The game trailers with the most feels


A round-up of the best

I’m easy. And I think you are, too. Those debut game trailers get me every time. It usually goes like this:

Stirring, slow beds of strings and woodwinds underlay a dramatic shot; an extreme closeup of some unknown character. Or, maybe a well-known one. Just the eyeball, or just the face. Pan out. Wide, lush landscapes that take the breath away. Maybe sunny and bright. Maybe foggy and mysterious. The music increases in tempo and loudness. Quick cuts! Sword slashes. All-white flashes. Strings crescendo as they build via agiato. The heart rate quickens. Fast. Faster! Then, boom. Quiet. Black screen. Some sounds, or maybe some dialogue. Slow, slow text. Subwoofers do something. Fade…




The Last Guardian

It was at Tokyo Game Show — I know that. Was it 2009? 2010? Whatever. I remember this clearly: what felt like a floor-to-ceiling display played the debut trailer. Full-blast sound, brilliant color. It stopped me in my tracks. I instantly fell in love with the dog/bird thing. This one. This super cute, cheery one.

But the E3 one. Oh, wow. Even now, something about this trailer makes my heart rate slow. I breathe deeper. It’s quite a bit more emotional than the TGS one. It makes you feel something. The final shots gave me goosebumps, even today as I put this piece together. The spears in its back get me every time.

This game is going to fuck me up if it ever comes out.

Final Fantasy Tactics

When did we first see this? I don’t remember. Was it a bonus trailer on a disc? Something like that.

Anyway, I watched it hundreds of times. It had me from the spinning crystal and that adaptation of the Final Fantasy “Crystal Theme.” The music picks up quickly and then the “The Lion War!” text pops up, hammering in the hype. Then, that phased chorus brings us back into the Crystal Theme. Short, sweet, perfect.

This trailer sold me on the game. 100% effective.

Metal Gear Solid 2

Prediction: you forgot how great this trailer was. You’re completely gone from three seconds in, thanks to that haunting vocal.

What’s amazing about this trailer is that the hype holds for over nine minutes, all the way through to the majestic wall-of-strings theme ending. It doesn’t let go.

I think trailers these days are mostly shit. This is how you do a videogame trailer.

Dead Island

This Dead Island trailer did nothing for me. Maybe I have no soul. Maybe I saw the future and knew we’d be tired of zombies.

But there is no way that I would leave it off this list as it resonated with so many. Destructoid’s staff was extremely vocal about it needing to be in this article. So here it is.

Have you seen it reversed?

Gears of War

The “Mad World” ad for Gears of War proved so popular that the song from it hit #1 on the iTunes charts soon after its release. Microsoft and Epic were surprised at how effective the ad was. The song really made the whole thing. It’s amazing what a song can do.

Dead Space

Speaking of songs, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” was never as fucked up as it was in that earlyDead Space trailer. Wow, that was some dark shit, right? The original words and that very end where the singer’s voice wavers really make this one stick in your head.

Silent Hill 4: The Room

I felt darkness wash over me the first time I saw the debut trailer for Silent Hill 4: The Room. Testing today, it still works on me.The moaning and hazy imagery still freak me out. That floating with the shadow? Holy fuck! Yikes!

This was an all-new kind of dark for the franchise. The trailer accurately conveyed the game’s feelings of solitude and confusion. I loved you so much back then, Konami.

Smash Bros. Brawl

Though the new one is no slouch, the Smash Bros. Brawl trailer from E3 2006 was super-powered original steam engine on the hype train. When that choir kicks in you feel it in your bones. That shot of Mario with his hands out, shaking his head in a power-fueled rage? I do the same thing when watching this trailer. This is a work of art.

Kingdom Hearts

The king of them all. In my eyes, this is the pinnacle of game trailers that make you feel something. Today, even after all of these years, after pressing play on the video to verify it was the right one, goosebumps started at my toes and went to the very top of my head. My eyes watered up. What the hell is wrong with me?