Anjo & LadyLuck’s Top 10 Best Love Stories (In Games)

(A co piece written by Mandy and myself! Enjoy!)

It’s Valentine’s Day, so it’s only right (per my—LadyLuck’s—logic) that a couple of us ladies here at Gamertag Radio do a little writing for the (commercial) day dedicated to love. While I, Anjo, am usually around this time of year quite the cynical bastard (LL: I wouldn’t go quite that far…). I believe that Valentine’s Day puts pressure on most relationships and even with the partner coming home with a well throughout gift; it seems to never be enough.

It’s a perfect holiday really (LL: Not >.>). It makes lonely people miserable even more than usual and married men stressed out beyond belief.  I love this holiday simply because afterwards there is this huge sale of candy that my husband and I attend. See? I wrote something positive! (LL: Err, not sure that’s the kind of positive we’re looking for Anjo.)

How is this related to gaming you ask? Well here comes my next point. Where is the love in games? I can maybe remember a handful of games that create chemistry between two characters that rivals that of Romeo and Julia. Granted their death signifies the poison that is love but it is still love in its pure insane form.

And I, LadyLuck, agree. Considering the depth of games and the stories that some are creating, there should be more than hidden side stories going on with love. I feel like besides the totally obvious love stories in more recent games, the older generations had more of a claim on complicated back stories and attention to the relationship between characters. Granted, there are a few that have done well.

Below is a compilation of 10 memorable love story moments, the first 5 from LadyLuck and the second 5 from Anjo, in no particular order. So a list of 10 without actually numbering them from 1 to 10.

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The Legend of Zelda: Link & Zelda

You could chose from any of the Legend of Zelda titles spanning across the more then 25 years of games to pull this couple out. It’s another one of those romances that’s there, yet not quite there. Probably one of the greatest, and most subtle, star crossed pair of lovers to exist in gaming. There is an undercurrent that says a romance could easily blossom between the princess Zelda and the hero Link, yet their individual roles in the evolution of Hyrule keeps them separated. This franchise has a constant question of “what if?” What if peace remained? What if Zelda hadn’t sent Link back to relive the seven years he lost in Ocarina of Time? What if they weren’t characters in an endless circle of rebirth as Zeldas and Links sent to protect the land of Hyrule from evil?

While full romance like in other games rarely makes an appearance in the Legend of Zelda franchise between Zelda and Link, the mere thought of it continues to exist. That feeling of possibility has held through years and many games, granting them a place as a romance to be remembered.

(Side note: there’s a really funny article that argues Link & the Master Sword instead of Link & Zelda – great for amusement purposes.)

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Gears of War: Dom & Maria Santiago

A tragic romance this is. This couple was very back seat to the other themes of the Gears of War series (chainsaws anyone?). But the effects of it resonated in Dom’s character. The cues appeared more in cut scenes than anywhere else and were understated—if they weren’t, Dom would have gone AWOL to look for her instead of sticking with the team. In a world where every good idea seems to be going wrong, this romance does seem to pop up at random times. Yet as much of the story centers around Marcus Fenix, the search for Maria gives a little extra depth to the side characters like Dom Santiago.

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Enslaved Odyssey to the West: Monkey & Trip

What makes this romance interesting is the world it takes place in. It’s a mystery and nothing makes sense. While we’re given a glimpse of familiar landmarks, it takes place in an atypical post-modern world. We expected a romance to develop between the two main characters, but the means in which it would was unknown. In a way that other games fail to capture, both characters have obvious (and differing) agendas that they take no pains to hide from each other. Maybe due to the fact that we as players are trying to figure this world out, the relationship between Monkey and Trip grows in a way that seems natural and genuine. While they may not reach the point of making out on screen, the connection between the two is palpable and we expect it to continue on past the game’s ending. I think that kind of book like take on a couple is awesome; the idea of wondering what comes next.

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Mass Effect Series: Joker & EDI

Ahh, the awkward romance going on in the background of the Mass Effect series. You could argue for any/all of the potential couples spread across the Mass Effect games. However those are all variable on your choices as Shepard and change with each conversation decision and play through. So instead, a steady couple that appears in the franchise who we watch grow from school yard enemies (thanks to Joker’s child-like dislike of someone—something?—else touching his precious ship) to those amusing conversations you walk in on. Granted, this couple came along with a lot of humor value due to brittle bone disease and an AI living in a robot’s body. Nothing is better than the byplay that happens between these two characters and others on the ship as they work towards something resembling a relationship (awkward conversation you hear between Joker and Mordin is a great example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVY2sTjeECk).

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Starcraft Series: Jim Raynor & Sarah Kerrigan

This couple has a connection that spans all the craziness of the Starcraft universe. They could barely be considered friends. During Starcraft Kerrigan is infested by the Zerg and becomes the Queen of Blades. For a woman he hardly knows, Raynor takes steps in an attempt to save Kerrigan (which may be explained more by the back story provided in the Starcraft novels). Over the course of Starcraft, Brood War, and Starcraft II Raynor and Kerrigan interact from being friends to allies to enemies. This is not a traditional love story. Throughout the games Kerrigan has moments of lucidity reminiscent of her human self and yet holds the mantel of the Queen of Blades. Raynor tries to figure out exactly what side he’s fighting for as he shifts between trying to save Kerrigan and seek vengeance for her actions as a Zerg minion & leader. The ability to create and maintain this complicated relationship in a RTS game speaks for the depth of the characters and their interactions. It lifts the question, what would you do for someone you care about?

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Final Fantasy 8

Now there is a lot of love in that game. It is not just a luxury and an exclusive focus between the main protagonist and his lady of choice, but also side characters have their heart tugging love stories!  This game plays out the sacrifices we do for our loved ones and how love can change and motivate us. Squall Leonheart seems to be a social outcast who is withdrawn and emotionally indifferent. Enter Rinoa who inspires him to be more outward.  Parallel to their story, plays the tale of Laguna and his wife.  I can honestly say that on a 28.8 Kb modem, the trailer took about a week for me to download. There I am, a 16 year old social outcast, watching this video of digitally animated characters showing more love to each other than most people I’ve seen.  It brought tears to my eyes.

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Kingdom Hearts

This game contains a different kind of love. It reflects the love that you have for your friends that can be as powerful as the one for your spouse.  I don’t think Valentine ’s Day is exclusive for people in relationships only.  The hero here is called Sora and he got separated from his friends, Rikku and Kairi. He chases their shadows throughout the game, where jealousy and drama insures, making the chase more and more difficult. I didn’t have many friends growing up but the ones I did have, I valued more the anything.  It doesn’t matter if you have one, or many friends, treasure them. They are harder to find then a partner actually.

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Silent Hill 2: James & Mary Sunderland

Weird that I would find a horror game romantic but it perfectly depicts how strong love can be. How the ones we love that have passed away still echo in our hearts. How we can still feel the warmth of their laughter even if we can only hear it in our heads. It is the lasting love that is inspiring in this story. In this love dilemma, James Sunderland is looking for his wife from whom he received a letter asking him to come to a town called Silent Hill. The creepy twist in this dilemma is that his wife died 3 years ago from an illness. He roams through this insanely creepy town containing things that want him dead—going from clue to clue—only because he believes that his dead wife is in trouble and needs him.  The dedication of a husband like James, is inspiring. It makes one wonder; will my husband look for me even long after my death? Will he accept the fact that there won’t be anyone that will boss him around? Or will he deny it to the very end and create an “Anjo” doll that he will introduce to our children as “Mommy”. Even creepy love is still love.

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Final Fantasy 10: Tidus & Yuna

I know there is a very Square Enix heavy fanboyism reek coming from me.  The simple truth is that the Final Fantasy series has the most amazing love stories: Cloud and Tifa (Aerith was Zack’s babe, get over it!!), Zidane and Garnet, etc. The most unique love story told by the FF series is the one of Tidus and Yuna. Their love is apparent throughout the entire game. There is none of that classic “denial” and “he/she is an asshole! How can I ever love someone like him/her?” fabricated denial of an attraction. This one is straight forward, without question, and displayed. It’s rare to see characters actually enjoying their first kiss that isn’t in the ending sequence. The amazing secret of what Tidus is makes this romance all the sweeter. It’s a big spoiler so I cannot destroy the game for you, but I would urge you to play it because this is one of the best love stories ever told in my opinion. Shakespeare ain’t got nothing on this! Can you fall in love with a person who doesn’t exist? I believe you can.

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Mario Series: Bowser and Princess Peach

I never thought Peach and Mario had a “Thing”. That poor guy is more friend-zoned than anyone I’ve seen in real life or in a game. Think about it. Peach gets “kidnapped”  again by Bowser. Mario fights his way through countless horrors and kills many of Bowser’s followers. After that massacre, all he gets is a cake. Well that is not what I call a just reward after genocide of countless Koopa Troopas! If you remember in the 90’s there was a comic that came out in the Nintendo Magazine depicting the tale that takes place in Super Mario 3. Bowser’s children kidnap Princess Peach and constantly refer to her as “Mom”. So my suggestion is this: Peach is a dead beat Mom who has 7 kids with Bowser.  She ran away with her Italian love-toy Mario whom she doesn’t have to put out for and who gets her anything she wants. All the while Bowser is stuck supporting and taking care of her 7 illegitimate children. So King Koopa is actually only trying to get Peach back to own up to her responsibilities. That is the dedicated love of a father. Fathers in my mind are a wonderful breed. At least when they are there like Bowser is. Stalker creepy kind of love is love too.

Note: This piece was posted originally on gamertagradio.com

Bye bye Baby

Greetings my average reader! (whomever you may be!)

Let me tell you a little about me. I write about so many various things and I tend to avoid the issues that occupy my mind daily. My mind has been most occupied indeed. I had a modest childhood and was given the very essentials of a regular upbringing. I have siblings in abundance and a mother that loves me. Even thou my siblings and I disagree on a lot of things, I still love them, it goes without saying.

I am finding it hard to put my thoughts into words since I’ve always felt that opinions are presented to be exposed and criticized by the masses, feelings are however a more tender issue. They are hard to sort out and even harder to understand if you are not the person with those said feelings. I feel a lot of things I cannot express and when I do, it’s always at the wrong place in the wrong time to the wrong people. I am sure many of you have felt this before. This Sunday night I had my second miscarriage. I am not informing you about this for the sympathy, but to explain something about myself.

Was I sad? Yes I was, very sad. It passed thou, like most saddening events in our lives do. You have to understand that getting pregnant to me at all is a victory in itself. Because for a decade I’ve been trying and failed miserably every time. I don’t despair. I rejoice at the fact that I had a little visit and will eventually be able to carry it to full term. This also doesn’t sadden me as much simply because there are so many other terrible things that are even worse. Some “things” that just refuse to go away, primarily my homesickness.

I came to America several years ago an I’ve tried desperately to fit in in every way possible. Every day I look outside and I still feel as if I am asleep. I’ve moved from one place to the other in hope to find a little bit of home. Some places are better then others but in the grand scheme of things, it is pretty much the same. To understand how different it is in compare to the place I came from. Try to fathom the term Socialistic capitalism ( Basically a socialistic base with the possibility of personal capitalism). There are certain freedoms here that I cannot have and certain advantages you will get only if you make a certain amount of income. I am used to that everyone starts on equal ground and the work your way up. You always have the basic needs covered. The tools are available to all but it’s up to you to make something better out of yourself. I never understood how rare that concept is.

I am honestly to the point where I cannot stand to put on the TV. The pie tossing and smut campaigning amongst politician, the lies and the crimes that go unpunished. No consequences, no liability. The atmosphere is changing and it’s changing fast. Buying a politician is common place here. They later vote based on their benefactors, not in the interest of the people. Based on my own experience, I feel like an unwelcome guest. I have friends that made things a lot easier and I am so grateful to them. Bottom line, I miss my family. I miss having a family. These two times I had a miscarriage I’ve gotten barely any help from the system. Even less so the second time, I wasn’t even offered any painkillers and had to go through the entire process on Advil only. For you who have gone through a painful miscarriage you will know how much it hurts physically. If my situation was different maybe I would have, however the thought of the fact that the more money you make, the better help you get, is a terrible concept that I cannot stand. That there are more woman like me out there going through the same thing for no decent reason. Healthcare shouldn’t be a material thing that you purchase just because you can afford it, it should be a human right and every bit as available as from the single hardworking mother to the lazy woman who was born into money. It cannot be compared as having a nicer TV then someone who doesn’t work as hard nor can it be limited by the size of ones wallet.

I direct you to the Universal  UN definition of human rights! Especially article 25:

Article 25.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

My mother came to Sweden as an immigrant and she worked very hard for everything she has. Her house, her car, her weird dog etc. However, she never had to worry about daycare, school, medical expenses and all those things that are a daily headache here. I am sure that it is probably something people are used to and accepted the fact that it’s the way it is and make the most of it. I am not used to it, I don’t think I cannot get used to the concept. Loosing yet another baby and having zero help is disheartening. Sure, success is based on hard work, however it is also presented by opportunities. Opportunities that you acquire by making connections. But if your parents can only afford a non expensive college, assuming they can help out at all, then you wont acquire those opportunities that the wealthier people have access to. In a system that offers only the best not to the brightest, but to the ones who can afford it, then there are no equal opportunity for all. This is not the land of opportunities, it is the land of opportunities for those who can afford it! Some can work very hard and be very intelligent, but wont come further because of their wallets.

I have also been dealing with homesickness for so long. I thought it would get better and pass in time, but it hasn’t and it’s only gotten worse.

I have an opportunity waiting for me to be reunited with my family and reconnected with a system I felt a lot safer with. Yet I struggled making that decision. When I lost my second baby Sunday night, the decision was made for me. I cannot continue on like this, I will need help and I cannot get it here. The only thing now is to figure out how, when and where. We are currently working on the how so we can figure out the when and eventually where will fall into place.

The only thing I will miss, are my friends. I will make it a point to visit often.