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What are your all-time favorite game beginnings, and why? [roundtable]
I'll let you decide how exactly you define "beginning", to me it could be the first 5 minutes or the first 2 hours, but whatever it is, you remember it as being a stand-out segment that really gets a game off to an amazing start.

Anyway, someone on Reddit gave me a free copy of Resident Evil 5 for the Switch yesterday and that reminded me how amazing the intro to Resident Evil 4 was while the intro to 5 felt like a bit of a letdown. I played the first few hours of 5 this morning and honestly, the intro of 5 isn't as bad as I remember it (I thought I remembered a lot more walking), but it sure ain't 4! 4 was something else. You get a small introduction to the controls in the first house, a few more enemies on the way to the village, and then BAM, that village sequence. Who would throw something like that at the player like 5 or 10 minutes into the game? But they did it! Just all out action, having to learn new things on the fly (using ladders, leaping off houses, etc.) and just when you think you can't handle any more, you hear a chainsaw start up and are like fuuuuuuuuuu. I love too how nothing directly forces you into the house that spawns the cutscene, but you're (subtly?) funneled to it and most players will probably end up in that house panicking about what to do pretty early on. No hand-holding, you aren't even given a clear goal at that point, you're just fighting to survive. Just amazing!

Another one that comes to mind for me is Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. It starts by putting you in the past, in control of the legendary heroes who defeated evil many years ago. And defeat evil you do. But at a cost. For me this was one of the first RPGs I ever played, I never really experienced this depth of emotion in a game before. Going straight to a huge confrontation, and then the aftermath. Maxim and Selan, talking about wanting to see their child again... OOF. And the music in that area, it's so good! I honestly used to just play that intro part over and over. Probably played it like ten times.

I'll add more later when my memory gets sparked. But now it's YOUR turn... what are your favorite beginnings to a game, and why?

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01/12/22, 22:53   Edit:  01/12/22, 22:56
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Link to the Past is pretty good. But I'll have to give it to Super Metroid. Both of them have a dark, creepy vibe. But Super Metroid is creepier.

Super Mario 64 is pretty good, too. Ooo, and GoldenEye! Would the Great Plateau in Breath of the Wild count? That was cool.
01/12/22, 23:24
@Anand You reminded me of another one that I am sure we will both agree on, Metroid Prime. Remember heading up to Cube Club to check out the demo before it released? I loved that demo! It teaches you the basics and throws some cool boss fights at you too. Honestly I left there thinking the game was going to be super linear but still awesome, but I was wrong about the linear part, it gets even better once you get down to the planet.
01/13/22, 01:27   Edit:  01/13/22, 01:27
Maybe a crazy one, but I adore how Majoras Mask opens. Exploring Clock Town as a deku scrub is restrictive and linear, but its meant to be. It also does a great job of showing the time mechanic of the game and exactly how much time you have to do things (because most new players don't understand you can skip most of the days).

Bioshock also has a great opening, with crashing down in the plane and coming ashore at the Lighthouse. And then that descent down...damn its good.
01/13/22, 01:47
Batman: Arkham City has a pretty great opening I feel with you doing some brawling as Bruce Wayne before officially donning the Batsuit.
01/13/22, 05:06
Moon Remix RPG has probably my favorite intro. It's about 10 to 15 minutes of this sort of abridged version of a JRPG that mostly pokes fun of JRPG conventions but it is heavily implied that this intro also depicts how the game's main villain, the so called "Hero" who you play as in the intro, sees the world.
01/13/22, 05:25
I always appreciate games that let the player explore and get used to the controls at their own pace. No real threats or anything, just gives the player some time before diving into the game proper. And also the player can decide when to actually begin the game. Some notable examples that I've enjoyed:

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Chrono Trigger
Super Mario 64

I'm also a fan of games that start with something really flashy to "hype up" the player. The best example of this (for me) was A Link To The Past. Stepping outside for the first time in the middle of a thunderstorm was so cool. The intro stage for Mega Man X was also quite memorable, since it was somewhat flashy and (perhaps more importantly) did a fantastic job teaching the player how to play the game.
01/13/22, 20:29
Oh yeah, I'd definitely put Mega Man X and Mega Man X2 up there. Both had awesome intro sequences with awesome music to boot!
01/13/22, 20:51
Was Metroid Prime at the one (two?) we went to? I remember the Wii U one. We Sing, haha.

And we also hit the Vita and 3DS previews, I think. Sound Shapes!

The beginning of Prime was cool, for sure. A little tutorial-y, though.

I was actually just talking with someone about best album beginnings last week. I nominated Rubber Soul, by The Beatles. Guitar lick, melodic bass entry, off-kilter drum fill, and you're off to the races with Drive My Car! In the span of, like, eight seconds. I love how all of it overlaps and energizes the listener.
01/13/22, 23:31
@Anand Metroid Prime was at one of the things we went to! And Wind Waker! Though come to think of it, I'm not sure you went to every event I went to.

Hey, we watched that movie "Yesterday". It was definitely uh... a movie. There is the part where he makes his first Beatles mention in the post-Beatles world and the girl stares at him like what are you talking about and I looked at Shirley and was like "I wouldn't know what the heck he is talking about either..."
01/14/22, 03:27   Edit:  01/14/22, 03:29
Final Fantasy VII is beloved entirely because of its beginning! So much so that, when they remade the game, they just cut out everything after the beginning!
01/14/22, 04:14

I actually haven't seen that movie yet, even though it's Danny Boyle (the Billy Wilder of our times, kind of). And The Beatles! I was always a bit weirded out that the concept sort of ripped off that one manga. Boku Wa Beatles!

I've been on a Beatles kick lately, though. Starting with Get Back and rolling into the enormous Abbey Road Box Set which I didn't even know about. Man, they only released albums for, like, five years in total. Crazy.

Anyway, I don't think that I actually went to the Cube Club. But maybe I did? My memory is so bad that I honestly can't tell which parts are just made up.

Haha. Having never played the original FFVII, I did enjoy the beginning of the Remake, though.
01/14/22, 20:04   Edit:  01/14/22, 20:05
Super Mario Bros. (1-1 is a class in game design, after all)
Zelda: A Link to the Past (storm and near instant action, a tutorial in a great disguise)
Super Metroid (awesome opening that teaches you while still entertaining and horrifying you)
Final Fantasy III (feels like you're right in the middle of a bigger story, and that Narshe march...)
Chrono Trigger (awesome pacing throughout in this game)
Metroid Prime (similar qualities as Super Metroid's opening)
Resident Evil 4 (gutsy move to throw you into a very challenging sequence but it pays off)
Zelda: Breath of the Wild (a "breath" of fresh air after the tutorial-heavy openings)
01/15/22, 19:42
I know I'm a minority but I actually liked the opening in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, because it manages to make Link feel like a real character who had a place in the world even before the typical hero stuff.
01/15/22, 21:30
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