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The Importance of Credits Sequences in Arcade Games

I’ve always been one of those degenerate freaks who loves watching the credits sequences accompanying any given piece of media.

In my eyes, there lies something truly special in seeing the names of crewmembers and listening to the awesome original music backing the scroll. Whether you like them or not, it’s hard to deny that credits provide some much needed closure after a great show, movie, or video game.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t routinely stand at arcade machines for upwards of one minute solely to watch their respective credits. When I’ve spent enough cash to complete an arcade game, I consider it my earned pleasure to see it (literally) all the way through, even if someone else is waiting to play.

Perhaps most grandiose of all are the credits trailing each installment of The Sega’s House of the Dead series. Each entry so far has concluded with a first-person tread back through whatever “house” that particular adventure took place in, accompanied by an epic orchestral theme.

What could’ve otherwise been a mere list of names is made 10 million times more engaging and rewarding by the sheer sense of atmosphere the games’ creators imbued in their choices of scenery and music. There’s no better way to come down after 30 minutes of high-energy, high-stakes, zombie-blasting action.

The opening credits preceding Sammy’s Zombie Raid also do a phenomenal job of setting the tone for the eerie experience you embark upon. For 1995, this is a surprisingly cinematic sequence, aptly “game-ified” by the ability to shoot the onscreen names. I may as well have been playing a B-grade slasher film.

Despite the absurd length, Zombie Raid’s 4-minute ending credits are every bit as fittingly spooky. With each strike of lightning, another name appears alongside that individual’s horror-themed icon. Naturally, the backing composition plays no small role in elevating the mood.

On a much lighter note, I’ll never, ever not love the ludicrous ending credits seen in the original Cruis’n trilogy, particularly Cruis’n World. After being greeted by Bill Clinton and his scantily-clad cohorts in a hot tub on the moon—I kid you not—I was positively tickled to see the likes of Eugene Jarvis, Eric Pribyl, Scott Posch, and others catapult toward the screen in full astronaut attire.

I even feel the choice to reuse the “Result Screen” and “Asia Minor” themes for this sequence worked surprisingly well in lieu of original music. Thanks to all these wonderful factors, the holy Cruis’n trilogy draws attention to the credits like no other racing game I’ve played.

Beyond those major examples, I can’t help but recall the joy I felt watching the credits following such gaming greats as Lucky & Wild, Demolish Fist, Time Crisis 5, Skycurser, and many more. The list goes on and on, people.

I suppose the only times I don’t love a credits sequence is when A) the presentation is lacking or B) there flat-out isn’t one. In my eyes, a rousing arcade adventure without a proper set of credits is like a wrist without a watch: it doesn’t feel right.

This lacking feeling was most evident to me after I first beat Midway’s CarnEvil. I was bummed to find that a game known for its twisted sense of humor, quirky soundtrack, and overall impeccable presentation ended on such a subdued note. With no music whatsoever, the whole ordeal seemed a bit empty.

Sadder yet are the releases without any credits at all. While this practice was certainly more common in the 1980s, I’ve noticed that credit-less arcade games still see release to this day. I suppose it can be difficult—though far from impossible—to work credits into certain types of games.

Fortunately, most arcade games of the modern age offer credits sequences in some form or fashion, and I’m glad for it. It’s imperative that we the players know who crafts the art we experience (while listening to a banging ditty, no less).

To the underappreciated souls behind the world’s best credits sequences—arcade or otherwise—thank you for all you do. Hopefully, what I’ve written today is proof that your work matters. There must be other fans like me out there, right?

So yeah, I guess that’s my piece today. I like credits. The end.


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