During the last couple of weeks I happened across a few articles from major media discussing one aspect or another of the upcoming generation transition in console hardware, as is customary of course with any transition. There’s a period preceding any actual console launch, a period seemingly designed to test the limits of hype, as media, platform stakeholders, publisher, developers and —naturally— consumers try to reconcile practical realities with hope. Part of this “dance” is any talk of launch titles for each new platform, especially first party productions that will be there for the picking at the onset of a new generation of hardware and design. The topic alone can transform into a battlefield pretty quickly as we collectively insist (mainly hope or —more accurately— delude ourselves with hope) the first games out of the gate will be an actual taste of things to come but also a glimpse into a future when the commercial dusts has settles and it’s clear who came out on top.
In my 18 years of writing for games the dance remains the same as I repeat myself, mostly in vain really, trying to remind gamers this is a dance they’ve been in before. A platform holder produces very few games in time for a console launch and it’s quite rare for any of said games to be truly representative of what’s to come for the system, the industry, gaming in general in the handful of years that follow till it’s time for another generational leap. Developers are human too, they need time to adjust, imagine, create, innovate, using new, better, more powerful tools they’ve never had before. It’s a process. A process that makes it tough to produce something truly remarkable —not without Lady Luck getting involved as well— especially when virtually all the games that form that initial wave are developed by necessity using non-final development kits.
With all that in mind I thought I’d take a look at past console launches and the titles that carried them along. Industry and circumstances have changed though so some considerations had to be made first.