Few things in entertainment are more aggravating than when a story introduces what could be a key plot twist, mentions it once, and then completely ignores it. It’s like the writer started to say something, went to the bathroom, took an especially gnarly dump, came back, totally blanked on what they were going to say, and just said “To hell with it” before moving on to something else.
It’s even worse when the loose end could have easily taken an otherwise-ordinary story, and twisted it into something awesome. The following videogames all share this problem. They gave us a tantalizing hint of something new that, in the end, turned out to be a mere tease. A dirty, dirty tease.
7. Mega Man Threatens To Kill Dr. Wily in Mega Man 7.
It was just another day at the office. Wily showed up in a way-too-small bubble; Mega Man blew it to bits, Wily begged for mercy. Another day another dollar, or whatever they use for money in 20XX.
Then suddenly, everything changed. Mega Man finally had it up to here with Wily’s shit, and decided to do something about it. With his blaster charged and hatred in his metal heart, he proclaimed himself more than a mere robot, and sentenced Wily to DEATH. The only thing that saved the doctor was some falling debris and the timely rescue of his evil robot ally, Bass.
Capcom being made up of a bunch of weenies helped too. They had the potential to go real, real dark here and didn’t follow through. The murder of Wily could have triggered an amazing story where Mega Man becomes a rogue outlaw robot, on the run from Dr. Light and the authorities, while continuing to destroy any human or robot who even remotely aggravated him. After all, he just blatantly broke the First Law Of Robotics. Once that happens, a bot might as well abandon all pretense, and run full-throttle with its bloodlust.
Add Mega Man’s sudden case of more-than-a-robot megalomania, and you had the recipe for an amazing, and kinda scary, Mega Man 8. Honestly, no matter how many nightmares Kill-Crazy Mega Man could have induced in young children, it would have been better than what we actually got: more Wily, clown robots, and the debut of Mega Man’s voice. Turns out he sounded like an eleven-year-old Japanese girl the whole time. Why he didn’t murder Light years ago is beyond us.
6. Samus Aran’s Hyper Beam Kicks Ass Exactly One Time.
At the end of Super Metroid, Samus received the Hyper Beam, which cut through Mother Brain like a knife, resulting in one of the easiest final boss battles of all time. Just close your eyes, shoot upward, and you win. High-school virgins with whiskey dick couldn’t produce a bigger anti-climax.
Samus then escapes Zebes, and proceeds to do…absolutely bupkis with this ultimate weapon of destruction. No sequels mention it at all, offering only the incredibly lame explanation that Samus doesn’t use her advanced weaponry unless her Commanding Officer allows it. Not only does that make him the worst, most limiting Commander of all time, it STILL doesn’t allow for the Hyper Beam’s eventual return. The writers seriously took a kick-ass weapon, fueled by Samus’s anger and grief over what was basically her dead child, and chucked it in the trash.
That’s right; it was a Grief Gun. The baby Metroid sucked it away from Mother Brain, then gave it to Samus just before being blown to bits. Samus, in turn, used it to blow Mother Brain to bits. It was the laser personification of the whole “Mama Grizzly” thing, and could easily have played a long-lasting psychological role in the series. How about, considering how she obtained it, she could only use the Beam when properly enraged. Not just regular battle aggression, but full-on kill-everything rage. But she needs to keep this anger and grief in check, as extended Hyper Beam use saps her energy, and takes years off her life. There, boom, done. Was that so hard, Nintendo?
5. Super Mario’s Minus World Never Got Its Own Game.
Sometimes, total accidents create the most potential. Such is the Minus World of Super Mario Brothers, a jarbled and confusing series of unused code, accessed by exploiting an unintentional glitch. The NES version wasn’t much, but the Famicon featured some of the trippiest, most surreal stuff imaginable. You had floating Princesses, headless Bowsers, Mario swimming through the air, underwater fireworks, blocks with veins in them, and a color scheme that looked like the Inverse option on MS Paint. Which just goes to show: stuff from Japan is naturally weird, even when it’s by accident.
Yes, it was unintentional. But Nintendo, instead of taking advantage, did what they do best: miss the boat entirely. Instead of farting out Super Mario 2: Everything Is Exactly The Same, how come nobody made an entire Minus World game? Imagine level upon level upon level of utter insanity. Everything mentioned above would be duplicated ten-fold, plus Lord knows what else. What’s more, none of this would be out-of-place. We’re pretty sure a universe where a fat plumber jumps on turtles, and gains the power to control fire via edible flower, could handle becoming a teensy bit weirder.
And don’t tell us the other Super Mario 2, what with the gender-confused ostriches and giant frogs with fatal vegetables allergies, counted as surreal. It could have been, but Nintendo dropped the ball AGAIN by making it all a dream. No story survives being “all a dream” with its credibility intact. If Romeo had woken from a horrible nightmare where he and Juliet drank poison, Shakespeare would’ve immediately been banished to the night shift of whatever the 1500’s considered their McDonalds.
4. Wind Fish From Link’s Awakening Is A Psychic Murderer.
If Link’s Awakening were little more than Link waking a giant whale called the Wind Fish, causing an imaginary island to disappear, and then waking up, it would quickly have been relegated to Mario 2 territory, where a great game is shot to pieces by a stupid “all a dream” twist. This didn’t happen here though, because it wasn’t a dream at all. Not that Nintendo bothered to point this out or anything.
Link awoke, looked up, and saw the Wind Fish flying in the sky, proving that it was very much real. And then…nothing. We got a prequel. Then another prequel. Then some spinoffs, and more prequels. Then everything was tied together in multiple timelines that nobody understands. Meanwhile, there was a giant whale roaming the skies that could invade minds, and cause destruction from within. And we couldn’t get one stinkin’ game devoted to stopping it? That’s OK; we preferred being yelled at by an annoyingly sassy fairy anyhow.
Think about it: the Wind Fish is real. He managed to pervade Link’s mind, and convince him that he was stuck inside a dream world, and that only by “waking” the Fish could he ever hope to escape. Meanwhile, the Fish knew full well that, by “waking up,” the island would be destroyed. So he duped Link into becoming a co-conspirator. Something like that needs more answers than what Nintendo gave us, which was LALALALA WHAT’S A FISH.
A whole game where Link discovers the truth behind the evil Wind Fish, and how he can destroy entire civilizations simply by invading an outsider’s mind, could have been boss. It still could be, if somebody at Nintendo would stop thinking up new Pok?mon for ten seconds, and actually get to some real brainstorming.
3. Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation Is Quietly Dissolved Off-Camera.
For years, Resident Evil players fought off zombies and zombie dogs and even bigger zombies, with the evil Umbrella Corporation always lurking in the background. They were the humans that managed to be even scarier than the monsters, because they knew exactly what they were doing. We all wondered when we would finally get to meet the head of the Corporation, and blow his head off once and for all.
Well, we never did. Sometime between Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4, Umbrella suddenly dissolved. So what happened? What major twist occurred that brought them down so quickly and so efficiently? And was it good enough to justify not getting to destroy the company ourselves?
Of course not! Albert Wesker, the series’ main villain, handed the government proof of what Umbrella was doing, and the subsequent government intervention caused a series of major stock collapses that forced the company to fold. So the zombie-making monster scientists got treated almost exactly like Enron did, only with less fanfare and no Playboy spread for the Women Of Umbrella. This was handled off-camera, by the way, which was surely a disappointment for anybody who had been clamoring for a pulse-pounding simulation of the awesomeness that is a Congressional hearing too dull even for C-SPAN 2.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles threw us a bone by letting us blow up Umbrella’s final tyrant, but the glory of exposing the company was still a tacked-on afterthought. In addition, an obscenely evil dude who wanted to kill, oh, everyone, got to do it. Not only that, he did it in the most boringly bureaucratic manner possible, just to be a dick. At least that part was consistent.
2. Lara Croft Gains The Powers of King Arthur and Thor, No One Cares.
So Tomb Raider has never been the most realistic of franchises – you fight a dinosaur in the first 15 minutes of the first game, after all – but they really threw us a curveball near the end. One that could’ve literally ascended Lara Croft to Godhood. Don’t scoff at this lack of realism. Just remember: DINOSAUR. Also, Lara’s chest. Realism is a dirty, dirty word in the Tomb Raider universe.
In Tomb Raider Legend, Lara tracks down the Sword of Excalibur, which works and everything. Not only does it work, Lara can wield it perfectly. Now, only King Arthur could wield Excalibur, due to his status as rightful king. This, by extension, would make Lara Croft royalty. And yet her writers managed to forget all about a famous enchanted friggin’ sword by the very next game. Legendary magical weapon, bah! A dime a dozen.
But that’s OK because, in the next game, she uncovered the Hammer of Thor. Yes, THAT Hammer of Thor. It was just lying around. And again, she could expertly wield it, which meant she wasn’t mere royalty, but a literal Goddess. Before anyone with a brain could process the potential of a hardcore adventurer with supernatural powers and a legal claim to queenship, Eidos chose to reboot the series, presumably with no mythological weaponry this time. Sadly, any stories about Lara’s newfound status as ruler of both England and Asgard must reside solely in our damaged little heads.
They’ll probably bring back that stupid dinosaur, though. Anything beyond that is just too damn silly.
1. The Wisemen’s Committee from Metal Gear Solid 2 Could Have Been Undead.
Throughout Metal Gear Solid 2, mentions were made of the Wisemen’s Committee, twelve old men who secretly ran the Patriots, a force that controlled almost every government on the planet. Pretty impressive. Meanwhile, you probably can’t read this and eat a sandwich at the same time. How does it feel to be inferior?
Post-credits, it was revealed that the Wisemen had died over 100 years ago, but were somehow still alive and controlling the world. At that point, the population of the planet dropped significantly, as the brains of several million gamers exploded at the exact same time. How, we wondered, was that even possible?
Simple. They were computers. And that whole “dead for a century” thing? The writers simply had Snake open the sequel by declaring the whole thing a false lead, filled with “bogus information.” So yes, they promised us Snake versus an undead zombie shadow government, and gave us malicious Windows software instead. Hope you stocked up on ketchup, dear Reader of Text, because that’s the only way this red herring is ever going to taste good.
Snake discovering the secret of the Wisemen’s immortality, and working frantically toward reversing it before the world suffered more damage, would have been an insanely entertaining premise. And the nerd crowd would’ve eaten it up, since it’s been scientifically proven that zombies + anything = wet nerd panties. Clearly, no one at Konami has a wet panty fetish. They do however, seem to adore old people in tight clothing. And if you do too, MGS4 was probably the most satisfying thing you’d seen in years.
Jason Iannone is a humorist and editor for hire. His Facebook is a rockin’ party, and his Twitter is the awesome afterparty. Tumblr is where he rides out the hangover, and archives anything he writes from anywhere.