2013
09.08

From Official Nintendo Magazine.

Valentine’s Day is a special time of year to share with the one you love. Since, to any self-respecting reader, that will be your favourite console, ONM are here to celebrate the occasion with a list of Nintendo’s most unconventional romances.

Many of the Big N’s ever-magical adventure games open themselves up to a save-the-world-get-the-girl scenario – it’s the basis of virtually every Mario and Zelda game. Behind the scenes and between the lines, however, there are a fair few relationships that don’t quite live up to the fairytale stereotype…


Mr and Mrs Bottles
(Banjo-Tooie, Nintendo 64)

Perhaps the most hilarious battleaxe of a lady to grace a Nintendo game, the wife of your ex-move instructor stood impatiently, rollers done up to 11, fondling a rolling pin that was one wrong word away from being turned into a weapon. Her husband being temporarily dead wasn’t even a good enough excuse for him to be late for dinner, and watching him being forced to enjoy his charred post-game meal – Roysten the goldfish – provided parting laughs at the end of one of the N64’s finest platformers.

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Fun Fact: the moles weren’t the only odd couple in this often overlooked choice cut from the console’s final days. Banjo and Kazooie also bump into Mrs Boggy, wife of the sledge-racing polar bear from the first game, and are roped into finding her unruly brats as her rotund husband lies watching TV at home. Then there’s the fantastically-named George and Mildred, a pair of anthropomorphic ice cubes who are killed by the bird and bear for the good of the quest, resulting in some superb parting lines – George’s ‘tell Mildred I lo…’ and her infinitely better ‘tell George his dinner is in the…’

Ness’s Parents (Earthbound, Super NES)

While the psychic kid’s mum is always at home to offer a warm bed and to suggest using a childhood baseball bat as an offensive weapon, her husband never makes an appearance in person.

We learn within the first ten minutes of the game that your neighbour Aloysius Minch isn’t your biggest fan, as the ‘hundred thousand dollars or more’ that he loaned to the little hero’s old man has left his own family living in poverty. Talk about priorities.

He is actually present in the game, but, as an apparently overworked businessman, he doesn’t come closer than the other end of a telephone line. He acts as a save point when you call him, reminding you to take breaks every now and then, much like many games do now – although this was about fifteen years before any migraine-inducing 3D. He also deposits some of Mr Minch’s embezzled fortune into your bank as a reward for winning battles.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got, as Cheers has taught us, but surely there’s a limit when you have a seemingly unemployed wife and two kids at home. We reckon he’s on the run from the law, or sunbathing on a yacht in the Caribbean, but game guides supposedly claim he’s away working in the hamburger industry. Good for him. We reckon McDonald’s is really going to take off someday.

Fun Fact: series creator Shigesato Itoi based Ness’s absent father on his own, who was always working far away during his childhood, although presumably not in burgers. Actually, that isn’t fun. That’s rather heartbreaking.


Silph Co. Employees
(Pokemon Red and Blue, Game Boy)

While Skitty and Wailord might be the weirdest couple in Pokemon today, there were two non-playable characters that outdid them two generations beforehand.

As Team Rocket, the biggest evil organisation since Sony, run amok in the Kanto region, they seize its biggest corporation with the goal of harnessing the power of the Master Ball. The staff, taken hostage inside the building, hide themselves away, some fearing for their jobs, some fearing for their lives. As the young protagonist bravely stands against their captors, they wait in store rooms and locked offices with trepidation.

However, even in the darkest of times, the light of true love illuminates the shadows. On the seventh floor, a pair of star-crossed co-workers weather the storm together, the strength of their feelings pulling them through. It’s a potent, resonating story of how we can conquer anything if we just have that one person by our side.

Or at least that’s what the guy likes to think.

Fun Fact: this isn’t the only dysfunctional marriage in Pokemon. In every game, except for those of Generation III, the protagonist’s dad is nowhere to be found, despite being mentioned on occasion. There is, mind you, one absent father more memorable than any other. In FireRed and LeafGreen, a Team Rocket scientist asks the hero if he or she is Giovanni’s kid, only to remember that the actual child in question has red hair. In a secret event in HeartGold and SoulSilver, this is revealed to be the rival of those games, which explains the thief’s hatred towards the evil group – he wants to bring down his dad’s empire as revenge for abandoning him.

 

Anju and Kafei (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Nintendo 64)

This much-revered Zelda cult classic saw Link interact with the world to a greater extent than ever before. Where Ocarina Of Time’s town centre had prancing loons, decorative NPCs and the odd mini-game, the sequel fleshed them out into characters with hopes, dreams, routines and fears that turn a relatively short game into a bigger picture. Involving yourself with their lives and helping with their hardships made for some of the most memorable moments.

Amongst this population are Anju and Kafei, two lovers whose world has been shaken by the Skull Kid’s evil powers. Kafei has been turned into a child, forcing him into a life of hiding and Pikachu cosplay, while Anju waits forlornly at the inn she runs.

Using bravery, cunning and trespassing, Link eventually reunites the manchild with his bride-to-be (disappointingly, Hyrule Historia doesn’t mention if Anju ended up on some sort of Terminian offenders’ register). Their story is an emotional rollercoaster with a relatively happy ending, but it’s still an oasis of hope and love in a desert of impending doom.

They are sadly squashed by the moon minutes later.

Fun Fact: This is Majora’s Mask, undoubtedly the darkest in the series. There is nothing fun about a world in which you’re continually forced to make people suffer the same pain, day after day after day after day. Let’s just quietly move on.


Donnel and Tharja
(Fire Emblem: Awakening, 3DS)

Arguably a dating sim disguised as a strategic RPG, the latest – and perhaps the best – instalment of the Fire Emblem series sees you fighting to defend the country of Ylisse, while also getting involved in the personal lives of your army. It gives the game a true sense of humanity within the mathematics.

That said, it has its fair share of sauciness. One major culprit is Tharja, a kooky, often twisted witch. She’s hex-y and she knows it, and ain’t afraid to show it, even intimidating when in the arms of a character she genuinely loves, threatening to murder them in their sleep if they betray her. Her potential marriage to Donnel, however, yields the wickedest results. After doing her a few favours, the simple, subservient farm boy falls into such a routine with the controlling dark mage who sees her husband-to-be as a glorified slave.

Her outfit is beginning to look more and more like that of a dominatrix…

Fun Fact: artwork of Tharja wearing a bikini from the Japanese version was censored elsewhere. Ironically, they did so by placing a billowing curtain over her rear end, somehow making it look like she had even fewer clothes on than in the original.


Mario and Peach
(Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Gamecube)

Come on, you knew this one was coming. Just what is the deal? The plump plumber has been saving Nintendo’s First Lady for the best part of thirty years now, but there’s no sign of them settling down.

Some crazed game theorists reckon that Peach pays Bowser to repeatedly steal her away just to keep a secret relationship exciting. Flowers and chocolates just don’t cut it anymore, it seems. Perhaps they’re just stuck going through the motions with each other, not knowing how to move on.

That’s not to say either have been without their share of attention from others. In one game alone – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – at least two main characters have the hots for the hero. It’s just unfortunate that one is a Goomba and the other is a shadow monster in a silly hat. Peach has it even worse, however, finding herself as the object of the affection of a sentient computer system known as TEC.

It all starts when the princess seemingly pays someone other than Bowser to kidnap her to spice things up, and the robot spies on her as she showers in her holding room. It isn’t quite Romeo & Juliet, but it keeps the story ticking along, culminating in the machine inexplicably expressing the human emotion of love as he’s deactivated as punishment for betraying the baddies. Yes, the second Paper Mario is a whole sordid love pentagon but it ends in the usual way – the plumber and princess sail off into the sunset, only for her to invite him on another adventure in the epilogue. There isn’t even a slice of cake or a peck on the nose this time.

Friends with benefits, perhaps? If their ambiguous relationship continues to result in such console-defining adventures, the benefits are all ours.

Fun Fact: in other regions’ versions of the game, Vivian, above, is a boy who dresses like a girl. This is referenced throughout the story, with her mean sister Beldam eventually accepting it at the end.

…And they said it was dead. Have we missed anyone? Are we just cold-hearted cynics? Which mismatched couple have given you a giggle throughout Nintendo’s history? Let us know below!

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