Nothing is more important to a console’s early success than its launch titles. A system is worthless at launch if no good games come out with it. The ten launch titles below could only be found on their respective console, and their existence was forever made synonymous with the hardware.
A few of these maybe came out in arcades first or had older versions, but their release on the console is a wholly unique edition. One exception is here near the bottom, though it makes it on the list for showcasing the console’s power and having a feature which the other version on previous generation’s hardware simply couldn’t accomplish.
10 Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
As Nintendo’s first foray into 3D, the company knew they had to come out of the gate swinging with their new console. The N64 launched with only two games in North America, and Super Mario 64 was one of them. Mario’s adventure inside Peach’s castle revolutionized 3D game design, creating a blueprint all other three-dimensional platformers would follow.
The open environments presented unprecedented levels of exploration while still retaining the platform challenges for which the series is known. It would be the only 3D Super Mario title for the system, and really the only one it needed.
9 Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii)
The Nintendo Wii established the company’s ambition to not compete with the other two companies, instead forging its own slice in the market.
The low price tag was enough to pique interest at the time, and its packaged in title, Wii Sports, showed how the system’s motion controls could be enjoyed by everyone, from veterans of the medium to their grandparents. Not only were the games fun diversions from the standard fare, they also helped people understand the new, unique controller.
8 Panzer Dragoon (Saturn)
Sega Saturn’s library is admittedly thin. A few titles stand as triumphs for the medium, however, and everyone who owned the Sega console fondly remembers their time with the on-rails shooter. Though it is short, the detailed graphics presented a wow factor that begged for multiple playthroughs.
The title spawned a series, despite the Saturn’s small install base resulting in low sales. It is fortunate the series found life, considering Sega’s missteps with the console weren’t the game’s fault.
7 Super Mario Bros. (NES)
The NES existed for some time as the Famicom in Japan before making its way to the states. When the console finally hit western shores, Super Mario Bros. was alongside it to show people what games could be.
It was more than simply a fun diversion; it was a revolution in game design. The first level is often singled out as a perfect organic tutorial, introducing players to all the important mechanics naturally without directly telling the player. The Italian plumber has since become one of the most enduring characters in the medium.
6 Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (GameCube)
Luigi’s Mansion is phenomenal and deserves mention, but Factor 5’s Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader shows the GameCube‘s true capabilities. Seeing the introductory level for the first time blew people’s minds with its gorgeously detailed environments advanced enough to fool someone into thinking they were watching the movie.
5 Tetris (Gameboy)
The Game Boy was certainly not the first system to ever see Tetris, but the ability to play Alexey Pajitnov’s ingenious puzzle game on the go was a revelation for the industry. It made Nintendo’s massively successful handheld device for everyone and not just gamers.
It is hard to find anyone who doesn’t like Tetris. If they don’t, they could possibly be an alien. The legendary title was packaged in with the Game Boy, giving the system an addictive game right out of the box.
4 Super Mario World (SNES)
The more powerful SNES allowed several enhancements to Super Mario World over its predecessors other than graphical improvements. The idea for Mario riding an animal companion was something Shigeru Miyamoto wanted for a long time and was only left out until the 1990 game because of the NES’s hardware limitations.
It was only one of two games released upon the SNES’s launch, the other title being F-Zero. Thanks to its many secrets and ninety-six levels, it was all players needed for many months.
3 Soulcalibur (Dreamcast)
Sonic Adventure gets a silver medal in this entry. While it is a great showcase for the mascot, Soulcalibur outdoes it by presenting a perfect arcade conversion right in the living room. In fact, it looks and feels better on the Dreamcast than it did in an arcade.
Such a feat was nearly unheard of and started a trend for Sega’s last console, as popular arcade games like Crazy Taxi and Virtua Fighter 3 made their way to it. Unfortunately, the system was not meant to last, though Soulcalibur lives on in the memories of those who owned the machine.
2 Breath Of The Wild (Switch)
While the game came out on Wii U, the Nintendo Switch version of The Breath of the Wild is the only one gamers can take outside the comfort of their living room. Before 2017, a game looking this good running on a handheld system was simply unimaginable. With Breath of the Wild, fans understood the extent of the hybrid console’s power.
Doing all the game has to offer easily takes over one hundred hours, which will occupy countless commutes to work or school. With Breath of the Wild 2 in development, fans are looking forward to exploring the massive Hyrule map once again.
1 Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
Halo: Combat Evolved accomplished two major feats. Firstly, it was the first time a PC level first-person shooter experience came to consoles, where prior efforts in the genre always felt second-rate compared to playing on a computer. Secondly, it single-handedly saved Microsoft’s premier system. Without Halo: Combat Evolved, it is hard to say if the company would have bothered making an Xbox 360.
Because of Halo, however, the original Xbox was a must-have system. Even without online capabilities, playing local multiplayer with friends occupied countless nights filled with Warthog chases and intense capture the flag rounds in Blood Gulch.