What better way to introduce a game than shoving a fully loaded intro down the gamers neck, preparing them for what may lay ahead. The whole idea of these intros were to entice us into believing we were moving away from the real world and into a place we only thought possible on the big screen or in books. The game goes in. The game loads. Sometimes you have time to go to the toilet. Or make a brew. Sometimes you need to insert another disk. Sometimes you have a nap. Some times a rare bird lands on the fence and you watch for a bit, you grab the bird book your Nan bought you and try to figure out what it is. John comes round, you trade Premier League stickers. Either way, most of the games below had their entire budget blown on a intro. Some were representations of the game, some had nothing to do with the game. Some games were good, some were a bit waff.
Welcome to the world of the Epic Amiga intro. Here’s the top ten.
10. Lotus III (Gremlin Graphics)
Yeah, couldn’t have a list like this without having a Lotus game, could we. With a subtle build up of background must just loud enough and prolonged enough to blow your grandads dentures out just after Christmas dinner. ‘Look Grandad, watch the car!’ to which grandad watches, screams and his teeth fly off into the half empty gravy boat.
It was loud, prolonged and if you didn’t specifically sit less than five centimetres away from the gamma ray box (the TV, kids), you were doing it wrong. Hell, even the ‘A Magnetic Fields Production’ was loud enough to kill the budgie. Ok, so the green car would appear outa nowhere and these days, watching back it doesn’t seem to be moving at the breakneck speed we thought it was in 1992, but hey. Kudos for hiring 2 Unlimited to tell us that YOU WERE PLAYING LOTUS III WITH A BLACK SCREEN WITH WHITE WORDING – worked a charm.
9. Star Dust (Bloodhouse Ltd)
This must have cost a fortune in coding and time wasted. Using the ye old faithful ‘Star Wars Scrolling Intro’, Star Dust sets out to make us feel part of wider galaxy. It’s explains that Professor Shaumund is ready to enslave the local galaxy and enslave Princess Voi Levi. Brilliant. But what’s great here is that the effects are still somewhat extremely enjoyable and presented superbly to this today.
After the scrolling background story ends, set against the stars of the local galaxy the ship from the game appears in full view, turns towards the screen and shoots off over our heads. To this day, I am still concerned that the team behind Star Dust had some kind of Mode 7 chip that they stole from Nintendo and didn’t tell anyone. Its that good.
8. Blood Money (DMA / Psygnosis)
Psygnosis and DMA together were like the kings of Amiga intros. To this day, I am quite certain that the business model, motto and everything else these two giants did together was ‘A good intro sells waff games so lets just do that’ placed above the office door. Ok, so they had some success eventually, you know, Destruction Derby, Lemmings, Wipeout, Grand Theft Auto games.. but the intros were crap.
Blood money’s intro has talking. Talking is always a sure fire shot when selling a game in the early 90’s. It allows school kids to stand in the playground and announce to the world that the game ‘talks’ therefor it is the greatest game ever. After some talking and the developers logos are shown to us, there’s a spaceship dodging some meteorites to what I can only describe is an ‘agadoo’ rave warehouse remix soundtrack. The budget was blown here. The intro is spectacular for 1989, to put bluntly, they spent all the time on the sauce and not the chicken. I here they are rock star’s now.
7. Flashback (Delphine Interactive)
Originally for the Mega Drive, but engineered on an Amiga, messed up the SNES, was Flashback. Delphine Interactive Software were pioneers in this field. Not only did they create suspense, motive and story within their introductions, the games were sublime.
That’s why they will feature prominently in this list. Flashback’s intro was a homage to those Sci-Fi blockbusters we loved, elements of Blade Runner, Total Recall and anything with a synthesizer are key here. We see our hero, Conrad, escaping two futuristic police officers with laser guns and jumping onto a hover bike, only to be shot down over an alien jungle. The intro sets up intrigue and action that is defined and carried out with precision in this puzzle adventure game. Brilliance.
6. Cruise For A Corpse (Delphine Interactive)
Setting up a slow paced, murder investigation game set on an art deco loused boat isn’t easy. So how brilliant is it that a pictures rooftop view of a cold dark morning in Paris is the way to do it. Paris, 1927, April. With the art speaking volumes of what to expect in the games mannerisms and architecture, a letter is delivered to a backdrop of old Paris streets with a soundtrack that makes the game instantly feel you’ve been sucked into Poirot novel.
The contents of the letter is read and the next thing you know, you are on a luxury yacht with some tennis toffs and a dead body. Ensue investigative skills!
5. Another World (Delphine Interactive)
Sorry, yes another Delphine intro. But, it’s the best yet. Delphine always backed up the promise of a great game by delivering a pitch perfect introduction. Another World succeeds in more ways than the previous two on the list simply because the way its portrayed. There’s no point messing around on a super computer unless A. You are making a woman to make you popular or B. You are going to be sucked into it (As 80’s history taught us).
So, when not making a woman to make you popular, trying to get to another dimension is probably the more appraisable, realistic option. That’s exactly what happens here. Lester, a red haired young scientist, arrives back at his house after driving around in a super cool car whilst obviously gathering nibble supplies, like cans of non branded fizzy pop. He walks through some security doors and bored, he does a few things on a big, super computer and pow, he’s sucked in.. into Another World. That was the dream you see, to mess around on Amiga workbench and become sucked in. Wasn’t it?
4. Birds Of Prey. (Argonaut Software)
Not much gets the pulse racing than jet fighters bellowing across the sky, ready to intercept a group of bogeys. At just over a minute long, EA must have decided to forget paying Argonaut Software for six months as the team decided to compress what is essentially the movie TOP Gun into a 30 second window of pure adrenaline fuelled viewing.
More time was used displaying the respective developers and producers logos than showing four fighter planes sprawling across the desert in a heart pounding fight for air superiority. But that doesn’t matter, it was a good way of showing your friends what the Amiga 500 could do. It was loud too. Wingman style.
3. Moonstone. (Mindscape)
A forest setting, a sleek, one way path into the darkness with Druids in cloaks and wood burning torches, eerie medieval soundtrack, a pentagram, lighting and presumably a wizard. Throw this into Stonehenge and have a knight looking on from a distance with a big sword and have some monks chanting the early acapella of the Skyrim theme tune a then you’ll have the quest for the Moonstone.
It doesn’t really get more medieval England than this. The intro is a prefect set up to one of the most celebrated games in the Amiga’s history. What follows is blood, blood and blood. When kids at school said ‘Oh, Mortal Kombat is really gory’ the reply was usually ‘Mate please, Moonstone’. A shining example.
2. Liberation – Captive 2 (Mindscape)
There’s nothing like this. No where. Not on current gen, before or during the 80’s or 90’s. A bold statement you say? Well, to put it bluntly, the game was ‘ok’. But the introduction was something of a Sci-Fi masterpiece. Creating a complex story to a game that was quite subtle was key here. Whilst the game plays out well enough to grasp a context on what the story was about, there was no need.
The intro it’s self is basically a high budget film taken from a novel that any dystopian minded author would have been proud of. Its lengthy, involved and highly charged as it gives us a glimpse of corrupt minded organisations trying to create the perfect robot police officer. The aminations are stupendous, the flow of the story and its narrative ways are ingenious and to this day has not been matched in thought, design and emotion. It’s simply the perfect intro.
1. Shadow of The Beast 2 (Psygnosis)
What can you say about this? I am one hundred percent sure that Psygnosis, knowing that the game had all of its money spent on the soundtrack, decided to get a bank loan and create the pitch perfect introduction. ‘This will fool them’ they must have thought. They were wrong. What we got was the one f the hardest games known to man with an intro that sent your blood cold.
The figure, demon like and black, standing on a cliff with lightning cracking behind him casting some kind of spell. The house, with the chimney pouring out it’s smoke, that smoke – I mean, they must have spent ninety five percent of the budget on the animations of that smoke alone. The baby crying. The big flying demon thing. The screams. The woman’s face. The baby screaming off into the distance as the woman screams some more. More lighting. If you are going to hide a bad, near unplayable game then this is the way to do it. It’s a true wonder of the gaming world.
Words By Daniel Major