Top 10 Nintendo Romances of All Time
People often talk about the classic love stories of film and fiction. Couples like Bogey and Bacall, Burton and Taylor, Jack and Rose, Butch and Sundance, Gatsby and the Green Light, Kermit and Miss Piggy, and Al Gore and that little pneumatic cart that lifted him high above the stage in An Inconvenient Truth are all enduring examples of the kind of romance that burns brighter than any other light. The kind of romance that defies all odds and makes all involved better. The kind of romance that defines the true meaning behind today, Valentine’s Day.
What people neglect to mention is that great romances aren’t just limited to the world of live action characters and muppets. Video games have for almost two decades been home to couples as much in love as any Hollywood star power couple. Nintendo’s games alone are so mired in the world of romance that the heart has become a near-universal symbol of nothing less than health. The message behind the symbol is clear: in these game characters’ eyes, all you need is love.
What follows is a list of the Top 10 Nintendo Romances of All Time. These are the couples that have loved so hard as to make one wonder if, in fact, they might be more than just the ones and zeroes of binary code.
Top 10 Nintendo Romances of All Time
10. Link and Midna, The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess
I guess Link and Zelda would be an obvious choice for an article like this, but I’ll spoil the next nine for you right now: they’re not on the list. Link and Zelda are the football player and cheerleader of the videogame world: they’re the couple that’s shoved into the spotlight, celebrated by all, made prom king and prom queen, and eventually have awkward sex in a by-the-hour motel room while the football player’s buddy stands outside drunk singing the one line he knows to Rick James’ Superfreak. (The line is “Superfreak”) But there is no passion there. They date because everyone expects them to date, and because if they didn’t date, everyone in school would be, like, ohmigod.
In Twilight Princess, however, Link found a person who actually meant something to him. Sure, Midna may not have been so much a woman as she was a weird impish thing from a dark and mysterious otherworld who liked to ride on Link’s back when he was in wolf form. And they never so much talked as she did mock him incessantly and order him to do things for her. But, still, by the end, there was clearly something in Link that drew him to her. Hell — and let’s try not to judge — maybe running around on all fours, covered in fur, with a little goblin thing on his back, tugging at his ears, was the first time Link ever truly felt alive.
It’s too bad it all gets kind of sad in the end.
9. Wario and Waluigi, Multiple Titles
Until Mario Tennis for the N64 in 2000, Wario was on his own. He didn’t have anyone to help him in his various plans to destroy Mario. And while, yeah, his motivations were pretty bizarre — seemingly limited to the fact that Mario weighed less, dressed better and had more friends — and his methods unorthodox, many of them involving hypnosis, he was determined, and because of that, he did make a friend, with the aptly-named Waluigi. Together they’ve hatched numerous schemes to ruin the Mario gang’s various sporting events.
From the time they used a comically large bomb to ruin the Mushroom Kingdom Golf Game and the time they used a comically large bomb to ruin the Mushroom Kingdom Tennis Match, it’s been a busy and trying time for this couple, yet still they remain together, throughout it all. Platonic or not, it’s poetic.
8. Little Mac and his Trainer, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out
There are not enough words to describe the kind of love that can blossom between a boxing trainer who looks like Carl Winslow and his client, a tiny little boxer that will, someday, beat Mike Tyson, but here are some that come close: divine, incorporeal, earth-shaking, undeniable, enterprising, badass, endearing, colourblind.
I will not imply that it was sexual. I am above that. I only imply homosexuality when it’s really funny. But good instruction only goes so far. To truly make a champion, you need a little love. Plus, none of his tips really had anything to do with boxing.
So, well, maybe it was sexual.
7. James Bond and Natalya Simonova, Goldeneye 007
I realize that these were, allegedly, characters from a movie first, but at this point the fact that Goldeneye was a movie first is about as irrelevant as the Zelda games on the CDi console. The game defined Goldeneye, so much so that watching the movie now will make you wonder where certain scenes are, only for you to realize that those scenes never existed in the original film — they were in-game only.
And damn if Bond and Natalya didn’t have one of the most metaphor-rich relationships in video game history. What guy can’t relate to having a girlfriend who follows him around all the time, gets stuck behind crates and ladders, wanders randomly into explosions and always stands in between your gun and the enemy? This is the sort of rite-of-passage relationship stuff everyone needs to go through at least once. But Bond, well, he’s a trooper. He makes out with her in the jungle at the end anyway. And then, presumably, does her — all eighteen polygons of her.
The N64 in many ways was a simpler time for gaming, but it was a complicated time for love. A complicated, annoying, objective-failing time.
6. The Ice Climbers, Super Smash Brothers Melee
The Ice Climbers were an odd addition to the Super Smash Brothers sequel, especially considering that their original NES game was bland, boring, and bad. You just pretty just jumped and climbed. It was hardly inspiring or memorable.
So I guess that’s why it was so surprising to see these characters, dubbed Popo and Nana, back in a big way on the Gamecube console in 2002. Whereas they were defined as nothing but blue and pink pixels originally, now they were defined by their togetherness. They were literally tethered together, and with that tether they fought everything from dinosaurs to intergalactic bounty hunters to whatever the hell Kirby is.
I don’t know what they look like underneath those parkas, but I like to imagine she’s attractive, and that he’s witty and roguish. And that he rides a motorcycle and she sits in a sidecar wearing goggles. And that when they’re not tied together with a rope, they hold hands.
5. Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest
In Donkey Kong Country, Diddy Kong was always second banana. Donkey Kong was the star. He was much bigger, much bigger and much louder. Plus, Donkey didn’t hold barrels like he was a girl. Sure, Diddy could run a little faster, but when the main thrust of the game was punching crocodiles and swinging on vines, running faster was little consolation.
That’s what made the story of Donkey Kong Country 2 so romantically inspiring. Donkey Kong is kidnapped, leaving it Diddy’s time to shine. And who does he shine with? This little blonde-haired monkey girl who is just as agile and tiny as he is. Together they manage to save the day — he with his experience and she with her freaky ability to spin her hair really fast and hover like a helicopter.
It’s a match made in heaven that, unfortunately, turned tragic like so many others. By Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie’s Double Trouble, Dixie had apparently moved on past Diddy and developed a thing for guys wearing diapers. And after that, she was never seen again. Diddy’s back to partnering with Donkey Kong in Tennis double matches, the memory of the hovering girl little more than a glint in his simian eye.
4. Yoshi and Birdo, Various Titles
You know how sometimes, usually at Wal-Mart or Chuch, you see a person that you just can’t conceivably see ever having a relationship? People who are just so unfortunately shaped that loving them seems impossible? I feel bad about thinking it, but there are just some people who are just so physically unappealing that the very act of sex would be physically challenging, let alone emotionally and intellectually.
It’s that allowance that makes the relationship forged between Yoshi and Birdo so amazing. Yoshi is little more than a glorified horse that lays eggs and loves rainbows. He has a really long tongue that he uses to eat anything and everything. Birdo is a bad guy-gone-good, a possible transexual, fond of spitting eggs at things when agitated or excited, and in love with her pretty pretty bow. Yoshi’s only capable of low groaning sounds and quick yips of excitement. Birdo is only capable of sounding like a foghorn.
That these two found each other is as unlikely as a deaf leper meeting a blind paraplegic. It’s enough to make someone believe in fate.
3. Team Rocket, Pokemon Games
Just imagine the personal ad:
SWM seeks SWF for adventuring with my weird cat thing. Must love being evil, dressing up in hilarious costumes, wearing clothes that looks just like mine and coordinated chants about how cool we are. Please no smokers or fatties.
And the best part? It worked.
The unifying element in a lot of these Nintendo romances is that they are all about characters being in love who would otherwise never fall in love. Well we never really found out the nature of Team Rocket’s relationship, the fact that they even managed to find each other is staggering. I can tell you from experience, it is difficult to find someone who will recite a chant with you when you enter a room. Even if the chant is totally cool and awesome and would make people like us way more than they do now.
2. Mario and Peach, Various Titles
I searched for a picture of this couple, but found disturbing images the likes of which your average person was never meant to see. Suffice it to say that people tend to make several assumptions about both Mario and Peach, despite rarely seeing them out of uniform.
And you all know what they look like anyway.
What a storied romance these two have had over the years. Their photo album is filled with events like:
- The time Peach was kidnapped by Bowser in the Mushroom Kingdom.
- The time Mario had a dream in which he and Peach were in love and she could hover and pick beets really really well.
- The time Peach was kidnapped by Bowser in the Mushroom Kingdom AGAIN and Mario could turn into a half-racoon.
- The time Peach was kidnapped by Bowser on Dino Island.
- The time Peach tried to bake him a cake but things went terribly terribly wrong.
- The time Peach and Mario learned about the environment on Isle Delfino.
- The times they played every sport imaginable together.
It hasn’t all been wine, roses and kidnappings for this couple, however. Over the years there’s been other women: first Pauline, then Daisy. And you have to wonder how a relationship can survive one party hitting the other with a lightning bolt and sending their automobile tumbling down a chasm. But these two are always brought back together, generally because of a giant dinosaur.
1. Tetris Blocks, Tetris
There’s a lot to be said for romance as metaphor, and nowhere is that metaphor stronger than in Tetris. The game series that represents the sum total of all Russian creation — past, present and future — is won and lost based on the player’s ability to fit differently shaped blocks together. It’s a task that seems insurmountable, especially as things keep moving faster and faster but it, like love in the face of a world that will not stop, somehow happens. The pieces do fit, different as they all may seem, just as love endures.
Sure, all the pieces falling (writhing) together like that probably stands more as an endorsement for wild group sex than it does for monogamy, but really — as Kennedy said after the Cuban Missile Crisis — that’s Russia for you. They’re wacky.
Any more Nintendo Couples that move, inspire or arouse you? Let us know.