Let's say you have been through this incredibly long and Nintendo Hard game in one sitting (because you can't save and don't have passwords), until you finally finish the game and defeat the last, incredibly hard boss. The moment of truth has come, you wait for the epic, satisfying ending and you get...
"Conglaturation!" on a black background, in perfect silence, and nothing more (except maybe the credits, which are equally unentertaining).
Hey, you should be grateful. Some games just show you the same screen that introduces each level, except the name of the level is "you win" and the game goes back to the title screen afterwards. If you're really unlucky, all you get is the same Game Over screen you'd get for dying.
The urge to throw the game out the window is overwhelming, to say the least.
This is most likely to happen with older fighter games, console ports of arcade games and the like. It also happens a lot in old Western games, since Western programmers at that time normally put more effort into programming the game than designing a satisfying ending, although it happens in Japanese games fairly often too, if the image shown above doesn't give you an idea.
Keep in mind that early consoles had less space for flashy graphics and animations, so only endings that are bad even by the standards of their technology (a previously seen screen, bad spelling, etc) should be considered true examples of this trope, while in some games, this only happens on Easy mode, so there is a cool ending to reward you. For later consoles and platforms which had more space for impressive endings, A Winner Is You endings indicate not only a job poorly done, but the programmers' (or producers') laziness for not having considered how to end the game.
Cousin to (if not the most extreme form of) Cosmetic Award. Compare to No Ending for a similar lack of closure or a very abrupt ending in other contexts. See also Disappointing Last Level. Even more frustrating is if, when you lose, a game with this kind of ending gives you a Have a Nice Death or an It's a Wonderful Failure screen. A few of these will also throw in The End... Or Is It? while they're at it. Another tactic is to display the player's meaningless score in an attempt to add purpose to the ending screen. Also, the programming is often rushed for what happens afterwards, leading the player to the stock Game Over screen or back to level one afterwards, instead of back to the title screen.
Unrelated to This Loser Is You.
The website C64endings.co.uk contains examples of ending from hundreds of Commodore 64 games, and each one is rated; those which are rated 4 or lower are typically examples of this trope. (And then there's the "no ending" section...)
If you manage to defeat Jason in the Friday the 13th game for the NES, you're rewarded with the same picture of Jason sitting down you've already seen twice, and the text "You have finally managed to defeat Jason... But is he really dead? We're not telling!! END..." Much better is the losing screen, which, right in the midst of Nintendo's Never Say "Die" period, declared "You and your friends are dead."
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was in its time famous for a disappointing ending consisting of not much more than a screen of very cryptic monologue delivered by a voice belonging to a character who hasn't been seen. It makes sense in the context of the series but is hardly rewarding. This cliffhanger was due to time constraints. The developers had to cut a solid chunk out of the game to meet the release date. Some versions of the game contained voice files hinting at what this chunk would have contained. Those bits that were planned did make it (in very modified form) into the later games.
Some of the things that were cut can be accessed via cheat codes.
Of course, they did the same thing in Soul Reaver 2: abrupt ending, cryptic phrase, roll credits. Fortunately the developers redeemed themselves with Defiance.
Complete the Boss Rush in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and your reward is a still shot of Impact over a cheesy '80s-style background and the word "Congratulations!" The Japanese version had a slightly more interesting picture of the dev team in chibi form. Why it was changed is anybody's guess.
The first Tomb Raider game rewarded the player with a FMV about a second or two long of Lara's ship leaving, presumably going home now that it's all over.
Ninjabread Man: If you actually manage to beat the game despite its broken controls and Camera Screw, the screen goes black and you're taken back to the title screen.
BIONICLE: The Game offers a short outro, which quickly cuts to the credits rolling over the loading screen. Said outro is also anticlimactic, confusing, and makes no sense if you haven't watched the DVD movie on which it was based... and actually makes less sense if you have, because the game's ending directly contradicts the movie's.
Indie title Dark Matter ends with a black screen with text, immediately after entering a certain door in the endgame. Apparently, this is due to a failed Kickstarter leaving them unable to fund a full ending.
Stop The Express, the old ZX Spectrum classic by Hudson Soft, finished with the message "CONGRATURATION! YOU SUCSESS!" and a shot of your guy in the front of the train. Then it loops back to the start, presumably for more SUCSESSful action...
In the game's Famicom successor, Challenger, saving the princess (yes, there is one) gets you a "CONGRATULATIONS!" banner. Then the next round begins and the game loops back to the "Stop the Express" stage.
After finally finishing level 80, Bugs Bunny in Crazy Castle for the Game Boy had Bugs walking slowly into the middle of the screen with the message "Congraturations! You are good player!" and his standard "level won" animation.
The Legend of Kage makes you fight over the course of four seasons to save a Princess. Your reward? A brief ending scene that ends with "However..." and the Princess gets kidnapped again.
It does have an ending, after you rescue Kiri-hime three times. But the game does loop again after that...
After completing the surprisingly funDisney's Tarzan video game for PlayStation, you're treated to a brief clip from the movie, a screen that says "Congratulations" and a voice-over from a Rosie O'Donnell sound-alike congratulating you. Yep, that's it.
The ending in the arcade version of Strider was nothing special, but in the home computer ports by U.S. Gold it was replaced by some cop-out ending in which the whole game is revealed to be a training simulation, just because the programmers couldn't fit the final boss battle into the ports.
One NES game in particular that ends in a way you'd call extremely unsatisfying is Jim Henson's Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival. After you find all four keys from the four mini-games, as Kermit, you must defeat Dr. Grump. Upon winning, he has Miss Piggy slowly float down to Kermit and all you get for an ending is where Miss Piggy says "Oh thank you! Oh thank you! But it sure took you long enough!" Yes, you save Miss Piggy from God knows what Dr. Grump was planning on doing with her and the bitch starts chastising you!!
Not entirely out of character for a diva like Miss Piggy, but still...
Even worse: One particular port of Contra actually makes the ENDING involve the planet EXPLODING after you killed the alien heart. So your "reward" is to know you killed everyone on the planet.
Also who's the Vile Red Falcon. The complete lack of any text until this point made it very unclear who you were, who you were fighting and why.
When Meikyuujou Hydra ends, it simply tells you how long you took to complete the game and then rolls the credits, which ends with the hero hopping happily with his new crown at the The End message.
Good as it was, Capcom's Darkwing Duck NES game had an extremely unsatisfying ending. After getting through F.O.W.L.'s floating fortress and defeating the Final Boss, you're rewarded with a couple of screens of text, followed by a brief cinema scene of Darkwing driving along a highway. He hits a rock and crashes, "THE END" appears, the theme song starts playing, and... that's it.
Evolva. The ending? After you destroy the Parasite's bomb and defeat the two bosses guarding it, the final cutscene just shows the Parasite agonizing and the spaceship leaving the planet. End.
Rambo on NES messes up the iconic ending to First Blood Part II. In the film Trautman asked Rambo "How will you live, John?" and Rambo answered "Day by day." The game changed Trautman's question to "What will you do now?" but Rambo still gives the same answer.
The Uncanny X-Men for the NES ends with this message displayed on a black screen: "Congratulations!!! You have saved the world from Magneto and his evil mutants. Humanity is safe... For now." And that's the good ending.
Brain Dead 13 has this one: After watching the explosion in Dr. Neurosis' castle, Lance says, "Cool! Back to work!" then makes an Air Guitar of victory and drives away in his truck before the camera pans overhead to a bat that has awoken from its slumber and flies off.
The ending of Loaded is a very short FMV showing the final boss's body melting away and his brain escaping.
Dragon's Lair 2: Time Warp has this in the ending, with the caption saying, "Congratulations, you are a winner!"
Legendarily insaneSo Bad, It's Good game Trio the Punch ends by declaring "YOU FIGURED IT OUT!", before scrolling down to reveal a giant pair of bloodshoot eyes, and then pulling back to reveal that they belong to a giant shadow-y cube thing, which escapes underground. Cue two lines of incomprehensible dialogue between the main character and Mr. Chin, the player walking for a little bit before striking their victory pose and then "THE END". It somehow manages to simultaneously be A Winner Is You and a Gainax Ending at the same time.
The ending of Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge is, at least according to the Spoony One, conclusive proof that the developers never intended or expected anyone to beat their Moon Logic Puzzle-laden piece of crap, and instead just slapped on some B-roll footage (showing an actor in a Pumpkinhead costume and a pair of sneakers dancing around like an idiot for about 7 seconds) as a final insult to whatever player managed to crawl through their impossible mess of a game. Even worse is the alternate ending you get for foregoing the moon logic puzzle and using brute force to beat the final boss: The guy just flips you off
The Secret of Monkey Island parodies this trope by including a "cheat code" (Ctrl-W) which allows you to instantly win the game. If you use it, you just get a screen which says "You Win!" followed by the credits.
In Night Trap, all you get for winning the game is Kelly congratulating you on your success. However, if you get a perfect game (all bad guys captured, all innocents saved,) you get to trap her right afterward.
In Asterix and the Magic Cauldron, the ending is just a message saying "BY TOUATIS (sic) YOU HAVE DONE IT."
Beat Em Up
The Hong Kong Phooey game released on the Amiga and other home computers is both criminally short and has a terrible ending. After mowing down a load of bad guys you reach the final (and only) boss...if you can call him that. He's a giant guy holding a rocket launcher who just stands there doing nothing, not even moving. If you try to attack him or even just touch him the screen goes black and shows a picture of Spot the cat (Hong Kong Phooey's sidekick from the cartoon) along with this message: "As usual Hong Kong Phooey messes things up but luckily Spot is there to save the day. Congratulations.". That's the end of the game. You don't even get to fight the end boss!
Super Double Dragon, being an Obvious Beta, lacks any actual plot and features a generic text-only ending before the credits after the defeating the final boss. The Japanese version doesn't even have that; you just get the credits.
The Tick on SNES and Genesis has a total of 44 levels of monotonous gameplay, levels that go on far too long and endless waves of enemies. If you play all the way to the final level and end up defeating Thrakkozog, what do you get? The Tick yells "Spooooon!", and then you see the exact same friggin' "THE END" title card that you see if you run out of lives and continues, followed by the credits!And that's all you get!!
The Neo Geo game based on 8th Man: After beating the completely random final boss, you get a five seconds cutscene (which is just the intro played in reverse) and a screen saying "Congratulation!".
Beating Spider-Man & Venom: Separation Anxiety nets you a picture of Carnage and text saying "GAME COMPLETED".
The Teen Titans game for PlayStation 2: When you finish you are merely asked "Wanna play again?", and the characters float there 'till you make a choice. If you say no, you get to sit through bland credits. No skipping.
Nekketsu Kouha Kunio Kun had this in general. After defeating the final boss in the Japanese arcade version, Kunio walks out of the building and shakes Hiroshi's (a friend that he avenges through each stage) hand while the other students cheer for him. The American version of the arcade game (Renegade) simply had the hero kissing his girlfriend who was previously kidnapped.
On the Famicom, Hiroshi comes crying out of the room he was held captive in and gives Kunio a handshake for all his troubles; the credits roll after the scene. The American release just had the credits rolling after the final boss was defeated.
In Toxic Crusaders for the Genesis, the final boss gets away after defeat. The screen fades to black and then the two lines "CONGRATULATIONS" "YOU HAVE WON" spinning around the franchise's logo at an uncomfortably fast pace. Before every level, the level's name is shown in the exact same way.
While Scott Pilgrim mostly averts this, by having a different ending for every character, finishing with DLC-exclusive Wallace Wells just gives you a picture of him in a chair. This is one of the reasons that most people were dissapointed with the Wallace Wells DLC (the other being that he's just a re-skinned Stephen Stills).
Slot machines have to lock up when a win over a certain amount (in the United States, usually $1,200) is hit so that an attendant can be summoned and prepare the requisite tax forms. Winning a jackpot like this is a very exciting event for most people, which makes it a bit of a shame that many slot manufacturers don't seem to put much effort into what's displayed while waiting for the attendant to reset the machine. IGT's is probably the best, with loud, exciting music and a comparatively slick-looking screen displaying the amount won (intermittently disappearing to show the winning reel combinations again). It goes downhill from there: WMS machines will usually play at least somewhat appropriate music, but the only visual cue of what's happened is a blue and yellow box reading "Jackpot Call Attendant/HAND PAY: $(amount)". Aristocrat machines are even worse—a quiet, laid-back piano tune is played and "Call Attendant — Jackpot $(amount)" is displayed in 12-point font at the bottom of the screen. If you're not paying attention, you might have thought the machine had gone into tilt mode or something.
If you actually manage to play through a race in the video game trainwreck that is Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, you're rewarded with a shot of a trophy and the phrase "YOU'RE WINNER !" Not that it's hard to win, since among other things your opponent doesn't move.
It gets even better - sometimes the game doesn't quite register whether you're starting or finishing a race, and so there are times when you start a race, only to instantly win.
FFX Runner. After getting past the first part of the game twice and going past a very long part near the end of the game, you get... wait for it... the title screen, with a message saying "congratulations! you win!".
Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors has the infamous 'Desert Bus' minigame. The goal is to drive from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada at 45mph. This takes about 8 hours, real time. The bus veers slightly to the right as well, so you can't simply tape down a button and leave it. If you go off the road, you are towed back to Tuscon, also in real time. Your reward for actually making it to Las Vegas? You earn a single point, and are given the option to drive back to Tuscon.
Full Auto 2's ending consist of a short cutscene showing the final boss blowing up, after which it skips directly to the credits.
Blast Corps has a proper ending with a Playable Epilogue, but players can keep going. After finishing all the missions in outer space, they're told, "Now do it faster!" Now all the truck escort stages are timed, and medals are given based on said times. After getting a gold medal on all the levels, (including the racing levels), players are told, "Now go for Platinum!" This opens up Platinum medals, which have even more ridiclous times to beat than the gold medals. But finally, after all that, the true reward for 100% completion of Blast Corps presents itself: the standard perodic "Congratulations on your promotion!" message, with your final rank: YOU CAN STOP NOW
Two of the last examples for the NES are Mario is Missing! and Mario's Time Machine. The latter required only marginally more effort.
The Trope Namer is Pro Wrestling, where you received the same Engrish conglaturatory message after winning a match. The actual "You Win!" screen consists of a picture of two trophies and your fighter (with one title belt on his waist, and another in his hand), and the message "Congratulations! You are V.W.A. V.W.F. Champion!", while the music repeats endlessly.
In Soulcalibur III, after beating the Nintendo Hard final level in Chronicles of the Sword, complete with a difficultFinal Boss... You get "Emperor died (sic)... The empire collapsed, and the people were left only with devastated lands and the memories of the terrible war. The people, however, eventually forgot the hardships. They rebuilt the raised (sic) village and sowed new seeds upon the destroyed fields. Then, by the fire side, they told the tales—the tales of the great ones who spilt their blood upon those lands..."
In other words, a generic cutscene that makes little reference to the plot, complete with grammatical mistakes... What makes this example so galling is that the final chapter pits your five men against ten opponents, you have no chance to recover lost units, and each of their units is more difficult than the standard Soulcalibur IIIcontroller-smashing difficulty, and the final boss has a sword that can drain half of your health in one move, and take it for himself.
Custom characters in Soulcalibur IV get four different endings, all of them fairly underwhelming. They show your character either obtaining Soul Edge, Soul Calibur, both swords or destroying them both along with text claiming your fighter will "go down in history for centuries."
"Wow! Incredible!!" That's what you get for beating the original Super Smash Bros.. on the hardest difficulty: A variant audio sample. Future Smash Bros. games give you trophies for beating different modes on the hardest difficulty, along with the familiar "Wow! Incredible!" voice clip.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, on "Tourney Mode", upon winning, an icon of your character appears with a voice clip saying "The Champion is <Chosen Character>."
While a less infuriating example, in the original Smash Bros. the only reward you got for beating the game (after a long, although enjoyable credit list) is a picture of your character with a loud voice yelling "CONGRATULATIONS!" Granted, the screen is different per character, but it's still pretty lackluster.
The same thing is true for Marvel vs. Capcom, although the Capcom secret characters (Lilith-mode Morrigan, Shadow Lady and Roll) get their own endings.
The Japanese versions of the Street Fighter EX games actually had text-only endings for each of the characters. For some reason, Arika/Capcom didn't bother to translate them for the international versions (even though they're only two or three paragraphs long each), so they just took them out completely. Averted with EX3, which kept the endings.
Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha had short, plotless FMV cutscenes of the characters just posing or fighting to the same ending music. Though there were still some awesome moments (Guile riding on top of a fighter jet in mid-air, Cracker Jack uppercutting a speeding train and then walking away from the ensuing explosion) and some outright bizarre moments (Allen fighting a pair of statues that suddenly come to life, Skullomania suddenly growing several stories tall and getting into a Kaiju fight.)
The originalStreet Fighter has Sagat saying, "You've outlasted the best. You are now the strongest street fighter in the world!" before the credits roll.
Dead or Alive 2 had really weak endings. Granted, the game wasn't hard to beat, but even so, all we typically get is 10-20 second endings using the game engine graphics (not FMV like DOA3 and 4) that are head-scratching. Jann Lee busts down a tree with his fists? Zack goes snowboarding right then and there? Lei Fang looks around at nature? Tina hopping on Bass's shoulders? All lame. (to be fair, though, the game compensated with unlockable outfits as a reward for beating the game)
WWF No Mercy. Every title has its own set of fights that you can take multiple paths through. Finishing any path for a title showed your character celebrating, and a short crawl of text depending on which title. Fair enough. This trope comes into play for 100% Completion. Taking all of the paths for any of the titles takes quite a while, and many of them have sadistic fights (there are paths where you have to throw an easy match, just so you can take the path to a ridiculous handicap match). Your reward for completing every fight available for a title? The exact same text crawl. If you decide to play the title once more and just take any old path, then you'll realize that there was a glitch with the "100%ed this title" flag, and now you'll finally get to witness the celebration you have earned... a slightly different text crawl from before, depending on the title.
Persona 4 Arena: Most characters in Arcade Mode have a brief ending cutscene that ends in a cliffhanger. This is not the case with Labrys, Shadow Labrys, and Elizabeth, who don't fit into the game's story the same way as the other characters. Instead, their "endings" consists of their portrait, the word "Congratulations", and the character giving a single voiced line.
The ending of Wan-Fu in Samurai Shodown II, where he just tells the player that he has no ending.
The story endings of Ougon Musou Kyouku are pretty rewarding and entertaining, but if you select a team that doesn't have a story ending, you get a generic "Congratulations!" This is somewhat mitigated by displaying and unlocking a work of guest art or Fan-Art.
This trope invokes the ending of War Gods in a nutshell. If you complete the game with any characer, a text indicates that the plot is revealed that you have to prevent the invasion and destruction of the world by Exor. Despite the fact that the fighters are seeking more power by claiming the shards of the Ore.
Killing Zone for the PlayStation ends with a black screen with "Thank You For Playing," the credits and (in a larger font) "CONGRATULATIONS!"
First Person Shooter
Doom 64 ends with a text saying "Finally, the Mother of All Demons is dead".
The other Doom games (before Doom 3) end with a text crawl and an image as well, the exceptions being Episode 3 and possibly Episode 1 (which ends on a cliffhanger.)
In the Jurassic Park game for the SNES, after hours of slogging through some genuinely hard FPS and top-down gaming, you finally make it to the end only to be given a simple screen stating "Congratulations, you have escaped Jurassic Park". Not to mention that the ending sequence before that is exactly the same as the intro... in reverse!
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault just says "The End" and rolls the credits, no victory cutscene, nada.
Isle of the Dead, a cryptic mess of an FPS and a strong contender for the worst one of all time, ends with nothing more than a blink-and-you'll-miss-it animation of the main character escaping the island on a life raft.
The ending CD soundtrack for the CD32 version of Liberation: Captive II, a game which takes weeks or months to complete, the old man is underwhelming in his praise: "Exposing the corruption took courage. You have done well!"
Civilization V, unlike its predecessors which featured endgame cinematics of various qualities, now offers you a single picture and three sentences to congratulate you at the end of the days/weeks/months long game.
Fortunately, it does offer a button for those who just want to continue playing. Both developers and player thought are amused that the "continue playing" button reads "Just...one...more...turn!"
Before some patches months after release, it didn't even have the replay map, which shows how the civilizations expanded over time. Even after adding the map, the feature is tucked away in the upper-right corner of the victory window, and claimed territory on the map makes water tiles indistinguishable from land.
Endless Space features a popup that says "You are victorious ! Would you like to continue playing?" followed by a pie chart showing the final numbers (Planets, research, ships, etc). And then back to the main menu. Disappointing, considering how gorgeous the opening intro for each faction is.
Pirate original games developed for now-defunct systems such as the NES and original Game Boy deserve special mention. Suffice to say a single screen with a misspelled congratulatory message is the norm, while some don't even bother with that and just unceremoniously boot you back to the title screen.
One of the more infamous examples is the port of Contra Spirits to the NES, which does actually attempt to recreate the original SNES game's ending, but in place of the original's credits it is captioned "THEND".
Especially bad with Super Game, who usually opted for No Ending instead. Ironically, most their games were surprisingly good aside from that issue.
Somari's ending is effectively the last screen from the bad ending of Sonic the Hedgehog, where Robotnik juggles the chaos emeralds; the only differences are that the message now reads "The End, I Will Be Back" and you have to reset the game to continue playing it. This is especially infuriating as the chaos emeralds are nowhere else to be found in the game.
In the Famicom pirate port of Earthworm Jim 2 by Shin-Shin Electronics, the "ending" is really just a "The End" message with the cows from the password screen added. It's better than the Super Game version, which didn't even attempt to have an ending.
There's an entire website devoted to endings (many of which are examples of this trope) on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer.
The Jurassic Park example above is just one out of many. When you beat a JP game, you usually get a small, often lazy cutscene of the hero escaping the dinosaurs' island in a boat or helicopter. And maybe you'll see some dialogue.
Light Gun Game
While it does have multiple endings, the SNES/Super Scope game Metal Combat still managed to rub some salt on determined players. It gives rewards beating the first three difficulties: two cheat codes and a piece of really good playing advice, respectively. The reward for beating the hardest difficulty is a "Congratulations" splash screen with Super-Deformed drawings of the good guys and their Humongous Mecha.
The original Pac-Man arcade game technically has no end, unless you count a glitch in the programming that corrupts the screen at level 256. The frustration experienced by exhausted Pac Man players is accurately summed up in this flash cartoon by James Jouni.
The 3D sequel Pacmania (or at least the Acorn Archimedes port of the same) eventually just came up with a message which told the user there were no more levels.
The Tower of Druaga: "Congraturations!! Now you save Ki and the adventure is over," followed by a short list of credits. The PC Engine remake, with greater attention to the storyline in general, has a longer ending.
At the end of Booby Kids for the NES, the player character stands in the wreckage of the Final Boss for a moment, then it cuts to "The End" on a black screen.
Some of the Game Grid parody-minigames make fun of this trope. Beating Dungeon Fist earns you the message "YOU HAVE ESCAPED THE DUNGEON! CONGRATULATION!" and beating The Fighters Of Fighting gives you "Game Over! You Win!" (instead of "Game Over! You Lose!"). Subverted, though, because after that you get a score tally and a bunch of valuable ticket items.
And of course, the game's tagline ("An Adventurer is You") is a reference to the Trope Namer.
Vegas Stakes on the SNES did this once you reached your goal of $10 million in winnings. Your companion asks you what you plan to do with the money. After entering a short phrase on what your plan is, the credits roll and on the black screen after that, it shows some text saying "You will (do whatever) with the money". Then again, it IS a gambling game where you can't do anything else except grind for more money in the games.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow's Julius Mode was a first in Castlevania in that it was the first extra mode to actually have a story. specifically, it's an Alternate Universe where Soma Cruz, your main game protagonist has succumbed to the dark side and became Dracula's Successor, and you take control of Julius Belmont, Yoko Belnades, and Alucard in order to defeat him. You expect this story to be followed through to the end, right? Nope. after you beat the final boss, after going through the game with no healing potions, all you get is the standard Castlevania ending of the heroes watching the castle collapse and then roll credits.
Sonic Heroes has an extra hard mode, unlockable after several requirements are met. The only reward for beating it is a "Congratulations" and a brief generic picture of the three main characters. The same picture that appears on the title screen and the game's case.
In Knuckles Chaotix, the good ending is just the title screen with Sonic and Tails making a cameo.
A mobile phone ripoff of Sonic, Supersonix, ends with just this text: "Congratulations. The sky is blue, water is wet and you've won the game. You can feel proud, for once again man has defeated machine."
The U.S. release of Karnov for the NES ends with a simple white text on a black screen reading "Congratulations!! The End". Apparently, they couldn't even be bothered to Bowdlerise the original plot or the ending, where Karnov is rewarded for defeating the Big Bad by becoming the successor to God.
Ghostbusters for the NES, a game which is generally considered near-unwinnable, ends with the Engrish message "Conglaturation!!! You have completed a great game. And prooved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes!" This actually fixed one spelling error ("grate" for "great") that was in the ending text of the Japanese version—or, more precisely, what was supposed to be the ending text in the Japanese version, which due to a bug displayed nonsense hiragana instead.
When Super Mario Bros. was repackaged for the SNES as Super Mario All-Stars, you did get to see the Princess kissing Mario (or Luigi). If you defeated the slightly harder difficulty, the text was different.
Space Station Silicon Valley, a Nintendo 64 puzzle game in which the main character took control of various robotic animals, ended with one of the characters explaining they didn't have the budget for a good ending and just played the credits.
Though this may be (partly) justified as an instruction to get the rest of the treasures, presumably hinting that then the main character will have enough money for the proper ending. The fact that a bug in one of the levels makes this impossible, though, means that the "didn't have the budget" ending is the only one that can be found anyway.
The Krion Conquest, when translated from the Japanese game Magical Doropie, had every plot sequence in the game (except the intro) removed. This includes the ending: when you deal the final hit on the last boss, the screen freezes and the words "You win !! Congratulations !" scroll over it, followed by the credits.
Flood for Amiga and Atari ST may be a particularly nasty example: After the last level, the player is treated to a very short scene of the protagonist successfully escaping with his life, only to be killed by a passing car. Click here for images.
The Game Boy version of the game does actually end with cutscenes depicting a Link-esque Milon marrying the princess, who has an uncanny resemblance appearance-wise to Zelda.
The overly-long, Nintendo Hard, Everything Trying to Kill YouDr Franken 2 on the Game Boy ends with a message saying "Well done Franky, you've saved the chateau!" followed by a full screen picture of Frankie. I could have looked on the game box for a bigger picture in colour, thank you very much.
The NES game Fox's Peter Pan & the Pirates, while a decent game representation of the cartoon series, featured one of the most pathetic game endings ever. After defeating the final boss, Captain Hook, the player was "rewarded" with a full-screen image of Peter and the words "I win. It's so much fun being Peter Pan."
The Japanese Disk System version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (aka Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels) features a slightly different ending than the original game. For starters, Peach's sprite has been improved, the ending text is different, and the background will turn blue with the seven Mushroom Retainers from the previous Worlds surrounding Mario and Peach. Unfortunately, when the game was remade for the SNES and GBC, they simply used the same ending they used in the remake for the original Super Mario Bros.. Compare the Disk System version's ending with the ending in the SNES and GBC versions. This ending was also used for the arcade cabinet remake Vs. Super Mario Bros., and the Japan-exclusive All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros.
If you make it all the way to the end of Ghosts N Goblins and didn't forget to pick up a necessary weapon and beat the boss, you get rewarded by having to play the whole game over again, with the message that "This room is an illusion and is a trap devisut by Satan". If you manage to do that, all you get is a brief scene of Arthur reuniting with the princess and the following text: "Congraturation. This story is happy end. Thank you. Being the wise and courageour knight that you are you feel strongth welling in your body. Return to starting point. Challenge again!" Yes, those spelling mistakes were in the game.
The Sega Master System 2 game Tom and Jerry did this. After playing your way through all the levels and finally catching Jerry, you are Congratulated, then informed that Tom can never really catch Jerry and sent back to play the game over again.
Aladdin (Virgin Games) has two bonus levels where you control Abu the monkey. When you lose those levels you get a black screen with the text "Nice try". When you win you get the same thing: "Nice try". The game's ending is not much better: after Jafar is defeated, Aladdin and Jasmine are shown on a magic carpet ride, then doing a Foot Popping clinch in which they freeze as "The End" appears and the credits roll. The other AladdinLicensed Games have endings like the movie's.
Vectorman 2's ending consists of Vectorman collapsing the hive where he fought the end boss, the word "VICTORY" plastered on the screen in bold font, then...roll credits. Doesn't help any that you also saw the credits in the case of a Game Over. Even finishing individual levels manages to feel disappointing.
The ending to the first Rayman game could fall under this trope, especially considering how unfair the game is. After you beat the final boss, you're "treated" to 10 seconds of fireworks, a narration declaring "You've done it! You've saved the world!" and then the credits. That's it.
Seems its come around full circle as in Rayman Origins once you beat the true last level (no easy feat mind you) all you get is the final boss revealing that its actually a Nymph. Thanking you and saying she had a bad dream before winking at the camera as it irises out. Uh...yay?
In the Game Boy Color version of Gex: Enter the Gecko, where you have to collect everything in order to reach the final battle, you are only given the credits. This is a far cry from the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 versions, which had an awesome cut scene at the end.
In Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, completing a secret level gives you "COMPLETEB".
Inversion: You Have to Burn the Rope. Given that the game is designed to be the exact opposite of old Nintendo Hard games, it features an ending credits song that may well be longer than the amount of time it took to beat the game in the first place.
The Great Giana Sisters, once you reach the crystal in the final level immediately shows a black screen, with the text: "Giana get up. The sun has frightened off the night." Which doesn't even make sense unless you know the game's backstory.
The Amstrad CPC version of fiendish Mastertronic game Soul of a Robot, sequel to Nonterraqueous is legendarily poor. The aim of the game is to destroy a "master computer" which controls your planet - but when you enter the final room, instead of a boss fight you're treated to a tiny, crude line drawing of what appears to be a typewriter. Flashed on the screen for roughly two seconds before the inevitable message 'Congratulations! Now go and play the original Nonterraqueous'. Thanks, thanks a bunch.
The plot of Chakan The Forever Man has the title character cursed with immortality as a result of defeating Death in a fight. He can only rest in peace after he's destroyed all supernatural evil, and so the game has him fight through Nintendo Hard stages in order to rid the world of evil. After beating the game, he is still not allowed to die, as Death informs him that there is still plenty of evil all across the universe, leading to one last boss battle. Lose, and you merely get the message "Rest will come another day." Win, and you are rewarded with the sight of an hourglass that never empties. Which makes sense, as you've just killed Death, but that doesn't make it any less rage-worthy.
If you wait on the hourglass screen for a long time (a long, long, long, looooooong time,) eventually the words "Not the end" will appear on the screen before kicking you back to the title screen.
The very first Spyro The Dragon 1998 game has some of the dragons simply saying "Thank you for releasing me!". Woo-hoo. Subverted, however, in that said dragons have an excuse for not having that much to say in that they usually aren't that hard to find, while the ones that are congratulate the player for doing so (one of them once prompted Spyro to comment "You could find an easier place to get stuck"). Then again, the dragons' Stealth Hi/Bye that follows makes every dragon found somewhat of an unsatisfying achievement.
Beating Jumper and Jumper Three rewards you with a screen counting all your deaths throughout the game. Jumper Two's ending on the other hand is... strange, to say the least.
There's a game for the TI-83 titled Iceclimbers (not to be confused with the NES game) by downloading a program called Mirage. You get a bland screen that reads "A Winner is You. Victoly!"
Metrocross on the C64 also simply shows "Game Over"
The ending of Donkey Kong Land consists of nothing but "Congratulations!" followed by the credits.
This is how the not-by-Capcom Mega Man (Classic) PC games end. To rub salt on the wound, it's even the same ending screen in both games.
If you beat The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World without collecting all the special Krusty items you just get Krusty telling you "Great work there, Barto... But it's too bad you didn't find all the unique Krusty items. We had a special surprise planned for you. Oh, well. Don't blame me — You didn't do it!" If you do complete the game with all the special items, you just get a cheap animation of Bart throwing cream pies at Burns and Smithers on Krusty's show.
The NES The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle game is another case of a glorified Game Over screen. Wherein losing the game resulted in a large "YOU LOSE!" beating the game results in a large "YOU WIN!"
Lampshaded in the online game Lee-Lee's Quest. You beat the boss, the text "The End" appears on the black screen as the narrator briefly states that Lee-Lee got his "girl" back. Credits start rolling... and that's when Lee-Lee starts complaining about the lack of a proper ending.
After many long levels, Speedy Eggbert ends with a screen showing the hero celebrating by the side of a treasure chest. This silly screen is the same one you get after beating any custom level.
Not to mention the picture can be viewed in the game's graphics folders. The sequel (which has even more levels) takes this to new extremes, however; apart from all the aforementioned things still being true, the picture displayed after winning is shown on the game's CD case, as well as the official website.
Ariel: The Little Mermaid for the Sega Genesis ends with a screen showing Ariel, Triton, Flounder and Sebastian posing in front of a rainbow, with the message: "Congratulations! You have defeated Ursula!"
The ending of Nuts & Milk has the words "Perfect!" and "Congratulations!" framing Yogurt and Milk standing with a Heart Symbol between them (as they do at the end of every stage).
Super Pitfall for the NES has Multiple Endings. The normal ending is a short text screen saying, "Congratulations! You completed the adventure of the lost caverns. Please try another world." The perfect ending gives almost the same message, except the words "perfect" and "perfectly" are added.
In Atlantis No Nazo, after playing through the Final Zone and getting the crystal, the enemies stop firing, the dude who you had to rescue comes to life and starts laughing, and the word "CONGRATULATION" is splayed over the middle of the screen. The game doesn't actually end, though. The prototype Dolled-Up Installment localization, Super Pitfall II, did pluralize the word.
Athena has no exciting ending to reward players who completed this Nintendo Hard game. In the NES port, after defeating the Final Boss Dante, it cuts to outside her castle, where Athena stands still as the sky changes. The Arcade Game instead displays a block of text:
NOW, WE HAVE CONQUERED WHOLE WORLDS. I WANT TO MAKE ANOTHER DRANATIC (sic) ADVENTURE. WHY DON'T YOU JOIN ME AGAIN? SEE YOU SOON, MY FRIENDS!
Toy Story for the Genesis and Super NES. This rather difficult game ends with a couple still images from the movie (with some text underneath) and then... a black screen with multi-colored text saying, "Congratulations! You've Won Toy Story. Hope You Enjoyed It. Thanks For Playing." Uhhhhh, hooray?
The sequel isn't much better, after you beat the game you get an incredibly brief clip from the movie and then a still of Buzz and Woody that simply says "Game Won." Then it cuts right back to the title screen.
Super Valis IV, between levels, shows one random still shot with a message that varies in wording but always says that Lena has finished the last act or defeated the last boss and is ready to take on the next act, all of which is redundant information. This is pretty lame considering that most Valis games, including the the PC Engine version of Valis IV, have extensive cutscenes between levels. The actual ending of the game, however, is more substantial.
Online Flash Game Give Up has an amazingly quick ending to a frustratingly hard game. Actually completing the game says "VICTORY, I DIDN'T THINK YOU COULD MAKE IT. YOU MUST BE INCREDIBLY STUBBORN. CONGRATULATIONS." then cuts to credits.... Yup.... You work hard for half an hour at least, literally paint the walls red, and wreck your arrow keys, just for it to say A Winner Is You. It couldn't have ended with you shutting down the AI that mocked you every death. Nooooo. It couldn't have ended with you escaping the testing facility. It calls you stubborn and congratulates you. That's fucking it.
Ninja-kun: Ashura no Shou ends with this oddly spelled message in variously colored text on a black background:
CONGLATULLATIONS! YOU ARE GREAT AND SUPER PLAYER. GREAT THANKS! THE GAME NINJAKUN HAS BEEN JUST TERMINATED BY YOU.
In Spelunker (NES version), the end screen has the protagonist dancing on a pile of glittering treasures, under the words:
CONGRATULATIONS!! YOU'VE GAINED ALL THE TREASURES AT LAST! LET'S START ON ANOTHER ADVENTURE!!
The Amiga versions of Lemmings and the sequel Oh No! More Lemmings rewarded gamers who had sweated over the often hair-tearingly frustrating 120 levels of the former and the even more sanity-eroding 100 levels of the latter with a brief screen of congratulatory text, followed by a picture of the game's development staff surrounding a lemming sprite while a short sound clip of applause and cheering played. And that was it.
Meanwhile, the Genesis version featured two animated processions of lemmings walking in opposite directions at the top and bottom of the screen while the credits rolled. The SNES version had a rather more satisfying ending showing a group of four lemmings taking a bow on a stage before the curtain fell, and as the credits rolled, the idea that the game had been a sort of (rather morbid) theatre production was carried on as various lemmings were shown carting off props and scenery, buffing the stage floor, and finally switching off the theatre lights.
The simply titled Mickey Mouse for Gameboy, one of many Mickey Mouse video games, finishes with the oh-so-gratifying declaration: "CONGRATURATIONS!! YOU ARE GOOD PLAYER!!" while Mickey pumps his arms up and down for your entertainment. Oh, boy. How swell.
The Impossible Quiz features this - your reward for victory is simply a picture of a trophy, with the words "Ur Winnar" [sic] on the front of it.
The ending of Chameleon Gems (a Zuma clone) consists of the simple message "Congratulations, [nickname]! You finished the last level!" and the endlessly repeating credits sequence which can be viewed from the main menu at any point anyway. Oh, and they couldn't even be arsed to compose some original music for the ending - you are treated to the same tune which you've been tortured with for all the 100 or so levels.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo ends with a mass portrait of all of the playable characters in their Victory Pose regardless of what character you beat it with.
Arkanoid has this on the C64... After completing the game (which must be impossible without an infinite-lives cheat!) you get the usual "Game Over" screen!
Arkanoid: Revenge of Doh, at least the Amstrad CPC version, was little better, with two lines of text just saying: "Congratulations you have completed Arkanoid II" before entering your name for the high scores table (which you can do even if you lose).
Mr. Driller 2. When finishing the last level, all you get is a picture of the characters, with the message "Congratulations". THIS is our reward for busting our asses off just trying to finish that hard-as-hell level???
Undiscovered ends with a five second black-and-white clip and the caption "And so, three years after their harrowing journey began, the S.S. Lucerne finally returned to Paris."
Quest of the Sorceress ends with a still picture and the line "You are now immortal and your name will be forever remembered."
The DS shooter Touch the Dead. Your character is a convict in a military prison who must fight for survival when zombies attack (and you never find out why, either). The end of the game consists of you being rescued by an army helicopter, and promptly put back in handcuffs. Cue credits. And rage.
The Silent Scope games all had amazingly quick ending sequences (and some snapshots during the credits). But the most disappointing has to be 2's, where, after conquering seven increasingly lengthy and enemy-packed levels, then making an all-or-nothing shot to save Laura, you get... the heroes bickering for a few seconds before they go their separate ways, one with Laura in tow. Add the fact that this game raises several subtexts the others don't (not the least of which is Falcon and Jackal have such bad blood to begin with), and that's a pretty massive letdown.
Real Time Strategy
Beating the PC game Syndicate, which is a time-consuming undertaking that throws at least one ridiculously difficult level at you near the end, "rewards" you with the exact same animated victory screen you see after beating every other level, including the first.
Paradox Interactive's Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun was like this. You start off in 1836, build a massive, wealthy empire, probably defeat the Royal Navy at least once (which in of itself is difficult), and all you get to show for your trouble is a screen saying "You won!" followed by the scores of the top eight powers.
Every single one of Paradox's games is like this. That is - if they have an ending at all, since many do not have defined victory or sometimes even loss conditions, so you just play until you're satisfied.
Sins of a Solar Empire ends with the screen "You're Victorious" or "You're Defeated" after spending roughly 3,945 hours completing a single map. There is some consolation as you have the option to continue playing the same map if you've won.
Though the game IS multiplayer only, so you shouldn't expect an ending every time you complete a game. It just so happens that standard games take a LONG time to play.
Rise of Nations has this for the different campaign modes. You conquer the entire known world as Alexander the Great and all you get is a splash screen that says something along the lines of "Great job. Your empire will surely go down in history as the greatest."
Medieval II Total War has a campaign where the objective is to take 45 territories, but you can choose to keep playing afterward and try to take over the rest of the world map. Your reward for conquering all of Europe, the Middle East, north Africa, spending dozens of turns sailing to the New World, and slogging your way through hordes and hordes of Aztecs, is... the same damn ending mini-cinematic, with the message that Charlemagne and Alexander the Great have nothing on you. Fan-freaking-tastic.
In Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars: Kane's Wrath, after one of Kane's many apocalyptic speeches, he activates the Tacitus, giving the player a CGI sequence for winning the campaign. The catch? It's the opening of the Scrin campaign of the normal game, only BACKWARDS.
Also in Kane's Wrath, after winning a Global Conquest game (which can feel like a campaign in itself) all you get is the same "Victorious" screen you'd get for winning a skirmish.
After beating the last mission in UFO: Extraterrestrials, you get a dull 20 second movie of the alien mothership exploding and then a text box saying "Victory! You have destroyed the alien overmind and freed Earth from slavery. Rejoice!"
In Supreme Commander and SC: Forged Alliance, winning a skirmish game (which can be quite an accomplishment, depending on the size of the map and the AI difficulty) gets you a nice "Game Over" message.
Complete Take A Walk without messing up even once and you'll unlock the final reward... a short cutscene of the player character getting hit on the head by a falling fruit. And not even that hard.
NetHack: A game so hard it can take years to finally beat, and when you do, all you get is a couple of lines about how an invisible choir is singing your praises and your god is granting you immortality. And then the game ends.
If you win, the line in the logfile that normally says "Killer: [thing that killed you]" is replaced with "Killer: ascended."
Battle your way through all 30 floors of Sword of the Stars: The Pit — a tall enough order even on Easy with how aggressively you can be screwed by the RNG deciding to not give you food, usable ammo, weapons, or repair stations, followed by a final floor of wall-to-wall boss rooms that are pretty much impossible without high-end weapons that you may never see drop, and in the best case will only have enough ammo to comb about half the floor searching for the objective — and your reward is three lines of dialogue followed by a popup that says "You win! THE END".
Role Playing Game
The infamously difficult and obtuse NES strategy game Bokosuka Wars gave you a goofy little animation and the message "BRAVO! YOU WIN!" if you actually managed to beat it. Of course, most gamers probably saw the infamous "WOW! YOU LOSE!" game over screen far, far more often.
This trope is one of three endings for the original Valkyrie Profile: Ending B. If you don't fall out of Odin and Freya's favor (which leads to Ending C, a Nonstandard Game Over) and follow the game straight through without taking the incredibly counter-intuitive and tricky steps to get Ending A, then you fight Surt and the Vanir for the final battle (if you get Ending A, you fight Loki instead), get a congrats from Freya, and Lenneth the Valkyrie is sent back to sleep. Great. Worse yet, this is the best ending you can get on Easy Mode, as Ending A can only be obtained on Normal or Hard.
Interestingly, after the credits run through, a dialogue appears and it slyly alludes to Ending A, but drops no hints on how to get it.
The original Eye of the Beholder is notorious for crashing to MS-DOS immediately after beating the final boss, with a blue "Congratulation A Winner Is You" window. The authors planned several more puzzles to open the path to the surface, a final cutscene and saving the party for the next game (like in EoB 2), but it was all scrapped to reduce the game size. Some remnants can be seen with a level editor or in the Amiga demo.
Blue's quest in Sa Ga Frontier. Once you deliver the finishing blow to the final boss, the picture freezes in mid-strike and fades to black and white as "THE END" appears on it. This is especially egregious, as SaGa Frontier is an RPG for the PlayStation, and its storyline wasn't exactly minimal; it certainly wasn't minimal for the endings to the six other characters' quests, some of whom had Multiple Endings each. There's actually a reason for this, however; despite being so according to game mechanics, that isn't the finishing blow. As revealed in the accompanying book, Blue/Rouge and his friends never win the battle, and indeed, it can't be won. Blue and Rouge weren't being prepared to defeat the King of Hell — or at least make Sealed Evil in a Duel. That is, they were being trained to keep him busy so he couldn't finish the invasion. For all eternity.
The "reason" was because the developers ran out of time to implement everything they wanted, including a whole scenario, some much-needed elaboration on the universe and its workings, and, of course, Blue's ending. The plot they originally planned was for Blue to battle Hell's Lord for all eternity until he was saved by The Power of Friendship.
Lampshaded, with a Shout-Out to the original line!
Earl: Want to be a winner is you?
This is basically the case with most other Pokédex completions. Pokémon Emerald averted this somewhat in the sense that catching every Pokémon in the Hoenn Pokédex would give you a reward in Professor Birch giving you one of the Johto starters (Chikorita, Cyndaquil and Totodile), along with an added trainer star on your Trainer Card. That would proceed to be the last game to give any real Pokédex completion reward (save the extra trainer star) until Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 in 2012, which had a few nice gems for completing the Unova Pokédex and the National Pokédex too.
In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl/Platinum, the clown that gives you the Coin Case actually says the line without a hint of irony, in what appears to be another lampshade.
X-Men Legends II ends with a way-too-short cutscene showing the parting of the X-Men and Brotherhood, who'd teamed up in an Enemy Mine situation. Magneto says exactly what anyone who knows the character would expect him to say, we find out that, predictably, Sinister had sabotaged Apocalypse's machine, and they fly off. It takes approximately twenty seconds. Quicksilver and Polaris, kidnapped before the start of the game and worried about by various characters throughout, are never seen, let alone given the reunion this player had been waiting to see, even as part of the scene where the two groups walk back to their respective planes.
The boss battle in Gothic ends in a nice cutscene depicting the death of the boss and the collapse of his lair, apparently killing the hero, but destroying the Barrier and freeing the colony. Unfortunately, we don't get to see the latter, because the screen goes black after the lair collapses and all we get is a voiceover.. Pirate versions had a glitch causing the game to crash at precisely the moment that the cutscene should have started. As Gothic crashed rather a lot anyway, it could take players a few attempts (or a glance at a walkthrough) to realise that the game was actually over.
Should you beat the PS1 game Team Buddies, the ending FMV features a random character walking onto the screen and asking "So you won the game. Whadaya want, a medal or something? Get outta here!"
The Bob-Omb Mafia, a ROM hack of Super Mario RPG has its ending shown after you collect all four MacGuffins: you immediately return to Bowser's castle and find Bowser and Peach waiting for you. Bowser says, "Hey, good work Mario. Here's the princess." The screen scrolls up as it fades out, and you are greeted by this message:
Congratulations. You beat the hack. Now kill yourself.
Lands of Lore 2 has an ending so disappointing it might ad well simply say "A Winner Is You". After an epic game filled with awesome cinematics, after finally defeating the evil god Belial, what do you get? The Draracle walking in on Luther and Dawn in bed, telling them he is leaving. That is all.
Ishar has a weak plot to begin with, but the ending reeks: You fight the red wizard from the opening cinematic. You haven't seen him since then, and he's explicitly not the Big Bad, since you beat him earlier. Win, and you watch a scene of your character sitting amidst a circle of magical pillars while triumphant music plays. You never find out why you were collecting Rune Tablets, what Ishar's power is, who the guy in red was, or why you fought that turncoat character earlier.
Requital - your reward for hacking through this linear derivative action RPG with terrible voice acting is either a bald "Game Complete" message if you choose the easy ending or a round of applause from all unique characters if you complete the hard ending. That's it. No ending cinematic, you can't interact with the clapping characters at all, they just stand around afterwards.
In Hydlide II: Shine of Darkness, the ending text runs a bit longer, on a name entry screen:
"CONGRATULATIONS! Your name as a brave in humankind will be passed down from generation to generation, forever and ever, in Fairy Land kingdom."
Dragon Slayer, at least in the Game Boy version, ends with the message, "You are the greatest Dragon Slayer! See you next game!" Considering the game doesn't bother to explain who the player character is supposed to be, it's perhaps to be expected.
In Legacy Of The Wizard, after Roas kills the dragon, he leaves the dungeon to find the rest of his family waiting. They all walk over to the house, and wave to the player, and cuts to the credits from there. The original MSX version didn't even have any of this, skipping straight from the Final Boss to the credits.
The normal ending of Chrono Cross: the Time Devourer breaks apart and vanishes into a portal, then you get a black screen with the word 'Fin' in the corner. Getting the good ending is a big Guide Dang It.
The NES version of Dragon's Lair: "Congratulations! Our hero has triumphed! Daphne is saved from Sirges evil clutches. May you both live happily ever after?..."
Subverted in MOTHER 3. After you watch the Dragon destroy the world, you get a black screen with 'The End...?' on it. However, if you use the D-Pad, you can still move around...
Played straight in the original Famicom version of Mother 1. You sing Maria's Lullaby to Giegue, he leaves in his spaceship, and the credits roll. Fixed in the North American prototype and the GBA re-release.
Mass Effect 3 managed to earn widespread notoriety for its ending - a choice between three different options that had implied results, but which ultimately boiled down to choosing the colour of the big setting-wrecking space explosion, resulting from a mixture of Executive Meddling, the departure of Drew Karpyshyn, and his successor going behind the backs of the rest of the writing team. Thankfully the Extended Cut at least attempted to repair some of the damage it did to Bioware's reputation and make the various endings actually provide closure.
OFF - The Main Ending is this, repeating the game's Arc Words "The Switch is now on OFF" and then fading to black before rolling credits. The second ending with the Judge is only slightly better, with a bit of exposition and an eloquently put expression of regret by The Judge on behalf of himself and the Player before he walks away and the screen fades to black. Considering the secret ending and its Mind Screw, this could actually be considered merciful, rather than frustrating like most uses of this trope.
Shoot Em Up
Heavy Barrel: "Congratulations. You have accomplished your mission. Dismantle your secret weapon. You saved the land from disaster. Thank you for playing. Data East USA, Inc." Then again, the plot wasn't much to begin with...
The NES version of 1942 is 32 stages loooooong. After you clear the last stage, you get a "CONGRATULATIONS" message typed out, and then your final score is displayed, sending you back to the title screen. At least the translators at Capcom managed to spell "CONGRATULATIONS" correctly...
The arcade ending is even more gratuitous: "We give up! Game Over. Presented by Capcom. Hope our next game."
In the ZX Spectrum version they didn't bother even that much. If you manage to beat all levels (which is almost impossible without using cheat codes), all you get is the exact same "game over" message as when you die.
While the arcade version of Commandoloops indefinitely after level 8, the NES version ends after the fourth mission (16th level) with the Engrish "Your all misson is all over. Your great player. Thank you for playing. This game was ended".
Transformers Convoy No Nazo, as expected for a Nintendo Hard game with camouflaged projectiles everywhere on screen that kills your character in one shot, only awards you with a paragraph of Japanese text after you beat it, either telling that the Decepticons have come back and you need to go back and collect the Rodimus cubes, or else that a new battle awaits for Rodimus. If you then beat the game with Rodimus Prime (who plays exactly the same), you'll simply get "Congratulations".
The arcade version says "Thanks to you, the world is saved", followed by the Game Over screen.
Arcade version of Wonder Boy III Monster Lair: "The invaders from the space were destroyed by your courageous fight. They had in advance stolen the Legendary equipments from us which were the threats in their past defeated war. But the Legendary arms were no use for the vicious invaders. The Legendary equipments were put back to the original position and peace was brought to the Earth again." The TurboGrafx-16 CD version had a much less gratuitously translated ending.
Andro Dunos for the Neo Geo ends with a message telling you "PLEASE TRY THE NEXT STAGE". But even if you play on the hardest difficulty and loop the game, the endings stay the same.
Truxton II has the standard "Conglaturations" upon beating the Final Boss. The original, of course, was an Endless Game.
The arcade version of Zero Wing, while it doesn't have "All Your Base are Belong to Us", has a similarly gratuitous Engrish text in its ending: "Congratulation!! AD 2111, all bases of Cats were destroyed. It seems to be peaceful, but it is incorrect. Cats is still alive, Zig-01 must fight against Cats again, and down with them completely! Good luck." Sounds like a Sequel Hook, although no sequel was made.
After beating the Amiga/Atari ST shooter Frenetic, you get a single screen featuring prose that would make Tolkien jealous:
Well done. You kicked some butt!! Congratulations from Rob And Lee. The enemy forces are regrouping now go get em ......
The Touhou spin-off game, Double Spoiler, has this. You Are Super Player! Something of a weird example, considering that this is immediately followed by unlocking half of the game.
NARC. After defeating the game's Big Bad, Mr. Big, players are rewarded the message, "You have completed the NARC training mission... CONTACT YOUR LOCAL DEA RECRUITER."
Beating Robotron 64 gives you an ugly render of the last human family and a message saying "Thanks to you and your super-human powers, the last human family will see the year 2085."
The ending to XDR: X-Dazedly-Ray, a frustratingly difficult shooter for the Mega Drive, shows the player's ship flying back to Earth, followed by a screen saying, "Congratulation. Now, You're Hero." Then it loops back to the first level.
Starship Hector: "Be praised with your courage. And so on, the Earth is saved. You go on the long voyage. Good luck!"
The PSP port of Platypus simply kicks you back to the main menu after beating the final boss.
In the arcade version of Time Soldiers, when you defeat the Final Boss, the screen freezes and superimposed above the credits is this message: "You destroyed the Gylend and rescued all warriors." The Sega Master System version reduces the message to just "Congratulations!" over a black screen.
Winning Endgame: Singularity results in a short text. Given the nature of the game, anything other than text wasn't expected, but it's short, not very exciting, and the real clincher: it's displayed in the same plain box every in-game alert is, and the game goes on afterwards as if nothing had happened.
After beating the obscenely hardGuide Dang It-ridden Amiga space strategy sim Exodus 3010, you get a single screen, almost identical to the Game Over screen, with the text 'WELCOME ON MRYNN. YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR NEW PLANET', complete with the game over music.
For beating the mode one player in WolfQuest you simply get a message telling you that you succeeded in your goal, and a brief synopsis of what will happen afterwards.
Rap Jam: Volume One. After beating many, many virtually-identical teams and the very difficult champions, what do you get? The exact same screen showing people dancing on the court as you saw every time you got a password...but instead of a password, you get the message, "YOU'RE ALL THAT! AND A BAG OF CHIPS." Thank you, that dated bit of slang makes it all worthwhile.
In the season-mode of NFL Blitz 20-03, when you finally win the Super Bowl there's only a congratulations with a cheerleader. Then you press A and it's back to the main menu.
The victory image for 100% completion of Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions (or Special Missions, depending on your locale) was simply a bit of mecha concept art. The significance of this image (it was concept art for the sequel's mecha, which would not be seen outside of Konami for a long time) wasn't immediately obvious, and there was no way of viewing it for a second time, except by starting a new game and getting it up to 100%.
Subverted in Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem as one of the insanity effects. You are given a sudden, abrupt To Be Continued screen, informing you that the story will be concluded in a sequel. Of course, it's a case of Fission Mailed: five seconds later, the screen flashes to your character recovering from the hallucination.
Third Person Shooter
Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus had a real ending, but taunted players who didn't find all 300 mudokons with the implication that they missed out on something extra special. Upon finding every damn mudokon, the player is given an apology before sitting through a boring slideshow of concept art, some of which was already seen in the previous game, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.
The Ghost in the Shell game for the PlayStation promised a "bonus" if you finished the game on its hardest difficult setting without ever dying. Said bonus was a low-res scan of a pinup of Major Kusanagi.
In Army Men: Sarge's War, after the Big Bad is killed, all the player receives is a medal, and are unable to save the game after beating the last boss so they can keep the medal.
Alien Swarm. You reach the final map (7 total) and reached the source of the alien bug infestation. You activated the bomb and race out of the area to be picked up by your commander, dodging hordes of alien bugs of all varieties as the bomb's clock ticks down. What do you get? Aside from the usual EXP you earned, just a standard congratulations message on the mission results screen, then the credits rolling over it. You can't do anything else except start a new campaign (or play the same one again since there's only one official one currently) or quit the game.
And you can't save afterwards, losing your experience and never having a proof of actually beating it. Sad.
Wide Open Sandbox
The original Grand Theft Auto showed you your boss congratulating you (as on every level before), then returned to the level select screen; ignoring the absence of more levels.
Grand Theft Auto II has nothing but a screen with "YOU COMPLETED THE GAME" and a bunch of random pictures once you finally complete the last area. Thank ye gods that the following games introduced an actual plot.
The terrifying freeware game Yume Nikki does this. Although there was never a clear plot (which spawned so much fan speculation and theory on what the heck is going on), the ending just pretty much leaves you feeling that you did all that effort of finding all the different effects for nothing. Giving up all the effects in the ritual room in the dream world, the main character wakes up to find a stepladder, which was definitely not there before, in her apartment balcony. If you walk her up to it, she uses it to jump off the balcony — in doing so revealing that she has been Driven to Suicide. The Downer Ending is quickly cut to the credits the moment she jumps. Feel free to work out what her suicide means, but your guess is as good as anyone's.
No More Heroes exhibits this particular trope based on player choice. Upon defeating the final boss, you get the option to save your game, and then you can choose between viewing the ending, viewing the "True" ending, and returning to Santa Destroy. The ending (not the "True" ending) shows Travis on the toilet when a would-be assassin invades his apartment. Cue the credits.
If you haven't purchased all of the game's weapons, you don't get the option of selecting the good ending. However there's only three of them, the game just about shouts at you when there's a new sword available, and the game is pretty much structured so that skipping a sword is a bad idea, not to mention there's not much else to spend money on. So it's really your own stupid fault if you get stuck with the lousy ending.
For a long time, Minecraft had no ending or sign of progression at all, living up to the true wide open sandbox name. When the game became a full version, players could go on a lengthy quest to gather materials needed to eventually reach The End realm and fight the Enderdragon. Beating the dragon got you 20,000 experience points and the player was left with a really long and pretty slow crolling text with two unseen beings talking to the player, having a verysurrealist dialogue about existence and reality, followed by the credits.
Parodied by Homestar Runner in the bonus email "videro games" on the "strongbad_email.exe" DVD.
Strong Bad: And who doesn't remember staying up all night to beat an end boss only to be rewarded with a hearty "CONGRATURATION!" They didn't even bother giving you multiple ones. Just a single congraturation they had lying around the video game make place.
Later in said episode...
BALD GUY: Hey man, you gonna eat that last Congraturation?
WILBUR: Naw, man. We're puttin' it in the game if you beat the end boss.
Also parodied in one of the non-canonical endings of Red vs. Blue. Believing that the large computer beneath Blood Gulch controls reality itself, Sarge begins to assault it when it's obvious that Red Command isn't going to back him up in destroying the Blue team. Sarge begins to rejoice, then asks "What the hell am I looking at?" when the computer displays badly translated text informing him that's he's won and rolls credits composed entirely of Japanese names. It's implied from there that the whole series was one extremely long, very weird Halo match on Xbox Live.
Yahoo Answers is a feature where Yahoo members help each other with collaborative answers to general knowledge questions. It is level-based so that the more correct answers you lodge, the higher you rise. But as a "best answer" is only worth 10 points and the gap between levels is measured in thousands of points—5,000 to ascend from Level 5 to 6, 14,000 to climb from Level 6 to 7—progress is painfully slow, unless you want to be one of the peculiar people who live on YA. And what recognition do you finally get when you have painfully amassed all those thousands of points? Sweet FA. Yahoo need to think about this..
Also parodied on the Guitar Hero episode of South Park — when Stan and Kyle finally broke a million points on Guitar Hero and unlocked super-stardom, all they got was the message, "CONGRATULATIONS! YOU... ARE... FAGS!" It pissed them off to no end.
YOU HAVE PLAYED GUITAR HERO ENOUGH TO SCORE ONE MILLION POINTS!!!
In a popular mod for Frets On Fire, named "Frets on Fire X" or "FoFiX". getting 100% on a song will get you a sound clip of the "CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE FAGS!" quote from that episode.
Parodied in the second season finale of Drawn Together, in which the producer reveals that the winner of the show is, "You, the viewer." Unamused, the audience promptly descends into bloody, gory rage.
Regular Show takes it to the extreme in season 2 episode 8, Rage Against the TV, where getting close to finishing the game causes TV problems and eventually prompts the game to come to life to stop itself from being beaten. Actually winning results in a quick "you win" screen before the TV crumbles to dust.