After The Last of Us 2 wowed fans with a trailer that featured a steamy kiss between Ellie and Dina, gamers took to the message boards to discuss how surprising the scene felt. At the time, ResetEra commenter Holyoneturtle acknowledged that kissing is "such a complex thing that we humans do that until recently didn’t translate to video games very well." Other users chimed in praising Naughty Dog’s rendering of a tender moment, pleased that romantic kissing had finally been successfully depicted in a video game. Critics agreed, and The Last of Us 2‘s famous kissing scene has been analyzed and thoroughly explored online.
Still, kissing doesn’t have the best history in video games. From poorly rendered characters to questionable plot points, kissing in games often feels more uncomfortable than anything else. That being said, some kisses are more uncomfortable than others, for a variety of contextual and visual reasons. It might be wise to take another look at that tender The Last of Us 2 kiss, because the rest of the smooches ahead are awkward at best.
Sonic and Princess Elise – Sonic ’06
There might be plenty of reasons why an animated hedgehog might want to hook up with a human woman, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward. In Sonic the Hedgehog ’06, Sonic does just that. Even though the illicit kiss is difficult for fans and critics to swallow, it happened and opened everyone’s eyes to the world of interspecies romance.
Kotaku‘s Patrick Klepek voiced his shock about one of the more infamous moments in gaming history, stating that "nothing compares to the moment Sonic was on the brink of death and forced to share a kiss with a human being." Klepek goes on to say that the plot of Sonic ’06 is incomprehensible, so maybe it makes sense that Sonic kissed Princess Elise after all.
In the infamous cutscene, Princess Elise leans over Sonic’s body, pleading that he come back to life. The scene’s awkwardness comes in part from the idea of a hedgehog kissing a human, but the confusing emotion is heightened by the entire cast of the game standing in the background silently. The juxtaposition of the cartoonish Sonic characters, like Tails and Knuckles, and the very human Princess Elise throws off the entire scene.
Kissing pretty much everyone – Chulip
Chulip is a Japanese game about kissing, meaning there’s a lot of kissing going on. However, the type of people the protagonist kisses makes the game a little awkward. These aren’t romantic kisses, but kisses used to strengthen the boy’s heart so he can ultimately win his love interest, a young girl in town. But to achieve his goal, the young protagonist needs to kiss a lot of people, and most of them are very strange, like the misfit Underground Residents.
IGN‘s review of the game describes the characters in Chulip as "super-deformed" in a similar way to the Harvest Moon 64, which Natsume also developed. The review also goes on to praise the characters of the game, including a light pole with a human face and a man in a gimp suit that only comes out at night.
Chulip is definitely very Japanese, and might remind players of quirky games like the underrated Katamari Damacy. The character design and premise of Chulip makes every kiss just as strange and awkward as the last. But, you know, at least you get to kiss a cute girl in the end?
Cassidy and Sean – Life is Strange 2
When Cassidy and Sean hook up in Life is Strange 2, it’s not awkward because of anything the characters have done. While Life is Strange asked players to make some difficult choices, Life is Strange 2 makes players pick between two love interests, Finn and Cassidy. If players opt to romance Cassidy, they’re treated to an incredibly awkward love scene (Warning: NSFW), complete with some oddly-rendered kissing.
The intimate moment between Sean and Cassidy has little to do with bad plot design or bad graphics. Instead, the awkwardness comes from their inexperience as teenagers. The scene has been praised for being highly relatable, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less uncomfortable. Jean-Luc Cano, the lead writer for Life is Strange 2, explains that the team wanted the scene to feel realistic, and for players to walk away with the knowledge that sex is something that’s more complicated than often depicted in movies. Sean doesn’t know what he’s doing, and the writing makes that palpable.
The scene is sweet, relatable, and cringey, all at once. Still, Sean’s kissing, amongst other things, earns a spot in the Awkward Kiss Hall of Fame.
Every single kiss – Bully
Bully remains a fan favorite, with fans eagerly anticipating a sequel that hasn’t been confirmed. The game is a Rockstar Games classic, all about misbehaving and being naughty, but one thing stands out as especially uncomfortable in Bully: the aggressive kissing.
In the game, the titular bully can choose to flirt with and kiss different girls and boys in order to receive a health bonus. While it’s pretty expected for teenagers to explore their sexuality, like in Life is Strange 2, the player character in Bully also publicly gropes the people he kisses, all while high-mixed make-out sounds play in the background.
The kisses itself aren’t gross because they happen, but because of how they happen. Add in some strange dialogue, like one of the jocks telling the bully they can make out if he doesn’t tell, and it’s an uncomfortable experience all around. Some of the kisses in Bully are Bachelor levels of awkward.
Frog’s wedding day kiss – Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger remains one of the most beloved games of all time, with fans having many reasons to sing its praise. However, there’s one ending to the game that might leave fans slightly uncomfortable in its awkwardness.
Chrono Trigger has thirteen unique endings — but one of them features a wedding, complete with kiss, between a frog and human. Officially titled "The Successor of Guardia," the wedding ending rewrites history and speculates what could happen if the aptly-named Frog felt confident enough to ask Queene Leene out. When gamers see the half-frog, half-human relatives of Marle, they’ll know the answer.
Players get to see the wedding between Frog and Leene, including the sloppy, fly-eating kiss that in other parts of the game might be mistaken as a combat move. Though the context of the kiss might be sweet and optimistic, the kiss itself is gross. While this ending is supposed to be funny, it’s still a little awkward.
Fans continuously long for another installment in the Chrono Trigger series, but they might be waiting forever. Thankfully, they can re-watch Frog’s kiss repeatedly to reminisce about the weirder aspects of their favorite game.
Kirby’s face-to-face – Kirby series
Kirby’s not afraid to get a little gross with what he puts in his mouth, but players might have also noticed their favorite pink hero also likes to smooch his best friends.
Okay, so Kirby doesn’t technically kiss his friends, but sharing food with other players to restore their stamina could be considered strange. It’s kind of adorable, kind of awkward, and fans have commented as much online. Some players have even come to expect the kiss mechanic in new Kirby games, feeling disappointed when they can’t figure out how to lay one on their partner.
It doesn’t help that the face-to-face mechanic also literally triggers a kissing noise, sometimes accompanied by the word "smooch!" or "chu!" in Japanese. It’s unclear whether the developers knew they were having Kirby and his best buds give little kisses to each other, but the act has been adorable and awkward since Kirby’s inception.
Yennefer, Geralt, and a unicorn – The Witcher 3
The Witcher series is undeniably sexy, but things got a little awkward when Geralt made out with Yennefer on the back of a stuffed unicorn in The Witcher 3. The unicorn scene, which is definitely NSFW, shows Geralt hopping onto a stuffed unicorn with Yennefer and then getting down to business.
Yennefer’s unicorn makes an appearance in The Witcher novels, as well, specifically in The Sword of Destiny. Geralt’s willingness to desecrate a stuffed unicorn might ruffle some feathers, considering his connection to Ciri, who has a noble unicorn steed that she saved from certain death, and who is associated with unicorns throughout the series.
Still, Geralt can’t resist Yen’s charms, making one of the more famous romances in the series just a little weirder. Some fans definitely despise the scene, while others simply can’t understand the logistics. Either way, the unicorn scene is famous for being surprising, if not a little awkward.
Panam and V – Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077 sometimes goes out of its way to be edgy, and the romance with Panam turns awkward when V decides to hook up with her while driving a tank. While their relationship itself is sweet, the scene is uncomfortable at best. PC Gamer‘s James Davenport describes the romance as a "cute sci-fi setup," but goes on to note that the scene itself just isn’t sexy. Instead, he calls it "horrifying," a "goofy montage" that features loud mouth sounds and awkward angles.
The scene features weird sound mixing with cheesy music and very loud kissing, awkward heads bumping together in the way strangely rendered models do. It’s a lot. The entire encounter is uncomfortable and feels like a missed opportunity, especially on top of all the other criticisms the game has faced.
Of course, mods for the game do exist, and one mod is helping players pursue some of the romances they missed out on. Hopefully those options are not as weird as hooking up with Panam turned out to be.
Bowser and Booster give Mario a smooch+ – Super Mario RPG
The kiss occurs at the aptly named Marrymore resort, where Mario follows Booster and Bowser in order to save Princess Toadstool. Mario must gather some of Peach’s accessories before he can stop the sham wedding between Peach and Booster and get the kiss he usually earns at the end of each Mario game.
However, if players gather the items too slowly, Mario ends up getting a kiss from Bowser and Booster instead. The entire kiss is just a misunderstanding in the game, but it makes Peach angry nonetheless. Bowser and Booster, on the other hand, regret the kiss because Mario feels "like sandpaper!" The mistaken kiss is funny, and meant to be funny, but it makes for an awkward break in tradition for Mario, Peach, and their usual end-of-game kiss.
While fans may never get a true sequel to Super Mario RPG, they can relish the time when Mario kissed Bowser and, just for a moment, brought the forces of good and evil together in peace.