10 Unsatisfying Retro Endings
One of the things that sets most video games apart from other types of media is that they can be “beaten” — they have an end, and it’s up to you to reach it. Many games will go all out with their endings, showering the player with praise, giving them a manly nod of approval, and maybe even giving them a sensual oil massage. Some games, however, take the opposite approach with their ending. Whether it’s because of maliciousness or laziness on the part of the game programmers, these retro games have endings so putrid they belong in the Bog of Eternal Stench.
Jurassic Park- Genesis (Raptor ending)
Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis took an odd approach to telling the story of the ill-fated park. You could either play as Dr. Alan Grant, who is ostensibly the main character of the flick, or a velociraptor. Should you choose the latter, you’ll spend most of the game running after Dr. Grant as the prehistoric Wile E. Coyote to his Road Runner. After spending the entire game chasing him, what do you get? Nothing. He escapes, and you get a small patch of text and a picture telling you that your raptor packed him/herself into a crate and got shipped off to the mainland to cause more dino-destruction.
The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening/Super Mario Bros 2
Games, movies, books— any form of media that ends with the phrase “but it was all a dream” is a total cop-out. Both The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Bros 2 take the low road in their endings, deciding that your entire quest was for naught, as both Link and Mario dreamed the entire thing. What a gaming nightmare.
A dark, action/RPG in the vein of Diablo, Revenant was a solid game, by all accounts. The ending is fine, too, building up the story of hero Locke D’Averan and hinting at all sorts of delightful things to come in the sequel. The problem? There was no sequel. The ending to this game is like if the Back to the Future series had ended with the first one, with Marty and Jennifer getting in the flying Delorean with Doc, and that was that.
Another entry in the “but was it all a dream?” category, Darkseed 2 ends ambiguously, leaving the player to wonder whether the entire thing “really” happened, or if it was all a delusion of main character Mike. The big problem with endings like this is that we, the audience, know that none of this stuff really happened. It’s a video game, we know it’s not real. To try to apply a second layer of not-realness to it cheapens the whole experience, and it almost insults the audience for suspending their disbelief long enough to play.
Twisted Metal 3
There are a variety of characters to choose from in Twisted Metal 3, each one with a special ending that is a pile of garbage. Upon beating the game your character arrives in the villainous Calypso’s office, and he agrees to grant whatever wish is buried deep in the heart of your character. This would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact that he subverts all of the wishes into nightmarish versions of what the character wants. Sweet Tooth wants to eat candy? Then he ends up strapped to a table and force-fed sweets. It’s a massive “screw-you” to the player, and the only way to really feel satisfied by these endings of customized torture is to play as a character you hate.
The Lion King
Way to go, Simba, you’ve defeated Scar! Now it’s time to wrap up the loose storylines and see all of your friends gathered together for the start of a better life. Oh, wait, no, I’m sorry, what we meant to say was, “Way to go, or whatever. You beat Scar, so now it’s daytime instead of night. Roll credits.”
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
Castlevania II is an oddball of a game. It’s kind of unpolished, more than a little obtuse, and overall it’s a slog to get through. Once you do, however, if you’ve managed to defeat Dracula and get the good ending (as opposed to the other two decent/bad endings), what’s your sweet, sweet, reward? An ending that is essentially the same as the other two, with different text explaining what happened in the epilogue. Sure, Simon Belmon survives in the good ending, but Dracula returns to life at the end, leaving your whole quest feeling kind of moot.
Doing a follow-up to one of the most beloved games of all time is tough, but by God, Square went for it. Chrono Cross was huge, with multiple storylines/endings, deep combat, a zillion characters, and high replayability. Our main contention is with the ending— in order to see it, you have to use an extremely specific sequence of attacks on the final boss, something the game doesn’t exactly spell out for you, and if you do, you’ll get a real ending. If you don’t, however, you’ll just end up with a bizarre ending that’s completely unrelated to your entire adventure, one featuring a little girl wandering around.
Ghosts N Goblins
Ghosts N Goblins, and its follow up, Super Ghouls N Ghosts, are both hard-ass games. When you finally beat them, you’ll put your controller down, wipe the sweat from your brow, and congratulate yourself on what a badass gamer you are. But wait, dear gamer, don’t relax yet. Turns out the end wasn’t the end. No, the final boss was “a trap and illusion devised by Satan,” and to really beat the game you’ll have to play through the entire thing again. Dammit.
The NES Ghostbusters is a broken mess. Some sections of the game are so difficult they’re nigh-unplayable, and there’s an extraordinary amount of grinding for money considering it’s an action game. If you do manage to beat Gozer the Gozerian, if you show that prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown, your reward, if you can call it that, is nothing but this message: “Conglaturation !!! You have completed a great game. And prooved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes !” Yeah, you read that right. Spelling errors and all, that’s the only reward you get for beating the game. Even back in the ’80s, when games weren’t exactly known for lengthy and luxurious endings, this was unacceptable. When faced with an ending this unsatisfying, all you can really do is kick back with a bag of Stay-Puft Marshmallows and laugh.