Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Splash Screen Mini-Game

Do you play the Splash Screen Mini-Game (SSMG)? I bet you do.

The concept of SSMG is simple enough. Start up any modern game and it begins to load an interminable sequence of splash screens. Game play involves pressing escape, return or some other key combination at exactly the right times to bypass these screens. Press the wrong combination or press the combination at the wrong time and you lose. Losing the splash screen mini-game results in your keyboard locking up and your being forced to sit through a long sequence of advertisements for every single company who was ever involved in any way with the development of the game. I counted 9 different splash screens before I got to the main menu of Neverwinter Nights 2 and I don't think this is at all unusual.

Most gamers have become adept at basic SSMG and hardly give it a second thought but there are some advanced aspects of the game that are often overlooked. Some screens can't be bypassed because the computer is actually doing useful stuff like loading the game. Attempts to bypass these screens will probably lead to the aforementioned keyboard lock-up. In addition many splash screen mini-games have a hidden Easter Egg in the form of an impressive opening cinematic hidden among the dross of promotional screens. Only the most experienced SSMG players are able to skip the adverts without bypassing the opening cinematic.

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