5. Rayman (Six launches total, counting Europe)
Rayman was an early (and pleasantly French) platformer success for Ubisoft, and Michel Ancel’s original 2D adventure was one of the first games for PlayStation when it came stateside in September 1995. There were a few spinoffs and a sequel in between, but it was an updated version of the first game that made it out in time for the debut of the Game Boy Advance in 2001. Rayman had other limbless console adventures in the meantime, but Ancel didn’t have the character equipped for another home system launch until Rayman Raving Rabbids, a series that was quickly taken over by its misshapen, lapin co-stars.
Though it didn’t make it in time for the US release, Ubisoft had a port of the N64 version of Rayman 2 ready when the DS rolled out in Europe, with the polygonal adventure barely updated for the two-screened handheld. Six years later, Ubi updated that game again, this time adjusting the Dreamcast version for the 3DS to make the fairly decent Rayman 3D. Ubi completed a portable remake trifecta with the very good port of Rayman Origins being one of the best titles in the PS Vita's young life.
Chances it will appear in the next console launch: Pretty likely, as we wouldn’t put it past Ubi to port Origins to the Wii U. Technically there's already a (sort-of) Rayman game announced, as an untitled Rabbids game is already planned for the system.
4. Mario (Six launches, or seven if you count Donkey Kong on Coleco)
You knew Nintendo’s number-one plumber had to appear on here somewhere, but this might be a little lower on the list than you expected. Aside from Donkey Kong on the ColecoVision, Mario really began his streak of launch greatness with the US release of Super Mario Bros, a title that became one of the best-selling and best-remembered games of all time. Nintendo decided to repeat that success with Super Mario Land on the Game Boy, though in spite of huge sales, it was overshadowed by Tetris from day one. When Nintendo needed another launch home run, the publisher packed in Super Mario World with the 16-bit titan the Super NES, starting that console’s life right.
Nintendo continued that tradition on the N64 with the revolutionary Super Mario 64, and creator Shigeru Miyamoto even designed the N64’s controller with that specific game in mind. But by the time Nintendo was preparing the GameCube, it gave Luigi the launch spot. The next core Mario game didn't show up until a year after launch, something that was repeated on the Wii. Nintendo did have a couple good ports of SMB2 and 64 ready for the GBA and DS launches, respectively, though Mario totally skipped the 3DS’s poor release-day line-up, making a bad situation even worse.
Chances it will appear in the next console launch: Based on what we know from the past decade, we're guessing Mario will miss the Wii U on day one, but Nintendo's given us reason to hope by continuously saying it isn’t going to repeat the 3DS’s mistakes with its next home console. Does the company see a Mario-free launch as one of those mistakes?
3. Madden NFL - (Seven, many exclusive to the US)
[WARNING: The author doesn’t fully understand sports.] NHL and FIFA gave it their all, but in the end, the NFL scored a home run of a three-pointer touchdown as the launchiest sports franchise. Despite skipping the release day of the PSOne and choosing to ignore the Dreamcast for its entire lifespan, the PS2 began its profitable lifetime with Madden 2001. The next year, Madden 2002 came out alongside the 'Cube (although Xbox didn’t receive Madden until over a month after launch).
By the time the next generation rolled around, EA had the whole thing pretty well figured out, with Madden 06 ready for the 360, and 07 hitting the PS3 and Wii on launch day (though the PS3 version probably could have used a couple more months). EA skipped both of Sony’s handheld releases, with no early Maddens on PSP or Vita, but the publisher made sure to have NFL ready to go on the DS and 3DS. Not unlike the PS3 version of 07, those both needed a little more work too.
Chances it will appear in the next console launch: Does fall follow summer? We highly doubt EA won’t update this year’s 360/PS3 version of 13 for the Wii U, but we hope that title is more fully formed than the 3DS version was.