Well, let's belly up to a good list article, shall we?
One of the things that YouTube can afford us nowadays is the ability to go back and quantify stuff that as kids, we loved. And I loved a good "attract mode" for videogames back in the day. Seeing the screenshots made me realize the kind of impact that anime had on a TON of videogames and systems. Among those systems were of course the venerable SEGA CD.
The leap from 16-bit to 32-bit was a weird transistion for the Sonic The Hedgehog laden company. They tried the 32X add-on for the Genesis, went to Sega CD, and eventually settled on the Sega Saturn as the ultimate 2D machine. The "attract mode" became a way for companies to entice arcade gamers as to the worthiness of their game, but for the Sega CD it was a little vanguard moment they used to hopefully sell more games!
And in those attract modes were some pretty amazing (and historic) anime inspired openings. So I'd like to shine a light on a few that really impressed, and stand as awesome examples of a time when full motion video (FMV) and sprite art was at a premium.
Put in the games and let's begin!
5. Lunar The Silver Star Story
A seminal hit for JRPGs, the LUNAR franchise started with this rocking, female-vocal backed hit. Featuring cutting edge sprite stills and the best that MIDI instruments had to offer, it impressed back in 1993.
A fantasy adventure with character designs by Toshiyuki Kubooka-- who also designed the characters for Giant Robo and was the animation director on Nadia of Blue Water!-- the game's bright, old-school style IMMEDIATELY jumps out at you.
And while it wasn't a Sega CD game, I thought I'd also mention the Silver Star Story Complete version that came out, which features the most earnest, Disney musical ready song I've ever heard in a game.
Just listen to her belt those lines out! Don't you just feel more hopeful now?
"All things are real/unless you dream they're not" So true, so true.
So after all that mushy stuff, let's get to some dude feelings...
4. LORDS OF THUNDER
So while the animation is VERY minimal, you cannot resist the immense, metal awesomeness of that opening tune.
You've got ancient artifacts, magical armors, a CONSTANT thunderstorm happening, and a pounding beat to drive you. Then at about 1:42 the drum intro kicks in and you're treated to the intimidating portraiture of the prettiest Viking warriors you've ever seen. THIS THING ROCKS.
I've never heard an intro that so perfectly captured the feeling of sprawling arena rock. And doing so with all synth instruments is kind of unbelievable. This first-person shooter is a great game in it's own right, but if it was translated into a BASTARD style anime affair I wouldn't be upset.
3. GHOST IN THE SHELL
So, I'm technically cheating in the 3rd entry, since this was for the original Playstation... BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER. Where else am I going to get a chance to say this was the GHOST IN THE SHELL anime that we never got?
As much as I love Mamoru Oshii, his influence on the first animated version of Motoko Kusanagi kind of ruined the tone of Masamune Shirow's tech-heavy, but often humorous manga. And that's as much as I'll agree with Tom Pinchuk's disdain for the original movie.
I'd pay super Kickstarter monies to get a full series translation of this anime intro. I need off-beat tachikoma spider robots causing chaos, while Kusanagi commands them from an overtly fetishistic internet tube. Just get the showrunner from MTV's Liquid Television to take this on and I'll be a happy camper.
Yeah, this intro is a bit of a slow burn... it's kind of interesting... wow, why is this taking so long??? Oh wait, this was one of the first games helmed by HIDEO KOJIMA, now it all makes sense! That's a guy who LOVES super-involved cut scenes.
But what I love about this is the MUSIC. That theme that hits around 3:10 places you right in a tension-filled techno future. And when it finally ports down to the gritty, urban setting you'll be spending the first few game play hours in, it's 80's nostalgia love all the way. Anything set in 2040 Los Angeles will do that.
If you have major time to burn, watch a full playthrough of this on YouTube and you'll get an idea of what happens when Lucasarts meets Metal Gear. This game has the first canonical appearance of Meryl, a vast corporate mega-conspiracy that Kojima loves, and more Lethal Weapon references than you can stand.
1. ROAD AVENGER
If there is an award for most narrative-driven, lyrically incomprehensible intro in video games this would win hands down.
You think you're about to play a fun racing game...
...and then you realize you're racing against Mad Max rejects in an attempt to avenge your dead wife whom they took from you presumably right after leaving the church. Yes, you have to see it to believe it.
I like to imagine the the first-person driving sequence that happens after 1:18 is actually him in a fever state, running random cars off the road in an attempt to rectify his deep feelings of guilt over his wife's death. Wow, I kinda wish this was the plot to Drive now.
Hope you enjoyed my picks! Got any more anime-influenced intros to share? Leave em' in the comments below!
Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recentlyBATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow@cravesam