The Top 7... Launchiest launch franchises

Console launches are funny things, when you think about it. They're built up with years of rumors, reveals, E3 press conferences, leaked chip sets, etc., and then in a single day it goes on sale, becoming a reality. On that big day when the system launches, the console might be full of promise, but it's really only as good as its launch games.

Since the Atari 2600 home system first arrived, launch lineups have been as varied as the systems that have gone on sale, but in the last two decades, some franchises keep popping up. Perhaps you never noticed, but some publishers persistently prepare the same franchises, over and over again, for system launches all over the world. Which seven series have shown up the most times alongside a new console’s release (and will no doubt hit stores again with the Wii U, PS4 and Xbox 720)? Well, that list starts with a familiar entry...

7. Dynasty Warriors (Four launches total)

Despite having a lackluster launch library, the PlayStation 2 had one game that really caught players’ attention: Dynasty Warriors 2, which introduced many gamers to the Koei series and its singularly weird approach to ancient Chinese history. It would go on to have dozens of updates, sequels, spin-offs and updated sequels to spin-off on home consoles. However, the only systems it's actually launched alongside after that point have been handheld ones.

Koei continued its original PlayStation success with a PSP launch game (simply titled Dynasty Warriors), while the publisher skipped the next three home-console premieres. Spin-off Samurai Warriors Chronicles made it in time for the 3DS launch, and we just reviewed the Vita’s Dynasty Warriors Next. Review spoiler: It’s totally a Dynasty Warriors game!

Chances these will appear in the next console launch: We’d say it’s more than likely that Tecmo Koei will add a little something extra to the most recent PS3/360 release just in time for the Wii U to go on sale.

6. Super Monkey Ball (Five launches total)

In early 2001, Sega broke the hearts of many fans when it discontinued the Dreamcast, announcing that it would become a third-party developer, and that it intended to publish games on the systems of its former competitors. One of the first console titles Sega produced was an arcade port delightfully titled Super Monkey Ball. The surprisingly intense puzzler was a highlight of the GameCube’s early games, not only because of the huge number of stages to finish, but also due to it being packed with engaging minigames. Sega suddenly had a new franchise on its hands.

Sega quickly created multiplatform releases for the adorable apes, including a release-day port for the ill-fated NGage. And after such success on the GameCube, Sega craftily created the Wii’s initial offering, subtitled Banana Blitz, with the typical collection of side-games to entertain waggle fans. Monkey Ball also had the honor of being one of the first iOS games to appear in the App Store, and most recently was one of the first 3DS games, though that one was a bit of a disappointment.

Chances it will appear in the next console launch: We once would have said it was 100 percent likely, but then the expected PS Vita-launch Monkey Ball got pushed to summer. Is it possible Sega is giving these banana lovers some more development time after that 3D dissatisfaction?

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  • rballa2 - February 28, 2012 7:49 p.m.

    Geez it's quiet around here.
  • BarryNomad - February 28, 2012 9:36 a.m.

    Sonic has had four or five, meaning Dynasty Warriors should be bumped or at least share a spot with the blue hedgehog: Dreamcast: Sonic Adventure (US & Europe) Gamecube: SA2: Battle (Europe) PS3: Sonic '06 (Europe and Australia) Wii Virtual Console: Sonic the Hedgehog (US and Europe) N-Gage: Sonic N (US)
  • GR_HenryGilbert - February 28, 2012 10:45 a.m.

    Didn't mean to do Sonic wrong, but I had my reasons. I chose not to count Virtual Console's "launch", as those were simply plain emulations sent live with no frill. As for Euro and AU launches, (in most cases) if they took place more than a month after the US launch, I felt that was too late to count as a "real" launch game. The developers had a little extra time to figure out the system than the other devs that got their English-language games out as early as they could.
  • BarryNomad - February 28, 2012 10:52 a.m.

    Thanks for the reply and the explanation for your selections. B) Sonic still thinks you're way past cool.
  • ultimatepunchrod - February 28, 2012 6:05 a.m.

    Best top 7 I've read in a while. This article reminds me of why I got hooked on gamesradar in the first place. More like this please.
  • AuthorityFigure - February 28, 2012 1:42 a.m.

    Maybe this is why Sonic died - not available at launch enough.
  • Hobogonigal - February 28, 2012 1 a.m.

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiidge raaaaaaaaaaaacer!
  • thesteve2 - February 27, 2012 10:06 p.m.

    Interesting article. But please stop writing articles on the Vita. Look at your front page, it's ridiculous. Otherwise cool article.
  • Net_Bastard - February 28, 2012 12:49 a.m.

    Pretty much any multiplatform video game critic site does this to a console whenever it launches.
  • JMarsella09 - February 27, 2012 6:23 p.m.

    Still have my Gameboy Advance, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. Good game.
  • D0CCON - February 27, 2012 6:18 p.m.

    A recent Gameinformer rated every console launch and listed some of the launchiest games so some of these were spoiled for me.
  • RedHarlow - February 27, 2012 6:13 p.m.

    I don't think its a coincidence that many of these series have reached stagnation.
  • MsSmith - February 27, 2012 6:06 p.m.

    Henry, as someone who actually follows football, I think you'd be glad to know your opening line for the Madden entry was extremely cringe-worthy.
  • santaclouse37 - February 27, 2012 3:47 p.m.

    Fantastic article, it's this sort of exhaustively researched subject matter that I previously would have assumed I didn't even give a sh*t about that makes GR my favorite gaming site.
  • The_King_of_Nothing - February 27, 2012 3:46 p.m.

    I was surprised at this article. I had no idea about a couple of them. Interesting.
  • shawksta - February 27, 2012 3:38 p.m.

    Damn Ridge Racer and Tony Hawk's been all over the place. I personally dont care if a core Mario game isnt at launch, a rushed game is never a good idea unless it was planned ahead to be a launch title like SM64. Pikmin However, has been teased for a long time, im expecting it to be a launch title, but if not, thats still fine by me.
  • Cyberninja - February 27, 2012 3:25 p.m.

    great article, didnt know the birdman was that popular in game form