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Is it possible to fall in love with a loading bar?

There's not much love for loading bars. But why should there be? Their ubiquity in games is not based on an overwhelming popularity for their normally-horizontal-but-sometimes-spinning sexy charms. No. They are everywhere in games because games make us wait around a lot and the loading bar merely provides a little graphical reassurance that something is happening. So it's understandable that these hard-working visual devices go largely unnoticed and unloved.

Which is a tragedy, because with a little care and attention from developers, loading bars can be things that are absolutely deserving of love. I know this is true because I'm in love with one right now. This is the loading bar of my dreams:


Above: Mmmmmmm. Loading

It's from WipeoutHD, which I recently downloaded as part of PS3's Welcome Back package. This is what the loading bar looks like in the context of the entire loading page:


Above: Pure loading love

As you can see, this is not some uninspired, run-of-the-mill, really can't be arsed, generic loading bar. It has been carefully designed. It's a thing of dot-matrix beauty, retro and futuristic all at the same time.

And look at the size of it. It's huge. Most loading bars are apologetically small. Feeble and wimpy. But this bad boy occupies a significant portion of screen territory. It's confident and assertive. It's not concerned with passing the time as indiscreetly as possible. On the contrary, it's all about saying 'There's some seriously muthafuckin meaty data being spongled through the processorinator right now. We'll be done in just a second. Thanks for your patience'.

There's more. Not only does this loading bar reassure the player that something intangibly complicated and technical is happening behind-the-scenes, but that it's going to be worth waiting for. And when the loading bar is completely full, the loading thing the bar represents so beautifully begins immediately. It's not out to trick anyone with false promises, or disappoint with prolonged, unexpected waiting. This is an honest loading bar. And I love it.


Above: I love it

Do you love a loading bar? Do you hate a loading bar? Do you have any feelings for loading bars at all? Share your loading bar stories in the comments.

July 6, 2011

50 comments

  • l_eden_l - July 11, 2011 5:28 a.m.

    I thought I was the only one who loved the WipEout HD loading screen! I also got the game with the welcome back package, and it's becoming my favorite downloadable game ever.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - July 9, 2011 9:43 p.m.

    Sadly I don't have any loading bars to suggest, but I did want to mention that sine reading this article, and also the gamesradar list of best loading screens I have become VERY critical of a games loading sequence. Now that I know what can be achieved I grow sick of seeing the word 'loading' in the bottom left corner imposed on a black background, or a little spiny thing, this will simply not do anymore. I demand more effort goes into this overlooked area, seeing as most games make me stare at one for so long I don't think a pretty loading bar is too much to ask...
  • super0sonic - July 8, 2011 12:16 a.m.

    I did not mind these loading screens.
  • Matt Cundy - July 7, 2011 2 p.m.

    @AuthorityFigure You like Commodore 64 loading screens? Then you'll love this feature I wrote a couple of years ago that was all about them: www.gamesradar.com/f/a-celebration-of-c64-loading-screens/a-20090811141616826043
  • terdferguson - July 7, 2011 1:36 p.m.

    @wedgie I know that feel.
  • AuthorityFigure - July 7, 2011 1:32 p.m.

    Commodore 64 loading SCREENS were beautiful and exciting. The rotating 8-bit colours got you psyched for the game while waiting (for ever).
  • LewisR - July 7, 2011 11 a.m.

    Locoroco 2 with the little person digging and finding you a gift. WHat's that? You found me some logs! GO you, now back in the hole.
  • coolip - July 7, 2011 8:07 a.m.

    It's gotta be Okami! Spamming the X button to make the paw prints appear, or pressing it at the right time to make the paw prints larger. It gives a Demon Fang as it's reward! The best loading screen evar!
  • wulibo - July 7, 2011 6:25 a.m.

    this is for a flash game: Epic battle fantasy 3. longest I've ever taken to beat a flash game, and also one of the best RPGs I've ever played (minus a story). and you get to kill slimes while it's loading!
  • Yeager1122 - July 7, 2011 5:08 a.m.

    Love? i think they should at least by me dinner first.
  • Siion - July 7, 2011 1:50 a.m.

    I don't dislike them...
  • HappyKiller927 - July 6, 2011 11:03 p.m.

    I love the loading for red dead redemption it's not a loading bar it's a revolver shooting and reloading it's badass
  • Genericpenisjoketista - July 6, 2011 10:36 p.m.

    I liked the little movable laughing skull from that old PS2 game 'Barbarian.' It was kind of cool.
  • Jasman - July 6, 2011 9:33 p.m.

    No More Heroes' interactable rotating stars were pretty nifty.
  • spawny0908 - July 6, 2011 9:23 p.m.

    @Bravo315 Glad I'm not the only one. Also Shadows of the Dammed's loading screen was nice to look at too.
  • DeifiedData - July 6, 2011 8:35 p.m.

    Love Okami's wolf-print loading bar. Tap 'X' at the right time and win a demon fang at the end. It doesn't get any better than a loading bar that rewards you for waiting through it.
  • jackthemenace - July 6, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    I know someone's already put it, but bayonetta's loading screen was great, even if it just gave you a few seconds to try and get a look at her boobs. But the loading screen from one Dragonball Z game, I this it was Budokai 3, was quite cool, in that it let you spin it around to make those tiny little green men grow. When me and my neighbour used to play, We'd spin the analogue sticks as fast as we could, and try to get more and more men on the screen at once. It was like a game within a game! WAY better than some stupid 'Trying to play tig in cars' game...
  • LIAMthescot - July 6, 2011 6:59 p.m.

    I've always loved fallout 3's and fallout nv's loading screens.
  • meh - July 6, 2011 6:32 p.m.

    Another ground-breaking article. Thank you Gamesradar.
  • PooPSock - July 6, 2011 6:04 p.m.

    It's articles like this that make me love this site. Cundy... you're a down-right entertaining one, you are. I salute your passions.

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