There is little doubt that the concept of love and romance in video games has become infinitely more complex as games have become more and more sophisticated. The idea of the girlfriend being kidnapped Final Fight style in order to get you to bash through a horde of thugs is long gone. Now romances in games have become sometimes funny, hopefully interesting, often happy and occasionally tragic. Some have been dismissed as dross that does not work because of a lack of chemistry between the characters, bad dialogue, predictable character arcs and other hurdles. But sometimes game developers and writers get it right- so right in fact- that they produce a romance that is not only great, but also keeps on being great despite what happens to gaming afterwards.
Some of these are not an explicit romance, some of these are romances that have no player interaction and some aren’t even that in depth but in all cases they are ones that players have taken to and have talked about. For whatever reason, these are the romances in games that people often think about for they are the ones that have endured.
Please note that this list may cause controversy and contains spoilers. So, in no particular order…
8. Princess Peach and Mario – Mario Series
Yes, I know what you all are going to say- this is hardly a romance based upon wonderful video game writing and character development. Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser and Mario the intrepid plumber has to brave all sorts of evils in order to save her (incidentally, does Peach not have a royal guard of some sort because I would have thought after the first 7 kidnappings that perhaps it was a useful investment…). This formula creates the basis for almost all of Mario’s platforming adventures- rescue Peach from the clutches of Bowser- then in the next game simply rinse and repeat.
The fact of the matter is though that this romance between the two is one of the best known in all of gaming history. Princess Peach may be little more that a saccharine damsel in distress in many of their encounters, but it does little to dispel the fact that if you know Mario then there’s a good chance you’ll know Princess Peach as well. They make up the parts of perhaps the most vanilla, inoffensive, repetitive and bland relationship in all of gaming history but there is no doubt that gamers see them as one of the biggest items ever to grace their screens. If only Toad could stop acting like such a third wheel…
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This article was first posted on July 2, 2013