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Enter your name! The best name entry screens in gaming

You got a high score

But don't rush to put your name in! Most modern games have replaced the traditional 'enter your initials' screen with a simple auto-upload of your gamertag to a global leaderboard (boo), which means missing out on one of gaming's oldest and best-loved traditions. Join us as we list the best name entry screens in gaming and what we love them for most...

Daytona USA... for its secrets

Yes, the music that plays is great in its own right, encapsulating the bridge-pickup guitar tones of mid-nineties Sega fare. But it's got secret music clips if you put in initials that echo other classic games. 'O.R' gives you a burst of OutRun, V.R gives you a Virtua Racing jingle and 'SEX'... gets edited to 'SEY'. Oh.

Soul Calibur... for its aggression

Do well in SoulCalibur and you're confronted with your character. Move the wheel of 3D letters around until the one you need is between you and your character. Then... KILL IT. Stab it with your sword or kick it in its lettery face. That'll learn it. When the letters are gone and the name is done, you get a few more seconds to try out your best combos and see them from your poor enemies' point of view. Take what you want, but please don't hit my face!

Tetris... for its melancholy melody

So iconic are the three introductory notes, you start hearing them before they actually play from the Game Boy's tiny little speaker. Like the way Bon Jovi's 'Lay Your Hands On Me' leads into 'You Give Love a Bad Name' on the Cross Road CD, so the rasping 'fail' noise gives way to this fantastic, timeless melody. And you can take as long as you want to put your initials in. There's no rush. Honestly, it could play forever... or at least until the batteries run out.

Streets of Rage II... for the urgency

Single-player is fine. You just enter your name when you die and all the goons go about their slightly odd idle routines. But playing in co-op is a different matter. The game is still going while you're dead, meaning you have to navigate the slightly awkward name entry interface as quickly as possible. If you don't, your co-op buddy is on his/her own with (oh yes) DOUBLE the goons. Will you take the time to put in your real name, or go by your famed alter-ago 'AAA' for the sake of your buddy's well-being?

Star Wars Arcade... for its authenticity

You're not just number whatever on the hi-score table, this is a message from the Rebel Command Post. You're ranked among the best of PRINCESS LEIA'S REBEL FORCE. And all while the music from the Mos Eisley Cantina plays. Best Star Wars game ever. And you get to put your name among its ranks? It's a freakin' honour. Let's just hope they can fix little R2.

Virtua Fighter 2... for putting your foot through it

Sure, Soul Calibur lets you attack the letters, but VF2 demands you floor them. That means simple hits might not be enough to get your name in before the clock runs out. So you need to come up with three decent attacks while your name's initials bob about. They even wear Shun Di's gourd, suggesting these letters are drunken brawlers. Probably why they never hit you. It's all they can do to stay vertical.

OutRun... for its sunset

After the best day of your life spent driving your Ferrari across America with your girlfriend at your side, it's time to call it a day. The sun has set, leaving a golden glow behind the Seaside Drive palm trees, while the unforgettable 'Last Wave' tune tinkles away in the background. If heaven turned out to be a name-entry screen, it would probably be this one.

Super Monkey Ball... for its input method

After completing the brilliant original Super Monkey Ball, you find yourself in the middle of what looks like a giant roulette table. Numbers and letters run all the way around it, meaning you have to find the letters you want to select and roll your monkey into them to enter. Simple, but effective and enjoyable.

Wave Race 64... for its water effects

Nintendo 64 was the first console to do truly great water effects. Turns out water effects are all that's needed to make a pretty standard name entry system superb, as each letter creates dynamic ripples in the water as you select it. It was the future of all name entry screens. Well, all name entry screens in games about water. Or Hydro Thunder. Yep, just Hydro Thunder.

Sega Rally Championship... for its polygons

Three-dimensional letters gliding around your rally car, managing to do the impossible and make pastel shades look cool. In 1995, this kind of smooth colour gradient was an impressive technical feat. Today, it still looks commendably assured. Nice music too (drum fills FTW), plus a likeable 'dink... dink...' noise as you move between letters.

San Francisco Rush... for 'What's yo name?'

What's yo name? That's the question that's on everyone's lips as some ridiculously feelgood music plays in the background. N64 wasn't all that great at creating CD-quality audio, but this a damn fine attempt. Best bit? Letting it run to the end and hearing it say 'THAT'S YO NAME!". Priceless.

Or perhaps there's another?

What kind of a grandfather doesn't remember the name of his own child's son? Especially when it's something as unforgettable as your favourite expletive. "That's right! I remember now! His name is ASSFACE!" Oh the hilarity. But while we can't have a name-entry article without mentioning Pokemon's amazing intro, we accept it doesn't really fit the description. So what does? What have we left out? Let us know in the comments.

And if you're looking for more, check out Game Over screens that rub your face in it and The Top 7... Secret Rooms in video games.

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.