A good video game ending should provide a fulfilling cinematic experience that rewards the player for his or her efforts to complete the gameplay adventure. For this piece, we will be taking a look at five examples of a solid video game on the Nintendo Entertainment System that, instead, had a letdown of an ending.
The following choices are in no particular order, and no not reflect a “best of” list, but merely a summarized list of examples per category on the Nintendo Entertainment System. In this case, video games with endings that left us unimpressed.
The original Bomberman game for the NES had a storyline wrinkle that got lost in its many later sequels for the franchise: Back then, “Bomberman” was actually a robot, and his quest was to become a human. While this concept actually had some viable plotline potential, the end result was similar to the “Don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine!” message in the classic holiday film A Christmas Story. Sure, we get to see Bomberman in human form, but at the cost of an in-game advertisement. Besides, the transformation is hardly dramatic, and not given the proper treatment that it perhaps deserved. Nonetheless, Bomberman in one form or another would continue to churn out titles across consoles for decades afterwards.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Brothers 2 was noteworthy for being a notable departure from the platformer gameplay present in the original and in Super Mario Bros. 3, with the entire second game somehow feeling a little “off” or just plain different. Gamers would learn that this was due to the entire title just being a cheap art swap of the Japanese cartridge Doki Doki Panic for the Famicom system, but another explanation was provided in the game’s ending when the entire quest is shown to be just a dream. Really? That whole experience was just a nocturnal hallucination? Sure, dreams may be in vogue with the advent of Inception and other alternate-world pop cultural trends, but many still cite this ending as being among the foremost disappointments of the NES, especially since it was such a solid game otherwise.
This ending can be defended as not being terrible, and was certainly better than dozens of other NES-game endings (or “endings” in the case of blank screens, eternally repeating arcade-style gameplay, etc.), but the issue arises when one considers the inversely proportional ratio between the quality of the Castlevania franchise and the weakness of this ending. The original Castlevania title was an epic battle (“epic” in the true sense of the word, not the watered-down iteration that has become a meme-wannabe) that truly tested players and required persistence, patience, and outright skill. To get to see Dracula’s castle crumble was decent, sure, but it all takes place on one background, and the ending credits have an odd quasi-humorous touch with the “staff” being listed as the slightly changed names of famous horror film actors. Against the backdrop of a challenging, immersive, franchise-establishing, genre-redefining video game, the ending does not completely fit and is a bit of a letdown. Granted, by the time you actually reach this point, you might settle for anything.Bubble Bobble
Bubble Bobble is an interesting little early title for the NES, and lots of old-school retro gamers have fond memories of playing through this bubbling blast of a classic game, often with a friend. There are two different endings for this cartridge, one of them amazingly labeling itself as a “BAD END” and saying that it is not even a true ending. After the many stages you pass to get to this screen, this may seem like a slap in the face. Even the “good” ending, though, despite a touching (if not simplistic) reuniting of the Bobblers in true form with their lovers, gives the message “But your adventure is not over yet.” Looks like you will have to try conquering the sequel as well.
It can be earnestly debated as to whether the Silver Surfer video game deserves the “fine” designation, but Marvel’s character definitely earned some notoriety for this cartridge, almost solely due to its remarkable difficulty level that resulted in one of the most insanely challenging games of all time in any format. If you are an absolute Nintendo Legend and manage to beat this crazy death trap of a game, you get to witness a strange ending depicting, in a series of still frames with dialogue, Silver Surfer retrieving the final “device piece,” and Galactus requesting it, noting that, essentially, Silver Surfer has completed his task. But then the Surfer is all like “No way big dude, screw you, this thing’s dangerous so I’m taking it away.” And, uh, he does. Maybe the newfound freedom of the Silver Surfer is the true underlying theme here, but if Galactus could not retrieve this dangerous device on his own, then why couldn’t the Surfer have escaped to freedom sooner? Congratulations: That entire super-challenge was ultimately pointless.