The Top 7... gut-wrenching choices

Gaming’s toughest decisions and murkiest moral dilemmas. Which side did you pick?

The choice: The plots of most role-playing games can be boiled down to fewer than ten words: “pretty boy meets pretty girl; has adventure with same.” But what to do when there’s two pretty girls and the RPG forces you to choose allegiance between them?!

The paralyzing thought process: If you’re a fan of the Ar tonelico series, the answer is, apparently: agonize for hours or days, maintain a complicated library of PS2 saves, fill entire message boards with your rambling indecision and draw lots and lots of fan art.

Who can blame them? The game was specifically designed to prey onmoe, the Japanese slang for love / fetishism of cute anime characters. The most attractive and appealing women in Ar tonelico II grow stronger through “diving,” a mechanic in which the hero unlocks their psyche and bonds with their secret subconscious. Kinky. No wonder players have such a hard time deciding which lady’s “Cosmosphere” to “bond” with fully.

Below: Just a single sampling from asingle forum. And yes, that’s official artwork on the right

The aftermath: We kinda forgot to mention the specifics for this entry, but no matter. Cloche and Luca end up being sisters, a third girl (Jacqli) ends up stealing the show and true devotees of the series end up going through the game again and again anyway.

The choice: No need to explain here. You already understand the meaning and consequences of this decision. If you’re truly any kind of geek or gamer, in fact, you were probably born with that understanding. Good versus evil. Willpower versus temptation. Sith versus Jedi. Blue saber versus red saber. This stuff is in our pop culture DNA.

The paralyzing thought process: If we know the choice is coming, then, why does almost every Star Wars game – from shooters to RPGs to platformers to goddamn chess – still seize our brains with catatonic indecision? The two sides of the Force couldn’t be more different. Followers of the Light can heal, persuade and levitate. They live in shiny bright temples on bustling glittering planets. They hang out with Wookiees, droids and Ewoks, and usually end up with the girl.

Converts to the Dark, though, can choke, crush and blast lightning. They get to take over the shiny temples and glittering planets. They get to enslave the Wookiees, droids and Ewoks, and while they don’t usually end up with the girl, they can always kidnap her from the goody-two-shoe Jedi and dress her up in a nice gold bikini.

The aftermath: What aftermath? Whether the Star Wars game in question changes the whole storyline based on your decision, or simply flips the ending cutscene, you know you’ll restart and play both sides of the Force anyway. It’s in your DNA.


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