Red Flags: Retro Characters that Would Be Horrible to Date

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By TE Tomaino on February 12th, 2021


Ah yes. Roses and chocolates and dinner dates, oh my. Confessions of deep love and weightless sighs. Valentine’s Day is just as much about your special someone as it is a yearly reminder to shower them with gifts to prove how much your love is worth. In honor of this holiday that reminds us of all the past mistakes we have made, let’s look at a few retro video game characters who or that would be absolutely horrible to date.

“Hello, it’s your dad.”

Earthbound/Mother 2’s array of characters, such as the adorably bizarre (Mr. Saturn, Tessie) to the infuriating photographer who freezes the screen for ten seconds to make Ness and the gang say “Fuzzy Pickles!”, there remains one who is the most irredeemable of all — Ness’ Dad. Having a place to call home is essential to every hero’s journey. Knowing that someone’s got your back also makes the quest of life easier. Ness’ Dad, however, is an incessant nag throughout the entire game, reminding you to save at inopportune moments through the crutch of a Dad joke. Of course, the “ring-ring” of his telephoned voice is a necessity for the game’s completion, but the way he speaks down to Ness, as his son is literally saving the world, is beyond reproach. “Ah, I see… Well, it doesn’t make me happy, but I understand your point about the fate of the world being at stake,” is classic passive-aggressiveness I don’t have time for — my passive-aggressiveness is fine enough. It would be as if your partner texted you every time you entered a cult’s lair or a circus tent full of stuck zombies and not only reminded you to take a nap but made you feel sorry if you didn’t. The best partners don’t need to be supportive of everything you do, but when mixed with a guilt trip, it makes the future more tense for all.

I’m the Worst!

Just because. God. It’s Toad. Why would anyone date Toad? Their voice is beyond concerning — the noise that comes out of their punchable face reminds me of Brock Lesnar’s screech. Not only are they the most uselessly aloof in the Mario franchise, they are a terrible defender/s of the Mushroom Kingdom — and somehow allow their beloved Princess Peach to live in fear of perpetual capture. The agonizing extent of Toad’s existence, particularly playing Mario Kart 64, is overwhelming. Toad is the type that CHEATS their way through life, as they are always the first to cross a finish line or pull out on top in a balloon battle. Ugh. That cocky “Yeah! HAHAHHAHA”. There is nothing more satisfying than launching a shell or mowing them down when powered by a Super Star, watching them flip into infinite doom with the resound of “EeaAAAAHHHhhhhhh….” For someone with so much confidence as a noseless miniature loser, it would be difficult to apologize for their unfounded gloating on a date or when introducing them to the parents. Lest we forget that Stormy Daniels likened Toad to a particular post-president? Guilty and undateable by association.

It Happens to Wall of Us…

I like to consider all aspects of a video game as a type of character. Some games do not even have characters, but experiences. But one character that is not really a character, but is totally incompatible in terms of romance is the “invisible wall”. There is nothing worse than freely exploring the overworld inside a plane in Diddy Kong Racing and suddenly finding yourself blocked by a force so impenetrable, it offends both physically and psychologically. “Invisible wall” makes the universe smaller than you used to imagine and are more like big red flags. They love bringing others down to size with their sense of superiority and need to control others’ — creating a hostile partnership of borders before you even realize. “Invisible wall” are emotionally invalid and will never level with you concerning their deepest thoughts and desires. I suggest opting for “visible wall”. At least you know where they stand.



So imagine you are going steady with a “T” or and “I”, or even a square (“O”). They fit perfectly in your life and align with all your goals and aspirations and get along with your best friends “J” and “L”. You really see a satisfying future with them. One day, you are out at a bar with “J” and “L” when “Z” drops in, with their wingman, “S”, buys a few drinks you begrudgingly accept, and promises more excitement and challenge, something your relationship with “T” never was fantastic for. You know “T” is a fit beyond comparison and love “T” enough, but the possibilities with “Z” are “endless” as they whisper sweet nothings of cleared screens in your ear. “Z” scores your number.

“Z” is chaos. To date “Z” is like dating someone on a whim just because they say interesting things and elevate you to a god or goddess just to bring you down once they become bored or realize you aren’t who they thought you were four months ago. They ignore your needs and desires, creating even more holes in your life. “Z” is a non-committal, self-absorbed, and too concerned about their appearance and individuality to be remotely interested in completing you. As soon as you fall for “Z”, confiding in them with serious personal aspects about your life beyond sexual desires, “Z” splits, leaving you with nothing but a restart screen and serious regret.

Me in the Sims

Haven’t you been reading this? If this is not reason enough to not date me, I confirm I will barge into your house uninvited, eat all your 2-day-old pizza, clog your toilet, and sleep with your husband all in four hours of first meeting me.

The Running Man

What are you running from, Running Man? Why is your purpose in life running in an endless loop around Hyrule Field, never actually going anywhere? It is best to leave him running, regardless of what hints he gives you in Link to the Past. You will never convince Running Man that Link was not the one who kidnapped Princess Zelda. It is impossible of him to dedicate time to a sensitive soul like you. He obviously is the cheating type — always beating Link by 00:01. Ain’t no one got time for a man who is clearly running away from life’s responsibilities as well. He’ll just leave you as the one breathless in the wild and drop you for a thankless job as a pre-apocalyptic Postman.

Seaman SAys

Despite the instruction manual stating, “You are free to enjoy Seaman in whatever manner you find appropriate” which may be a deal-maker for some looking for love, the Gillman from Seaman is a narcissistic, curmudgeonly character. He loves to psychoanalyze you every time you open your mouth, but only if he’s in the mood. Not only is he a creep that watches and records personal details about your life, he is also half-man, half-fish. This would make co-habitation with Gillman impossible, as whoever reading this is most likely full-human and cannot breathe underwater. Technically, you are also Gillman’s parent — I highly suggest a good way to go about living your life is to avoid dating anyone in your family. He is a master manipulator and able to blur the lines between reality and fantasy so much, he steals YOUR identity. To add insult to injury, Seaman also insults you to injury, making you feel even more worthless than on the day you woke up and thought to give this game a go.

On second thought, these are just a few of the retro “characters” that annoy me more than anything rather than a sign of their relationship strength. But if your partner makes your “mission” more difficult, is constantly reminding you of your shortcomings without reference or regard, contributes nothing to your relationship, and/or is just a plain creep, consider this a hard reminder that you DESERVE only the best this Valentine’s Day.

Honorable mentions from the kind people of the Internet:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Caim from Drakengard
  • Blanka
  • Back Seat Driver (Cruis’n the USA)
  • Winston the Butler (Tomb Raider II)
  • Duke Nukem
  • Quina (FFIV)
  • Moneybags (Spyro: The Dragon)
  • Leisure-Suit Larry
  • Seymour (FFX)
  • Princess Toadstool,
  • Booster (Super Mario RPG)
  • Navi
  • Kaepora Gaebora (Owl & reincarnated Sage Rauru from Oot)
  • Zangief
  • Tidus
  • Dig-Dug
  • Nurse Joy
  • Albert Wesker
  • Slippy Toad
  • Lanky Kong
  • Aeris/Aerith
  • anyone from Mortal Kombat
  • Bonk
  • Boogerman
  • Dog from Duck Hunt
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Lara Croft
  • Knuckles
  • Samus
  • Jenova
  • Bubsy
  • Mike Tyson
  • and the Narrator from Impossible Mission.

What do you think? Who would make the worst significant other? Join the discussion!

TE is a nostalgia-fueled writer, editor, educator, and gamer from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Follow her on ig @thatkissthatkid or @retroanimetropes.


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