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Video game endings that were way too predictable

A game doesn't have to be bad to be narratively obvious. Some of our favorite video games have endings that we can see coming a mile or two away — but that doesn't mean we love them any less (well ... most of the time, that is). As games have evolved from 8-bit arcade platformers to fully realized 3D adventures, storytelling nuances have grown equally complex. Maybe that's why it can be so irritating when a quality game's overtly apparent ending offers less than our expectations desire. But, then again, some games need to be obvious by their very nature.

So, whether we're jumping and swimming through eight worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom or chasing ultranationalist arms dealers across the IRL globe, our virtual adventures don't always have extraordinary conclusions. And with the spirit of scholastic pursuit in mind, we're examining some of our favorite video game endings that are just way too predictable for their own good.

Rescuing the princess - Super Mario Bros.

Not only is it responsible for the enduring recognition of Nintendo's most affable mascot, but Super Mario Bros. from Shigeru Miyamoto and company is a true milestone in video game history. This 2D 8-bit action platformer was the follow-up to the 1983 arcade classic Mario Bros., and took the world by storm when it shipped with the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. TechnoBuffalo calls it "a bona fide slice of quintessential Nintendo history." But, as anyone who's spent an hour or two with Super Mario Bros. knows, a pattern starts emerging as you finish each of the eight worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom.

After defeating King Koopa in the castle at the end of each game world (but before you finally save the day in "World 8-4"), Toad will routinely remind you that "our princess is in another castle." Sure enough, once you finally take down the final Koopa at the end of 8-4, Princess Peach awaits with arms wide open to usher you into New Game Plus. And if the repetition of Toad's familiar phrase isn't enough to warn players of what's to come, anyone familiar with Mario's early career as Jumpman in Donkey Kong knows one fact: he always gets the girl.

Mr. X really does find you in the end - Resident Evil 2

The survival horror sequel to Resident Evil from director Hideki Kamiya and producer Shinji Mikami was labeled by GameSpot as "the first really big, ultrahyped blockbuster of '98," something that was "more an interactive, cinematic experience than a video game." Resident Evil 2 made a big comeback in 2019 with the remake by Capcom that presented players with characters, environments, and story that have all been rebuilt from the ground up "to create a terrifying world that feels both nostalgic and new." But, for all its glory and gusto, Resident Evil 2 goes down as one of the franchise's most interesting stories ... with the most obvious ending.

As you take Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield on their journey through Raccoon City, you'll notice a few familiar faces from the first game — including a new form of Tyrant T-103 known as Mr. X. The primary ending of Resident Evil 2 is essentially telegraphed to players via the repeat appearances of the illusive Mr. X, who finally catches up with Leon during the climax of the story. And — keeping with a tradition established in the original Resident Evil — this final fight wouldn't be complete without the excessive use of excessive firepower.

Ryu is exactly what you'd expect - Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior

Street Fighter 2 is a coin-op classic. Decades later, the franchise is still going strong, due in no small part to the lasting impression SF2 and its various editions have left on gamers throughout the years. This fighting game forerunner tells the story of eight (or more) warriors who compete globally in a notorious martial arts tournament for their own individual reasons. The pastiche plot and wacky cast of characters seem to take their inspiration from a variety of classic martial arts movies like Enter the Dragon and Master of the Flying Guillotine, but the elegant yet challenging gameplay is what has made Street Fighter 2 the titan of the industry it is.

Like many fighting games, SF2 has a different ending for each of its characters. Most of them are painfully simple and playfully obvious; but of all the varied endings, Ryu's is the most predictable. If Ryu beats M. Bison in the final fight, our sullen antihero unsurprisingly doesn't appear at the awards ceremony to claim his championship. So where is he? "Already seeking the next challenge. Ceremony means nothing to him." With or without the notorious mistranslation, his victory quote after each fight — "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance" — is a prescient demonstration of his loner attitude, along with his trademark look which purposefully suggests "he is a karate master at first sight."

Diablo dies in Diablo - Diablo

Its soundtrack stirs the hearts of an entire generation of gamers to reflect upon countless hours of dungeon delving below Tristram. Names like "Deckard Cain" and "King Leoric" have become the stuff of legend. And (together with the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans), it's the game that made Blizzard Entertainment a household name. Diablo changed the face of action-RPG fantasy when it hit home computers in 1996, and players have been furiously addicted to its distinct brand of isometric dungeon crawling to this very day. Nevertheless, the ending of Diablo remains one of the most necessarily predictable finales of our time.

If the name of the game wasn't enough to tip you off, the various lore books scattered throughout Diablo's deadly series of dungeons provide keen insight into the game's climax. "The Darkening of Tristram" in particular lets us know precisely what awaits us at the end of our subterranean sojourn: "The body of Albrecht, fully possessed by Diablo, began to distort and change. The small boy grew and his eyes blazed as tendril-like spines ripped through his flesh. Great, arched horns erupted from Albrecht's skull as Diablo altered the form of the child to match that of his demonic body. Deep within the recesses of the labyrinth, a growing power was being harnessed. When the moment was right, Diablo would venture once more into the mortal world." Sure enough, this is the very form the big crimson baddie himself takes at the end of your dungeon crawling escapades.

The good guys beat the bad guys (whoever they are) - Gears of War 3

The Gears of War franchise from Epic Games broke a lot of rules and stole a lot of hearts when its seminal first installment stop-and-popped its way across Xbox Live in autumn of 2006. As with many sci-fi action franchises, the bombasity of each release seemed to outshine its predecessor — so by the time we reached the third installment of this ground-breaking trilogy in 2011, fans expected some kind of resolution. But the one they got was painfully obvious.

Gears of War 3 brought us the culmination of the story that started on Emergence Day, and concludes with an epic fight against the cantankerous Grub queen and the Tempest, followed by a series of cutscenes full of trademark Fenix strife and wanton destruction. Sure, the final battle presents a relatively fun firefight that offers plenty of challenge to Gears players old and new. But this endgame sortie is fully expected, offers little to no real explanations of the trilogy's obtuse lore, and (as a result) is arguably one of the more disappointingly empty franchise finales in video game history.

The beginning spoils the ending - Dragon Warrior

"Within sight of Tantegel Castle to the south is Charlock, the fortress of the Dragonlord." From the first moments of Dragon Warrior by developer Chunsoft, these words become a mantra for the descendant of Erdrick as he slays his way to glory — leading up to the final battle with the Dragonlord himself. Dragon Warrior is one of the top fan-favorite JRPGs from the 8-bit era, due in no small part to its inclusion with a famed Nintendo Power promotion that put a free copy of the cartridge into the hands of some 500,000 subscribers. Even if this localization of Dragon Quest featured "relatively limited action play" and "dated graphics," it was too ubiquitous to ignore.

But the simple fact remains that Dragon Warrior was a little basic for the home console market it was helping to define. Your heroic quest to find and defeat the Dragonlord is made arguably easier by the notion that you know precisely where he is — the rest becomes a matter of time. And it comes as relatively no surprise during the final battle with the Dragonlord when the evil sorcerer transforms himself into a ... wait for it ... hulking dragon. Obvious, to be sure. But let's face it: with a name like Dragon Warrior, we saw this coming. We wanted to find ourselves face-to-face with a dragon in the depths of Charlock's poisoned swamps, because — despite its simplicity — Dragon Warrior is the kind of classic RPG experience that legends are made of.

Batman beats the Joker - Batman: Arkham Asylum

Featuring Batman: The Animated Series veterans Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill back in their fan-favorite rolls, Batman: Arkham Asylum from developer Rocksteady Studios is considered to be one of the the best Batman video games of all time, and presented what IGN described as the "sense of a fresh beginning for superhero action games." This third-person action brawler is full of brutal two-fisted combat, a supporting cast of amazingly realized characters, and high-tech forensic exploits using Bruce Wayne's trademark bat-gadgets. But, despite all its hard-earned and well-deserved accolades, Arkham Asylum offers up an all-too-predictable ending for anyone familiar with the Dark Knight's century-long crime-fighting career.

Arkham Asylum finds the caped crusader trapped within the titular sanitarium on a quest to survive a gauntlet of villains before confronting his archenemy — and the architect of this elaborate scheme — the Joker. Borrowing heavily from famed Batman stories by writers like Neal Adams, Frank Miller, and Grant Morrison, the plot predictably finds Batman dispatching the Joker in the end, who (once again) is escorted safely back to Arkham Asylum by Gotham City's finest. Complete with a final-frame cliffhanger that shamelessly features the game's mad-science MacGuffin, the finale of Batman: Arkham Asylum is about as by-the-numbers as it gets.

Arthur's not in the first game - Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the best-selling sequel to the award-winning action western adventure from Rockstar Games. It tells the story of erstwhile hero Arthur Morgan and his time with Dutch Van der Linde's gang of outlaws. It no doubt offers players one of the largest, most immersive video game experiences of its console generation.

Kotaku labeled the game a "techno-artistic marvel," while Eurogamer calls it "a peerless open world" that weaves "a story in the shadow of its predecessor." But the simple fact remains that, since Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel, we're clued in to Arthur Morgan's inevitable end no matter how dastardly or nobly we decide he should live his life amongst his fellow outlaws. We might not know exactly how he's going to get there, but one thing's for sure: Arthur Morgan ain't gonna survive this ride, because John Marston's got a redemption of his own to find, somewhere out there on the Western frontier.

Dracula gets reassembled (and killed) (maybe) - Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest

IGN called this sequel to Konami's classic platformer "the perfect game to play in 1988." This open-ended gothic horror masterpiece mixed subtle RPG elements with the original Castlevania's trademark style of adrenaline-fueled side-scrolling action adventure, and was no doubt a breath of fresh yet mysterious air when it came to the Nintendo Entertainment System in that fabled August of '88. Much like Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, Simon's Quest presented an esoteric departure from its predecessor that was full of interesting innovation. Perhaps GameSpot put it best when they said that "whipping skeletons and throwing knives in werewolves' eyes is always fun, regardless of how cryptic the world structure is." But unlike Link and its shocking Hylian revelations, Castlevania 2 was remarkably straightforward in its narrative.

Simply put, the finale of Castlevania 2 is the only logical conclusion to the game's titular quest, which involves assembling the remains of Dracula himself to destroy him again — now and forever. As expected, the game concludes with an epic battle against the vindictive vampire lord. And even though Simon's Quest offers players a trio of endings based on the eponymous hero's relative success, the outcome is ultimately the same: the dark lord is finally slain for good (... for now).

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a beloved part of any self-respecting FPS fan's catalogue of favorites. The winner of numerous awards from all manner of media outlets, it's considered one of the finest first-person shooters in modern gaming. A Remastered edition of Modern Warfare hit consoles and PCs in 2016 to equally significant praise. Yet, for as well loved as this modern classic from Infinity Ward and Activision may very well be, the outcome of its high-octane narrative is relatively easy to anticipate.

COD4 tells the story of a fictional civil war in an alternate timeline Russia, the despots and madmen from around the globe who drive this war, and the American and British soldiers who ally themselves to topple these insidious forces of evil. But the hunt for ultranationalist antagonist (and Modern Warfare big bad) Imran Zakhaev is so ubiquitous throughout the game's campaign, there's never a doubt that one final battle with him awaits you in the end. And with a title so obviously inspired by cinematic trope, it's only natural for this final conflict to include a harrowing showdown with the bad guy in slow-motion, silver-screen style.