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1. Final Fantasy and Zelda Share a Universe?!
Could it be? Could Final Fantasy and Zelda actually exist in the same universe? Well, that depends on which game company you ask.
In the original Famicom version and some of the later ports of the original Final Fantasy, you can find a special grave in the area of Elfheim. The grave reads “Here Lies Link,” and most of the elves in the area look like Link did in the original Legend of Zelda.
You might think this is just a fun homage or Easter egg. But it really looks like developers wanted to fold Hyrule into the world of Final Fantasy in a fun way!
2. Arkanoid the Space Opera
With Arkanoid, exactly how “hidden” the backstory is might be up for debate. After all, the game spells this out for you if you don’t immediately jump into playing. But so many players do exactly that and don’t realize the story of this game.
You’re actually controlling an escaped space ship called Vaus. The titular “Arkanoid” is actually your mothership which has been destroyed. And you are fighting for your freedom against a giant head named “Doh.”
Not the most complex story. But this is about 1,000% more story than most players realized Arkanoid had!
3. Love Triangles and the Post Apocalypse in Double Dragon
If you were to describe the seeming plot of Double Dragon, you could probably just say “80’s action movie.” A bad gang steals your girlfriend and you must use your kung-fu skills to rescue her. Straightforward, right?
But the Japanese instruction manual spells out that your two fighting brothers are actually martial arts instructors navigating a post-apocalyptic world where almost everyone has been killed by nukes. This makes some of the more outlandish character designs make sense: they are basically mutants!
And yes, this means the post-apocalyptic setting for the terrible Double Dragon movie is, in fact, accurate to the source material.
4. Dota 2: Battle of the Gods
Dota 2 certainly feels like an excuse to fight each other when you play it. But the assorted comics and hidden game lore spell out a pretty strange story for this popular MOBA.
Players will eventually discover that this story is all about two siblings with the power of gods who are locked in seemingly eternal combat. Kind of weird to think about how one of the world’s most popular MOBAs is really just the story of sibling rivalry.
5. M. Bison, Recruiter for Evil
Most fighting games have very little in the way of the overall plot. This was especially true of the early Street Fighter games. But an RPG tie-in for Street Fighter II put events of the game in a whole new light.
We find out that the entire tournament is just a way for Bison to see who is the strongest fighter so that he can use his weird powers and bring them over to the dark side. This sounds insane, but it actually lines up with the original Street Fighter II anime quite nicely.
6. Decapitated Tidus
Sequels are always scary because you never know what they will do with your favorite characters. And in the sequel novel to Final Fantasy X, basically, none of us could have predicted a story as dumb as we got.
A novel giving us a different ending to the series of events had Tidus and Yuna transported to a distant island. There, Tidus mistook a bomb for a Blitzball and kicked it. He then died in an explosion which blew his head off!
Eventually, the character is brought back with some bad magic and worse writing in the games. But it doesn’t change the fact that an official novel saw fit to decapitate your beloved main character because he was dumb enough to kick a bomb.
7. Slavery and Cannibalism in Pokemon
It doesn’t get much cuter than Pikachu and the other Pokemon. Too bad the Pokemon series is built on a truly mind-bending backstory.
Many players have pointed out that the games were already messed up because they basically glorified dogfighting. But the Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum games reveal that in the distant past, Pokemon were equal to humans and there was even marriage between Pokemon and humans.
And we also find out that people used to eat Pokemon. So these adorable little guys have gone from being equals to being hunted for food to being forced into animal fighting slavery. With a backstory like this, how can you not hurt yourself in confusion?
8. Crash Bandicoot’s Big Breakup
Crash Bandicoot has had something of a renaissance lately. And that means a new generation of players can enjoy the confusion that comes from rescuing Tawna and then not seeing her character appear in future games (save for a photograph).
But the Crash Bandicoot manga makes clear that she actually left Crash because she fell in love with Pinstripe, one of her kidnappers. Maybe the game was never just about breaking boxes. Instead, maybe it was here to give us all a Very Special Lesson about Stockholm Syndrome.
9. Splatoon Meets Mad Max
Splatoon features a colorful world and characters. Everything is so cute that most players never bother asking “where are the humans?”
But if you put together the Sunken Scrolls, you’ll discover the game takes place 12,000 years in our future and humanity has been completely wiped out. That’s right: this adorable, kid-friendly game is all about painting over the apocalyptic graveyard of the human race.
10. Magic and Mass Murder in Mario
One of the darkest game backstories belongs to one of the cutest games. In Super Mario Bros., it turns out you have been playing as a mass murderer all along.
This game’s backstory involves Bowser (who is actually a powerful wizard) turning all of the Mushroom Kingdom citizens into things like blocks and plants. That means every block Mario destroys used to be a person.
And that person will never live again, all because Mario was thirsting for one more coin. Was it really worth it, Mario?
11. Team Fortress 2 and Generations of Conflict
Team Fortress 2 is another game where players might be surprised there is any story at all. But thanks to supporting media, TF2 has one of the weirdest backstories of them all.
In fact, the story of that game stretches back to the year 1850. We find out that a man named Zepheniah Mann ended up pitting his two sons, Redmond and Blutarch, against each other on a useless plot of land. They eventually put teams together to fight over this land, kicking off the “Red vs. Blue” action we still see in the modern world of the game. And this is just the tip of a really insane story iceberg.
12. Wii Sports Resort and Genocide
Wii Sports was such a hit that even non-elderly games had to scoop up Nintendo’s new game system. This led to Wii Sports Resort, a fun sequel with a horrific story hidden in the game.
If you explore the island enough, you’ll find Mystery Ruins that describes a fight between locals and a more advanced civilization. While Nintendo has a reputation for keeping their games light and fun, the story of this fluffy sports game revolves around the genocide of the natives by an invading force!
13. Elves vs. Wizards in Centipede
Did you know that Centipede had an actual plot? Most players assumed this was just another arcade game about ships fighting an invading force. Or maybe just a really brutal portrayal of a day in the life of Mother Nature.
But later games and comics confirm that you’re playing as a warrior elf in his struggle against a terrible wizard. Basically, every frustrating round of Centipede is like a lost chapter from Lord of the Rings.
14. Mario the Animal Abuser
Thanks to Super Mario Bros., we tend to think of Mario as the good guy. But we first saw Mario in Donkey Kong, and he was a completely different man back then.
The actual story of that game is that Donkey Kong was a pet Mario owned. But Mario was abusive, causing his pet to escape. In other words, Mario was a straight-up villain whose evil ways set the entire plot in motion!
15. Fallout and Human Experiments
The premise of the Fallout games seems simple enough. Many humans took to special shelters (Vaults) to survive the nuclear apocalypse. And when you emerge from the vault, you must navigate a strange new world.
However, things were pretty damn strange inside the Vault as well. It turns out that each Vault was designed to test its inhabitants in a variety of weird and manipulative ways. Once you find Vaults that required annual human sacrifice, it becomes clear that the real monsters were around long before you stepped into the apocalyptic outdoors.