It’s Valentine’s Day. The holiday that pressures commitment-phobes, depresses singles, and means absolutely nothing to actual couples. The holiday that people make too much of a big deal about, and instead of blowing hundreds of dollars on fancy dinners and chocolate, could be best spent on the couch… playing video games. With minimal currency involved.
My fondest Valentine’s Day was spent playing Final Fantasy VI on the SNES and eating baguettes and cheese from Trader Joe’s. And the chances are that if you’re reading this you want to go that route too, and your date for the night has dumped all planning squarely on your shoulders. One of two things is obvious: one, if you’re reading this site, you’re a gamer; and two, you want to impress the girl you’re going for. Not to worry! I’ve got you covered. If you’re looking to woo the more testosterone-laden sex, however, may I suggest you take a look at Eder’s piece on how to win over the elusive dude boo. Here are a few sure-fire picks that will ensure you don’t crash and burn when you bring her back to your place and turn on the PS3.
And there’s definitely more than ten games here, just go with it.
If you’re in a well-established relationship, and you and your boo have been together since Super Mario Galaxy, then it’s fair play to go for the fighters and shooters. It’s co-op or versus, all the way. SoulCalibur IV or V are great picks for an adrenaline rush you both can share; nothing says “I love you” like beating your boo to K.O. in quick succession. Spiking them out of the ring is a nice touch as well. Any gaming or action-loving gal is receptive to the repetitive sound of bullets ricocheting off scenery or squelching into NPCs, and if you’re up for a challenge why not pull out Team Fortress 2, Borderlands, or even Resident Evil 5. Friendly competition is healthy for any relationship, and if you really love her you won’t go easy on her — do not be afraid to win, as there is no room for butthurt in couple’s game fighting.
If you’re not in a relationship with your intended boo but want to be, winning over your intended boo should be an exercise in showing off your mad skillz. You must convince them that you love a challenge, and that you’re willing to work through even the most complicated situation and puzzles. So, puzzle game it is. Portal 2 is immersive, entertaining, and a truly delightful problem-solver sure to keep your date on her toes. Make sure to give your boo adequate time to solve a puzzle on her own, and if she’s slow on the uptake nothing is more romantic than guiding her through. If you’re looking for something a little sexier and a tad more frantic, try Catherine. Just remember that when answering the relationship questions in between stages, you take your cues from your boo. Life begins at marriage, not ends.
If your intended boo is not a gamer, things get a little trickier. Shooters and fighters are out. Standard RPGs may bore her. Don’t even think about whipping out Skyrim or a game that involves extensive knowledge of the plot or consists mainly of sidequests. There are two ways this can go. If you’re in the mood for a co-op, you’ll want a game that’s fun and flashy without requiring much previous gaming experience. You’ll want a platformer, and the platformer that best holds the attention of the gaming non-gamer is Rayman Origins. It’s beautifully designed, the music is catchy, and your boo will feel exhilarated flying through its gorgeous levels. The game offers a challenge without requiring an insane skill level, but you’ll have to let your boo land a satisfying slap on you at least once. If she’s a movie or bookish sort of girl, go with either Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Bioshock. Both present excellently crafted, palpable worlds and characters that are sure to catch her interest. Play a few hours of these games — start from the beginning, these are some of the most elegant parts — and let your boo cuddle up next to you as she watches. If your boo asks to try, give her the controller and do not ask questions. You may be in the midst of a conversion.
If you have absolutely no idea if this person is or wants to be your boo, and it’s iffy where you stand with her, your failsafe is LittleBigPlanet. It’s cute, it’s fun, it offers a bit of a challenge, and your boo will have fun customizing her Sack Boy. There is no fighting, bullets, or competitiveness necessary to play, but you must be careful to keep your desired boo away from fire and poisonous gas — repeated deaths could irritate her. A few hours of this will allow you to break the ice and ask the dreaded question without too much awkwardness.
If you do not have a boo and are spending Valentine’s Day with one or more bitter single friends, or you are that bitter single friend, this is the only circumstance in which Mario Kart or Mario Party is acceptable. Pop open a bottle of bubbly, order some pizza, and cram onto the couch with your fellow jaded pals for a night of pure frustration and rage. Nothing makes you forget your loneliness like being hit by a blue shell three feet back from the finish line.
If you are spending Valentine’s Day alone, go pick up Star Wars: The Old Republic. You might as well. You’re not doing anything schmoopy today and chances are you won’t be for a while, either.