GameSpot Presents: Valentine's Day - DENIED!

Think you have it bad this Valentine's Day? At least you're not getting rejected as badly as this.

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Valentine's Day. A day when, if you're not in a committed and involved relationship, you're on the outside looking in, wishing you had that special, special connection. A day when, if you are in a committed and involved relationship, you're probably wishing you weren't in a committed and involved relationship. Oh, and you have to buy a bunch of expensive gifts (candy, flowers, all that stuff), maybe not because you want to, but because if you don't, your sorry self is sleeping on the couch tonight, buddy. Yeah, we know. To take some of the sting out of this delightful day, we have a list of some of the greatest rejections in video game history in no particular order (but not all of them, so be sure to leave us a comment and let us know of any we missed). We here at GameSpot wish you a safe and happy holiday, and would like to remind you that no matter how bad you have it, you don't have it as bad as these unfortunate video game characters who have been...DENIED!

Spoiler Alert! Please be advised that this story contains plot spoilers. You've been warned!

How High Can You Get?

Donkey Kong

  • Release Date: 1981
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
The original video game rejection in all its glory. Will Mario ever rescue his sweetheart? (Answer: No.)

Mario is the greatest and most well-known video game mascot in the world. He's been in a zillion different video games. Everyone knows the guy. Everyone loves the guy. So why does he always strike out? It all started with Mario's first video game adventure from 1981, Donkey Kong, which pitted him against, well, Donkey Kong, an angry, angry ape who made off with Mario's then-sweetheart Pauline. What's worse, after climbing up the steel girders of a construction site and pounding the whole thing crooked by jumping up and down, old Donkey Kong hurled barrel after barrel at Mario's head--barrels that rolled; barrels that sailed diagonally; barrels that occasionally caught fire; and barrels that knew how to climb down ladders for some reason.

It was up to our mustachioed manual laborer to clamber to the top of each level using moving platforms and ladders to rescue the girl, with his only ally being a giant mallet that he could sometimes pick up to squash those pesky barrels. And every so often, he could pick up a token of Pauline's affection, such as her misplaced pink umbrella, for some bonus points. But every time Mario dodged and hammered his way to the top to reunite with his ladylove, along came Donkey Kong to muscle in on Mario's action, nabbing Pauline, climbing even higher, and leaving our weary hero with a broken Valentine heart and the constant challenge..."How high can you get?" Sure, Donkey Kong wasn't Mario's finest hour, but as he moved on to better and brighter things, Mario's love life was bound to turn around, right?

...But Our Princess Is In Another Castle

Super Mario Bros.

  • Release Date: 1985
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
Sorry, man. Not happening this time, either.

Yeah, not so much. Although Mario would use 1985's Super Mario Bros. as a jumping point to international superstardom thanks to the launch of the revolutionary 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console, things still didn't work out for him in the girlfriend department. Even though everyone's favorite plumber left the construction sites behind and moved on to the fantastical Mushroom Kingdom, you could say that seven out of eight times, Mario struck out every time.

See, even though Mario had tons of new abilities--including "growing big" using magic mushrooms, spitting fire using fire flowers, breaking into a sprint by pressing and holding the B button on your NES controller, and even becoming impervious to harm with the help of the "starman" item--it seemed like he could never quite rescue the new object of his affection, the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom. Each of Super Mario Bros.' eight worlds was broken up into four levels, and the fourth level of each world was always a gloomy and dangerous dungeon full of lava and pointy things. At the end of each dungeon was the mighty King Koopa, who got crazier and more dangerous each time, not only leaping back and forth, but later spitting fire and hurling handfuls of hammers. Aside from pelting the beast with fireballs, Mario's only chance was to somehow get to the other side of the bridge and nab a golden axe that would chop the bridge out from under his foe. And after performing this hazardous duty in seven out of the game's eight worlds, Mario got the distinct pleasure of meeting with one of the princess's retainers, a smiling mushroom man who would deliver one of the most famous rejection lines in video game history. (To be fair, if Mario was able to conquer world 8-8, he was indeed able rescue the princess, though she'd promptly send him on a tougher quest to take on the game once more, and face even greater danger...only to find that the princess was in another castle all over again.)

Boy Meets Girl, Girl Meets Sephiroth

Final Fantasy VII

  • Release Date: 1997
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
Spiky hair, huge sword, and all alone on a Saturday night.

For a case study on "blossoming love meets gigantic failure," consider the romance between Final Fantasy VII's too-cool-for-you Cloud Strife and the green-eyed Aeris Gainsborough (or Aerith, to Final Fantasy purists). Here's the setup: Boy meets flower girl. Boy then finds out that flower girl is actually the sole survivor of an ancient race. Hey, what could possibly go wrong there? It all goes completely over Cloud's spiky blonde head anyway; the guy ends up being too busy chasing her into the Forgotten City.

Yet timeless love has a way of ending in tragedy, heartbreak, and lonely Saturday nights. In a shocking moment, Aeris looks up to Cloud from a prayerful pose, only to be stabbed in the back, literally, by the evil Sephiroth--a dastardly villain with an ice-cold heart and absolutely fabulous hair. (Like, seriously, really good hair.) It's a dreadful and iconic moment that comes as a complete surprise; unlike in such tales as Romeo and Juliet, there's no foreshadowing of this coldhearted murder, nothing to prepare us for a loss that harsh so early in the game. Yet it's the unexpected nature of Aeris' death that makes it so moving. As Cloud mourns: "You left us without saying a word. It was all so sudden, so I couldn't think." And it's that abrupt end to a budding romance that keeps it so close to players' hearts, all these years later.

Grin And Bear It!

Tekken 5

  • Release Date: 2005
  • Developer: Namco Bandai Games
  • Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Just look at that picture. What a tease.

The hard-hitting Tekken fighting-game series is known for its one-on-one showdowns between peerless martial-arts masters who punch, kick, and "juggle" their opponents in the air, after which they punch and kick their airborne enemies some more. If you're a fan of the series and have followed it for some time, you'll know that there's actually a Macbeth-like storyline of betrayal behind it that involves the ruthless men of the Mishima bloodline struggling for control of the family's mighty corporation.

As it turns out, control of the Mishima company goes to whoever wins the Tekken tournaments, and although each combatant is motivated by his or her own superserious, supersecret origins, one character, the trained dancing bear Kuma, is motivated by love--sweet, misguided, painful love. In Tekken 4, Kuma first professed his love to Panda, the female panda-bear character who hangs out with the Chinese schoolgirl and playable character Xiaoyu. He met with devastating denial in Tekken 4 when his gift of a flower bouquet was completely ignored. Not one to "bear" failure well, Kuma continues to pursue his sweetheart in Tekken 5 to less-than-successful results. Completing the game with Panda shows the gentle, bracelet-wearing bear taking control of the Mishima company. Her first order of business: showing the lovesick Kuma the door--the trap door, that is.

The Cake Is A Lie!

Portal

  • Release Date: 2007
  • Developer: Valve Software
  • Publisher: EA Games
Where, oh where, could that moist, delicious cake be?

One of the best ways to celebrate any occasion is with a moist, delicious cake. And it's a great way to celebrate taking part in a deadly, mind-bending experiment involving space-warping portals. Especially if the only motivation you have to finish your perilous work is a cake waiting for you at the end. And especially if, at the end, you don't even get the actual cake. Wait...what? Chell, the unknowing test subject of Portal, is in this exact situation. She awakes in a puzzling environment and must escape with a portal gun that lets her jump from one area to another. Her only guide: a computerized voice named GLaDOS that keeps tabs on her and promises her that there is indeed cake at the end of the tunnel.

As Chell works her way through the increasingly deranged "tests," it becomes clear that GLaDOS may be bending the truth just slightly. Your first tip-off is a scribbled note that you find on a test chamber's walls, seemingly left by a previous test subject, that reads "The cake is a lie!" Additionally, there's that one part where GLaDOS attempts to bake you alive inside an incinerator. So much for that cake, huh? And to top matters off, after finally destroying GLaDOS (hey, we gave you a spoiler warning!), the ending screen displays a cake upfront and center, one that Chell will never be able to touch or eat.

I'll Be Wearing a Red Carnation

Grand Theft Auto IV

  • Release Date: 2008
  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
Hi. Are you PartyGirl_27, by any chance?

Finding the right woman to share your life with can be tough, especially when pretty much everything you do involves dirty money and assault rifles. Given those limitations, it's no surprise that Grand Theft Auto IV's Niko Bellic would resort to an online dating site. It's an option that's rarely afforded to video game protagonists, but Niko seems as comfortable navigating Love-meet.net at TW@ Internet cafes as he does the streets of Liberty City at the wheel of a stolen car. Not all of his potential matches are interested enough in Niko to even bother replying to his emails, but there are several who will agree to go on dates with him--each with her own likes and dislikes. The women of Liberty City are a picky bunch, so before going out on a date, Niko must check his prospective mate's Love-meet profiles for any clues as to the kind of stuff they're into. For a date to be considered a success, Niko has to wear the right clothes, he has to drive the right car the right way, and of course he has to pick the right venue. (Not actually killing anyone for the duration of the date will also improve his chances, though that can be a lot to ask in Liberty City.)

Regardless of how much fun Niko and his companion have on a date, it's driving her home that can really make or break the deal. Once he arrives at her place, Niko must decide whether or not to pose the question that has been the undoing of suitors since not long after man learned to walk upright: "Can I come in?" At this point it's a lottery, especially if this was the couple's first date, and all too often Niko is turned away and has to look for his kicks or his coffee elsewhere. If only he were in some kind of lawless city and had a couple of those assault rifles to vent some of that frustration.

Dude, That's My Wife

Gears of War 2

  • Release Date: 2008
  • Developer: Epic Games
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Ouch. That's rough, buddy.

Gears of War 2 may seem like a manly man's game, what with all of the guns, alien-murdering, and chainsaw assault rifles. But beneath this manly exterior is a love story about Dom (a member of the game's protagonist squad, Delta Team) and his wife, whom he lost track of years before. As fans of the first Gears of War may recall, Dom's significant other got lost amid the mayhem of Emergence Day, the day that the aliens known as the Locust engaged humanity in a bitter war. After a few years of endless feuds, the humans decide to strike the Locust where it matters most: their underground homeland, the Hollow. During one such mission, Delta Team discovers where the Locust keep their human prisoners...or what's left of them. Dom urges his team to help search the prison in hopes of finding his missing wife.

Remarkably, they eventually find her containment unit and pry it open, revealing his wife looking better than ever. Unfortunately, this vision is soon revealed to merely be Dom's emotionally fueled perception, as her lovely figure melts away, revealing a battered shell of her former self. Although she's physically present, she has long since mentally departed, unable to speak or even move. Dom, completely oblivious to this, takes her in his arms and professes how much he loves her. It's not until his squadmate, Marcus, finally steps in and forcibly snaps him out of it that Dom realizes his wife is really no more. Unable to let her "live" in this state, he puts her out of her misery the only way he knows how. This Valentine's Day, no matter how bad you have it, just remember: at least you're not Dom.

Walk The Walk, Stalk The Stalk

Braid

  • Release Date: 2008
  • Developer: Number None Inc.
  • Publisher: Number None Inc.
I must save the princess. Then we'll be together forever and ever. Oh, yes.

The world of Braid is full of puzzles, and what greater puzzle is there than finding the way to a woman's heart? Tim, the slick, go-getter protagonist, dares to do just that as he dives into a time-bending adventure to rescue a princess and win her heart. Although the exact nature of their relationship is left intentionally vague, his undying commitment to saving her is the mark of a true hero. Or is it?

See, Tim has the ability to control time, and can rewind time should he fall into a pit or something. The game cleverly plays with this mechanic to mess with your perception of the environment, challenging you to reexamine every situation. In short, not everything is as it seems...right up to and including the final level. After overcoming countless puzzles, Tim finally catches a glimpse of his love. Having just managed to escape her evil captor, the princess makes a mad dash toward a far-off castle, flipping levers along the way to help Tim overcome challenges. Thanks to her actions, Tim is able to squeak past flaming walls, spike traps, and other hazards. But as he nears the end of the tunnel, something strange happens: A broken chandelier seemingly repairs itself and returns to the ceiling from which it fell, suggesting that what's being shown may not be entirely accurate.

Finally, as Tim and the Princess meet at the castle's entrance, time begins to rewind, replaying the scene like a reverse instant replay, and revealing the actual course of events and Tim's true character: He's a stalker. The Princess has actually been trying to get away from Tim, and the levers that she triggers create the very traps he has to avoid because she's trying to get away from him. And what about the "captor" that she escaped from? She feverishly leaps into his waiting arms as he rescues her from Tim's twisted obsession. Her message to Tim is clear: Get lost. Let's just hope he gets the memo.

And on that cheery note, we're outta here. Did we miss one of video gaming's greatest denials? Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below. The Cake Is A Lie!

Portal

  • Release Date: 2007
  • Developer: Valve Software
  • Publisher: EA Games
Where, oh where, could that moist, delicious cake be?

One of the best ways to celebrate any occasions is with a moist, delicious cake. And it's a great way to celebrate taking part in a deadly, mind-bending experiment involving space-warping portals. Especially if the only motivation you had to finish your perilous work was a cake waiting for you at the end. And especially if, at the end, you didn't even get the actual cake. Wait…what? Chell, the unknowing test subject of Portal, is in this exact situation, and must escape the puzzling environment she awakes in with a "portal gun" that lets her jump from one area to another. Her only guide: a computerized voice named GLaDOS that keeps tabs on her and promises her that there is indeed cake at the end of the tunnel.

As Chell works her way through the increasingly deranged "tests," it becomes clear that GLaDOS may be bending the truth just slightly. Your first tipoff is a scribbled note you find on a test chamber's walls, seemingly left by a previous test subject, which reads "The cake is a lie!" Also, there's that one part where she attempts to bake you alive inside an incinerator. So much for that cake, huh? And to top matters off, after finally destroying GLaDOS (hey, we gave you a spoiler warning!), the ending screen displays a cake upfront and center, one which Chell will never be able to touch nor eat.

For A Good Time, Call…

Grand Theft Auto IV

  • Release Date: 2008
  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
Hi. Are you PartyGirl_27, by any chance?

Finding the right woman to share your life with can be tough, especially when pretty much everything you do involves dirty money or assault rifles. Given those limitations, it's no surprise that Grand Theft Auto IV's Niko Bellic would resort to an online dating site. It's an option that's rarely afforded to videogame protagonists, but Niko seems as comfortable navigating Love-meet.net at TW@ Internet cafes as he does the streets of Liberty City at the wheel of a stolen car. Not all of his potential matches are interested enough in Niko to even bother replying to his emails, but there are several who will agree to go on dates with him—each with their own likes and dislikes. The women of Liberty City are a picky bunch, so before going out on a date, Niko must check his prospective mates' Love-meet profiles for any clues as to the kind of stuff they're into. For a date to be considered a success, Niko has to wear the right clothes, he has to drive the right car the right way, and of course he has to pick the right venue. (Not actually killing anyone for the duration of the date will also improve his chances, though that can be a lot to ask in Liberty City.)

Regardless of how much fun Niko and his companion have on a date, it's driving her home that can really make or break the deal. Once he arrives at her place, Niko must decide whether or not to pose the question that has been the undoing of suitors since not long after man learned to walk upright, "can I come in?" At this point it's a lottery, especially if this was the couple's first date, and all too often Niko is turned away and has to look for his kicks or his coffee elsewhere. If only he were in a lawless city and had some of those assault rifles to vent some of that frustration.

Dude, That's My Wife

Gears of War 2

  • Release Date: 2008
  • Developer: Epic Games
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Ouch. That's rough, buddy.

Gears of War 2 may seem like a manly man's game, what with all the guns, alien-murdering, and chainsaw assault rifles. But beneath this super-manly exterior is an love story about Dom (a member of the game's protagonist squad, Delta Team) and his wife, whom he lost track of years before. As fans of the first Gears of War may recall, Dom's significant other got lost amidst the mayhem of Emergence Day, the day that the aliens known as Locust engaged humanity in a bitter war. After a few years of endless feuds, the humans decide to strike the Locust where it matters most: their underground homeland, the Hollow. During one such mission, Delta Team discovers where the Locust keep their human prisoners…or what's left of them. Dom urges his team to help search the prison in hopes of finding his missing wife.

Remarkably, they eventually find her containment unit and pry it open, revealing his wife looking better than ever. Unfortunately, this vision is soon revealed to merely be Dom's emotionally-fueled perception, as her lovely figure melts away, revealing a battered shell of her former self. Although she's physically present, she has long since mentally departed, unable to speak or even move. Dom, completely oblivious to this, takes her in his arms and professes how much he loves her. It's not until his squad mate, Marcus, finally steps in and forcibly snaps him out of it, when Dom realizes his wife is really no more. Unable to allow her to "live" in this state, he puts her out of her misery the only way he knows how. This Valentine's Day, no matter how bad you have it, just remember: at least you're not Dom.

Walk The Walk, Stalk The Stalk

Braid

  • Release Date: 2008
  • Developer: Number None Inc.
  • Publisher: Number None Inc.
Wait! I'm trying to save you, here!

The world of Braid is full of puzzles, and what greater puzzle is there than finding the way to a woman's heart? Tim, the slick, go-getter protagonist, dares to do just that as he dives into a time-bending adventure to rescue a princess and win her heart. Although the exact nature of their relationship is left intentionally vague, his undying commitment to saving her is the mark of a true hero. Or is it?

See, Tim has the ability to control time, and can "rewind" time should he fall into a pit, or something. The game cleverly plays off this mechanic to mess with your perception of the environment, challenging you to reexamine every situation. In short, not everything is as it seems…right up until the final level. After overcoming countless puzzles, Tim finally catches a glimpse of his love. Having just managed to escape her evil captor, the princess makes a mad dash toward a far-off castle, flipping levers along the way to help Tim overcome challenges. Thanks to her actions, Tim is able to squeak past flaming walls, spike traps, and other hazards. But as he nears the end of the tunnel, something strange happens: A broken chandelier seemingly repairs itself and returns to the ceiling from which it fell, suggesting what's being shown may not be entirely accurate.

Finally, as Tim and the Princess meet at the castle's entrance, time begins to rewind, replaying the scene like a reverse instant replay, and revealing the actual course of events and Tim's true character: He's a stalker. The Princess has actually been trying to get away from Tim, and the levers she triggers create the very traps he has to avoid because she's trying to get away from him. And what about the "captor" she escaped from? She feverishly leaps into his waiting arms as he rescues her from Tim's twisted obsession. Her message to Tim is clear: Get lost. Let's just hope he gets the memo.

And on that cheery note, we're outta here. Did we miss one of video gaming's greatest denials? Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

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