If you’re a certain age, like me, you’ll remember how painfully slow game loading screens used to be.
At one time, I could start loading up a game, go make a sandwich, and come back to find it still wasn’t ready to play.
Luckily, Halo developer Bungie brought us Destiny last month and gave younger gamers a taste of how bad loading screens can be. It takes 58 dull seconds to get from the level select screen to the game’s central hub, The Tower. I just timed it.
But loading screens don’t need to suck, even if they are long. I was talking to a couple of my gaming buddies while playing (or waiting to play) Destiny, and we agreed that even just an option to move your ship, stuck going nowhere fast between levels, would be a huge improvement. And if Bungie let you race your fireteam on the loading screen? Well, that would take it to a whole other level.
Maybe Bungie should have taken some tips from the games we’ve rounded up below. They’re 10 great examples of loading screens done well, from titles spanning the last 20 years.
Ridge Racer — Galaxian mini-game
Bringing arcade hit Ridge Racer to the home, Namco needed to do something special, and this loading screen mini-game was certainly that, letting players shoot down waves of alien ships while they booted up. Namco loved the idea so much, it took out a patent on the concept of using mini-games during another game’s loading screen. Luckily, some other canny developers still took advantage of the idea …
Crash Tag Team Racing — Burps and farts
What better way to kill time between races than some juvenile humor? Sony let Crash Tag Team Racing players unleash loading screen burps and farts using the triangle and X buttons on their gamepads. Perfect for those late-night or after school multiplayer gaming sessions with four buddies gathered round the TV.
Rayman Legends — Shadow race/slap fight
PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360
Rayman Legends is an absolute delight to play in couch co-op, and its interactive loading screens mean the action doesn’t let up between levels. Each break becomes a shadowy dash to grab a heart bottle that usually (in my house, at least) descends into a chaotic and hilarious on-screen slap fight, cartoon limbs flying everywhere.
Ubisoft used a similar loading screen in Rayman Origins, too, but the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Rayman Legends ditched the loading screen entirely. Boo.
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad — Zombie mini-game
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad is not a good game. In fact, IGN’s review of the hack and slash action title said that it’s “a digital disaster in nearly every way. It’s ugly, sounds awful, handles poorly and has a premise that is as shallow as they come.”
It does have one redeeming feature, though, and that’s the zombie-slaying side-scrolling hack-em-up you get to play while you’re waiting for the next level to load. Which, to be honest, is probably more fun than the main game.
Okami — Winning Demon Fangs
Beautiful lupine action-adventure title Okami has two loading screens that can actually help you in the game. The first has you pound away at the X button to make 50 paw prints appear on screen, rewarding you with a Demon Fang if you manage it before the next level loads. The second one requires timing as you need to press the X button in time to paw prints appearing along the bottom of the screen.
These interactive loading screens only appear in the PlayStation 2 version of Okami, so Wii and PlayStation 3 gamers will need to get their tradeable Demon Fangs elsewhere.