Console launch game Super Mario Halo Combat Evolved rated

Console launch game Super Mario Halo Combat Evolved rated

There’s nothing like the launch of a new video game console. The excitement and anticipation builds as more and more information about new games slowly leaks out. As the day approaches, rumors and speculation abound. The possibilities for next-gen software always seem endless, and we can’t wait to play games worthy of it.

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Launch games are under enormous pressure to succeed, both critically and financially. They are the first and foremost showcases for new hardware and its capabilities. They are built up for months and months and then expected to deliver. These launch games lived up to the hype and then some, somehow eclipsing our wild imaginations and delivering an innovative, memorable and well-crafted first experience on brand new hardware.


10 Wii Sports: Nintendo Wii

Wii Sports baseball game

Instantly fun, engaging for all ages and exquisitely simple, the built-in Wii Sports is the perfect example of launcher software that delivers. It’s still remarkable how pick-up-and-play Wii Sports was: the game drew everyone in immediately. Featuring baseball, boxing, golf, bowling and tennis, as well as challenge and training modes for each sport, Wii Sports showcased the unique new controller’s capabilities. Pure fun is at the heart of this charming game.

While the experience is seen as a more casual affair by most, without placing it higher on this list, the captivating and joyous experience that was Wii Sports on launch day cannot be ruled out. Wii Sports is still fun today with friends on a lazy afternoon. The legacy is still evident in the captivating activities available in Nintendo Switch Sports.

9 Halo: Combat Evolved: Xbox

Halo: Combat Evolved beach game Master Chief

Word of mouth by nature, Halo: Combat Evolved became a killer application, the must-have game, in just a few weeks. Halo featured outstanding console FPS graphics and an acclaimed soundtrack. The physics engine, the control scheme and the sublime feel of the movement captivated millions. The multiplayer hype caused LAN parties all over the world.

While the campaign is critically acclaimed and very impressive, the scattered nothingness of Sidewinder and other maps holds it back on our list, as does the lack of any bots in multiplayer. Still, the Halo hype was well-deserved, and the multiplayer is still a blast to play today.

8 Dynasty Warriors 2: PlayStation 2

Dynasty Warriors 2 fighting game

Dynasty Warriors 2 is an extremely satisfying and captivating hack and slash, an excellent escape into history. The massive environments and incredible enemy counts on screen were second to none, making for an impressive new experience. The increasing challenge and different scenarios created great replay value, as did the variety of playable characters. A cinematic tone and scale also helped this game stand out as truly next-gen.

All the events are based on real history, so you can even learn a little. Continuously killing nameless enemies until your problems melt away is another plus in itself. While the simplicity and repetition may wear on some, there is something to tune and drop with this game to this day.

7 Sonic Adventure: Sega Dreamcast

Sonic runs on the beach with dolphins in Sonic Adventure

Known for an amazing sense of speed, great use of color and a phenomenal grass texture (yes, really), Sonic Adventure ushered in a new era of presentation and graphics. When the huge whale breached the dock, everyone knew they were in the next generation of gaming. Rich colors, bouncy and fast gameplay and a fun cast of quirky characters (Big The Cat and friends), Sega’s answer to Super Mario 64 felt ahead of its time.

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While the hype for Sonic Adventure (and for the Dreamcast) didn’t last long, it was still an incredible launch day. Many feel that some of the control mechanics or even Big’s fishing gameplay aren’t perfect, holding it back on our list, but this remains one of the most amazing launch titles for any system ever made.

6 Soulcalibur: Sega Dreamcast

Soul Caliber Dreamcast Kilik vs Xianghua

For the first time, a game actually looked better at home than at the arcade! What a revelation Soulcalibur was. The game’s incredible polish and presentation placed it far above any other fighter, a true genre standard. The excellent cast and the unique and rather loose feel of combat remain excellent.

While some of the locations (or perhaps even the graphical style of the entire game) may become a bit similar, the overall presentation of this game on 9/9/99 should not be underestimated or taken for granted. The weapon-based combat is still something of a novelty in the genre.

5 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Nintendo Switch

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Link battles enormous rock creature

An amazing, massive collection of everything Nintendo had learned about making games. The amount of time and care shown in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s vast environment is unmatched. The game truly feels like the culmination of the series, with familiar narrative themes, enemies, areas and friends all brilliantly recreated. Smart pictures also add to the charm.

The game’s rather lackluster use of music, and the fact that it was also released on Nintendo’s Wii U console, hold it back on this list. Still, the sense of wonder and discovery that occurred on launch day for players of this game is hard to top.

4 Super Mario World: Super Nintendo

Super Mario World Mario jumps between ground platforms

The only game worthy of being considered a sequel to the legendary Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World somehow improves on one of the best games ever made. Without reinventing the formula, it expands the experience in every way, with bigger, bolder levels and even a new rideable dinosaur companion.

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As a launch title, this is extremely hard to top. It’s more polished and well-made than any other platformer on the Super Nintendo. The secret loot palaces, the haunted houses, Bowser’s secret hideout… everything is thought out, fine tuned and masterfully placed. To follow up, expand and improve on Super Mario Brothers 3 in a launch title is a feat that has only been topped three times in history.

3 TimeSplitters: PlayStation 2

Timesplitter's gameplay duck enemies

One of the fastest and most satisfying FPS titles ever made, TimeSplitters was a frenetic and gloriously absurd experience. It boasts a time-traveling campaign, an excellent and varied soundtrack, well-designed and fun multiplayer maps, a map creator and even bots in multiplayer. This game had it all. The total FPS experience, TimeSplitters is a masterpiece and the series is still loved and much missed today.

Some FPS fans can’t get behind the game’s cartoonish and playful style, leaving it just below the top 2 on this list. Don’t get hung up on it. TimeSplitters was white-hot, lightning-fast action that had to be played to be believed, even if it wasn’t the most challenging and serious FPS out there.

2 Super Mario 64: Nintendo 64

Super Mario 64 Mario in the Bob-omb Battlefield area

With this hallowed launch title, Nintendo laid the foundation for many of the 3D mechanics throughout the modern video game industry. Super Mario 64 set a bar that was never topped in 3D platformers during its time, as most competitors only did their best to copy it. Creating such a watershed, crucial game that defined the 3D space for years to come is remarkable.

A world hub and smaller levels (including unforgettable worlds like Cool Cool Mountain), a player-controlled camera, dynamic sound and music, pressure-sensitive walking controls; Super Mario 64 is perhaps the most revolutionary title in history. People remember when and where they first played this game, such was its impact. The only thing holding it back is that it was in turn built on another launch title that came before it.

1 Super Mario Bros.: Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Mario Bros NES title screen

Super Mario Bros. is the best launch title of all time, if not overall the best game ever. What this title did for the industry cannot be overstated. The launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System was a gamble, as Atari had failed quite miserably. Home games just weren’t respected or loved back then. Then there was Super Mario Bros.

No longer were games just single-screen experiences, or even a few screens that repeated themselves in an arcade-like fashion. Mario could duck, run, jump, anything felt possible. Launching any system with such a monumental and historic game is something we will surely never see the same again.

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