The 5 best console launch games ever
2nd Dec 2011 | 17:30
We've all heard the rumours and reports of the next-generation consoles hitting sometime within the next few years.
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo can try to wow us by telling us their new consoles will be able to make us waffles, wipe our arses and whatever fix the o-zone layer but what want to hear about is games. Titles that make us want to run out and buy the console with utter disregard for our financial standing. Experiences that offer genuinely something fresh that we can't find on our current platforms.
Over the years there have been a fair few games that have done this well, here's our list of a few launch games that did just that. Let us know your personal favourite launch games in the comments below.
Super Mario 64 - N64
To this day, Super Mario 64 is regarded as one of the best games of all time. It still regularly places high on 'Best games ever made' lists and some developers consider it a bible in video game design.
Super Mario 64 was one of the first 3D platform games, the development team spent a lot of time working on Mario's movement - testing and refining his animation to get it perfect. And it is perfect. Few games have matched the sheer joy of movement that felt in Super Mario 64.
Somehow Nintendo also managed to cram the cartridge full of content, there are so many worlds and ideas in the game that it's easy to feel almost overwhelmed at the wealth of content on offer. And none of it sucks. It's all brilliant and it's all tremendous fun to play.
The biggest criticism reviewers had was with the camera, which they claimed didn't work as well as it should and definitely takes some getting used to. In a re-review a decade after release, one even said that the camera "would almost be considered broken" by modern day standards, but back then they were a small niggle in an otherwise superb game.
The game isn't considered a masterpiece in games design for nothing. Super Mario 64 is essentially the game that sold the N64 at launch, and years after it.
Halo Combat Evolved - Xbox
Halo was the game that defined the Xbox. Halo essentially saved the Xbox from a premature and undeserved death. That's not to say the Xbox was a bad machine; it wasnt. However, at that time many speculated that Microsoft's first console didn't stand a chance against Sony's PS2.
So it helped then, that Halo was an extremely solid FPS. It didn't both revolutionised the genre and refined it for consoles, handing it polished it to near perfection to an uncertain crowd of risk-takers. It was one of the first truly great twin-stick console shooters and paved the way for the avalanche of console FPSs we continue to see to this day.
Bungie created an immense sci-fi universe for gamers to immerse themselves in and the soaring soundtrack from Martin O'Donnell propelled the action to levels of epic rarely seen in games before.
Some of the level design came under fire from critics however. 'The Library' in particular is notorious for making players fight a seemingly endless horde of enemies through repeated corridors that looked exactly the same. Nonetheless, Halo was an important title for the Xbox and for console shooters in general.
TimeSplitters - PS2
Developed by some of the same folk that made GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, TimeSplitters was the first genuinely great shooter for the PS2. The game featured a story spanning over 100 years, which meant plenty of location variety and a wide selection of weaponry.
It was primarily loved for its multiplayer, which harkens back to the days of GoldenEye, in particular its frantic split-screen action. The game featured a colourful cast of 64 different playable characters, such as the wonderfully British Captain Ash, who says things like "Tally-ho" and Detective Harry Tipper, who looks like he's been ripped straight out of an American cop show from the 70s - complete with aviators and bushy moustache. You could also play as other zany characters such zombies, aliens, mummies, a gingerbread man and Duckman Drake - a man who was bitten by a radioactive duck... and turned into a duck.
Four on four battles took place on a total of 18 different maps ranging from Egyptian tombs and castles to onboard a spaceship and a Chinese restaurant; and you could play them in a variety of gameplay modes such as the classic deathmatch; BagTag, which sees players fighting over the bag to see who can hold on to it for longest time, Escort, where the players have to defend a bot from enemy damage and Last Stand, in which the player has to protect one or more objects from being destroyed from increasingly difficult waves of enemies.
TimeSplitters 2 was arguably the game that popularised the series and expanded on the multiplayer and took it to new heights, but the original is still regarded as one of, if not, the best shooters on PS2.
Tetris - Game Boy
The reason Tetris is so popular is because of the Game Boy, and the reason the Game Boy was so popular because of Tetris. They needed each other, and as of June 2009, the Game Boy version of Tetris has sold over 35 million copies.
The game is damn near flawless and it's the perfect for when you're travelling, as it's as good for quick five to ten minute blasts as it is for a couple of hours.
We imagine Nintendo are glad that they decided to pack Tetris in with the Game Boy now, rather than Super Mario Land. "If you want to sell Game Boy to little boys, then pack in Mario. If you want to sell Game Boy to everyone, pack in Tetris," publisher Henke Rogers said to Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa.
Judging from the sales, that certainly seems to have been the case. The Game Boy sold over 64 millions units worldwide before the Game Boy Colour released.
Tetris was a huge factor in the success of the Game Boy, and in handheld gaming in general, you could even argue it paved the way for Nintendo's decision to aim for a wider audience with the Wii.
Tetris still holds up today as a brilliant, fun game, and is one of the best launch titles for any platform ever.
Super Mario Bros. - NES
Super Mario Bros. further popularised the side-scrolling platform genre, and in a way, pretty much saved the video game industry after a two year slump the 1983 video game crash.
For over 20 years, Super Mario Bros. was the best selling game of all time with over 40 million copies sold. Wii Sports has since taken over the title, but Super Mario Bros is undeniably responsible for the huge success of the NES and what caused Mario to be the worldwide icon we know him as today.
The game shipped with a diverse set of 32 levels, split up into eight worlds with four stages for each and they're all just as much fun as each last. A variety of enemies and underwater levels kept the levels interesting.
It was unlike any platform game before it, offering gamers an unparalleled sense of freedom whilst traversing the Mushroom Kingdom. The game featured secret areas, invisible blocks and hidden warp-zones aplenty, and trying to find them all and uncover programming 'glitches' such as the infinite 1-up trick kept players coming back for a long time.
All in all, Super Mario Bros. was a landmark title and not only did it kick start the Mario series, which has to date sold over 260 million copies worldwide, it helped launch gaming into the mainstream as well.