Load “” Screen$
Waiting the three long minutes for a 16K Spectrum to load from tape was relieved by the loading screen. For the longer games (there is no real ZX Spectrum worthy of the name larger than 48K) there had better be an interesting or occassionaly animated screen using a clever loading routine. In the age of the interweb with Speccy Emulators you (usually) miss out on these screens which, to my mind, is a good thing ‘ the retinal burn of that purple ghost from AticAtac still blurs my vision 20 years later.

Litle did I know that this problem still dogs most gaming experiences. The wonders of other platforms were revealed to me recently with the all-platforms-ever Simpsons Hit and Run. It’s an OK game, a little repetitive, very Simpsons-y, I’d give it a B–. It would be a straight B except for the “Loading…” screens.

I didn’t play console games until about 1998/99 when I bought a 2nd hand N64 just to play Zelda, and I haven’t since been tempted by any games not available on Nintendo ‘ well Rez would be nice. The N64s, and previous Ninty, games were cartridge based ‘ a fact that arguably contributed to the N64’s failure with 3rd party developers, but also equally stopped widespread piracy. Whatever. Either way, from the gamer’s perspective it meant no “Loading…” screens, and somehow it’s only now that I’ve noticed the loading times on the Gamecube. (old IGN article)

Moving from the N64 cartridge system to the mini-DVD (1.5GB!) media of the Cube was traumatic for Nintendo but it was definitely the right decision given the technology available at the time. Come the next generation console, maybe multi-gigabyte cartridges will be feasible but the experience on the Cube is that it hasn’t effected gameplay enough to matter on well developed games. Most Cube games have put in the effort to make such times psychologically slip past you without noticing or at least caring. Metroid Prime did this in a number of ways, noticeably with cut scenes at major jumps across the map, and more sneakily with long corridors that allowed the machine to load the next bit of map before you ran to the other end. (There is one corridor where if you run the whole way, you can’t open the door at the end for a couple of seconds. hmmm.) I didn’t notice these times at all in Windwaker, and at least the simple fade in Rogue Leader was only when you clicked to skip the cut scene.

“Loading…” screens are totally aggravating, and a progress bar is even worse when it speeds up and down at random. The minimal effort to spice up the experience in Simpsons H&R was laughable ‘ at first the Itchy&Scratchy animations (a fuse on dynamite, Itchy sawing Scratchy’s head) were cute. That lasted two screens. Worst Loading Screen Ever