Birth Of The Video Game Cutscene?

I remember playing Final Fantasy 7 for the first time in 9th grade and being blown away by the graphics and the cut scenes (the game too, but that’s better left for another post). It reminded me of a time further back in my youth during the 8 bit era, when I saw my first real cutscene and proceeded to pick my jaw up off the floor.


If you’ve never played Ninja Gaiden do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s a fun, but extremely difficult frantic paced side scroller. As soon as you hit the power button on your Nintendo you knew you were in for something special. Most NES games gave you little in the way of stories. Sometimes the story was in the manual or sometimes you’d get a block of text before the start screen acting as a prologue and other times there wouldn’t be anything. You just hit start and that’s it. For some games though, a story just isn’t needed or has zero relevance to the game. Ninja Gaiden was different. It opens with a prologue movie and you see two ninjas dueling in the moonlight. This may sound cliche but by early nintendo standards it was pretty poetic, not to mention there was full on action and movement, it wasn’t just a still picture.



It doesn’t stop there either, after you beat each level you get a cutscene furthering the story. To give this much attention to the story for a side scroller game back then was unheard of, not to mention revolutionary.


In hindsight, it was actually pretty crazy that they did this. The only other games I can think of from the era which aren’t even remotely comparable is Double Dragon and Final Fantasy. In each level of Double Dragon that you beat you see a bronzed snap shot of the next level and it tells you the stage number…yea. Final Fantasy once you get through the first mission gives you that sweet title screen silhouette picture and a box of text with that delightful square soft music.


But let’s be serious that’s nothing compared to Ninja Gaiden. It might be tame by today’s standards but it was mind blowing to a whole generation of kids. Thanks to the power of the internet you can now see a video where someone has spliced together all the cutscenes from Ninja Gaiden right HERE.

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on February 19, 2013, in Geekology, Video Games and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Actually, game cutscenes were first introduced in LucasArt’s Maniac Mansion. The term was even coined by one of its creators, Ron Gilbert.

    • That’s interesting, I only vaguely recall playing the NES version of Maniac Mansion. I was pretty sure Ninja Gaiden wasn’t the first ever, but rather the first I had encountered.

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