The first screens of history's 51 most iconic games

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step

They say that in life you should never forget where you came from. That's true in video games too, albeit for different reasons. While the former case is an adage about keeping oneself grounded and focused on personal development, in games, the first step is often the most exciting. With a new world, new gameplay mechanics, and hours of unknown, unexplored story ahead, that first screen of any game tends to be filled with more giddiness, fear, and potential than any other. But as games spiral onward, and eventually balloon into franchises, the increasing familiarity makes it easy to forget how new and thrilling things were back when everything was fresh and exotic.

So I've decided to create a permanent catalogue of How It All Began. I've collated and filed the very first screens of gaming's historical brightest and best, so that we can all ride the nostalgia train back to the moments we started getting to know some of history's greatest for the very first time. Just one quick housekeeping note before you plough in: I've gone for the first playable, controllable, in-game screen of each game. However iconic, cutscenes are not allowed. This gallery is about first steps taken in new worlds, and hitting Start to get there faster does not count. Shall we crack on? Let's start with...


Would you kindly swim for your life?

BioShock Infinite

Boat. Definite improvement.

Call of Duty 4

The second best facial hair in the series' history

Crazy Taxi

Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.

Dark Souls

Enjoy being locked in this dungeon. You're never going to have it better.

Donkey Kong

The first steps of a legend.


Looks like something got here before you. Probably fine though.

Duke Nukem 3D

Was that your ride?

Fallout 3

Aren't you a little short for a saviour of the world?

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.