Video games have given us hours upon hours of entertainment over the years, but not all of them are unforgettable: some titles are an absolute blast from start to finish, but spend little time lingering in the memory; others, though, contain moments that stay with us forever.
Every gamer has their own favourites: for some, it may be a particularly balls-to-the-wall shoot-out in Call of Duty; for others, it might be a brutal track on Gran Turismo; heck, it might even be a punishing level of Super Mario Bros. you still love to hate!
Of all media, the immersive quality of video games makes certain moments more memorable than a favourite scene from a movie or book: rather than just observing, you’re placed inside the action, and play a vital part in how it unfolds. This helps to root the best parts deeper in your memory – and, as gaming continues to evolve, improved technology & narrative freedom helps to make the experience even more visceral, more engaging. Developers have the power to give iconic moments even greater impact.
So, with this in mind, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the most unforgettable moments in gaming – in no particular order (there are quite a few, so we’ll split this into multiple instalments).
Enough small-talk: let’s take the first steps in part one of our wander down memory lane …
Stumbling upon the T-Rex in Tomb Raider
Now that Rise of the Tomb Raider is set to give us another dose of the rebooted, revitalised Lara Croft within the next few months, looking back at the original game does two things: first, it makes us feel very, very old; second, it reminds us just how amazing Tomb Raider was back in the mid-1990s – amazing enough to spawn a franchise that’s still going strong twenty years on, in fact.
Ask anyone who played Lara’s first adventure what their favourite moment was, and many are sure to give you the same answer: “fighting the T-Rex”.
Yup, nothing in the entire game could quite compare to the thrill of stumbling upon that huge dinosaur for the first time.
Players had the choice to either stand their ground and fight, or just make a run for it. Given the size of said prehistoric beast, though, evading its jaws was tricky – and who could turn down the chance to squeeze every second of that moment from the game? Backflips, side-jumps, and rolls were all essential to this fight – as well as Lara’s twin pistols, of course.
The T-Rex moment was recreated in other Tomb Raider games, but nothing could compare to that first time.
Resident Evil’s Zombie-Dogs + Windows = Big Scares
Just like Tomb Raider, Resident Evil is another franchise-birthing game that remains well-loved today (even if it has strayed far from its origins, though we’re promised a return to slow-burning creeps with the next instalment).
The first Resident Evil game is filled with iconic moments (don’t be surprised if you see more it in future instalments of this look-back), but one of the most memorable is easily when those bloodthirsty zombie-dogs crash through the mansion’s windows.
This comes fairly early in the game, when you’re still getting to grips with the controls, the layout of the house, and the rules of the monster-filled nightmare you’ve wandered into. After seeing the damage these dogs can inflict in the infamous live-action opening sequence (itself one huge golden moment, simply overflowing with horrible acting), players have only seconds to react before the deformed canines attack.
A few good shots is enough to put them down, but the sudden burst of pulse-pounding music and the fear that more dogs might appear help to make this truly memorable – even two decades later.
Finally Finding the Knights of the Round Summon in Final Fantasy VII
Ah, Final Fantasy VII! The entire game is genius enough to count as one great big unforgettable moment in itself – but with so many outstanding parts, looking at them in isolation just helps to remind us how beautiful this classic really is.
There are so many to choose from within the game’s storyline, but we’ve opted to look at one of the most exciting, most challenging, and most rewarding elements that took place outside the plot: finding the massive, super-powerful Knights of the Round / Ultimate End summon!
Many gamers would have completed the adventure without ever getting their hands (or Cloud’s blocky little ones) on this, but it definitely helps to even the odds – especially when fighting Sephiroth in the game’s finale.
Knights of the Round was fiendishly hidden on an island that was impossible to reach without a golden chocobo – and the only way to find one of these was to make them from scratch. Remember the hours spent breeding chocobos? Remember the frustration of trying to figure out which types would produce a golden creature?
Well, it’s all worthwhile when you unleash the knights for the first time, and watch them kick butt in a wild, stunning animation you never tire of! Seeing all your hard work pay off in an non-essential area is one of the game’s many, many outstanding moments – and the thrill of accomplishment definitely sticks in our memories.
Batman’s Hallucinations in Arkham Asylum
For the final moment in Part One, we’re looking back to 2009’s groundbreaking Batman: Arkham Asylum. Not only did Rocksteady finally give gamers an atmospheric, intelligent adventure worthy of the Dark Knight, they also combined the material with the technology available to them perfectly, creating countless unforgettable moments – including Batman’s hallucinations.
While he suffers from a few visions during the game, the first time this happens is the most thrilling – mainly because, for those of us who had no idea when the hallucinations come, or how powerful they are, it was a complete sucker punch.
When Batman first coughs seemingly at random, it’s subtle enough you may not even notice. But then, slowly, the world turns upside down: roaches swarm across walls; Jim Gordon appears to die; and, finally, Batman ends up in a morgue … where body bags begin twitching on their slabs.
Batman experiencing nightmarish, guilt-laden visions of his dead parents is nothing new for those of us who know the character – but in a video game? This was, and still is, astounding. No other game has delved so deeply into Batman’s psychology, and not just within a scripted cut-scene, either: thanks to the power of the then-latest generation of consoles, we get to actually experience Batman’s fears and mental-deterioration with him.
When used to great effect, the Scarecrow is an amazing villain – and Rocksteady delivered one hell of an unforgettable moment in their first Arkham game.
Well, that’s it for the first part of our trawl through gaming’s unforgettable moments – what do you think of our choices? What are your favourites?
Let us know!