4 Heart-Wrenching RPG Moments

4-Sad-RPG-Moments

Death, death, and more death! Break out your boxes of Kleenex. A list of sad RPG moments approaches!

My name is Mineeva.  And I’m a crybaby.

I cry when I hurt myself. I cry when I watch a sad movie. I cry when I play videogames.

I’m in no way ashamed to admit that last bit. Videogames are just as viable a storytelling medium as any and have the ability to rock your core just as much as any New York Times’ Bestseller Book or Oscar-winning Best Picture (provided the writing’s strong enough).

So today, on my birthday (hooray for being 32!), I decided to open up some old wounds to tell you some of the saddest moments in videogames that I remember (in RPGs, to be specific). And these are just ones off the top of my head; the others are probably under lock and key in the deepest recesses of my mind.

Now before we begin, it would be prudent to lay out some ground disclaimers. First of all, given the nature of this type of post, spoilers are a given. Cue up official spoiler warning in 3… 2…

 

ZE SPOILERZ! THEY ARE AHEAD!!!!!

 

Secondly, I know that sometimes people want to check these old games out (which is great!). So for that extra precaution, here’s a handy Table of Contents of the games featured. I know the “statute of spoiler limitations” is long past for these games and is thereby safe to discuss major plot points, but nonetheless, if one of these games happens to catch your eye and you don’t want to read anything about it, then you can skip it… though it would groovy if ya stuck around 😛

See, I do this because I love you guys THAT MUCH <3

Table of Contents

This is it! Last warning! You still here? Good! Let us begin *gives you box of Kleenex and Comfort Chocolate* You’ll need these…


Breath of Fire II - Box1 – “He knew that some day, he would see them once again, far in the future. Or, perhaps he will meet… their children…” — Breath of Fire II Normal Ending (SNES)

I’m going to talk about Breath of Fire II and the rest of the BoF series very soon (stay tuned!), but for now, let’s talk about one of the most heartbreaking endings in any game. Ever.

Breath of Fire II is just a sad game, period. So much of it just reeks of tragedy; it’s a miracle I didn’t go into therapy after playing this game. Well, at least you all go home when it’s all over… well, not everyone. Not our valiant hero, Ryu (if you got the Normal Ending, anyway).

His mother was (quite literally) guarding the gates of Hell for years; agreeing to open them so that you and your party can descend this seemingly never-ending road and do battle with some of the baddest of the bad. She died, but you didn’t grieve; you kept going, not only because you were “The Destined Child” who was charged with saving the world, but because you knew that your mother, and the rest of your clan, have dreamt of the day when the Devil falls and they could at last be free of their demon-watching duties.

You bled and shed tears because those close to you bled and shed tears. Your journey was long and your suffering immense. And after all that crawling, all that fighting, your party crushes evil and returns to the surface victorious. But Ryu felt there was more to do.

The Devil, called Deathevan, said upon his defeat that he would “go back to sleep” and that he would return someday. That would leave the Gates vulnerable. Ryu had no choice. He had to defend the Gates, just as his mother did.

Thus he turns himself into the mighty Kaiser, covers the Gates with his massive dragon frame, and descends into a deep slumber.

Breath of Fire II - Sad Ending

YOU SONUVA–! YOU WAKE UP RIGHT NOW!!! NOOOOOO!

OH GOD~! D:

I cried my eyes out. Not the pretty kind of cry, either. It was the cry where waterfalls are coming down your eyes and your nose explodes with boogers and snot. Yea, that kind of cry.

It’s just so SAAAAAAAD~! You go through all this crap, only for Ryu to stay behind? And your party members are hurt, flabbergasted by what he’s done!

Sgt. Slaughter said in the 1986 G.I. Joe Animated movie, “We all go home or nobody goes home!” You hear that!? We’re all supposed to go home, Ryu! Why aren’t you coming home, Ryu!? Why aren’t you coming home!?

*jumps onto bed*

WHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!?!?

*Cries in pillow*

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Final Fantasy VII - Box2 – “What about us… What are WE supposed to do!? What about my pain!?” — Death of Aerith, Final Fantasy VII (PSOne)

I harped on Final Fantasy VII in the past, but remember, I still got some love for the game. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the saddest moment in the game: The death of poor Aerith (or Aeris, as she was known in North America initially).

After learning that there is a power that can counter the Black Materia and its doomsday spell, Meteor, Cloud and crew hightail it to the Ancients’ Forgotten Capital. Aerith went on ahead (how, and why NOBODY stopped her is beyond me); hoping to get started on getting this super-secret weapon, with evil silver-haired pretty badboy Sephiroth hot on her heels. Oh Jesus, you know this won’t end well.

You eventually find Aerith praying in this alter. Hooray! You’ve caught up with her…but Cloud starts acting funny and almost cuts her down with that massive sword of his. He manages to stop himself, only to have Sephiroth fall from the sky, Masamune in hand, IMPALING Aerith as he lands.

That BASTARD!

Final Fantasy VII - Aerith Death

I remember completely losing it the first time I saw this…

As I mentioned in my previous FFVII post, I didn’t stop crying until I lost Cloud in Disc 2. After that, I said, “F*** this game!”, and went to bed (it was, like, two in the morning at that time!). Aerith was my favourite character, too. Then again, I tend to have a soft spot for Healers in RPGs. It’s true! Aerith always had the best stuff money could buy. I couldn’t care less if Cloud or Barrett didn’t have great armour (they’ll use their Hand-me-downs and be happy with it, dammit!), so long as Aerith was well-protected, that’s all that mattered. After all, if your Healer goes down, you’re screwed!

Putting the Healer Card aside, I really liked her personality. Always cheerful, so innocent… it was SWEET! So to lose her was really hard. Not only that, but this act automatically sent Sephiroth to the top of “The Most Hated Douchebags in Gaming” list for some folk. No, really! Aerith’s death affected people THAT MUCH. I was certainly gunning for him…

 


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Suikoden - Box3 – “Young Master. I’m proud of you. Promise me you’ll always follow your heart. That is my first… and final… request…” — Death of Gremio, Suikoden (PSOne)

War is hell. Suikoden likes to remind you about that fun fact as you lead your rebel group against the Empire your family served for years. Hell, you eventually fight your father, one of the Emperor’s most trusted Generals, in a battle to the death (and yes, that was a sad moment, too). There are lots of sad moments in this damn game. But the hardest one to watch is the death of your faithful companion, Gremio.

During your pursuit of the evil yet fashionably colour-coordinated Milich Oppenheimer, he unleashes a bottle full of Spores of Agony. Those lil’ buggers are hungry, and you’re the main course. Milich rushes out through one exit and seals it shut. Your party high-tails it out the other door… all except Gremio, who stays behind to make sure the steel doors stay shut. Oh, and the doors can only be opened using a lever on Gremio’s side, so your party helplessly stands there on the other side as Gremio gets eaten alive.

Some time later, the spores dissipate harmlessly into the air, one of your comrades comes in through the other side of the locked door, and you guys leave. But not before you catch a glimpse of Gremio’s trusty axe and trademark green cape laying on the floor.

Suikoden - Death of Gremio

Those spores ate Gremio and his clothes… at least they left his cape intact… *sniff, sniff*

 

Gremio’s been by your side since the very beginning of your adventure. Hell, he’s been your family’s servant for years, and has always taken care of you. You can tell that he’s always looking out for your best interest. Seeing Gremio’s final act of mother hen-love was tough enough… the real kick in the nuts is that you can’t do anything about it!

You read right. Even though you want to tear Milich a new one, it would be the worst mistake ever, because you actually need that scum sucker alive. I bet the creators did that on purpose, too, just to piss people off.

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Lufia II - Rise of the Sinistrals - Box4 – “Selan… there will be a new era of peace now. I wish we could have seen it. Selan, I love you. I always have, and always will.” — Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals Ending (SNES)

Oh. My. God. THIS. ENDING!

The Lufia series saw its start on the SNES, but is often overlook because of all those Squaresoft or Enix heavy hitters at the time. It’s a shame, because the Lufia games are pretty good, with Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals being one of the greatest RPGs of the 16-bit era.

Our hero, Maxim, along with his party — his wife, Selan, and his new best buddies Guy the Strong Dude and Artea the Elf — fought their way through the dreaded Doom Island and defeated the god beings known as the Sinistrals. Just as the dust starts to settle, Daos, Sinistral of Terror, summons the life energy of the other Sinistrals to generate a massive surge of energy with enough power to destroy the world. Maxim and the gang fight back, using their combined strength to generate an energy wave of their own. Though the counter attack worked, the clashing of that much energy fatally wounds Selan and sent her flying across the bridge. As Maxim checks on her, the bridge collapses, separating them from Guy and Artea. Artea, with Maxim’s blessing, uses his magic to escape with Guy.

Oh, the humanity! But… there’s more.

Daos, Mr. McDouchebag, makes a final guest appearance and tells Maxim that’s gonna crash Doom Island on the Kingdom of Parcelyte, Maxim and Selan’s hometown, killing everyone… including their baby boy, Jeros! Daos then disappears, being the McDouchebag that he is.

Just when things take a turn for the worst, Maxim is told by the Sinistral of Death (who’s been secretly helping you throughout your journey) that destroying the three Mystic Stones that are powering Doom Island will alter its course, but it will drain Maxim’s remaining life energy. Being the hero that he is, he accepts his fate. He marches on, bruised and tired, using his last ounce of strength to destroy the Stones. Doom Island misses Parcelyte completely; crashing into the ocean to the far west.

Lufia II - The Last Stand

The final standoff against evil. Our heroes fight valiantly till the bitter end.

Ya know what’s funny about Lufia II? It’s the fact that we already knew how it all ends!

The first game, Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, takes place about 100 years after the events of Lufia II and stars Maxim’s descendant. When the game begins, instead of being told about the epic battle between Maxim and the Sinistrals, we get to play it out! Almost the entire end sequence (from the beginning of Doom Island to the part where Maxim parts ways with Guy and Artea) is there to give us the sense of how massive the battle is before you get into the game proper.

So why, then, despite already knowing how Lufia II ends, is this still a tough ending to sit through? Because instead of getting a slice of the pie, we’re getting the whole thing. We actually get to experience Maxim’s entire story and see him grow from being Maxim the Above-Average Monster Hunter, to Maxim the Wielder of the Dual Blade, to Maxim, Hero of Legend. We get to see his journey, see all the hardships he faced, the sacrifices made for the greater good, and meet the people whose lives he touched. We see how he met Selan, see them get married, and see the birth of their son, Jeros.

These characters snuck into our hearts and we FEEL for them. We now KNOW them. It’s hard (I daresay impossible) to hate any of them because they’re so wonderfully written. And when it’s all over, even though you know the fate that awaits them, you can’t help but secretly wish that things turned out differently.

 


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******

Oh look, my Kleenex box is empty, and I’m all out of Comfort Chocolate. Ugh. This was a tough post to write, to be honest. Having to write about these moments and get decent screengrabs brought all these memories back. GAH! It’s all coming back to me, in marvelous Technicolour…

Anyhow, there are WAAAAAY more sad moments (in RPGs and other genres!), so I’ll probably revisit “Sad Moments in Games” again. In the meantime, I’d like to hear your sad moments in games! Share your memories in the Comments Section, and be sure to leave a box of Kleenex and/or Chocolates where appropriate!

  • Your exquisite taste in games is only rivaled by your ability to wound me with nostalgia. BOF2 was rotten with tear inducing story elements, I was so mad because of the sad endings that I went nuts to make certain I got the absolute best one possible, which is STILL kinda sad. Great game though, can’t enjoy that one enough.

    FF7 is pretty much the textbook example now for heartache inducing 3D death. I was sad to see her go, but I was relieved to see her stay gone instead of cheapening her passing with a sudden resurrection or something. It makes her loss all the more tragic and the emotional charge to take out Sephy that much more genuine.

    I never got all the stars in Suikoden 1 so I haven’t resurrected Gremio yet. It’s on my list of things to do, but trying to keep up with new things and get older game goals out of the way is getting harder to do all the time. Still of ANYTHING’s worth it, it’s Suikoden. Though the fact that you can resurrect him at all (to the point that it actually overshadows the main goal of the game) does cheapen his sacrifice a little, it still tears me up seeing him go like that.

    Lufia games are just too much. I didn’t get to finish them as I was only able to rent them, but I watched a friend venture through ’em back in the day. AMazing games with gut wrenchingly beautiful stories that get me choked up just thinking about.

    I hope you revisit this topic, maybe bleed it out to a top ten thing or do a weekly recap putting your focus on one moment in gaming tragedy a week. Either way, I’m ecstatic and I can’t wait to see more!

    • I’m going to go into BoF II more next month… and throw in more tear-jerkers vids (if I can find some). I was obsessed with that game, and am happy that my SNES copy still works (BOOYAH!)

      I, too, was happy that Aerith was never revived. Though I remember during my first playthrough that I found the item that teaches her her final Limit Break late in the 2nd Disc. That made me think that she could come back somehow, or that the devs were trolling me. ‘Course, I know now that you can get that item halfway through Disc 1 where it would actually be of use, but man…

      I see where you’re coming from with regards to Gremio’s death. At least they made you work for his resurrection though, instead of simply handing it to ya. I mean, it’s one thing to say, “Just collect all 108 Stars!”, it’s another thing to keep them all ALIVE since they can perma-die during the war scenes, or other circumstances (like Pahn vs. General Teo). And then there’s those other moments (i.e. Milich… what a twist!).

      And I can’t say enough positive things about the Lufia games. They’re just beautiful. Just beautiful.

      Glad you enjoy the romp through memory lane. I like your idea about doing a weekly gaming tragedy moment… though I’d probably end up in therapy because of it 😛

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  • Xanato

    Yeah, Aeris dying was big for me as a kid. I bought into the whole her being perfect for Cloud thing back then and had yet to really be exposed to games with character deaths like that (though the fact that she gets killed WAS spoiled for me, unfortunately), so it left a mark. I’d look up rumors to prevent her death or resurrect her, hoping to find a way to get her back. As I got older, though, I started to appreciate stories that don’t always end all tied up in bow. They’re more realistic and relatable.

    Breath of Fire II is up there for me as well. It’s the music that makes it worse and the fact that Ryu doesn’t even give them a chance to say goodbye. I mean, when you consider what everyone’s been through, especially Nina, you’d think it’s the least he could have done. I guess it wouldn’t have worked with him being a silent protagonist, though. Anyway, I was unfortunate enough to get the sad ending the first time I beat it. This was before my moral compass was “fully” developed, so I didn’t think much of killing Ganer and didn’t bother with the Township stuff out of fear of screwing something up. I used to really hate doing things in games that were irreversible because I obsessed over having a complete file.

    My own game to add to the list would be Illusion of Gaia for SNES. There were some sad moments that I recognized as a kid, but when revisiting the game as an adult, it was surprising how much stuff flew over my head. A lot of dark subject matter throughout. I don’t want to spoil anything in case you haven’t played it.

    Anyway, I liked your article (and the Breath of Fire II one). It brought back memories and had good insight into what made those moments stand out.