15 Bullshit NES Game Endings
Some people will tell you that beating a video game is its own reward, especially if the game was fun or challenging. That's not true. The real reward is the game's ending, which brings much-needed resolution to the game's narrative structure and gives us, the gamers, a sense of closure to the whole affair. But in the days before Metal Gear Solid gave us twelve-hour cut scenes*, game endings used to be fairly lacking. In the heyday of the NES, most game endings were little more than generic messages denoting success and subsequently, most of them were fairly mediocre. A rare few were great, and some were complete bullshit. This article, of course, is about fifteen of the most bullshit NES endings. Some were bizarre, some were idiotic, and all of them were entirely unfulfilling. Let's take a look...
15. IT WAS ALL JUST A HORRIBLE DREAM!
At the end of the American version of Super Mario Bros. 2, we are told the entire game was just Mario's dream. If that's the case, how come Mario doesn't wake up when you run out of lives? Is this one of those things like Nightmare on Elm Street where if you die in the dream, you die for real? And why the fuck does Mario's dream have a character selection, warps, and a slot machine that gives out extra lives? But this ending isn't bullshit just for being a dream; it's bullshit for being an *inconsistent* dream. When Nintendo of America decided that the entire game was a dream, they were covering their asses. After all, Mario 2 had been a port of a completely unrelated game and at the time it seemed highly unlikely that any of the enemies from Mario 2 would ever return in future Mario releases. But then, they did. The game's Bob-Ombs returned in Super Mario 3, then again in Super Mario World. Super Mario World also saw the return of Pokeys and Ninjis, while Birdo and Shy Guys would follow in later games. This creates a logic gap within the Mario Universe, where enemies from what was purported to be dreamworld now manifest themselves within the physical reality of Mario's world. But what's really bullshit here is that the very best enemies from this game - Mouser, Triclyde, Clawgrip, and Wart - have yet to be reintroduced into Mario's world.
14. YOU ARE DEAD.
In the original Metroid, you are rewarded for completing the game quickly. Specifically, the faster you beat the game, the more naked Samus will be in the game's ending. Castlevania II, on the other hand, takes a different approach: if you don't beat the game quickly, Simon dies in the epilogue. This is bullshit for a couple of reasons. First of all, the game is all about exploration. You have to talk to everyone you meet to figure out where to go next, as well as find hidden clues out in the Transylvanian wilderness. On top of that, you'll spend a decent amount of time harvesting monster hearts, the game's currency, so that you can buy stuff from vendors. Secondly, dying in the epilogue NEGATES THE ENTIRE FUCKING PURPOSE OF THE GAME. The premise of this game is this: during his battle with Dracula in the first Castlevania, Simon Belmont - though victorious - was wounded. These wounds are cursed with Dracula's dark magic and they are slowly draining the life from Simon. To lift this curse, Simon retrieves the remaining pieces of Dracula's body and burns them in the ruined remains of Castlevania. This revives the Count, who Simon subsequently fights and defeats, lifting the curse. But then, in the game's normal ending, we are told that Simon dies anyway, thus rendering the entire mission fruitless. Fuck you, Konami.
13. DIE MOTHERFUCKER, DIE! ...JUST KIDDING!
In The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, Bugs Bunny is invited to a birthday blowout to celebrate his 50th birthday. Unfortunately, the other Looney Tunes get jealous and conspire to kill the wabbit before he gets a chance to celebrate. To achieve this goal, each Looney Tune character has armed himself with a deadly weapon. Wile E. has a knife. Yosemite Sam has a pistol. Elmer Fudd has a shotgun that shoots out nets. Pepe LePew has stinky skunk farts. Sylvester has... a skateboard. Tweety has... tomatoes? Daffy just sorta wanders back and forth. Taz has footballs for some reason. OK, so most of the Looney Tunes are kind of inept; if they weren't, Bugs would have gotten blowed up long ago. But they're trying. However, if Bugs manages to beat them all and make it to his party, he opens the door and sees... the exact same assholes who were trying to kill him five minutes ago. It was, apparently, all just a joke. Ha ha, very funny. Except, you know, IT'S NOT. If I were Bugs, I'd kick those motherfuckers right out of my party. They're probably just pretending they were joking around because they failed and now they want birthday cake. Fuck that. No cake for you!
12. ARE YOU A BAD ENOUGH DUDE TO RESCUE PRESIDENT GEORGIE?
Once upon, there was an arcade game called Bad Dudes. It was the story of two guys in muscle shirts, Dude 1 and Dude 2, who decide to take a brave stand against rampant ninja-related crimes and rescue President Ronald Reagan from the clutches of the Dragon Ninja. The plot was very short and very silly, but it was also quite memorable. When the game was eventually ported to the NES in 1989, a couple of sacrifices had to be made. The graphics had to be toned down, and they reduced the amount of enemies that could be onscreen at once. But those were necessary sacrifices, the cost of moving the game to the NES. What wasn't necessary, however, was the removal of Ronald Reagan in favor of then-president George Herbert Walker Bush. Ronald Reagan was the cornerstone of Bad Dudes, the plot device that transformed the game from forgettable garbage into lovable kitsch. It doesn't matter that Reagan wasn't still president in 1989, he was only six months out of office when this game was released and there wasn't a person around who didn't remember his presidency, Reagan included. Without him, this game is worthless.
11. NO ONE FUCKING THOUGHT OF THIS EARLIER?
In Mega Man 6, everyone's favorite robotic hero deviates from his normal strategies of assuming Dr. Wily died in a giant explosion or accidentally letting him escape and actually arrests the fucker. That's right, it took SIX FUCKING GAMES before it occurred to Mega Man that maybe he should arrest the evil genius who keeps threatening world peace. SIX FUCKING GAMES! At that point, why even bother? The sixth game is far too late to be introducing jail as a plot device; at that point, you look dumber for trying to use it than for continuing to pretend it was never a viable option. So Wily's finally in jail, huh? I bet that'll stop him for good. Oh wait, he comes back in Mega Man 7... and Mega Man 8... and Mega Man 9...
I GUESS NOT.
10. EVERYBODY WALK THE DINOSAUR
Dr. Mario doesn't have an ending per se, but it does have cut scenes, the last of which appears after Level 20. If you beat Level 20 on Easy, the final cut scene is a generic congratulatory message. If you beat it on Hard, you learn that the three viruses are actually aliens. But if you beat Level 20 on Medium, you're treated to a completely nonsensical cut scene where the viruses watch a baby protoceratops fly by in its egg. What in the fuck does that have to do with Dr. Mario? You know, when I was twelve, I used to think that if I didn't fully understand something that it must be insanely profound and that when I finally grew and matured enough to understand it, I would have an increased sense of fulfillment in my life. Eventually I learned that just because something doesn't immediately make sense doesn't mean that it's profound; sometimes it's retarded, pretentious garbage... like Nirvana lyrics. And that's what this ending is, retarded garbage. That tree looks really nice though.
9. THIS PROBABLY ISN'T CANON
Konami's first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the NES is very well-known for being annoyingly difficult, especially that fucking underwater level. What is less known is that in the game's bullshit ending, Shredder's defeat results in Splinter being restored to his human form. This is quite puzzling as Splinter's transformation was caused by a mutagen, not by some magical Shredder curse. Furthermore, Splinter and the Turtles were transformed in the same fucking incident, so even if beating Shredder somehow *could* return Splinter to his original state, it would also turn the Ninja Turtles back into regular turtles. Thirdly, this ending grossly miscalculates the desires of the show's fanbase. There wasn't a single fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon who was rooting for Splinter to become human again. The entire allure of the show came from its mutants, ninjas, robots, aliens, and giant talking brains from other dimensions, and Splinter was far more fascinating as a talking rat than he could ever hope to be as human. As a rat, Splinter was a wise mentor to the turtles. As a human, he'd just be some douchebag in a bathrobe and this ending proves that. Human Splinter's usage of the word "excel" is technically grammatically correct, but it is an uncommon usage that borders on archaic. Splinter specifically chose to use the word in that way so that people would complain that that's not how the word is used, thus allowing him to give a long condescending speech to them about how they clearly don't know anything about the English language and its finer points... because he's a douchebag.
FUN FACT: In the original comics, Splinter was *never* human. His origin story was changed for the cartoon series.
8. YOU WIN, NOW SNITCH ON EVERYONE!
Back in 80s, success at any cost was trendy and it was never too early to start preparing yourself for a fabulous yuppie lifestyle. The key to success, of course, is confidence, and video games dealt that out in spades. Video games charged us with tasks that could not be completed by unexceptional people, everything from rescuing kingdoms to winning title bouts to blowing up Hitler's face with a rocket launcher. And if you completed these Herculean tasks, the games would reward you with a nice little congratulatory message about how fucking great you were, something along the lines of "you win", "you're a winner", or "a winner is you". NARC took this idea on step further: not only are you completely awesome for beating their game, but you are quite obviously qualified for a job with the Drug Enforcement Administration and you should contact them posthaste. This was a *very* irresponsible ending that quite probably led to several unsolicited calls to the DEA and possibly even some arrests. I can picture the scenario now...
Assistant Director Pileggi: Hi there, you have reached the DEA, how may I help you?
Billy: My name's Billy. I'm calling about my job.
Assistant Director Pileggi: Oh, you have an application pending with us?
Billy: Yeah, I guess. The TV said you'd give me a job.
Assistant Director Pileggi: Uh... the TV?
Billy: Yeah. I killed the giant head and he turned into a giant skull.
Assistant Director Pileggi: Uh huh...
Billy: And then I killed the giant skull, and then they told me I could join the DEA. So I called.
Assistant Director Pileggi: Well, I'm sorry, but we don't take orders from giant skulls.
Billy: But he was on TV and he said I could have a job! He promised! I want a job.
Assistant Director Pileggi: Are you high, son?
Billy: No. Wait...... yes. Do I get the job?
Assistant Director Pileggi: You sure do! Give me your address and I'll send a van over to pick you up.
Billy: Now you're talking! My address is...
And then Billy gives Assistant Director Skinner his address, gets arrested for possession, and gets sent to juvenile hall for a few months. After that, his entire life is ruined. Boys laugh at him, girls won't date him, and teachers write him off as a burn-out. Eventually, he gets rejection notices from all three of the colleges he really wanted to attend. He thinks about joining the army, cuz he was really good at Contra, but he chickens out cuz he's a pussy. So he slits his wrists instead and dies a lonely death. All this, just because a video game advised him to call the DEA. Way to go, NARC.
7. SEE YOU AGAIN IN ANOTHER GAME...
You know what fucking sucks? When a game intentionally fails to provide a proper resolution to its story arc so that you'll have to buy the sequel to get closure. You know what's even worse? When the game actually admits that it's screwing you out of a proper ending so that you'll buy the sequel. You know what's even worse than that? WHEN THE FUCKING SEQUEL NEVER GETS MADE. And that's exactly what happens in Tombs & Treasure when a player-named boy and girl go looking for Professor Imes, the girl's father, who disappeared while exploring some ancient Mayan ruins. After beating the hideous monsters that dwell within the ruins as well the hideous demon god Tentacula, the two main characters are suddenly whisked back in time to Mayan times, where they are hailed as heroes and they discover that Professor Imes is there as well... and he's become a Mayan High Priest. Then the fucking game ends. You're stuck in the past, sometime between 250 A.D. and 900 A.D., end of story. Not only are you deprived of modern luxuries such as cars, microwaves, flush toilets, toothpaste, and 21 Jump Street, but the boy presumably has a family, and that family will be grief-stricken by his mysterious disappearance. But don't worry! The game's final screen promises that everything will turn out okay in the sequel! Except there wasn't one. Not even in Japan.
If you somehow manage to beat Yo! Noid, the Americanized version of Capcom's ridiculously hard Masked Ninja Hanamaru, you'll be treated to the above image. After the complete fucking hell this game puts you through, all you fucking get is a brief cut scene where the Noid gets some pizzas, followed by this shot of him freaking out like an autistic kid on cocaine. Aside from being rather hypnotic and strangely erotic, this ending is stupid.
5. UNNECESSARY BONUS DRAMA!
StarTropics is the story of Mike, a star pitcher from Seattle who travels to C-Island to visit his archeologist uncle. When he arrives, he finds, of course, that his uncle, Dr. J, has gone missing. Then, being a typical video game protagonist, Mike decided to search for him. When he finally finds his uncle, Mike learns that Dr. J was abducted by an evil alien warlord named Zoda due to his discovery of some mysterious cubes on a crashed alien escape pod. Mike presses onward. He defeats Zoda, recovers the cubes, and discovers their secret: they contain children. Turns out that Zoda was a pedophile and the seven children contained within the three cubes were his personal sex slaves. Wait, no. They were refugees from the distant planet Argonia, where Zoda had led a campaign of extermination. Was this whole subplot really necessary? I mean, I know that the children are the future and all that, but why make the plot so fucking complicated? The plot easily could have stopped at the part where Dr. J unearths alien artifacts that Zoda is looking for; the whole part about the Argonian children is an awful lot of stupid, boring bullshit to be laying on the player so late in the game. On top of that, most of these kids look like they're mentally retarded, especially the one directly to the right of Princess Mica. What the fuck's he looking at?
4. EARLY RETIREMENT
With the exception of speculator, gambler, prospector, and bank robber, there aren't any jobs out there that you can work for one week and suddenly retire. And yet, that's exactly what the titular character does in Paperboy. I don't know if the game's programmers knew this, but paperboys make dick for money. The bulk of a typical paperboy's income comes from tips, and aside from Christmas, most people don't tip well, if at all. Now, you might argue that since the paperboy delivers to an unusual neighborhood, perhaps he receives unusually large tips. I reject this notion. While it's true that paperboy's route is filled with fearsome obstacles including tornadoes, errant lawnmowers, and grim reapers, his customers don't seem like the type of people who appreciate quality service. After all, these are people who spend all their time breakdancing on the sidewalk and running around with knives. People who let their children ride tricycles out into the street. People who don't respect leash laws. People with tombstones on their front lawns. People who... well, you get the idea; they're assholes and they probably don't tip well. And even if they did, "PAPERBOY RETIRES IN GLORY"? After one goddam week? Excuse me, there's nothing glorious about delivering newspapers for one fucking week. And that's not called retiring. That's called quitting.
3. A GRIM REMINDER THAT YOU'RE PATHETIC
In many NES games, two player mode was more of a hindrance than an asset. In Mario, you had to wait until the other guy died before you got to play. In Duck Hunt, a second party could hijack control of the ducks and completely fuck you over. And in Contra, Double Dragon II, Jackal, Battletoads, and almost every other cooperative game, the other player could fuck you over by failing to keep pace with you. But in Bubble Bobble, the second player could fuck you over in another way: by not existing. Yes, if you beat Bubble Bobble by yourself, the game tells you to try again with a friend. That hardly seems fair. Gaming has long been the favored hobby of the friendless, and what the fuck gives Bubble Bobble the right to penalize a player for having no friends? I mean, doesn't REAL LIFE punish that person enough? Even if you had a friend, getting the good ending was entirely contingent on the supposition that both of you survived through the final showdown with Grumple Gromit. Luckily for many of you, this radical style of "You Need Friends" gameplay never caught and virtually no games in the current generation of gaming require you to have friends, not even the most intensely multiplayer games. Instead, you can just sign on to XBox Live and, through the use of your headset, let everyone you play against know why you don't have any real friends.
2. HIGH EFFORT, ZERO PAY-OFF
Many NES games padded out their length by adding a second quest. Mario did it. Zelda did it. And so did Ghosts 'n Goblins, Capcom's frustrating medieval platformer. The difference is that unlike the previous two games, Ghosts 'n Goblins actually required you to beat it twice to get the game's proper ending. Of course, I use the term "proper" loosely. The game's true ending is a horrible mess of poor grammar and even poorer spelling, including stereotypical Engrish. You probably thought your friend was just being a racist dickhead that time he talked with a fake Japanese accent and replaced all the L's in his speech with R's. Well maybe he was, but I'll be goddamned if the Ghosts 'n Goblins victory message doesn't say "CONGRATURATION" instead of "CONGRATULATIONS". I could point out the rest of the easily visible errors in the message above, but frankly, I don't want to look at it anymore.
1. THANK YOU MARIO! BUT THE PRINCESS IS A COMPLETE BITCH!
We've seem some rather bullshit NES game endings thus far, but Super Mario 3 is definitely home to the bullshittiest. After rescuing the princess for the third time, you're told that the princess is in another castle. Then you're told that was just a joke. Then the princess laughs in your face and tells you to get lost. What the fuck, honeypie? After the inestimable sodomizings she's suffered at Bowser's hands, you'd think she'd be a little more grateful. And while Stockholm syndrome is a very real possibility, an even realer possibility is that the game ending was written by a six-year-old. Actually, that's not true. A six-year-old would have enough respect for the Super Mario mythos to come up with something more respectable than that; I certainly did. What makes this ending all the more offensive is the fact that Super Mario 3 was a truly great game, the best of the best on the NES. And yet, after eight amazingly diverse levels of addictive gameplay, you get an ending that was easily written in under two minutes. We deserved better than this. The *game* deserved better than this.
If you're an astute reader - and I hope you are, you've noticed this article is entitled "15 Bullshit NES Game Endings" and not "The 15 Most Bullshit NES Game Endings". That's because NES game endings weave a rich tapestry of bullshit, and there are plenty more to go around. So if your most hated NES game ending didn't make this list, don't fret; it'll probably show up in the sequel, currently scheduled for widespread release in July 2010**. Darren Aronofsky is currently attached to write and direct the project***. See you then!
*Possibly an exaggeration.
**Because you'll have forgotten about it by then.
***This is a complete lie.
Posted by: Syd Lexia
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