Please Change The Endings Of These Games

Warning, spoilers ahead, starting with the end of Casablanca:

EXT. AIRPORT HANGAR -- NIGHT

RICK, only moments after watching the plane containing ILSA, his love, taxi down the tarmac and fly away forever, slowly walks away from the hangar with LOUIS.

RICK: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The two walk off together into the night.

FADE OUT.

THE END.

The ending of Casablanca (1942) is one of the most memorable film conclusions in the history of cinema. It isn't necessarily a happy ending, but it leaves the audience on a hopeful note, with Rick (Humphrey Bogart) telling the French officer, Captain Louis Renault, that it's going to be "a beautiful friendship".

But I've been tossing around an alternate way this film could end; perhaps a conclusion that is a bit more powerful:

EXT. AIRPORT HANGAR -- NIGHT

RICK, only moments after watching the plane containing ILSA, his love, taxi down the tarmac and fly away forever, slowly walks away from the hangar with LOUIS.

RICK: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Louis: But what about ze plane?

Rick returns his gaze to the sky.

Louis: Ilsa will have a new life now. Using this oversized futuristic remote control, I will be rerouting the plane to...

Rick turns toward the camera.

RICK: ROBOT DINO ISLAND.

A giant robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex grabs Ilsa's plane out of the sky, as we EXPLODE to the words "CASABLANCA" in flaming typeface.

THE END.

We can all agree this is a better ending, and more appropriately sets up for the sequel, Casablanca 2: This Time More People Die.

All of this nonsense regarding the unfavourable wrap-up of Mass Effect 3 got me thinking: Have video game endings really mattered that much to me? It seems that endings of books and movies stick with me moreso than their middle content, whereas the early levels of video games stick with me moreso than their endings.

Rhett Butler didn't give a damn. Bill Murray whispered a secret to Scarlett Johannson. Frodo destroyed the ring. Jack Nicholson's cabin fever convinced him that chopping up his family with an axe was probably a good idea. And what's in the box?

Conversely, when it comes to some of my favourite video games, their endings are rarely at the forefront of my mind when thinking back on the experience:

  • How did Bioshock end? Didn't the bad guy get really bloated and angry or something? I only remember epic Big Daddy battles, shooting bees out of my fingers, and the big plot twist in Act II.
  • How did Bulletstorm end? Not sure, but I kicked a whole lot of people into cacti.
  • How did Red Dead Redemption end? Oh! I remember. I broke Bonnie's heart and then was forced to play as John's bratty, annoying son.

Speaking of that, Red Dead Redemption is a perfect example of the video game industry giving gamers what they consider to be an ending with a "tragic plot twist", but done in such a poor fashion that it just makes us bitter. We understand that Rockstar wanted us to really feel something, and realise that the Wild West was no "It's A Small World" ride, but the way the story's conclusion played out seemed more like a slap in the face than a well-crafted twist on a fantastic adventure. [Editor's note: Oh, Lisa... we're going to have a big argument about this.]

I'm not saying we always need "happy" endings; I'm saying we need to be satisfied.

The ending of Final Fantasy X was extremely sad, but gamers were still more than willing to cry those tears. Sure, it was resolved in Final Fantasy X-2, but the mere existence of that game is more depressing than X's ending.

As another example, I was fully prepared and content with the ending of Prince of Persia 4, when it appeared that Elika must give her life to save the world. It was her choice. It was beautiful. It was heart wrenching... but just kidding! You get to bring her back to life and undo everything you've worked for since the beginning of the game. All your efforts have been erased so you can have a girlfriend! Isn't it great?

Nope. I found it sad, irritating, unsatisfying.

"But real life isn't always satisfying," you may argue. In my opinion, we play video games to escape the cruelties of reality. Getting audited by the IRS isn't satisfying in real life either, but the second it starts happening to me in my video games, I'm setting my consoles on fire and fleeing to wherever Margaritaville is.

So it's established. Basically every video game ending is terrible. Guys, I know we didn't want it to come to this, but please print out this letter and mail it ASAP:

Dear Federal Government,

Please change the original endings of the following video games to the obviously better and way more bad-arse alternate endings provided. Thanks, and get your shit together regarding all the debt.

Sincerely, (Your Twitter Handle Here)

Fable 2

How it ended: You are left with the choice of either A.) returning the lives of all those who died, but losing your dog, B.) saving your dog, but letting all of those innocent people remain dead, or C.) giving it all up for a million dollars, you greedy, greedy jerk.

How it should've ended: Your dog becomes King of Albion and, as his slave, you are faced with the moral choice of feeding him overly-priced organic dogfood (recommended by four out of five veterinarians) or processed cornmeal, which will give him gas. You also have to find your own dig spots. (Sucker!)

Mario Kart

How it ended: Wait, do these games have endings? Other than you just win a fancy trophy and tell all your friends to "suck it?"

How it should've ended: We would turn the series into "The Hunger Games" so when you win, you are the only character still living. It is now your job to single-handedly carry on every Nintendo franchise left behind by your dead opponents.

Alan Wake

How it ended: "It's not a lake... it's an ocean!"

How it should've ended: No. It's neither. Alan, you're inside the snow globe of an autistic child.

Rock Band And Guitar Hero Series

How they ended: You started out as a starving musician, but gig after gig earned you massive amounts of fans and upgraded your van to a stretch limo. Now, you're the world's greatest rockstar and nothing can stand in your way of achieving god status.

How they should've ended: Yoko Ono shows up during your final song and, if she is not defeated, breaks your game disc and renders your console forever unplayable.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

How it ended: Nathan Drake saves the day Indiana Jones-style, beating the bad guys and getting the girl.

How it should've ended: Right before the credits, you get a personal phone call from Nathan Fillion. He says he's glad you enjoyed the game, but he's not going to star in the movie adaptation, so please don't ask.

BioShock

How it ended: Fontaine injects himself with a large amount of ADAM and attacks Jack as an inhuman monster.

How it should've ended: The REAL antagonist turns out to be that scary clown from The Circus of Values vending machines. He comes to life and has unlimited everything, and the only way to defeat him is with a carnival-style water gun hidden somewhere in Rapture. If you win, you get an oversized Tweety Bird doll filled with sawdust to give to the Little Sisters in exchange for their undying loyalty. [Editor's note: Lisa, you've redeemed yourself for the Red Dead Redemption thing.]

Batman: Arkham Asylum

How it ended: The Joker injects himself with Titan and transforms into a huge, ugly Super Joker, and then your typical boss battle takes place.

How it should've ended: How about something, anything that would have actually made sense in the Batman universe? You know, where The Joker doesn't really want to kill Batman? It's all mind games? Just spitballin'.

Super Mario Bros.

How it ended: Bowser takes princess. Mario beats Bowser. Mario saves princess.

How it should've ended: Once he comes down from the mushrooms, Mario realises Bowser won and Peach died, so he has to go back to being a plumber all day. And for some reason, he's just really mad at Luigi all the time.

Borderlands

How it ended: You just spent the entire length of an RPG searching for riches beyond imagination inside "The Vault", only to discover there is nothing within its confines except a final boss fight. And then everyone was sad.

How it should've ended: Narnia. You enter Narnia with all your guns and shoot everything in Narnia.

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge

How it ended: After Guybrush's suspenseful cat-and-mouse game with the Zombie Pirate LeChuck, he exits the scene and realises the entire game took place in a theme park and he was only playing make-believe with his older brother.

How it should've ended: NO DIFFERENTLY. THIS WAS THE GREATEST ENDING OF ALL TIME.

And finally...

Mass Effect 3

How it ended: The ending to Mass Effect 3 involves vast amounts of energy spreading throughout the galaxy via the Mass Relays.

How it should've ended: Instead of energy, it should be Skittles, with Skittles explosions erupting at each Relay. Then we find out the entire Mass Effect series was just another entry in the long line of those weird-as-f*ck Skittles commercials.

Got it? Now go write to your favourite MP.

Kotaku columnist Lisa Foiles is best known as the former star of Nickelodeon's award-winning comedy show, All That. She currently works as an actress/web host in Hollywood and writes for her game site, Save Point. For more info, visit Lisa's official website.

Top illustration: "The Brightest day of Bowser" by Karuma9, DeviantArt.


Comments

    I hated RDRs ending, especially compared to ME3s

    RDR had the best game ending ever.

      Agreed! I think there was no other way RDR could end, it was a classic western ending and then getting to hunt down and murder your father's killer gives closure, I really can't see any problem here. I would have complained if the Marshal's just let him go.

        It was a bit abrupt when all the soldiers just rocked up outta nowhere and killed you (though i did like giving the player a futile attempt to take out at least SOME of the bad guys) but after that having the game continue was cool. Hunting down the main guy and just shooting him while he was fishing just felt tacked on. I was expecting something epic like the ending of Good Bad Ugly witha rad musical build up, but no.

    RDR's ending was good, but I didnt like that they gave young jack marston an annoying whiny voice.
    It got annoying really quickly

    This whiny article is actually more annoying than all the ending whiners who still aren't happy after they announced they're fixing ME3's terrible ending.

    FFX's ending was handled VERY well. It was an excellent twist, congruent with the existing lore and narrative and made perfect sense, it was very emotional and very bittersweet. It was sublime storytelling.

    ME3's was just nonsensical. RetakeME3 is less about wanting something different for that characters in the story than it is about getting something that makes some fucking sense.

    So please do everyone a favour and stop writing these articles, whinging about all the 'entitled' gamers that you perceive to be whingers. You're no better, and the examples you hold up don't apply because they're different issues. We want GOOD storytelling, not a feel-good ending. ME3 had neither. That simple.

    Fucking pathetic writing Lisa, have you even played ME3?

    How about the Mass Effect 2 ending where you have to either give the Collector base to Cerberus or blow it up? They could have at least given us the option to try and hand it over to the Alliance (you would have to make it so that the Illusive Man ruins the plan, otherwise the Council couldn't continue to deny the Reaper threat, but still the option needed to be there).
    Every time a character starts giving me the whole 'how could you just give it to them, I don't trust you anymore' speech in Mass Effect 2/3 I always feel like pulling my hair out and yelling 'it's the Collector base, the technology in there has the potential to change the outcome of the coming war, my options were to blow it up or give it to someone who I don't trust but still spent god knows how much to revive me so I could fight the Reapers'.

    Revealing ME3 to be one massive multi-game spanning product placement would have been gloriously subversive. I'd go beyond just the suggestion mentioned above and tie it into the entire narrative, so that in the closing moments of the game you realise that it was always about the Skittles right from the beginning.

    "How it should’ve ended: Once he comes down from the mushrooms, Mario realises Bowser won and Peach died, so he has to go back to being a plumber all day. And for some reason, he’s just really mad at Luigi all the time."

    Uh.. whut? How about Bowser is defeated for ever and Peach is rescued only to not get captured again.

    Um, RDR had the perfect ending considering the genre and over riding themes of the story. In the Wild West a villian, no matter how engaging, doesn't get to ride off into the sunset, his crimes catch up with him (see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). The ending wasnt a slap in the face but the perfect fulfillment of the games two themes: your past catching up to you and order being forced onto the West. In fact, for me the ending actually pushed the game from great to all time classic.

    *facepalm*

    yet another example of people not enquiring about what ME3 fans meant by new endings. its easier to accept an ending from a linear story but ME was never like that. we created our stories though shepard. that was ripped way and replaced with nonsensical bull****.

    You writers are complete idiots. this is just another example of you losing touch with your reader base

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