5. Persona 4
Persona 4’s opening, Pursuing My True Self, isn’t action-packed or hyperactive like some of its contemporaries in the JRPG scene, but what it lacks in action it makes up for in the depths of its style. It opens with shots of TVs flickering on, and dark yellow light filtering in from above. Shots of the main character and his Persona are interspersed with a screen showcasing a dark, velvet room, and strange figures flickering in and out of view. Shadows of the cast are contrasted against a bright background, with words (the lyrics of the song, in fact) flying in and making shapes, lines, and all sorts of strange arrangements behind the shadows. When we finally do see the cast in full, they’re shown through some kind of lens (video, security, DSLR), emphasizing the recurring idea of screens and cameras that make up the majority of the game. Everything about this opening compliments the themes of the game, lyrics included (the line “we’re all trapped in a maze of relationships” sums up the game in a nutshell). This is definitely a song for worth putting on repeat-just try not to listen to it at midnight.
4. Sonic Adventure 2
It may be overflowing with angst and full of power rock, but Sonic Adventure 2 Battle made gamers everywhere go crazy when they first booted up their disk. Beginning with the Crush 40 sound we’d grown to love, we got to see Sonic running into a brand new cityscape under the dead of night. Then we were introduced to him, this mysterious black and red hedgehog; Shadow. It was easy to understand the themes of rivalry that Sonic Adventure 2 was going to portray as the two hedgehogs make similar motions as they collide under moonlight. The 90s throwback of giving each character a small introduction was a nice added touch also, considering the amount of new characters involved. New characters, rock music and angst gave us the hype we needed to sit through what would be a badass platformer and Chao raising simulator.
~ Joe Herrias
3. Pokemon Red/Blue
I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling that went through me when i first saw the Pokemon Red and Blue opening, and that’s because I still feel that same feeling everytime I see it. It’s the feeling of overwhelming excitement to set out on the quest to defeat team Rocket, to take down all the gyms and become the champion of the Kanto region, and above all else it’s the quest to become a Pokemon master. I don’t know how Game Freak did it, but they managed to bottle up all of that hype into a very brief cinematic of a Gengar taking on a Nidorino. Maybe it’s just because that it was the first time we get to see Pokemon battle. Even the first ever scene in the anime after the theme is the opening of the game, which is then extended further with more animation and a commentator. Whatever it may be, this opening has surely gone down in history as one of the best.
2. Mega Man 2
Even with all of the modern achievements made within gaming, it is still difficult to nail an opening cinematic without failing on classic tropes. Mega Man 2 managed to convey everything needed in it’s opening; hype, story and context. It’s a simple and short introduction to the game, giving players an easily digestible story, coupled with one of the most iconic pieces of music in the NES catalogue. Even now it is difficult to hear that song and not get hyped to go through the game to beat Wily for the umpteenth attempt. Something players needed back then considering the amount of times they would end up back at the start screen. It was also the first real introduction to the character of Mega Man, in which we see the titular robot standing up on top of a building looking all heroic and aloof.
1. Kingdom Hearts 2
Oh man, where to begin with this one? This opening has so much going for it. The cinematic reimaginings of scenes from both the first Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories are not only incredibly beautiful, but they also fill returning players with a resounding sense of hype. We also get a glimpse of Kari grown up and a look at Roxas as he lands on a circular platform that resembles the one where the first games tutorials took place, except this time instead of having classic Disney princesses, or in this case the Princesses of Light, as the centerpiece it now features Sora along with his crew. Of course, we can’t ignore what could very well be the biggest highlight of this intro, the accompanying song. This song is none other than Sanctuary, or as it’s known in other parts of the world “Passion”, as performed by the incredibly talented Utada Hikaru. Not only is the song painfully beautiful, but it also manages to coincide with both the cinematics and general feel of Kingdom Hearts as a whole. We do of course love the first Kingdom hearts theme song, Simple and Clean, almost as much as we do this one, but overall this opening as a whole just beat out the first one by a tiny bit.