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The Best Console Exclusives Ever
Every console release since Sega decided to take on Nintendo in an epic showdown of 16-bit kings. It didn’t matter what kind of crap companies came up with (cough, cough Blast Processing?) because when it came down to it the games were what mattered. You could argue that since Microsoft came into the mix, the gaming console race has been all about marketing and one upsmanship. Before then, the only company that got nasty was Sega when it was doing all it could to save its hardware business. It was a haven for games and gamers. You didn’t hear “oh you have a Genesis? That sucks, I got a SNES.” No, you heard, “Oh cool, Genesis! I got a SNES but now I can enjoy these games!” What a wonderful time.
Still, every console after the NES had its weapons. Exclusive games were very common back then but now-a-days its whittled down to about 10-30 games in a console’s lifespan. Which system has the best? Well to determine that we’d have to try and pick the top 3 exclusives for every console starting with the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
#1 Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
Out of every Sonic game, the third one did so much to add to the franchise that it comes to mind the most. With the introduction of Knuckles and giving the Chaos Emeralds a purpose, Sonic’s adventure this time around felt more dire and important. When adding Sonic & Knuckles to the cartridge, we got double the game and the whole story of what was going down. With classic stages like Angel Island, Hydrocity, Icecap, Sandopolis, and Sky Sanctuary stage design was top tier here. . Sonic is Sega’s brainchild and so much went into him because the poster child for the this system and many other Sega hardware creations.
#2 Phantasy Star IV
#3 Shining Force
Honorable Mentions: Golden Axe, Comix Zone, Vectorman.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Despite Nintendo’s efforts to make Mario their king once again, Link’s adventure to Dark World triumphed. From start to finish, A Link to the Past is still heralded by many as the best Zelda game ever and it is hard to argue against. The dark overtones of the game felt welcomed in the sea of other Nintendo games. Link’s journey to save the Seven Sages and stop Ganon was so intense that it was the first game I sat down and would not stop playing until I beat it.
#2 Super Mario World
#3 Chrono Trigger
Honorable Mentions: Super Mario RPG, Mega Man X, Final Fantasy VI, Super Metroid.
#1 Panzer Dragoon Saga
I can’t think of a rarer game. What a great series it was, too. Panzer Dragoon had sweet on-rails gameplay while riding a dragon but also played out like an RPG. Such a unique series and a shame that they didn’t go full production for Saga. I’d like to pick one up and play but I won’t spend that much on a game.
#2 Dragon Force
#3 Guardian Heroes
Honorable Mentions: Virtua Fighter 2 and NiGHTS into Dreams
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Did you expect anything else? If so, shame on you! I kid, I kid. However, Ocarina of Time is highly regarded as one of, if not, the best game in existence. It was like witnessing A Link to the Past in full, beautiful (back then it is) 3D. Getting to save Hyrule by traversing the temples and time itself was an amazing treat for fans. The music and scenery of Hyrule was a pleasure to see and hear. Every inch of the game was fan service at its best.
#2 Super Mario 64
#3 Goldeneye 007
Honorable Mentions: Super Smash Bros., Paper Mario, Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
#1 Final Fantasy VII
Not only one of the best RPG’s ever but the second most selling game on the system (Gran Turismo won by .85 of a million). Final Fantasy VII is regarded as one of the best in the franchise with a story told across three discs about the struggle to save the planet. Cloud and Sephiroth almost always reach the top 10 in best character lists (including our’s). A wonderful tale with likable characters that defined a generation of consoles.
#2 Metal Gear Solid
#3 Gran Turismo
Honorable Mentions: Tekken 3, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Crash Bandicoot 2, Vagrant Story.
#1 Phantasy Star Online
Dreamcast’s online playable RPG was a massive hit and while it hit its peak on the Gamecube and even the Xbox, it originated here. The simple three class RPG took us through a vibrant adventure from the surface down to the mysterious and dark Ruins. Great gameplay coupled with fantastic RPG elements made for an addictive experience that is still played by hundreds and hundreds of people.
#2 Sonic Adventure
Honorable Mentions: Power Stone, Skies of Arcadia, Soul Calibur, Jet Grind Radio.
#1 Super Smash Bros. Melee
While the original Super Smash was an amazing concept, the series really came into its own with Melee. Brawl only enhanced the experience. Melee has to be one of the best launch games ever delivering a great experience for single player and multi player on day one. I still remember kicking ass as Mewtwo and pissing people off.
#2 The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
#3 Tales of Symphonia
Honorable Mentions: Resident Evil (REmake), F-Zero GX, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
#1 Halo: Combat Evolved
The game that brought first person shooters into the mainstream. Halo was a top notch game with a great story, multiplayer, and gameplay. While it came out before Xbox Live’s release, the system link and local multiplayer just worked and worked well. The “sniper” handgun is a fan favorite and fans have been begging for its return since.
#2 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
#3 Fable: The Lost Chapters
Honorable Mentions: Jade Empire, Ninja Gaiden, Morrowind, Phantom Dust.
Sony PlayStation 2
#1 Final Fantasy X
While not the best Final Fantasy game, the “next gen” Final Fantasy was a great experience with a large scope. Tidus may have been annoying but the rest of the characters were very likable (Auron!) and the story was very intriguing once you understood the whole thing. The amount of hidden objects and items around the world extended the fun and gave the airship a reason to be used. The fact that they created an entire language and sport to go with the game was impressive, as well.
#2 Metal Gear Solid 2
#3 God of War 2
Honorable Mentions: Kingdom Hearts 2, Persona 3, Final Fantasy XII, Star Ocean: Till The End of Time, Dragon Quest VIII.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Oh wow. Pardon me if I say that this is the best use of the Wii’s hardware and controllers and the best Zelda game ever. Skyward Sword is the supposed beginning of the franchise timeline-wise and what a beginning it was. If you own a Wii, you have to play this game. It is the best Wii game ever.
#2 Super Mario Galaxy 2
#3 Monster Hunter Tri
Honorable Mentions: Super Smash Bros. Brawl, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, MadWorld, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
Microsoft Xbox 360
#1 Halo Reach
The best story in the Halo franchise is also the best exclusive on the 360. Reach brings with it the most refined experience for Halo and one of the best first person shooters ever. The second game not featuring Master Chief wound up having a very intense and interesting story of a doomed planet. A must have for every 360 owner.
#2 Lost Odyssey
#3 Gears of War
Honorable Mentions: Too Human, Crackdown, Halo 3, Mass Effect.
Sony PlayStation 3
#1 Metal Gear Solid 4
What a masterful example of entertainment. Kojima poured his heart and soul into this game. If you are a fan of MGS, you need to play this game. It can sell a system. If you haven’t played MGS, you can’t find a system other than the PS3 that has all of them. 360 doesn’t have MGS1. PLAY. THIS. GAME.
#2 Uncharted 2
#3 Killzone 2
Honorable Mentions: Demon’s Souls, LittleBigPlanet, inFamous, Valkyria Chronicles.