10 Exclusive Games That Made Consoles Worth Buying

This list highlights ten exclusive games that convinced players to buy a console. Exclusive games have been an important factor for fans deciding which console to buy in a given generation. These ten games were some of the biggest deciding factors for many gamers around the world.

10 Exclusive Games That Made Consoles Worth BuyingA console is only as good as the games that can be played on it. This especially applies to games that are exclusive to a specific console. Exclusive games can be a major factor for many people when deciding which console to buy in a console generation. This list will highlight some exclusive games that helped sell the console they first appeared on, but first let’s define what makes a game viable for this list. A game must only be released on one console in its generation of origin. Games with PC ports will still be allowed.

A game isn’t allowed on this list if it was released on two or more competing company’s consoles (if a game was released on both the PS4 and XBox One then it doesn’t count). Games that were released on one console and were ported to other consoles that came out generations later are permitted (a game like Super Mario World can count since it was only released on SNES at launch despite it being ported to more recent consoles like the Switch).

Super Mario Series (Mainline 2D, Mainline 3D, and Mario Kart)

The Super Mario Bros series has been Nintendo’s best selling franchise ever since it debuted. Nearly every mainline platformer is a best seller on their respective consoles. So much so, that it’d be unfair just to cite a specific game. The original Super Mario Bros saved the gaming industry, was the best selling NES game, and has currently sold 40 million units. Similarly; Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, and New Super Mario Bros were the best selling games on the SNES, Nintendo 64, and Nintendo DS respectively. Even some newer games like Super Mario Odyssey find massive success. No matter the generation, the Mario series always remains an ironically high-quality franchise worth buying a console for.

Super Mario Odyssey - Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Trailer

Super Mario has over 200 spin off games, but one specific spin-off series is notably more popular than the others. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is currently the best selling game on the Nintendo Switch which is one of the best selling consoles of all time. Many past Mario Kart games have also ranked among the top sales positions of their respective consoles. This is proof of the sheer popularity of the Mario IP. Even spin-offs sell better than most series could ever dream of, and for that reason the entire Super Mario franchise is worthy of this list. The success led to multiple rival mascots popping up, including the next entry on this list.

Sonic The Hedgehog Trilogy (Sega Genesis)

Sonic was and still is Sega’s mascot due to how hard he helped push the Sega Genesis. All three of the best-selling Genesis games are Sonic the Hedgehog games. The only competition is an Aladdin game that was also released on NES and other platforms. Sonic the Hedgehog was the very clear console-selling game for this platform. Sega eventually lost the console war, but Sonic still remains one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. There have been some successful games in more recent years, but the success of the original 2D platformers are the only ones that carried an entire console’s popularity on their shoulders.

Sonic The Hedgehog (1991) Game Commercials

Dragon Quest 3 (NES)

Most Nintendo consoles are known for their excellent first-party (games made by the company that owns a console) line-ups. That remains true for the NES, but there is one noteworthy third-party NES game that helped the console take off massively. Dragon Quest 3 was a massive success in Japan, and made competitor companies try desperately hard to create their own RPG to compete with it. Sega made games like Phantasy Star in response to DQ3’s unstoppable success at the time.

Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D Remake - Official Japanese Trailer

DQ3 was one of the most influential games to ever exist in Japan. Video game series like Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Persona, and much more were inspired by this series. Even anime such as One Piece and Hunter X Hunter are directly inspired by this game. To this day it still often ranks among the top 5 games ever made in Japanese popularity polls. There was even a rumor made that a law forced Enix to release the next DQ games on the weekend so that kids wouldn’t skip school to play it.

Pokemon Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow (GameBoy)

Pokemon is another series where almost every mainline entry could be a contender for this list. All of the mainline games are multi-million sellers that rank among the best-sellers on their console of origins. Unlike Mario, however, there is one obvious pick for this spot. The original generation of Pokemon sold 46 million copies just on the GameBoy. Kids all over the world were begging for this handheld system just so they could become Pokemon masters. This is a game that took the world by storm, and started the series that would eventually become one of the most popular pieces of media on the planet.

Poke Flashback - Pokemon Red and Blue original trailer!

Another reason these specific games were chosen over future installments is due to the fact that no other game reached this many copies sold. That’s not to say newer games aren’t popular, because even recent games like Pokemon Scarlet/Violet have sold over 20 million units, but that’s still less than half of what the original games sold. The Pokemon craze in the 90s remains unmatched by any other game that was exclusive to one console at the time of its release. An equally popular anime, trading cards, and merchandise all certainly helped contribute to the hype around the original set of games.

Final Fantasy 7 (PS1)

While Crash may have been the mascot of Sony during the PS1 era, there were a few games that sold more than any game in the Crash Bandicoot trilogy did. One of those was Final Fantasy 7, which is the 2nd best selling game on the console. It sold over 10 million copies on the PS1 alone, and would continue to sell well when ported to other systems in the future. FF7 is one of the oldest RPGs to reach a mainstream audience in the west. It remains a beloved classic even four console generations later.

Final Fantasy 7 official art.

Final Fantasy 7 official art.

It’s thanks to FF7‘s success that later entries would also become system-sellers. FF8, FF9, and other Square Soft games like Xenogears have all become beloved PS1 classics. FF10 would help push the PS2 almost to the same extent that FF7 pushed the PS1. FF16 being one of the few PS5 exclusive games makes it another contender, but it’s not nearly as popular as its classic predecessor. Very few RPGs can compete with the lasting influence that FF7 has held for many decades.

Final Fantasy VII Original Trailer

Halo 2 (Xbox)

Not many companies found success when trying to make consoles that could compete with Nintendo and Sony in the early 2000s. Microsoft found some success thanks to games like Halo 1 and Fable, but the best selling game on their original console was Halo 2. It sold over 8 million units, meaning nearly 1 in 3 people who owned the original XBox had this game. Halo remains as the series that most people think of when they hear the word XBox. No other Microsoft IP has come close to the popularity and lasting legacy that Halo has left on the brand.

The entire Halo franchise could be considered system-sellers, but this is the entry that truly pushed the XBox brand into the mainstream. Shooters with online multiplayer were on the rise during the time of Halo 2‘s release, and it helped carry the genre to the level it’s at today.

Super Smash Bros Melee (GameCube)

The GameCube wasn’t as successful as other Nintendo consoles, but it still had many memorable first party releases. Many well established Nintendo series still did well on the system. Games like Mario Kart: Double Dash, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Luigi’s Mansion, and a plethora of Mario Party games helped the system stay relevant. One unexpected crossover would, however, rise above the rest in this era. The Super Smash Bros series is a platform-fighting game with a roster of characters taken from dozens of other series. Super Smash Bros Melee became a cult-classic entry in this franchise. Melee still has an active tournament scene despite never having received a remake or port of any kind.

Super Smash Bros. Melee Reveal & Reactions (E3 2001)

Super Smash Bros Brawl and SSB Ultimate both received massive success, but the former doesn’t quite have the same level of dedicated fans. SSBU is still too new to determine how long its legacy will be, although its massive roster size will likely keep it relevant for a long time. Nearly any installment in the Smash series could be considered a game worth buying a console for, but Melee takes this spot due to its undying legacy. Smash Melee was so influential for the series that Nintendo decided to add GameCube controller support for every console thereafter just so fans of Smash could play with the same controller that Melee had.

Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 (PS2)

The Kingdom Hearts series became popular thanks to its excellent combat and wide variety of crossover characters. Characters from Final Fantasy 7, Aladdin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, and much more appear throughout this series. KH1 was a very successful first installment that remains a beloved classic, but KH2 is the real heart of the franchise. It is the final KH game from the PS2 era, and it has remained a fan favorite ever since. There was a slightly less significant game between the two numbered installments, however, it was original released on the GBA instead of the PS2 like the others. The PS2 version is very different, but having any version available on another system from the same generation means Chain of Memories isn’t eligible for this list.

Kingdom Hearts 2 | PS2 | Trailer

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

The Legend of Zelda is another franchise that revolutionized its own genre on multiple occasions. Ocarina of Time was an era defining game that pushed adventure games into 3D, but if only one game could be chosen for this list it would have to be Breath of the Wild. BOTW was a day 1 Nintendo Switch game that convinced many people to buy the console at launch.

Breath of the Wild official art.

Breath of the Wild official art.

Games like Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, ARMS, and Xenoblade 2 certainly helped keep the momentum going for the Switch’s first year, but the 6 year long wait for BOTW had fans desperate for a chance to play it. BOTW quickly became the best selling Zelda game ever thanks to its incredible open world design and new mechanics.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Official Game Trailer - Nintendo E3 2016

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

Not many games released when COVID-19 pandemic first began, but one big Nintendo release got the attention of many new players at the time. Animal Crossing: New Horizons quickly became one of the best selling games in Nintendo history. It may not have been an industry changer like BOTW was, but it without a doubt helped sell many Switches during a time when many people were unable to leave their homes. The cute art style, vacation aesthetic, and overall charm made it a game that helped many people relax in hard times.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Nintendo Switch Trailer - Nintendo E3 2019

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