10 Great Console Games To Leave Idle On The Title Screen
The lost art of showing awesome previews of a game before pressing start.
Nowadays most title screens in video games are static or simple in nature. They are often meant to be quickly bypassed in favor of players jumping straight into the action. But in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was common for games to have more dynamic and interesting title screens that caught people’s eye.
Many games had more to show when you left them running on their title screens. The best examples are appealing enough that players would commonly start up the game just to experience them. Some games have introductions to their stories, cinematic movies, or simply a great title theme that you’re happy listening to for long periods of time.
While the need for games to have an “attract mode” has diminished over the years, there’s still a huge appeal for features of that nature to many players. Here are some examples of past console games that had title screens that went above and beyond expectations by adding something special to the experience.
Secret Of Mana
In the original Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo, when players start up the game and see the title screen, an iconic and memorable song plays. It shows a simple black screen, the game’s logo, and a few credits fading in and out.
It seems rather minimalist, and it would be understandable if many players just pressed start and thought that was all the title screen had to it. But if you wait for a little bit the black background opens up, revealing lush green artwork of the mana tree with the playable characters standing at its roots. In place of the copyright and credits information that was at the bottom of the screen, lore about the game begins to scroll by.
The music also escalates into a new phase as the story lore proceeds, and some pink flamingo-like birds fly across the screen adding a touch of dynamic flair. The timing of the music and the lore scrolling completes perfectly, and then the sequence repeats. It‘s a nice surprise for many players when they first discover it.
Wow. This is one of my personal favorites for sure. The simplistic beauty of showing an open field, with blades of grass swaying in the breeze and clouds blowing by, and that fantastic title music theme combine to instill a sense of awe. After a minute or two, the screen surprisingly transitions from day to sunset, and the sky glows bright shades of yellow, orange and red. It’s really a breathtaking moment to see.
It transitions again from sunset to night, and the sky opens up to show a clear view of the stars. The Monado sword shimmers and shines with its otherworldly blue light at night, and the night sky fades into morning light in time with the ending of the title theme song.
If that wasn’t enough, continuing to leave the game idle at the title screen will have it transition into a variety of different views of various areas players can visit during their adventures. It’s a spectacular bonus after an already wonderful title screen. It rewards your patience by showing some awesome sights from perspectives that are not normally possible during regular play.
Wave Race 64
Wave Race 64 is about as excellent an example of the stereotypical old arcade “attract mode” as you can find on consoles. The title screen itself is an interesting dynamic view that follows around one of the racers as they ride through Dolphin Park. After a little bit of that, it changes scenes to show a demonstration of the game being played.
There are multiple of these demonstrations, and what’s neat about them is that they show different race types and modes in the game, as well as different characters. And speaking of different characters, another nice little touch is that when one demonstration ends and it returns to the title screen, it cycles between different riders that the camera follows around the park.
If you like catchy tunes in your game intros, Wild Arms is your game. Its opening animation has one of the most catchy songs ever to grace a video game intro. You’ll be whistling right along with it after just a few times of listening. It’s also an early example of a game with an anime-style introduction cinematic, and it holds up well even today.
If players wait a little bit at the title screen, the game goes into a fairly lengthy (and surprisingly grim) introduction backstory. It’s a stark contrast to the upbeat and good feeling intro animation with the super catchy song, but what makes it noteworthy is that it’s the only time that backstory is shown. There’s no other way to see it, and it shows an important event that sets the stage for the main game’s story. Players who just press start at the title screen might have missed out on it entirely.
Final Fantasy Tactics
The original release of Final Fantasy Tactics on the Playstation had an even more dynamic and robust title screen experience than the modern War of the Lions re-release. It starts out simple enough with a basic introduction video, with some concepts displayed about the game in relation to its story.
It blends in a nice way as it switches to the actual title screen, and from there if players wait a bit, they will see another video sequence. The additional video talks about the history of the game’s story, setting the stage for the tale by explaining the Lions’ War to players. Then it goes back to the first video, and again the title screen.
When players wait at the title screen a second time, a second cinematic with more of an “attract mode” style to it plays, which showcases a little bit of gameplay with some standout dialog moments being shown on the screen in large letters for dramatic effect. And then again it goes back to the first video and the title screen.
Players who are patient enough to wait a third time will be rewarded with a much lengthier Job Class video that shows off many of the types of character classes that players can recruit during the adventure. The music track used here is very upbeat and it’s a great showcase of many of the character types and their special abilities. It even shows off some of the monsters you can get to join your party.
The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Just like with Final Fantasy Tactics and other games, the original releases of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess had expanded versions of their title screen sequences compared to later remastered editions. The introduction sequence in Twilight Princess on its own before reaching the title screen is iconic and hearkens back to the intro from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time from the Nintendo 64. Personally, the sound of Wolf Link howling when the title logo shows up still gives me goosebumps in the best way.
But in addition to that, in the original release, there was a cinematic video that would play after the title screen. It showed off a good number of scenes from the game, both gameplay moments and story tidbits, and it made for a great teaser at what players might expect from the full experience.
Chrono Cross has a fantastic cinematic introduction sequence that plays before the title screen, showing various parts of the cutscenes in the game. The song that plays is full of energy and memorable, and it transitions into the title screen beautifully. The title screen shows an interesting view underwater and plays a serene and ethereal tune.
When the title screen concludes, a second video is shown, this time of in-game segments. It shows off various environments that players will visit during the journey, and some interesting dialog moments that cause curiosity to develop for players as a nice teaser.
As an uncommon difference to most games, it actually goes back to the title screen right away after the video, and shows a different underwater scene. In this way the title screen always comes between the two videos, and it creates a nice transition and balance between them.
Odin Sphere has one of the most interesting title sequences of any game I can think of. Part of that is due to the fantastic music and incredible artwork in the game, but it’s also impressive from the design perspective too. When players wait at the title screen the first time, they are treated to a vocal song and a cinematic sequence introducing each of the main characters in the game.
After that, subsequent waits at the title screen will show various scenes of spoken dialog in the game itself, from the perspective of the characters. It’s a very compelling and interesting approach that stands out in a good way. Players not only get a good taste of the voice acting, but they get little snippets of story to entice them. There are multiple of these sequences, meaning it rewards you for leaving the game cycling through the title screen for a good while.
Just like with Wild Arms earlier on this list, Alundra has a nice anime-style opening animation cinematic. Then players get to the title screen proper, and if they wait a little bit there, it goes into a montage of gameplay footage. Some of that is backstory that you don’t really see elsewhere in the game.
The rest of it is gameplay video from the actual areas that are explored during the adventure. It offers a nice glimpse, not only of a bit of backstory, but also of what players can expect to see during the course of the game.
Super Metroid is loaded with atmosphere, and the title screen and introduction sequences are no exception. The really interesting thing about the various gameplay sequences that appear in Super Metroid when players wait at the title screen, is that it shows off some of the mysteries and even answers questions that players might have about the game.
It shows examples of what players are able to do in relationship to the environment or enemies that they may come into contact with. It even shows off some secret areas of the game that players might not have discovered. Perhaps the most brilliant aspect of all however, is once players have a save file that has completed the game, a new introduction sequence unlocks, showing off a bunch of advanced techniques that are hidden away in the game.
Thanks for reading! What are your favorite games to leave idle on the title screen? Feel free to share them in a comment below!