25 most heartbreaking moments in Nintendo history Sadness and spoilers within...

The only time games bring a lump to your throat is when the lump is preceded by the fist of a mechsuited super-soldier. Right? Actually, no. In the following list, you’ll find some of the eye-weepiest, blow-your-nosiest moments gaming’s ever produced in Nintendo history…

Super Mario Galaxy

Rosalina’s harrowing childhood…

After spending the day pinballing around the galaxy, Mario can anchor himself to Earth by visiting the Observatory’s library and listening to Rosalina’s tale of how she became mother to a brood of Lumas. The story tells of her futile search for her mother, before she finally acquiesces and becomes the astral equivalent of a crazy cat lady. Legend has it producer Yoshiaki Koizumi wrote the script at night when the team had gone home, so nobody would know about it.

Little King’s Story

Mini royal lonely no more?

One for the parents in the audience. Little King’s Story tells the tale of Corobo, a lonely boy who’s sucked into a fantasy world where he rules over an entire village. But once he disposes of the final boss (an enormous rat), he finds himself alone again… and in his old bedroom. Here, he comes face-to-face with a normal-sized version of himself. Was it all a dream, or are there two Corobos? The narrative cuts out before we can get an answer.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be… the real Twilight Princess!

Who could fail to be touched by Midna’s restoration from irksome imp to her rightful place as the true Twilight Princess? Nintendo’s storytellers don’t always get the credit they deserve, but Midna’s redemption story is worth two John Marston deaths, or seven Niko Bellic internal monologues, or nine million Gears Of War introspections.

Super Mario Bros. 2

The plight of bullied Birdo…

You’ve got to feel sorry for Birdo, gaming’s original transgender star. All he wants in life is to wear a pink bow on his head and be called Birdetta, but what does he actually get? His own eggs flung back in his face by angry plumbers. Watching such bigoted, blinkered violence play out in the supposedly happy-go-lucky Mario games was truly saddening. Happily, the hate crimes soon stopped and Birdo is now an accepted (if not particularly productive) member of Mushroom Kingdom society.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

“The grass is always greener…”

They say heroes get the ending they deserve, but even the foul-mouthed, urine-happy Conker deserved a cheerier ending than this. With a lax programmer’s help, Conks manages to overcome his foes and become the king of the land, but in the excitement of the moment he forgets to ask the programmer to restore his girlfriend Berri to life until it’s too late. Depressed, alone and ruler of a land populated entirely by jerks, the script originally called for Conker to pull a gun on himself.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan

Over the distance…

The Ouendan cheerleaders’ vigor is usually reserved for slapstick first dates, but Over The Distance has a little more gravitas as they help a deceased biker say goodbye to his missus by manipulating objects around her. Poignantly, the cheerleaders’ cymbal crashes become softer, er, crashes.

Final Fantasy VI

Celes’ suicide attempt…

Forget Aeris – Cloud and Tifa were always the better couple. If you really want a Final Fantasy moment that’ll cast +100 tears, look no further than this heartwrencher from the series’ 2D era. Overcome with emotion after failing to save Cid’s life, Celes Chere retreats to the mountains and attempts suicide by flinging herself off a nearby peak. Fortunately, she’s unsuccessful and is revived by a seagull, of all things.

Super Metroid

The giant amorphous kid is alright…

During the latter stages of the final climactic battle with Mother Brain, Samus Aran’s goose appears to be cooked. Reduced to a sliver of health and down on her knees, it appears all Samus can do is wait for the final blow… but then who should appear on the scene? Why, it’s the gross Metroid Larva you met earlier, which mistakenly thinks Samus is its mummy! Samus Jr unexpectedly comes to its adopted parent’s rescue, draining Mother Brain’s health and transferring it to a resurgent Samus. However, it’s killed in the process. *Sob*

Chrono Trigger

Rewriting history (or not)…

At the beginning of the game, it’s established that Lucca’s mother tragically lost the use of her legs due to a skirt-in-treadmill mishap involving one of her father’s inventions. A bad break, but nothing a little time travel can’t fix! Unless, of course, you fail to shut off the machine for a second time and history repeats, condemning Lucca’s mother to a second lifetime of leglessness. Yeah. Because that can totally happen, too.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Deku Link sees himself…

Majora’s Mask is a bawlfest, and it sets out its melancholic stall from the very beginning with this iconic scene. After being transformed into a Deku Scrub by the Skull Kid, Deku Link dares to glimpse his once-handsome visage in a nearby puddle and… the player’s heart instantly melts into a disgusting lump of pulsating goo. The angled eyelids, the hopeless shake of the head, the anguished cry… this is professional-level tearmongering.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

“Your friend is heartbroken.” And so are we…

Chunsoft’s Mystery Dungeon spin-offs don’t just tug at the heartstrings – they rip them clean out of your chest and give you the mother of all wedgies with them. At the end of the first of the ‘Mon-flavoured instalments, with the world saved, it’s time for you to abandon your life as a Pokemon and return to the human world – despite the desperate pleas from your new-found Pokefriends. You’re given the length of the credits to contemplate all you’ve left behind… before making an emotional return for an enormous poke-hug! Yay! But does this mean we have to stay as a Mudkip forever? Can’t someone change us back? Please?

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

The Wind Fish awakens…

Koholint Island – there are worse places to get shipwrecked, but sooner or later you’re going to want to go home and pay the gas bill. According to local lore, the only way to get off the island is to awaken a blubbery deity known as the Wind Fish, so Link trots off to do exactly that. But here’s the kicker: it turns out the island exists only as one of Blubberguts’ dreams, so as the Whale-God awakens, Link must watch helplessly as the land – and all the people he met within – vanishes forever.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

The ruining – and reunion – of the Flute Boy of Kakariko Village…

A mere ghostly apparition in the Light World, Link comes face to face with the Flute Boy in the Dark World, where the Golden Power’s effects have turned him into a creature not unlike a Winnie the Pooh Heffalump. Deliver the flute to his father and the boy petrifies into a tree, ending the Light World apparitions. Whoops! Boy and father, however, are reunited once Link undoes Ganon’s evil magic.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

“She sacrificed her life and her honor for her native land…”

How many games end with the hero saluting the grave of the main antagonist? Not enough. After killing his former mentor and mother figure, The Boss, Snake receives a tape revealing that her defection to the Soviet Union was under orders from her country so she could infiltrate Volgin’s inner circle. Snake is distraught that The Boss died a traitor to save her country and can barely bring himself to receive his Distinguished Service medal.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

“He’s not moving any more…”

Here’s a rare scene that many players might not have happened upon. If you pop into Hyrule Castle Town’s back alley after collecting the Ocarina (but before travelling to the future), you’ll encounter an injured guard who tells of Ganondorf’s betrayal and the fate of the royal family – before slumping over and succumbing to his injuries. Farewell, guard, we hardly knew ye.

Animal Crossing

“I’m sorry I left without a word.” No, we’re really sorry…

What could we have done differently to stop Pecan the Squirrel abandoning her idyllic home near the Helmouth (“Hellmouth” wouldn’t fit) seafront? Should we have spoken to her more often? Sent her more gifts? Or just delivered her letters to her neighbors like she asked, without reading them first? Either way she’s gone and a stinking gorilla has moved in to her old pad, and the only thing we know is that it’s all our fault. Having a favorite villager leave your town is so sad that All Saints actually wrote a song about it – Never Ever – several years before the series even debuted.

Beyond Good & Evil

He was a good pig…

Pey’J might be an abominable-looking humanoid-boar who speaks like Yosemite Sam, but he’s also Jade’s adoptive uncle and her trusted sidekick during the events of Beyond Good & Evil, so we grew to see him as much more than a potential sandwich. So when we find him dead aboard the DomZ lunar base, our inner anguish is far beyond lost bacon. Sure he comes back to life soon afterwards, but you can’t pull these tricks on our fragile hearts.

Second Sight

“r u there???”

You’ve just broken out of your restraints and killed a guard with your super-duper psionic powers. No biggie. Plenty more grunts from wherever he spawned from. Then you check his work PC, and discover that he was in the middle of an MSN chat with his frantic girlfriend. You’re a monster.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2

Can’t put paws around a memory…

The ending picks up the story months after you once again callously ditch your pals for the human world. Your closest partner happens upon the beach where you first met and begins reminiscing. Dialga senses his grief and decides to reunite you – but only if you feel the same way about him. Guess what? You do! Ping! You’re back as a Pokemon for group hug round two. But does this mean we have to stay a Turtwig?


The ‘death’ of Funky Phil…

When the Sanderson children’s resident jiggly flower-toy Funky Phil suddenly falls silent, the rest of the toy box congregate to see what the problem is. When the penny drops that Phil might have danced his last number the other toys fall into a deep mourning, even going so far as to stage a funeral. Okay, so it turns out Phil was merely unplugged, but all the same it was a touching scene which gave us a glimpse at the complex social circle in which the Sandersons’ appliances operate.

Metroid: Other M

“No objections, right, lady?”

So went Commander Adam Malkovich’s final words to a weakened Samus as he departs to destroy Sector Zero, sacrificing his life in the process. A teary Samus replies with the only appropriate response she can muster – a firm thumbs-down. In Other M’s final act, Samus pays tribute to her fallen commander by rescuing Adam’s helmet from the doomed Bottle Ship before the whole thing goes explodi-bye.

Fire Emblem

Nothing stirs the emotions like an irreplaceable loss…

One of the few games that manages to evoke sadness inside the game itself, rather than via a carefully managed cutscene. Once one of your soldiers collapses on the field, that’s it. Not coming back. Put a fork in them (actually, don’t). If you’ve spent many man-hours building up a team member, only to see them keel over three turns from the end, you’ll know what we’re talking about. It’s like losing a member of your own family. (The cat admittedly, but that’s still sad.)

Nintendo’s 2008 E3 showing

What on Earth were they thinking?

E3 is our Christmas. But in 2008, we had the equivalent of a Christmas where none of the presents worked and a drunk dad fell head first into the turkey. After enduring Shaun White clowning around on a Balance Board and Cammie Dunaway throwing a pretend-frisbee to a pretend-dog, the big pay-off was… a big executive Wii Music mash-up. Trivial compared to Final Fantasy suicides, but there wasn’t a dry eye over here.

Friday the 13th

“You and your friends are dead…”

How’s that for a Game Over screen? In the ’80s, when men were men, games didn’t pussyfoot around. No ‘Too bad!’ or ‘Nice try!’ – just ‘You and your friends are dead.’ Mercifully, those big cardboard NES boxes made excellent (well, sort of) makeshift tissues.

Hello! My names Alex and I've been playing games since the days when a rewind feature meant the game came on a cassette tape, and every movie license had an obligatory sliding block puzzle level. When was that? The 80s? The 90s? The past is a bit of a blur to me. All I can remember for sure is the music was terrible.

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Wind Waker’s ending is note-worthy for me. The drowning of Hyrule, and the king with it, forever… Sniff.


… Damn. Never felt emotional during my playthrough of any of the Zelda’s. Maybe I’m a robot.


Clearly you are lol. All jokes aside, the Link and Midna thing was great and that was a sad ending. Even for Zant, when you find why he does what he does.

Link leaving Saria at the start of OoT and then later losing her to Sage-hood.

The fall of Hyrule at the end of Wind Waker.

Wrinkly Kong dying after Donkey Kong Country lol.

Samus killing all her fellow bounty hunters in Corruption.


Couldn’t agree more on the Mystery Dungeon one. I remember being about 15 and playing it around 1 in the morning, literally having to stay silent as I cried my eyes out over it. It’s so sad! They’re all crying and you have to leave them, but it was a happy ending. Hadn’t cried like that since the first Pokemon Movie! Those pocket monsters get to me :'(


I always thought the ending to Ocarina of Time was one of the saddest. Sure you defeat Ganon, but because the Master Sword sealed Link away, Hyrule still gets trashed.

Coupled with that is the scene in the ending where King Zora, the Goron named after Link and Mido are not joining in the celebrations because they know they’ll never see Saria, Darunia and Princess Ruto again because they’re off being Sages. It’s a brilliantly bittersweet ending, where the sense of victory is tempered by the cost in lives.


Link’s Awakening takes the crown here. It’s ridiculous how powerful it is given it’s a Gameboy game.