Valentine’s Day is that one day of the year where we have an excuse to go out and give our significant others roses or jewelry or heart shaped tums that say “be mine.” It’s that day where we celebrate our happiness by being with the ones we love, holding them close, and thanking whatever deity you worship that they brought  you two together. In the end, it probably took some divine intervention to get the courage to tell the other person that you were interested; if not, then perhaps there were other obstacles, like being friends with them for years or some cultural barriers you had to break down to be with the one you love.

As difficult as these tasks may have been, I’ll bet you’ve never had to defeat a giant armored turtle or kill evil wizards just to prove your love. Many characters in your favorite video games have had to overcome strange and surprising odds just to get the girl or guy (or alien). The funny thing about these overwhelming fights is that sometimes, even after characters defeat the final enemy and prove that they’re a hero, they still have to jump through so many hoops just get so much as a kiss on the cheek. I mean, have you ever seen Mario and Peach actually kiss each other on the lips? No, you haven’t–not even a peck. Peach likes to express her gratefulness by baking you a cake or giving you a kiss on the cheek. I know: as a good samaritan, you shouldn’t expect much for doing good deeds, but Mario deserves a little bit. It is because of things like this that when video game romances actually come to fruitition after monumental battles and life threatening adventures, it adds that last bit of a happy ending that we all enjoy. With that in mind, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have compiled a list of some of the best romances in video games. Not all of the characters make perfect couples, but they did have to break through enormous obstacles just to be together.

Rinoa Heartilly and Squall Leonhart — Final Fantasy VIII
Most video game lists, about anything, usually have an obligatory Final Fantasy entry because of how much Final Fantasy means to the gaming world, and my list is no different. Final Fantasy VIII was ambitious because while you were trying to save the world, the central story line mostly surrounded the blossoming relationship of Squall and Rinoa. It was as if Square Enix took those harlequin romance novels that many women loved and built a turn-based RPG around them. Squall didn’t want to save the world just because it was his duty. In fact, he could have cared less, but because he met Rinoa and fell in love with her (and took two discs just to admit he had emotions), he went on a quest that nearly broke the space time continuum just so they could be together.

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The first thing Rinoa (and the rest of us) had to deal with was Squall’s loner-emo personality. Due to his “sister” leaving him at a young age, Squall developed a wall to prevent others from getting close. It literally took at least six people and then some to even crack his outer shell, not to mention all the nagging he got from Rinoa in the first place. Rinoa was one of your typical rebellious princess types who lived in a high-ranking family but wanted to be out there where the action was. The things these two had to face together were a teensy bit insane: they tried to assassinate world leaders, Rinoa got possessed by an evil witch from the future, they somehow survived in the deep vacuums of space, they traveled through a time distortion to fight and destroy that evil witch, and they even played a card game with every stranger they met.

After everything that transpired, we were happy to see them both not only survive, but end up together like they were supposed to. There was no bitter sweet ending because everything turned into a classic happy ending. Hell, even Seifer (one of the main bad guys) survived and got a new lease on life. To make this romance even more complete, Squall and Rinoa were given their very own love song.

Wander and Mono — Shadow of the Colussus
Shadow of the Colossus is a game that had minimal story but gave us one of the best playing experiences we have ever seen. You had one simple goal: kill sixteen giants roaming the land. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that simple. Accompanied by your horse Agro and equipped with nothing but a bow, arrows, and a magic sword, you had to play David and Goliath sixteen times for the sole purpose of bringing your loved one back from the dead.

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Wander, the main character, entered a forbidden land by accessing an incredibly long sky bridge (which was dangerous enough because it has no safety rails), while carrying the body of Mono, who was sacrificed for an unknown purpose. Wander pled to a god by the name of Dormin to return the soul of Mono so she could live again. Dormin struck a bargain with Wander: if Wander slayed the sixteen colossi that inhabit the land, Dormin would return her soul, but at a terrible price. During Wander’s quest to destroy the colossi, we saw a man and a couple of guards enter the same sky bridge to prevent him from killing the creatures. It turned out each colossus held a piece of Dormin, who was sealed away because he was evil. When Wander finally killed the last giant, Dormin took over his body, forcing the strange man and his compatriots to battle and kill/seal away the god for good. The men left and destroyed the sky bridge as well so no one else could ever enter or exit the land; then, Mono opened her eyes.

This romance played out like a Greek tragedy: you knew from the start that somehow, the good intentions of the main character would blow up in his face. Wander did manage to bring Mono back to life, but it was only at the cost of his own–or so we thought. After Dormin and the possessed Wander were sealed away, Mono discovered a baby with tiny little horns, which we could only assume was Wander. This in turn could create a new type of love, as we hoped Mono would care for the child and raise him.

Commander Shepard and Tali’zorah nar Rayya — Mass Effect
Ever since the days of Captain James Tiberius Kirk, a few of us have had fantasies about dating alien women from exotic planets. BioWare must have had the same fantasy, because it became a major part of the fun of the Mass Effect Series. Unfortunately, the first one only gave us the one choice for alien-love, but through its sequel and threequel, we were given a few more characters of different species to get busy with. Of course, you had the humans as well, but they were just boring.

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Commander Shepard was the clay that allowed us to be a space faring captain, and the game allowed us to decide if we wanted to be a dick, an overall nice guy/girl, or something between the two. Learning that your universe would be wiped out by a race of sentient machines was hard enough, but also finding out that it had been happening for eons was, as Marty McFly would put it, heavy. A fine way to ease the tension would be to find yourself a suitable lover, and the most difficult one you could choose was probably Tali’zorah nar Rayya, but that wasn’t just because she was an alien. Each race had their own anatomy and ways of getting intimate, but Tali was the only one that could quite possibly die from it. She was a Quarian, and due to being exiled from their home planet (among other factors), Quarians had to wear special suits their entire lives because their immune systems were very fragile. When you chose to woo Tali (only available as Male Shepard), on the eve when you two consummate your love, she had to take many precautions, such as taking various medicines, to make sure her little foray out of her suit and into your bed didn’t kill her.

How the relationship ended was entirely up to you, as well as how much of the side stories you complete. The first time I romanced her, I didn’t complete a certain part of her story quest, and she ended up dying via a missile to the face. While you could have basically blown Tali off in the third game to romance someone else, you also had the option to continue to romance her, and then during another story quest, there are a couple of different fates for her. If you continued to make her yours all the way to the ending, it was still kind of tragic. (If you haven’t played Mass Effect, I’m only going to say this: there’s not going to be a wedding anytime soon.)

Eddie and Ophelia — Brutal Legend
In one of the greatest tributes to heavy metal since the movie Heavy Metal, Brutal Legend transported us to a world inspired by hard rock and metal. Jack Black played Eddie, a roadie for the pop metal band Kabbageboy. During a concert, Eddie was accidentally killed, which awakened the spirit of Ormagodden, the Infernal Firebeast, who killed the band members and brought Eddie to a world we could only imagine through album artwork. When Eddie awakened, he met Ophelia, and together they blew through a few hundred baddies to get to the HQ (AKA, Bladehenge), where a small faction was trying to free themselves from the tyranny of Tim Curry’s alter ego, Diviculus.

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As Eddie began to help out the resistance faction (Ironheade) by putting on stage shows and concerts, he and Ophelia gravitated to each other more and more. Things got weird when Eddie turned into a demonic creature, but that was okay because he used it to his advantage. During a chance encounter with Diviculus, however, he claimed to smell the blood of a spy named Succoria. Ophelia was the only female at the time, so everyone assumed it was her, and she was ostracized and cast out. Later, it was revealed that Ophelia was not Succoria, and Succoria was actually Eddie’s demonic mother. (Succoria went to the future to take over the human world, but instead she fell in love with Eddie’s father, who had traveled after her to assassinate her.) Ophelia, who had fallen into the Sea of Black Tears, then emerged as the gothic leader of the Drowning Doom, which waged war on Ironheade. After finally keeping the Drowning Doom at bay, Eddie and Ophelia were about to reconcile when Diviculus ripped out her heart and absorbed her power to become stronger. The final battle ensued, and Diviculus was beheaded, finally saving the realm from his evil.

Thankfully, there was a happy ending. After the intense struggle, Eddie claimed Ophelia’s heart and swam to the bottom of the Sea of Black Tears to reclaim her body. When she awakened, they finally kindled their love with a kiss, and Eddie began to take off. Everyone, especially Ophilia became worried that he wasn’t coming back, but Eddie assured them that he was only going off to do a couple of errands and that he would always be there in the background to make everyone else look good, as a good roadie should.

Can’t you feel the love between all these different romantic partners? Whether they’re saving the world or saving each other, it just gives you that warm feeling that makes you want to go out and test your mettle against impossible odds for your sweetheart. Since that is quite possibly a terrible idea in execution, we’ll just have to stick with seeing fictional characters do it.

What video game couples have you seen that had to overcome so much so they could be together? Let us know below, and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

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  • Guybrush and Elaine from the Monkey Island games are one of my favorite couples. They’ve had their fair share of tribulations to overcome (usually because Guybrush does something stupid, though), but I really enjoy the interactions they have.

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