We Discuss Memorable Video Game Intros on Waypoint Radio


#1

Between Super Mario Odyssey, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Assassin's Creed: Origins, it's one of the biggest weeks for video games in a long time. What connects all three of them is that once you start a new game, they have to introduce themselves. We use the powerfully dark introduction from Wolfenstein II, the botched beginning to Assassin's Creed: Origins, and the trope-y introduction from Super Mario Odyssey as a launching pad for a larger discussion about each game, and what it means to design a video game's first impression.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/ne3ej8/we-discuss-memorable-video-game-intros-on-waypoint-radio

#2

(Yo the ad worked this week.)

Man I really gotta Wolfenstein ASAP. Sounds like it’s worth the time.

Totally agree with Danielle on Super Mario intro. It’s super weird. Peach is snatched, Mario DIES, goes to HELL (which Bowser has ransacked??), and buddies up with a GHOST whose girl Bowser also snatched. The tone is just all over the board, and this two-damsels thing is so tired and boring.


#3

Let it be known that Austin’s request was fulfilled.


#4

I haven’t played AC:O yet, but the podcast’s talk about the in media res intro leaves me with the question, are there are lot of references to previous AC games in Origins? Because from the sounds of it AC:O actually shares an intro with AC1, a game that also starts midway through an underground mission. In that game, the intro establishes the protagonist as extremely cocky and overly self-sure. AC1’s main arc is how Altair sheds those personality traits as he comes to understand his role as an assassin and comes to a deeper understanding of his group’s philosophy.

From the sounds of it there’s a very deliberate parallel being built here. I wonder if the intro plays better if understood in this context.


#5

Ok- Maybe this isn’t something that should get a full post but I had to stop listening to this podcast and come here and post something. TL:DR - Don’t slander Hobbes - you know better

Austin- As somebody that has referred to your time as a philosophy major you really need to come correct when talking about Hobbes and Leviathan. This isn’t going to be a detailed post but I cannot let your aside implying that Leviathan is some will to power BS stand without giving some context and rebuttal.

  1. Hobbes logic for an all-powerful state isn’t due to some people being better than others. It’s due people being equal. I’m not going to google the quote but he basically goes to say that everyone, no matter how strong or smart, can image a situation where another, who is weak, can find themselves with an advantage over them in the state of nature. Thus, everyone has an incentive to join together in a compact. It’s due to our shared humanity and equality that we come together and form government or society, not that some are destine to rule. This is hugely important in the development of political philosophy.

  2. Hobbes doesn’t say that the sovereign should rule because they are “just” or “good” but because the community has put them in place. The old Greek way of looking at things is basically an invitation to have constant rebellion since somebody can claim the government is unjust. Hobbes solution, and you can find fault with it, is to say that the government is should rule as it continues to keep the peace. Additionally, because the members of society have made a compact with each other, not the sovereign, they would be breaking an agreement within the community and not the ruler.

  3. This guy Hobbes wrote and published Leviathan in English pre one bill shakespeare. He helped move the English language and debate forward by doing it.

  4. Also- don’t forget that he was accused of being an atheist because, while he could prove out everything he was saying using the bible to avoid being burnt or killed, he needed to use logic to convince those that weren’t Christian (I think he calls them Turks)

  5. Finally- I need to get back to cleaning - Towards the end of the fourth book he gives a very moving account of why he thinks it is important to have order in the state and describes how his friend died over a dumb dispute.

I’m going back to cleaning and mean this only in a constructive way. Hobbes and the Leviathan is foundational for any discussion on political philosophy because everyone that came after him uses his framing (Rawls, Locke, Rousseau, and Marx). This isn’t meant to be a slam on Austin but I’d like to correct the record. Also- Hobbes was really really bad at geometry and through he knew a way to square the circle.


#7

About Skyrim intro, the main issue I often felt, is that is just way too long, which is annoying if you are trying new characters. In comparison, Daggerfall, Oblivion and Morrowind, you can easily make bee line toward the end of the intro, see how your character is (specially in Oblivion and Skyrim, where light became more important) and restart if necessary.

Also, in Oblivion, you could simple save at the very end of intro, where it gives you a final chance to change your class and character, which was really useful for trying new characters.

Dragon Age Inquisition intro itself, isn’t bad, but the fact that the character creation happen in that weird green light is bad, since it make hard for you to see how clearly your character looks, meaning that you might choose wrong colors and only figure it out later and the whole intro sequence is quite long.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: intro is amazing - since drops you in a city attacked by lots of giant ants, with building crashing down, people running and you with some other guys and tanks trying to save everybody, soon as the game start, which put you in that b-movie absurd theme and aesthetics in a instant.

Wizard & Warriors (2000, Heuristic Parks): The intro of the game begin with dude telling you to find the “Mavin Sword” (which might be the least inspiring name for a magic sword) to fight against a evil mummy (or something), but for bizarre reasons, the very first you do in the game is going in way too long tutorial dungeon. Seriously, the intro dungeon take absolute forever - it keep going and going. By the end when you finally leave, the game does get a lot better, but this intro dungeon might discourage you to start a new game with a different party.


#8

Pausing the podcast at the 20 minute mark because I watched Polygon stream a bunch of SMO as I do not have a Switch, and after a long discussion with my friends, I think it’s time everyone flip the narrative on the Peach-Bowser thing. The intro is super abrupt and all we get is “Oh dang Mario is here to crash this wedding and save Peach again, boy this is contrived.”

Except y’all, what if Mario is crashing a wedding.

Peach and Bowser are the heads of the Mushroom and Koopa Kingdoms. A unity between them would probably put to rest a long time feud that’s done little to further either of them, and spell new economic and cultural growth. Also, like, Bowser is a single dad, and Peach already has spent a bunch of time with the kids, who seem to love her, honestly. Which is so important when combining family units.

Bowser is not only a single dad trying his best, but he’s also a pal of the wider group. He plays board games, he goes golfing and gokarting. That’s a lot of good time to build a rapport and a relationship.

In contrast, what do we know about Mario and Peach’s relationship? It seems entirely predicated on distance, and I’m not sure how I feel on it Peach always being the rescued and Mario always being the rescuer. Something’s weird there.

Unless the wedding at the beginning of SMO is Mario as a wedding crasher. The clueless schmuck who actually uses that “If anyone would object to this union” part of the script. It’s very easy to imagine Peach internally rolling her eyes and parroting the each same “Oh Mario Help” lines when he shows up because the dude cannot catch a hint.

Peach is the soveriegn of her country and is “”“kidnapped”"" every other year? Nah. She’s building a relationship and forging important new alliances for herself and her people.

Mario gotta step off.

That is all, thank you for coming to my TEDtalk.


#9

Great episode! One of my favorite video game intros is Indigo Prophecy. Essentially, it begins with your character in a self-mutilating ritual, possessed, and killing a man in the bathroom with you. You snap out of it, and the camera shows that it’s the bathroom of a full diner, complete with a police officer. Your objective is to get out. There are a ton of ways to do it, and it really lets the player know what they’re in for…even if that is perhaps the best sequence in the game.


#10

Patrick literally says “Dark Souls, actually”, which I enjoy very much


#11

I remember hearing that Indigo Prophecy’s intro is what was used for demos, which I feel like is both a perfect and so flawed as a demo. It is the game at its strongest, but it, simultaneously, is the only part of the game that really lives up to the idea that your choices really matter. It does hint at what kind of a mess you’re in for immediately after, when you switch to playing as the cops who then, using your knowledge, investigate the crime that you covered up. It’s weird!

Still making my way through this episode and so not yet ready to give my thoughts juuuust yet.


#12

Saint’s Row the Third has, hands down, the best intro to any video game ever and is the yardstick every other intro must be measured by.


#13

This, combined with Steams Halloween sale, has gotten me to replay the first bits of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham city. And based on first hours, woof, does City miss the mark. While I think that’s because of the games much larger flaw of doing too much, it might also be the game leaning very heavily on the assumption players not only played Asylum, but remember it well. Asylum opens with a very Batman: TAS cutscene, followed by a long walk and talk. It previews the environment you’re about to escape, plainly presents the ridiculously militarized Gotham City PD, and launched a very clear narrative focus: Joker is back on his bullshit.
City, on the other hand, opens with a confusing cutscenes to hand wave the “open world-ish” set up. Then it rapid fire introduces 4 major villains (which isn’t even the headcount of major plot threads) and, after a brief combat tutorial, sticks you in a really, really bad platforming puzzle. Huge contrast


#14

The Saints Row 3 and 4 intros are great, but 4 gets my vote for the simple fact that it has my favorite line of dialogue from a video game: “Tell my wife…I had another wife”


#15

I really enjoyed Firewatch’s use of the text adventure format to set the context for the rest of the game. Sure, it’s not great for tutorializing what you will be doing after, but it is effective in establishing the tone.


#16

Arkham City was a huge letdown in so many ways. I hate being the guy who points things like this out, but there were two huge issues with the story they told.

First is the Joker/Clayface reveal. Let’s ignore the fact that Clayface has no motivation at all other than playing the Joker would be fun, because that’s just stupid. The first fight with the Joker and his mob, going into detective vision it’s obvious that Joker has no skeleton unlike everyone else. “The World’s Greatest Detective” would probably notice something as glaring as that especially since I noticed it as a player. The other thing was that Batman is basically willing to doom all of Gotham in order to chase after Talia. I can’t think of a less heroic decision than dooming an entire city to being purged because you want to go after your love interest,
but Batman is totally going to do it until he is forced to stop by Alfred.

Those really bothered me at the time.


#17

I’ve played AC1 (though I tracked down a youtube clip to refresh my memory) and the beginning of Origins and I’d say the parallel doesn’t track. AC1’s beginning leans much more heavily into the present day/Desmond layer which provides context that Origins is sorely lacking (until it’s provided later of course).


#18

I would definitely agree with this characterization. I think ACO doesn’t really give you enough context for what’s going on and why. You can kind of piece it together, but it doesn’t feel quite as organic as it would in a better designed introduction. Honestly, it may have been better if you just started in Siwa with the mission to kill the guy and then add in flashbacks to flesh it out over time. The weird flash forward as Bayek looks at Ptolemy just doesn’t make any sense.


#19

Marchettus, I was def not slandering Hobbes, I was disagreeing with the sort of internet forum post assertions that Hobbes’ state of nature is a biological or otherwise essential part of humanity, instead of a strategically asserted concept that Hobbes and others use to talk about the earliest civil societies. The latter is fine by me, the former leads to the worst, least interesting sort of social darwinism over and over again.


#20

I know the intro to Mass Effect 2 was mentioned, but I find that it doesn’t have the impact it should. You’re flying. You’re fine. You’re not. You’re falling. You’re dead. You’re not. It’s just too pat and feels unearned. You have no real connection to why you are even out there in the first place.

I do, however, love the intro to Mass Effect 1. Not the walking around the Normandy or the mission on Eden Prime, but the first five minutes. Two high ranking people are talking about you - specifically the character and background you chose. Then the music swells as you walk to the front of the Normandy. I can’t think of an opening that sets the mood for a game better.


#21

Thank you for the reply- wasn’t not expected.

As for Hobbes heads- there are literally dozens of us so you made the right choice.