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With tonight's Game of Thrones premiere, a show embraced by gamers and non-gamers alike, it offers the perfect excuse to talk about deaths we didn’t see coming.
Game of Thrones the television show has only been around since 2010, but the books have been publishing since 1996. Similarly, the games featured on this list are older games that have had plenty of opportunity to have their key moments spoiled. That being said, if you want to keep your Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, Mega Man X, Earthbound or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past experiences completely pure, please beware of spoilers below.
Here's a very tall picture of Cloud from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children you must scroll past in order to dive into the feature.
Aerith - Final Fantasy VII (1997)At this point, more than 15 years after the game’s initial release, Aerith’s death barely registers as a surprise. Children who aren’t even born yet are aware of her death. No one even offers a spoiler-alert anymore before bringing it up in conversation – it is simply known. We recently played through this moment in the game on an episode of Replay, which you can check out in the second segment below.
Ignoring all of that however, back in 1997, it surprised everyone. Important party members simply don’t die. That doesn’t happen in RPGs.
Crono – Chrono Trigger (1995)Speaking of the fact that important party members never die in RPGs – Crono dies in Chrono Trigger. My first full playthrough of the game didn’t actually occur until 2008 when the game released on DS, and even then Crono’s death took me by surprise. The star/namesake of the game can be eliminated from your party.
Crono can be returned to your party, and it’s the easiest way to complete the game, but it is possible to move on without him. To do so just makes the game a whole lot harder.
Zero – Mega Man X (1993)During the opening of Mega Man X, players meet Zero. He’s way more powerful than X and appears to be much more experienced. He’s the guy you want to play as after you meet him, but that opportunity doesn’t appear until two games later.
As X makes his way up to Sigma’s fortress to take on the final boss, Zero makes a sacrifice, effectively severing himself into two pieces. He evaporates after sharing some wisdom (and a final power-up if you missed it earlier), and fades away – a sure sign in the world of video games that a person is dead.
Taking a cue perhaps from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the follow-up game devoted much of its plot to finding and reassembling Zero to undue the painful memories of the first game.
Poo – Earthbound (1995)
Much like Crono’s death, Poo in Earthbound doesn’t really die. He doesn’t even leave your party, but the whole experience of bringing him into your adventure is a morbid one that effectively kills Poo.
When you meet Poo, you must complete your training before you can venture out and join Ness. This involves speaking with the spirit of your ancient lineage as he breaks and removes your arms and legs to feed them to the crows, steals your hearing, your sight, and finally your mind. After agreeing to each step and becoming a lifeless spirit without a mind, your training is complete.
When I played through this sequence for the first time, I couldn’t figure out how to move forward. I kept replying “no” to each step as it sounded horrible and painful. I was blown away that this character was going through so much and I was sure I would see a game over screen after finishing the dialogue assuming there was a larger puzzle I had missed. I was surprised when the screen lit up to show Poo standing there unharmed.
Link's Uncle – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992)In the opening moments of A Link to the Past, Link’s Uncle leaves the house with the non-cryptic message, “Link, I'm going out for a while. I'll be back by morning. Don't leave the house.” Of course, as all children do, Link completely ignores what his guardian requested of him and leaves the house immediately eventually coming across his dying uncle.
Link didn’t have much in the way of family of the preceding Zelda games, so to award him a relative was almost as surprising as the act of ripping him away from Link so suddenly.
Update: Readers have reminded me that Link's uncle actually does return at the end of the game – but it was still a surprise to see him go at the beginning!
What video game deaths surprised you? Please try to limit your conversation to older games, or games where you can talk around spoilers, wherever possible.
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