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Full Motion Video
aka: FMV

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Hey, this game has really realistic graphics! Too bad the acting isn't of a similar quality.

"CD-ROMs were a major technological leap back in the early nineties. All of a sudden our portable storage capacity jumped from the three-and-a-half megabyte floppies [Subtitle: you mean 1.44MB? Thought so.note ] we were using, to over seven hundred megabytes crammed on this little disk, and it didn't take long for game designers to stop and think: Hey, these things are like little Laserdiscs, we could put movies and stuff on 'em! And we could make kickass games out of that!"
Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler, The Spoony Experiment, on the origin of Full Motion Video games
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A "full motion video"note  ("FMV" for short) is a video game term, used back in The '90s for Cutscenes which use pre-rendered or live-action video, as opposed to playing in-engine.

Today, however, the term is mainly remembered as lending its name to a particular type of video games (also called "interactive movies") which are entirely based around video clips. Gameplay consisted mostly of pressing buttons at the right time, choosing the correct sequences of clips, or playing other games that just used the video as a backdrop. Nowadays these games are best remembered for their lack of interactivity.

Part of the logical reason the games were so poorly received, was that in addition to their lack of gameplay, they were also badly written and poorly acted - the task of programming a whole new genre of a game had to be balanced with hiring scriptwriters and actors. Naturally quality suffered, with camp movies, hammy actors, cliché plots or just a lousy game.

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In arcades, the genre really began in 1983 with the release of Dragon's Lair, a laserdisc-based game with animation by Don Bluth. The game typically cost twice as much to play as any other game, and gameplay consisted of pressing a button or direction at the appropriate point, but it was very popular, and inspired countless imitators. The fad died after a year or so because of the sameness of the gameplay and the difficulty in maintaining expensive laserdisc players. Plus, laserdisc games were prone to skipping and even outright malfunctions, due to factors such as the disc or reader wearing out after extensive play. Regardless, arcade laserdisc games were sporadically produced even through the 1990s. There were also attempts to bring laserdisc games into the home in the 1980s with the Palcom PX-7 MSX computer and the incredibly obscure RDI Halcyon console, and in the 1990s with the Pioneer LaserActive. Many old laserdisc games were simple enough that they can be played nowadays on an ordinary DVD player.

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Full motion video games really became common on home computers with the introduction of CD-ROM drives in The '90s, and CD-equipped console systems like the Sega CD, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer and Philips CD-i rushed to exploit the trend. Gameplay on home systems was no better than in the arcade, with the extra problem that early CD-based home systems, especially the Sega CD, weren't powerful enough to produce good quality video.

Not every FMV game was bad, of course. Some, especially the Tex Murphy series, are considered classics of the adventure genre. But these turned out to be the exception, and for every Tex Murphy, Phantasmagoria, or Gabriel Knight, there were 10 ''Double Switch'' or ''Johnny Mnemonic''-level games. At $60 a pop, the consumer soon decided they'd get more entertainment from either watching a real movie, or playing a real video game.

Thus, FMV has never really caught on, even with better quality and capacity as Technology Marches On. Of course, many people still enjoy the lesser-quality games for the camp value.

While pretty much a dead genre now, some newer titles have taken on to using this medium as part of their marketing campaign, with some otherwise non-FMV games having FMV cutscenes, perhaps giving it a niche to hold on to.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Arcade Games 
  • Albegas (Sega, cancelled; would have been released as "Cybernaut" in North America)
  • Astron Belt (Sega, 1983note )
  • Badlands (Konami, 1984)
  • Battlestar Galactica (Atari, cancelled)
  • Bega's Battle (Data East, 1983note )
  • Cliff Hanger (Stern, 1983note )
  • Cobra Command (Data East, 1984note )
  • Cosmos Circuitnote  (Taito, 1984)
  • Crime Patrol (American Laser Games, 1993)
    • Crime Patrol 2: Drug Wars (American Laser Games, 1993)
  • Cube Quest (Simutrek, 1984note )
  • Dragon's Lair (Cinematronics, 1983)
  • The Driver (Kasco, 1979note )
  • Esh's Aurunmilla (Funai, 1984)
  • EVR Race (Nintendo, 1975)
  • Fast Draw Showdown (American Laser Games, 1994)
  • Firefox (Atari, 1984)
  • Freedom Fighter (Malibu Grand Prixnote , 1987note )
  • Gallagher's Gallery (American Laser Games, 1992)
  • GP World (Sega, 1984)
  • Interstellar Laser Fantasy (also known as simply "Interstellar"; Funai, 1983)
  • Knight Rider (Atari, cancelled)
  • Laser Grand Prix (Taito, 1983)
  • The Last Bounty Hunter (American Laser Games, 1994)
  • Mad Dog Mccree (American Laser Games, 1990)
    • Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold (American Laser Games, 1992)
  • M.A.C.H. 3 (Mylstar, 1983)
  • Ninja Hayate (released as "Revenge of the Ninja" on the Sega CD; Taito, 1984)
  • Quarter-Horse (Electro-Sport, 1981note )
  • Road Blaster (aka Road Avenger for the Sega CD, and Road Prosecutor for the Pioneer LaserActivenote ; Data East, 1985)
  • Space Ace (Cinematronics, 1984)
  • Space Pirates (American Laser Games, 1992)
  • Star Blazernote  (released as "Galaxy Ranger"note  in the U.S.; Sega, 1984)
  • Star Rider (Williams Electronics, 1984)
  • Street Viper (Nova Games, 1993)
  • Super Don Quixote (Universal, 1984)
  • Thayer's Quest (RDI Video Systemsnote , 1984)
  • Time Gal (Taito, 1985)
  • Time Traveler (Sega, 1991)
  • Us vs. Them (Mylstar, 1984)
  • Wild Gunman (Nintendo, 1974note )
  • Who Shot Johnny Rock? (American Laser Games, 1991)

...among many others. The Dragon's Lair Project features an extensive repository of videos from these and other FMV arcade games among other things.

    Home Games 
  • 428: Shibuya Scramble was created by Chunsoft in 2008. It is a rare hybrid of live action FMV and Visual Novel.
  • The 7th Guest brought this to the PC, pioneering video compressing in the process. In fact, the whole game is in full motion video; all the animations of moving about the mansion are prerendered 3D video (they had originally planned to use a real mansion), and the cutscenes are live-action full motion video.
  • Episodes 11.5 and 15.5 of Asura's Wrath count as these (while some have made the case for the whole game being a quasi-example of the interactive movie part of this trope.)
  • Bad Mojo
  • Blackout, though it notably uses puppets and miniature sets instead of actors on sets.
  • Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge
  • The (non-canon, and very NSFW) Death Note Yaoi game Bound Prince is this. It tells a story of Light losing a bet to L and being his Sex Slave for a week; it's basically an illustrated fanfic.

    Regular games with FMV cutscenes 

Alternative Title(s): Interactive Movie, FMV

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