The glorious thing about a kiss is that it can mean anything while, for the most part, looking the same — lips on other lips. In a video game, though, a kiss becomes even more monumental, accompanied by mounting background music and unbound by normal facial muscles. A video game kiss, free of reality, gets to enjoy all kinds of new contexts, some good, and some that make you feel like there’s mould inside your stomach. Either way, Kotaku staffers can’t stop thinking about these video game kisses, and I compiled some in a list.
Some of these kisses are romantic, some are scary, and you may wish you could sponge some off of the planet. They aren’t necessarily all inspirational, but they should help remind you of the power of a smooch. Kisses can’t be taken back.
Keep reading and take a look at 10 video game kisses that have stuck around Kotaku’s subconscious.
Kirby and their best friends, Kirby Super Star (and others)
Kotaku staff writer Isaiah Colbert still thinks about Kirby giving their buddies a healthy kiss on the lips, a practice Ian Walker notes in a Kotaku article began in the 1996 anthology Kirby Super Star.
A quick peek at the game’s North American instruction manual shows this move referred to as ‘lend[ing] a helping hand,’ but come on,” he writes. “Lending a helping hand,” in Kirby Super Star looks like Kirby picking up a useful item, doing a quick about-face, and pressing their pudgy face into a companion’s. Seems suspiciously hands-free, if you ask me.
The practice let Kirby turn health restorative items like cherries in co-op games into touching Lady and the Tramp moments, and “subsequently appeared under different names like ‘Face-to-Face’ and ‘Item Share,’” Walker writes. And in case you’re having doubts that this kiss is definitely a kiss, like big Nintendo seems to want you to, “The Kirby Fighters spin-off series solidified what we all knew to be true by adding a large ‘SMOOCH’ graphic above the characters’ heads whenever they, well, smooched,” Walker says. Case closed.
What makes it unforgettable: It’s an unconventionally chaste and utilitarian kiss, you don’t see those every day. And it’s important to kiss your homies, like watering a plant.
Ryan and Dylan, The Quarry
There are many kisses in interactive drama horror The Quarry — its main characters are hormonal summer camp counselors, after all — but I like this sweet, optional one between Ryan and Dylan while they play truth or dare.
If you choose “dare,” Emma (Halston Sage) will present Ryan (Justice Smith) with the choice to either kiss slightly awkward, punchable Dylan (Miles Robbins) or surly Kaitlyn (Brenda Song), both of whom have a crush on him. Choosing Dylan dissolves his anxious teasing, and though the kiss is brief and tight-lipped, Dylan nonetheless grows a giddy smile. It feels nostalgically teenage, a first kiss around a crackling campfire, feeling like nothing could ever go wrong.
What makes it unforgettable? That familiar spark of a teenage crush — simple, not wanting for much.
Ocelot and Naked Snake, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Staff writer Sisi Jiang is a fan of this remarkably sensual cheek kiss between special forces agent Snake and his Russian rival Ocelot, which happens magically in the downtime of Metal Gear Solid 4’s final boss fight. If Snake hesitates or fails to land a few proper punches, Ocelot will pull him in from behind, pressing his meaty forearms into his throat. Once Snake twists free, Ocelot keeps him close and, from behind, presses his lips to cheek with both of their eyes closed. Snake will fumble for a second, breathless from being choked and, I assume, his massive boner, and stay limp as Ocelot twists his neck and lets blood spatter.
Some Metal Gear players could only process Ocelot’s erotic cheek kiss as a calculated “Russian taunt,” as one meme says, “a huge insult […] before you kill a man,” but against a peach fuzz sunset, with Ocelot’s shirt off, two men grunting in the open air and taking pleasure in each other’s blood spill…this shit is gay.
What makes it unforgettable: The drama. The tension. The complexity of emotion Ocelot packs into one peck is understated but incredible.
Hope and Max, Mad Max
I love the drama in the kiss between prisoner Hope and Max in the 2015 action-adventure Mad Max game. After Max begrudgingly agrees to find her lost daughter (“A husk! An empty shell! You are nothing!” she screams at him when he, at first, hesitates), Hope reaches into the front seat of his car and grabs his face to kiss him. His mouth is carmine red, splotched with dry blood, and her face has a few blotchy patches of dirt, but they share a few hungry seconds before Max pushes her away, his eyes inscrutable. Eek!
What makes it unforgettable: Video game romance often feels uncanny valley to me, kind of stiff and strange, but the voice acting and art direction here manage to pull together this gut-punching kiss.
Kiss of Death, Mortal Kombat
The Kiss of Death move in the fighting game franchise Mortal Kombat isn’t very nice, but it is, indeed, a kiss. A few characters have been able to perform the fatality-inducing smooch since Sonya debuted it in series starter Mortal Kombat in 1992, including Kitana, Tanya, and Mileena. While the premise of the move is simple — blow or land a kiss on an opponent to trigger their instant demise — two decades of Mortal Kombat have created some gorgeous death animations. Personally, I’m a fan of Sonya’s kiss in 2002’s Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, which causes her victim to start vomiting grey gravy, then coagulated blood until his head explodes, as well as Kitana’s 1993 kiss, which inflates humans like balloons until they pop in a pile of entrails.
What makes it unforgettable: I mean, if someone’s kiss made you topple into a puddle of severed bone and small intestine, wouldn’t you find it a little unforgettable? Assuming you somehow maintained consciousness after that?
Geralt and Yennefer, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Senior editor Alyssa Mercante is enthusiastic about silver fox monster hunter Geralt and sorceress Yennefer kissing in The Witcher 3, particularly when “GERALT AND YEN KISS ON THE SHIP AFTER THE DJINN BATTLE GERALT AND YEN KISS ON THE SHIP AFTER THE DJINN BATTLE,” as she put it in Slack.
This kiss occurs right after Yennefer uses her high heel sorcery and Geralt uses his brooding swordsmanship to destroy a powerful spirit and disconnect their destinies. So there are a lot of complex feelings, a lot of insecurity about agency and fate. To exercise hers, Yennefer tells Geralt she still loves him, and you can choose if Geralt feels the same way through dialogue options. If he does, Geralt pulls her into light, hurried kisses.
“Done that so many times, but… it felt like our first kiss to me,” he says after.
What makes it unforgettable: It’s not entirely a fairytale ending, but it’s a quick summary of love, just two people choosing each other even when they don’t have to.
Yuna and Tidus, Final Fantasy X
In role-playing game Final Fantasy X, magician Yuna and her bleach blond love interest Tidus get to begin their kiss in crystal water. Then they float deep into it while maintaining their kiss, in slow motion, framed by clusters of a million soapy, rainbow bubbles.
This, to me, is a real video game kiss. It wouldn’t work as well in any other context. It even feels a bit goofy in this scenario, watching Yuna and Tidus swirl around each other in unnaturally aquamarine water for so long while sappy music turns the moment’s treacle up to ultra high. But, it’s pretty to look at, and it benefits from the sparkly purity of another teen romance.
What makes it unforgettable: How are they holding their breath for that long?
Mario and Princess Peach, Mario Power Tennis
A kiss like Yuna and Tidus’ encompasses some of the beauty of a video game kiss — developers can make a crescendo lip-lock look as wondrous as it must feel to the characters. Mario and Princess Peach’s kiss in the 2004 game Mario Power Tennis captures the other great side of video game kissing: it is bizarre.
But, hey, sometimes you need to see a really tall girl kiss a really stout man. And sometimes, you specifically want this kiss to be after the stout man has won a game of virtual tennis, and then he’s saying “Yahoo!” a bunch of times, and then the girl giving him a quick cheek kiss makes him woozy. He recovers quickly, though, and pumps his fists in a celebratory dance, now saying “Yeah!” and jumping up to the sky and, as far as the viewer can tell, staying midair because he’s so happy. Wanting to see this exact scenario would normally create a very complicated Google search, but luckily it all happens in Mario’s Power Tennis celebration scene.
What makes it unforgettable: Peach performs a very virtuous, by-the-book cheek kiss in a GameCube game for children, but I find Mario’s reaction impressively disturbing.
Sonic and Princess Elise, Sonic the Hedgehog
There are few video game kisses as uniquely off-putting as Sonic the Hedgehog, a blue, humanoid, as we established, hedgehog kissing Princess Elise the Third, who is very much a regular human woman.
Staff writer Zack Zwiezen is still haunted by this 2006 kiss, as was Patrick Klepek in 2015.
“Sonic the Hedgehog tried to justify a hedgehog hooking up with a human woman,” he put it plainly in an article for Kotaku. During their quest together, Sonic is killed, but Elise won’t let it last. She commands him to “come back! To me…to us!” and kisses his hedgehog lips like he’s Sleeping Beauty. A white star of light starts to form the moment her mouth meets his, but it’s too late. The damage is already done.
What makes it unforgettable: There are only so many chances you get in life to see a lady kiss a hedgehog.
“Blow Kiss” emoticon, Runescape
Here’s a kiss to send you off — the Blow Kiss Runescape emote first introduced in 2004. It’s unfussy and effective. You make your character gesture at their face like they’re reaching into their mouth and pulling out the bright red, disappearing heart the emote produces. Like all great kisses, it’s over too soon.
What’s your favourite video game kiss?
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