Intro cinematics can make or break a game. If an intro didn’t impress somebody enough to try the game, chances are it’d be ignored unless it’s a AAA title with a big marketing campaign behind it. That’s why, from the PS1 era onwards, intros because more and more impressive.
We’re nearing the point where both the in-game models and the cinematic models are pretty much one and the same; highly detailed and incredible to look at. In the olden days of the PS1 and Saturn era, that really wasn’t the case, so games had to improvise with really awesome FMV, incredible animated intros and awesome music.
Now, more than 20 years since the PS1 era ended, here are some of the intros that stood the test of time.
Wild Arms 2
The original Wild Arms had one of the best intros to a game ever, with its theme song completely done via whistling.
It was awesome, it fit the damn game and it’s still memorable today. However, it’s nowhere near as memorable as its sequel; Wild Arms 2.
At first glance it looks like a typical JRPG animated intro. Then you listen for a bit…and you realize it’s using a trumpet as it’s main instrument. Cool cool, you think.
Then you get to 0.53 and you get blasted with one of the best trumpet solos your ears will ever hear. You’ll feel the hairs on your arms and neck raise because of how awesome it is and you’ll instinctively know that this is undoubtedly a classic.
Suddenly it’ll all makes sense why this is one of the best intros from the PS1 and Saturn Era.
There was a brief period in gaming when Full Motion Video (FMV) was all the rage. Every damn game had to have them, no matter if it fit or not. You could be a damn chess game and your intro would be an FMV! It’s that bad of a fad.
Thankfully, that died off after people realized CGI could do a better job.
Luckily though, Resident Evil managed to squeak out before it did, or else we’d never have had the chance to bask in its original intro’s cheesy glory.
The ham-fisted acting, the cheesy lines, the incredibly awkward delivery that makes you think these actors have never spoken a word of English in their whole lives! It’s so bad, that it goes all the way around into the realm of awesome!
While corny, it certainly set the mood for the game, with the eerie silence of the main hall right as you start off the game.
That’s why it gets on this list!
Resident Evil 2
If the original Resident Evil and its intro was great because of how bad it was, then the opposite is true for Resident Evil 2’s. Sure, the CGI looks damn lame now but back in the day (1998), this was cutting edge!
The pacing for both intros (one for Claire, one for Leon) is perfect and shows off the game’s zapping system (where actions in one character’s playthrough would impact the other) by showing how intertwined the two leads’ stories are but that’s hardly what makes them so memorable.
Nah…the thing that makes them so memorable is when you finally realize that Capcom’s upped their game.
That you’re no longer stuck in a damn mansion no more. This is it, this is Raccoon City and shit has hit the fan; you’re trapped in a whole city of the dead and you have a hell of a fight ahead of you if you want to survive.
Namco (now Bandai Namco) absolutely dominated the field in the PS1 era when it came to quality FMVs.
From Ridge Racer (and its many sequels) to the Tekken games, Namco consistently produced some of the best looking (for its time) intros to games. I bet those intros sold a ton of games based on their looks alone!
However, their best FMV intro belonged to one of their first titles released on the PS1; Soul Edge (or Blade if you’re going by its western name). The precursor to the Soul Calibur series, Soul Blade was Namco’s first foray into weapons-based fighting.
That wasn’t its main draw though; it was the music and the scenes in the intro.
From the opening with all the fighters are shown, to Soul Edge being displayed ominously, to Siegfried clashing with Taki…and of course, to the sexy parts with Taki’s jiggling boobs and Sophitia’s topless bathing (the US version censored this bit).
The Soul Edge intro has it all…and that’s why its on the list!
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Some games impress you with a sense of dread (like Resident Evil), action (Soul Edge) or pure musical prowess (Wild Arms 2)…but very few games will impress you with the sense of hope that Lunar Silver Star Story did!
The sense of hope and optimism carries into the game itself; I’ve never felt such sincerity from a game’s hero that I felt from Alex on his quest to become the Dragonmaster (emulating his hero Dyne) and rescuing his childhood sweetheart from Magic Emperor Ghaleon. Despite all the shit that gets thrown in his path in the game (including Luna being the evil villainess), Alex never loses hope or gives up.
It’s an earnest story that’s straightforward but highly relatable and still sticks with me decades later. The intro perfectly represents that with not only an incredible song but one that also sets the tone for the game.
That’s why it’s on the list!