In case you’ve never played it, this is how Super Mario Bros. ends. After Mario runs, jumps, and incinerates his way through eight worlds and seven castles, he finally finds his way to “Another Castle.” For the last time, he gets around Bowser and uses the ax to cut the bridge sending King Koopa to his death. In the next room waits not some chubby Toad, but Princess Toadstool herself. This is it! We finally get to witness the reunion of Mario and Peach. And now that Bowser’s reign of terror is over, we get to see the Mushroom Kingdom slowly return to normal.
“Thank you Mario,” Peach lustfully exclaims. “Your quest is over. We present you with a new quest. Press B Button.” And that’s it? We don’t even get a smooch of victory? Or a period at the end of that last sentence?
If a high-profile game was released today with an ending like that, the internet would burst from all the entitled whining. Games can no longer just be fun – they need an intriguing plot and well-developed characters to give us reason to finish them. And when we finish them, that finale better be satisfying. Because no matter how good the rest of the game was, if the ending is lousy, that’s how the whole package will be remembered. Just ask poor Mass Effect 3. Our expectations for game endings have become extremely high, and that’s because some select games have given us finales that rival the best of film and television. The following games represent the absolute best examples of going out on a high note.
Please Note: No game on this list predates the 2000s, and that isn’t because I’m some youngster who thinks old games suck. Gaming has come a long way in the 21st century, especially in terms of storytelling, and this list reflects that.
Oh, and spoilers. Duh.
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