I’ll Protect You

Emerald Dragon and Romance in Video Games.

Emerald Dragon, by Atsushi Ii and Akihiro Kimura, Glodia, 1989. Ported to the Super Famicom by Right Stuff, Alfa System, MediaWorks, 1995. Translated by Eien ni Hen and Nightcrawler, Translation Corporation, 2008.

(Translation Corporation has lived up to its name: there are so many legal disclaimers in the Emerald Dragon readme, it’s like they’re trying to reassure investors.)

I played through Emerald Dragon and was underwhelmed: why was this game successful enough to warrant releases on so many different systems? Let’s pretend it wasn’t the graphics. Let’s say, just for a moment, it was the story:

Boy and girl, different tribes. It won’t work, it’ll never work — so she leaves to live with her own kind, but it’s unbearable: war, strife, and loneliness. She calls, he comes. They suffer but they have each other. Friends come and go. She finds and then loses her heritage. Through it all, he’s there, and, when it’s time to part, he renounces his own heritage to be with her forever.

Spooned out in uneven lumps over hours of repetitive fight scenes, what’s essentially a timeless love story isn’t well served by the structure of the game. In a hurry to get to the action, the SFC port skips right past the initial character development. That players were able to fill in the blanks is one of the reasons the game has endured.

Atrushan and Tamryn embrace.
Don’t worry, I’ll protect you —
literally, from hordes of monsters.

My question is, are there any games that successfully show characters falling in love? Any two characters you can watch as they fall for each other?

Ico and Yorda? Too subjective. Celes and Locke, Yuna and Tidus? Almost, but not quite. Jimbo and Sully?