#1 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -

Who here likes a good game menu? When I first boot up a game it always gets me excited to see a functioning, well thought out and unique menu. They should be easy to use, but also have some kind of visual flair and somehow unqiuely tied to the game. It's the firs thing you see whenever you boot up a game so I feel that it's an important thing to get right. it seems that some developers agree and some developers simply don't care. I think it would be good for everyone to post an example of a game menu which they really like and one that you feel doesn't deliver on the experience that the game within offers. Post videos or pictures to illustrate, as I'd like to see both good and bad menus.
 
One of my favourites is the Persona 4 main menu screen (the title screen is pretty cool too). It has a lot of style and the slow melancholy music fits the tone of the game and the style of the other graphics.


As for a bad one, I have to say Fable 2. Love the game but it just feels kind of unresponsive and boring considering the fantasy setting. The background artwork is nice but they could have done more with it.
 

#2 Posted by septim (774 posts) -

PoP 2008 had some shitty-ass menus. It forced this twirly animation thing every time you selected something.

#3 Posted by NekuSakuraba (7240 posts) -

  

  Brutal Legends main menu was awesome and fitted right with the game.
#4 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -
@NekuSakuraba:  Yeah I loved Brutal Legends main menu. Best use of full motion video in a long time. Apart from Twisted Pixel's work.
#5 Posted by TheHT (10880 posts) -

Star Wars Battlefront had a great menu.
 
Star Wars Battlefront II had an ugly menu.

#6 Posted by Gamer_152 (14051 posts) -

I do love a great menu, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. I loved Fable 2 but yeah, the menus were one of the worst aspects of the game, Green Day: Rock Band on the other hand had some very good menus.

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#7 Posted by sparks50 (372 posts) -

Something that annoys me a little bit is multi platform games with up/down confirm/go back menu keys that doesn't take advantage of the PC mouse. It just takes ages to navigate large menus  with a keyboard, and often you have to go through many layers of selections before you get what you want.

#8 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -
@sparks50:  Borderlands is guilty of this. You can press enter to confirm things, but often nothing is selected by default so you have to move the mouse over and click on something anyway so you might as well double click to confirm it.
#9 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -

I should probbably post this one since it is what caused me to post the thread, but while watching the Split Second TNT Ryan was mentioning how awesome the menus are and I agreed completely. It's a case where they put a lot to work in to the menus. 

#10 Posted by Keenblaze (470 posts) -
@septim said:
" PoP 2008 had some shitty-ass menus. It forced this twirly animation thing every time you selected something. "
That was my first thought when thinking of bad menus. It seemed so laggy and unnecessary. Just let me play the game already, Ubisoft, I don't want to watch this ugly swirling thing miserably fail at moving from one menu to the next. 
 
Speaking of bad Ubisoft menus, the original Assassin's Creed made you go through four or five menus before even being able to quit the game. Every menu of a game, whether it be the main menu or the pause menu, should let you immediately quit the game. 
#11 Posted by Tricks73r (252 posts) -

I'm not sure how many of you are hockey fans, but NHL 09 - 10 had some of the worst menus I've ever seen in video games; ever. It was to the point where if your buddy came over, you'd constantly hear "Where the fuck's the game?!?!" as he scrolled helplessly through menus that froze, mis and redirected you all over the place, and generally were a pain in the ass to navigate.

#12 Posted by beej (1674 posts) -
@Keenblaze god don't remind me, I still have PTSD from trying to quit out of assassins creed.
#13 Posted by koolaid39 (236 posts) -

Fable 2 definitely has a garbage menu system. I also didn't care much for the menus in Battlefield Bad Company 2. I kinda like the ones in Halo Reach.

#14 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -
@beej said:
" @Keenblaze god don't remind me, I still have PTSD from trying to quit out of assassins creed. "
I had to alt + F4 out of that game every time because it was a pain in the ass.
#15 Posted by Binman88 (3684 posts) -

It all comes down to speed and organisation for me. I like a straightforward, quick and snappy menu. 3D environment menus like the ones in DiRT2 and their more recent F1 2010 aren't really my thing. Unnecessarily obtrusive bullshit slowing down the process of getting into the game I paid to play.

#16 Posted by Meteora (5787 posts) -

Best menus I can remember would be Modern Warfare 2. 
 
Worst? Fable II by far.

#17 Posted by InfamousBIG (3200 posts) -

DiRT 2 FTW

#18 Posted by Heartagram (1181 posts) -

Say what you will about the game itself the menus in Kane and Lynch 2 totally fit the feel they are trying to go for. With the play stop pause buttons and the fact that it says buffering instead of loading.

#19 Posted by AjayRaz (12418 posts) -

NHL 97 has my all time favorite menus  
 
  

#20 Posted by wefwefasdf (6729 posts) -

I hate Fable 2's menu so much. Slow and terrible.

#21 Posted by xMP44x (2193 posts) -
Good: World at War 
What is there I can really say? Everything is laid out logically, with the actual game modes near the top, and the Options and the like near the bottom. I am aware that the menu was redesigned, but it was a very good redesign considering that it made things work more fluidly. Plus, it is topped off with eerie music, which fits well with the bloodshed and suffering endured during World War II, as well as the idea of Nazi Zombies.  
 
Bad: Import Tuner Challenge 
What can I say? The menus are slow, difficult to navigate, and not very informative. This may be due to the fact that they make sense in Japanese considering the language differences, but if Genki are going to release one of their titles in an English speaking country, they should at least do so in a manner where the average gamer can enjoy the experience without having to memorise the location of different elements.
#22 Posted by Zidd (1838 posts) -

Forza 3 has amazing menus.

#23 Posted by Hitchenson (4682 posts) -

Halo: Reach has a pretty slick menu. Bad Company 1 had a pretty cool menu as well, what with the jazz music and all.

#24 Posted by ThePickle (4153 posts) -

The MGS4 menus were cool. 

#25 Posted by Ace829 (2083 posts) -

The Saboteur had a pretty cool menu. It showed a nice view of a city street along with some soothing tunes.
It also had this.
  

#26 Posted by eroticfishcake (7782 posts) -

Funny. I was about to mention P4's menu and GUI as well but I figured people might be sick of hearing about P4. But yeah I really do like P4's menu. It's got flair and simplicity without being too flashy plus the yellow/black colour scheme feels fresh and cheery. It's not often you get a menu like that. 
 
Just about any Wipeout game has a slick interface to it as well. 
 
The worst I can think about right now is DiRT2. It doesn't look bad or anything but after a while I do get impatient when I've seen it a million times plus it's slightly confusing on what you can or can't select at all.

#27 Posted by gakon (1945 posts) -

DiRT had some pretty cool menus: 
 


Definitely dislike it, though, when menu transitions take too long.  Like they built a menu that's a "machine" or something and you have to watch things close and open and unfold and stuff before you can make a selection.
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#28 Posted by EVO (3864 posts) -

Brutal Legend, easily. 
 
I finally bought it the other day and was stoked with the gatefold vinyl, but it wasn't until a couple of hours later when I exited back to the menu and pressed across to discover the full extent of it's awesomeness. 
 
Also, Halo: Reach's menus are pretty damn slick.

#29 Posted by fisk0 (3849 posts) -

Good .. I think I'd say Mirror's Edge there. Maybe not the most functional, but not confusing, and while slightly animated it's not animated to the extent that it feels slow. Been quite a while since I played that though, I might be remembering wrong, but that, Persona 4 and Age of Wonders were the first that popped up in my mind.

Bad: Conquest Earth. Overanimated, slow and unresponsive, with ridiculously long transitions between every sub menu.

Ugly: Sim City 2000. Ugly as hell, just default Windows buttons with text on them, no graphics at all - ugly, but certainly functional. 

#30 Posted by 234r2we232 (3181 posts) -

Say what you will about the game itself, but WET has some interesting and fun menu designs. They all went in hand with it's 'grindhouse' style and quirky sense of reality. In terms of aesthetics and set pieces, it's an inspiring game.

#31 Posted by mosdl (3228 posts) -

I want to bitch about menus that have a starting animation which take 10 seconds to finish and won't let you interact with them until it finishes...except I can't remember the game.

#32 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -
@sofacitysweetheart:  Wet did have decent menus. Infact as much a that Lucha Libre game doesn't appeal to me the menus in that game have a good sense of style in a similar way to WET.
#33 Posted by Xshinobi (372 posts) -

I really like Dirt's, Starcraft 2's, All of Valve's games and Castlevania LoS' menu system. I really hated The Force Unleashed menus it had to load sub menus.

#34 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -
@Xshinobi:  Loading sub menus is probbably the worst thing a game menu can do. I can't even imagine why it has to load for a small menu to appear.
#35 Edited by takua108 (1478 posts) -
Brutal Legend has the best main menu of all time, hands down.
Alan Wake didn't have a super-flashy menu, but it felt, I dunno, really tactile and swift. There was no wait between menu levels or anything, as I've come to expect these days. 
Persona 4 has a pretty great title screen menu, but the in-game menu is absolute shit. Same with Persona 3.
Team Fortress 2 had an absolutely shitty menu for three years, until Valve finally got around to updating it. It was the classic Half-Life/Half-Life 2 "list of menu items on the left side, big background image behind it," which isn't that bad, but they separated parts of the menu with a dummy menu item labelled "-----------------." As a programmer, this irritated the hell out of me. Why not just render a line or something? That looks so tacky and like a shitty 3rd-party mod.
No More Heroes' use of your character sitting on the toilet where you last saved your game (complete with the game's title written on the wall behind him in a unique manner for each toilet) is one of the greatest things in a video game ever. 
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory didn't so much have a shitty menu as it had an unskippable, like, three-minute prerendered Goddamned demo of the game you're about to play that you had to watch every single time you loaded the game. Seriously, what the fuck were they thinking. 
Rez HD (and I'm assuming Rez, but I never played the original) is another great example of a game with a menu that is nice enough to look at, but is still all about getting you into the game, on the level you want, as quickly and smoothly as possible. 
Conker's Bad Fur Day didn't have a super-functional menu like the other ones I've listed here, but it worked well enough, and you can't deny the hilarity of Banjo's head mounted on the wall of the pub and Kazooie in the umbrella stand.
 
Game designers need to fucking learn that your game becomes like, easily a star rating better if you have a menu system that lets you navigate your way around the game quickly and efficiently. It seems like such a minor gripe, but when you think of all the times that you had to wait that full-second for Persona 4 to load its pause menu before you used an item or checked your Personae (and you wonder whether or not this was intentional to keep the game the length it is), and you realize how a shitty menu can really ruin the experience. If I'm playing a game with terrible gameplay and an absolutely shitty story and it's just really bad all around, but the menu animates nicely while still being snappy and responsive, I'll give the game a 2/5 for just that.
#36 Posted by armaan8014 (5329 posts) -

DA:O's is pretty sexy

#37 Posted by audiosnag (1604 posts) -

One that hasn't been mentioned was Psychonauts.
Starting off on the big floating brain to pick you mode then choosing between bunk beds for your game file was brilliant.
Another reason to love that game.

#38 Posted by Synthballs (2193 posts) -

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! YOU'RE DISCUSSING MENUS! FUCKING MENUS! 
 

 This.
#39 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -
@audiosnag said:
" One that hasn't been mentioned was Psychonauts. Starting off on the big floating brain to pick you mode then choosing between bunk beds for your game file was brilliant. Another reason to love that game. "
YES! I loved that.
 

#40 Posted by AjaxNV (33 posts) -
@takua108 said:
"Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory didn't so much have a shitty menu as it had an unskippable, like, three-minute prerendered Goddamned demo of the game you're about to play that you had to watch every single time you loaded the game. Seriously, what the fuck were they thinking."
Not really. That was really annoying, but it was loading assets while the video was playing. At a certain point, everything would be loaded and you could skip the remaining video. If you played the game, stopped, then came back an hour later, you could skip the video almost immediately.
#41 Edited by takua108 (1478 posts) -
@AjaxNV: Ah, that does sort of make sense, in hindsight. I guess my fifteen-year-old brain just couldn't comprehend that at the time, haha. 
 
Anyways, I thought up some more: 
Audiosurf has really terrible menus. For such a fun and interesting game, the UI is really, really bad. 
Assassin's Creed had that pretty rad DNA menu. 
Portal has an excellent title screen and chapter selection menu. Yes, they're both basically the same as any other Valve game, but the chapter selection doesn't spoil the game for you, and the title screen changes awesomely after you beat the game. 
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay had that super-cool "metal cubes" thing going on with its main menu. 
 
I know there's tons more games I've played with great menus, but I just can't think of them off the top of my head.
#42 Posted by AlisterCat (5482 posts) -

I just remembered, the PC port of Braid had terrible menus.

#43 Posted by SuperfluousMoniker (2907 posts) -

Bayonetta has some pretty bad menus. The screen you use to switch weapons and accessories is confusing, and the option to skip cutscenes requires more button presses than it should, given the replayability of levels in the game and the amount of cutscenes.

#44 Posted by blurienh (119 posts) -

FIFA 11 has gone  crazy with tons of menus and sub menus for all different aspects, I prefer a simple cut down to very options menu up front and then all the other stuff tucked away for you to dig out if and when you need it.
#45 Posted by litrock (173 posts) -

I was a big fan of the Metroid Prime 3D menu used in ... Metroid Prime 2, I know. I can't remember if it was in the first one as well. It was slick and fit in great with the UI elements in that world.

#46 Posted by Xshinobi (372 posts) -

I totally forgot about Splinter Cell: Conviction and Assassin's Creed 2. Freaking amazing menus.