The 7 Best Console Launch Titles Of All-time

With the launch of the Nintendo Switch looming, it’s becoming increasingly likely that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is going to knock ’em dead and cement itself as a certified system seller. So we thought we’d look back at some of the very best titles that have launched alongside a newborn console.

As a preface, I’ve enforced only one rule upon myself for this list.
1. Only one game per series.

I’ve only done this to stave off accusations of Mario-washing. So without further adieu, here are our top 7 launch titles of all-time.

Condemned: Criminal Origins

Condemned being on this list may seem like an outlier, but Criminal Origins captured the dark, grisly nature of crime scene investigation like no game before it. Not only that, but it was a showcase of brutality as the weight of the game’s savage hand-to-hand combat was felt with every blow.

It was a tense, atmospheric game where you couldn’t protect yourself at range with an arsenal of guns. Criminal Origins, as terrible a subtitle as it is, was a memorable psychological horror game from Monolith and it’s a shame the sequel torpedoed any chance of this becoming an enduring franchise.

Soft reboot maybe, Monolith?

Luigi’s Mansion

To Nintendo’s credit, they’re pretty good at thinking out of the box when it comes to the direction for their properties. Luigi’s Mansion was a curve ball not many saw coming, but it was also a rapturous triumph that showed that the brother with the green overalls has some value, too.

Armed with a vacuum cleaner, Luigi goes all “Ghostbusters” on his newly-won mansion. It was quirky and it was off-beat, and it sent one of the Marios into the world of survival-horror, tongue firmly in-cheek. So off-brand is Luigi’s Mansion that it was always destined for the cult status it still holds today.

Tekken Tag Tournament

A robust roster, a game-changing tag out mechanic coupled with some of the best graphics of its time made Tekken Tag Tournament one of the must-have games when it launched on the PlayStation 2 in 2000. To this day, it is regarded as the best instalment of the Tekken franchise and has an enormous cult following.

It wasn’t canon, so the game had a timeless, dream-match kind of feeling to it. Fans of the lore could live out their ‘what if’ scenarios and finally settle any arguments over who’d beat whom.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

A revised version of this list in the future may very well see Breath of the Wild taking this spot, but for now it’s safe to say the Twilight Princess is not only one of the better Legend of Zelda titles to ever grace a console, but it’s one of the best launch titles to boot.

With a plot that includes all of the Zelda lynch pins, it also brought to the table a mature tone that was a welcome and different change, even if it stirred the ire of some traditionalists. Along with memorable sub-villain, some great dungeons and a bustling overworld, it’s perhaps the most complete Legend of Zelda game to date.

Although I sense a passing of the torch in the future.

Wii Sports

It’s hard for me to go bowling in real life without pining for a time gone by where Wii Sports was on top of the world. At least in the game I was a wrecking ball, capable of dishing up turkey after turkey after turkey. In the real world, I’m a true to life spud.

Whether it was bowling, baseball, tennis, golf or boxing (though let’s face it, you probably didn’t bother with the last two), Wii Sports let us live out our dreams of being sports stars with, at the time, cutting edge motion-controls. It may have been designed simply to demonstrate the Wii tech, but it holds a special place in our hearts.

Halo: Combat Evolved

In the early 00s, when Half-Life reigned supreme, it was popular thought that a keyboard and mouse were paramount to enjoying a first-person shooter, along came Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved to reinvent the wheel and prove everyone wrong.

With a compelling sci-fi story, a rich, beautiful game world and a solid blend of on-foot and vehicular gunplay, Halo: Combat Evolved captured the hearts and minds of early adopters of Microsoft’s Xbox. It was the catalyst that helped propel the console toward its eventual 24m sold units and made Master Chief a household name.

Super Mario World

Let’s be honest, any number of Mario games could have filled up this list, but for me I’ve got to go back to Super Mario World. My conception as a gamer hinged very much on this title, and I must say it was a transformative experience.

I relished my time spent as a young boy helping Mario and Luigi save Dinosaur Land with our new mount, Yoshi. It’s a game with a legacy so profound, they even developed an animated series about it. But the less said about that, the better.