One thing I consistently hear when people talk about the Wii U launch is that the lineup isn’t enough to make them want to purchase the console. Nintendo isn’t doing enough entice sales from the consumers. It is indeed a very arduous task to convince people to buy a console when they don’t see value in the products available for it. However, is this really fair to the Wii U’s launch lineup?
I took the liberty to go through all of the major console releases since the days of the NES and compare the launch games to what we know for sure we are getting day one for the Wii U. As it turns out, the Wii U potentially has the best launch lineup ever. No, that’s not some blind claim, but a cold hard fact. Lets take a trip down memory lane. (Note: This list only applies to the US launches, not launches in other parts of the world)
While there is a pretty decent list of titles here (mostly unique to the system, though several already existed in arcades) the fact remains only a handful of them had any real impact (the bolded ones), and of them only a couple actually became smash hits. It was definitely a pretty good launch lineup for the revival of console gaming, and when you compare this lineup to most other consoles it’s definitely towards the top of the list of having the best launch lineup. In the NES we trust.
To say the Sega Master System had a respectable launch lineup must mean you are the biggest Safari Hunt fan in the world. Truth of the matter is the system got completely overlooked and demolished at this point by the NES, and a lot of had to do with the fact it had a severely poor launch lineup, while Nintendo kept pushing out a ton of content in it’s console’s second year of life (something the Wii U is likely to do as well).
We all know the Sega Genesis went on to become Sega’s highest point of power in the gaming industry. The console itself sold very well, with Sonic leading the way and a slew of really great titles. However, it’s launch was far less spectacular than what the success of the console would suggest. At launch, there was pretty much nothing anyone actually wanted to play. Thankfully Sega corrected this in year two. Still, you can’t look at that list and truly say “wow what a great lineup!”
The SNES is arguably my favorite console ever created, and while the list is short you can clearly see that each of those games scream “must have”. People may not have known that at the time (Mario not withstanding), but those games were pretty much gems. May have only been five games, but those five were worth the price of admission. Of course, we know today that quality games for the SNES simply became a standard, and the SNES may be the one system out there that didn’t have as much shovelware as we are use to with today’s consoles. Even movie games were great back then (I really loved The Lion King game). This is definitely a pretty solid launch lineup, but the one thing it lacked was variety in content. Sure, each game was vastly different, but there were several crowds of gamers that didn’t get a game that would make them want the system. It’s a solid launch lineup, but not necessarily spectacular for all gamers.
The Sega Saturn really was the start of the downturn for Sega with consoles. This launch lineup certainly did not help the cause. Virtua Fighter is the only noteworthy game, and it was far from spectacular. If this is the launch lineup you wanted the Wii U to have… than may God have mercy on your sole.
The most impressive part of this list is that there were so many launch games for a brand new entity in the gaming world who didn’t actually have anything going for it first party wise. Stil, the launch lineup was decent, but not spectacular.
The N64 truly had a slew of great games, even if it sort of began the downward turn of overall console sales until the Wii was released. That being said, the launch lineup was pretty pathetic. Super Mario 64 was obviously innovative and impressive, but the fact remains there are just two titles, and if you aren’t a Mario fan than the N64 simply wasn’t going to appeal to you at launch. While it has the one great title, it’s arguably the N64’s US launch was one of the weakest in gaming history.
The Dreamcast was truly a wonder of a system, and it actually contained a pretty good launch lineup. The console was too soon in terms of it’s timing to launch (gamer’s weren’t ready to go to the next generation yet), but by this time Sony had already began to eat into the gaming population, making it even harder for a third console to exist. It wasn’t for lack of effort, but the Dreamcast was just never able to catch on despite a slew of really good content. I actually really liked the launch lineup, even if it couldn’t get the Dreamcast to actually be a success.
The PlayStation 2 is the most popular and successful gaming console ever created, and it’s launch lineup was a great testament to that fact. Not only was there a slew of great content, there was really something for everyone. I have never been a PlayStation fan but even I have to admit that this lineup is pretty stellar. I still prefer the NES’s lineup, but this one definitely has the right balance of content - a trend the PS2 pretty much continued for almost a decade (even into the current generation).
The GameCube had a rather slow launch, and there were very few titles considered to be appealing. Super Monkey Ball is better than anyone gave it credit for at the time, and Wave Race was actually decent but the appeal of the series had worn off by that time. It is better than the N64’s launch (Luigi’s Mansion was fantastic. Screw the naysayers), but compared to other consoles it didn’t stack up too well.
Microsoft came out firing for their new console, but the only game to really catch on was Halo. Hence when the console is mostly remembered as the “halo box”. I actually thought this lineup was interesting, but it lacked in core content.
You know what I see when I look at that list? The same problem Microsoft still has today: Lack of any compelling in-house software. Quake 4 had potential, and they really banked on Perfect Dark Zero recapturing the Perfect Dark charm… but the fact remains that this list is just a bunch of multi-platform experiences mixed with annual release games that every console is getting anyways. Nothing truly compelling about it.
The same problem the Xbox 360 had is the same problem I see in this list. Sure, there are a couple titles that are interesting… but not at a 600$ price tag - which is what you had to shell out to get the PS3 at launch. As you may be noticing in the present generation, there is a lack of originality and unique experiences at launch. For as much flack as the Wii U is getting for a “poor launch lineup”, their contemporaries certainly don’t have any better of a track record.
Sure, Wii Sports was a massive success. Twilight Princess is the best selling Zelda game ever created. Red Steel showed promise but fell short. Trauma Center? Under-appreciated. The Wii had a pretty decent launch lineup in terms of unique titles, but nothing outside of Zelda and Wii Sports really made a significant impact with consumers. Thankfully, that’s all that was needed until the following year rolled around.
It should be noted that we don’t actually know what the US launch lineup is, so this list is based on reliable information about what games are ready to go for day one.
Even if you want to discount the cross platform experiences, the Wii U is still hitting hard with a ton of unique titles. Mario, Pikmin, P-100, Scribblenauts, Rayman Legends, and ZombiU all look to be stellar titles. All are either aimed at a more serious gamer, or aimed solely at having a crap ton of fun on Nintendo’s new system. That’s not even getting into NintendoLand, which may in fact be a wildcard for the casual audience. Either way you slice it, that launch lineup is pretty impressive compared historically to every other game console ever released
Look at that list again: Is the Wii U’s launch lineup really all that bad? To all the haters out there… I think it’s time to just stop talking. Yes, Nintendo is marketing the Wii U oddly so far and it’s confusing consumers. Nintendo needs to work on it’s marketing strategy, especially when it really does have such a solid launch lineup. Still, when you break down the base facts of what we are getting at launch… wow. This is the first console launch where there are likely over five games I actually want to buy. The better question is how I can come up with enough money to get all the titles I want at launch.
Sure, calling the Wii U launch lineup the best in the history of console gaming is too subjective, but the fact remains when you look at all of the lists above the Wii U has a very favorable showing for launch. Maybe the Wii U isn’t powerful enough. Maybe the Wii U will fall behind the competitors in years to come. Maybe this is the end of the world. However, you can’t deny the fact that the content definitely appears to be there at launch. Nintendo, I think it’s time you stop talking about social stuff and beating around the bush, and finally win over people with the fantastic content coming out for your console.
So what are your thoughts? Do you agree that the Wii U launch lineup actually fairs very well against previous console launches?