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Optical discs made us think FMV was a great idea
We take optical discs like CDs and DVDs for granted these days. Maybe people are being careful with their Blu-Ray discs, but that won't last long. We can remember the first time we ever held a CD – gingerly with fingertips so as not to blemish its beautiful, multi-coloured surface. They were space-age works of shiny art. And of course, they ushered in a new era of gaming, thanks to their increased storage capacity.
But it was a premature celebration. Case in point – Dragon's Lair. We've featured the game before on the site, but it's too good an example to miss out in this feature. As one team member puts it, it was "like looking through a window into the future", thanks to its Laserdisc (pictured) stream of near broadcast-quality video, it was a massive leap forward for gaming.
But it wasn't, was it? All we were actually doing was watching a cartoon, a few seconds at a time, in a faster-access version of those crappy DVD 'games'. That's pushing the definition of 'interactive entertainment' a bit, isn't it? Looking at it now, you can clearly see the joins – the way scenes jump into new locations without any continuity. But in 1983, it didn't matter. Just look at this vintage news footage for proof.
Of course, as soon as game designers could put FMV in their games, they all did. For a time, especially on the Mega CD, every game featured a mind-blowing intro sequence… and little else of note. The games themselves weren't that much better to look at than normal Mega Drive games, but they all had a cinematic intro. Or maybe the occasional moment in a game where the background would rotate in a pre-rendered kind of way, while the action stopped to allow it to happen.
One of the few exceptions was Batman Returns – which was the best thing we'd ever seen when it came out. But we picked up a copy a couple of years ago and were disappointed to see how that lush 3D city we remember had somehow turned into some pixellated sprites with huge gaps in-between. Dammit! We want our childhood awe back!
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