Wednesday, May 31, 2017

First Things First: Best Openings in Gaming - Part Four

Last week we took a look at some of the best gaming title screens in gaming's history. Today, we're gazing our eyeballs at the thing that usually come at the start of the game, those wondrous game openings! If a title screen is a like a book's cover, then would that make an interesting opening its prologue chapter? Ooh, the analogies go deep here! This edition of Best Openings in Gaming features Persona 5 (we can't seem to get away from that game!), Final Fantasy Tactics (a series in general we can't seem to get away from), and Super Street Fighter IV, to start things off!

Check out the three previous parts of Best Openings in Gaming with these links:

(And just click on each game name to watch its opening!)

Let's begin with a recent release that oozes style, from its title screen, to its characters, to its menus, and yes, to its opening. Persona 5's opening shows off the main cast involved in dancing and other shenanigans throughout a red, black, and white color schemed city. The characters are introduced one by one as they paint, dance, move mysteriously, type furiously, and grind through Tokyo. All the while an insanely catchy vocal theme plays. Despite its relatively brief 1 minute and 35 second running time, Persona 5 packs a lot of vivid imagery and magic into its opening.

Starting off with a sensational confrontation between Ryu and Ken in a heavily artistic clash along the coast, waves pounding, Hadokens launching, Super Street Fighter IV's opening mixes with pure fist and foot fighting with some moments of levity. Showcasing countless characters in engaging scenes like Chun-Li and Cammy taking on Juri, the aforementioned Ryu and Ken battle, and Cody breaking out of jail to be part of the festivities, this opening is one that has stayed with me and many Street Fighter IV fans long after the game came out and will continue doing so even with Street Fighter V being the newest flavor.

Searching for a cure to his deathly-ill daughter, our main character in Nier isn't the typical protagonist for a Japanese game. He's quite old, and Nier's opening isn't your typical opening either. It shows off both story elements (though without context) and gameplay sequences, including lots and lots of action. The haunting choir theme that plays during everything makes the scenes even more striking and strong to witness. It gets one pumped to play Nier, and as its successor Nier: Automata recently shipped 1.5 million copies across retail and digital, what better time than the present to jump into the rousing and riveting adventure that was the original Nier?

Of all of the openings on this edition's list, Final Fantasy Tactics' opening is probably my favorite of the bunch. I'll never forget the chills down my spine as the music went into a crescendo, the Final Fantasy Tactics name appeared letter by letter, and the main theme blared as the full name appeared. The opening itself is a means to show off the main staff of the game while showing a squad of Chocobo-riding soldiers on their way to a destination. Through forests, rock beds, plains, and more, the squad closes in on their desired location which ends up being a monastery. This will be the beginning to the flashback chapters of Final Fantasy Tactics, one of my favorite openings and one of my favorite games in the franchise.

Shifting from fantasy to phantasy, Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II released on the Nintendo GameCube and Xbox with a totally different opening compared to the Dreamcast original. While the Dreamcast opening focused a lot on the events leading up to the story in the game, Episode I & II puts its focus on the world of the game and its characters, particularly its classes. The different classes are highlighted, showcasing their abilities and all the various combinations of costumes and weaponry players can outfit their custom character with. This is accented by a slightly altered but still powerful rendition of The Whole New World (No, not the Aladdin one). 

While the North American version of Gran Turismo 4's opening enters into its own jam (specifically Van Halen's Panama) after the introduction of series theme Moon Over the Castle plays, the Japanese version of the game plays the entire piece. Gran Turismo 4 starts out like an indie art film, with a director who really, REALLY loves race cars. The pans and rotations around the various cars in landmarks locations and seeing a white majestic car pull out of the garage while the chorus sings is a glorious start to the opening. Then the rocking part of Moon Over the Castle jams in as fast-paced imagery flies by, views of tracks, cars effortlessly taking corners and turns, and races of unimaginable excitement. An opening as solid as the driving simulator the game markets itself as, Gran Turismo 4 has got the goods and wraps up this edition of Best Openings in Gaming. 

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