It wasn’t so long ago that RPGs were simple affairs involving a few different-colored pixels with a sword roaming over an endlessly similar landscape fighting other different-colored pixels to mind-numbingly repetitive music (I’m looking at you, Dragon Warrior).
But over the years, as game consoles have evolved, so too has the gameplay and the immersive experience we’ve come to expect from RPGs. With plots and characters that completely suck us in as we journey alongside our hero, RPGs have been elevated to the level of storytelling art. And one of the best ways RPGs plunge us into these vast worlds of might and magic is through the game’s opening sequence.
Here are a few of my favorites from systems past and present:
Lunar Silver Star Story Complete
A re-make of the original Lunar (Sega CD), Silver Star Story’s opening features a great original song that introduces our hero, Alex, and his love interest Luna, while giving us a glimpse of all the party characters we’ll meet along the way in our quest to become a Dragonmaster and defeat the evil Ghaleon.
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue
Platform: Sega CD
Okay, so I may be a little biased putting both Lunar games on my list, but this opening for the original Lunar 2: Eternal Blue was pretty impressive for its time, considering the depth of its storytelling and the Sega CD’s limitations. A lengthy introduction that combines both story and credits, we see Lucia’s awakening on the Blue Star one thousand years after the first game’s events to her ominous premonition for the world of Lunar. Beautiful music and atmospheric visuals, Lunar 2 remains my favorite RPG of all time.
The Wild Arms opening introduces Rudy, Jack, and Cecelia, three unlikely heroes whose destinies intertwine to take up ARMs and save the land of Filgaia. A beautiful intro to an amazing game.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Platform: PC, Xbox 360
Emporer Uriel Septim speaks his dying words with a little help from Patrick Stewart. Does it get much more epic than this? A fitting intro for one of the most epic RPGs ever made.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
An understated but effective intro that sets the mood for the entire game, the opening for Twilight Princess harkens back to The Ocarina of Time with Link riding his faithful Epona through the twilight-shrouded landscape of Hyrule.