Friday, 2 November 2012

Everybody Loves Lists: The 5 Best Intro Movies of ALL TIME

Lists! They are the bread and butter of videogaming websites - easy to put together, full of exciting controversy, and guaranteed linkbait. And so I am leaping into the fray, with a short list of some of my favourite intro videos in gaming. This list will doubtless cement my reputation as a titan of games blogging, and will be hailed and revered as The Definitive List. All other opinions will henceforth be rendered null and void

Please note, the intros in this list are all non-interactive. Anything that involves any form of player interaction (the bathysphere descent in Bioshock, for example) has been disqualified, and placed in a holding cell for use in future lists.

Final Fight (Arcade, 1989)

Not too long ago, we here in the larger metropolises (metropoli?) of the UK got to vote on whether we wanted elected mayors to run our cities. Most cities said no, on the grounds that one bloody Boris Johnson is quite enough, thanks. If there had been any evidence that the mayors we'd receive would be anything like Mike Haggar, though, there'd have been landslides all over this sceptred isle. As mayor of Metro City, former street fighter Haggar promised to smash crime and then super-suplex it too. Crime, naturally, was unhappy about this, and took action to protect itself. The intro to Capcom's side-scrolling beat-em-up is a fine, economical depiction of the catalyst to lots of men being punched a lot. Bonus points for the absurdly brief appearance of Cody and Guy (playable characters, although you only picked one of them if the other player had already taken Haggar) and the abrupt ending, which all but screams "PUT SOME MONEY IN AND STEP UP, KID!"

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube, 2003)

The art style of Wind Waker horrified many when it was revealed. Nintendo had previously shown footage at E3 of a realistic looking high-resolution Link, and the vibrant cel-shading of Wind Waker was nothing like that. "It looks like a kid's cartoon!" cried people without the self-awareness to realise they were talking about a videogame about an elf-boy with a magic sword. Wind Waker is still a visual treat, lush and inviting, even if the fishing for treasure shards got old very fast. The intro is a rundown of the 'legend' of the Hero of Time, shown as a tapestry with a gorgeous, mournful flute and harpsichord accompaniment. For newcomers, its a nice way to ease yourself into the legend of the Legend of Zelda. And for the old timers, it's a chance for your heart to soar as a triumphant fiddle picks up the second most iconic piece of music ever to come out of Nintendo.

Deus Ex (PC, 2000)

I could bang on about Deus Ex for an eternity (and I will, don't you worry). When it came out in 2000 it was the herald of the future of gaming, and it is a sad and scathing indictment of the artform that twelve years later it still is. It's only recently that the potential that Deus Ex showed us is being built on, with games like Dishonored standing on the giant shoulders of Ion Storm's dystopian cyberpunk conspiracy masterpiece. The intro is so good because it establishes the murky tone that runs through the game, and lays out much of the story without clueing you in to what that story is. It's just two men talking, and the occasional look at the wider world. But there is a wealth of detail laid out by the conversation between Bob Page and (future Great Arsehole of Gaming) Walton Simons, pieces of the puzzle laid out many hours before they'll fall into place. This is one of the rare intros that actually gets better on the second playthrough, when the full extent of their grand plan can be savoured. And if you are still yet to experience your first playthrough of this game, what the hell are you still doing here? GET ON IT NOW.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (GameCube, 2002)

There's nothing clever about this one. It's just a load of characters posing before they have a big old fight. Nintendo's oddball beat-em-up, in which a load of iconic Nintendo characters... erm... have a big old fight, is tons of barmy fun, and the intro fully reflects that. Each character is given their moment in the spotlight, before moving on to the next at breakneck speed. And they look great too - the image of Sheikh looking up at the sky mirrored by a starlit Zelda, the herd of multicoloured stampeding Yoshis (Yoshii?), Captain Falcon ramming his rivals off the road. They're all shown in their natural habitat, doing what they do best before facing off against each other. In fact, I have only one problem with this intro - it doesn't make it clear enough that FOX IS A CHEAT CHARACTER FOR CHEATING BASTARDS. KIRBY 4 LIFE!!!!!!!1!

Sam and Max Hit The Road (PC, 1993)

Sam and Max marked the first fully-voiced Lucasarts point-and-click adventure, and the intro shows that off beautifully, as well as the contrasting personalities of the freelance police. The laconic Sam and maniacal Max crash through a wall to save a woman being held hostage by a mad scientist. Except they aren't there to save her - they're there because they went the wrong way, and only stay so that Max can indulge himself in ultraviolence. The intro and credits contain everything that made Sam and Max so beloved: quickfire screwball dialogue, a dash of metahumour and copious amounts of violence meted out by a psychotic rabbit.

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