Launch titles are hugely important for a new console. They help to define expectations and create anticipation for more that can follow. While in modern gaming it’s often seen that launch titles are of lower quality – Nintendo has managed to launch some of their past consoles with amazingly grand titles. With Nintendo set to announce the games and titles that will form the basis upon which the Switch will stand, we thought that it would be a good time to glance back and look at the best launch games that Nintendo’s managed to push out over the years for its various consoles.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
Twilight Princess wasn’t always a Wii game, it was originally slated for the Gamecube. Yet for this reason, it was hugely important that it showed up on Nintendo’s Wii.
It’s hard to remember now, but when that console was announced, many couldn’t get their heads around how motion controls could work in AAA-games. Nintendo’s Wiimote was a completely new idea – and it was scary. So Nintendo’s decision to set Twilight Princess up as a launch title helped to reassure gamers that the Wii could still house their much-loved games.
It also helps that Twilight Princess is an awesome game and helped to add some weight to the fairly lightweight lineup of third-party offerings that made up the Wii’s launch lineup. The game was a brilliantly crafted, fully fledged Zelda offering – and the Wii integrated features played up the potential. Some argue that they got in the way – but it’s hard to argue with the fact that Nintendo managed to launch a full Zelda title at the beginning of their Wii console
4. Wii Sports
As said above, the Nintendo Wii had an interesting set of propositions for gamers. When it arrived, it had to appeal to gamers across the board yet at the same time define its own experiences. To this end, Nintendo decided to revisit an old trick of theirs, giving away a free game in the box.
Wii Sports became a mainstream phenomenon, being played on talk-shows, TV programmes and the go-to party game for the system. Thanks to some incredibly clever choices in the titles offered, the game showcased everything gamers needed to see about the new control scheme. From bowling to baseball, all the titles offered were designed for ease of access and to be played with friends as much as possible.
Wii Sports was designed to get people talking about the Nintendo Wii in a positive manner – and to this end it achieved it.
3. Tetris (GameBoy)
For Nintendo’s GameBoy launch, they made the surprising decision to pack a game in the box. A puzzle game may sound like an odd choice for showing off the capabilities of the rather limited handheld – but history tells us otherwise.
Tetris was a carnival of excitement, lovingly crafted and hugely addictive. It showcased enough of the handheld to get people on board – and was great enough in its own right that it turned the puzzle game into a hugely successful series. From the memorable music to the tight controls, there’s not an inch wasted in this package.
Even to this day, many consider this the definitive mobile experience. While we wouldn’t go that far, the game retrains its replayability all these years later.
2. Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Iconic doesn’t quite cover this game. When we talk about the video games that define the medium, Super Mario Bros is there and there abouts. Everything from the iconic tunes, to the way Mario moves is memorable in this title. You’d have to look hard to find a video gamer who hasn’t played at least one level of Super Mario Bros.
It was a system seller out the gate, defining what the Nintendo Entertainment System was all about and setting a very high bar for which all games that followed had to leap. Not only this, the game became the benchmark for which
1. Mario 64 (N64)
Mario games are a huge part of the reason Nintendo does so well – and it’s one of the reasons they like to make sure that their consoles launch with at least one Italian plumber title in tow. Mario 64 though had a hard task – it had to convince people that a 2D icon could make the leap into the third dimensions.
Mario 64 was genre defining – single-handedly creating the expectations upon which all 3D platformers would be judged. Not only this, the game was hugely fun and managed to showcase how Nintendo’s 64-bit console was a step ahead of other failed 64-bit offerings (Jaguar). It was vivid, enjoyable and a wonderful showcase for everything that Nintendo wanted their first 3D console to be.
It didn’t just feel natural on the Nintendo 64, it’s hard to imagine the console without it.