Alternate game endings better than the original

There's nothing more satisfying than a great ending to a great game. But sometimes, the ending you're supposed to see isn't the best one. Many games offer alternate endings to players willing to do the work to unlock them, and it's not unheard of for the alternate to be cooler and more interesting than what boring ol' canon has to offer.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II - the Empire wins

Even if you've somehow never seen Star Wars, you know the basic plot: Empire's bad, Rebels are good, Darth Vader needs a new inhaler, Rebels win. Not so in Rogue Squadron II, which flips the script and stops Luke dead in his tracks without earning a single medal from a single princess.

The regular game ends the way the movies do, but if you garner enough in-game currency, you can purchase additional levels called "Triumph of the Empire." In it, you play through the Battle of Yavin, but this time as Darth Vader. Piloting your TIE fighter as the rebels attempt to destroy your beloved Death Star, you blast them all to bits—including Luke, the son you never knew you had—and proclaim, "It is a great day for the Empire!" You then play as Vader in a second level, "Revenge on Yavin," where you attack Yavin IV and destroy the remaining Rebel Alliance there. With that, the Rebels are done, the Empire reigns supreme, the Jedi die out for good, and the Dark Side becomes forever dominant. Vader still needs a new inhaler, though.

Fallout - kill the Overseer

The original Fallout doesn't look or play a thing like what today's atom bomb babies are used to, but the general gist is still the same: you're a lone wanderer in a desolate world, there are vaults where people took shelter to escape Armageddon, and each vault has an Overseer. At the end of Fallout 1, the Overseer of your Vault congratulates you on defeating the Super Mutants and restoring water to the Vault. Unfortunately, he fears that the other Vault inhabitants will attempt to emulate you and leave the Vault, risking their lives in the Wasteland, and he doesn't want that. So to prevent a deadly exodus, he banishes you from the Vault and forbids you to return. That's some gratitude for you.

You can end this story in another, more satisfying way, thankfully. If you've earned the "Bloody Mess" trait while making yourself S.P.E.C.I.A.L., you'll fire a shot at the Overseer that'll rip him literally in two. Bleeding out from the entire left side of his body, the Overseer briefly attempts to crawl to the Vault before collapsing—at that point, it's all over but the dying. The game then fades to black, but you've made your point. You don't task the Lone Wanderer with saving hundreds of lives then treat him like a leper.

Singularity - take over the world

Singularity is an alternate-history time-travel game, regarding a war between Russia and the United States. At the end, you're given the choice to shoot either Demichev (the main villain) or Barisov (one of his victims in the past, whom you save by traveling back in time to the murder). You're expected to shoot one or the other, which will trigger one of the game's main endings. But there's a third ending, one that's almost certainly best for your character.

To get it, simply kill both men. You then slink off into the night and let the world descend into utter chaos. The USSR dissolves into what looks like a hundred tiny nation-states, a humongous explosion destroys both the Russian and Alaskan coastlines (unleashing monsters upon the world), and you then re-appear to rule over a massive army prepared to dominate the world. Your reputation is ruthless, your following grows by the day, and you're now the only person who can control time. Sounds like the perfect recipe to overtake the planet to us.

Link's Awakening - Marin's real

Perhaps the weirdest Zelda game ever, Link's Awakening takes place on an island that is literally a dream. A giant creature called the Wind Fish was put into a deep sleep by evil forces, and he created the island in his dreams. Defeating the evil, Link awakens the Fish, but the island disappears as a result. How Link doesn't disappear too, even though he was on the island and thus seemingly part of the dream, we have no idea. Remember: this game is weird.

But there's an alternate ending, which gives actual life to the closest thing the game has to a Zelda. Marin, an island girl you befriend, tells you she feels there's more to the world than just the island. She says she would love to be a bird and fly away from the island, free to explore the rest of the world. If you beat the game normally, she disappears along with the rest of the island, but if you win without dying once, you see her flying in the sky just as the credits stop rolling. She's not a bird, but she does have wings, implying that she's escaped the dream, is now a flesh-and-blood person, and flies free. The Game Boy Color version changes this ending a tad, showing an image of Marin in the sky, and then a seagull flying away. Either way, the sentiment's the same: Marin's real, and you helped grant her wish. Just like a real hero would.

Saints Row IV - time travel

Being a Saints Row game, Saints Row IV bases itself on an appropriately bonkers premise: a gang member becomes president, then aliens invade and obliterate Earth, trapping the president, their fellow gang members, and the remnants of humanity in a virtual reality simulator. Kill the aliens and you assume control of their empire, though Earth remains destroyed because you can't have everything.

There's an alternate ending though, one that involves doing more work than simply hunting down the aliens. You get offered multiple loyalty missions throughout the game, where you build rapport with your fellow gang members. Complete them all, then kill the alien emperor. You'll still conquer their empire, and Earth will still be destroyed, but this time an alien underling will reveal their race has access to time travel technology, which they used to kidnap historical figures for their collection. They then offer you the tech to use and tour history, experiencing Earth as much as you want pre-destruction.

Post-credits, the "kidnapping historical figures" angle pays off, as the gang returns to the present and stumbles across said historical figures, frozen and preserved. They thaw out one in particular, who turns out to have been the narrator of the entire game: Jane Austen. Yes, the author. She was telling the story of a band of deviant criminals fighting aliens in a VR world the entire time. It's certainly more interesting than Sense and Sensibility.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Nega-Scott conquers the world

As a movie where life becomes a video game, it makes perfect sense that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World becomes an actual, playable video game. Appropriately enough, the Pilgrim game looks and sounds exceptionally old-school, right down to the text-happy, limited-motion endings.

Every character you can play as has their own ending, though the canon one obviously most resembles the movie: Scott defeats the Evil exes and gets with Ramona. But there's an unlockable character called Nega-Scott, which is basically Evil Scott. You get him by completing the game as all four main characters, and if you do so, not only do you defeat the Exes, you conquer the entire world. 

Nega-Scott's ending shows him lording over Scott, Ramona, Knives, and others, for they are now his slaves. He sends them to the salt mines (which seems random, but even evil alter-egos need to season their food) and gloats about what a great day he's had, ruining everything. Then he goes to bed, because he's had a hard day making everyone else do work for him.

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest - Drac's back

There are three endings to CastleVania II: Simon's Quest, and none of them are "good." In the "normal" ending (where you take 8-16 in-game days to win), Simon kills Dracula but dies in the process. In the "bad" ending (taking over 16 days), Dracula and Simon die, but Simon leaves no heirs and the Belmont bloodline dies out completely. That's bad news for when Dracula does his next "100 years asleep, time to wake up and kill again" thing.

Then we've got the "best" ending, which requires you to take under eight days to kill your lad, Vlad. In this one, Dracula dies, and Simon lives. Everyone rejoices, but then, in the dead of night…Dracula's hand rises from the grave. Clearly, he's unhappy with being killed mere seconds after coming back to life (as we all would, to be honest), and he wants revenge. Since we don't get another Simon vs. Drac battle in the canon CastleVania timeline, this is clearly not what happened for real. But the idea of Dracula showing up at a party to wreak havoc, just as Simon's polishing off his tenth round of celebratory mead, is just too entertaining to ignore.

Half-Life - just say no to G-Man

Half-Life's canon ending is pretty straightforward: at the end of the game, G-Man appears to offer Gordon Freeman a job. Since Half-Life 2 exists, Canon Gordon obviously takes the job. That's because in the alternate ending, he doesn't, and doesn't live to talk about it.

Getting this ending is shockingly easy. When G-Man tells you to step into a portal to begin your new life…don't. Just stand there for 15-30 seconds, and wait for G-Man to get the point. Once he does, he remarks, "Well, it looks like we won't be working together" before transporting you to a pit full of angry, hungry demons. He then says, "No regrets, Mr. Freeman" and the screen fades out as you're torn to shreds. G-Man's "report" then displays, saying "observation terminated. Postmortem: Subject declined offer of employment." It makes you wonder how many players got this ending simply because they assumed they could wait forever, and so they used the bathroom only to return to a dead Freeman.

G-Man's motives have not yet been fully explained, but it's safe to say he's probably evil, and has been playing Freeman like a fiddle for one reason or another. In this ending, we can presume that Freeman realizes this and would rather die than do the bidding of some weird, godlike, almost-certainly malevolent creature. He's ready to sacrifice himself to hinder, and perhaps permanently end, G-Man's plans. That's downright honorable, even if does mean no sequels.

Streets of Rage - become the new crime boss

Streets of Rage is a pretty typical side-scrolling beat-em-up. In single-player mode, once you reach the evil Mr. X, he invites you to join his organization. You say hell no, beat him up, then his criminal empire is dissolved and you win the game. But if you reach him with two players, you have the chance to do something very different.

He'll ask you to join him, as per usual. But this time, both players can choose yes or no. If one says yes and the other says no, the two characters will fight. If the one who accepted X's offer wins, X will once again ask if you're truly committed to the cause. This time, say no. Enraged, X and his henchmen will attack you. Stop them, and you'll have won the game. But X's criminal empire won't go away—rather, you'll take it over. A screen will show your character lounging on a throne with text saying, "You became the boss! You are great!" The game then reveals it was lying to you about being great, as after the credits roll, "Bad End" flashes across the screen. 

We beg to differ, however. Sure, you had to betray your friend, but now you're the top dog, with an entire, super-powerful criminal regime at your command. That's pretty damn awesome, and you're bound to be better at it than Mr. X was. After all, he's dead and you're not.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows - Evil Spidey terrorizes the city

Most Spider-Man stories end the same way: Spidey triumphs, good wins, and great responsibility comes with great power. For the most part, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows concludes the same way. But it doesn't have to. If you've longed for Peter Parker to fully embrace his dark side, Web of Shadows' alternate ending is for you.

To get it, choose every black option you get. When you must choose between the black symbiote suit and your normal red one, always go black. When choosing between Black Cat and Mary-Jane, always pick the kitty. Do so, and once you defeat Venom, the symbiote consumes Parker completely. Black Cat slinks up to him, informs him the city is his, and offers him anything he wants. Spider-Man then comments, "I always believed that with great power came great responsibility…I never knew what power was." With that, he summons a horde of symbiotes to terrorize New York City, and we fade to black. The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is no more.

A concluding scene teases an enticing follow-up. Kingpin and Black Widow, desperate to stop Evil Spidey, fly in a big box containing a Wolverine who's also consumed by the Symbiote. Kingpin and Widow tell him they want Spider-Man dead or alive, to which Venom Wolvie responds, "I'm goin' with…dead." If Spider-Man vs. Wolverine: Battle of the Symbiotes doesn't become a game, or at least a movie, Marvel will have failed us all.