We’re excited about this years new console launches, are you? Join us as we take you through some of the finest launch titles! Did you know Sony have never launched a console with a true “killer-app”? Did you know SEGA never released a console with a Sonic game until Dreamcast? Did you know “killer-app’s” at launch are on the fall? Read on…
Pacman – Atari 5200
Pacman. So simple, so brilliant. Launching with the Atari 5200 way back in 1982 (before any of the LFG team were born, we hasten to add) no “Best Launch Games” list would be complete without. Who hasn’t played or even heard of Pacman? After being released in the arcades in 1980 (and an infamous Atari 2600 version, almost unrecognisable to the original!), gamers picking up their brand-new Atari 5200’s could enjoy chasing (and running away from) ghosts in the comfort of their own homes. 33 years on, Pacman is still synonymous with videogaming and fun.
Super Mario Bros – NES
Think of Nintendo and you’ll probably think about a *ahem* ‘generously sized’ Italian plumber. Up until 2002’s GameCube release, every Nintendo console had launched with a Mario title and for a good reason – they sell consoles. The NES saw a Japanese release in 1983 and patient gamers had to wait 2 years for the console to make its way to America (and 1986 in Europe – imagine waiting 3 years for you PS4 or Xbox One nowadays!) – the wait was worth it thanks to Super Mario Bros. The rest, as they say, is history – excluding digital versions, the title has sold over 40 million copies in its life-time becoming the 2nd highest-selling game of all time.
Tetris – GameBoy
Ah, Tetris and your hugely addictive theme tune and moreish gameplay. It’s a game so perfect that even your grandparents would play it, long before Wii Sports in the distant past of 1989. For years, it was one of the few games worth having a GameBoy for and people bought both in their millions. Selling over 35 million copies in its life-time, it’s arguably the quintessential launch-title; showing off just what its console can do – in the GameBoy’s case, addictive, fun gameplay anywhere and anytime. Next time you’ve got a few minutes to spare and a copy of Tetris handy, give it a go. You’ll be hooked all over again.
Super Mario World – SNES
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? You should be! Nintendo used to be the kings of launch titles, putting quality of quantity. A console of theirs would launch with just a handful of games (as opposed to the 20+ for Wii U) but each one would be good, and at least one would be a killer-app. 1991 saw the launch of the mighty SNES and with it Super Mario World – possibly the greatest 2D platformer of all time. Like most titles on this list, it’s stood the test of time too, proving to be just as playable now as it was 22 years ago. Super Mario World; we salute you!
Daytona USA – SEGA Saturn
Maybe a choice out of left-field but Daytona USA was, and still is, brilliant. After taking all of our small change in the arcades, SEGA finally released a console that could do the title justice, and 1995 saw it launch with the ill-fated SEGA Saturn. Still holding a place in many a gamers heart, the PS4 and Xbox One would be a better place with a fully updated Daytona title – make it happen SEGA!
Mario 64 – N64
Yes, it’s Mario again – but for the last time on this list. You see, after launching their first 3D console (the N64) in 1996 with the genre-defining Mario 64, Nintendo haven’t launched a home console with a true Mario game since. While Nintendo have proved the old magic is still there with Mario Sunshine and Galaxies 1+2, Mario 64 is arguably best of the bunch – while looking rather old-hat now, it was truly revolutionary back in 1996. Not only one of the greatest launch titles of all time but what of the best games EVER.
Soul Calibur – Dreamcast
In this writers opinion, Soul Calibur is the finest fighting game ever to be released and was easily the pick of the Dreamcast launch in 1999. It’s hard to say just what was so brilliant about it – the looks were unparalleled, the movement fluid, the weapons exciting. The balance of the characters was spot-on too, each member of the cast felt unique and had great gameplay depth. While the series still has success today, the original is still a highpoint.
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II – GameCube
While the game might not have aged as well as others on this list, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II looked like THE reason to pick up a GameCube at launch in 2002. With Mario skipping a console launch for the first time and many gamers being initially confused by the excellent Luigi’s Mansion, it fell to Star Wars to draw people in – and it did. It looked like nothing you’d seen before – the Death Star trench run (the games first level) came to life like nothing before it, leaving onlookers mouth’s gaping as they fumbled for their wallets. The definition of a killer launch title; the GameCube actually outsold both the PS2 and Xbox at launch before eventually being overtaken.
Halo – Xbox
For Star Wars Rogue Squadron read Halo for Xbox. Selling almost 1:1 with every new Xbox console in 2002, Xbox was the console Halo built. It’s influence has helped turn Microsoft into the current console market leader in just over 10 years. While Halo has its detractors, its importance can’t be understated. If the (then) new, unproven IP had failed to connect with and excite gamers, then the Xbox may have failed too. It didn’t and we can now expect Halo 5 to launch some time close to that of the Xbox One’s release.
Project Gotham Racing 3 – Xbox 360
Project Gotham Racing 3 was the pinnacle of the now dead (or is it?) racing franchise and practically carried the Xbox 360 from its December 2005 launch date until the following March when heavy-hitters such as Ghost Recon and Oblivion were released. As is becoming the trend (I hope you noticed), true killer-app’s at a console’s launch were becoming a rare occurrence, with manufacturers more concerned with getting the console on the shelves and bringing the big games later. PGR3 though deserves its place on our list; combining jaw-dropping visuals and speed with superb handing and excellent online modes. Sadly, PGR4 didn’t quite live up to its predecessor and, after being bought by Activision, creators Bizarre are no more. The moral of the story? Don’t get bought by Activision.
Honourable mentions: Luigi’s Mansion (GameCube), Call of Duty 2 (360), Ridge Racer (PSX), ZombieU (Wii U), Timesplitters (PS2), WipeOut (PSX), Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast).
– Dave Green. Give him a follow on Twitter, it’d make his day @davidpgreen83