In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to list in no particular order who our favorite romantic couples in video games are. The rules were that both characters are attracted to each other, and they do not need to be together, but need to at least want to be together.
Francis King Jr.
My pick is Nathan, the main character who claims to be the descendant of Francis Drake, and the journalist Elena from the Uncharted series. Their relationship has a very rocky start. In the first game, Nate cons Elena into paying for his expedition to find the coffin of Francis Drake. However, the coffin is empty–and Nate knows it. His real mission is to find El Dorado, and he is using Elena as a meal ticket. He actually tries to ditch her, but Elena is quite resourceful and not so easy to get rid of. Fast forward to the end of the game and, you guessed it, their adventures have brought them close together and they kiss.
But what makes them special comes in the next games.
In Uncharted 2, Nate and Elena appear to have gone their separate ways, and now he embarks on a mission with partner/occasional paramour Chloe. The new pair travel to Nepal where they run into Elena, who is doing a story on the same man who stands in Nate and Chloe’s way. At the end of the game Chloe, wrestling with her feelings for Nate, asks him if he loves Elena. He affirms that he does (or rather doesn’t deny it) and chooses to return to Elena rather than go with Chloe.
The relationship between the two is special because neither thought they would ever end up together. Nate, the rogue with the heart of gold, and Elena, the no-nonsense reporter, are initially repulsed by each other. But they end up getting married between the second and third games. They go through an estrangement and marital troubles, but in the end Nate re-proposes with his wedding ring and the pair promise each other a fresh start.
The best video game couple is… Locke and Celes from Final Fantasy VI! Their relationship starts out in a simple fairy tale situation. Celes has been captured and Locke has to play hero and rescue her. The wrench in this perfect romance is that both of these characters have serious emotional baggage. Celes might be a damsel in distress when Locke meets her, but she was a high-ranking general in the evil Empire while Locke has sided with the Returners, the rebellion sworn to oppose them.
There are several kinks in what could have been a straightforward love story between two cool characters. Locke may have rescued Celes, but the main force of attraction there is that she reminds him of his girlfriend Rachel who was left in a coma after an accident that was partly Locke’s fault. He carries this guilt, which keeps him from being able to connect with Celes.
Celes has her own share of guilt for what she did when she was a general of the Empire. There is a heartbreaking scene in the first half of the game in which the villainous Kefka tries to convince the party that Celes has betrayed them. Locke doubts her loyalty, and to prove herself Celes gives herself up so they can escape.
The next time they meet, Locke tries to apologize but Celes is cold toward him, then she tries to talk to him and he ignores her. There is some serious tension between them.
And then the world ends.
On the floating continent we see Celes at her almost-lowest, wishing she’d never been born, but Locke doesn’t have a chance to comfort her before Kefka destroys their world. A year later, Celes wakes from near-death to find that she’s once again been separated from Locke. She tries to kill herself (depending on how you play through a particular scene in the game), and it’s only when she finds evidence that Locke is still alive in the ruined world that she finds the will to live and sets out in search of her allies.
Locke tries to rescue his old girlfriend, but Rachel is beyond help, and as she dies she basically gives him her blessing to move forward, because still Celes is waiting for him. At the end of the game, when the party faces Kefka and he asks them whether they’ve found anything worth living for in the ruin he’s made of the world, both Locke and Celes (with the others) answer, “Yes!”
The game is dated now, having been originally released on the Super Nintendo, but the emotional complexity of its characters can stand alongside games being released today. Locke and Celes are both awesome characters in their own right, being able to win the hearts of gamers even without standing next to each other, but when the game does take these cool, complex characters through a winding romantic storyline, the result is one of the best love stories in gaming, and my vote for Best Video Game Couple.
Nontraditional is the word that best epitomizes my favorite video game couple. Individually, they’re powerful; together, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Garrett Hawke and Merrill from Dragon Age II are my choice.
Their similarities are undeniable. They were both forced from their homes due to unfortunate circumstances: Hawke’s was destroyed in the Blight, and Merrill was exiled from her clan. Each desires to help their respective families the best way they know how. Living in Kirkwall, the two them walk a precarious path as apostate mages in trying to hide their magic from the city’s templars.
Additionally, the notion of an elf and a human noble in a committed relationship (in human society) is at the very least eye-raising. Finally, as if in response to these things, Hawke and Merrill desire change the way the “civilized” world regards elves and mages alike.
I’ve always been fond of their relationship for several reasons. Thrust into a world completely foreign to her, Merrill’s one pillar of stability is Hawke. Despite causing chaos amid the Dalish and being ultimately responsible for a great tragedy, he loves her anyway. In Hawke’s case, through the years of losing loved ones, Merrill is the one person who is there for him from their meeting on Sundermount to the climactic battle in the Gallows.
Furthermore, I find their relationship to be an interesting take on the run-of-the-mill “damsel in distress.” Merrill is strong, and determined in her course of action, but still looks to Hawke for love and support. For his part, even after becoming a wealthy noble and subsequently the Champion of Kirkwall, in a time and place where aiding and abetting a maleficar is a severely punishable offense, Hawke still sticks by his love.
I have a lot of couples that I could talk about here: Zack and Aerith (*grabs tissue*), Diego and Mia (no “Objections!” please), Link and Zelda (it’s a thing—play Skyward Sword!), Mario and Peach (one of the oldest couples in video game history), and so on. But I wanted to go with one of my favorite, obscure couples from a videogame I dare call my favorite. If you haven’t played Path of Radiance, proceed with caution.
Down thar be SPOILERS!
I specifically like this couple because they transcend secular love and strive towards the true, biblical definition of unconditional love. Rajaion is a dragon-hybrid prince (a race known as Luguz) and Ena is of the same race, but not of noble blood. They meet in the kingdom of Goldoa, fall in love, and he proposes to her. Pretty traditional love story…
But, like any good story, it’s made horrendously interesting by disaster. Before the two can be married, Rajaion’s sister, Almedha, breaks traditional law by marrying the human king, Ashnard—a murderous man whose ambitions are only rivaled by his cruelty—in order to strengthen the two kingdoms’ ties. Eventually, Almedha has a son with Ashnard, and it’s only then revealed that Ashnard is planning to use both of them for his own despicable means.
Long story short, Rajaion puts his marriage to Ena on hold, travels to Ashnard’s kingdom to save his sister and nephew, and ends up being captured by the corrupt king. In order to save the life of his nephew and of his own treacherous sister (undeserving as she is), Rajaion sells his mind to Ashnard, becoming a brainwashed, draconic beast for the king’s service.
Cut back to Ena, who has not taken other suitors, despite Rajaion’s lengthy and unexplained absence. When she doesn’t hear back from him, Ena sets out across the forbidden borders of the dragon kingdom, Goldoa, and enlists herself into the service of King Ashnard in order to find out something about Rajaion’s disappearance. This allies her with Goldoa’s enemies and estranges her from her own people, but Ena nonetheless chooses loyalty to her fiancé over her standing in favor of the world’s eyes.
After lengthy battles and multiple tribulations, the two are reunited after Ike kills the “Mad King” Ashnard, and Rajaion lays on his death bed. The two lovers are able to exchange final words before Rajaion passes on. Ena at last resigns herself to returning to Goldoa for the sole reason of bringing her fiancé’s body back to his kingdom for proper burial.
Sad story? Yes. It’s one example of a video game couple whose story doesn’t end in smiles and confetti, but I like how it’s subtly developed throughout the course of Path of Radiance without being overbearing or too predictable. The love story unfolds through gradual narrative, and is just one of the many interesting sub-plots between key characters.
And, perhaps most importantly, there’s a lot of real, genuine love shared between these characters—unconditional love that risks life and limb for those who don’t deserve it, love that values loyalty above personal stigmatization and suffering, love that finds the risk worth the reward, biblical love that causes a man/woman to lay their life down for their friends. For that reason, I think this lesser-known video game couple is well-worth remembering.
Victoria Grace Howell
This was a hard decision for me, and I debated on going with Link and Ilia from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (My all time favorite Legend of Zelda game), but I decided to go with an old not very well-known couple and give them the recognition I believe they deserve. Prince Alexander and Princess Cassima from Kings Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow are my choice.
The King’s Quest series is a little known cycle of eight (plus a recent creator-sanctioned fan made ninth by Phoenix Online Studios in the 2000s) PC games created by Sierra Entertainment in the 80s and 90s. It has a cult following I happen to be a member of since I was in elementary school. Creator of the games Roberta Williams combined fairy tales and multiple mythologies into a fantastical world with challenging puzzles and original plots centering around King Graham of Daventry and his family.
Alexander (voiced by Robby Benson from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) first meets Cassima in a wizard’s castle after his father King Graham just released his family from an enchantment. Cassima had been a slave for the evil wizard Mordack’s household after she refused to be his bride. She was in rags and dirty, but her beauty still shined through. Though Alexander only saw her briefly, when he returned home after the ordeal he couldn’t get her off of his mind. Like his father with his wife Queen Valanice, Alexander has a vision of Cassima in the magic mirror and sees she wants to see him in her faraway kingdom.
Immediately, he sets out to rescue her. Just when her island home is in sight, a storm swells and Alexander is washed over board. Fortunately, he drifts to the island of her home. He visits her palace and the Vizier informs him that Cassima has locked herself away in mourning of her parents’ recent death. Alexander suspects something is wrong and soon he is confirmed when he finds a way to communicate with Cassima and she informs him the Vizier has imprisoned her. Instead of giving up on someone he barely knows, he risks his life to not only save her, but to right her toiled homeland. She loved her people, and as he strove to prove his love to her, he grew to love them too.
Alexander has an admirable sense of compassion, sacrifice, and cleverness I’ve admired since he first appeared in King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human. He fights a Minotaur, a genie, and even Samhain to insure Cassima and her homeland’s safety. He handles all of his trials with grace and fierce determination, never allowing the unhappy and sometimes cruel inhabitants of the Green Isles to cause him to be mean to them, nor to doubt his resolve. Cassima’s love for her people rubs off on Alexander and she too is willing to sacrifice herself when she throws herself into danger while Alexander is battling the Vizier in the climax.
As a child these two were an example of true love for me. Pure romances are so hard to find these days. Never once did they spoil themselves before marriage. Never once did Alexander raise his voice to Cassima. Never once did Cassima doubt Alexander could succeed in his mission. He loved her in rags and filth as much as he loved her in silk and satin. Their love became more than a one-dimensional fairy tale, but one that is unconditional and one that we all should strive for in our relationships.
The love story of Final Fantasy that has stood the test of time is between Tidus and Yuna of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. Tidus and Yuna have been one of the strongest couples in the Final Fantasy universe, inspiring action figures, fan fiction, FF X-2 (which the whole basis of the story was their relationship), and more.
You can see that they were both truly in love with one another, because of the sacrifices and risks they take to be together. Tidus was first in awe of Yuna after watching her perform a ritual where spirits are sent to the Farplane, which is an underworld of sorts in the world of Spira (the game’s planet). After she joins the group, you see a serious Yuna who is dedicated to her mission become a playful and happy girl who likes to tease other members of the party. She is always a joy to be around and uplifts the group whenever they are in danger.
Their relationship has had to go through trials, as I believe all good relationships do. From having to stop the forced wedding between Seymour and Yuna to facing the fact that she is going to give her life in order to end the cycle of Sin, they have had to overcome many obstacles to be with each other.
In the end, not only do they do what is necessary to save the world and their own love, but one has to give themselves up for the other to live. This is such a powerful example of love, which is someone willing to die to oneself so the other can live.
To relate this to real life is a hard lesson to learn, but one that must be done if you want a relationship, marriage, or friendship to continue. Most people give up on relationships because they aren’t willing to give up time, an event, or hobby for the other person. They are always thinking about themselves instead of the other partner involved, and if they don’t meet their “needs” and “wants” then it’s out the door with them, and the next one has to hopefully meet their standards.
Always remember, true love is not about you, it’s about the other person. When you are both willing to sacrifice, take time off of what you want to do, or do that thing that you don’t feel like doing for each other, you will grow closer together. As long as you are both making sacrifices towards your relationship, you will always reap the rewards. Die to yourself, as Christ taught us.
23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.