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The 10 Best Launch Titles Of All Time
Console launches are always exciting times, but a console lives and dies on the games that launch with it. After all, what good is a game console without great games to play it on?
There have been some excellent launch line-ups (Vita’s was incredible) and some subpar ones (Wii’s, with a few exceptions, was a pile of stinkers), but some launch games no matter system they started on are still classics today. Behold, my Top 10 Best Launch Titles of All Time.
(Where’s Kanye when you need him?)
10. Tetris (Game Boy)
You read the title, now the song is slowly creeping into your head. You know, that song that loops while you struggle with the most addicting puzzle game EVER. The precursor to Peggle and Zuma and Columns and allllll of those addictive casual puzzle games came from Russia with fun (as the box says), joining the Game Boy at its launch. Portable gaming was a new frontier to begin with, but then you add this classic to the mix? Super Mario Land notwithstanding, I feel confident in saying Tetris might be the reason portable gaming became popular, because being able to take this addiction ANYWHERE? Hoo boy…double-A batteries haven’t been the same since.
9. Tekken Tag Tournament (PlayStation 2)
When the PlayStation 2 hit stores, there wasn’t a whole lot of worthwhile gaming available. Sure, Kessen was fun, and Orphen: Scion of Sorcery was good for the anime crowd, but other than that the system’s launch was a bit lacking…except for Tekken Tag Tournament. This was an excellent arcade fighting game brought home basically untouched. Fast, 60-frame-per-second Tekken action in a 2 on 2 setting led to many late nights battling against friends. It’s a wonder it’s taken this long for a sequel, the game was so damn fun.
8. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (Xbox 360 Arcade)
It says volumes that the best game to launch with Microsoft’s console juggernaut wasn’t something you’d bring home from the store with you, rather it’s something you’d download from the Marketplace. However bizarre, Geometry Wars was the hands-down best game for early Xbox 360 owners to sink their teeth into, and really it’s a perfect game for the moniker: it comes from the online marketplace (a first), it showed off the potential of games coming from that marketplace, AND being able to see a friend’s scores would bring the leaderboards of arcade cabinets home to the console. Despite it not being a retail release, Geometry Wars was the best Xbox 360 game available in November 2005. Hexic Schmexic.
7. Resistance: Fall of Man (PlayStation 3)
Resistance surprised a lot of people. First person shooters were a Microsoft thing, after that guy Master Chief fought his way through two excellent games (one you might see later on in this list). When the PS3 line-up included this brand new shooter IP, most gamers outside of the Sony fanboy crowd were hesitant; could this game measure up to the high FPS standard set years prior? It sure as hell did, impressing virtually everyone who played it. Review scores don’t lie, and judging by the two on the Greatest Hits cover art up there, Resistance was very well received back in 2006.
6. Panzer Dragoon (Saturn)
An excellent niche game for an excellent niche system. Most gamers today either forget about Sega’s first disc-based console venture or don’t even know it existed, but the Saturn was a great console. An overall weak launch hurt it for its entire lifespan, but it did start the excellent Panzer Dragoon franchise. This game was a unique rail shooter that captivated players from the Press Start screen, a captivation that lives on in the hearts of those that played it. How many of these launch games are also in the “best game on the system” discussion? Not many, I’d wager.
5. Wii Sports (Wii)
Gamers buy consoles to keep up with the industry. Non-gamers buy consoles because the games that launch with it are fun and interesting. 70 millions Wii systems can’t be wrong, which means 70 million copies of Wii Sports can’t be wrong either. The game is simple, a glorified tech demo really, but it’s damn fun. Plus, how many other games will those in your family actually play with you? Not a lot. I can say I’ve had a lot of heated video game battles in my time playing. I can’t say I’ve had many with my non-gamer fiancee, but Wii Sports (and Mario Kart Wii, to be fair) have given that to me. I’VE WON EVERY TIME, TOO*.
*Not really. She wins sometimes too. Sorry dear.
4. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita)
This year saw one of the best launch line-ups in recent memory with the PS Vita. Most of the games were console ports, which is cool because now I can take games like Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Rayman Origins wherever I want, but the brand new Vita-exclusive Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the highlight of the bunch. Uncharted has grown into one of the most successful franchises in gaming, with all three console games wowing players with insane graphics and excellent stories. Golden Abyss, though portable, is no different, showing off the incredible power of Sony’s newest handheld. There’s a ton to play on the Vita, but make sure to experience Uncharted on the go.
3. Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
As soon as you read the title, you knew this was coming. Microsoft struck gold with Halo: Combat Evolved, as I believe that the Xbox outright fails without it. Halo showed off everything the Xbox could do in one package: graphics, gameplay, multiplayer (LAN connections of up to four Xboxes was INCREDIBLE in 2001), etc. If a company is releasing their first console ever, it is imperative that one of the games launching with said console be something that would make players say “you know what, that game looks so good, I’m willing to take a chance on the whole system just to play it.” Halo: Combat Evolved did just that.
2. Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)
Nothing makes gamers happier than when a new console comes out with the company mascot leading the charge. When the Dreamcast launched on 9-9-99, Sonic Adventure made Sega proud as a marquee first-party title that did not disappoint. Nowadays, the words “Sonic” and “3D” will make gamers wretch (and I don’t mean the 3D with glasses, I mean games like the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog. That game HAUNTS me), but back in 1999 3D Sonic was the cream of the crop. Sonic Adventure did for Sonic was Super Mario 64 did for that plumber guy, the only difference being Sonic’s steep fall from grace.
Speaking of that plumber…
1. Super Mario World (SNES)
I’d argue that this game would be the same rank on a Top Ten Mario Games of All Time list too. Super Mario 64 brought Mario into the 3D spotlight (another launch title actually), but Super Mario World STILL represents the pinnacle of 2D gaming. Not only does it introduce iconic characters and items (Yoshi, the yellow cape, The Koopa Kids), but this game is so masterfully made it’s hard to argue against it. How many hours were spent trying to beat one more level or getting past one more boss? I know I spent days at a time trying to conquer this…and if my memory serves, it’s the first game like this I ever did finish. The argument for “best Mario game” is solid, but you can’t tell me that any other game was ever as successful or as incredible out of the gate as Super Mario World. It just hasn’t happened since, and it may not ever happen again.
I left out a lot of worthy titles (Dreamcast’s Soul Calibur, N64’s Super Mario 64, Genesis’ Golden Axe), but these ten are superb games that gave their consoles excellent gameplay choices in the very beginning. Here’s to hoping the next round of launches will add some new entries to this list.
Your move, Wii U.