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The importance of a strong launch line-up
Written by James Hobbs

The GameCube
Nintendo have never been that good at securing an entirely solid line-up to launch their consoles with. The GameCube is a good example. It launched with 21 games, of varying quality, and suffered from a dearth of titles throughout its lifespan. The only titles that could be regarded as being of higher quality than normal were Waverace: Blue Storm, Rogue Leader, and Super Monkey Ball.

The so-called 'killer titles,' such as The Wind Waker, Smash Bros Melee, Metroid Prime, and others didn't make it to the system in time. The N64 suffered from the same fate - it launched with a frankly pitiful three games, and again suffered from a lack of third-party support. Launch games are important. They set the ball rolling. They provide a first impression of the console and its capabilities. Nobody wants to unpack a shiny new console and feel disappointed when they plug it in and start playing - it'd be like those confusing incidents with Thai ladyboys you always hear about from backpackers.

It may be something of a journalism cliché to exhort the wonders of Super Mario 64, but I do it gladly. There may only have been three games launched with the Nintendo 64, but my god you got your moneys worth. No console since then has topped the sheer enamourous quality of Mario 64 with a launch title. Many games are arguably 'better,' but certainly not games that launched with a console. Key franchises are generally locked away and developed on furiously, missing the launch window and coming out months after. With Wii, however, the situation may be slightly different.

I believe that the most important aspects of a console launch line-up are as follows:

  • Diversity

  • Quality

  • Key franchises

The Nintendo 64 certainly had the quality, and to some extent the franchise, but it did not have any diversity. The GameCube had the diversity, but no real defining quality or pre-established franchises. The Playstation 2 had the diversity, and the franchises, but no quality. The list goes on. Historically, no console launch has been a resounding success in terms of filling these criteria, regardless of the amount of units sold.

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