Real men play sports, drink beer, and know a thing or two about fixing cars. They don't know the difference between the starship Enterprise and Starship Troopers, and they don't fool around or play any games - at least, not ones like these.
We're talking about the sorts of games that can be landmines of embarrassment waiting to explode, ruining your image as a somewhat normal guy. Or worse yet, the ones that are so appealing to the opposite sex that you may never get your hands on your controller again. Read on as we reveal some of the most shameful - and shameless - moments in gaming that your girlfriend must never witness if you want your relationship to live long and prosper.
Any Pokemon game
Available on: GB, GBA, DS, GC, Wii (coming)
Like Asian bird-flu - only cuter and much less deadly - the Pokemon series has been infecting both the young and old around the world. Only, instead of leaving them with fatal fevers, Pokemoningitis afflicts its victims with the relentless feeling that they've just "gotta catch 'em all." According to a recent article published in the Journal of Made-up Peer Reviewed Studies, one out of every five gamers suffer from the illness, and the numbers are only likely to grow larger when yet more Pokemon titles are inevitably released for the Wii and DS.
There's a reason this epidemic has managed to usher in so much success for the Pokemon series. The games always manage to deliver a top-notch RPG experience and taps into the root of every hardcore fan's fundamental desires: collect everything, level up, and make your characters powerful. Every addition to the Pokemon canon gives you just enough to renew your feverish need to upgrade a Pikachu into a Raichu one more time.
Why you can't be caught playing this:
It's hard for a grown man to not look silly while playing a Pokemon title - you're leveling up your Squirtle so it can withstand the song of a high-level Jigglypuff? Yeah, you're a tough guy. You can try explaining to your sweetheart that Pokemon is just Final Fantasy meets Nintendogs. But that defense will only make things worse.
Nothing says "I'm a little 8 year-old boy with serious issues about commitment" like a game library featuring every Pokemon title in existence. You'll be eating frozen food for one faster than you can say "Pikachu" if you let her discover your secret shame. And no, you can't make her stay by saying "I choose you."
Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2)
One of the key features of Final Fantasy X-2 involves Garment Grids and Dresspheres, which basically amounts to swapping frocks and playing dress-up. It's an intrinsic part of the game, so don't even think you can make it through without switching out pretty gowns at some point. In addition, the minigames won't help add points to your manly meter as one requires you to massage different parts of a dude's body. Any unfortunate girlfriend that wanders into the cold glow of the TV while you're playing this will begin to wonder if it was just her imagination that some of her clothes feel a little stretched out.