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Full motion video

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Full-motion video refers to the use of filmed or animated video sequences in video games, either digitized or played straight from an optical disc storage medium such as a DVD. The use of full-motion video dates back to Sega's laserdisc arcade game Astron Belt in 1983, which in turn led to other games of its type emerging in the arcades, before appearing on video game systems following the 1989 release of the CD-ROM accessories for the TurboGrafx-16 console and FM Towns computer.


The earliest known electro-mechanical arcade game to use full motion video was Nintendo's 1974 light gun shooter Wild Gunman, which used video projection from 16 mm film to display live-action cowboy opponents on a projection screen.[1] The earliest known arcade video game to use full motion video was The Driver, an action-racing game released by Kasco (Kansai Seiki Seisakusho Co.) in the 1970s that also used 16 mm film. It required the player to match their steering wheel, gas pedal and brakes with the movements shown on screen, presenting dangerous situations much like those seen in the laserdisc video games that appeared the following decade.[2]

The first laserdisc video game to utilize full-motion video was Astron Belt by Sega.[3] It was soon followed by the more successful Dragon's Lair by Cinematronics featuring animation by Don Bluth. While laserdisc games were usually either shooter games with full-motion video backdrops like Astron Belt or interactive movies like Dragon's Lair, Data East's 1983 game Bega's Battle introduced a new form of video game storytelling: using brief full-motion video cut scene to develop a story between the game's shooting stages. Years later, this would become the standard approach to video game storytelling.[4] Bega's Battle also featured a branching storyline.[5] Another early instance of FMV was Hasbro's unreleased video game system named NEMO, which had begun production in 1985. The NEMO home system created games with VHS tapes rather than ROM cartridges or floppy disks.

The use of full-motion video in home video games came about with the 1989 release of the CD-ROM accessories for NEC's TurboGrafx-16 console and Fujitsu's FM Towns computer. An early example of an FMV game released for these systems was ICOM Simulations' Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective in 1991.


  1. Wild Gunman (1974) at Museum of the Game
  2. The Driver at Museum of the Game
  3. Full motion video at Allgame via the Wayback Machine
  4. Travis Fahs (March 3, 2008). The Lives and Deaths of the Interactive Movie. IGN. Retrieved on 2011-03-11.
  5. Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), The video game explosion: a history from PONG to Playstation and beyond, ABC-CLIO, p. 100,, retrieved 2011-04-10 , ISBN 0-313-33868-X

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