In the wake of Mass Effect 3, we’ve heard a lot about storylines, plot arcs, and the importance of wrapping up the loose ends of a story. Whether or not you were satisfied with the ending to Bioware’s hit sci-fi trilogy, it’s still clear that the Mass Effect series tells one of the deepest and compelling video-game stories ever.
And as easy as it might be to get caught up in the debate about how Bioware should have ended it, it could have been a hell of a lot worse. To remind ye doubters of how story-telling in video games has developed in recent years, today we pay homage to some of the least fulfilling endings of all time.
5: Super Mario Bros. (1985), Nintendo Entertainment System
Thank you Mario! Your quest is over. Press B to select a world.
Everybody knew this had to be on the list somewhere, so let’s get it out of the way. Yes, Super Mario Bros. is one of the most influential games of all time and yes, it is awesome and addictive and so on. But after roaming through level upon level of angry little mushroom-beasts and bottomless pits, only to be told repeatedly by a happy little mushroom-man that my princess was in another castle, then finally to reach her and get nothing more than a SENTENCE from the ungrateful royal, I was a little put out.
In saying that, the series was never every particularly well known for its plot development. You are a plumber, for some reason, who has to rescue a princess, for some reason, from - defying logic and geography - a series of castles which are connected by pipes, because said princess has been kidnapped by a gigantic fire-breathing spike-shelled turtle monster. This premise, ladies and gentlemen, has sold 40 million copies since its release worldwide.
Well it just sounds silly when you say it like that.
4: The Lion King (1994), various platforms
The Lion King is, surprisingly enough, based on one of the most successful films of all time. And as such it follows the plot structure of the film as closely as could be expected for a game that was released when Clinton still seemed like a good choice for president. For valid reason, the developers chose to follow Simba from infancy to adulthood, culminating in his battle with Scar; then randomly ending the game with a distorted Mufasa quote.
"Everything the light touches, is our kingdom.”
I have no sympathy for a game based on a brilliant film with a brilliant storyline, that somehow still manages to have a bad ending. Non-sequential, random, and lazy.
3: Final Fantasy X (2001), Playstation 2
I could be in for a lynching here, but before you reach for your pitchfork, let me explain. Final Fantasy X is, to be perfectly honest, one of my favourite games of all time. It has everything I like in a game; enough RPG to be nerdy, but not enough to be Warhammer, enough plot development and cinematics to be engrossing but not enough to be Guns of the Patriots. I loved the characters, the enemies, the mini-games, everything. But, and I’m not trying to be funny, when it came to the ending… what the hell happened? Something about Sin, and then Tidus floats away or dissolves or whatever and then we have Final Fantasy X-2 which to me was essentially Final Fantasy X: Girl Power!
I’ll retract this if someone can explain to me what the hell happened at the end. Honestly.