In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Game Rant takes a look at the greatest couples in video game history, from Aerith and Cloud to Mario and Princess Peach.
Over the last few decades, video games have featured arguably some of the most compelling romantic relationships in fictional media. These couples are known for their chemistry, their commitment to one another, and how their relationship has resonated with the gaming community at large.
As the medium has matured, countless video games have featured romantic relationships between characters. However, the 10 featured here stick out in our minds as the most iconic couples in video game history. Join us as we examine what made their relationships so memorable, and be warned that there is potential for spoiler territory here.
Aerith Gainsborough and Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy 7)
The tragic story of Aerith and Cloud in Final Fantasy 7 is so powerful because we never really see the two really act on their emotions. We see the beginnings of their relationship, flirting, and obvious affection, but before Aerith and Cloud are able to really make a move for one another, Sephiroth puts an end to it by stabbing Aerith through the back. This stands as one of the most heartbreaking scenes in all of gaming, and it will be interesting to see if Square Enix allows Aerith to live in the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Dominic and Maria Santiago (Gears of War)
Speaking of tragic love stories, few are as heartbreaking and disturbing as the story of Dominic and Maria Santiago in Gears of War. Ripped apart due to the brutal war between humans and the Locusts, Dom winds up finding his wife as a horrific shadow of her former self. What he does next is something that no husband should ever have to do. Though we only actually see Maria briefly in the Gears of War series, Dom’s relationship with her permeates throughout the entire franchise, and is one of the defining elements of his character arc.
Elena Fisher and Nathan Drake (Uncharted)
Thanks to a combination of great motion capture work and brilliant voice acting, Elena Fisher and Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series are very believable characters, and so their relationship feels genuine as well. Nathan’s tendency to get himself into dangerous, globe-trotting adventures results in the two often being at odds, but hopefully their story has a happy ending, and Nathan Drake doesn’t die in Uncharted 4 as rumored.
Jackie and Jenny (The Darkness)
Jackie and Jenny’s love in The Darkness has been called “the most authentic instance of romance ever conveyed in a video game”, and it’s hard to argue with that point. The developers do a fantastic job of making players care about Jenny, allowing them to simply sit on the couch and watch To Kill A Mockingbird with her if they so wish. Their relationship is built so well that when Jenny is ripped away from Jackie in the beginning of the game, it feels like a punch to the gut, and leaves both Jackie and the player thirsty for revenge.
James and Mary (Silent Hill 2)
At the beginning of Silent Hill 2, protagonist James receives a letter from his deceased wife Mary, and goes to the haunting town of Silent Hill in search of answers. The love for his wife is so strong that James is willing to brave the monstrosities roaming the streets in his relentless quest to discover the truth behind her death.
While some may view the story of James and Mary as sad, yet sweet, there is a Silent Hill 2 fan theory that states that Mary’s dead body is actually stowed in the trunk of James’ car the entire game. Whether or not this is true is up to interpretation, but there is some compelling evidence in support of the theory, and it makes the relationship between James and Mary come across as macabre and twisted – certainly fitting for a Silent Hill game.
Johnny and River (To the Moon)
To say that the marriage between Johnny and his childhood sweetheart-turned-wife River in To the Moon was complicated would be putting it lightly. The award-winning To the Moon deals with a dying Johnny, as doctors attempt to grant him his wish of an artificial memory of traveling to the moon. In the process, the doctors explore Johnny’s existing memories, allowing players to see Johnny and River’s relationship across many years, which results in one of the more profound and comprehensive depictions of love gaming has to offer.
Link and Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
With a relationship that transcends the very fabric of time itself, Link and Zelda may be the most popular gaming couple of them all. While their relationship is not always explicitly romantic, there’s usually hints at it throughout the series, especially in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Romantic themes are usually explored more in Zelda games with an adult link, so there’s a good chance that we will see another take on Link and Zelda’s romance in the upcoming Legend of Zelda game for Wii U.
Mario and Princess Peach (Super Mario Bros.)
Like Link and Zelda, Mario and Peach’s relationship in the Super Mario Bros. series is not necessarily romantic all the time. However, gaming’s favorite plumber makes it his business to come to Peach’s rescue on a consistent basis, and is usually rewarded with a kiss on the cheek (or nose) for his efforts. Peach also baked him a cake once, and if that isn’t love, we’re not sure what is.
Meryl and Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)
Thanks to the pair’s espionage exploits, Meryl and Solid Snake’s romance wouldn’t seem out of place in a Bond film. Their growing affection for one another is one of the main plot threads throughout the original Metal Gear Solid game, and stands as one of the first serious depictions of adult sexual attraction in gaming.
Tidus and Yuna (Final Fantasy 10)
Some find Tidus and Yuna insufferable, but their love story is actually quite touching. Throughout Final Fantasy 10, we see their relationship blossom, culminating in some truly spectacular CGI cut-scenes that show the two heroes fall in love. Like the majority of the couples on this list, Tidus and Yuna have plenty of tragedy that they have to overcome, but persistent gamers can give the couple the happy ending they deserve.
While we are partial to the 10 couples listed here, there are plenty of other endearing couples that can be found in the annals of gaming history. And as the medium continues to mature and is more respected as an art form, expect more creative depictions of relationships and couples over the next few years. It’s also a safe bet that one can expect more representation of the LGBT community in gaming, as developers look to be more all-encompassing with the love stories and experiences that they’re sharing with the world.
Do you agree or disagree with our list of the greatest gaming couples? Did we leave your favorite couple off the list? Sound off in the comments below and leave us your thoughts on love as it is depicted in video games.