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Mario, Zelda and Tearaway crash the next-gen launch party

Today is arguably the most significant day in 2013’s gaming calendar. Exactly one week after Sony gave the console industry a much-needed boost with the record breaking North American PS4 launch, and one week before it hopes to repeat the trick with the system’s European release, it’s Microsoft’s turn to hog the spotlight as it makes its own jump into the next generation.

While the company’s extensive marketing muscle and extravagant launch celebrations across the globe will ensure that much of the coverage offered to games focuses on Xbox One’s release, readers of sites like this one will know that new consoles only tell half the story of this magical month. Just as excitingly, today also marks the release of three games that run rings around the vast majority of next-gen launch titles.

Unlike the first wave of Xbox One and PS4 games, these titles also show their more mature host platforms at their best. Alright, it’s true that Super Mario 3D World does little to utilise the GamePad in innovative ways, but after a disappointing launch year for Wii U, Nintendo finally has the killer app its console has been sorely missing. I can only hope the game’s review scores are matched by stellar sales and that it helps to shift a ton of consoles.

Like 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has attracted rave reviews. Following a slow start, not all that dissimilar to Wii U's, 3DS sales have rocketed this year thanks to the regular release of critically acclaimed software. The likes of Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Animal Crossing New Leaf, Pokemon X & Y, and now Link Between Two Worlds have made it a vintage year for 3DS.

In LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule’s excellent, Tearaway, Vita too appears to have found the game it has been missing since launch--something perfectly crafted to the handheld’s unique form and capabilities. It’s disappointing that the title missed its original October release date because it may get overlooked in all the next-gen bluster, but hopefully it will achieve decent sales over time. Either way, it’s another one of those standout, non-traditional first party games you just have to love Sony for backing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about next-gen consoles, and there's nothing quite like unboxing a new piece of hardware, but the truth is I’m most excited about the promise of future games and experiences on Xbox One and PS4 than I am about what’s available at launch. Tony Key, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ubisoft, recently explained why console launch games are so often underwhelming.

"Right now, all publishers are transitioning their development resources," he told GamesIndustry International. "For a game like Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, most of the sales are still going to be on current generation platforms. We can't make a version for PS4 or Xbox One that's so wildly different that we can't market them together. So, for now, developers and designers are focused on making a game that works really well on all of the systems--but as we transition resources to the next gen, it's going to be more difficult to do that because the power of these machines is going to allow so much more creativity."

It's here that you look for console exclusives to pick up the slack, but with a few exceptions like Killzone and Forza, these have been largely underwhelming. Yes, Ryse is a technical showcase for its host platform, but it’s gameplay rather than graphics that stands the test of time, so it seems likely that we'll remember Tearaway and Super Mario 3D World more fondly in years to come than we will Crytek's Roman revenge tale, or indeed Knack, which was directed by Mark Cerny, PS4's lead system architect. That said, today is an amazing day to be a console gamer no matter where your allegiance may lie.

3 comments

  • Squirrel - November 25, 2013 8:37 p.m.

    That's great for those games, but what I don't understand is how Super Mario 3D World (a next gen game) can help crash the "next gen" party. What a sec. I know. This is yet another article trying to validate some authors' opinion that the Wii U doesn't count as next gen. Damn I hate fanboys, they're so ignorant. This time it was subtlety done, but that's still no better than the article that blatantly lied about in the intro that the Wii U wasn't 8th gen. So time for a lessen!! For those less informed people out there (that's you GamesRadar), the Wii U is part of the 8th console generation. That's factually true, whether you want to whine about it or not. Marginally lower hardware specs don't relegate the Wii U to an imaginary 7th and 1/2 generation because you have decided they do. Consoles generations have never been judged by graphics, especially now that graphics and resolutions are so good that they have less significance. Console generations are categorized by cycles in hardware. The Wii was still 7th gen despite its lower graphics, the PS2 still 6th gen compared to the superior tech of the Gamecube and Xbox, and the PS1 still was the same gen as the N64. Using this newly invented fanboy driven logic the Xbox should have been a whole new gen compared to the PS2 and we should have dismissed the PS1 as not next gen because the N64 was more powerful. I know fanboyism doesn't mix with intelligence, but please stop this futile attempt at demeaning a box of plastic and metal. This isn't the first time you've been called out on this, and I know it won't be the last. And that's a real shame because I use to consider GamesRadar one of the more mature and intelligent gaming media sites, but sadly it has devolved into more of a hub of ignorance and fanboyism, a lot like Gamespot. And that's the truth.
  • hester2 - November 22, 2013 6:42 a.m.

    I'm kicking myself for forgetting about Tearaway. I spent too much stocking my PS4 library, so now I have to wait on that one. If I had remembered that was coming out, I would have put off buying Injustice. Hell, if I had known how much Black Flag was going to suck me in, I would have waited on a couple others, too.
  • Shayz - November 22, 2013 5:51 a.m.

    My roommate and his girlfriend bought 3DS' a few weeks ago for pokemon to join up with me and my girlfriend... and this week we got a Wii U for the launch of Super Mario 3D world, as well as Pikmin 3 for me, Monster Hunter on both systems for my roommate and his girlfriend, and Nintendoland tops it off. These past couple weeks have been so awesome. I mean before I was having fun with my 3DS by myself or sometimes with the girl, but now it's like gamer central XD I mean heck, whenever I play Pikmin everyone gathers around to watch (which is always nice). From Mario Kart 7 to Nintendoland to just sitting around in the same room all playing pokemon together, THIS is what I like about the nintendo brand. I'm thinking about maybe looking for a copy of Wii Party U, or probably getting that new DS Mario Party. Either way, I haven't had this much fun with a console since I first got my Wii and all my friends thought virtual bowling was the coolest thing.

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