Best Game Intros Ever Thread!
We've all been there before. We boot up a game, and, whether it's the pre-title cinematic, the start menu, or the "actual" beginning of the game, something about the way it starts, its sound and motions, gives us shivers and instantly informs us of the game and what it's about.
This thread is here to honour the best of game intros, an aspect of video-games often sorely neglected (unlike oft-discussed endings). Feel free to post your own screenshots in a Play-By-Play.
In the case of my current favourite, Super Metroid
, the intro begins just after the main menu.
Fuck Yeah, Samus B!
A universal standard of intro screens.
Who could forget this moment? In an era of gaming when voice-acting was more a novelty than anything else, and usually sounded completely awful, we heard this haunting opening line with no pretensions or grandeur, no technological splendor, just a voice with accompanying words plainly appearing on a black background. It's the only spoken word in the game, and it is partially because of this that it resonates with us when we hear it.
Samus' upper torso appears on the screen, heavily shadowed in front of the black background. A simple blink with two frames of animation lends the image life, while green letters appear on the screen with accompanying "typing" sounds".
Significantly, when Super Metroid
was released the text in this intro was Samus' only personal message in the series. The sparing use of text and emotion displayed motivation for the character while still allowing her the charge of mystery that helped make her a gaming icon. Also note the haunting score, making full use of an extremely limited digital range to create an ambiance of dark intentions with galactic consequences.
New players are introduced to the concept of the Mother Brain via a flashback from the original Metroid
. The environment and characters are recreated with modern graphics, without any flashy, distracting deviations from the original game's visual style.
We are allowed an explanation of the Game Boy title Metroid II
's ending. The personification of the Metroid larva as a "Confused child" is critical to the game, as it ensures the player has a desirable emotional connection with the Metroid, ensuring that its reappearance, attack, and subsequent yielding are fully explained in the player's mind when they occur. It also establishes Samus as a mother figure.
The "Motherly" aspect of Samus is especially interesting considering her nemesis: The "Mother Brain". (I couldn't help but be reminded by the movie Aliens
when I noticed this.) Figuratively, Samus is on a mission to rescue her child.
The concept of a Metroid being not only capable of draining energy, but also producing it forms an important part of the series' story. It makes them a very interesting and malleable third party, and has provided the series a great deal of flexibility for plots in further installments (Samus' suits in subsequent Metroid games are sometimes partially "Metroid-powered").
This screen at firsts seems merely to be visual support of Samus' exposition, but the angle is worth noting: This is the first
human in the series other than Samus to be seen, but the face is not shown
. This helps the game maintain its cold atmosphere, and, since it is implied to be Samus' own memory, the lack of any distinguishing features of the scientist go towards implying that Samus is not a woman who forms any personal relationships. As the sole moving part of the screen, the Metroid inevitably becomes the most eye-catching part of it. If the option to animate the handshake was present, it was good that the developers chose not to, as the lack of motion elsewhere places emphasis on the Metroid's importance.
In a departure from series convention, instead of simply being evil, destructive monsters, the Metroids can be used to either build or destroy. This, coupled with the "Baby" personification of the Metroid larva, makes the Metroids interesting characters themselves: Ones with limitless power to change the fate of civilization, but no moral loyalties, only simple biological ones.
Again, no detail is revealed in the scientists' faces, their glasses are deliberately reflective to disallow any sight of their eyes, thus disallowing any sort of connection to them as people. Again, the Metroid is the only moving part of the screen. Coupled with Samus' simple "baby" association earlier, this actually gives the Metroid more personality than the scientists! This is partially thanks to the scientists' featureless nature: By displaying no more expression or individual distinction than the Metroid, the creatures personal connection to the player is ensured, rather than simply contrasting with the scientists as a monster.
The story of Super Metroid
is finally initiated.
When this text appears, the steady, moody music suddenly cuts off, jolting the player and providing the exclamation with a more alarming quality.
After all these slow sequences, with little motion, the game cuts to a sudden cutscene. Our front view of Samus' ship is very brief, as it careens into the screen and (accompanied with a flash of white)...
Towards the space station. The purplish space in the background provides the station with a somewhat eerie, threatening glow, and the asteroids suggest danger.
The ship disappears into the small hole on the top of the station, giving the player a sense of a massive scale, and the words "Space Station" firmly place the player in the setting of the first playable section.
And so begins Super Metroid
! In a time when most "Text exposition" intros in video-games were extremely basic and impersonal, Metroid provides an understated stylization, and uses its sole moment of direct narrative to provide the player with personal connections to things in the game that display no human emotions or characteristics whatsoever.
Here, discuss your personal thought on this and other great gaming intros (as well as, if you so choose, the worst gaming intros). While I'm thinking about Metroid intros, Metroid Prime
has a fantastic title screen.