Like many folks, I've got a complicated relationship with pre-game splash screens. On the one hand, I like that series of middleware introductions, publisher logos, and various other graphical preamble that flash across my screen, largely because of how I savor them the first time I'm playing a game that I'm excited about. I watch them roll by, enjoying the build-up to the "start new game" menu, to diving into an entirely new, exciting experience.

But the bloom quickly comes off of the rose, and soon I'm clicking my way through splash screens as fast as I can, cursing at the ones that won't let me get past them. "I know that you use stupid Havoc physics! Stop telling me!"

But one recent splash-screen is so randomly, hilariously great that I watch it every time it comes on. It's for Twisted Pixel's proprietary "Beard Engine," which is used to power their (delightful) new Xbox Kinect game The Gunstringer.

You kinda just gotta watch it; it's hypnotic. Some combination of the goofy drawings, the "Beard 2600," and tongue-in-cheek gauntlet-throw at Unreal Engine just kills me. Or maybe it's some remnant of my lifelong beard-envy.

I wrote to Twisted Pixel to ask about how they came up with the whole thing, and it turns out the "Your move, Unreal" guy is Twisted Pixel CTO and co-founder Frank Wilson. The folks at TP were even kind enough to supply the following (largely made-up) origin story:

The idea came about last minute because we had a previous Beard Intro (that you can unlock in Ms Splosion Man) that wasn't going to work out. CCO Josh Bear worked tirelessly for two minutes to come up with a new intro and hired a famous Hollywood director to create the epic piece, and creative Dizney artists crafted the fabulous art works scattered over Frank's desk. We also brought in Industrial Lights and Majiks to actually create an animatronic beard onto Frank's naked face that actually shoots lightning bolts. The whole video cost about 2.5 million to make and is worth every penny.

Heh. They also sent along this picture, which gives a delicious taste of what could have been:

Forget Unreal: I'm All About Twisted Pixel's "Beard" EngineS



All this has me thinking about the splash-screens of yesteryear. Maybe it'd be fun to catalogue them somehow. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite splash-screens?


You can contact Kirk Hamilton, the author of this post, at kirk@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.