When you think about the games you’ve played, how often do you remember the menus? The UI? Do they stick with you along the years?
This post originally appeared in [gamification] on Nov 3, 2016.
I have been thinking about this recently a lot and when I look back on all my favorite games I can’t remember what the menus looked like at all, or if I do, it’s just because I spent way too much time looking at them and not because they were particularly memorable.
It feels like in most cases the menus are just an afterthought. They are there because they have to be. Have items in your game? There needs to be a menu so you can use them. Can you use magic in your game? Well, they need to be accessible from somewhere. Equipment? Yep, they need to be equipped somehow. Sometimes there’s so much functionality that needs to be represented that the menus become an endless convoluted maze (don’t get me started on the menus of Final Fantasy XI). Regardless, you get used to them and learn to navigate them, because they are necessary to progress through the game.
And that’s how I have viewed them so far too – just as a “necessary evil”. I have never given them much thought… until now.
A while ago I started playing Persona 5 and it keeps amazing me with how beautifully crafted all the menus and the rest of the UI are. The menus fit the rest of the game so well and you can feel how much time and effort has been put into making them. It’s insane! I mean, just look at these:
I’ve already been playing this game for a month now, but still I keep finding new little neat things from the menus and UI. Like, I didn’t even notice how a character, when it’s their turn, holds their HP and SP gauge as one would hold the placard in a mugshot and on top of that each character holds it differently (can see it for the player character in the battle menu gif above)!
I have never been this impressed by a game’s menus and UI and I am sure the ones from Persona 5 will stick with me for years to come and hopefully will push me to think more deeply about the UI in whatever I make.