January 3, 2014

More Classic Intros to Launch the New Year (Part 2 of 2)

Hope you got a kick out of the game intros in yesterday's post -- today's bunch is just as sure to please! I hope the next time you're posing dramatically in a picturesque vista, looking purposeful whilst your hair blows dramatically in the wind, you feel prepared for an epic quest yet to come...

Mega Man 2

Nintendo Entertainment System

Ah, the quintessential classic video game opening (and arguably a quintessential classic video game). You have a little bit of exposition, explaining the premise, as the music slowly builds -- then, things start to pick up as the camera scales up the side of the building. And then, as the anticipation reaches its big moment: ker-blammo! We're rocking out to an awesome track, the title gets plastered across the screen, and our hero finally blinks his way into view. Sure, it's primitive and simple, but in that simplicity lies its elegance. Mega Man 2 doesn't need any flashy tricks or overpowering melodrama -- it just needs to be itself, and that is enough.

Chrono Cross


That music! Still, so beautiful after all these years. There's a reason this soundtrack still worms its way into many gamers' all-time favourites. Still, that's just one factor that makes this such a memorable opening. Like Mega Man 2 above, we start out serene and contemplative before building into something more energetic. We're then treated to an increasingly rapid jumble of disjointed and mysterious scenes, full of strange figures we have yet to meet -- yet rather than being alienating, it works because the visuals are so well choreographed with the pacing of the music. Seriously, just watch this one again and pay attention to how the visuals are carefully edited to match up with the audio. Someone knew what the hell they were doing.

Ninja Gaiden

Nintendo Entertainment System

Another simple one, an oldie but a goodie. I almost didn't include it, but eventually realized I had to, since opening story sequences like this one were still a novelty back in the original Ninja Gaiden's time -- especially animated ones. Those two ninjas, running toward each other, sure have a way of holding one's attention!
This series will always get bonus points in my book, for having escalating narratives that progressed throughout the game. There are shady characters, revealed conspiracies, plot twists, and double-crosses -- all in an era where "story" in an action game was often a distant, static element which existed merely to give context to the battles.


Playstation 2

One can't talk about great intro sequences without mentioning Onimusha. I was conflicted about which game in the series to represent here, but wound up choosing the first game because it is the originator and because it displayed the most "wow factor" for its time. Although the English dub is less than earth-shattering and the limited dialogue is pretty campy, the cinematography and artistic vision on display here was quite impressive for an early PS2 title. Or, maybe I'm just a sucker for close-ups of wildlife doing horrible things as visual metaphor.
(Note: The video I found for this one is from a longer play-through; the intro itself ends at around 5:10)

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete


Alright, this one's a little embarrassing, but this opening is perfect for the game and I find it charming in a naive, cheesy, old-school kind of way. Just don't listen to the lyrics of the song, okay? Everyone's better off that way.
Actually, this isn't even that bad when you consider this sequence was made for Working Designs' Playstation port of the game. The original opening song for Lunar: The Silver Star on Sega CD was even more cringe-worthy!

Final Fantasy VIII


This had to be here. Final Fantasy VIII's opening cinematic remains one of the best there is, in my opinion. What can I even say about it? It's got it all -- some of the most jaw-dropping CG graphics of its time, masterful editing, and uncommonly gripping orchestral music that demands your attention. With some cryptic, out-of-context montage mixed with the bitter duel between Squall and Seifer which transitions into the first moments of the story, this is a perfect way to open a new game.

What did you think of these intro sequences? I know there are way more noteworthy openings than the ones I've collected here, so please feel free to share some of your picks in the comments!

Well, I suppose that's it, time to -- oh, no....

Zero Wing

Sega Mega Drive

Okay, very funny. Who let Zero Wing in here? In a way, I suppose I have to hand it to this game -- it did, in an ironic and indirect way, become one of the best-known game intros on the internet -- probably more so than any of the titles I picked. So, in the end, all your last laugh are belong to it!

No comments:

Post a Comment