With the launch of the innovative Nintendo Switch console right around the corner, Game Rant takes a look back at the best launch games in Nintendo history.

On March 3rd, Nintendo will be releasing its next video game console: the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch has interesting technology, serving as both a home video game system and a handheld device, with players able to play their games on a TV or take them on the go.

The Nintendo Switch is an innovative idea, but gaming hardware doesn’t mean much without quality software to back it up. Nintendo is looking to get the Switch off on the right foot, with a launch lineup of games that includes a quirky mini-game collection called 1-2 Switch, in addition to the highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which some are already anticipating to be a Game of the Year contender.

Nintendo has a long history of delivering high quality launch titles for its consoles, and these 10 are the best Nintendo launch games released so far.


F-Zero (SNES)

F Zero

F-Zero on the SNES has cemented its legacy as a classic video game for a number of reasons. Not only is it one of the most critically-acclaimed Nintendo launch titles in history, but it also made significant gaming innovations that went on to inform the racing genre for years to come. Furthermore, its clever use of graphics gave the illusion of a 3D racing environment, a technique that was revolutionary for the time. While a new F-Zero game hasn’t been seen in 13 years, the franchise’s hero, Captain Falcon, remains popular to this day, thanks to his appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series.


Luigi’s Mansion (GameCube)

Best Nintendo Launch Games Ever - Luigi's Mansion box art

For decades, Mario’s brother Luigi played second fiddle to Nintendo’s mascot, but the green plumber finally had his time in the limelight as the star of the GameCube launch title Luigi’s Mansion. Built around an interesting mechanic where players collect ghosts in a specialized vacuum, Luigi’s Mansion gave the title character more personality than he showed in the past, and introduced new characters to the Super Mario franchise. The 3DS sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, was also well-received by critics and fans alike.


Pilotwings 64 (Nintendo 64)

Best Nintendo Launch Games Ever - Pilotwings 64 characters

Pilotwings 64 may be overshadowed by the Nintendo 64’s other launch title (found a bit further down the list), but it has managed to create an impressive legacy of its own. Building on the gameplay of the SNES original, Pilotwings 64 was praised at the time of release for its strong graphics, standing as a visual showcase of the Nintendo 64’s power. It even managed to sell one million units worldwide, and was followed by a 3DS version called Pilotwings Resort, which was also a Nintendo launch title.


Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader (GameCube)

Best Nintendo Launch Games Ever - Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II - Rogue Leader

A general rule of thumb in gaming is that licensed games tend to be worse than original IP. Of course, there are some notable exceptions to that rule, including Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader, an action game that allows players to control a number of iconic Star Wars vehicles through missions pulled straight from the original film trilogy. Praised for its intense action and striking graphics, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader stands as one of the highest-rated launch titles in video game history, and one of the best Star Wars games ever developed.


Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

Super Mario 64 Impossible Coin

When one thinks of the best Nintendo launch titles, Super Mario 64 always comes to mind. The game not only served as a showcase for the Nintendo 64’s graphical capabilities, but it also made great use of the controller’s analog stick, allowing players to control Nintendo’s iconic plumber in a fully 3D environment with ease. Super Mario 64 went on to spawn a number of copycats, and its legacy is still felt today, with Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch inspired by Mario’s Nintendo 64 adventure.

Spoiler: There’s More Mario on the Next Page

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