It’s time for new consoles! For gaming outlets to do unboxings (like Niki did recently!), and play new games, and compare and contrast launch lineups. Now, I mentioned this on Fanwidth this week, and we all know this, but not every console — really, not many consoles — hit the ground running with fantastic libraries on day one. You’re pretty lucky to get one ground-breaking instant classic (such as Super Mario 64 on the N64 or a Virtua Fighter on the Saturn), with a sort of supporting cast of cool things.
But really, even that scenario is rare.
For every Nintendo Switch (Breath of the Wild, Fanbyte’s Game of the Decade), or Dreamcast (Soul Calibur!), there are plenty of consoles land with a few ok-to-decent titles. This is a list of some of the better unsung heroes that had to carry big console launches on their backs, whether they were up to the task or not. I’m limiting it to games I’m very familiar with, and lineups that had no clear standout classics, the stuff of most modern console launches. But these are the little (or, well, totally decent for their franchise) games that could, goddamnit.
Dead Rising 3 – Xbox One, 2013
I actually reviewed this, for the Xbox One’s launch seven years ago. And it’s pretty good! A good Dead Rising game, which was notably bigger and prettier, thanks to its next-gen billing, and neither the launch trash of Kinect exclusive Fighter Within (I’m very sorry, devs who had to work on that), nor exactly a… pardon my old person speak, Killer App.
I think my review scored it at 7.5, which is just about right. Some of the “psycho” bosses were doofy even at the time, but it had an impressive variety of weaponry and fun characters and vehicle options to enjoy.
Fantavision – Playstation 2, 2000
Now, I have never played Fantavision, so don’t get angry with me. But it’s pretty! It’s all about pretty fireworks! I do remember fawning all over screenshots in Electronic Gaming Monthly, then being more excited over whatever was coming out on the Dreamcast that month, which was probably Jet Grind Radio, which launched a few days after the PS2 did.
Skylanders Swap Force – Playstation 4, 2013 (Also an Xbox One launch game)
I reviewed this one too! The best part of playing this was definitely playing with the Octopus duder, Wash Buckler. The only launch titles I remember playing much of were this, Resogun, and early, early days Warframe, which bears little resemblance to the game it is today.
Star Wars: Rogue Leader – Gamecube, 2001
You thought I was going to pick Luigi here, huh? No. I liked Rogue Leader, though I found it a bit overrated (I think the fact that it had “DVD quality” movie clips ahead of the original trilogy’s DVD release was a factor, tbh). It’s also nowhere near as much a hot, fun mess as another Nintendo console launch title based on the Interstellar War, Shadows of the Empire. Now that is a fantastic mediocre game.
But people loved this game, clips or no, and it was a very, very pretty sequel to the N64’s popular Rogue Squadron.