Video game consoles are defined by their best games. Sometimes, consoles don’t have to wait very long to receive a console-defining game. Sometimes such a game is available on day one, if not included right out of the box with the console! Although this trend of iconic launch games has dwindled in more recent years, there’s no denying the impact a launch game can have on its system. Here are what I consider to be the top five launch games of all time. But first, let’s take a look at some honorable mentions.
Honorable Mention: SoulCalibur (Dreamcast)
Although Sonic’s emergence to the world of 3D was considered a big deal in 1999, Sonic Adventure hasn’t aged so gracefully. On the other hand, the Dreamcast’s other big launch title, SoulCalibur, is still one of the best fighting games around.
A well-balanced cast of characters, an accessible learning curve, and fluid gameplay made SoulCalibur not only a defining addition to the Dreamcast’s library from day one, it also ensured that it would stand the test of time. It’s just a shame the sequels cared more about unnecessary crossovers (Star Wars?!) and how much the female characters could spill out of their outfits than they did about topping the original.
Honorable Mention: Wii Sports (Wii)
Sure, Twilight Princess was the meatier Wii launch title, but it’s tacked-on motion controls emphasized that it was a GameCube game pushed over to the Wii so the console could get some Zelda-cred. It was Wii Sports though, that sold the system, figuratively and literally.
It’s a simple setup: Five sports, played with wonderfully implemented motion controls, where you play as Miis, avatars that you could base on yourself (or anyone else) to give the game a personal touch.
It pushed Wiis off the shelves, made motion controls a thing, and helped open the doors of gaming to a much wider audience. It may not be Zelda, but it’s influence is hard to understate.