11 Games that defined a console
When I say ‘PSOne’, the first thing that will pop into your head will either be, the grey box that sat under your parents’ TV set, or a specific game that was launched during the time of that console.
So, I decided to take on the monumental task of listing the iconic games that defined some of the most successful consoles. Actually, I just went with what popped into my head first and ran with it. I didn’t include the current gen consoles, since we still have a ways to go before we can call them successful or not. Also, I mostly went with consoles that were a commercial success, so sorry to all you 3DO fans out there.
Be aware that this is my personal list and could be different to what you have in mind.
Super Mario Bros. – NES (1985)
I decided to get this one out of the way first. The first Super Mario game is arguably one of the most iconic games in history, so it’s a no-brainer that it will the champion of the console that started it all after the early 1980’s crash. We all remember playing this game with our friends, memorising every single warp to get to World 8-4, just so you can save the princess and restart the whole adventure again.
Halo: Combat Evolved – Xbox (2001)
There are some that might argue that Halo 2 belongs on the list, but Halo 2 would not have happened if not for the success of Halo: Combat Evolved. It spawned one of the best known franchises to date, as well as the fact that it revolutionised the couch multiplayer experience. Many other console shooters released as the ‘Halo killer’, but that never happened. I’m just about convinced that the Xbox would not be here today if it wasn’t for Halo.
Sonic the Hedgehog – Sega Megadrive (1991)
The game was all the rage back in the early 90’s. There were arguments on playgrounds on who was better, Mario or Sonic, and for a time it seemed as though Sonic might just dethrone the king of Video Games. Sadly, Sonic’s later outings didn’t turn out so great, and the once great mascot of SEGA fell by the wayside. Sonic the Hedgehog was a great game, and while the whole concept was about speed, the game turned out to be a lot more than that. Hopefully SEGA can return this legendary mascot to glory with one of the two upcoming Sonic titles.
Final Fantasy VII – PSOne (1997)
Odds are good that when I mentioned PSOne earlier, you thought of Final Fantasy VII. I’m going to come clean here and admit that I never played the game, so I cannot comment on the game itself, and will have to take the fanboy’s word for it that it’s any good. That said, there is no denying the status that the game enjoys. It’s insane the amount of love the game gets all over the world. Now the world waits with bated breath for the Remake, and I really hope that it lives up to all the expectations.
Mario 64 – Nintendo 64 (1996)
This was a tough one to pick, since two defining games popped in my head here. Mario 64 and Goldeneye 007. I asked around a bit, and the overwhelming response (It was just Dawid) was Mario 64. The game was the first truly 3D platforming game that delivered on what was promised. Sure, PC had 3D-like level designs with DOOM and Wolfenstein, but nothing up to that time gave you the real sense of 3D and adventure. Being a 14-year old PC gamer at the time, I only really learned about it a couple years later, and was amazed to learn it was few years old already. It truly was ahead of its time.
The Last of Us – PS3 (2013)
As was the case with the PS2, they ended up saving some of the best for last. For PS2 it was God of War II (though here was something a little better just before it), for PS3 it was The Last of Us. The Last of Us was a technical marvel, and told such a gripping and engaging story, that you cannot help but love the game. It might have been remastered for PS4, but it was on the PS3 that we played it first. It’s a great game and it laid the foundation for Naughty Dog’s next great masterpiece, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
Super Smash Bros. Melee – Nintendo GameCube (2002)
It was not the first game in the series, but it was the one that left a mark and helped Nintendo sell more consoles than they likely would have without it. The fighting game threw all the Nintendo characters into a battle arena where you could beat the snot out of Donkey Kong, or Princess Peach for all the times she got kidnapped. Since then there have been numerous games trying to match it (most recently PlayStation All Stars) and to this day Super Smash Bros. Melee is still being played in competitive (with prize money) eSports tournaments. It defined the little purple console that could.
Gears of War – Xbox 360 (2006)
The father of modern couch co-op games and cover-based shooters. It blew us away when it launched a decade ago. It might have been the first time that PlayStation fanboys were truly jealous of the competition, because they also wanted to play that insane-looking shooter with their buddies. It spawned countless clones, and over the years, they might have improved on the original Gears, but no one can deny the influence ol’ Cliffy B’s 3rd person shooter had on the industry.
Shenmue – SEGA Dreamcast (1999)
The Dreamcast wasn’t around long enough for people to know just how far ahead of its time the console was, but in that short space of time it launched many classic titles that we now see HD remasters of (Jet Set Radio, REZ, Sonic Adventure and the list goes on). Shenmue on the other hand was the first of its kind. It combined RPG elements with action and adventure and introduced what we now know as QTE’s (Quick Time Events). It defined the Dreamcast to such an extent that the third game will be launching on current gen consoles in the not-too-distant future.
GTA: San Andreas – PlayStation 2 (2004)
The PlayStation 2, to date, is the most successful console commercially. So there is no doubt that it will have plenty of iconic games. To be honest, I had to think a bit before settling on San Andreas, which says a lot about all the excellent games that launched on PS2. San Andreas released on just about every console imaginable, but it released on PS2 first and, since almost everyone and their grandma owned a PS2, it’s understandable that you will most probably remember playing it on PS2. GTA III was revolutionary, but San Andreas improved on it in every way. The game sold 27.5 million copies on the PS2, that’s 10 million more that it’s nearest rival, which happens to be GTA: Vice City. Go figure.
Wii Sports – Wii (2006)
Hate it or love it – Wii Sports brought with it not only the foray into motion controls, but completely changed the outcome of the last generation in terms of hardware sales. Yes, the Nintendo Wii ended up with more shovelware than anything else, but you can’t deny the impact of this game and how it paved the road of success for Nintendo in the last generation. You, your friends, your siblings, parents, grandparents and people from all walks of life had a go at this video game that had you literally swinging your arm to hit a tennis or golf ball. Super Mario Galaxy is probably one of the best games on the Wii, but Wii Sports definitely defined this classic Nintendo console.
So yeah, those are some of the most iconic games that defined the consoles they were released on. What do you think are the games that defined any particular consoles?