As the home console industry moved into the fifth generation, the introduction of compact discs over old school cartridges meant that games could start experimenting with features that hadn’t been previously available on the older formats.
For instance, the comparative size of CDs meant that for the first time developers could really start to perfect the process of moving games into the world of the third dimension. Another additional feature of CDs were that games could now include full-motion-video (often shortened to “FMV”) in them, as well as CD quality audio.
What the added size and scope of CDs meant was that game intro sequences, usually just a few stills and some text, were now capable of being far more detailed and intricate than they had ever been before. One console in particular that made use of the improved CD facilities was Sony’s original PlayStation machine.
As a young video game enthusiast who had cut his teeth in the fourth generation, the opening videos and sequences found on Sony’s brand spanking new device really caught my eye and danced with my imagination. Today I present my Top Ten Favourite PS1 Game Intros!
This is not supposed to be an objective or exhaustive list. It is merely a list of my ten personal favourites, so please don’t get your silk knickers in a twist if I don’t include your own favourite.
Some quick ground rules apply:
- I can only select an intro from a game I’ve actually played, so if the intro sequence from your favourite turned based Elf-em-up isn’t included, that’ll most likely be why.
- It’s one game per series.
- The game has to be at least 10 years old to qualify as Retro.
So with that in mind, let’s get started with my first choice!
Number Ten – Madden NFL 98′
Funnily enough, I only recently played this game for a Retro Respawn Feature. It was during that playthrough that I first noticed the intro video for this game. I was very impressed by the shots of San Diego at the beginning of the video, which are very nicely detailed when you consider this game was released in 1997.
From the atmospheric shots of the city, the intro moves on to a bruising collection of plays in the packed Super Bowl arena. Alongside the plays we see the forging of the famed Madden logo, and as the plays get more brutal. the process of creating the logo gets equally intense. Finally, the intro ends with Madden himself showing up in FMV form to welcome us to the game with an expected bombastic greeting!
Number Nine – Crash Bandicoot
The intro to Crash Bandicoot does a good job highlighting that sometimes less really is more. The game was originally supposed to have an Animaniacs-styled opening cartoon which literally spelt the game’s plot out to the player and felt overly zany.
Naughty Dog eventually made the decision to scrap it and instead came up with a much more streamlined intro using in-game graphics, which still manages to set up the game’s narrative of Crash trying to rescue his female companion, but it does it in a much more concise and less irritating manner.
Crash will always have a fond place in my heart, as I got it with my PS1 all those years ago, and I still love the intro even to this day.
Number Eight – Grand Theft Auto 2
I played GTA 2 a lot and probably enjoyed it even more than the GTA III game that came after it. Whereas the first game had felt clunky and rough around the edges, the sequel was much smoother to play, was easier on the eyes and also had the interesting dynamic of you being able to choose between three different and distinctive gangs in each level to do jobs for.
Another thing that made it stand out from its predecessor was the thrilling opening FMV sequence, which does an excellent job capturing all that makes the game so fun to play. Even today this video gets me pumped up and excited. GTA 2 really was a game that surpassed its elder sibling, and things like this intro were why.
Number Seven – WCW Mayhem
There’s no doubting that WCW was in a massive funk when Mayhem was released. Ratings for their flagship show “Nitro” were miles behind that of their rival’s, “Raw is War”, and their big events were attracting increasingly less interest both when it came to Pay Per View orders and ticket sales.
However, if you didn’t know anything about wrestling and you’d just bought Mayhem, you could be mistaken for thinking WCW was the hottest company in the land! Even though the premise of men creating Goldberg in a lab is pretty lame (I’m sure Vince McMahon wishes it were possible), the following video clips that accompany it are pulsating, complimented as they are by some classic generic 90s beats.
This intro does something that was near impossible at the time and actually makes you excited about WCW!
Number Six – Wipeout
What can I say about Wipeout at this point which hasn’t already been said, even by myself?
A seminal game and one that played a huge role in the PlayStation being such a smash hit, Wipeout‘s intro looks almost simplistic now when compared with modern graphics, but back in the day both the game and this intro blew people away.
The electronic music hooks your senses almost immediately as we catch the first glimpses of this futuristic world. We then are introduced to the hovering vehicles known as anti-gravity F3600, which we will be controlling in the game. Finally, engines revving, they go flying from the grid and the game’s logo comes literally smashing through a wall straight into our living room.
It’s so perfect, no wonder 40% of all video games sold in Europe during the financial year 1995-1996 were Psygnosis games.
Number Five – Tekken 2
This was a tough one for me, as I knew I wanted to include a Tekken intro, but I was torn between whether to choose the second or third game in the series. Eventually, I plumped for Tekken 2‘s intro, mostly down to the music more than anything else.
I love the music in this intro sequence, and if I ever get round to doing a Top Ten game music list for the fifth gen, then this piece will definitely be in there. It’s so good that it’s even been put to other fight scenes.
The intro is also dripping with atmosphere. Starting in a rainy night, we see that Heihachi Mishima survived his tumble off a mountain in the first game and is slowly assailing the cliff face with a thirst for vengeance.
As the video progresses we catch glimpses of characters old and new. We see that King is stumbling around drunk in a back alley, that Yoshimitsu now has a robotic hand and also that Nina seemingly has spaghetti for hair.
Despite some of the facial features on characters looking a bit…”off”, this intro is still energising and gets you motivated to crack some skulls in the King of Iron Fist!
Number Four – Duke Nukem: Time To Kill
Prior to TTK, I had never actually played a Duke Nukem game before, so the opening sequence was a great introduction as to what I could expect.
We catch The Duke doing what he normally does, riding into town on his bike to frequent a skin bar. So far, so Duke, but things quickly turn south as numerous time portals open and Pig Cops begin spilling out to ruin Duke’s good time. Not only that, the bacon menaces also turn Duke’s ride into a pink bicycle!
Infuriated by this turn of events, Duke does what he always does in these situations and gives the porkers a first class ticket to the slaughterhouse, using the opportunity to show off some of the game’s more enjoyable weaponry along the way.
All this is done to an incredibly catchy and loud Rock song. What more do you need? It’s The Chuffing Duke, for freckle’s sake!!
Number Three – Soul Blade
Another cracking piece of music sets this intro apart from the rest, along with some brilliant action to boot. Soul Blade (or Soul Edge if you lived outside of the PAL region) was a fighting game which still lives on today as the Soul Calibur series.
This intro does a great job of introducing the characters and their respective weapons, along with some really impressive in-game graphics for the time. Whether it needs the bit in the middle where all the female fighters get into varying levels of undress is another debate for another time, but horny younger Mike certainly wasn’t complaining.
But it all comes back to that song. A song that will live in your brain long after you finish watching the video. It’s spectacular and really gets you in the mood for some sword slashing medieval combat!
Number Two – This Is Football
It’s a shame that This Is Football is such a flawed game, because you can tell it was made by people who were passionate about the sport and really wanted to do it justice, but it sadly falls just short of the medal table.
The intro is spectacular, capturing the rawness which attracts so many people to the beautiful game. Starting on a rundown estate, we see that a young fan has filled his small room with memorabilia of his favourite team. As the video progresses we see that it’s a match day, as he meets up with his mates to head down to the stadium.
Along the way we see other fans making their way to the ground, singing songs, throwing smoke bombs and even mobbing the team coach. Meanwhile, we see the team preparing for the match, the star number 11 clearly feeling the pressure on his shoulders.
Finally, the team step out onto the field, the star player touching the crest on his way out. I love everything about this video, you can almost smell the sulphate from the smoke as you hear the clump of the players’ studs on their way to the pitch.
This video truly does capture what football is, especially on the continent, it’s just a shame that the game doesn’t live up to the excellent opening.
Number One – Metal Gear Solid
It really had to be this, didn’t it?
The cutscenes in the original Metal Gear Solid set a new standard for what you could expect from a video game narrative, and this introductory sequence is a perfect example. This could almost be from a blockbuster action movie, let alone a video game.
Solid Snake makes his way to Shadow Moses Island, and while we watch we also learn more about the game’s plot. The entire sequence is incredibly atmospheric and excellently directed. It sets you up for what’s coming in the rest of the game. I’d never seen anything like it before and, in my humble opinion, it still holds up today.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time;