Top 10 Console Launch Day Video Games

There’s an argument that launch games are just as important as the console they launch with. A great game can be responsible for a console’s initial and future success, just as a poor game lineup 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 iconic. These games are heralded not only as great titles for the generation, but also as some of the best games of all time.

10) NFL2K (1999, Dreamcast)

A recording of “NFL2K” for Sega Dreamcast, Visual Concepts

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

But even more than just a football game, NFL 2K helped spawn an entire franchise of games. They were so successful in generating a following that they continue to this day.

9) Perfect Dark Zero (2005, Xbox 360)

Joanna stands on a pier in Perfect Dark Zero, Rare

After the Xbox created quite a following, gamers alike waited to see what the next generation of Xbox consoles would bring. It arrived Perfect Dark Zerowhich was a surprise hit back then.

The first-person action spy game builds on a legacy that first started with it Gold eye, and later the spiritual successor – and original – Perfectly dark. Since then, the genre has exploded Perfect Dark Zero came out, and the game is still incredibly fun and a worthy launch title for a great generation of consoles.

8) Annihilation (1995, Playstation)

In “Wipeout,” Psygnosis, two vehicles battle it out for a futuristic racing trick

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

This futuristic racing game gave players a whole new dynamic of what could be possible with games. The original is heavily dated by today’s standards, but the inventive gameplay and pounding soundtrack by 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 was only logical that their games would make a major leap as well. They did this by switching their starting hero from Mario to Luigi.

Luigi didn’t have a worthy solo title back then Luigi’s mansion came out, but this game of capturing ghosts made up for it. It’s such a great franchise that it has spawned multiple 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 the gaming arena, it’s very difficult to make a splash with a first console. It’s arguable that the entire Xbox franchise was built on it glorioleis back, turning it into an instant pop culture phenomenon that’s gone the distance, and then some.

This first-person game took a familiar genre and blasted it with incredible story, character, and action. Very few new games are able to build a franchise like this gloriole can, and it did with a very modest launch title.

5) Wii Sports (2006, Wii)

A game of tennis in Wii Sports, Nintendo

It’s hard to find such a generic title Wii sports it’s had such a profound impact on a single console. The Wii was a brand new gaming system and Wii sports was an excellent introduction for gamers.

More than that though Wii sports allowed the console to expand beyond regular players, but also non-players. The movement controls and simple characters were very accessible.

4) Golden Ax (1989, Sega Genesis)

Two players battle shadow thugs in Golden Axe, SEGA

Two players battle shadow thugs in Golden Axe, SEGA

The Sega Genesis started off with a respectable set 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 to the family living room.

Secondly, it was a fantastic beat-em-up for one or two players. And finally, it included a new level and final boss added to the final chapter of the game to complete the package. For fans who bought a Genesis on release day, Golden Axe was a treat, and then some.

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3) Super Mario 64 (1996, Nintendo 64)

Mario confronts a Chomp in Super Mario 64, Nintendo

Mario’s jump to 3D with the Nintendo 64 was an extremely impressive display. Super Mario 64 wasn’t just a game in and of itself. It was an example of what 3D gaming can be if developers took advantage of it.

But that was not all. It was a fun adventure to defeat Bowser, visit different worlds and do everything to collect those stars. It also somehow managed to retain the platforming charm of its two-dimensional predecessors.

2) Tetris (1989, Game Boy)

'Tetris' on the original GameBoy, Nintendo

‘Tetris’ on the original GameBoy, Nintendo

It’s hard to imagine a game that simple tetris and yet had such a profound cultural impact. The power to put gaming in the hands of players, wherever they went, was powerful and tetris helped bring that to everyone with the GameBoy.

The game’s simple concept was easy to understand regardless of language or skill level. Nowadays, in the deep blockbuster landscape of MMORPGs and shooters, tetris still offers 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 another console and launch game combo that has been more successful than Super Nintendo, and Super Mario world. Nintendo essentially took over Mario’s world Super Mario Brothers 3, and expanded it into a fully realized universe.

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

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