The proper end to a gaming experience is a cinematic showcase, the highest quality of which have resulted in the best video game endings of all time. Especially for titles that have demanded dozens of hours worth of investment in time, much less the mental and emotional tax they take on their players, a worthy end sequence should be an evocative, sentimental showdown between entertainment’s ability to provide a means of escapism and the player’s capacity for completely being immersed in the experience.
Some of the best video game endings of all time have involved variable endings; that is, the ending sequence has been dependent on how the player played the game. Perhaps there would be a “bad” ending if the player failed to do more than the bare minimum required, or maybe there are choices present throughout the game that affect the ultimate storyline.
Chrono Trigger (SNES)
This groundbreaking role-playing game on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System featured a remarkably rich plot rife with time travel, multiple controllable party characters, and a world-spanning arc that saw centuries of time pass within hours of play. Throughout the epic adventure, the player is challenged to pursue certain courses of action at a quicker rate than others, and since the quest is all about time, it is only fitting that some differences in timing result in differing endings.
Twisted Metal series (PS1)
On the original Sony PlayStation home console, with some other spin-offs found elsewhere, there was a video game released called Twisted Metal that launched a short-lived trend of vehicle battling discs and saw a successful franchise with the spawning of three sequels on the system.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)
The first Zelda game to appear on the Nintendo 64 was the transcendental eternal classic Ocarina of Time, regarded by many as among the best video games ever made. Its sequel, Majora’s Mask, was no slouch either, using the same gameplay engine to create an incredible alternate-world environment for the hero Link to explore and conquer. One of the primary themes throughout the tale is the prominence of masks; not only are there dozens for young Link to collect, but they actually affect the experience when worn, albeit some more than others, even resulting in complete transformations. Among the more subtle effects of the masks, though, is the fact that each mask collected unlocks an additional cutscene cinematic experience in the ending for Majora’s Mask. Getting all the masks means earning one of the longest, most rewarding video game endings ever.
There have been, of course, thousands of video games released, and gamers tend to have strong opinions; ergo, this is by no means a definitive listing, but sheds light on some of the best video game endings of all time, certainly some remarkable examples at least. Among other honorary mentions may include the original Metroid game, the Mass Effect trilogy, and Final Fantasy VII.