News Article

Gaming from the Heart

Posted by Sean Aaron

Games that tug the heartstrings

Valentine's Day is sometimes derided as a "Hallmark Holiday" - a day created for shops to sell stuff like greeting cards and chocolates due to feelings of obligation. Despite this, it must be said that having a day in which you're expected to express love and devotion to those closest to you can't be all bad.

Although video games are not traditionally associated with sentiment or love, as they've increased in sophistication the number of games with strong emotional themes has increased, so we thought it would nice to mention some of our favourites to get you in the lovey-dovey mood.


Chibi Robo!

It's hard to think of another game in which your character's sole purpose is to make other people in the game world happy. The feel-good story of Chibi Robo is heartwarming and quite touching, covering themes such as marital strife and reconciliation, death and the celebration of life.


A Boy and His Blob

A Boy and His Blob is a game about an unusual friendship between a boy and an alien. The gameplay is focused around platforming and puzzle solving, but this is the only game we can think of that has a button assigned to giving hugs.


New Play Control! Pikmin

Pikmin is a lovely action game with brilliant character designs, but it also has a nice story attached. Captain Olimar shares his thoughts and feelings on being stranded in his daily journal. He makes observations about his newfound helpers, the titular Pikmin, but is also concerned that he'll never see his wife and children again. The Pikmin themselves are cute, but you're unlikely to form the same emotional bond with them as you do Olimar. Still it's always sad if you don't remember to round them all up at the end of the day and have to see the lone stragglers running desperately to catch the ships as they fly away and the monsters close in...


Little King's Story

The story of the little king in the land of Alpoko is wry, cute and bursting with charm which is why it makes our list. You can chat to all of your subjects who will tell you how much they love living in your kingdom and they'll often send you letters saying they think you're great. You can become involved in their lives by marrying them at the church and then seeing them raise children. The fact that they have names and grow in experience can cause you to grow a bit attached to them, so it's nice that if they do unfortunately meet their demise you have a good chance of finding them resurrected and washed up at the beach, whew!



Emotional content in RPGs is certainly nothing new, but Opoona is certainly amonst the rare ones where the player character has a "Love" stat. Opoona is always smiling and happy and the people he meets on the alien world of Landroll are all interested to meet and help him find his way. Developing friendships with other characters he encounters is necessary to drive events in the story and unlock new areas to explore and helping people feels good!


Super Mario Galaxy

Mario's first 3D outing on the Wii presented some new gameplay challenges to the Mario franchise, but another new addition was the strongly developed and moving story of Rosalina and how she came to be the mother of the Luminas. Super Mario Galaxy 2 will apparently have reduced story elements, but after the great job done in Super Mario Galaxy, we're sure some people will miss it.


The Legend of Zelda:Twilight Princess

Twilight Princess is first and foremost an action game, but it has some surprising emotional content to the story which is ably conveyed by the excellent character modeling seen in the cutscenes. Despite a lack of dialogue Link's facial expressions convey a great deal of meaning to the viewer and give a sense of urgency to the action sequences that follow. The ending is brimming with sentiment and unrequited love and is as satisfying as the best Hollywood has to offer.

So, eat some chocolates, cuddle up with a partner, put on one of these games and let a little love into your heart!

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User Comments (54)



Dazza said:

Aw Sean you big softy! Who'd have thought you were such a romantic? (Although I wonder if you're playing videogames today instead of showing affection on your other half now hehehe)



BL_Donth said:

I agree with Machu. No More Heroes!

There is also FFX, MGS3 (love on the battlefield?) and Kingdom Hearts.

Happy Valentine's Day you guys



Supermegaman said:

I was gonna say... if super mario galaxy is missing...
Well actually dont know what I was gonna say.
Maybe ill pick up chibi robo one day.



ueI said:

I noticed these are all nintendo exclusives. That must be why FFX, MGS3 and KH didn't make the cut.



mnementh said:

Super Mario Galaxy 2 will apparently have reduced story elements -WHaT??? why??? are they trying to get a lower metacritic score? SMG2 with proper story and proper additions to the gameplay has the potential of achieving 100. why ruin it?



Objection said:

Yeah, a XX/XY or Rub Rabbits mention would have been ideal, but nice job. Now to spend the whole day with her.



naut said:

Playing through TP right now. Very surprised at how great the plot is.



MarkyVigoroth said:

Rhythm Heaven:
5th Remix

Rhythm Heaven Gold:
Fan Club (the song)
Love Lizards
The Dazzles (the song)
Love Lab
4th Remix
Karate Man (the song)



bro2dragons said:

i didn't realize when you said "games that tug at the heartstrings" that you just meant games that are cute and lovable. if you want something that will make you cry, try Beyond Good and Evil. you'll love those characters and be moved when the plot turns. i agree with the rest of the list, though... except Twilight Princess.



TwilightV said:

@Mr. Saturn: Pretty sure they're just talking about games we can find in retail. :3

Laughing my arse off at the picture's caption.



Raylax said:

"But Link, promise me one thing. Just... come home safely, OK? Don't do anything out of your league."

That scene where Link and Ilia part ways is great.

And then they get attacked by Bulbins, woot



Amorous_Badger said:

If we're going off-console I'd like to add Ico and Shadow Of The Collosus.

The story telling is incredibly strong and moving despite it's minimal nature.



edhe said:

You didn't include "Harvest Moon: Magical Melody" - what better way to learn the fundamentals of love and courtship than watching an onscreen avatar woo his prospective bride with gallons of milk and fried eggs?



GuarinoMatt said:

Wait.. wait! Where's Animal Crossing?

I think Lost Winds and Another Code should be in the list as well.



JayArr said:

Little King Story - That little man has enough love for 7 princesses. Don't hate the playa.....



LoopyLuigi said:

I agree with edhe, where's Harvest Moon, any of them in fact, considering the point of the whole game is to get married and save all the villagers and their land from some sort of crisis, have some kids, love your animals (in a clean way). These games are all about love. Which explains why my wife plays them non stop. oh and i like them too.



theblackdragon said:

@Dragoon: Booster never really loved Toadstool, though. He didn't really know much of anything outside of his own immediate desires... his Snifits had to coach him through everything. :3



Chunky_Droid said:

Nice list Sean! I would've been happy to donate a picture of the piece of heart tattooed on my fore-arm



Nightsky071 said:


Really, because the ending of Mario galaxy made me angry...... Angry that bowser is still a whimp.

Epic music + Bowser= Fail



Deviant_Mugen said:

I've played four out of the six games on the list, I should pick up Pikmin and Little King's Story sometime...

Nice list, Sean...



Fuzzy said:

Every time I got frustrated with A Boy and His Blob, I would just give the blob a hug, and then I would feel a lot better.



MrMartinLee said:

I'm with Amorous Badger... I didn't realize there were so many N-exclusives with this kind of emotional content, but none of these ever moved me as much as Ico or Shadow of the Colossus. SotC also has a button for patting your horse... Still, good list!



grenworthshero said:

Sean Aaron, as if it wasn't obvious before, you're clearly not from the US, because to us, pronouncing "Der-ner-ner-nerrrrr!" Just sounds like you're silly



SamsN_ite said:

For me it was Star Fox 64 and Donkey Kong Country.......always a tear to my eye......



ILoveToLove said:

A good list, but no Doshin? He's a flippin' love giant!

Kudos for Chibi Robo being at the top there.



Sean_Aaron said:

@grensworthhero: Well, I actually am from the USA, but I live in Scotland and I also didn't write the caption!

These are games drawn from my own experiences on the Wii and I haven't played everything, obviously.

And yes I am quite sentimental (far more than my missus who really didn't want to acknowledge Valentine's at all - I agree it is a bit silly to celebrate something that should be the norm in any relationship!) and get moved by films and tv shows (if properly written) or even games.

The reason I wanted to write this article was because of how suprised I was by the level of writing and emotional content in these games - especially the Nintendo ones. It's completely unnecessary, but gives a bit of insight into the creators that they'd include these story elements and themes and can often be an effective hook.

I know that in the case of Twilight Princess I was frequently on the verge of abandoning it due to length and frustration with some of the puzzle aspects, but then they'd have a cutscene that would just melt my heart a little and make me go on. The ending was a real "wow." moment for me and I definitely think that even if you don't think this is the best Zelda game ever you should play it at least once just to see that. Great stuff!

I think it's a great example of how games are maturing as a story-telling medium and certainly I find these games far more sophisticated and interesting than the lame, mindless action-movie plots that you often seen used in games where the writing is clearly an afterthought.



Caliko said:

"No Feel the Magic: XX XY?"

I was about to complain about the same thing until I noticed this is more of a Wii article.



grenworthshero said:

fair enough, but I still can't help but read that caption in the voice of someone who just got knocked in the head with a lead pipe.

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