8 games that were all a dream

5. Ace Combat 3

The only place for dreaminess in fighter combat is Maverick and Goose.

Above: HOT

The main character is the NEMO artificial intelligence, the very first AI to ever be installed in military hardware without instantly turning evil – which should have been your first sign it wasn't real. So far, so fun, until the final ending reveals that the entire game was a simulation. And when even your PlayStation takes the piss by telling you that the game was really just a game of a game, you're officially being bullied by your own hobbies.

This isn't just a cute twist, this is a psychological bombshell - you have to complete the full game five times to get the NEMO reveal. Who'd have thought a program named after a cartoon character that dreams would be a simulation? At that point finding out the whole thing was only a simulation of a simulation (or simulation squared) of fighter combat would be the exact opposite of being unplugged from the Matrix: you've learned that your entire world was a lie, and now you're even worse at everything than before.

6. Tekken 6: Ling Xiaoyu

Fighting game endings are always tricky, as it's hard to repeat "one guy beat another guy" without it getting boring, but Xiaoyu's endings are a catalog of insanity.  From double-crossing amusement parks to temporal paradoxes they do their absolute best to undermine the serious Tekken storyline, but

a) anyone using Xiaoyu isn't serious about anything

b) "serious Tekken storyline" –  are you kidding?

Still, her Tekken 6 ending makes Paul's hairstyle look professional.

Above: The subtitles read “Stop...” and “I can’t…” in text, and “I’m having a wet dream on a panda” in subtext 

That is full on "straddling in short shorts so tight they count as an extra epidermis" while having a wet dream about wrapping herself around her fantasy man.  Giant pandas might still refuse to have sex in captivity, but it's not for Xiaoyu's want of trying.

7. Bart's Nightmare

Even more so than Super Mario Bros 2, there was no part of Bart’s Nightmare which didn't feel like a dream: the story started with Bart falling asleep, the gameplay was more disjointed than an exploded snail, the minigames felt like they’d been programmed in different time periods, never mind time zones, and you got the feeling that everyone involved really knew about being asleep.  Upon waking, said staff then had to bash out a game in forty-five minutes on the day of the deadline.

Above: The game’s about as much fun as this screenshot would suggest 

We honestly cannot picture Sculptured Software’s studio as anything other than a vast pile of hammocks suspended over bean-bags with a single Sinclair ZX keyboard in a corner, being used as a pillow.  Saying electricity was wasted on this trash is like mentioning the war to a German.

8. Final Fantasy X

Ten was where Square realized that the whole "tiny group vs vast evil empire" thing might be getting a tiny bit tired, and unfortunately the developer’s reaction was to fall asleep entirely and dream of a half-fish pretty-boy.  Then claim that was the story.

Main character Tidus wasn't in a dream, he was a dream - which is more a typo than a story element - and even the most kickass characters were dead figments of their own imagination.  Yes, Tidus was the son of a dream of a dead man who'd been turned into a monster in the minds of a dead civilization, which is easily the most convolutedly multilayered dream on this list. 

In other stories ghosts hang around to impart advice, provide cryptic clues, or gradually realize their own true nature back when M. Night Shyamalan could make good movies.  In this game the ghost's first action is to kill a dinosaur single-handedly, and his penultimate is to kill the closest thing his world has to a god, which was badass.  Unfortunately his actually-ultimate action was to fade away and leave you stuck with Tidus, which was a dick move.

Dec 23, 2010

Dream developers for flagging franchises
We’ve been looking at games that were dreams, but what are our dream games?


Five reasons to hate Final Fantasy
They’re so bad, Tidus isn’t even on the list


Natal does finger tracking – imagine the possibilities
While we’re dreaming, let’s look at a world with awesome Kinect games


  • RedOutlive10 - January 3, 2011 3:19 a.m.

    Those endings are the worst thing ever. "Hey you know everything you have done? It was nothing. You suck".
  • Sho - May 31, 2013 8:25 p.m.

    But in Drawn to Life, it was actually for a purpose. To wake Mike up.
  • sotcninja - December 30, 2010 2:17 a.m.

    I think trying to justify anything Mario is a wasted trip. Great games and game series, but the story is...well say the least. Better off to just let it be lol.
  • BallSalad - December 29, 2010 2:47 p.m.

    I'm probably the only one, but I loved Bart's Nightmare. I remember playing that instead of working on a science project in 6th grade. Ahhh..memories!1
  • JADENkOTOR - December 28, 2010 9:59 p.m.

    Tom Cruise is dreamy... He takes my breath away
  • wharcraff - December 27, 2010 1:30 p.m.

    Nice post.I know you guys were trying here but,technically.. FFX wasn't all a dream unless Yuna and the rest of the people of Spira were somehow not real(which isn't exactly fair to call Tidus a dream if he actually existed in a long distant past). Is it right to call a dream made manifest of a person who existed in reality, with the exact same idiosyncracies, just a dream. Know I'm spouting crazy talk here. Just needed to say it.
  • AQrippin - December 26, 2010 9:20 p.m.

    Oh my God. Out of all the articles you could have posted, you had to post this one RIGHT AS I FINISHED WATCHING INCEPTION!!! I thought to myself "Okay now that I finished a movie involving dreams, I can go to read an article on Gamesradar that has nothing to do with dreams!" BUT NOOOOOO
  • Clovin64 - December 26, 2010 5:41 p.m.

    Am I the only one who likes Tidus? C'mon, he's a fun character to be around!
  • boxmeizter - December 26, 2010 1:31 p.m.

    was The Darkness just a dream too? never fully understood the ending...
  • Eevee10001 - December 24, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    Yeah, Drawn to life's game ending sucked ;u; I didn't want all those Raposa die, they were too cute to! But anyways, Mike officially needs to stay asleep in my opinion.
  • Sho - May 31, 2013 8:32 p.m.

    It was such a sad ending I know omg. That's terrible that they have us do that >< It's either he stays asleep or the Raposa's die D:
  • philipshaw - December 24, 2010 1:35 p.m.

    Good article, I do remember some of these
  • NightCrawler_358 - December 24, 2010 12:56 p.m.

    I loved FFX's storyline, and the most of the characters were well developed in my eyes, but the dream thing was confusing. It makes more sense when you play thorugh the game though.
  • jmcgrotty - December 24, 2010 8:18 a.m.

    Re: Super Mario Bros 2 "the ending reveals that the whole thing was a dream..." Maybe it is just how I read this, but you found out it was a dream AFTER you played? The damn manual starts out saying "One evening Mario had a strange dream," 3 sentences before the SubCon reference you mentioned. Heh. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.
  • mEgAzD - December 24, 2010 5:57 a.m.

    Sorry for the double post but I meant game for the last one.
  • mEgAzD - December 24, 2010 5:54 a.m.

    For DTL, that's a horrendously sad of an ending for a child's ga
  • Genericide - December 24, 2010 4:40 a.m.

    I admit: I only read this article because I saw a picture of FFX on the cover and it is perhaps the only game for which I am an unabashed fanboy. So that may skew this a little, but I thought that the fact that FFX was so weird actually made its story better, because it was far less predictable than the trite fantasy setups that litter the rest of the JRPG genre. Also, that demotivational poster of Auron is basically exactly what impressionable 12 year old me thought when I first played through the game. So badass. :D
  • Robusken - December 24, 2010 12:07 a.m.

    Christ thats one creepy ending to DTL 2
  • sgloomy - December 23, 2010 11:35 p.m.

    I never knew about ace combat, it was an awesome game and i probably finished it way more than five times but never understood a single word of it which is why i played it so much, wanted all the planes, didn't know how to get them
  • MrSuitMan - December 23, 2010 10:45 p.m.

    I think this article deserves an Inception BBBBWWWWAAAAAAAPPPPP!!!!

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