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Player Punch / Action-Adventure Games

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    The Legend of Zelda series 

Link's Awakening

  • Finding out partway through the game that the entire island of Koholint is nothing but a dream, and that awakening the Wind Fish will result in everything ceasing to exist. Including Marin, who has feelings for Link.

Ocarina of Time

  • Waking up from stasis and being told by Rauru that 7 years have passed. Then leaving the Temple of Time and seeing how much Hyrule has changed. Death Mountain is the first landmark that's visible, and it's now surrounded by a ring of fire. The lively center of Hyrule Town is filled with Redeads.
  • Saria getting kidnapped by Phantom Ganon. She's the reason for going through the Forest Temple and fighting Phantom Ganon. And then she awakens as the Forest Sage, stating that she and Link are continued to be kept apart because of their destinies.

Majora's Mask

  • How the player acquires the shape-changing masks. Link gets cursed with the Deku Scrub mask, and ends up creating the Goron mask when he soothes Darmani's spirit. But Mikau is dying on the beach right in front of the player, and turns into the mask when the Song of Healing gets played.
  • The game implies that the Deku Scrub Mask is the Deku Butler's missing son, with the latter mentioning that Deku Link reminds him of his son, and there being a small tree near the beginning of the game. The ending makes it clear by showing the butler in front of said small tree on his knees, grieving for his son.
  • Just the fact that certain characters cannot be saved — Darmani cannot be rescued because he died quite some time before Link arrives in Termina. The butler's son was killed before the 72 Hour loop began, and Mikau simply disappears. The Gorons can be saved from winter, and the Zora eggs can be rescued from the pirates, but those characters cannot return.
  • Romani sitting on a crate and staring into space, wondering who you are. When the player gets there on the first day, Romani is fine and walking around, using a slingshot on balloons. She asks Link to help her against 'them' — aliens that come at night to steal the cows from the ranch. Failing the quest leads to a cutscene of the cows being dragged through the roof of the barn, and Romani gets taken alongside them, screaming in fear. Nothing is revealed of what they do to her that results in her changed behavior.

Wind Waker

  • Aryll is Link's cute little sister, and she gets kidnapped by the Helmaroc King.
  • Tetra may be a jerk to Link at times, but she's a character that obviously loves her freedom and life as a pirate, but the player is forced to lock her away in Hyrule Castle to ensure her safety from Ganon.
  • Wind Waker revealing partway through that Hyrule was flooded ages ago, making any efforts put into saving Hyrule in Ocarina of Time pointless.

Twilight Princess

  • Just as the tutorial begins to wrap up, the village gets raided by Bulbins that kidnap the children and Ilia, knocking Link unconscious. The journey begins as nothing more than Link wanting to go and rescue his friends and ends up with him saving the world. Any time he finds his friends, more punches appear — the children in Kakariko Village are terrified of the Twili monsters, Colin gets kidnapped a second time, and Ilia has lost her memories.
  • After finishing the third section of the game, Zant appears in front of Link and Midna, knocks Link out and turns him into his wolf form, exposes Midna to the full blast of the light creature's power and puts her close to death, and then places a curse on Link that locks him into his wolf form in the light world for good measure. The player is forced to head to Princess Zelda with a weakened, panting Midna on Link's back and listening to the appropriately-named track of Midna's Lament. And when they reach Zelda, she tells them how to remove the curse on Link, and then gives her life energy to a protesting Midna — it saves Midna, but Zelda disappears.
  • During the final battle, Midna sends Link and Zelda out of Hyrule Castle while she fights Ganon by herself. The castle explodes, and Ganon comes out of the wreckage, crushing Midna's helmet.
  • The ending has Midna restored to her true form and returning to the Twilight Realm through the power of the mirror. But she knows that the mirror remaining intact could lead to a repeat of the events, she gives a heartfelt goodbye to Link and sheds a single tear that, after she transports to her realm, shatters the Mirror of Twilight. This severs herself and her realm from Hyrule, and Link, completely. Combining this with the implication that she is Link's true love interest makes the punch extra hard.

Skyward Sword

  • Gratitude Crystals are collected by helping someone and earning their gratitude, but some of those missions require the benefit of one person at expense of another person. This includes helping Pipit's mother clean her house and getting Rupees that were inteded for Pipit's education; breaking Peatrice's heart by rejecting her Love Confession and earning her father's gratitude for keeping his daughter 'safe' from men; and poor Cawlin either gets his heart broken when he learns that his crush loves someone else or ends up haunted by a ghostly hand.

  • At the end of Super Metroid, you find Samus nearly killed by a very, very large Metroid (it takes up 1/4 of the screen). When Samus is down to 1 HP, the Metroid pauses, makes noises, and leaves, revealing itself to be the baby Metroid that had imprinted on Samus as its mother. During the final boss battle, Samus is about to die when the Metroid re-appears. It sucks the Big Bad dry and heals Samus. A second later, the Big Bad revives and kills the Metroid. Cue Samus going Mama Bear on the Big Bad, with a new 11th-Hour Superpower. Said fight takes about 15 seconds.
  • Pandora's Tower will deliver these continuously if you dawdle around the dungeons long enough to let Elena's curse progress for more than two thirds. After the endless heartwarming moments you can have with her, watching her slowly fall prey to the curse and still try to go on as if nothing happened ("The floor is wet, mind you don't slip...") can be rather heartwrenching. And God forbid you let her humanity drop below the red threshold, especially if you cut the dungeon's first chains without much time left. You get to see Elena's condition all the same, except she is alone. The less time left, the more desperate she becomes.
  • Alundra has quite a few of these, considering how many characters you get attached to in this game. The real Player Punch is the fact that almost every character you save from a deadly nightmare ends up dying in one way or another by the end of the game. A standout version of this trope is after you finish the twins' dream dungeon late in the game and return to Inoa Village to see it being burned by the Murgg in revenge for you defeating their king Zazan. The dramatic music and the sight of the corpses of several familiar characters among the carnage are just added sucker punches to this heartbreaking moment.
  • Shadow of the Colossus has a particularly poignant example of this. Just before you get to the final colossus, a collapsing bridge causes your faithful horse, Agro, to drop hundreds of feet down into a fast-moving river after throwing you from his back onto the cliff edge in a Heroic Sacrifice. The incident left players with a cold mix of anger and grief all throughout the final battle, summed up by a near-constant mantra: "The Dormin have taken everything from me. I'll complete my quest. This colossus will die." The very first time you kill a Colossus counts too. It's big, it's trying to shake you off, it's none too happy, and when you finally kill it, the mournful music and slow, stately, sad way it falls to the ground and dies is especially tear inducing. Some subsequent Colossi are less sympathetic, some even more, even considering your brief time with each one. This is, of course, one of the subtexts of the game.
  • Cave Story:
    • Balrog force-feeds Toroko red flowers under the Doctor's orders when King shows up and smacks him off. His attempted revenge on the Doctor is spoiled, leading to terminal injuries. Cue the player's arrival, and the Doctor bails after telling the three of you to "have fun", and the task of prematurely ending a frenzied Toroko's rampage is thrust into the hands of the player. King passes his sword off in the aftermath of the fight just as he dies.
    • A second example, if you follow the path towards the normal ending rather than the "good" ending. At the end of the level where Curly joins you in combat, Misery casts a spell to fill the whole room with water, and Curly gives you her air tank in a Heroic Sacrifice, which of course means she stays there and drowns to death. Especially hard-hitting because of how unceremonious it is; your character wakes up from near-death and sees Curly lying there motionless. When examining her, the description simply reads "There is no response", and all you can do is leave the room and move on. Furthermore, during the ending sequence, you get shown a little cinematic of various locations around the island as it collapses. This includes a glimpse of the Core's chamber, complete with Curly's lifeless body, which is still in the exact same spot you left it.
    • There's even a second, arguably lesser example in the endgame. Just before the final battle, Sue Sakamoto and Misery are possessed by the distilled floating variant of the Psycho Serum and forced to fight against their will alongside the final boss.
    • But you know what's worse? Not the deaths of Professor Booster and Curly Brace, but the fact that you could have actually saved them if you knew how.
    • Even if you try to save Curly by tying her to your back, if you don't find the fairly out-of-the-way cave to store her, she will literally die strapped to your back.
  • American McGee's Alice does this a lot, and it's especially potent if you have any emotional connections to the original novels. The Mad Hatter crushes the White Rabbit and tortures the Dormouse and March Hare into insanity with his cruel experiments. The Jabberwock kills the Griffin, which is the final straw that triggers Alice's Heroic BSoD. And right before the final boss fight, said final boss kills your faithful companion the Cheshire Cat. By the time you hit the Red Queen, it's very, very personal.
    • Additionally, the Automatons you've been battling all through the Mad Hatter's asylum turn out to be created from Insane Children...
  • In the Xbox game Breakdown, on your way to the Nexus Core, you see Stefiana Wojinski, a scientist you met, shoved off a cliff, and the badass Gianni, who is the only guy in the military who isn't trying to kill you, slowly dies in front of you because you couldn't get there fast enough. Then, after you kick the ass of the boss who kidnapped and tortured your love interest, he powers up and easily beats you down, and your love interest sacrifices herself so that you can survive... Don't worry, though, you fix things with your awesome glowy fists of justice a bit later after a few horrid revelations.
  • Several in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. First up would be finding out that the Ghost Drones are actually the inhabitants of the ships the Athena captures, with several parts of their body replaced with circuitry and robotics and their brain overridden with rudimentary AI, used as cheap labour and expendable Mooks. This becomes worse when you speak to Miles Redknox, who is undergoing the procedure when you find him but still has his vocal cords and his brain intact. Then, Silverman, one of the only likeable characters in the game and somebody you're planning to escape the ship with, is shot and killed by Jaylor. To make it worse, he then talks about molesting her corpse during the ensuing fight with him. Shortly afterwards, as you finally reach the escape craft and see Dacher, who's been helping you through most of the game, sitting in the control chair, you find that he doesn't greet you. He's had his throat slit by Revas, who is waiting for you, using his body to bait you into a trap. And after you defeat her and get into a smaller escape pod, to round it off nicely, Lynn, a child no more than eight years old who's been hiding in the vents, makes her presence known and starts hammering at the glass screen of the pod, crying "Take me with you!". Revas then reveals that she isn't quite dead, gets up, and grabs her just as soon as the pod drifts off into space. Shortly afterwards, Revas informs you via radio that Lynn is in for a world of hurt while Riddick is drifting towards a doomed planet with a missile from the Athena on his tail. Riddick might not be moved very much, but the player sure is.
  • While he doesn't die right off the bat, the brutal beating and kidnapping of Pey'j in Beyond Good & Evil has much the same effect. While he's put in peril a few times during the first portion of the game, nothing truly bad happens to him — until he and Jade decide to separate for just a few minutes during one part of the second dungeon. Just as Jade returns, she hears him crying out in pain — and is only just quick enough to see him get beaten unconscious by a pair of Alpha Section soldiers and dragged off through a door that slams shut in front of Jade as she tries to save him. For a game that's been fairly lighthearted up to the point, it's shockingly violent and depressing.
    • And another punch when the lighthouse is destroyed, causing Jade to almost give up in despair and grief over the loss of the children.
  • Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver 2: The Sarafan bastards had to go and cut out Janos' heart.
    • And unfortunately Raziel is powerless to stop it, as killing them would result in a Time Paradox. He'd already consumed their souls in the future, so things could get a little awkward.
  • Ōkami has Rao, a Priestess who was murdered and possessed by Ninetails before the game started.
    • What's worse is that, after discovering the deception, you can if you so wish head to the place where Rao was shown being murdered in a flashback. Do a bit of poking around and an unpleasant surprise awaits you...
    • The sequel is far crueler. Your first partner is eaten by a giant carp in front of you, and just when you think you've successfully rescued him, the boss decides to pull a Taking You with Me and you promptly get separated again by a flood, leaving you to assume he's dead. Another one of your partners does not handle the Awful Truth about his origins well and has a Face–Heel Turn. Making it worse, they both reappear at the end... but one is possessed by the Big Bad and the other one has, as mentioned, joined him. You successfully rescue your first partner, but Kurow winds up sacrificing himself to seal away said villain by letting it possess him and then trapping it. And you have to kill him. Didn't expect THAT from the adorable protagonist and E rating, now, did you?
      • You also find out how that creepy haunted ship from the first game sank in the first place, and for added ouch, one of the sailors will mention his son... who you may have encountered previously, asking when his daddy will be coming home. Oh, and watch Shiranui die, with all the residents of the village crying around him. This game does not hold back on the Tear Jerkers.
  • NieR is pretty much nothing but a long string of Player Punches, starting from the end of the first act, all through each of the Multiple Endings. And that's just the main plot; most of the sidequests are equally as heart-wrenching, to the point where it's more of a shock if someone actually gets a good ending out of it all. It would take a block of spoiler text stretching over most of this page to recount every single punch in this game.
  • inFAMOUS 2's evil ending. Zeke has been spending the entire game redeeming himself as your friend, and coming to represent Cole's conscience. Even evil!Cole has qualms about killing him. Oh, and better yet: the player isn't let off the hook to let cutscene!Cole do the dirty work. They have to attack and kill Zeke themselves.
    • Making Zeke's death even worse is the fact that you're restricted to your first, basic bolt, you can't headshot him, you can't overkill him, you can't do anything to make it quick, you hit him with your weakest bolt, and he keeps getting up until the third time, when he just barely struggles to reach for his gun before the final blow is landed.
    • Trish's death in inFAMOUS can count too. The Punch hits even harder if the player has a girlfriend.
      • Considering all of the events of the first game were engineered by Kessler to jade Cole into doing the hard choices, there is a large section of the game that is filled with minor versions (especially when Kessler starts intervening directly in events).
  • Dan's death in Iji is completely preventable and means Iji watches her brother get electrocuted to death right in front of her, but that is only for starters. Afterwards, Iji suffers a complete psychotic break, utterly refusing to accept his death, holding conversations with herself as if they're still talking to her. Then Asha has the audacity to gloat about Iji's supposed "weakness", making it incredibly satisfying to give him a face full of shotgun.
  • Charlie Murder gives a cruel one in the bad ending. You fight against Lord Mortimer, the Big Bad and Charlie's former friend Paul. You see the demon possessing him but can't do a thing to hurt it. You eventually kill Lord Mortimer, in which the credits take a sudden somber tone. Charlie and Paul were not only friends, but best friends since babyhood. The credits show them growing up together until Charlie and Paul go separate ways.
  • Monster World IV has Asha hatch and befriend a Pepelogoo, who is not only a Ridiculously Cute Critter but a very dependable sidekick throughout her quest. After the Ice Pyramid, the corrupted queen's Pepelogoo fires a missile at you, and then your Pepelogoo takes the missile, putting him out of action for the rest of the game, complete with Asha crying over the loss of her companion.


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