Do you remember that feeling you get when you first turn on the game? That thrill of something new and exciting.
Remember when you had got your N64, you turned it on for the first time with Mario inside. BLING! It’s A Me, A Mario! It screamed at you. Do you remember that enchantement followed by Mario’s face instantly appearing allowing you to play around with it.
Sega probably had more “magic” in its games than Nintendo. Almost every game had a creative intro Sega logo. In case you can’t remember, take a look at this gallery of animated Sega logos. How often do you see these kinds of intros anymore?
Now with CD/DVD based machines, that’s all gone. First thing you normally see now is a copyright screen and ‘Loading’. Then it’s the developer’s logo, then the publishers, then the people who make the video codec, then bob’s friend’s company logo. Then if your lucky you get to the crappy press start screen!
The magic is still in some games, but its getting harder to find. Nintendo seems to still have some first-party games that have a great feel to them. Animal Crossing is the main one that comes to mind — Mario Power Tennis also had the Wario and Waluigi voices in the opening credits. It isn’t so much the game itself that is always missing the magic, its the whole entrance into this world, that is lacking.
Much of this may be caused by a push to bring games closer to realism as opposed to making them fun. Just looks at where the XBox 360 and the PS3 are going. The games so far are mostly a show-off of what the console can do graphically. Looking back I kinda think that’s where the Saturn went wrong initially. If you look at the launch titles for the Saturn they tried to show the 3D effects it could do etc. It was not until later that publishers realized what fun 2D games it could make for the system. But even with it’s Saturn and Dreamcast consoles, Sega didn’t try hard to start off with a little magic. Maybe that was the start of their downfall.
It looks like Nintendo is our last hope for this kind of magical feeling. Hopefully the Revolution will give us a magical nex-gen alternative to the graphical showboats that the 360 and PS3 will most likely be.