Dan: This last one was by far our most popular episode, and I think that just shows that a video game's ending is something that has become more and more important as the medium evolves. Remember the olden days when you had to blow on your cartridge before it would work? Back then, most people didn't even get to the endings of games, not because they were busy or bored, but because games were utterly impossible to beat back then. These days if a game is too hard to beat, people complain about poor programming or game design. I think the videogame industry as a whole has had a few decades to evolve that videogame endings never did. After all, in the past an acceptable ending to a videogame was for the game to simply break and freeze.
First point went to Chris for enlightening us to the fart of an ending that Final Fantasy VII had. Bad endings and endings open to interpretation seem to be in the same categories most of the time, and this is a prime example. If a meteor is heading towards the planet, and then you flash forward a period of time and you see a ruined city covered in greenery, that isn't open to interpretation. That is an art department that wasn't told how the game would end in time to make two separate drawings, so they did one that could go either way. Boo, good sir, I say boo.
Second point is Kyle's, and I almost gave him two points because of the truth nugget he shoved in my face. GTA III's ending is so bad, it broke every sandbox game from that point on. I refuse to agree that sandbox games can't have a plot with a meaningful and satisfying ending, see Arkham Asylum for proof. But so many sandbox games think that an ending to the game means more work needed to shove in DLC, so they would rather let the end fizzle out.
Chris pulled ahead because of the army of additional content that the developer marched out to fix the ending they began with. In my mind there is really only two scenarios that led to that act, when dealing with a beloved and popular franchise. Either the developer knew the ending was bad, and counted on the outrage to sell the additional content...or the developer didn't know the ending was bad and is just inept at storytelling. Either way, it's a great disappointment.
Kyle evened things up with the argument that GTA III uses its plot to trick you into playing the game. There is no payoff for beating the game that wasn't attainable by just bumming around the city by yourself, other than knowing how it ends. The plot is only there to distract you, like a book on tape during a long car ride. Not only was the ending lackluster, but the realization that the plot as a whole was useless really twists the knife.
Chris pulled out the win by defining in my eyes what makes an ending truly butt-tastic. If you make a piece of media, whether it be a novel, videogame or television series about people stuck on an island, if you bring up questions and don't answer them, you are basically giving the middle finger to anyone who might have been a fan. If you bring up lots of questions and don't answer them, the middle finger is even bigger. And if you bring up lots of questions, and then make people pay for various other media just to get the answers ...well that's a middle finger that can be seen from space.