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Monday, 29 February 2016

Editorial: 5 Funnest Video Game Openings.

So this week is a busy week for me, and today the busiest of all, so while there are editorials with slightly more substance boiling (like one on Marvel's casting choices), today we're going with something frivolous and easy to write. Which will also probably be up late, so sorry about that.

I'm going to try and get this fortnight's Ghost up tomorrow, which might mean reviewing it while one of the two episodes is unsubbed. That'll be an experience.

Editorial: 5 Funnest Video Game Openings.

Openings are an important part of a video game, setting the mood and creating hype for the story and action to follow, usually in the form of a dramatic or ominous cutscene or, if you're playing a JRPG, an opening that would not be out of place on an anime.

I actually find that latter type of opening really, really fun, because I love anime openings sometimes more than the actual shows and/or games (apparently) that they're the openings to, so here's five of the funnest.

Persona Q.

Persona Q's opening is basically the opening of an anime that sets itself up to be happy-go-lucky while actually being awful. You know, like how .hack//SIGN and Madoka Magica both had openings that made them look like charming romps even though they were not charming romps.

Fair play to Atlus for including a shot of a woman with her hair falling out and bleeding from her eyes, set to the swelling upbeat music of Shoji Meguro's Maze of Life, just so that you do have some warning of the kind of content the game will start throwing at you somewhere around its latter half.

Prior to that, though, Persona Q's opening is basically every single happy, upbeat anime opening ever committed to screen blended into one brightly coloured sequence about friendship and teamwork and weird, looming doors beyond which lie young girls and teenage boys with dead eyes. So that's good. I like that.

It's really catchy, too.

Final Fantasy XII.

On the other end of the spectrum, Final Fantasy XII's opening is not so much an opening credits sequence as it is an abridged fantasy miniseries covering a political wedding, a war, a funeral, and the occupation of a city. It even has a short bit of exposition on history and local geopolitics, because of course it does.

Setting you up for what is arguably the largest, most epic, and most politically minded Final Fantasy game made, XII's opening makes it absolutely clear what this game is about: Politics, war, and practical armour design, with that last point getting hammered in by the fact that shortly after seeing a man get shot with an arrow through his sexy armour gap, you get a tutorial character stabbed through his sexy armour gap.

Would that the designers had remembered their own lessons there when designing either Fran or Ashe.

Bravely Second.

Like Persona Q's opening, Bravely Second's opening is essentially the opening of an anime, but its focus is less on 'bright colours and ominous imagery' and more on 'everything is epic and fantasy and there's a guy with a sword'.

The opening cycles through showing you various characters being dramatic, culminating in a showdown between Emperor Oblivion (one presumes he picked that name for himself) and protagonist Yew, with them colour-coded purple and orange just in case you thought the man in all black with a mask was good or the boy in bright colours with wide, innocent eyes was evil.

Highlights of the trailer include wondering what on earth Tiz is wearing, enjoying the agreeable music by band supercell, and also wondering what on earth Tiz is wearing. 

Dissidia Final Fantasy.

Dissidia's opening probably shouldn't be on this list, because while it is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous, dramatic, and fanservice-y (in the wholesome 'look at all these characters you know and love being amazing' sense) thing Square-Enix has ever made, it's also basically a seven or eight minute long taunt, because the actual game is not even remotely as dramatic and dynamic as this one sequence.

As you get to your twelfth hour of slogging through virtually identical fights in a handful of arenas, you will perhaps think back on the opening, which shows you sights like Zidane throwing Tidus through the air with his tail, Squall and Sephiroth battling their way up a sheer rock face, and Firion clinging to the side of a floating rock as Golbez suspends it in the air for kicks, and think 'wow, if only the designers had put a tenth of the effort into the game that they put into this one cutscene.'

Dissidia Duodecim, meanwhile, replaces most of that with floating numbers, re-used footage, and brief shots of Yuna dancing? On a battlefield? For some reason? Which seems like an odd choice, given that I'm pretty sure that most people bought Duodecim for the opening cutscene, with the actual game as an optional sideshow.

Still, A++ opening, guys.

Valkyria Chronicles.

Valkyria Chronicles' opening, which might very well also be its trailer, basically revolves around swelling, orchestral music and shots of dramatic moments of the game, and it's amazing. I could watch it for hours. I have watched it for hours.

There's not actually a massive amount more I can say about it. It's just - it's nice. It's really nice. It's nice when things are nice. I like it.

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