Today is Valentine's Day, a day to celebrate love in all its many forms. Love is an ongoing theme throughout human history, from the age of myths to the information age. It's in our books, the television and movies we watch, and yes - it's in our video games. In honor of that sweetest of four-letter words, I give you my top five video game love stories.
5. Billy Lee and Marian - Double Dragon (Arcade)
This one could really go either way. At the beginning of the first Double Dragon, Billy Lee's girlfriend Marian is kidnapped by the Black Warriors, who want the secrets of the Sōsetsuken martial art in exchange for the girl. Billy and his brother Jimmy fight their way through four stages of enemies in order to secure Billy's woman, only to get into a fight at the very end for Marian's affection. If Billy wins it's a beautiful love story. If Jimmy wins she's either a flighty hussy or so terrified Jimmy will beat her up to that she has no choice but to go with him. Either way, not the best love story. Bah, like it matters anyway - Marian gets shot dead at the beginning of the second game. Bastards.
4. Dante and Trish - Devil May Cry Series (PS2)
If the best girl a man can find is one that reminds him of his mother, then Dante has certainly hit the jackpot. Created by the demon lord Mundus during the first game to resemble the devil hunter's mother Eva, Trish wound up developing feelings for Dante, helping him to defeat Mundus and ending up as his partner. While the fact that her feelings stem from being made in his mother's image is kind of creepy if you stop and think about it, there's no denying Trish and Dante were made for each other - well, at least she was.
3. Jackie Estacado and Jenny - The Darkness (Xbox 360, PS3)
This pair grew up together as orphans, and mob thug Jackie spent most of his life shielding the innocent and sweet Jenny from the horrors of the seedy underworld he moved about in. If I had to pick the single most emotionally charged moment in gaming from last year, it would be the moment Jackie Estacado and his girlfriend Jenny cease to be a couple, so to speak. I won't ruin for anyone who still hasn't played the game, but I got so f***king angry I stayed up the whole night to finish the game.
2.Tidus and Yuna - Final Fantasy X (PS2)
A summoner of Yevon destined to die, Yuna finds the man of her dreams in mismatched pants leg blitzball star Tidus. Unfortunately, over the course of Final Fantasy X we learn the Tidus is the man of the fayth's dreams as well, with the end of the game finding him fading away as he desperately tries to hold onto her. Their love was so strong that Squaresoft created the first direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy X-2, which features Yuna going all Charlie's Angels with Rikku and newcomer Paine in order to find her lost man. Do they reunite? Depends on how well you play the game.
1.Oswald and Gwendolyn - Odin Sphere (PS2)
A true example of the classical fantasy romance, the story of the Shadow Knight Oswald and the Valkyrie Gwendolyn, daughter of Demon Lord Odin, is one that could easily have been lifted directly from ancient mythology. Two confused souls who find love where they least expect it, culminating in Gwendolyn traveling to the netherworld to retrieve her love's soul from Queen Odette of Endelphia - pretty much the devil herself. The story in full is told through two separate chapters of the game, detailing first Gwendolyn's falling in love with Oswald and then turning the tables in the fourth chapter to show how Oswald likewise lost his heart. One of the most moving love stories I've encountered in a video game, and truly worth of the top spot.
And there you have it. Now I don't expect you to agree with my choices. Hearts are as varied as the stars in the sky and we all see love in a different light, so I'd expect you have your own personal favorite gaming love story. Feel free to post your own picks in the comments section. After all, caring is sharing! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!