Title Screens are our first impression of many video games past and present. A successful title screen succeeds on the merits of mood, atmosphere, music, and/or relevance to the game you’re playing. The best title screens incorporate all of these features and stand high above their contemporaries. We do have to note that this is strictly limited to title screens and not actual game menus such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day’s bar scene. With that aside, these are the top 10 video game title screens that hypnotized us from pressing the start button.
10. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
The Title Screen for Xenoblade Chronicles tells us so much using so little. The somber theme overlays a beautiful backdrop complimenting it perfectly. The Monado in the grass with no game title as the wind blows delivers a pure minimalist experience. Those who beat the game would leave this title screen on repeat with their jaw on the floor. Xenoblade Chronicles’ title screen is simple, clean, and incredibly effective.
9. Mirror’s Edge (Multiplatform)
The atmosphere accomplished in the Mirror’s Edge is like a breath of fresh air. The white city backdrop shows us the playground before us, while the calming electronica music soothes us into the not so distant future. The title screen invited us to this world and most people let go of any skepticism they had and dove right into Mirror’s Edge.
8. Mass Effect 3 (Multiplatform)
The second you booted up mass Effect 3 you knew this was it. The orchestral theme complimented the feeling of awe most players felt watching their beloved Earth slowly get invaded by the Reapers. Many questions raced through our heads as this title screen played out. Who was alive? What could we do to stop it? Is the ending as shit as everyone says it is? With the success of the previous Mass Effect games this title screen firmly cemented the scary fact that players scrubbed from their minds. THIS IS THE END.
7 Metroid Prime (Gamecube/Wii)
What sells the title screen of Metroid Prime isn’t the creepy parasite-esque images, or the fading film filter…It’s the music. The music sets the unsettling mood of Metroid Prime with its mix of electronics and feedback. The Music is so sci-fi creepy that many players were terrified to press start. It is one of the most uncomfortable and effective title screens. Thank you Retro for sending chills down my spine.
6. The Legend of Zelda Windwaker (Gamecube, HD Remake on WiiU)
It is nearly impossible to not whistle the tune of Windwaker as the title screen begins. Giving us a tour of Link’s home island, Windwaker immediately paints a vivid picture of the flooded world of Hyrule. It prepares our sea legs as we zoom over the vast ocean before us, providing a sense of great adventure. Any prejudice towards toon Link was gone the second Windwaker’s title screen began. *Whistles*
5. Spec Ops the Line (Multiplatform)
A destroyed city, a massive sandstorm, a tattered upside down American Flag…Welcome to Spec Ops. The title screen’s iconic imagery accompanied by the loudspeaker Star Spangled banner proved Spec Ops wasn’t just another military shooter. The electric guitar licked through the National Anthem as the wind blew leaving players with an incredibly valid question “WTF AM I GETTING IN TO HERE?” Spec Ops’ title screen was an inviting welcome to a game that changed the way people perceive narrative within military shooters.
4. Braid (Multiplatform)
Braid’s “Not-so” Title Screen is easily one of the best. With no start button many players realize that you can actually move Tim on the title screen. Silhouetted by the fires behind him, Tim moves to the right into the last remaining house at the beginning of the game. This title screen allowed players to open their minds to this puzzle platforming masterpiece. The contrast between the actual game and its title screen showed that Braid’s narrative was much deeper than players initially thought.
3. Halo (Multiplatform)
If this title screen didn’t pump you up then you have no soul. Now lets listen to this on repeat for 3 hours then go punch buildings!
2. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
An iconic title screen, Super Mario 64 allows players to morph Mario’s face at their will, while jamming to the toe tapping new music. This title screen was our first true glimpse at 3D Mario and it easily brought a massive fully-teethed smile to our faces.
1. Super Metroid (SNES)
Ceres Station is under attack. The scientists bodies lie dead on the floor. A single Metroid Larva is incased in the center. Eerie sci-fi music sets the scene. Super Metroid’s title screen is flawless. The music sets the horrific tone of loneliness, the images are terrifying, and the mystery surrounding the attack is ever present. Super Metroid’s title screen set a bar in 1994 that will never be reached. Some title screens may be fantastic and incredible, but they still don’t come anywhere close to the masterpiece known as Super Metroid’s Title Screen.