by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
SPOILER ALERT. THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD. SPOILERS. ENDINGS OF GAMES BELOW.
A plot twist can be a blessing to make an already wonderful game into a true classic. It can take a compelling story, turn it on its head and ensure that it’s unforgettable forever in the best way. But then there are plot twists that are done for the sake of “shaking things up” and take something that’s already decent (or at worst, awful) and turn it into a laughing stock. Bad plot twists can’t ruin every game, though. Super Mario 2’s plot twist of “It was just a dream” is infuriating but doesn’t change how enjoyable the former Doki Doki Panic is. There are some truly stellar plot twists in games though. Take Chrono Trigger for example. We learn about halfway in that Magus isn’t really the evil villain he’s made out to be. He is doing something risky, dangerous and stupid to get revenge (summoning Lavos to kill him). If that wasn’t enough, the main character dies! You can go on a quest to save him from being deleted out of time, or you can just … go on without him.
Then there was Final Fantasy VI. After the events of the floating continent, it appeared that Kefka actually won. He obliterated the landscape with magic, was being heralded as a god, and many party members (and regular people) gave up on their will to live and fight. It was over, Kefka had won. But it wasn’t, because you can go on, recruit everyone again, and resume battling the madman! He wasn’t even the main villain at that point, the Emperor was. But Kefka betrayed and murdered him, no big shock. These are excellent plot twists that make the game better because they’re there. This is unfortunately not always the case. Like in Final Fantasy IX, Necron is far superior to Kuja, and probably would make more sense as the final boss. Just because you love a franchise, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. So we’re going to look at some serious blunders, from the mundane to the bone-shatteringly rage-inducing kind.5: Diablo 3: Shock At Zoltun Kulle: Zoltun Kulle was an evil, insidious mage, but somehow, you need his help to find the Black Soulstone. He’s apparently the only one who knows where it is. When asked how we can trust him, he cackles and informs us that we can’t – you know, he’s evil. So we do it anyway, and can you guess what happens? Oh come on, a lot of you played D3 – He betrays us and we have to fight him! What. A. Goddamn. Shock. This one isn’t the worst, but it shows how gullible and stupid heroes can be. I mean, he’s not the hardest fight in the game, and after a few playthroughs, it can be an absolute push-over. What a surprise, Zoltun Kulle, the evil mage, is evil. Gasp.
4: Fallout 3: The Whole Damn Ending: Now I love Fallout 3. I enjoyed it more than Fallout and Fallout 2, which is apparently blasphemy. But that’s what I enjoyed, so those purists can piss off. So at the end of the game, you have to sacrifice yourself to disarm the bomb, which ends the game or let your partner go and do it, and they die from radiation poisoning. Or you can also wait until it explodes, and just let it murder everyone. There’s another choice though – buy the DLC! You have an invincible, ass-kicking mutant that can go disarm it for you. He’ll live and you can just move on and play the game more. The ending of the game was critically panned so hard, that they released DLC that will let you get around the ending. Come on, really? I sort of liked the idea that you had to sacrifice yourself to save the land, or just ignore it and let everyone die. Before the “Broken Steel” DLC, Fawkes would inform you that it is your moment, only you can do this, etc. This is up there with Mass Effect 3 on the scale of dumb, disappointing endings.
3: Final Fantasy X-2: Sacrifice: One of the biggest parts of the Final Fantasy X ending was “sacrifice”. As it turns out, Tidus and the other Zanarkand residents don’t “really” exist. Despite them interacting with the world and saving it, but he was a part of the dream of the Fayth. The Final Fantasy X games are all about sacrifice. But at the end of the game, Yuna can say “Yes” to the Fayth, who asks if Yuna wants Tidus resurrected. Saying yes will have a cute scene with Tidus in the ocean. He’s back to life, Yuna, the Besaid residents, and Lulu is there to greet him. It basically undoes all of the sacrifices from the two games. While I don’t love Final Fantasy X-2 as much as Final Fantasy X, and yes, I wanted Tidus to come back . . . not like this. Not at all like this. Not in such a manner as basically summoning the Eternal Dragon and wishing him back. There had to be a better way to write this ending.
2: Star Ocean 3: Vidya Gaemz: Remember when we were just talking about Super Mario 2’s “It’s all a dream”? This is arguably infinitely worse. In Star Ocean 3’s ending, we learn it’s all a video game! None of the characters are real! They were characters in a game within a goddamn game. It was created by an advanced civilization, and there are tiny hints that this might be the case if you pay attention to NPC dialogue. But since most people don’t, you might have entirely missed it. But yes, Star Ocean 3 is basically The Matrix. I’ve only been more disappointed by a plot twist one time that I can possibly remember. I appreciate the whole “Is anything real?” philosophical discussion, and it’s horrifying to think that none of this may be real, but at least it’s better than. . .
1: Final Fantasy VIII: WE. WERE. ALL. ORPHANS: All I can think of is the film Miami Connection‘s infamous line, “But I thought we were all orphans”! This made me so angry I actually threw it out of my window, into the street. I was interested vaguely in Squall’s broody character, the lone-wolf personality. I still think the “dream” characters were far more interesting. SOmewhere in Disc 3, we go to an orphanage. This is where we learn all the characters (but one lucky exception) all grew up here! Not only that, we were all friends/rivals/compatriots at this Orphanage. But that’s not all! Of course, that’s not goddamn all. Sorceress Edea? The important boss character Edea? Yeah, she was the damn headmistress! Oh, and SEED exists to kill Edea, who is his wife. The game was fine up until this point. Why does this plot twist exist? What was the thinking behind it? I need to know. A perfectly fine, unique Final Fantasy game, ruined in just a few lines of dialogue. Every so often, I get the urge to go play it again, then I remember Disc 3.