Launch Game Revelations

In less than three weeks, the Wii and the Playstation 3 will be let out of their respective cages. And let me tell you, they’re definitely not a nice bunch, those two. They’re always making you feel bad for playing with those traditional, non-motion-sensing controllers like that of the Xbox 360. They’re just a couple of jerks. Best thing to do is to not pay them any attention. And what better way to do that than remember the launches of old systems?

If we take a look at previous launches, you will notice one interesting thing: many consoles launch with at least one game that goes on to be one of the greatest games of all time. I’ve listed them below.

Best Launch Titles

For those of you who haven never heard of it, this is what Super Mario Bros. looks like.

NES/Super Mario Bros.
The one game that saved them all, the NES’s launch title spawned the rebirth of video games in America and is part of every 20-something’s childhood memories. We still can’t get that theme music out of our heads, but we don’t mind. It was just so much fun to run and jump in the Mushroom Kingdom for the first time. Super Mario Bros. fits snugly in most Top 5 lists.

Much of the success of the original GameBoy can be attributed to the packed-in puzzle phenom, Tetris. It was developed by Alexey Pazhitnov, a Russian programmer, who noticed that if you line up “tetriminoes” correctly that it could make a line. And then disappear. Apparently it was a formula for success because the GameBoy would become the most successful line of video game handhelds ever, and Tetris would be rated somewhere in the Top 10 Greatest Games of All Time. It’s been on almost every console ever made, and has embedded itself in every gamer’s mind.

N64/Super Mario 64
The first 3D Mario is widely considered to be the title that defined how 3D games should play. 3D games have, in some respects, surpassed what was done in Super Mario 64, but it all started when a pudgy plumber popped out of a polygonal pipe. Super Mario 64 has pulled itself into most Top 10 lists.

Dreamcast/Soul Calibur
This title even has the award for being the best Dreamcast game ever made. Nothing looked better, and nothing played better. I still go back to SC and marvel at its graphical presentation. If you had a Dreamcast, but never played Soul Calibur, Mitsurugi needs to make a special visit and lay some smack-down on you. The fighting was amazing, but some of the coolest moments were when characters actually missed each other. It all looked fantastic, and is still considered one of the greatest games ever made, fighting its way to most Top 25 lists.

SNES/Super Mario World
Although it took what Super Mario 3 had already set on the NES, the SNES Mario launch game refined it to pure 2D gaming bliss. This was also the first Mario game to include Yoshi, who would become one of the most recognizable characters in the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario’s first 16-bit adventure glided its way on Feather Capes to many Top 50 lists.

“Uhh…I’ll take a double cheeseburger, two large fries and a chocolate milk shake. That’s to go.”

Halo contains what I call “dynamic gameplay;” put it in any type of level and it will still be fun. Thank God for that, because if I went down one more hallway in the Library stage, I’d happily take a Needler bullet straight to the cranium. Halo also solidified Microsoft’s Xbox as a true player in the video game scene, and can be found sniping around the Top 25 lists.

Honorable Mentions:

Largely based on Tetris, Lumines is considered to be one of the best PSP games. It took the general “puzzle well” trademark and turned it into a music video. Everything you did awarded the player with a wonderfully catchy audio response. Although not making any lists, it should be in any PSP owner’s library.

PSX/Numerous Titles
The original Playstation actually launched with quite a few remarkable titles. Games such as Twisted Metal, WipeOut, and Ridge Racer were extremely popular and gave Playstation an “adult” appeal, but ultimately weren’t as good as the games that currently reside on many Best Games of All Time lists.

But let us not forget the games that almost ruined our experiences with our shiny new consoles. Here’s a short list of games that are considered some of the worst games at launch.

Worst Launch Games:

Genesis /Altered Beast
Even though this game was pretty cool back in the day, by replaying it now, you can see that it is actually pretty crappy. The difficulty was by far the worst part of the game, to the point that the health of the Genesis controller was in jeopardy. Nostalgia is the only thing making this game somewhat enjoyable, but we all know about that, don’t we Jay.

WOW! This looks so much more realistic than Street Fighter 2!

PSX/Street Fighter: The Movie
This completely bastardized the once great series. It took out the hand-drawn art style and added digitized actors, and it played horribly compared to its predecessors. This game also supports the idea that games that are based on movies that are based on games will always suck.

GameCube/Luigi’s Mansion
OK, this really isn’t the worst game out there, but when we got this game instead of a true Mario game, we were justified in crying foul. If this game were released sometime after launch, it would have been received better, but this was just a bad choice for Nintendo when going up against the likes of PS2 and Xbox.

Predictions of Future Best Games:

Wii/Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
This will mark the very first Nintendo console to launch with a Zelda title. Promising to surpass the amazing experience that was Ocarina of Time, we can’t help but think that this game may be the greatest launch title in gaming history. Now we can finally forget that Luigi’s Mansion ever happened.

PS3/Resistance: Fall of Man
Can this game out-Halo Halo? The sheer scope of this game seems to be up to the challenge, but early reports seem to point to a generic FPS experience. I guess time will tell on this title.

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17 years ago

How long after the SNES launch did Link to the Past release?

17 years ago

Damn, I was way off.  I really had no clue about LttP, so I figured this is the place to ask