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Is the Xbox One launch lineup really the best in history?


Is the Xbox One launch lineup really the best in history?

Grand Claims

Microsoft's corporate vice president Phil Harrison has come out with all guns blazing in an interview with CVG. The bullish VP claimed that the Xbox One has, "the best line-up of games -we think- in the history of consoles."

In the history of consoles. The best launch line up OF ALL TIME. A bold claim, but does it stand up to scrutiny? We decided to reach into the past to find out.


Atari 2600 (1978)

The Atari VCS or 2600's launch games look incredibly primitive but the blocky pixels hide some cunning gameplay. Crucially, you could argue that almost every one of the nine titles that you could buy on the 2600's launch day went on to spawn a genre.

Key titles:

Xbox One gamesAn early form of deathmatch, Combat offered 27 different (ok, actually fairly similar) ways for two players to fight it out. The best of these was probably Tank Pong, in which your bullets could ricochet off walls to blow up your opponent.

Indy 500 was a top-down racing game for two players that even used its own controller. The game featured different courses and even terrain that would slow you down. Great fun even today.

Ok, maybe not:

Let's draw a veil over Basic Math, while acknowledging that it was probably a great way to convince your mum to buy you an Atari because it was educational.

Scores 3


Sega Megadrive/Genesis (1989)

The SEGA Genesis/Megadrive was home to some of the greatest games of the 16-bit era. Sadly, SEGA decided against releasing any of them on launch day and instead plumped for some rotten old tat it found in a skip next to the SEGA offices. We imagine.

Key titles:

Xbox One games 2Space Harrier II may be almost laughably poor by normal standards but it was a reasonably fun 3D-ish shooter that stood out from the rest of the dismal Megadrive selection.

Ok, maybe not:

Tommy Lasorda Baseball. No, not a clue.

Thunder Force II. Generic horizontal scrolling shooter with some sub-par vertical levels.

Last Battle. Disappointing side-scrolling beat'em up that resembles one of the parody games Bart plays on The Simpsons

Altered Beast. Voted #1 in Mega magazine's "10 Worst Mega Drive Games of All Time", fact fans.

Scores 1


SNES (1991)

The Super Famicom's Japanese launch was followed a year later by a rebrand as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and five rock-solid launch games for its launch in the West. The SNES Mode 7 graphics were a revelation and the foundation of some classic titles.

Key titles:

Xbox One games 1For many gamers, Super Mario World is the SNES. An amazing revamp of the platform genre, SMW is one of the biggest-selling games of all time and set the tone for Mario's subsequent adventures.

F-Zero was Wipeout before Wipeout. The Mode 7 graphics created a fluid, pseudo-3D racer that blew gamer's minds.

Ok, maybe not:

SimCity. Actually a pretty decent conversion but not ideally suited to the SNES.

Scores 2


Sony PlayStation (1994)

The PS1's launch games were a mixed bag, with only a few titles showing the promise of what the console would later go on to achieve. The best of these were, however, very good indeed.

Key titles:

Xbox One games 3Ridge Racer was a fast-paced arcade-style racing game that was one of the first to use 3D polygon models. Still fun to pick up and play today.

Ubisoft's 2D platformer Rayman was harder than a diamond Ross Kemp but addictive enough to keep you coming back for more. Back in 3D land, Jumping Flash was a criminally underrated first-person 3D platform game.

Ok, maybe not:

Street Fighter: The Movie. Not even Kylie Minogue could save this one.

Kileak - The DNA Imperative. Awful early attempt at a first-person console shooter.

Scores 4


Nintendo N64 (1997)

What the N64's launch line-up lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. Just two games were available when the Ninty 64 hit the shelves. Happily, they were both stone-cold classics.

Key titles:

Xbox One games 7Pilotwings 64 showed off the 3D graphics oomf of the Nintendo 64 much as the SNES orginal did with that console's Mode 7 graphics.

Super Mario 64. Taking Mario into the third dimension was a controversial move but the experiment paid off and this style of Mario gameplay has continued to be employed in games like Mario Galaxy.

Ok, maybe not:

Nothing. Nintendo hit this one out of the park.

Scores 2


Sony PS2 (2000)

With the launch of the PS2, the console wars were on. Sony came out swinging with a strong day one line-up combining reliable sequels with some surprises.

Key titles:

The slightly cartoonish feel of some of the TimeSplitters levels were a distraction from a fantastic shooter. Exquisitely fine-tuned FPS action through varied stages with enough multiplayer options and bots to keep you playing for years.

TekkenTekken Tag Tournament took the 3D fighter and added an extra layer of strategy and mayhem. Still one of the best brawlers around. Dead or Alive 2 might be most famous for featuring, ahem, a 'breast physics engine' to portray its buxom protagonists but there is a classic fighting game underneath the cheesecake and gloss.

Ok, maybe not:

Evergrace. Substandard action RPG with laggy visuals.

Eternal Ring. More of the same, but oddly even worse.

Scores 4


Microsoft Xbox (2001)

The Xbox was a shot across Sony's bows and kicked off the modern console wars in style by launching with a clutch of games good enough to challenge the PS1's growing collection of classics.

Key titles:

Xbox One games 4Halo: Combat Evolved was a brilliant take on the first-person run & gun genre and set the tone for the way 3D shooters would be played from there on in. A magnificent game to get on day one.

Project Gotham Racing added a touch of flair to racing games with points being scored for well-executed maneuvers as well as speed. Apparently Bill Gates' favourite game. In other news, Bill Gates is a gamer.

"The Tony Hawk of surfing games" may sound like faint (or just downright odd) praise but Transworld Surf is exactly that. If that all seemed a bit wet, you could play the excellent Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2X on launch day too.

Ok, maybe not:

Cel Damage. A good-looking cartoon game, but a bit dull.

Shrek. 'Put a Shrek in it' may be sage advice in other media, but not here.

Scores 3


Microsoft Xbox 360 (2005)

Nowadays, Microsoft's second attempt at a games console has one of the best games libraries around but it wasn't always that way. The Xbox 360 launch had some strong titles but a few duffers too.

Key titles:

Perfect Dark ZeroPerfect Dark Zero is a great FPS with a novel espionage-themed lot let down only by some shonky voice work.

Call Of Duty 2. The tense, oh-god-I-am-a-vulnerable-bag-of-meat-how-did-my-grandad-survive-this gameplay of the Call Of Duty series really kicked into gear with this episode.

The 360 got its first classic racer on day one with Need for Speed: Most Wanted .

Ok, maybe not:

Quake 4. Uninspiring and clunky compared to its PC predecessors.

Scores 3


Nintendo Wii (2006)

The Nintendo Wii brought casual gaming to a whole new audience and its innovative controls have been widely imitated. It's not all about waggling the controlling though, as its varied launch games show.

Key titles:

WXbox One games 5ii Sports. The first game you are likely to play on the Wii and still one of the best. Stupidly fun sports games that cemented the console's reputation as a games machine the whole family could enjoy.

The 'Rayman' aspect of Rayman Ravin' Rabbids was dropped from the sequels and doesn't really add much here. That's fine, though, because this is an innovative and genunely funny party game grab-bag of mini challenges.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a stone-cold classic. A fantastic addition to the Zelda games that combines hack'n'slash action with puzzle solving adventure while making the most of the Wii's unique controls

Scores 3

Ok, maybe not:

Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam. Just appalling. A terrible implementation of the Tony Hawk's skating franchise that tries to turn the game into a downhill racer. More like Downhill Marmite, but less popular.

Happy Feet. Unhappy thumbs, more like.


Sony PS3 (2007)

The PS3 is home to some amazing games but when the console launched in 2006 it looked like a potential flop. The initial lineup was unimpressive and it was only with time that developers learned to squeeze the best out of the PS3's hardware.

Key titles:

Xbox One games 6Call of Duty 3 was a decent updating of the WWII shooter, transporting the player to Normandy for a tough push into enemy territory with great multiplayer modes.

Ridge Racer 7 was another quality entry in the series and Tony Hawk's Project 8 was another great skateboarding trick-fest let down by a lack of multiplayer.

Ok, maybe not:

Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom. Repetitive sword-swinging.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire. Imagine giant robots fighting. Now imagine that being really boring.


Nintendo sets the standard

So, our highly scientific survey shows us that the Nintendo 64 has a perfect score with regards to launch day titles. By cunningly releasing just two games but even-more-cunningly making sure they were really good it ensured that early adopters got all killer and no filler.

But what about the much-vaunted Xbox One launch line-up?

It's true that the opening Xbox One line-up has some pretty impressive names. Realistic motorsports in Forza 5, free-to-play (with PAYG extra characters) brawler Killer Instinct and the latest FIFA offering sit proudly alongside next-gen titles like Watch Dogs, Ryse: Son Of Rome and Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Sitting over in the opposite corner, the PS4 can also boast an impressive-sounding collection of launch titles. Sci-fi shooter Killzone: Shadow Fall looked incredible at the PS4 launch event, War Thunder could be the biggest multiplayer flight sim ever and who doesn't want to grab a cape and mask and tool around in DC Universe Online?

The thing is, at the moment these are little more than tech demos to be shown off at trade events. FIFA 14 could be the greatest football game since Sensible Soccer or it could be like playing with a punctured ball in a pub car park. Will Forza's physics actually be up to snuff or will that lovingly texture mapped Dodge Viper feel like a frictionless dodgem car trundling down a hill made of treacle? Will DC Universe be Superman or more Bananaman?

So it's impossible for us judge just yet, but we now know what to judge it by when the Xbox One finally trundles into view.

What do you think? Would you trade the Xbox One's line-up with any from history?


August 23, 2013, 4:23 pm

Doesn't matter how good the games are when the console is terrible..


August 23, 2013, 4:53 pm

But, but... How can an article about best ever launches be written without talking about the Dreamcast???!! I mean just how? Think back to Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, Power Stone and The House of the Dead 2!!!!


August 23, 2013, 6:48 pm

I've been gaming for many years and the Xbox One launch lineup is my favorite out of all the consoles I've owned from launch. I'm very excited about 5 of the 21 launch titles (2 of which are exclusives), and moderately excited about an additional 3 titles (all of which are exclusives).


August 23, 2013, 6:50 pm

No ridge racer for PS4? I'm shocked! Maybe cos Ken Kuturagi isn't presenting anymore...

alex l

August 24, 2013, 1:06 am

Written by a nintendo fanboy obviously. I still remember my excitement at opening my Megadrive christmas morning and playing Golden Axe for the first time. I certainly wasn't sat there wishing my mum had bought a Nintendo.

Actionable Steps

August 24, 2013, 9:33 am

Very true, and I bought a Wii for launch day (the only time I've ever gotten a console on launch day) and I sold it on eBay a few days later after completing Zelda. Not a single good game came out for 2 years till Smash Bros Brawl... Wii gets a 1 in my book for the 1 game I could tolerate enough to play...


August 25, 2013, 7:48 pm

ps1: you missed a key game that redefined gaming and made it 'cool' for non geeks to game. remember it yet? 'cos without it gaming would be very different today. had a very invogue soundtrack?

wipEout? remember it now? no? did all the m$ payola stop brain function?


August 28, 2013, 1:28 am

But the console was great too....

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