A new console comes with the promise of better visuals, improved level design, technical achievements and fresh ideas. Unfortunately, those concepts not always translate well to launch games. The first time we try that brand new console, we usually realize that launch games are more of the same. Same visuals, dated level design and tried-and-true ideas. But sometimes, buying expensive hardware pays off and we get exactly what we were looking for and more. With that in mind, here are some of the best console launch games ever made.
10. F-Zero (SNES)
There was a time when Nintendo and Sega were actively competing in the 16-bit war and they were constantly trying to prove that their console was better. F-Zero was a technically proficient game that put the SNES’ capabilities to the test with Mode 7.
9. Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii)
If there’s one game that encapsulates the best qualities of the Nintendo Wii as an interesting piece of technology that’s Wii Sports. You might disagree with the inclusion of Wii Sports on this list, but this was video game that helped sell millions of consoles worldwide. Most of the people who played the compilation of minigames back in the day were sold on the idea of motion controls. Also, most of the casual players who acquired Wii Sports probably didn’t buy anything else for their Wii. For them, Wii Sports was that good.
8. Lumines (PSP)
How do you top Tetris? Simple answer: you don’t. The classic puzzle game is so solid in terms of gameplay and so simple to understand that I don’t think a better game can be made. Nevertheless, Lumines is probably the closest we’ll get to Tetris. Lumines has a simple gameplay, a flashy presentation and an entrancing soundtrack and while comparisons are inevitable, Lumines is a great game in its own right.
7. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (Xbox 360)
Geometry Wars is simply, beautiful and highly replayable. That my friend is the recipe for success. One of the most important things about the game was the way in which it was distributed (read: digitally,) since this cemented the path for other popular indie titles such as Braid, Super Meat Boy and Shadow Complex.
6. Super Mario World (SNES)
What’s the pinnacle of 2D platforming? Some people think it’s Super Mario Bros. 3 and others think it’s Super Mario World. Regardless of what you think, Super Mario World is a terrific platformer in its own right. The game features numerous worlds, solid controls, entertaining boss fights and hundreds of secrets. If you have any appreciation for the genre, this should be one of your favorites of all time.
5. Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
Golden Eye 007 and Perfect Dark Zero proved that the controls of console first-person shooters didn’t have to be cumbersome and clumsy. Halo: Combat Evolved for the Xbox took that concept and perfected it, setting a new standard for first-person shooters on consoles. But apart from solid controls, Halo also represented a fully realized world, a new universe waiting for you to explore it and some epic moments that we still remember to this day.
4. Tetris (Game Boy)
In 1989, Nintendo had the idea to include a copy of Tetris with every Game Boy and the clever initiative proved to be extremely successful. Is there a better game to play on a portable system than Tetris? After all, this is a game that you can play for a few minutes or a few hours and on top of that, the concept never gets old.
3. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
Even to this day, Super Mario 64 is considered one of the best video games ever made and sometimes it’s easy to forget that it launched alongside the Nintendo 64 console. But why is it so fondly remembered? Super Mario 64 was one of the first 3D platformers and its painstaking attention to detail is still staggering. Mario moves fluidly, controls are precise and the animations are extremely accurate. On top of that, the music is hypnotic, the small cartridge is filled with content, the colorful visuals look amazing and some portions of the game are simply brilliant.
2. Soul Calibur (Dreamcast)
Do you remember what 3D fighting games used to look like before Soul Calibur for the Sega Dreamcast came out? After dozens of companies tried to capture the attention of fighting games fans by releasing clumsy and blurry fighters on the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation, Namco revolutionized the genre with Soul Calibur. This was one of the most fluid fighting games ever made, both in terms of visuals and controls. From a technical perspective, this was one of those games that felt part of the next-generation, but also, this was the game that suggested that Sega was going to become popular again. We all know how that turned out, but at least we got one of the best 3D fighting games ever made.
1. Super Mario Bros. (NES)
There are other platformers on this list and while those games were revolutionary or perfected the genre, the original Super Mario Bros. pretty much invented it. Arguably, this game was the Nintendo Entertainment System and without it, the console wouldn’t be what it is. Revered by a generation of players, Super Mario Bros. has a room in the heart of millions of people who played it. It definitely has room in mine.
These are some of the games that didn’t make the final cut: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo Wii), Pilotwings (SNES), Castlevania: Circle of Moon (GBA), F-Zero (SNES), SSX (PlayStation 2), Resistance: Fall of Men (PlayStation 3), Rogue Leader (GameCube), Timesplitters (PlayStation 2).