It’s February, home to one of the most romantic holidays of the year. No, no. I’m not talking about President’s Day. No offense to George and Abe.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and that means love is in the air. Sure you can find plenty of mushy, smooch-filled articles all over the Internet. You can find tons of “Most Romantic” lists for DVDs, books, vacations, restaurants, socks, whatever. But they all pale in comparison to the most magical love of all: pixelated love.
Who says only flesh-and-blood humans get to have their hearts ripped out of their chests only to be stomped on mercilessly? That’s right, video game characters have just as much right as you to do the stupidest most dangerous things imaginable, all in the name of true love.
Grab a tissue, cue the electronically romantic soundtrack and behold the 8 Greatest Video Game Romances!
8. Dirk the Daring & Princess Daphne (Dragon’s Lair, 1983) – He might be a tad bit clumsy and occasionally shriek like a 6-year-old girl, but Dirk the Daring was a knight with a mission: Rescue the beautiful Princess Daphne from the evil clutches of the fire-breathing dragon, Singe. Talk about your burning love…
7. Adjectiveless Smurf & Smurfette (Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle, 1982) – One of the high points of the Colecovision system, this smurftastic game (see, that could mean “really, really good” or “total piece of garbage”) saw players take on the role of A Smurf With No Name as he fought his way through countless Gargamel traps to rescue the lovely and talentless Smurfette. Unfortunately, seeing as how Smurfette was the only girl Smurf in a village of more than 100 Smurfs, it’s pretty doubtful she’d settle down with just one blue boy.
6. Clark Kent & Lois Lane (Superman, 1978) – He’s a klutzy reporter with a fake pair of glasses. She’s an intelligent, sexy journalist without a clue. Granted, in the Atari 2600 version of this game, you don’t know any of this. All I know is that whenver the mega-powerful Superman bumps into the sparkly Kryptonite, two things happen: First, there’s a cute little DING noise. Second, Superman loses his powers and reverts to Clark Kent in a suit! The only way to save him is to find Lois and give her a kiss on the lips before flying off to save the day. If that ain’t 8 bits o’ love, I don’t know what is.
5. Cloud and Aerith (Final Fantasy VII, 1997) – When your first date is merely payment for being a pretty girl’s bodyguard, you just know things are off to a rocky start. Sadly, the lovely Aerith’s life is quickly snuffed out, before she and Cloud can really make a go of it. But true fans know that, just like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this ill-fated couple are way more popular as tragic lovers than actual ones.
4. Pac-Man & Ms. Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man, 1982) – Even before Bill Murray and the rest of the Ghosbusters came to town, the Pie Man himself showed he “ain’t ‘fraid o’ no ghosts!” Pac-Man ran through haunted corridors, ate gigantic fruit, and swallowed ghosts whole. Call it odd, but this crazy courtship eventually paid off when he met the Pac-Girl of his dreams, locked lips and eventually received a visit from the stork in the name of Pac-Baby.
3. Link and Zelda (The Legend of Zelda, 1986) – Gamers first fell in love with Princess Zelda on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Heck, before first meeting Link, the only elves worth knowing either worked for a fat guy in a red suit or hung out in trees while they made cookies. Year after year, game after game, Link has fought his way through insane hordes of villainy all to ensure the safety of Princess Zelda. Hopefully these two crazy kids can eventually get hitched and live happily ever after.
2. Mario & Princess Peach (Super Mario Bros., 1985) – You know it’s fate when you continuously head off to rescue your love, only to find her in yet another castle. Think about it, Mario’s just an Italian plumber, tossed into a world where he has to dodge fireballs, avoid giant flying bullets, step on rabid flying turtles, squash armless walking mushrooms, oh, and take on the closest thing around to a fire-breathing dragon. The only reason he really goes through all of that for Peach? Yeah, the second he gives up, he knows Luigi’s moving in on his woman.
1. Left & Right Paddle (Pong, 1972) – Arguably the first commercially successful video game (and the precursor to the Atari 2600 console), Pong is so much more than just a virtual version of tennis. It’s the home of the greatest and most tragic video game love story of all time. Trapped on opposite sides of a screen, the left and right paddle are forced to endlessly toss a ball back and forth, never daring to let the ball slip through their grasp. Fighting against every biological impulse, they stay in place, longing to just run into each other’s wide embrace. Sadly, all these two can do is love each other from afar, never daring to express their true emotions.
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