You just conquered the last boss or finished off a trilogy. Besides
your initial excitement and maybe an achievement or trophy, what is
left? Most likely a plain, black screen scrolling through the names of
hundreds of talented people. A standard credit scroll makes sense for
movies, but it doesn’t make as much sense in video games. As games
mature and embrace what makes them unique, credits need to evolve to
reflect the interactivity that makes them special (while still giving
proper recognition to creators). Here are lessons that the industry
needs to learn about end-game credits from games that got it right.
Make The Credits An Extension Of The Game
Awesome Non-Interactive Credits
Portal’s infamous Still Alive song also matches the game’s humor along with being a fitting – if temporary – send-off for the villain GLaDOS.
Shadow of the Colossus uses the finality of credits as a way to force the player to reflect on what they’ve done. The slain colossi it scrolls through are reminders of the horrific deeds you’ve done throughout your journey.
Devil May Cry 3 and 4
marry their gameplay to scrolling names in the most appropriate way.
After a climactic final boss fight and short, calm ending cutscene,
demons pour into an arena and the names start to scroll. Mixing combat
and credits is both respectful to the hard-working team and perfectly
emblematic of the game’s relentless action. Devil May Cry 3 and 4’s
credits maintain the tempo of the rest of the game and take full
advantage of the interactivity of the medium. Bayonetta replicates this formula, replacing hard rock with sexy jazz.
Katamari Damacy and Flower
both directly channel their gameplay systems during the credits.
Katamari Damacy lets the player roll up all the countries on Earth into a
ball, while Flower strings together collectible petals to guide you
from name to name. Using the game’s mechanics means the credits are
essentially a short, bonus stage that entertains the player like any
other normal level.
Directly interacting with the names is another possible avenue, which
a few games have explored. Instead of only being serenaded by their
delightful soundtracks, Rayman Origins and New Super Mario Bros. Wii let players treat the thousands of names like destructible platforms, free to be jumped on or butt-stomped. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U also takes this approach by letting fighters directly combat the names as they speed by. Noby Noby Boy
even lets players eat and poop out every letter of the credits. While
very basic examples, they place their mechanics into the credits, albeit
with no goal other than to goof around.
Turn The Credits Into A Mini-Game
Some games turn the credits into a different genre altogether. Vanquish and Super Smash Bros. Melee flip the script and turn the credits into an on-rails shooting mini-game where the targets are the names of the creative team. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
turns the credits in an odd bike-riding mini-game where the player can
jump around and collect golden letters to unlock a hidden shoot ‘em up
mode. While gameplay consistency is noteworthy in titles like Devil May
Cry 3 and Flower, these one-off mini-games work because of their
interactivity in addition to their novelty. Surprising the player with
something completely different from the main game is a good change of
pace and an alternate way to add playability into the credits.
Think Outside The Box
More Awesome Non-Interactive Credits
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
This could be just the beginning. The aforementioned games have interacted with credits in some capacity, but games like Chrono Trigger, The Stanley Parable, and Ratchet and Clank
explore possible avenues for the next step in interactive credits.
After unlocking the most difficult ending, Chrono Trigger lets you walk
around and chat with the pixelated representations of the development
staff. Although not technically during the credits, Stanley Parable and
some of the Ratchet and Clank games allow you to wander around a museum
and check out fragments of the game during its development along with
cut content and explanations from the team.
Both approaches sow seeds of interacting with the developers directly
and seeing how games are made and who did what. Imagine walking around a
virtual Naughty Dog as Joel in The Last of Us and going into different
sections of the office to meet the staff and hear about or see what
their involvement was. It’s a little like what Doom
did during its fantastic credits by juxtaposing individual names next
to stills of what they worked on, albeit more interactive. This process
is exponentially more involved but fully exercises the unique strengths
Lacking an inventive or interactive credits sequence doesn’t
automatically mean a game isn’t creative or fun. There are classic games
with boring credit sequences like Bioshock and not-so-classic games with excellent credit sequences like Double Dragon: Neon,
which features the game’s antagonist falling to his death and singing
for the duration of the scroll. But it’s time for more games to use the
defining aspects of the medium for something as universal as credits.
It’s the part of the game that pays respect to its creators so it deserves more attention.