior since the days of Super Mario Bros. 2. She fences at the Olympics, she battles all comers in the Smash Bros. series. She has even rescued Mario on more than one occasion.
Yet, Bowser can kidnap her relatively effortlessly. A tad suspect, wouldn’t you say?
The whole thing is a work. Here’s what happens: Bowser and Peach are sovereigns of warring nations. They secretly started a fling to try to bring peace to their two kingdoms, to unite them as one. (Sadat and Begin attempted a similar thing at Camp David.)They didn’t account for traditional tribal ties and the Warren Ellis style creepiness of girl-on-anthropomorphic dragon-tortoise lovin’. Faster than you can say “Godzilla Bukkake,” they knew they had to end their affair.
But it was too late. Bowser didn’t know how to quit Peach in that whole Brokeback Mountain sense. Peach? Well, Peach just liked to get her freak on with anybody that reminded her of Gamera.
Thus, the two hatched a scheme wherein Bowser would routinely kidnap Peach and the forbidden lovers would have hot, nasty herpiphile action.
The whole thing sickens me.
Chris Bowen: When I was in high school, I was asked by a particularly ditzy girlfriend what my ideal of the perfect relationship was. I thought about it for a minute, then gave her a comparison: I wanted to have a relationship like what Alex and Luna had in the video game Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. Like a lot of the things I said back then, it went way over her head. Until she realized that I was referencing a video game, at which point she got pissy and called it “stupid.” I can only assume the only correct answer involved her, and me worshipping her.
I picked Alex and Luna because they had a love that went beyond normal boundaries. They loved each other before they knew what love, or any other word, was. They loved each other all throughout their childhood, to the point where they had a familial bond that so many adult married couples never achieve, all before they hit puberty. Their love was so strong, they were able to ignore the fact that Luna was the freakin’ Goddess herself. Alex saved the world from Galleon, saved Luna with little more than an ocarina and love itself (also beating Link to the punch by a few years on the ocarina front). With Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, we are even shown that Luna gave up her immortality to be with Alex. In a fictional sense, it was the definition of true love, and even to this day resonates with me to the point where I refer to my girlfriend of three years as my Luna.
Thankfully, unlike the airhead in high school, Aileen gets it. Furthermore, she takes it as the immense compliment it’s meant to be.
Aileen Coe: Listing all the couples in video games ever would take forever and a day, considering how rife romance tends to be in video games. Out of all of them, though, my pick would be Crono and Marle from Chrono Trigger.
What started off as a chance meeting evolved into a lot more. He jumps into a portal that would take him who knows where in order to save her and later goes out of his way to restore her existence, despite having just met her. Later in the game, when Crono sacrifices himself to save everyone else, Marle rallies everyone together into reviving him through whatever means possible. If you don’t revive him, you see her on Death Mountain chasing after his spirit in a brief but poignant scene during the ensuing ending. If you do ascend Death Mountain with the time egg and bring him back to life, she reacts the most strongly out of the group, giving him a huge hug. In the best ending, they go floating off together on a bunch of balloons into the night and ultimately get married. Judging by the crown on Crono’s head during the wedding, they go on to rule Guardia together.
The lengths they go to for and devotion to each other’s sake led me to refer to my boyfriend of three years as the Crono to my Marle and vice versa, though we do also draw parallels to other couples as well, such as the aforementioned Alex and Luna. Yes, we’re both nerds that way.
Guy Desmarais: The most beautiful love story I have ever seen in a video game is a pretty simple one. It’s all about a shy little guy who’s always been in the background for year. All of his friends have been getting the girls for over twenty years, but the poor man never seemed to be able to catch a break and find his soul mate.
That’s the way it went for a long time. While everybody he knew got to be the star once in a while, he was always relegated to the side jobs. How is one supposed to impress the ladies by being a servant, a security guard or a simple clerk?
Our friend just gave up after a while, convinced that the life of women and success his acquaintances were living was out of his reach. That is, until one day, he decided to change his old monoplace car for one with a passenger seat. That is when he finally found someone who fill the extra seat. That is when Toad finally found his Toadette. In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Maybe their story is not overexposed like Mario & Peach, or Luigi & Daisy, but Toad and his Toadette continue to live happily together in Mario Party games and further versions of Mario Kart. Sure, they don’t hog the spotlights like the other, but by simply looking at them, you can see that their couple is one for the long run. The matching hats and outfits are simply the symbol of their everlasting union.
Here’s to the cutest couple of Mushroom Kingdom!
Mark B.: When discussing video gaming couples in general, and our favorites specifically, it’s always interesting seeing the responses these sorts of conversations generate. Most people, when backed into a corner on the matter, will blurt out the obvious choices (Mario and Peach, Link and Zelda, whatever), but there are a great many video game relationships out there that fans of the medium have become attached to, to varying degrees. Some relationships are the sorts of things that truly define the term “romantic” (Chaz and Rika from Phantasy Star IV, Alex and Luna from Lunar), others are a bit more basic and fulfilling without being terribly mushy and sappy (Ryu and Irene from Ninja Gaiden, Gillian and Jaime Seed from Snatcher), and some are outright absurd (Dante and Trish from Devil May Cry… “WITH LIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” indeed), but we’ve come to accept these sorts of things. Hell, in most cases, the protagonist ends up with the significant other of their choosing, yeah? Even in games that allow you a CHOICE of romantic partner, this sort of thing can be done exceptionally well, provided the writers don’t kill the main character or the love interest in the final act (and lord knows we’ve seen that in the past couple of years). There are so many happy endings for our favorite characters, it’s hard NOT to have a favorite that fills even the blackest hearts with warmth in some fashion or another.
Screw that. I’m going to tell you about James and Mary Sunderland.
So, you know how most people talk about how much a character loved another one, and they’ll say something like “He loved her so much he saved the world for her!” or “She loved him so much she saved from certain death!” or whatever? Well, James Sunderland loved his wife so much he murdered her.
Folks, you can’t love someone much more than that.
Oh, right. Context. Mary Sunderland was dying of an incurable terminal disease, and James killed her to set her free. Now, James has made the argument, and it’s certainly a valid one, that he killed her to take back his life, but that hardly seems fair since he never actually bothered to live it after he took it back, so it’s fairly apparent that his act was done less for selfish reasons and more for selfless ones: watching his own wife wither and die, a shell of herself, he simply could not bear to watch her deteriorate any further, and he ended her suffering, then essentially went to the town of Silent Hill to suffer in his own personal Hell because of it. Mary made it known that she was waiting for her suffering to end, and James simply took it into his own hands to end it for her, then blamed his own selfishness for it and was, for lack of a better description, cast into his own personal hell until he could finally accept what he had done, regardless of what that actually meant.
Now, stop and think about this for a second: of the six Silent Hill protagonists, five of them went to Silent Hill either by accident or because they were forced to do so, for one reason or another. James, by comparison, goes to Silent Hill more or less as penance for what he has done; though his wife wanted to die, and James killed her to relieve that suffering, he was either unable or unwilling to forgive himself for essentially fulfilling his wife’s wishes, and as such, forces himself to suffer for having done this, taking the blame squarely upon his own shoulders and more or less conjuring up a simulacrum of his wife meant to torment him by dying over and over before his very eyes as punishment for being unable to save her in the first place. He has essentially decided that HE DESERVED THIS. Did he murder her? Absolutely. Was his desire to move on a part of that? Most likely. But the fact that he is so stricken with grief over this that he is incapable of achieving the peace he so sought by ending his wife’s torment essentially tells us everything we need know about James: no matter his reasons, no matter his rationale, in the end, he loved his wife, and losing her, no matter the reason, was more than he could take. That he had to be the one to do the deed? It destroyed him.
Now, ask yourself: would you be willing to do this?
Alexander Lucard was the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has since retired from writing, but clearly shows up now and again. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and was also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing could also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.