The Little Things – It’s Friday!

My roommate and I have this thing we do: we like to call each other over to check out an otherwise normal game, save for one minor, nonessential aspect containing immense attention to detail. Moments that show you there was a little bit of love put into the work. The things that feel like one programmer’s touch, unrequested and unapproved, but snuck in because it just felt good.

It can be a noteworthy pause menu that doesn’t simply stop the action but tries to capture the moment, slowly panning over a scene whilst a strikingly beautiful classical theme plays, as with Aces of the Galaxy. It can be a title screen that appears minimalist and simple in its intent but rewards patient viewers by gradually letting time pass, so that a day-lit grassy hillside with a sword perched upon it becomes a full, vibrant countryside night sky of endless stars, as in Xenoblade. Perhaps the front end of an otherwise forgotten game such as Bionic Commando (2009) that takes you inside a Bionic implanted nerve, starting at the surface alongside a loud piano theme that gradually reduces down to a faint hint, each drop accompanying the accessing of a deeper menu level.

It’s the small, unnecessary details that he and I find ourselves discussing when we reminisce on how The King of Fighters 2000 was the only year that included the exciting character select screen music with a slow, fantastic intro build up – but only if you watched the “How to Play” segment first. How Capcom vs. SNK 1 remains the only fighting game to date that gives a full unique intro not only to each of the characters fighting but to each stage itself. How pausing the game at any point during Mario 2 would simultaneously mute the principal instrument of the stage music but leave the bassline going, never dropping a beat.

This Friday goes out to the programmers out there who put in the little things out of love. We notice, and we’re proud that the games we buy today still show that developers care about the nuances.