There was a time when a game’s story didn’t get any deeper than beat up the bad guys, rescue the kidnapped damsel in distress, and live happily ever after. There were developers that became far more ambitious, especially with the adventure or role-playing genres, and some managed to tell a great story within the confines the technology’s limitations. Unfortunately, ambition can lead to storyline problems too. As the technology improves, and budgets for gaming increases the ability to tell a story in a game has the potential to be greater too. Developers get more ambitious with their writing, but unfortunately, such ambition and a game’s time constraints can lead to convoluted storylines and massive plot holes that have never been explained.
Fans often like to come up with their own reasons for explaining a game's shortcomings by delving deeply into the lore and history of a game to fill in the blanks. Or the developers take steps to add additional mediums to provide backstory -- with Final Fantasy XV being a recent example -- but some can’t quite be so easily explained. Here we have taken a look at some popular games over different generations that either have some unexplainable story consistencies or great big gaping plot holes.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ALL GAMES LISTED
15 FALLOUT 3 - WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE...
Fallout 3 is a Washington, D.C. based post-apocalyptic open world role-playing game released in 2008. It was a huge success for Bethesda since they purchased the franchise from the original developers from Interplay Entertainment. Bethesda switched the classic 2D isometric viewpoint to open 3D world game similar to that of the Elder Scrolls series.
Fallout 3 is such a massive game that it’s hardly surprising that there would be a few inconsistencies and one of the biggest plot holes came in the game’s final mission called "The Lone Wanderer". The player is forced into activating The Purifier in an area that is surrounded by radiation, despite having companions that are immune to its effects. Instead of helping you out, they kindly inform you that it’s “your destiny”. This inconsistency was addressed in the Brotherhood of Steel DLC, but it was a silly oversight on the developers part all the same.
14 GOD OF WAR - THERE'S NEVER REALLY AN ESCAPE
God of War began on the PlayStation 2 and is an epic and violent game with some memorable and cinematic boss battles, great cut scenes, and one of the best orchestral soundtracks ever heard in a video game. Fans of the game already accept that the developers like to play loose with Greek Mythology so that they can tell their own tale.
However, there are certain points in the game that don't quite add up. One such point is when Kratos throws himself off a mountain so he can escape his madness. Yet it has already been established in the game’s mythos, that Kratos would be sent to the Underworld where he would suffer eternal damnation -- the complete opposite of escaping his one's own madness.
13 SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 - WAS IT ALL A DREAM?
The infamous “it was all a dream” conclusion to any story is one considered one of the biggest cop-outs in fiction. There are occasions when this works well in films like The Wizard of Oz, Inception and Total Recall, but that’s because the writing is strong enough to support this kind of conclusion and often leaves the viewer thinking about the ending long after the credits roll.
It goes without saying that without perfect writing, this kind of “twist” rarely works in modern video games, let alone a 1988 platformer where two plumbers are trying to rescue a princess from a giant fire-breathing turtle. From a gameplay perspective, Super Mario Bros 2 was a fantastic platformer, just don’t allow yourself to get too invested in the storyline -- if that’s possible.
12 METROID - ATTACK OF THE CLONES?
Despite being one of Nintendo’s best franchises. the Metroid series hasn’t quite found the same success as The Legend of Zelda, or the Super Mario series, although with the release of Metroid: Samus Returns, there’s still hope for the franchise tobecome the mainstream hit that it deserves to be. Although as amazing as the series is, Metroid does suffer from some continuity issues that can’t easily be explained away.
Through the course of Samus’ adventures, players have killed one of the series main antagonists Ridley, several times throughout the course of the series. In order to tackle this continuity problem, it has been stated that Ridley has an uncanny ability of cheating death by consuming the bodies of dead humans and that he was cloned by the Galactic Federation. Unfortunately, this thin explanation and the suspension of disbelief are all the fans will likely have to go on.
11 THE GRANDFATHER PARADOX - CHRONO TRIGGER
Even before Final Fantasy brought Japanese RPGs to the mainstream, the time-traveling classic Chrono Trigger had already built up a fan base as being one of the greatest RPGs ever developed for a console when it arrived in North Americas in 1995. The game’s narrative was cleverly told considering it was developed for a 16-bit machine. However, as with all stories that use time travel at the core of its narrative, things can get a little overly complex, leaving itself wide open for some gaping plot holes.
One of the most obvious is when the game establishes that the “Grandfather Paradox” doesn’t apply to the series. Yet, the explanation given by Lucca for Marle not appearing at the Guardia Castle was due to the Grandfather Paradox, it’s a moment in the game’s plot that even the most devoted fan has trouble trying to explain.
10 FINAL FANTASY VII - PHOENIX DOWN
For many gamers in the late '90s, Final Fantasy VII was their introduction Japanese role-playing games. It was a game that really got players emotionally invested in the story and characters. So when we lost one of our favorite characters in Aerith, the impact would become one of the most memorable moments in gaming history.
Her loss had gamers scrambling, trying to figure out ways of playing through the story and changing her fate, but alas her death would be the only course of destiny for the flower girl. However, one question that has never been answered conclusively is, why didn’t Cloud just use a Phoenix Down to revive her? According to Final Fantasy lore, Phoenix Downs are offerings to “call back souls from the heavens”, so they don’t just recover KO’d party members they can bring back the dead. This one will forever go unanswered.
9 METAL GEAR - HOW OLD IS BIG BOSS?
Even the most devoted fans have trouble following the notoriously convoluted Metal Gear series. That’s taking nothing away from the fantastic gameplay and memorable characters of course, but the strange mix of espionage, sci-fi and Hideo Kojima’s storytelling seems like it’s designed to raise more questions than providing answers to its lore.
Unfortunately, even the most forgiving fans struggle to come up with answers (and excuses) for the series’ continuity issues. Going back to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Patriots, there’s a moment where Liquid says that Big Boss was in his 60s when they made his clones. Yet in Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker it is revealed that he’s 39, which means that the clones were made when he was 37. Any gamer wishing to start the series from the prequels, will no doubt find the contrasting information more than a bit confusing.
8 RESIDENT EVIL: ZERO - FROM VETERAN TO DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
After the success of the Resident Evil remake for the Nintendo Gamecube, Capcom released Resident Evil: Zero. It was built on the same engine as the remake, but it was originally intended to be released on the Nintendo 64, but scrapped due to technical limitations. Resident Evil: Zero was a prequel to the original game, just like its predecessor, it was a stunning game with an incredible atmosphere. In addition, the game ramped up the difficulty and centralized its narrative around Rebecca Chambers. During the game’s story, Rebecca encounters and defeats all kinds of monsters.
One would think, that Rebecca was probably more versed in dealing with the undead threat than the rest of her team. Yet, by the time she got to the mansion she reverted to being a clueless damsel in distress, that couldn’t even deal with one Hunter, despite killing several in RE: Zero.
7 RED DEAD REDEMPTION - NATURALLY GIFTED
Red Dead Redemption is one of the best games of a generation and is the greatest Western-themed game ever made. It drew inspiration from some of the best Westerns ever made. The story is definitely one of RDR’s strong points and some would even argue that it's even better than the Grand Theft Auto series. However, there’s a part of the game doesn’t quite add up. After the heart-wrenching scene which sees the game’s protagonist John Marston dying, you’re placed in the shoes of his son Jack.
He then proceeds to go on a journey to avenge his father's death using the exact same skill set that his father had. While it could be conceivable that he would be blessed with the same natural skill as his father, he couldn’t have achieved that level of ability without some training in the three years since his father’s death.
6 MORTAL KOMBAT - TIMELINE ISSUES
The Mortal Kombat series was a huge hit in the '90s, as it offered a less complicated alternative to the Street Fighter series. It even spawned a Hollywood movie that's arguably one of the best video game adaptations ever made. What fans loved most of all, was the laughter-inducing finishing moves, rather than the silly supernatural Enter The Dragon inspired story.
However, the rebooted MK went with a J.J Abrams Star Trek-style alternate timeline story. The game's story was designed to allow the player to get to grips with different characters and was actually better and more entertaining than it had any right to be. However, the plot itself didn’t make a great deal of sense. One example is after Shinnok's defeat, Mortal Kombat X’s timeline jumps forward 20 years, yet during the same time frame, Jax claims it has been 25 years since his defeat.
5 SNAKE'S REVENGE - NOT QUITE METAL GEAR
Snake’s Revenge was released by Konami as a sequel the successful Metal Gear for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was released without any involvement or permission from the original game’s creator Hideo Kojima, inspiring him to create Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. This meant that Snake’s Revenge would no longer be considered canon in the Metal Gear universe despite it mechanically being a solid game.
While the existence of the game can be somewhat ignored today, back in 1990 fans were obviously confused by the fact the two games existed as a direct sequel to the first game. Snake’s Revenge deviates so completely from the official game that it’s at odds with the original and MG2: Solid Snake. Additionally, the game’s title doesn’t make sense from a narrative point of view because it’s the Big Boss that is trying to get revenge on Snake.
4 JAK II: RENEGADE - WHAT HAPPENED TO SIG?
Jak II was the second installment in the Jak and Daxter franchise. It was originally released in 2003 on PlayStation 2, and was remastered for the PlayStation 3 as part of a collection in 2012, and will get another remaster for the PlayStation 4. It received critical acclaim for being an improvement on its predecessor in every department.
Jak II had a great story to along with the improved gameplay, but there was one aspect of the story that didn’t quite add up. An important character in the game called Sig gets swallowed into an abyssal hole with a Metalpede, giving the impression that he died. Yet Sig magically reappears in the game’s final scenes as if nothing happened, and no real explanation is ever given as to how this is possible.
3 HEAVY RAIN - IS MADISON PSYCHIC?
Heavy Rain is one of those games that should be terrible but the game still manages to have something about it which makes it stand out from the crowd. The reason why it should be awful is that its main gameplay mechanics are entirely based on interactivity and story. However, its story is absolutely riddled with plot holes and a nonsensical narrative that’s almost impossible to piece together with any sort of rational thinking.
There’s a gaping plot hole where Madison is told the identity of the Origami Killer and completely freaks out at this shocking revelation. The biggest issue with this is, that Madison has never met and is completely unaware of the killer’s identity at this point, not only that, but she mysteriously knows the location of his house too.
2 POKEMON - THE FORGETFUL PROFESSOR
Pokémon is a franchise that has always had a massive and devoted fan base, but its popularity has spiked again with the release of Pokémon Go on mobile devices and the fantastic Pokémon Sun and Moon on the Nintendo 3DS. The release of Pokémon Go not only pulled in new gamers to its addictive fold, but it also reminded some older gamers just how great the series can be.
However, these older gamers may have been reminded of Professor Oak from Pokémon Red and Blue on the Gameboy onwards whose memory consistently escapes him when he suddenly forgets his own grandson's name. The sudden bout of amnesia served as a prompt for the player to enter his rivals name, but it’s strange considering Oak remembers the name and details of every Pokémon in existence.
1 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME - THE SONG OF STORMS
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time is still considered by many to be one of the best games in the Zelda series and some would even go as far as to say one of the greatest games ever. However, it’s another game that opts to use time travel as a means to tell its story, and as great as the game is, it isn’t immune to causing some confusion in the process.
In Kakariko Village, adult Link meets a man named Guru Guru, who tells him that he once heard a song from a young boy (the young Link) years ago that has stuck with him since. Guru Guru then proceeds to teach the Adult Link the song for the first time, hence causing a kind of confusing loop-raising questions. If it already happened then why doesn’t Link already know the song if the timeline had already been changed?
What other video game plot holes bother you? Let us know in the comments section!