Follow TV Tropes


Loading Screen

Go To
Grand Theft Auto games give you both a progress bar, and pretty pictures.

Come and take a peep at all these loading screens;
And tell me have you seen
All that the load can bring?
Just a little somethin' while the cartoon loads,
Watch a looping animation that you can behold!

In Video Games, loading new data such as the next level takes time. Just throwing up a black screen during the process might cause players to think the game isn't working. In order to prevent this, the loading screen was born. It might be as simple as the word "Loading" on the black screen or might include colourful animation or progress bars to show that, "no really, the game is working on something right now..."

As games have grown larger, more complex and more detailed, loading times have increased in many games. This began in earnest with the original PlayStation thanks to the data having to be copied from the disc, which was much slower than the preceding cartridge-based systems. This resulted in the creation of loading screens to let the player know the level is being, well, loaded. Some of the possible features are:

  • The most basic of loading screens provide a meter showing progress, or a looping animation like a spinning disc. Or maybe it's just a static screen with just the words "LOADING..." on it. Generally not in use nowadays.
  • Some kind of in-game justification for the loading screen, like an RTS that has a loading screen purporting to be your command center connecting to the battle network.
  • A looping animation of something to disguise the fact that it's a loading screen. Loading screens for traveling from one area to another particularly like doing this, with a looping "travel animation" capped off with an "arrival animation" once the next area is loaded.
  • Some loading screens go beyond just a simple image or animation and have additional background information on the game world, such as biographical information on characters, a map of the level being loaded in, weapon specifications or tips for gameplay. Similarly, some screens also provide plot summaries of recent events in case you've stopped playing for a while and have forgotten what's going on or what you need to do next.
  • In a few cases, loading times are so long that the loading screen includes some form of Mini-Game to keep the player entertained while they wait. Namco technically had a patent on this until 2015, discouraging most publishers from doing this, even though due to examples appearing far before the patent on the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, Namco likely would have had trouble defending it in court. Some only lean into this, such as being able to manipulate things on screen.
  • Advertising.
  • Games that include procedural generated levels may add humorous names to computational actions during generation such as "Corrupting the World" or "Creating an Over-arching Sense of Dread".

Of course, improvements in technology have also helped reduce and even eliminate loading times, and therefore loading screens. Many games constantly stream new content during play so that players can explore large levels with no loading screens interrupting play, albeit at the cost of a massive loading screen on startup. This doesn't work as well as it used to as players quickly caught on to why they're there, but they're functional nonetheless.

Then, starting with The Ninth Generation of Console Video Games, Solid State Drives came as standard on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. These enabled developers to reduce load times from two minutes to only a few seconds, meaning the loading screens appear for only an instant. This presented an interesting situation for games on both these and The Eighth Generation of Console Video Games, which do need loading screens. Usually the solution is to let them be, but some games get creative by making them opt-in. For example, Spider-Man Remastered lets you keep the amusing subway ride loading screens in the options menu, while Horizon Forbidden West lets you enable a button prompt to manually confirm the return to gameplay, so you have time to read the tips at your leisure. Some game developers confessed to intentionally developing pauses or extending times in loading bars or screens because players expressed dislike for ones that happen too quickly and smoothly.

Loading screens can also be found in Flash animations. If they go for too long, it results in Loads and Loads of Loading.

    open/close all folders 

    Examples of in-game justification of Loading Screens 
  • Command & Conquer:
    • The PlayStation version of Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert had messages such as "connecting to satellite" and "transfering funds", ending with "prepare for battle".
    • Tiberian Sun had a loading screen with other messages, such as "analyzing combat zone topography" which meant loading the map and "creating theories on likely enemy plan" which meant initializing the computer AI.
    • The Loading Screen in Generals also doubled as the mission briefing screen.
  • Wing Commander III used the power-up sequence checklist for your fighter, when waiting for the mission information to load. For those playing on PCs of the time (1994), this was often a signal to go for a drink, or use the bathroom, while waiting for Loads and Loads of Loading to finish.
  • The Jak and Daxter series had pseudo-airlocks when leaving the city. The first game had no loading whatsoever, except for a few extremely short, easily-missable pauses before cutscenes.
  • Ratchet & Clank has Ratchet's ship flying between planets.
  • Assassin's Creed had you control the character in mist trying to sync to your ancestor while loading. You could use this time to test out the controls, or just walk menacingly into the camera. During these mist sequences (either the interactive one, or the simpler Animus logo one), useful hints would be read out to you by the computer. The rest of the franchise has continued with this style of loading screen.
  • Portal has the elevators between test chambers. Though the animation of the elevator freezes and displays an actual loading message, due to an engine limitation.
  • Any time you switch the time of day in a town or Entrance Stage in the Xbox 360 version of Sonic Unleashed, the loading screen to form the new area takes on the image of Sonic switching his current form. For the PS3, it was turned into a medallion (same one as in the hourglasses) switching between its sun and moon sides.
  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising shows its pre-mission loading screens as the Antaeus' current position as it closes on another island in the chicane.
  • Lampshaded in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, when Link visits the fortune teller in Castle Town. As she looks into the crystal ball, she chants, "Elihwa sekat gnidaol... tiaw..." ("... wait... loading takes awhile" backwards).
  • The single-player campaign in The Conduit displayed a transcript of the current briefing with your Voice with an Internet Connection before each stage, accompanied by a Viewer-Friendly Interface and wireframe fly-by of the next level.
  • Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days retains its digital camcorder-based Stylistic Suck even while loading, replacing the traditional loading screen with the "Buffering" animation found in YouTube videos. Both games in the series also include short snippets of dialogue to help advance the plot between missions.
  • Games in the Touhou Project series have a funny loading message after starting the game.
    Girls do their best now and are preparing. Please watch warmly until it is ready.
  • Halo 3: ODST has the New Mombasa Superintendent scanning through a map of the city.
  • The Sims 3 claims to be setting things up on its initial loading screen, like "Mapping the llama genome..." or the company in-joke "Reticulating splines..." The expansion packs include custom themed text, like "Remembering the good old days..." for Generations or "Running in slow motion..." for Island Paradise.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: The loading screen is set from the First-Person Perspective of the player, who is in an elevator car that's rising through the decks of the flying battleship Hyperion. Once you tap the screen to actually enter the game, there's a final shot of the elevator passing a bulkhead and stopping; the doors open, a "Captain on the bridge!" announcement is made, the player steps onto the bridge, and the Valkyrie who's assigned to the bridge turns around to face the player as the controls appear on screen.
  • In Shaun White Skateboarding, loading screens are treated as Ministry propaganda that encourage you to empty your mind, conform, and accept the de-influencer devices.

    Examples of disguised Loading Screens 
  • ANNO: Mutationem has various loading screens for several events. Starting up the game will feature either a news report for information off the main story or a shot of Ann and Ayane with text giving gameplay advice. Using a teleport spring or an elevator has a loading shot of it going to its destination before arriving. Lastly, traveling to any location shows Ann driving in her vehicle.
  • SSX 3 generally streamed the levels, but when using one of the transport options the game would display a looping animation of your character chilling in the ski lift or helicopter while the game loads the new area.
  • The early Resident Evil games showed an animation of a door opening every time you entered a new room in order to disguise the loading time.
    • These doors eventually stuck — when they made the remake for the Gamecube the developers were able to all but eliminate loading times, but playtesters reported that moving from room to room so seamlessly felt unnatural, and the "door opening" sequences were kept in to extend the (perceived) loading times. However, when a Door gets destroyed you can just go straight from one room into another.
    • With the DS port of the first game, those were just made optional.
    • Some games in the series also throw curveballs with their door opening scenes: on occasion, zombies may come shambling through the door!
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum uses a similar trick. The game also adapts the length of the opening animation to the loading time required: a high-security door may spend some time scanning you and slowly unbolting, or it might open instantly if the level behind it is already loaded.
    • Resident Evil 5 not only has loading screens at the beginning of each chapter, but for the sublevels within each chapter. They tell about various events in the history of the series.
  • When the player picks a stage in Super Mario Galaxy for Wii, the game shows an animation of Mario blasting off toward the stage.
    • However, this animation does not mask a loading screen - it plays before the "star select" screen, and the Gateway Galaxy doesn't have the animation playing. However, the transition between the Observatory and the Domes, and the short white screen when entering galaxies are masking loading. Thankfully, they're extremely short.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and later have a rather elegant way of disguising load screens by playing the mission briefing cutscene during these loads, though there is a small bar that fills up and the cutscene can be skipped once the load is complete.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic CD showed Sonic warping through time whenever he was travelling into the past or future, in order to hide the fact that the Sega CD was loading the appropriate time period of the current zone.
    • In the Sega Dreamcast version of Sonic Adventure, the cutscenes played while the next part loaded.
    • Sonic Colors shows stage intros not unlike those from the classic Sonic games, as well as Heroes. These are loading screens that appear to load the stage map, while in Unleashed, the enemies and tidbits load while Sonic progresses through the stage.
  • Metroid Prime sticks with the series staple of shooting doors to "de-energize" the locks on them. How much time passes between de-energization and when the door opens generally varies depending on how big the next room is (i.e. how much there is to load). The first Metroid Prime had many small corridors filled with enemies that are designed to slow you down so the next room can load by the time you reach the door. This gets annoying in Metroid Prime: Hunters since it means that the timer during Timed Missions still counts down during the loading sequence. The elevators are also used to mask the loading times.
  • The first time you pop the Tony Hawk's Project 8 disc in your PS3, you're treated to a long intro movie you can't skip, while the game installs 230 megabytes of data to your hard disk.
  • Max Payne 3's loading screens were similar in intent to Call of Duty's, albeit in a much more "seamless" manner by shifting from realtime cutscenes to pre-rendered Bink videos whenever a level is loaded. And to make things even more seamless, the videos were encoded in 1080p, bloating the game's resource footprint even further.
  • Between levels, Advent Rising treats you to in-game cutscenes that can only be skipped once the next level has finished loading. These cutscenes range from plot-moving action and conversation to long, pointless shots of gunfights and general destruction.
  • Tombi 2 showed Tombi walking down a long tunnel.
  • In the Wii and PlayStation 2 versions of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the loading screen for each level is a cockpit view through hyperspace, ostensibly what the characters see as they fly to their next destination.
  • The God of War series: Run into a long stretch of land, a lengthy staircase, or a wall that has to be climbed? The next section loads as you cross the area. It is possible to hit a "Now Loading" message, but you have to be really fast, or have a defective PS2.
  • Mass Effect has elevators. Anybody who's played the game can tell you that there are a lot of elevators. Shepard goes through more elevators in a day than most people do in a month in the first game. The decontamination sequence upon boarding the Normandy also qualifies.
    • Mass Effect 2 replaces the elevator sequences with loading videos, which also include gameplay tips. Most are pretty straightforward, like control reminders, but one stands out: "There are no decent galactic dating services. If you want to find romance, you must talk to people." No matter how quickly the game actually loads, you're stuck staring at the loading screen until the video finishes playing.
    • Finally, Mass Effect 3 gave up and dispensed with the videos too, just using straight loading screens, which finally makes loading take exactly as it should instead of being artificially prolonged. Even the dreaded Citadel elevators are rendered as loading screens. However, both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 still retain disguised loading screens in the form of closed doors; the spinning animation for the door security hologram actually plays while the area behind the door is loading, which is why it can take more or less time depending on performance.
  • Spyro the Dragon (1998) has the main character flying to the level almost seamlessly after moving between portals. The gems collected in the area are tallied up during the flight, as well.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the character Zelda can transform into her disguised form, Sheik, and the Pokémon Trainer can switch his Pokémon. The game does not stop while loading the new character's model, but the loading is hidden by their transforming animation. During the animation, one can audibly hear the Wii loading data.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game uses prerendered cut scenes not only to tell major parts of the story, but to disguise load times. This is very evident when loading a checkpoint—which uses the "give some in game information" trick below — or when playing the PC version, which does neither.
  • Mega Man Battle Network series load the net areas from the real world areas using a flashy "jack in" animation. One of the games removed this loading screen in the North American version to make space for more text, and replaced it with a fade to white.
  • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon loads the game as the door swings open when you open it. Aside from the door opening, the rest of the room becomes a static background.
  • Every Mega Man game has a hallway just before the boss room of each stage. In cartridge-based or downloadable games, which can load boss data more or less instantaneously, this room is unnecessary and does nothing except build suspense. The first game is unique in that its boss hallways are multiple screens long and full of enemies; it was originally envisioned as a Disk System title, so the purpose of this was to keep the player busy while the boss loaded. Although these hallways could have regained their original purpose once the games switched to disk-based media, for whatever reason they weren't — an animated "WARNING" sign hides the loading instead.
  • Warframe's loading screen takes the form of your squad's drop ships flying through space or through clouds. You can even wiggle your craft to some extent and watch fellow squadmates wiggle theirs. There are also hints displayed in the corner of the screen.

    Examples of extra information in Loading Screens 
  • Loading screens in most versions of Shadow of the Beast showed little snippets about your eyes adjusting to the dim light, or returning to the overworld to find its air scorching hot, reaffirming your determination to etc. Simple, effective, bloody rare.
    • The original Amiga version had also loading screens with images depicting the present location and text descriptions scrolling below those images. While in the C64 version the loading screens were text-only, there were more of them with more text than in the Amiga version. However, the actual loading times were still shorter in the C64 version, which benefited greatly from being published on a C64 cartridge.note  The Amiga version was on floppies with no direct hard drive support.
  • The loading screen for the ZX Spectrum version of Chuckie Egg (ask your granddad) included a list of the default keys used for playing the game, making this Older Than the NES. Another ZX Spectrum example was Quazatron, which had text loading screens describing some of the concepts and backstory for the game.
  • Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction displays biographical information on the main characters, factions and "Deck of 52" members, as well as weapon, vehicle and air strike information and gameplay tips.
  • Several Burnout games display "Have you seen..." messages on the loading screens, giving you a sneak peek at upcoming levels and cars. Of course, it keeps doing it regardless of whether you have seen it or not.
    • This is notably averted in Burnout Paradise, due to the fact that it streams (except for when you restart races, in which case only the Paradise City/Big Surf Island logo on an asphalt road is seen).
    • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit also displays tips alongside information of the event/match such as players on the speedwall or starting line-up and teams they're on respectively.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic includes background information on the Star Wars universe and gameplay tips.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines would explain some of the in-game notions or give hints about the use of the player's abilities.
    • It is to note that the information texts would often be direct extracts from the VTM Corebook, as well as somewhat "evolving", meaning that, while you were doing generic stuff while travelling the streets, you would get generic info during loading screens like background about the vampiric condition, but if you were e.g. about to encounter vampires of clans that you have not yet met, it would show information about the respective clan.
  • Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 also display both background universe information and gameplay tips.
  • All games using the Infinity Engine (the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series, as well as Planescape: Torment) have gameplay tips on their loading screens.
  • World of Warcraft displays gameplay tips on loading screens when starting the game and changing continents. There's also loading screens while going into instances.
    • Warcraft III had a loading screen that, in story mode, displayed a general map placing the battlefield(and the location of previous missions, if they were on the same map), the number and name of the mission as well as information on the background of the mission; multiplayers maps didn't always use any of this to any real potential.
  • World in Conflict goes further; the backstory of the missions are acted out in the load screens. Very professional.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic V explains the basic plot of the mission in the loading screen. In the latest expansion, voice-acting is also provided.
  • Team Fortress 2 brings up your "Progress Record'' sheet, detailing your playtime and best efforts with each class, as well as a random tip during loading screens.
  • The Guitar Hero and Rock Band series include either general jokes about the music industry, band stereotypes, or factoids about the band whose song you are about to play. However, when you try to play "Through the Fire and Flames" on expert in Guitar Hero III, the only message the loading screen displays is "Good Luck."
    • Rock Band 3 covers up loading time with short cutscenes involving your band's characters. For instance, going into a song sometimes shows shots of people lining up to get in or the stage being set up, going to the music store shows a character digging through old records, and going to the character editor shows a character driving to a salon. Some situations still use a animated throbber though (particularly during online play or when loading a "music video" stage)
  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U displays hints on the loading screen when starting a match. Overlaps with Loads and Loads of Loading.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Xbox port of Morrowind shows gameplay tips in the loading screens that would show up whenever you load a new or saved game, or when you use one of the Warp Whistles in the game. Compare this to the PC version of the game, which simply shows creature art in its loading screens.
    • Oblivion has this too and moreover, many "tips of the day" are deliberately false, in accordance to the "ambiguous history" doctrine that all in-game books follow: no event in Tamrielic lore is described uniformly across different sources.
    • Skyrim also displays tips and bits of lore while loading, but also displays a relevant 3D model that can be rotated and zoomed.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake smokes for twenty minutes while it installs data onto your hard drive. It also has many messages, including one about how smoking will kill you. when it's done, Snakes acknowledges that he "Kept you waiting, huh?" Egregiously, the "loading" screen states that it's installing the current act (there are five), which makes sense. Until you restart the game, and it installs the first act again. God help you if you have multiple games in multiple acts; it only stores one act at a time on the drive. The installing to the hard disk per act can be blamed on Sony, who at the time had a maximum allowed installation size. They've since lifted this restriction, and with the 2.00 update following the shutdown of this game's online component came the option to install all five acts to the drive, allowing for seamless transitions between them barely any longer than those between different areas of a single act.
  • Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II had the mission's overall objective appear on the loading screen. On newer computers reading these is difficult as loading is very quick.
  • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast would show you your stats for the level you had just finished, while Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy would show you the objectives for the mission you're loading and what weapons you decided to take with you (for normal missions) or what ones you have on you (for the second and third parts of multi-part ones).
  • BioShock:
    • BioShock's loading screens included a combination of ominous/interesting excerpts from the game's audio-diaries and gameplay tips.
    • In BioShock 2 it's even better, as during loading you can hear golden oldies being played.
  • MySims has to load not only when you start or continue a file, but anytime you enter or exit a building, or go to a different section of town. The load screen features a tessellation of wooden blocks, one of which has a spinning green crystal on it. The bottom has the usual notices about how loading may take a few moments, and telling you not to push Reset or the Power button. What puts them in this category is that it displays tips, such as telling you that holding B lets you place multiple copies of the same block without having to go get another one, or telling you that "I wish I had a pickaxe..." All of these hints will be things you've already seen after playing for about ten minutes, and quickly become sick of.
  • When entering a town in the PS360 version of Sonic Unleashed, the display shows a map of the current town, including the location of the Entrance Stage, the World Map gate, Pickle's lab, and even shops.
    • When entering a stage, day or night, the game gives you a friendly reminder of the controls. It doesn't last long enough to remember everything though. Thankfully the game is easy to pick up.
  • Hostile Waters again; some of the pre-cutscene loading screens displayed information about the plot (made to look like a news bulletin) or about the pilots under your command.
  • Dawn of War II displays hints when loading a multiplayer game. Some tongue-in-cheek, some really, really helpful. Single-player loading screens had informations about game concepts or characters. Dark Crusade uses loading screens for "special" missions (the ones that earn the commander unique assets and the enemy strongholds) to provide background information about the nature of the trophy he is about to fight for or to outline the enemy's disposition. And, of course, for the narrator to ham it up to infinity and beyond.
  • The second two Xenosaga games as well as Rogue Galaxy feature a "story up till now" screen when loading from a saved game.
  • Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm shows a few things during loading screens, such as Lee doing push-ups, Gamakichi hopping, and Tayuya playing a flute.
  • The Nintendo Switch remake of Live A Live displays tips during its loading screens. ...except in the latter part of the Distant Future chapter. Then the spaceship's murderous AI replaces the tips with calls for you to surrender.
  • Toontown Online has a so-called "ToonTip" on each of its loading screens. Usually, the tip is related to the area you're in, such as a racing tip at Goofy Speedway or a general gameplay tip when entering the game (which itself is a longer loading screen that always pauses 2/3 of the way through after a constant rate of movement for the load bar, and then finishes loading, followed by ANOTHER load screen for the place you're going to.)
  • After hitting the X button to start loading a level in LittleBigPlanet (Story, Create Mode or otherwise), the screen shows information about the level on the "Pod Computer" screen. You can move the left stick to change windows between level information, items collected in the level, and popularity and tags (if an online level), with your Sackperson moving the Pod Computer (which is pretty much a PS3 controller) controls the same way. Also part of the loading is the word "Loading..." slowly rotating around the level icon on the planet or moon, and a running, monochromatic Sackboy with two arrows circling him in the lower left-hand corner. Unlike in most games, the loading can be cancelled mid-load by pressing the Circle button. (Sackboy only touches the buttons to load a level or cancel a load. But he always moves the analog sticks in response to the player's controller.) When the loading is done, the level icon literally "unzips" around the edge and the camera goes into it, with a white light followed by Sackboy popping out of the Entrance in the level. Returning to the Pod from a level doesn't take as long to load, but the camera still does the white-light thing.
    • The "Loading Sackboy" animation sometimes is switched out for a spinning globe inside the arrows when transferring data to or from the online servers. Frequently appears while playing with other players online, even mid-level.
    • In the second game onwards, there will occasionally be a white screen before you get dropped into the level. This screen will have a randomized message and factoid, such as creating tips like "Sackbots are not waterproof!" In Karting, there are three sets of messages: When you're loading a level to play, when you're returning to the Pod, and when you're loading Create Mode. Pressing X will cycle between the messages.
  • In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, there will be story refreshers and trivia, plus a count of how many Zoni and Gold Bolts you have.
  • Empire at War and its Expansion give information on whichever planet (or asteroid field in one case, planetary debris in another case in the expansion), including planetary bonus', advantages, some background info, a preview of the battlefield, the planetary conditions, and the name of the predominate species(s), with a picture if that planet has militia.
  • Madden NFL, at least in the recent games, gives player tips while the screen is loading.
    • Until Madden 10, which just advertises Snickers at you.
  • Backyard Football put NFL trivia in the loading screen (probably as an attempt to spoof Madden).
  • Left 4 Dead, when loading between levels, displays player statistics about the previous level. The loading screen for the first level, however, is a static film poster.
    • The loading screen with player statistics also gives random tips to help players improve their skills. VS also includes tips for players controlling the special infected.
  • Dragon Age: Origins occasionally shows info about lore and gameplay on loading screens. Alternately, the on-screen text contains reminders about your current Main Quest, encapsulated in an expository synopsis touching on where you are, why you're there, personalities involved, and your possible objective(s).
    • In Dragon Age II, the loading screens still occasionally offer a How We Got Here synopsis of the major plot of the current act, but more often they contain odd bits of lore. This actually gets a minor Call-Back in Dragon Age: Inquisition, in which you may encounter a quizmaster NPC who asks questions about Dragon Age lore; one of the answers is something you could only have learned from the second game's loading screens.
  • Starting with the third game, the loading screens in Geneforge show what might be described as annotated schematics of the various creatures you can genetically engineer. They're the only in-game source for some information, like why Wingbolts never use the stingers they're equipped with.
  • Loading screens before multiplayer matches in The Conduit display a screen of the current match settings, along with information text and trivia about the game's various weapons.
  • In Overlord II, Gnarl will provide either gameplay help of odd bits of advice (like "Don't bring a succubus home to meet your mother.")
  • The atrocious loading screens in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) usually provide a "helpful" map of the area that is loading (Soleanna and the nearby forest), or else remind you what buttons to press during gameplay to perform certain tasks (everywhere else).
  • The Darkness uses loading screens to show monologues from the lead character which further the plot.
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 and onward would show hints and a picture of the upcoming map during loading screens. Killing Floor, running on the same engine, does the same, though the hints are limited to info on what you're going to be killing for the next half hour or so.
  • Forza Motorsport 3 does this for most loading screens, displaying facts about cars and things relating to cars (Like "In 1898, the New York Police Department used bicycles to pursue speeding motorists") or in-game tips.
  • Metroid: Other M has a brief summary on what happened in the story when you load a saved game. If the game is finished loading before the text scroll is done, you'll have the option of skipping the summary and get straight into the game.
  • Batman: Arkham City has a series of screenshots with text reviewing recent events
  • Besides the epic "In the beginning" screen during the Procedural Generation of the world map (see below) Civilization IV included a screen providing basic gameplay tips like "don't neglect your navy" and "Wonders provide many benefits" (as well as humorous ones like "Never fight a land war in Asia") while loading up saved games.
  • Doom³ gives a summary/description of the area being loaded.
  • [PROTOTYPE] has the initial loading screen displaying random tips relevant to the progress in the current save file. In between missions though, it's just a black screen with the auto-save icon animating. Thankfully short on most modern systems today in the case of the PC version.
  • Alice: Madness Returns uses a simple chained key( belonging to Elizabeth Liddell's room) swinging like a clock pendulum while tips or other info are being listed.
  • Serious Sam shows the Netrisca screen while loading levels, where the AI in question shows you the stats for the level you just completed and tells you what you need to do on the next. It's also possible to look at the bestiary and weapon info screens while loading.
  • The earliest Call of Duty games usually showed something relevant to the mission being loaded at the start, typically a journal written by the player character hours before the mission, though the first game's British campaign particularly liked giving typed orders from SOE instead (sometimes with additions by the player character).
  • Multiplayer across the entire series would show the name of the map loading and the game-type being run. Modern Warfare 2 and later also show hints on how to use the various tools given to you, variously switching between obvious to anyone and truly helpful.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2:
    • The loading screens showed occupied territories, the location of the next battle, the icons for any new and/or mission-critical units, and what kind of battle it would be through symbols and arrows. For instance, if you were defending a base as the Allies, it would show a blue shield with a red arrow pointing at it.
    • In skirmish and multiplayer for Red Alert 2, a map of your selected country would be displayed, with information on that country's special unit or ability (such as USA's Paratroopers, Russia's Tesla Tank, Yuri's Yuri Prime, etc).
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 gives brief snippets of information about various characters and units. On a lot of modern PCs, the loading process is a bit too quick to read everything.
  • Battlefield games typically show some sort of information about the battle you're going to join in its loading screens - Battlefield 2 would show an overhead map of the area, for instance, showing the default placement of control posts. Bad Company 2 goes a step further, where the loading screen has a clickable button asking if you'd like to automatically be assigned to a squad, and loading a new map from that server shows a scoreboard listing the experience and pins you've gained in the last round.
  • Borderlands offers hints about enemy critical hit spots and elemental weaknesses, guns traits depending on their manufacturer, and basic gameplay strategies.
  • Magicka: Loading screens feature amusing pictures along with helpful tips such as "The loading screen provides gameplay tips" and "If you find yourself dying too much, try to avoid taking damage."
  • The loading screens in Spec Ops: The Line start out like any other with general tips and background. But as events go from bad to worse, they slowly subvert the trope with attacks that apply to the player just as much as they do the main character.
    Squad commands are unavailable when you're alone. No one can help you now.
    Do you feel like a hero yet?
    The US military does not condone the killing of unarmed combatants. But this isn't real, so why should you care?
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas has various pre-war advertisements and news headlines on its loading screens.
  • Tomb Raider (2013)'s loading screens have gameplay tips. Which are randomized, and sometimes spoil later weapon upgrades.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's loading screen shows an overhead map of the level (complete with each team's spawn areas and the hostage/bombing/whatever locations when nearly finished), the rules of the game mode, and messages giving either tips on how to play or trivia on the various Counter-Terrorist factions in the game.
  • Grand Theft Auto V's lengthy start-of-game loading screen includes game play tips, many of which are actually useful. Even better, the notes can be revisited in the game's "Brief" menu if you want to read them again (at least until you shut the game off and load it again). Otherwise, the game itself averts the trope by having no overt loading sequences.
  • Civilization Revolution: A random gameplay tip appears whenever there's a loading screen: After you select your civilization, whenever you go look at the gifts other nations send you, whenever you've sent a spaceship part into space, when it arrives at Alpha Centauri, and when you exit to the Main Menu.
  • RETRY parodies the "loading screen tips" trope, as its tips are typically nonsensical or at least unusual, e.g. "Remember to breathe", "If you think you can't, you can't", "I am random tip" or "It's good to look at the game while playing."
  • Duke Nukem Forever. Some hints are actually helpful, like informing you that a berserking Pigcop regains all its health, or that an Octobrain will throw explosives back at you. Others are Captain Obvious ("Take less damage to avoid being killed", "When being shot at, try to avoid bullets") or jokes ("If you died from falling off of a high ledge, it's probably your own fault", "Grabbing a turd in the toilet will not take Ego away even though we really wanted it to").
  • Twisted Metal Black advances the characters' plots with their loading screens, which take the form of the person narrating in text. This only applies in Story mode, natch.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death: The loading screens explained the objective of the level or provided a read-out of the perpetrator's crimes and recommended sentence, especially in regards to the four Dark Judges who served as bosses. Also, their prisoner IDs all include some combination of 666.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Unlike all previous 3D Zelda games, which simply faded to black or white whenever Link went to a new location or a cutscene would begin or end, this game features a traditional loading screen with tips provided to alleviate the wait. The enormous size of the world map makes such screens a necessity.
  • Everybody Edits:
    • In Everybody Edits Flash, there are three separate loading screens. The latter two were removed in Everybody Edits Offline, as the lack of online play made the game much quicker to load.
      • The first loading screen, which plays while loading the game. It has monochrome text that reads Everybody Edits made out of in-game blocks, being filled with color left-to-right like a bar until the game fully loads. In 2015, a percentage counter was added to the screen. In 2018, the blocky text was replaced with the game's logo.
      • The second loading screen, which appears while loading the lobby. It shows a screenshot of the game that updates around every month, along with a logo that appropriately updates for holidays.
      • The third loading screen, which is shown while loading a level. It shows the controls for the game, and text reminding the player to wait.
    • In Everybody Edits Universe, the loading screen is more minimalist, just having a small text describing the content being loaded in the bottom left corner.
  • South Park: The Fractured but Whole features tips during the loading screens. Some of them are real gameplay and strategy tips, while others are jokes, such as the "tip" that you can read tips during the loading screen.
    • There are five possible loading screen on South Park: Phone Destroyer depicts the kids fighting in one of the five themes, as well as tips on the bottom giving tips on how certain game mechanics work and the benefits of certain classes and themes.
  • Borderlands 2 and its pre-sequel, in addition to humorously-written tips ("Shoot skags in the mouth when they roar! It'll do extra damage and make the skag feel stupid."), has images of the game's various guns.
  • Fire Emblem games on Nintendo Switch:
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has tips on its loading screen, from how supports with units work to how you can spend your time around the monastery. A small sprite of Byleth appears above the progress bar, and they will walk/run to the left or right depending on how the player tilts the controller.
    • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes will display a random selection of character profiles, game tips, or contents of books you've collected around the base camp.
    • Fire Emblem Engage shows tips at the top of its loading screens, and running sprites of the units you used in your most recent battle on the bottom.
  • Tropico 6, in addition to the usual minor gameplay tips, also features trivia on real-world dictators, such as Saddam Hussein having used Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" as a campaign jingle, or Stalin having a secret department tasked with collecting and analyzing samples of world leaders' feces.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, in addition to showing off some of the unlockable deck art, has loading screen tips that run the gamut from genuinely helpful gameplay advice to general trivia, snark, developer in-jokes, and even a bit of Nightmare Fuel.
    If you're reading this, you've been in a coma for almost 20 years now; we're trying a new technique. We don't know where this message will end up in your dream, but we're hoping we get through. Please wake up! We miss you.
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger mostly has typical gameplay tips, but finishing the story will add level-specific tips that give extra plot details, such as Bob's activities at the time of the level or Silas' thought process as he tells the story in the present.

    Examples of mini-games included in Loading Screens 
  • Namco had a patent on loading screen minigames until November 27th 2015.
    • Ridge Racer had a mini-game that was one level in Galaxian. Shooting down all of the enemy ships unlocked a few bonus cars. Both PSP installments included Rally-X, Ridge Racer 6 included Pac-Man, and Ridge Racer 7 included Xevious.
    • Tekken was made by Namco and thus used the actual Galaga; completing it with a perfect score unlocked a hidden character. Later games used different shooters; the 1991 on-rails shooter Starblade opens Tekken 5.
  • Bayonetta let you practice your combos during the loading screens, providing a handy list of button combinations on the right side of the screen. By pressing select you can actually stay in training mode even after the game has finished loading.
  • The Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi series (a.k.a. Dragon Ball Z: Sparking!), and by association Dragon Ball: Raging Blast, all have mini-games to play during the load screens. The mini game is even multi-player in VS modes! However, in Budokai Tenkaichi 3, the mini-games were replaced with a much more simple button mashing game both players can participate in.
  • Strike Commander lets you play a 1-player version of Pong as you wait for a mission to load. Woe to you if you let the immobile edges score against you, as it ends the mini-game.
  • Mortal Kombat II: There's a loading screen that includes Pong as a feature, but it's time-based. You can only play it after playing 250 matches in a row.
  • Mortal Kombat 3 has Galaga as a minigame. But the conditions are.... somewhat trivial.
  • Ōkami has two mini-games in its loading screen, which, if completed, grant you Demon Fangs. One of them involves pressing the X button in sync to the pawn prints appearing, and the other is just button mashing until the Demon Fang appears (though you need longer loading times to be successful). The Wii version removed these minigames.
  • Long before any of those was Invade A Load, the tape loader for several games published by Mastertronic for Commodore 64 home computers. It was a clone of Space Invaders that could be played for five to ten minutes while the main game was loading from the C64's very slow cassette interface. Ghostbusters on C64 featured this. Players Software, too, used this kind of loader at least in some of its games (such as Joe Blade. C64 loader games have even been trotted out on forums as prior art to potentially invalidate Namco's patent.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, when playing online, you get to a training screen after you choose character and stage where you can practice with your character on a simple stage against a sandbag. Not as much loading as waiting for the other players to choose, but still.
  • Phantasy Star Online has 2. When you first start the game (after picking your character) you get to control a little ball of light until the game loads. When you are going through a warp you can control the "Warp Rings."
    • In Episode 3, you get to play a little tune and change the background color while waiting (which isn't as fun as the little ball of light).
  • Onichanbara Bikini Samurai Squad has a mini-game where you control Aya and slash a bunch of crude zombies.
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, while you are presented with a black screen with a "Loading" in the corner, you could press buttons to attack the word, peppering it with bullet holes, slashing it, and even launching it into the air until you made it explode.
  • A few non-video game examples from Homestar Runner:
  • In the 2002 remake of Test Drive, the loading screen has Pong.
  • When YouTube had a circular dot pattern as the video loaded, one could press the arrow keys to begin a snake game. It no longer works with the HTML5 player.
  • Rayman Origins features a loading screen with a small landscape, where the player(s) can run around and goof off or practice moves. The player characters simply jog on their own unless a button is pressed.
  • While not the loading screen, per se, Splatoon has given players way to burn time while waiting for a match:
    • Splatoon features a few Retraux-style minigames that you can play on the Wii U gamepad. Squid Jump, a simple game of jumping between platforms, is the only one available by default, while Squid Racer, Squidball, and Squid Beatz can be unlocked using amiibo.
    • Splatoon 2: Due to the Nintendo Switch's lack of a second screen, it was no longer possible to include minigames on the loading screen. However, this game does allow players to play with the background music, using different buttons to apply effects like changing the pitch or adding sound effects.
    • Splatoon 3 gives you access to a testing range, so you can play around and experiment with your weapon while waiting.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, if you have the Switch in handheld mode or are using two joycons combined into one controller, you can tilt it to make a pixelated Byleth run across the screen, or press B to make Byleth jump.
  • The second loading screen for The Sims 3 (which plays when opening a new or saved game or travelling between worlds) is a Point-and-Click Game depicting scenes from various expansion packs, challenging users to find certain items in the scene. Clicking on items will earn Lifetime Rewards Points for whichever household you're playing.

    Other Examples 
  • In the 80's Commodore 64 (along with many other computers from the same period) used cassette tapes as storage medium for both homebrew and commercial software. While the accessories of C64 included also a disk drive and while disks were also quite common medium, many individual owners at least in Europe had only tape recorders. This resulted in Loads and Loads of Loading with commercial games. Eventually it became common for publishers to include loading screens and music for player to watch and listen while waiting for the loading to finish (while commercial games often used their own loading software to make loading faster, the increasing size of games meant that loading times were still notable). The tape releases of The Last Ninja and Last Ninja 2 were notable for having individual loading themes for every single level note . Other "gimmicks" include slowly drawing the picture during loading (often used by Ocean) and having scrolling text in one of the loading screens with additional information note .
  • The first Civilization is remembered for its epic slideshow during world generation. When Civ IV came around they got Leonard Nimoy to do it as a voice-over.
    In the beginning, the Earth was without form, and void.
  • LocoRoco features the locos in the currently selected type/color bouncing and playing on the loading screen. It's cute enough that you're almost sad when the game finishes loading.
    • LocoRoco 2 has a MuiMui slowly digging a tunnel for treasure. It is not related to how much a stage or menu is loaded, though actually makes and keeps its own progress as the game is played and amounts to a Collection Sidequest, although there's a chance the treasure is a dud.
  • Loading a foreign Pokémon Game Boy game on Pokémon Stadium or Pokémon Crystal in Pokémon Stadium 2 showed a pic of the player's party in 3D.
  • One of the more pointless changes made to the English translation of the original Persona was adding an unattractive loading screen to the North American version of the game. Even more irritatingly, it'd show up for the many, many brief load times in the game, so sometimes it'd flash up just long enough to be disruptive, without actually distracting from any meaningful load time.
  • The loading screen on The Thing (2002) showed a 'Thing' cell attacking, absorbing and imitating a regular animal cell, taken from the movie it's a sequel to.
  • Katamari Damacy has the King's head spouting out fairly entertaining facts and nonsense. This ranged from complaints about loading times to information on the characters and levels.
    • In the sequels, you can actually move the King's head with the left analog stick, and control the direction he speaks (or rather fires out letters) in with the right. Not exactly a mini-game, but it can be amusing.
  • Eternal Fighter Zero uses a large collection of fanart for its loading screens between fights.
  • When the player downloads something in the Wii's Shop Channel, the progress bar is shown as a stream of coins and three ? blocks. For each percent of the file that comes in, Mario gets a coin, either by grabbing it from the ground or by hitting a ? block. When it moves quickly (especially for smaller files like NES games), Mario never grabs 100 coins. More like thirty or forty. On the DSi shop channel it is Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad filling a box.
  • Wolfenstein 3-D's "Get Psyched!"
  • "Prepare for Descent"
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours says it has no loading for the building entrances. Technically true. The game waits until you are ten feet inside before loading.
  • Mickey Mania has a loading screen animation of Mickey checking his watch while the game decompresses data from the cartridge. And the game is entirely worth the waits. The Sega Genesis version doesn't use this, however, since it loads much faster.
  • The LEGO Adaptation Games tend to have loading screens that are nods to their source material. For example, LEGO Star Wars has story-recapping text scrolls, while LEGO Indiana Jones imitates the red-line-moving-across-a-map transition.
  • It's unusual for a webcomic to get a mention on this page, but Homestuck has certainly earned its place with the Sburb loading screen. Its Flash updates have loading screens too, but they're nothing special, usually. The last "flash" was actually hosted on Youtube, and so wouldn't need a loading screen, but they were considered so important that the video starts with a loading screen type animation.
  • Ace Combat
    • Ace Combat 5 and Zero would typically quote poetry during loading screens. 5 would show excerpts from a poem made for the game, the legend of the game's Demon of Razgriz, while Zero showed real-world poetry that dealt with existence itself.
    • Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, when it didn't have a short text blurb reminding you of your objective (typically scoring a certain number of points in a certain amount of time), had the quote "Amidst the blue skies, a link from past to future. The sheltering wings of the protector..." over a black screen in the same manner as the later two games above.
  • 3D Dot Game Heroes has loading screens that are renderings of classic 8-bit and 16-bit era game covers. And they're collectible as well.
  • Hardwar has a fairly common progress bar with game screenshots in the background. However, if you press CTRL while it's doing its thing, the text changes from "Loading" to "Testing patience".
  • The arcade versions of Gradius and TwinBee had the bubble memory warmup sequence when turned on, with its catchy music.
  • Halo 1 and 2 had a spotlight panning over the word "Loading" or the title, and 3 showed a Halo ring being constructed.
  • de Blob has comics during the loading screens and a cursor you can use to draw around if you haven't finished the comic. (You can even change the color of the cursor.)
  • The Sega CD version of Earthworm Jim shows the eponymous character "Loading" boxes onto the back of a truck inbetween sections of a level.
  • Total Annihilation: Kingdoms, being a Medieval European Fantasy setting, has a loading screen which takes the form of a stained-glass window with the panes going from grey to coloured as the game loads.
  • The Chinese Children's browser online game Aola Star [1] has interactable loading screens. Its first loading screen has its mascot HELLO follow and licks the user's cursor in the form of a lollipop until the cursor moves quick enough that it falls off. Starting in the summer of 2012, it is replaced by loading screens that vary by season.
  • The Wii U and 3DS both have Pikmin-themed progress screens for system data transfers, both involving Pikmin transporting pieces representing data from one location to another. The Wii to Wii U version has the Pikmin carrying one's Wii save data through various locales in order to reach a rocket that takes them to the Wii U (a similar animation occurs on the Wii U) while messages about what is being transferred currently appear at the top of the screen and the actual progress bar (represented by the timer from the games) on the bottom of the screen.
  • Crystal Rave: In the second story Mineral Caper, faux loading screens are peppered through the story. This makes sense as it originated on the MSPA forums, where many of the stories copied homestuck and its antics.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night lets you play with the loading text, making it swirl and spin all over, or see if you can get it perfectly still before the game finishes loading.
  • The music video for Alexia's "The Music I Like" begins with "Loading..." blinking on screen for a few seconds before cutting to the video proper, which consists holograms of musicians being played from a computer.
  • The Xbox Live Indie Game Baby Maker Extreme (as seen in Two Best Friends Play!) has its initial loading screen go through the following messages:
    Breaking water...
    Finding overnight bag...
    Driving to hospital...
    Getting stuck in traffic...
  • Subverted in Get to the Finish. The "loading screen" is actually the whole "game".
  • In Commander Keen 4/5/6, the loading screen that appears before every level shows an animation of Keen folding his fingers one by one until he makes a thumbs-up gesture, along with a message making a humorous pun on the level's name or nature (e.g. "Keen mucks along the Isle of Tar".)
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • Kingdom Hearts III has most loading screens show mock-up blog posts for the different characters, with at least two different posts per world. Most of them are portrayed as Sora's blog, but Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Riku, Kairi, Ienzo, Pence, and all have their own blogs as well. The game also starts with (and will occasionally repeat) a post from an unknown blog showcasing the series' "My friends are my power!" moments. The same blog has another post that starts after the first round of events at the Keyblade Graveyard, proclaiming that "The game isn't over until it's over."
    • Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory takes its gameplay cues, but not its visuals, from Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. The loading screens display the playable parties in chibified forms that match the Theatrhythm artstyle.
  • Märchen Forest: Mylne and the Forest Gift: Has them when changing locations and when loading a save.
  • A few of the transitions in Happy Heroes are made to look like loading screens, having a percent number that quickly increases for a few seconds before reaching 100%.
  • Video Chess for the Atari 2600 is a contender for the amount of loading in raw time; chess is an inherently much more processor-heavy game than most in The '70s, so the relatively low-powered 2600 needed a lot of time to think of its next move in order to compensate, with loading times on real hardware of up to ten hours being reported on the highest difficulty setting. To let you know it's still thinking, the entire screen flashes different colors for the entire period so that 1. displaying the sprites of the pieces and board wouldn't get in the way and make the wait times even longer, and 2. the image wouldn't burn into the player's TV screen. As a consequence, this game is not for epileptics.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an interesting case: being a PlayStation 5 exclusive title, it can easily load in the next world in less than a second (and certain levels turn this into a gameplay mechanic). Despite this, it still has a shot of Ratchet's / Rivet's ship arriving at their destination from space, likely because the series has done that with every previous game.
  • RemiLore: Lost Girl in the Lands of Lore: Has this, with the main animation being a running Remi. If it goes on long enough, she gets inverted hashtag-type Wingding Eyes, presumably because of the exertion.
  • River City Girls: "LOADING" under an animation of Kyoko and Misako punching each other in the face in turns at the right bottom corner of a black screen.
  • The Shantae series: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and Shantae and the Seven Sirens: Loading screens are pure black except for a dancing Shantae in the bottom right corner.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Reticulating Splines


Grand Theft Auto IV

The loading screen of Grand Theft Auto IV moments after booting up the game.

How well does it match the trope?

4.4 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoadingScreen

Media sources: