The original PlayStation marked a shift in the quality of opening cinematics in gaming, due in most part to the space that the CD allowed for - a format that it could be argued Sony popularised with the PlayStation. When booting up a PlayStation game you often find elaborate opening songs and visuals that have become as iconic as the games themselves.
Never had we been treated to such interesting opening sequences before, they were a testament to the hardware as well as a showcase for the technical skill of the artists working on them, they are little technical marvels that as a kid seemed futuristic and magical. It's worth noting that this was in a pre-internet age so to speak, it wasn't as easy to seek out gameplay videos or user reviews, instead you had word of mouth, magazines and demo discs to sell the game to you. Demo discs would come with a handful of games you could play but also a handful of videos, videos that as a kid I'd watch over and over again. Here I've collected some opening videos that still get to me and bring back many memories.
PlayStation start screen (1995)
It all starts the moment you turn on the console, the sound of this start up screen is 100% classic and got across that Sony wasn't to be messed with, as the slogan went, 'Do Not Underestimate The Power of PlayStation'.
Tekken 2 (1996)
Great opening that introduces you to all the characters and says so much with so little. After watching this every time you booted up the game (who'd skip it!?) you felt like you really knew the characters. This was important as Sony and Namco really needed to stand out among the crowd of fighters and get you hooked, Tekken was one of PlayStation's killer apps at the time and a lot of effort was put into making it stand out.
Resident Evil (1996)
I remember seeing this as a kid and being so terrified, gaming had never really seen anything like this before and it's no mistake that this game went on to spawn one of gaming's best selling franchises. The intro is pretty laughable now but made great use of the hardware at the time and set the series up perfectly, goofy and terrifying in equal measures!
Crash Bandicoot (1996)
Not really an intro video but the opening music and titles of the original Crash Bandicoot are so memorable, Crash's animation were great and the music by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh was unique, fun and quirky. Just hearing the beginning of this video makes me want to play the game all over again.
Final Fantasy VII (1997)
I'm not the biggest fan or follower of the Final Fantasy series but the imagery of this intro really stuck with me, especially the dark almost cyber punk industrial setting. There was so much hype when this game was coming out, and it's still seen by many as the best game in the series.
Tomb Raider II (1997)
A fairly surprising opening for Tomb Raider II, probably my favourite game in the series and they opened it with scenes of magic and a huge dragon, as a kid you always knew that you'd eventually go against that dragon but when you did, my god was it scary!
Soul Blade (1997)
Oh yeah! One of the best there is, Namco was on a roll with the PlayStation, they made some incredible games... and some amazing intros. This kicked the Tekken 2 video all over the place, we had incredible epic settings, amazing music and a voice over that would become synonymous with the series. Great intro that'd get you pumped and ready for action!
Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey (1997)
Great intro that was apparently made prior to the game itself, they felt it was extremely important to show the setting and story of this unusual game and so they put a lot of effort into the intro and used it in order to try and get investors etc interested in the project. An extremely bleak intro that makes you root for Abe and understand the scale of his journey.
Metal Gear Solid (1998)
The game that introduced many to the series, the filmic intro makes Snake's mission seem fairly straightforward, obviously it wouldn't turn out to be so simple. The intro details names like Revolver Ocelot, Decoy Octopus and Psycho Mantis, brilliant names and amazing characters that at this point in time are nothing but odd code names. The rest of the Solid series would follow in the first game's footsteps and expand upon its filmic quality, and although the rest of the games in the series have better intros, this is the one that started them all.
Tekken 3 (1998)
Two years after Tekken 2 and Namco wanted to outdo everything they had done before and create a truly sensation fighting game. They added so much with Tekken 3: new game modes, characters, gameplay tweaks etc which all added up to a perfect sequel; easily the best of the 'classic-era' Tekken games and arguably the best game in the entire series. The intro is plain cool and futuristic... not much more I can say!
Resident Evil 2 (1998)
A great iconic intro that felt really fresh at the time, no longer was the zombie outbreak restricted to creepy mansions; now it had taken over Raccoon City and no one was safe. The production values were pretty high for Resident Evil 2 due to the overwhelming success of the first game. There was a lot riding on this sequel and thankfully they improved almost everything in my opinion. As with the original this intro is meant to be equal parts scary and tongue in cheek and it pulls it off well with some hilarious one-liners. 'What's up with that guy? That was a clean hit!'
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins (1998)
A gripping intro that sums up the adult nature of the game perfectly as well as doing a great job of exploiting its beautiful Japan setting and the game's unique stealth gameplay. It's a shame this series has fallen by the way side this generation, used to love these games.
Ape Escape (1999)
A game that made a great case for two sticks being better than one; Ape Escape's frantic short intro tells you everything you need to know in less than a minute... these monkeys are running wild and have guns! We gotta catch them all!
Ridge Racer Type 4 (1999)
One of my favourite racing games... scratch that, one of my favourite games, period, opens with an incredibly stylish, cool and iconic video. I must have watched this hundreds and hundreds of times back in the day, it just looked and sounded phenomenal, it seemed more real than real life. Type 4 was Ridge Racer's biggest evolution and marked a cooler and more adult racing game whilst still retaining its arcade roots. I would pick this over Gran Turismo in a heartbeat; Gran Turismo was the brains of PlayStation racing games, but Ridge Racer Type 4 was the soul.
Silent Hill (1999)
A great intro that perhaps reveals too much of the actual game to be truly perfect. The intro features a cut up of CG movies from throughout the game set to a cool guitar driven track. I like this video as it has an odd quality to it and makes me want to play through the game again... although the woman in the church still freaks me out. Brilliant use of music in this one, works perfectly with the images.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999)
Each of the Tony Hawk games opened with a showreel of famous skaters doing crazy tricks, but this one has the luxury of being the first game and opened a lot of people's eyes to skateboarding as a sport. This just seemed to defy all the rules and felt boundless, which was great inspiration for creativity within the game itself.
Posted 08 October 2012