Running time: Somewhere in the 45-50 minute range, not including credits
Super condensed version: Plucky, colorful cast kills bad guy. Princess is set to marry a prince, but the hero runs off with her instead. Sweet!
After the 100-hour quest to save the world from certain doom, this relatively straightforward tale comes to an end. Instead of a typical ending, we get an entire sub plot involving Princess Medea and her arranged marriage to another prince. After all the time spent with Medea, you’ve developed a personal connection with her and you’re starting to think… hey, what if I just butt in and take her away from all this royalty nonsense, and we live off the land in a very romantic but highly illogical existence?
Well, that’s what happens. Yes, you do actually take control for certain parts of this ending, so while we said earlier that doesn’t count, DQVIII is an exception because you’re literally playing an ending, not walking in between cutscenes. This isn’t some extra quest or final-final boss battle, it’s a user-controlled denouement that closes out the story with a true fairy tale finish. A magical game brought to a heartwarming end.
1 – Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots
Running time: Damn near an hour
Super condensed version: Solid Snake finally kills Liquid Ocelot, decides not to kill himself after reconciling with his clone-brother-father Big Boss. Meryl gets married, Raiden starts a family… hell, it’s all wrapped up pretty nice.
Like there was any doubt what would be number one. This is a franchise that drops 20 minute cutscenes like they’re last year’s iPod, so naturally the ending for the “final” game in the series is going to test your endurance. However, unlike most other entries in this list, MGS4 does a fantastic job of actually using all 55-ish minutes to great effect, neatly tying up a tapestry of loose threads with happy endings all around.
Oh sure, not every single question is answered, but you definitely feel closure, and not some hackneyed “guess we’d better make an ending” bullshit. It’s a thorough final act to an insanely intricate (and oftentimes nonsensical) story that spans 23 years, 10 platforms and nearly 30 million units sold worldwide.
Remember Gex? That poorly conceived, shamelessly transparent attempt to out-attitude Sonic the Hedgehog? His first game inexplicably has a 20 MINUTE secret ending if you find all the doodads and whatsits scattered around the place. Oh, it’s boring as shit, consisting mostly of slowly scrolling quotes from the development team (who apparently like Monty Python) and then a ton of concept art. Who, on this planet, wants minutes (and minutes) of never-before-seen Gex art? If it’s you, then you probably drew it.
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