A launch title can’t really break a console (Or, maybe it can, see Luigi’s Mansion) but it certainly can make one, and to celebrate my love for judging a system entirely on the first games that come out for it, here are my top five favorite launch titles of all time. If you disagree and think that Altered Beast should be number one, or that I sorely forgot Soul Caliber for the Sega Dreamcast, then you can always leave your comments in the box below. It’s a free country.
5. Battle Arena Toshinden (PS1)
Today, Battle Arena Toshinden looks like a total farce, a joke. The graphics suck, the gameplay is booty (And that’s putting it nicely) and even later first generation PS games put the game to shame. Still, when BAT ORIGINALLY came out, there was nothing quite like it. Riding off of the tide of the fighting game frenzy that ruled the arcades at the time, Sony was STILL taking a pretty big gamble making a fighter its lead off title for its debut system in the console wars. But it paid off big time, as BAT was one of the highest rated games of all time when it first came out (Now long defunct magazine,Ultra Gameplayers, for instance, gave it a 98%, which was the publication’s highest rating EVER at the time).
BAT may be long forgotten today, but back in 1994, it was the talk of the town. Check it out below in all of its, crummy graphics and horrible looking gameplay, glory.
4. Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii)
Wii Sports isn’t the top selling game (Even though, as a free package deal, it’s not really a “selling” game at all, really) of all time for nothing. People, young and old—and judging by the commercials, ESPECIALLY old when it came to Wii Golf—flocked to the Wii for family friendly fun that also got you out of your seat. But things weren’t always so hunky dorey in Nintendo land. After two fairly unsuccessful consoles in the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube, when pictures finally arrived on the internet of what the Wii would actually look like, many gamers cried foul, with many thinking, here we go again, another gimmicky flop for Nintendo, hoo boy.
But Wii Sports proved them ALL wrong, with its easy, pick up and play gameplay that made the strange Wii-mote controller and nunchuck combo all make sense in the end. And while Wii Boxing and Wii Golf are both utter disasters, the overall game STILL drove people out to go get the Wii. And for a launch title, that’s all that really matters in the end.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis)
After pretty much losing the console wars in their first battle with Nintendo with the Sega Master System against the NES, Sega knew it needed a mascot to combat the mushroom munching, Italian plumber from Brooklyn. Enter Sonic the Hedgehog, a less family friendly, more speed addicted hero than Nintendo was offering with their kid tested, mother approved system. Whereas Nintendo made it cool to hang out with the folks and play games together, Sega went in the opposite direction, creating a mascot that would appeal to young teenage boys instead. Sega’s whole ATTITUDE was in fact different than Nintendo’s, right down to the sleek design of their all black console. Like its name would imply, the Sega Genesis WAS a brand new beginning for Sega, and Sonic the Hedgehog was their trendsetting hero. No doubt about it, Sonic the Hedgehog is quite possibly the only reason why Sega is still around in business today.
So, to prove how different Sonic was from Mario, below is a PSA from the blue demon about sexual harassment. Now, let’s see Mario talk about THAT topic. All that damn plumber cares about is pasta, dammit. Pasta and princesses.
2. Super Mario Bros. (NES)
SMB is one of the greatest (Ande second highest selling) games of all time, no questions asked. It pretty much created what we know as a platformer today and introduced us to the world of the Super Mario Bros., which is a world I’m not sure I would like to live in if they didn’t exist in it. I don’t know what else to say about the game other than it’s perfect, absolutely perfect.
I’ll let the video speak for itself, though. (Note: since we live in some pretty fast times, I’ve included a sped up video of SMB beaten in less three minutes. Enjoy!)
1. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
While the original SMB is the game to end all games, Super Mario 64 is even better. If you happened to pick up the Nintendo 64 on its first day in America, you had two choices of games you were able to play—Pilotwings 64 and this one. And while Pilotwings 64 was worse than watching 2 Girls, 1 Cup on infinite loop, Mario 64 was the crème de la crème of launch titles, revolutionizing 3-D movement just as the original SMB revolutionized 2-D movement. How good was this game? So good, in fact, that even after gamers collected all 120 stars, many people STILL weren’t satisfied and wanted more. So they came up with crazy, cockamamie ideas about how you could collect even more stars in the game, or, and here’s a real doozy, even unlock Luigi if you collected the stars in a specific order and beat the bosses in just the right way.
A load of crock? Sure. But it was the kind of crock that only comes from gamers who want, nay, DEMAND more out of their favorite games! That’s how good Super Mario 64 was. So good, that it actually made a system that still used cartridges when the rest of the world had already moved onto CDs, still look viable. I don’t know any other launch title that could ever possibly do THAT.
The clip below is one of those aforementioned moments of people trying to lengthen the playing time of the game. It’s absolutely ludicrous, but God bless people for trying.