Feature Article

Best Console Boot-Up Sequences

As we anticipate the launch of two new consoles this year, we take a fond look back at the most important console feature: the start-up animations.

The new generation is almost upon us with PS5 and Xbox Series X, packing extra hardware power, quality-of-life features like a solid-state drive for faster loading, and ambitious services like Game Pass. But we all know the real marquee features that will justify the hundreds of dollars are the fresh boot-up sequences. Nothing helps drive home the feeling of a brand-new game system like bringing it home, taking in that new console smell, and then seeing a neat new boot-up animation.

(Right after the required firmware update.)

We've already possibly heard the boot-up sound for Xbox Series X. PlayStation 5 won't be far behind. In honor of these impending consoles and their lovely new boot-up sequences, we've looked through the annals of gaming history and compiled some of the best.

Game Boy

The original handheld hit had one of the earliest and most memorable start-up screens. It's remarkably simple--just the Nintendo logo slowly descending to the middle of the screen followed by a chime--but instantly identifiable.

(Credit: GabberGames)

Sega Master System

The Master System was relatively obscure, especially in the West. But its boot-up screen was the prototype for Sega's two-toned corporate sound, which would eventually be replaced with a chorus singing the company's name. Try to watch without singing "Se~ga." You can't.

(Credit: Louis the Sega Nerd)


It's not the best-selling PlayStation system, but the earliest iteration is a perfect time capsule for late-90s gaming. The angular corporate logo design and crystalline sounds feel like a Blade Runner vision of the future. It's also one of the longest start-up sequences, establishing a brand identity for both Sony Computer Entertainment and PlayStation itself.

(Credit: Ch33zyQube)


Sega's final home console release is widely regarded as being ahead of its time and still has devoted cult following. Even its start-up sequence was forward-thinking, with an adorable, playful animation that wouldn't be matched until a few years later on GameCube. Interestingly enough, Sega enlisted the help of Grammy and Oscar award-winning Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto to create the brief, yet atmospheric boot-up track. Sakamoto is primarily known in the west for his film scores, most notably on The Revenant, The Last Emperor, and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. However, he has a near five-decade career's worth of music spanning numerous genres that's well worth looking into if you're curious!

(Credit: DreamStoped)


Microsoft's first entry into the game console market leaned hard into a turn-of-the-century vision of the sci-fi future, as defined by movies like The Matrix. That's how we got oversaturated greens, industrial design, and this incredible animation of a gelatinous blob that convulses into the console logo.

(Credit: testdrive426)


Nintendo's final mostly-traditional console before the absolute sea change of the Wii was a playful little cube, complete with a handlebar for carrying it like a lunchbox. The start-up screen matched that spirit, with a fusion of animation and musical cues that's still memorable years later. It also housed a few Easter eggs, letting you alter the sound effects.

(Credit: rubbermuck)

Nintendo DS

The successor to the Game Boy was almost as simple, and equally effective due to its minimalism. The two-tone chime helped drive home the dual aspect of the handheld, and the echoing matches the visual reverberations of the logo.

(Credit: RetroGamer)

Xbox 360

Microsoft's second console softened some of its hard edges, literally, and that included a logo that was more slick and less industrial. The iconic electronic swooshing sound as the spherical logo spins was snappy and polished.

(Credit: Patexi)

PlayStation 3

When it came to marketing the PlayStation 3, Sony had a clear strategy in mind: this was a sophisticated piece of consumer technology for adults. That was used to justify the sticker price--and some unfortunate messaging about working a second job to afford it--but it was also reflected in more subtle ways. The start-up screen invoked a string orchestra's warm-up to illustrate the idea that you were about to engage with a symphony of video game bliss. A little pretentious, maybe, but memorable.

(Credit: Wes Hampson)


You may not remember the Ouya, because it was a failure on basically every conceivable level. The Android micro-console never caught on, but its start-up sequence was very on-point. The flashy animation invoked a rising sun, implying new beginnings. Too bad it wasn't one.

(Credit: Ohhm Thanachat.F)

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Steve Watts

Steve Watts has loved video games since that magical day he first saw Super Mario Bros. at his cousin's house. He's been writing about games as a passion project since creating his own GeoCities page, and has been reporting, reviewing, and interviewing in a professional capacity for 14 years. He is GameSpot's preeminent expert on Hearthstone, a title no one is particularly fighting him for, but he'll claim it anyway.

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