You may have played a game called Her Story in 2015. It was an interactive title where you watch interviews and try to put together a story about a murder that happened. It won many accolades and made it big at The Game Awards. It revived a forgotten time in CD gaming. Separate from digitization, Full Motion Video produces a cheesy production that not only caused a concern but stood out as something of a higher quality that only one format could do.
Full Motion Video is using pre-recorded clips to tell the narrative of the game. Most of it is used with real life “actors” and pressing time buttons (think Quick Time Events) the moment they pop up (you’ll see the game stutter to load the scene). For a lot of us, the animated Dragon’s Lair by Cinematronics was an introduction to this format. When Sega CD came about, Night Trap took the attention and the flood doors open.
Seeing these “FMV” quality of games, watching the scenes of the low frame rate made the game look quite unsightly. The processing of these games couldn’t handle the fast pace rate of action that was happening. The pixelation of the frames looked mushed but it was something ahead of its time. Nothing stood out from it.
So why honor it? Why even see it as an Art Style? FMV wanted to present a way for an older audience and some kids, to play games in a cinematic way that no other medium would bring. So games like Mad Dog McCree, That’s My Video, and other games like them felt different enough from just sprite and digitized games. Some incorporated adventure game mechanics while some had a rail shooting as its main.
As technology advance and graphics were getting better, FMV faded away until the arrival of Her Story. With the use of better technology, it presented a VHS aesthetic in its quality, FMV can achieve its goal of looking better in detail. The colors are able to pop out more and even some retro titles can fully reach its potential. Recently, Night Trap has become available in HD. It still has a simple process and the shabby acting is still there but clearer.
It still is slowly coming back. The Shapeshifting Detectives and Late Shift are some recent games. You also have The Bunker that’s been released. Even the terrible and sexist in a way, Super Seducer, has made it into people home (for laughs I assume)?
So cheers to Full Motion Video being historic in the gaming community. Your art will carry a beautiful laugh and intriguing moment that will keep us involved.