Valentine’s Day:
Your Biggest Game Heartbreak

Last year, Dork Shelf got mushy for Valentine’s Day and asked you about your first game love. But as powerful as those proverbial butterflies in your stomach may be, no one ever suspects the butterfly. Especially if that butterfly is about to split your game-loving heart in half.

Admit it. We’ve all been there. As memorable as your first game love is, so too is the one that devastated you. We had to know: what’s your biggest game heartbreak? Don’t be shy. We weren’t—and neither were the people who shared their own tales of woe with us through email and Twitter through the hashtag #ghb, some of which you’ll read below.

We’re here for you and we bare it all.

When you discover Robo in his state of dormancy in Chrono Trigger, your first thought likely isn’t “Let’s fix this one on the off-chance it doesn’t want to destroy humans.” After all, every other robot in the Derelict Factory had mercilessly come after your party.

Out of the goodness of her heart and perhaps naive foolishness and boy doesn’t that sound an awful lot like falling in love, Lucca repaired Robo with fierce determination. Grateful to his new human friends, he fought alongside them against his robotic brethren.


But the new addition was short-lived as the inevitable encounter with a six-pack of unimpressed R-Series loomed. I watched in horror, helpless and frozen, as the scene played out. They turned their backs on Robo, unleashing a brutal attack, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing. I’ll never forget it.

Yes, as Chrono Trigger fans know, Robo eventually came back to us. But the image of his lifeless body on the ground, beaten within an inch of his just-restored mechanical life still haunts me and could you all please stop cutting onions around me, thanks. – Emily Claire Afan

Sonic Generations

My favourite colour has always been green, but I lied and told people it was blue until November 2011 because I was in love with Sonic the Hedgehog.

After an entire lifetime of love and constant apology, ignoring the bad things and living in ignorant fandom, Sonic Generations was released. It started as a love letter, an opportunity to play through modern re-creations of all my most precious moments of childhood alone time (Sonics “the Hedgehog” through “& Knuckles”).


But once I had sped through the first three Zones of the game, where the classic content of the Genesis-era ends and the new stuff begins, it began to describe acts that it couldn’t take back. Lava monsters? A medieval village? That ska song from Sonic Adventure 2? Why are you showing me these things? Still, I stuck it through to the end. I heard what the Blue Blur had to say (“See Peter? Super Sonic!”).

Maybe it was the broken controls. Maybe it was the ridiculous 90s Sonic and “Modern” Sonic team up against a time monster. Maybe it was the frantic and traumatized inner child trying to cover my eyes before his hero could be further humiliated. But in the final level of Generations, not one but two Super Sonics broke my heart like it was a TV with their smirking faces on it.

I wanted to go back in time to the fateful Christmas morning when we first met (a Sonic 2/Ecco the Dolphin Genesis bundle from my Oma) and drown him in snow, effectively Butterfly Effect-ing away the pain.

But all I could do was sit there on my couch, mildly drunk, and ask myself “Why did I spend so much money on this?” – Peter Counter


Metroid Other M

I’ve long had a love affair with the Metroid games, but in 2010, things turned ugly with the release of Metroid: Other M. Like a scorned lover, Metroid: Other M was so perfectly calculating in the ways in which it hurt me, it knew exactly which nerves to strike and how to attack in the most emotionally damaging ways possible.

That game was a failure on every conceivable level: the gameplay made me question my value as an equal partner in this relationship and the narrative made me suspicious that Metroid had been seduced by a (possibly) sexier, sleeker, but ultimately vain and vapid developer. It was aggressive in its banality and downright surgical in its heartbreak-inducing disappointment. I consider it the worst game I’ve ever played, and Metroid has been sleeping on the couch ever since.

I don’t know how Metroid and I can continue our relationship. I am longing to be won over, and I want nothing more than to be happy again, like the days when things were Super. – Jason Canam, DrinkBox Studios





Super Mario Sunshine

I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed by a game than I was in Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube. Let me lay it down for you: I am still of the opinion that Super Mario 64 is the best game for N64 (come at me, Ocarina fanboys), and I played it to death. When the GameCube was announced, all I could think was ohmigodnewmariofinally. After suffering through Luigi’s Haunted Mansion at the console’s release, I was so beyond stoked when Sunshine finally hit the shelves.


And then I played it. Suddenly I was… kind of literally a plumber? And also sort of a janitor? Just the worst. I’m still bitter about it. At least I have my sweet WaveBirds as a consolation prize.

In terms of in-game heartbreak, I have to go with the moment I realized my lady Elf in Dragon Age: Origins wasn’t allowed to marry Alistair and become Queen. It was so painful I still can’t talk about it. It’s justhe’s a mix of Xander and Mal, you guys, he’s so perfect just leave me to my tears– Sam Maggs


The first game to ever break my heart actually did it on Valentine’s Day.

It was a weekend and a huge snowstorm was approaching, so my dad and I went to the video store to stockpile movies and games to ride out the storm. I decided to take a chance on the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the NES. I adored the second game and had beaten it many a time, but I never got a chance to play the first one.


Within seconds I was so frustrated with the controls and almost unconscionably high level of difficulty, and I think I just gave up trying to make sense of it after an hour, never to play it again. Nothing about that game makes any sense, but it should have been an easy game to make and have it be a little fun. Jumping onto things is a nightmare. Swimming is a nightmare. The map doesn’t make any sense.

Since everyone had beaten me to renting the good games and this was the only one left, I just didn’t play anything that weekend and watched the snow instead. It was a lot more entertaining. – Andrew Parker




kingdom hearts-chain of memories

There was a time when I unconditionally loved Kingdom Hearts. In many ways I still do, if only because I will always cherish our history together. But Kingdom Hearts isn’t around anymore, and I’m sure as hell not the one who asked it to leave.

See, the PS2 was the only video game platform I owned in 2002, and Kingdom Hearts was one of the best things on it. We did everything as a couple, from forging weapons to fighting hidden bosses to winning 50-round tournaments in coliseums, and Kingdom Hearts II promised an even greater array of joint activities to pursue.

Yet even then, I was aware of the early dalliances. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories came out for the Game Boy Advance instead of the PS2, and while I really wanted to play it, I wasn’t able to shell out hundreds of dollars for a handheld just to play a supplemental game that didn’t warrant official sequel status.

It would be a sign of things to come. For the next decade, Kingdom Hearts would consistently appear on a different video game platform with every outing, and there was no way for a budget-conscious student/young adult to keep up with the narrative and technological fragmentation.

And that’s what hurts the most. Kingdom Hearts is the franchise that left me for an audience with more gadgets and more money, and I’ve never been one to put up with high-maintenance demands. No other franchise has treated me with such contempt for being unable to chase it everywhere it asked.

The wounds are raw again because Kingdom Hearts III will be out soon and I guess I’m looking forward to it. I still dig Final Fantasy and I’ve watched the ‘Let it Go’ video from Frozen approximately 4,739 times on YouTube. But I really don’t know what to expect from the wayward plot when it returns to consoles. As much as I wish things could go back to the way they were, I just can’t forget how cruelly and casually Kingdom Hearts discarded my affections. Eric Weiss



Silent Hill

Maybe it was because I spent the majority of my time with Silent Hill playing the game in the dark, in the wee hours of the morning and all alone, but it seemed everything in that game affected me more deeply than one might expect.

And though most of my time was spent in a state of eternal dread, it was the game’s revelation regarding Lisa Garland, that sad, soft-spoken nurse in red, that really got to me. When she realizes that she is no different than the dozens of disfigured, horrible nurses you’d seen along your way—and that it was only a matter of time before she became one of them—my jaw dropped and my heart sank.

Her “death” was a terrible parting between friends, and the game’s decision to leave her theme playing long after you escaped her transformation was a break from its usual grisly soundtrack—although one no more pleasant or reassuring. – Benjamin Rivers, Home


Would you kindly work, BioShock?

Have you ever longed for something, only to have it slip through your fingers at the very last moment? That’s precisely what happened with me and the original BioShock.

Having cut my teenage PC gaming teeth on titles like System Shock 2 and Deus Ex, I was a huge fan of the first person shooter/role-playing game genre. So when I first heard about BioShock – a spiritual successor to the System Shock franchise – in October of 2004 I was through the roof. A new game that might live up to the high bar set by those two PC gaming classics and one made by many of the same developers no less?! What could be better?

By the time BioShock finally arrived in late August 2007, I had been following its development for nearly three years. I’d agonized over every little detail and nugget of information, watched every trailer, and finally I didn’t have to do that any longer; I would be able to play it! I eagerly trekked out to my local video game store the day BioShock hit shelves, plunked down my $60 (then food money for my broke university student self), and rushed home to install it on my computer.

Now there is a lesson here for anyone who, like me, put something like BioShock on a pedestal: Things do not always work out the way you planned.

In my case, the stumbling block was that my computer couldn’t run BioShock.

Well, I could watch the intro but the game itself was a funky neon nightmare. The surface of the ocean alternated between nothingness black and hot pink, flaming airplane debris was highlighter yellow, and that iconic lighthouse sitting atop Rapture was invisible save for a shining red light. It all looked something like this and was completely unplayable.

“This couldn’t be what the designers intended, could it?” I thought hopefully before realizing that my PC’s aging hardware was to blame for my brief but kaleidoscopic BioShock experience. Thanks to quality control it’s not a very common problem for console owners, but it’s an issue that any long-time PC gamer has had to contend with at some point. One piece of out-of-date hardware and you’re shit out of luck. In this case, it was my once top shelf video card that just couldn’t handle BioShock’s advanced graphics.

Thankfully, I happened to be an employee of a certain big blue electronics retailer at the time and was eventually able to get a pretty good price on a new video card for my PC, but by that point I had waited several heartbreaking months to see Rapture with my own eyes. The wait was worth it. – Will Perkins






Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail, 1989. My Gwenhyver in her bower, pining for another lover, or sick with worry about the quests ahead of her king? In any case, I accepted her rose, and her portent of protection, and headed off in search of the Holy Grail, in order to heal this blighted land.

At Ot Moor, I whispered LOVE IS MY SHIELD and stepped into the swirling petals. I died, crashing through the ice, and was rebornagain and againand slowly learned to stay within its cloudy bounds, crawling across the ice, knees bloodied and teeth chattering. It was on this long trip across the ice that I came to accept that not only did Gwenhyver’s love belong to someone else, she cared only for Launcelot’s return and nothing for the suffering of the people of Camelot. She was guiding me towards him, her reasons for protecting me so selfish, so transparent…!

I reached the palace of the Lady of the Lake, clutching the object of her desirea cold, crystalline heart fished out of a well on the other side of the countryutterly under its thrall. I hardly heard her words as I handed it over, as I took in the clear and still beauty of this place. Thoughts of Avalon fell away; the drought and disease impossibly far from this perfect chamber, from this glassy and glimmering woman. And I saw what she’d done to my wife’s lover, the real object of her unrequited passionLauncelot! Trapped in a pillar of ice, head tossed back in eternal anguish, clenched body immovable.

And my heart broke for the people of Camelot suffering because of our selfish spells of containment that trap our love in palaces of ice, that keep us on a rigid path towards a “good ending”towards a Grail that absolves the sins we commit along the way and prevents the reconciliation that would heal our friendships and our land. My heart shattered.  – Jennie Faber, DMG Toronto/Bento Miso


My greatest gaming heartbreak started at childhood, and still haunts me to this day.

It began with the Nintendo 64 version of the FPS classic DOOM. I was ready to blast demons to oblivion, but only an hour into play I felt something in the pit of my stomach. I grew dizzy. My palms began to sweat.

This wasn’t anything like nerves on a first date—no, it was actual, physical sickness. I ran out of the room, and my cousins laughed – they thought I was scared of the monsters.

I didn’t know at the time that I was experiencing a form of motion sickness, sometimes referred to as simulation sickness. In a nutshell, it happens because the movement you see in a video game isn’t actually happening to you. Your brain can’t suss out why your eyes are seeing the movements that your inner ear isn’t detecting, triggering symptoms much like seasickness or airsickness.

Because of this, the fastest, twitch-based FPSes are literally unplayable without making me sick. Some arbitrary judgment in my brain makes art-house masterpieces like The Stanley Parable and Jazzpunk intolerable after half an hour. This is possibly why I’ve tended to gravitate towards more methodical first-person games like Metroid Prime and BioShock.

My love for gaming is betrayed by a fundamental part of my nervous system. We cannot be apart for long, but in some cases, too much time together hurts. – Jonathan Ore

Dragon Age Origins Loghain

Pretty much everything bad that happens to my favourite characters breaks my heart, like siding with Loghain at the Landsmeet in Dragon Age: Origins.

I only did it once, and it was because I had never done it before, but it was basically like that episode of Mad Men with the Christmas party, and Harry Crane is forced to sit on Santa Sterling’s lap, and he’s like, “I’msorryI’msorryI’msorry.” I believe my character (I think it was my badass dwarven princess Anyanka) was also romancing Alistair, so it was doubly devastating. Then I never, ever did it again. – Megan Patterson

Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at Dork Shelf! If you haven’t yet told us about your biggest game heartbreak, we still want to hear about it! Tweet @DorkShelf with the hashtag #gbh and let us hold you. There, there.

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