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Full Motion Video
aka: Interactive Movie

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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

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.


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.


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, as the video game industry has moved onto other ways of making money from nice graphics combined with crappy gameplay and mind-numbing tedium (see Freemium, Downloadable Content, Allegedly Free Game, Microtransactions...), some newer titles have taken on to using this medium as part of their marketing campaign, perhaps giving it a niche to hold on to.


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    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)
  • 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 
  • Super Adventure Rockman: Remember those FMV scenes in Mega Man 8? Well this is pretty much what would happen if someone made an entire game with those scenes. Like the Street Fighter game above, it came out only in Japan for the PS and Saturn. Keiji Inafune is not exactly fond of this game.
  • Surgical Strike is a Rail Shooter using clips of real actors and battlefield sets that has you aiming at reticle-like targets overlaid in front of the footage; successful hits will trigger a brief cutscene of the objects exploding.
  • The Tex Murphy series
  • Wirehead: One of the more amusing entries in FMV games that flew under the rader. You play a mild mannered family man that got a wireless device put into his brain and is now being tracked by a mad scientist and his goons. You control the man's every movement and try to steer him out of harm's way.
  • 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.
  • Mansion of Hidden Souls was largely made as a response to the above's success.
  • [MODE]
  • In the 1st Degree.
  • Voyeur
  • Yarudora series: The first example of an Interactive Anime / Visual Novel hybrid. Released in the Japanese and Chinese markets only.
  • The original arcade version of Starblade technically isn't a FMV game due to being rendered in realtime, but its home ports used a single-continuous FMV with enemy models overlaid.
  • The PlayStation 2 and Wii conversions of Rock Band, and the PS2 conversion of Rock Band 2, had the actual note highways and HUDs rendered in real-time, but in order to make the game look as good as its Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts, the backgrounds were pre-rendered FMVs from those versions rather than being rendered in real-time. Sadly, this meant the game lost all of its character customization features in the process.

    Regular games with FMV cutscenes 
  • Alan Wake's American Nightmare uses FMV on cutscenes and in-game videos.
  • Dune 2000 and Emperor: Battle for Dune replace the drawn cutscenes of Dune II with FMV.
  • The Command & Conquer series has always (with the exception of Generals, which put its video in a smaller window) used FMV for cutscenes. But, with the campy nature of the series, it works. The more recent games having actual, skilled actors involved helps too.
  • Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (unique in its series as having FMV cutscenes)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Final Liberation
  • Beginning with Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation, the Final Fantasy series became famous for its high quality FMV cutscenes that integrated flawlessly with the pre-rendered backgrounds. The high production values and visual spectacle of these FMVs were crucial to popularizing Japanese RPGs with western audiences, who found previous games' 2D sprites unappealing for conveying complex plots and characters.
  • Wing Commander is noted for being one the few series with FMVs that actually did them well, using quality movie actors and solid writing, with Wing Commander IV being a particular standout (unlike III, it was shot on film with actual sets, and had a stronger script than Prophecy).
  • Privateer 2: The Darkening is widely praised for the FMV cutscenes. While the game itself is notoriously glitchy, the FMV is often considered its saving grace, thanks to its outstanding production value and acting. Spoony even called it "the modern Dr. Who series ten years ahead of its time."
  • Kingdom Hearts has them at the beginning and end of the games.
  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, uniquely among the series, uses FMV cutscenes, justified by the Faux Documentary format of the Framing Story: a journalist is interviewing retired Belkan War veterans and the "missions" you play are actually stories they tell about the Demon Lord.
  • Grand Theft Auto 2 played FMV of an angrier, more talkative Claude Speed.
  • LocoCycle uses FMVs for cinematics between levels.
  • The introductory movie for the original Resident Evil is one of the more infamous examples.
  • Off World Interceptor had arguably the worst in this subcategory.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Call of Duty: Black Ops and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are some of the titles that have used FMV or a combination of FMV and in-game renders for their trailers, marketing campaigns and commercials.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops uses FMV during the game itself multiple times, though this is mostly to get around the ageing id Tech 3's inability to load multiple levels at a time.
  • Metal Gear Solid and its sequels have a few live-action FMV sequences here and there.
  • Warhawk A PSX lauch title has FMV's before missions.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns uses FMV for the intro, the Final Boss's introduction, the ending, the reveal of the Golden Temple, and the transition from the opening area of the Golden Temple to the main level. Three of these FMVs have three variations depending on which Kongs were present, making a total of twelve FMVs.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has the only two FMVs — the intro and the ending.
  • Angry Birds Trilogy replaces the still-frame cutscenes with FM Vs.
  • The PS1 version of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile had pre-recorded CGI cutscenes for the intro, as well as the scene where Klonoa and Huepow go to Cress, and the ending. In the Wii remake, all of these cutscenes were rendered with the in-game graphics.
  • NiGHTS into Dreams... had quite a few CGI cutscenes, all of which were very nicely animated.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, the scene where the Tornado escapes from the exploding island used a pre-recorded video of the island blowing up, and then the Tornado was a 3D model placed in front of the video.
  • Space Channel 5 All areas in the game were pre-recorded video footage, and the characters are 3D models put in front of the video. This would sometimes result in Ulala and the others looking as if they were floating, because sometimes their character models would not be properly aligned with the background.
  • The Sly Cooper series uses 2D comic book-style cutscenes.
  • Mech Commander I and II, and MechWarrior IV used FMV for character portraits in mission briefings and for cutscenes. Earlier games never showed characters and had CGI cutscenes.
  • EarthSiege and its plethora of oddly named sequels used FMV for mission briefings, while the majority of the cutscenes were CGI.
  • The fifth generation Road Rash game had plenty, ranging from loading up on weapons before a race to a Biker Babe dragging a cowboy by the belt after a win.
  • Tomb Raider, and every game through Chronicles. Though some cutscenes were rendered using the gameplay engine instead.
  • Shivers begins and ends with FMVs of your "friends" locking you on the museum grounds and arriving to find you, respectively. Then there's also three ghost scenes that use FMV.
  • Shivers Two: Harvest of Souls continues about the same way. It does add a big sequence for the final confrontation, which can end three different ways.
  • Roundabout's cutscenes are live-action clips specifically made to look like a 70s B-movie.
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) and Carbon had a few FMV cutscenes each.
  • Strafe features live-action cutscenes in its tutorial, fitting with its 90's look.
  • Zelda's Adventure has live-action cutscenes instead of its two predecessors' Off-Model animation.
  • Jurassic Park (Sega CD) usually uses FMV to demonstrate navigation between areas of the park, and a computer in the visitor's center provides you with video phone calls from an Emily Shimura. As well as a representative of BioSyn.
  • Syberia uses pre-rendered FMV cutscenes.

Alternative Title(s): Interactive Movie, FMV


Example of: