Its not you, its me
GamesRadars Week of Love is just as much about exploring loves sadder qualities along with its fuzzier moments. But when it comes to love stories, most games opt for a happy ending, with the protagonist embracing their main squeeze as the credits roll. Others even let the player romance one of a half dozen characters via branching conversations. Way fewer titles focus on the potential of the snubbed affections we see too often in everyday life.
Most games conclude with the lead characters' desires blissfully fulfilled, but if youre looking for games reflecting your own unsuccessful courtships or unrealistic crushes, there are still some to be found. Perhaps empathizing with a bodyguard bear or a mute scientist will give you the courage you need to put your heart out there again. Your rejection cant feel any worse than these missed connections...
Sakura and Ryu (Street Fighter series)
Love can bloom so innocently, particularly for 16-year-old girls like Sakura. She was your average athletic high school girl, until she saw the enigmatic fighter Ryu win the first ever World Warrior Tournament. From then on, she made it her mission to become a fighter worthy of Ryus training. When she finally met Ryu in person, he politely turned down being her sensei and returned to his quest for fighting perfection. But Sakura didnt move on as easily.
When Sakura returned at age 19 in Street Fighter IV, she was flinging Hadoukens with the best of them, and was only beginning to recognize her deeper feelings for Ryu. She resumed her quest to reconnect with he who wears the red headband, but the whole saving the world from Bisons more wicked clone thing got in the way. In the end, Ryus commitment to martial arts left him oblivious to Sakuras feelings once more, and she dealt with the rejection more maturely than most people twice her age would. Its hard to imagine Ryu ever giving up training to settle down with Sakura (likely because thatd end the Street Fighter series), though her SSFIV ending shows a glimmer of hope.
Amy Rose and Sonic the Hedgehog
Yes, fans of Archie Comics interpretation of Sonic prefer seeing the Blue Blur matched up with Sally Acorn, and a very small group may want to see him dating the human Princess Elise. Yet, its Amy Rose that Sonic seems to get paired up with most often, not that hes too big a fan of that. See, Amys obsession with Sonic borders on stalkerish, and no matter how fast he runs, shes doggedly chased after him for the last two decades.
First seen in-game in Sonic CD and later Sonic Adventure, Amy was mainly portrayed as an annoyance, continually declaring herself Sonics girlfriend no matter how much he tried to avoid her. Over time, Amy grew into a more independent anthropomorphic hedgehog and became one of Sonics more trusted friends, even if she clearly still desired to be more than friends. Though games have teased the two as a legit couple, Sonic continues to keep Amy at a distance... but who knows if thatll still be true in the upcoming Sonic Boom reimagining.
Kuma and Panda (Tekken)
If you think that a giant bear who fights in tournaments and farts on his opponents would be universally adored, Kumas unrequited love proves you wrong. Kuma (aka Bear in Japanese) is the bodyguard of Heihachi, a guy so tough he needs a trained bear to protect him. Yet, for all his snarling and sharp claws, Kuma has a softer side that he longs to share with a panda if only shed notice him.
Kumas obsession with Xiaoyus pet panda--named, obviously, Panda--has been played for comedy since their first appearance in Tekken 3. Despite being palette swaps of the same model, Kuma just cant get the black-and-white beast to notice his surprisingly thought-out declarations of love. Or, if Panda does pay attention to Kumas aggressive wooing, she promptly knocks him unconscious and moves on with her day. Perhaps Kuma would have better luck with Yoshimitsu.
Niko Bellic and Kate McReary (Grand Theft Auto IV)
During his stay in America, Niko Bellic got to meet a number of women that he shared hot coffee with--but hell always remember the one that got away. Kate McReary is the sister to a pack of criminal brothers, but the tough Irish beauty stayed pretty clean by comparison. When her brother set her up with the Balkan badman, they had some real chemistry, starting a relationship that would never be fulfilled in either of GTA IVs endings.
See, Niko gets close enough with Kate that he asks her opinion of whether he should make a deal with a murderous rival, or if he should kill the bastard. If he listens to her and kills the guy, Kate ends up dead after getting shot in an act of revenge that was meant to kill Niko. If Kates wishes are ignored, she lives but rejects Niko for making the deal and promptly leaves town. Either way, Niko (and players) are left with a heartache that wont be eased by scalding Folgers any time soon.
The Prince and Elika (Prince of Persia)
Im not sure why this is, but 2008s Prince of Persia reboot gets overlooked more often than it deserves. Sure, the Prince might look a little douchey or overly accessorized on the outside, but hes a charming fellow when you get to know him. And players got to know the Prince very well, thanks to the near-endless conversations he had with his elegant AI partner, Elika. Sadly, this love story seems to be stuck on eternal pause.
Over the course of Prince of Persia, the two shared dozens of optional exchanges, all of which amounted to a promising first date soaked in parkour. Then it all went wrong with Elika sacrificing herself and the Prince reviving her (and an ancient evil) in the hopes of finding a solution that left her less dead. Elika wasnt so happy with the rebirth of the monster she worked so hard to defeat, rejecting the Prince and running off towards a supposed follow-up where theyd likely reconcile. Because a sequel never came, you can consider this one of the very few major love stories in gaming that ended with a tense break-up.
Bowser and Peach (Super Mario Bros.)
You have to give Nintendo credit for being able to make a stalkers continual kidnappings cute. Much like the preceding Mario antagonist of Donkey Kong, Bowser has a thing for the women in the plumbers life. The King Koopa keeps kidnapping Princess Peach, at first out of an interest in simply usurping her kingdom. Over the decades, the act of capturing her seems to have grown into a childlike crush--albeit one expressed through abductions and plots to kill Mario--though it hasnt worked all that well on Peach.
Bowsers one-sided love for Peach is most obvious in the Paper Mario games, where the big reptile keeps her safely locked away while trying to find a magical spell to make her love him. This never works, not even when an evil Count forces the two into marriage, but the games soften the situation by personifying Bowser as more of a dopey jerk than truly malevolent. Perhaps Peachs continued rejections have started to stick, because Bowser finally kidnapped someone else in Super Mario 3D World--but Id give it a little more time before we can be sure.
Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman (Half-Life)
Communication is key to making a relationship work in the real world, and I have to believe that at least a small amount is needed for a healthy one within video games. So what happens when a potential love connection is so unequal that only one half of the duo even talks? Thats the unique situation with Gordon and Alyx.
Theres already a pretty big age gap for the two to overcome, but thats nothing compared to Gordons absolute silence throughout his games. Yes, the two share some cute moments together, and they do a pretty good job of saving the world. But if Alyx has to do all the talking, just how close can they really get? Other characters do recognize a bond between the two even if they dont communicate, so the only real reason this love remains unrequited is that their story isnt over. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 saw Alyx dealing with the death of her father as Gordon passed out, making him slightly more uncommunicative than usual. In the unlikely event that another Half-Life game is released, perhaps well see this romance resolved. Im not holding my breath waiting for that one.
Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
When two people survive multiple encounters with hordes of zombies, city-crushing monsters, and humanity-threatening viruses, it forms an intense bond--though a fairly platonic one, judging by Resident Evil. Chris and Jill have worked together to kill the undead countless times, but their relationship has stayed strictly professional, even if they both seem to have little interest in coupling with anyone else.
Whats keeping these two so chaste? Blame their careers. Chris and Jill spent years fairly obsessed with destroying every remnant of the Umbrella Corporation, as well as defeating the would-be mass murderer Albert Wesker. That doesnt leave much time to discuss their feelings, though its obvious that Chris felt something for Jill after her supposed death in RE5. After she returned to the living and Wesker was no more, youd think theyd finally give in to their feelings, but her total absence from RE6 says otherwise.
Liu Kang and Kitana (Mortal Kombat)
This romance wouldnt have even reached the unrequited phase if not for the film Mortal Kombat. Before the big screen adaptation, these two didnt have much to do with each other--but after the films tacked-on relationship between Earth Realms Kang and Princess Kitana, the games followed suit, pairing off the two in the fourth core Mortal Kombat game. Then a number of deaths and resurrections had to go and complicate things.
When Kitana and Liu Kang first noticed their mutual attraction, Kang wanted to act on his feelings, but was committed to protecting Earth through the power of his bicycle kicks. Not that he did a great job of that, because he ended up dead by the next installment, with Kitana croaking soon after. When the series rebooted, the two recognized their feelings much earlier than before in this new timeline, but Kang still felt duty-bound to not consummate their relationship. Let that be a lesson to anyone that develops feelings for a Shaolin monk: their job will always come first.