Top 10 console launch day video games

There’s an argument to be made that launch games are just as important as the console they launch with. A good game can be responsible for a console’s initial and future success, just as a bad lineup of games can cause it to fail.

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While some games have fallen into oblivion, there is a certain pantheon of launch games that have become icons. These games are being heralded not just as great titles for the generation, but as some of the greatest games of all time.

10) NFL2K (1999, Dreamcast)

A snapshot of ‘NFL2K’ for the Sega Dreamcast, Visual Concepts

It’s rare for a sports game to have such an impact on a console at launch, but NFL 2K was a rarity that ushered the genre into a new generation. Many sports games preceded it, but none had mixed in the excitement of video gaming to make the experience as realistic as possible.

Much more than just a football match, NFL 2K helped spawn an entire gaming franchise. They were so successful in generating a fan base that they continue to this day.

9) Perfect Dark Zero (2005, Xbox 360)

Joanna standing on a pier in “Perfect Dark Zero”, Rare

After Xbox had created quite a large fanbase, gamers were also waiting for what the next generation of Xbox consoles would bring. He arrived with Perfect Dark Zerowhich was a surprise hit at the time.

The first-person action spy game built on a legacy that began with golden eye, and later the spiritual – and original – successor perfect dark. The genre has exploded since Perfect Dark Zero is out, and the game is still hugely fun, and a worthy launch title for a great console generation.

8) Erase (1995, Playstation)

Two vehicles go head-to-head on a futuristic racing trick in “Wipeout,” Psygnosis

The leap to the first generation of PlayStation was profound. After playing for so long on 16-bit systems like the Super Nintendo, I saw a 32-bit racing game like Annihilate was a bit of a shock.

This futuristic racing game gave gamers a whole new dynamic of what could be possible with gaming. The original is severely dated by today’s standards, but the inventive gameplay and punchy soundtrack of CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright) made it an insta-classic.

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7) Luigi’s Mansion (2001, Gamecube)

Luigi standing in a kitchen in “Luigi’s Mansion”, Nintendo

When Nintendo finally made the leap from cartridges to discs, it only made sense that their games would also take a deep leap. They did this by changing their launch hero from Mario to Luigi.

Luigi did not yet have a solo title worthy of the name when Luigi’s mansion came out, but this ghost catching game made up for it. It’s such a big franchise that it’s spawned several sequels on numerous consoles, and even an arcade version.

6) Halo (2001, Xbox)

The Master Chief in the first “Halo” game, Bungie

As a new company in gaming, it’s very difficult to make a splash with a first console. Arguably the entire Xbox franchise was built on Halois back, turning him into an instant pop culture phenomenon that has gone the distance, and more.

This first-person game took a well-known genre and blasted it with incredible story, character, and action. Very few new games are capable of building a franchise like Halo can, and it did with a very humble launch title.

5) Wii Sports (2006, Wii)

A tennis game in “Wii Sports”, Nintendo

It’s hard to find a title as generic as Sports Wii that had such a profound impact on a single console. The Wii was a brand new gaming system, and Sports Wii was a great introduction for gamers.

Even more than that, however, Sports Wii allowed the console to expand beyond regular gamers, but also non-gamers. Its motion controls and simple characters were very easily accessible.

4) Golden Ax (1989, Sega Genesis)

Two players take on shadow goons in

Two players take on shadow goons in ‘Golden Axe,’ SEGA

The Sega Genesis launched with a respectable lineup of titles when it debuted in North America in 1989, but Golden axe stood apart from the others. It was one of the first home console games to bring a near-perfect arcade experience into the family living room.

Second, it was a fantastic beat-em-up for one or two players. And finally, it included a new level and final boss added in the last chapter of the game, just to complete the package. For fans who purchased a Genesis on launch day, Golden axe was a treat, and then some.

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3) Super Mario 64 (1996, Nintendo 64)

Mario battles a Chomp in “Super Mario 64”, Nintendo

Mario’s move to 3D with the Nintendo 64 was a hugely impressive display. Super Mario 64 was not just a game in itself. It was an example of what 3D games can be if developers took advantage of it.

That was not all, however. It was a fun adventure defeating Bowser, visiting different worlds, and doing everything possible to collect those stars. Plus, it managed to retain the platforming charm of its 2-dimensional predecessors.

2) Tetris (1989, Game Boy)

'Tetris' on the original GameBoy, Nintendo

‘Tetris’ on the original GameBoy, Nintendo

It’s hard to think of a game as simple as Tetris, yet had such a profound cultural impact. The power to put the game in the hands of players wherever they went was powerful, and Tetris helped make this accessible to everyone with the GameBoy.

The simple concept of the game was easy to grasp, regardless of language or skill. Nowadays, in the deep landscape of blockbuster MMORPGs and shooters, Tetris always provides a fun and challenging puzzle experience.

1) Super Mario World (1991, Super NES)

Mario and Yoshi in “Super Mario World”, Nintendo

It’s hard to think of any other console and launch game combination that was more successful than the Super Nintendo, and Super Mario World. Nintendo basically took the world of Mario from Super Mario Brothers 3, and expanded it into a fully realized universe.

The game featured many iconic Mario landscapes and characters such as Yoshi, Star Road, and the Koopa family. It remains such a fun and iconic game that it’s hard to find a modern equivalent.

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