Technically intro movies weren't even required. Attract screens were the call of the arcade scene, short flashy videos to catch the passer-by's eye and suggest wonderful things if they'd part ways with a twenty pence piece or pound coin. Console titles had already secured forty pounds of the player's money: demoing the wares to get attention was a moot point at this stage.
Yet we're forever glad that studios decided to pump some budget into the front-end of their works. While 8 and 16-bit games, baring a few exceptions, looped a small section of gameplay to break up static title screens, the 32-bit era onwards were lavish in their production values, impressing even before we'd pressed a single button on the joypad or keyboard.
Here, for our money and your enjoyment (and debate), are seven of our all-time favourite gaming intros.
"A tale of souls and swords, eternally told..."
It's become almost cliche to see this entry: the reason it's "almost" is because sixteen years on, the montage movie that greeted players of the PSOne port to Namco's fighting series is still one of the finest intros we've ever watched. It even outdoes the company's consistently brilliant Tekken intros. Backed by a fast-paced, and yes - cheesy - song, it instantly familiarises you with the game's cast and gets you pumped for the battles to come.
Sam & Max Hit the Road
"Not if you don't mind me clawing at the dash and shrieking like a cheerleader."
It's a tight fight between this and LucasArts' other classic PC adventure Full Throttle, but Sam & Max win out by mauling its detective noir tendencies in own its comedic zipper from the very first shot, as a mad scientist's monologue is put short by the dynamic duo driving through a nearby wall. Cue smooth transition from joke-filled escapade as they rescue the damsel in distress into a jazzy title sequence, and straight into the game proper. Cool, demented and instantly memorable.
"Ya Ya Ya Ya!"
You can't see the big yellow taxis plummeting down steep roads and dodging through same-way traffic without thinking of that line. Punk rock songs were the perfect accompaniment to Sega's most arcade of racers, as short and blunt as hightailing it around San Francisco with time counting down and the dream fare awaiting. Crazy Taxi had the attract screen to die for; even the game's announcements had the sub-text more associated with gambling machines ("Hey come on over and make some crazy money!"). With all its flashing colours and instant kicks, the game was about as addictive.
Secret of Mana
"Darkness sweeps the troubled land..."
It starts even before the publisher's logo is off the screen, the thrum of some great mythical beast reverberating through the TV. Transitions into a haunting piano line, a scroll of text, then swelling into the game's central theme as the screen expands to reveal its opening title screen and stunning artwork. Taken in its component parts, Secret of Mana's opening is ostensibly minimalistic, but no other fantasy-based intro has evoked such a strong sense of wonder and intrigue. It alone promised a world like no other - thankfully what came after the title sequence delivered on that promise.
"Alpha team is flying around the forest zone situated in north-west Raccoon City..."
The other horrible cliche of any "best intro" list is a heavy reminder just how deeply enmeshed the original Resident Evil was in B-Movie horror tropes. It's also bloody brilliant. A live-action short detailing how S.T.A.R.S ended up in the mansion featuring god-awful acting and mugging, then dovetailing into a brilliant montage sequence introducing the principal cast. Man who plays Barry Burton: we salute you.
"Delphine Software International and US Gold present..."
Back in the 90s we had to contend with colourful bobcats, red-headed chickens and a duel between a blue hedgehog and a italian plumber. To say gamers were shocked at this cerebral slice of cinematic sci-fi noir is to undersell what happened: animations and visuals that felt light-years ahead of their time introducing an intoxicating future shock that had the hallmarks of Blade Runner and the puzzle platforming of Prince of Persia.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
"Korriban. Ancient birthplace of the Sith..."
Want to cram in a movie's worth of action scenes and classic Star Wars motifs into a six minute sequence? Want to make it more exciting and offer more heart than the entire prequel trilogy combined? Sure BioWare. You go right ahead. We'll watch with mouths agape and fingers tapping in eagerness to join in the galaxy far far away.
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