You might be surprised how many games actually feature romance, or at the very least the complex inter-personal dynamics that sometimes lead to the sack. Some would say that’s the same thing, really, but those someones are bitter, cynical types who drink to forget. We’re not them, right? Right.

Since Valentine’s Day approaches, we thought we’d take a look at some of the more memorable romances from games gone by. Gamers are people too, and as people we want and hope for love, and if we can’t have it, it’s nice to live vicariously through videogame characters while we await the arrival of our princes, princesses and knights in shining Armour of Fire Protection +3.

Prince Alexander & Princess Cassima
– King’s Quest VI

Alex & Cassima

King’s Quest VI is my all-time favourite Sierra game, partly because I was the first at my school to figure out all its puzzles, but mostly because I loved the idea of Alexander sailing off in search of this woman whom he had only the briefest of encounters with before she was whisked away from him.

I love that no matter what obstacle was thrown in Alexander’s path, he found the courage to carry on, going so far as to take on Death himself in an act that could have damned his soul forevermore had he failed. The clever use of mythology in the game coupled with this deep romantic overtone has me replaying it every few years to re-live the beauty of the tale.

Leisure Suit Larry & Passionate Patti
– Leisure Suit Larry 3

Patti

These two hooked up in the third Larry game, way back in 1990, and it was a thing of beauty. At least, it was to my thirteen-year-old mind. Sure, it was a purely physical attraction that brought them together, but so many relationships start out that way that I thought it a fitting end to Larry’s quest for love.

After all, he’d been looking for it in all the wrong places up to that point so I thought the guy could use a break. Plus, Patti was smoking hot and Larry was a bit of an underachiever in the looks/height/intelligence department, so it gave my nerdy heart hope that one day I, too, would find my Patti.

Max & Michelle Payne
– Max Payne

Max & Michelle Payne

Max Payne loved his wife so much that when she was killed, he lost his mind so completely that he turned into a slow-motion killing machine who took bullet after bullet to bring her killers to justice. He got hooked on painkillers along the way, too, which presumably helped numb both the physical and emotional pain he was experiencing, which in turn allowed him to bring those responsible to book.

His anger is unquenchable, his emotional devastation the reason for his unapologetic killing spree, and his love the reason he just keeps on going, no matter how many times he is shot. Max’s story is a tragic, substance abuse-ridden tale of love lost and redemption sought, and the depths of despair to which a man can sink in the wake of the loss of his loved ones. Absolutely unforgettable.

Master Chief & Cortana
– Halo Series

Master Chief & Cortana

Even though Cortana isn’t a real person, and Master Chief more a machine than a man, their love throughout the Halo series is very real. At least, that’s how it comes across. Master Chief and Cortana form a very real bond as the story unfolds and they come to rely on one another heavily, in the process creating a relationship that can only be called one of “love”.

Cortana’s tragic descent into madness and her ultimate sacrifice in the last game only serve to heighten the reality of the relationship, as players are taken through some very real emotions during the game. It’s not a traditional love story, but it certainly works its magic on the player, and leaves a strong, lasting impression.

Mario & Princess Peach
– Any Mario game you care to name

Mario_Princess_Peach

Mario simply has to love Princess Peach more than life itself, or else the little plumber has some serious emotional issues and should see a shrink. Nobody goes through as much hell or as many insane levels as Mario does without something very real driving him on, and that can only be love.

The pair doesn’t really talk much about it, or at all, really, but it’s plain to see that Mario has some pretty strong feelings for her. Otherwise he’d just let Bowser have her and save himself the trouble of trampling on the heads of all those mushrooms and collecting all those coins. Right?

Guybrush Threepwood & Elaine Marley
– Monkey Island Series

Guybrush-and-Elaine

Guybrush is the charmingly-inept wannabe pirate of the Monkey Island series, who always seems to find himself trying to rescue Elaine from the clutches of the evil pirate LeChuck. Elaine is more than capable of looking after herself, however, but she often lets Guybrush have his little moments of victory that happen despite himself in order to bolster his fragile male ego. From what I’ve heard, there are a lot of married ladies out there who can relate.

Elaine definitely wears the pants in the relationship, while Guybrush pretty much bumbles through life without knowing what’s going to happen next, and it’s often up to her to keep him on the right track. They’re a funny and often heartwarming odd couple who’ve tickled gamers’ heartstrings ever since the first Monkey Island came out way back in 1990.

Aeris & Cloud
– Final Fantasy VII

Cloud & Aeris

Aeris and Tifa are Cloud Strife’s two love interests from Final Fantasy VII, but Cloud’s relationship with Aeris is ultimately the more romantic, even if that romance is only implied. At least, until the point where she’s taken away from him; in fact, it’s the tragic nature of a truly heartfelt love not truly explored and her sudden, unexpected departure that makes this relationship so memorable.

The developers put a lot of effort into showing just how well Cloud and Aeris work together and how sweet their love could be, but she is then lost to Sephiroth’s blade, sending Cloud into a spiral of depression as he blames himself for hear death. The relationship introduces a heart-wrenching and surprisingly mature element to the story, and is one of the many reasons Final Fantasy VII is so fondly remembered by fans.

Nathan Drake & Elena Fisher
– Uncharted Series

Elena Fisher & Nathan Drake

Nathan Drake isn’t the type of guy to get bogged down by all that messy romance stuff, but somehow he keeps running into Elena Fisher. For game after game, the two have an almost tangible connection that comes across clearly in their easy dialogue and interaction.

Drake’s independent streak is matched by Elena’s, and her strength and determination win out over his devil-may-care attitude in the end, and with the way they complement each other so perfectly, it’s only natural they’d end up [SPOILER ALERT] hitched, which happened between the second and third games.

Watching them together always made me smile, and it’s a credit to the game’s writers that their relationship unfolded so naturally on-screen.

Others?

These are just eight of our favourite videogame romances; do you have a favourite that we didn’t mention? Please share with us in the comments.

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.