In my recent article about the PlayStation Vita launch lineup, I admitted that despite the impressively large number of games that would be available when Sony's new handheld goes on sale, there weren't any true system-sellers in there for me. At least, nothing yet that would inspire me to spend that kind of money. (Obviously, as you can see in the comments to that article, everyone's mileage varies!)
And that got me thinking about past systems and what games sold them to me...
My very first console not the first one I ever played, which would be an ancient Pong game that hooked up to a TV, but the first one I bought with my own money was a SEGA Genesis. Although to be honest, I didn't buy that at launch, so there was a huge library of games already available for it. And being so long ago, I kind of don't remember what I bought to go with it. I know it came with Sonic!
I did buy the PlayStation on launch day, putting down a deposit at GameStop, and happily picking it up with Toshinden. Unfortunately, there wasn't much else to play at launch, and I remember picking up games that I ended up not enjoying at all, like some horrible FPS where you were a robot that had to keep backtracking to find power outlets so you could recharge constantly. I can't remember its name, but it was annoying. So annoying I'm not even going to Google it because it doesn't deserve the hits. With the PS1, I was swayed by the lure of 3D graphics and Sony's promise of immersive gaming experiences, not any games in particular. Those experiences did come... it was just a bit later. And thus I learned an important lesson. Wait until there's something you really, really want, and by that point there will at least be a handful of other games that you will enjoy as well.
So with the Nintendo 64, I deliberately waited until there was a game that I wanted to play so badly that I would buy the console for it, and that game just so happened to be The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I remember a friend asking me why I didn't already own the N64, and I told him I was waiting for Zelda. I bought a few more games for the system, but honestly, not that many.
I never bought the SEGA Saturn, because I was more interested in the PlayStation. But I did happily buy myself a Dreamcast, but not until Shenmue, which was the system-seller I was waiting for. Of course, by that point there were other games that were plenty of fun, too, and I never regretted my purchase of the little console that tried, and should've, but sadly didn't.
The PlayStation 2 was technically a gift, because having been burned by the launch lineup of the PS1, I didn't pre-order and pick it up on launch day, so it ended up being a Christmas present later on down the road. And it came with Final Fantasy X, which I suppose might have been a system-seller for me anyway. By that point, the PS2 had some good games, and I was actually planning on buying one in the new year after the rumored price drop happened. Unfortunately for my boyfriend, he didn't know about that, and wasted the extra money so I had it at Christmas! Oops!
My GameCube was also a Christmas present another year. I remember going to a preview event in Soho for it and trying games like Star Wars and Luigi's Mansion, and being slightly underwhelmed by them. So I wasn't that excited about it. But it turned out that Eternal Darkness was amazing in ways that a quick demo can't possibly demonstrate. And I enjoyed plenty of fun Nintendo titles on it like my introduction to the world of Animal Crossing!
The system-seller for the original Xbox for me was Morrowind. I'd played Daggerfall on my ancient PC back in the day, and thought it was a great idea hampered by limited technology. So the idea of playing the same kind of open-world RPG with next-gen graphics appealed to me in a big way. So once Morrowind finally came out, I went and bought my Xbox. And again, because I waited, there were a good amount of other good games to choose from at the time. Not that you really need anything else when you've got an Elder Scrolls game to suck up your free time!
Similarly, with the Xbox 360, I waited until Oblivion came out. Luckily, there were still plenty of other games to play on my older systems, so I didn't mind the delay. And as an aside, while the Kinect isn't technically its own system, I will admit that I reserved one at Best Buy and rushed to pick it up on launch day just to play Dance Central. That was definitely a system seller as far as I was concerned, and well worth the money.
However, with the Wii, I was there in line outside of Toys'R'Us in Times Square, and that's because of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. (Of course, the included disc of Wii Sports was nothing to sneeze at either, as it turns out!) While I recall the launch library for the Wii being kind of limited, it didn't matter, because I was immersed in Link's latest adventure.
For the PlayStation 3, it actually took quite a while before something came out that justified the purchase, and luckily by that point, there'd been a price drop! The PS3 exclusive that finally got me to cave was Heavy Rain, interestingly enough, and despite what some may say about it, I don't regret the purchase at all. Plus, there was SingStar ABBA and all the SingStore DLC I could afford as icing on the cake!
Unfortunately, with handhelds, my memory is a bit spottier. I know I had an old-school Game Boy, but I don't remember if it was a gift or not. Or when or how I upgraded to the Game Boy Color. Same with the Game Boy Advance, although at some point along the way, I was inspired to get the original GBA and then the GBA SP. And I also had a couple different iterations of the Nintendo DS, though again, I don't recall my actual purchases of them.
With the PSP, however, I was there on day one. I had a reservation at my neighborhood GameStop, and I waited in an excruciatingly slow-moving line for the midnight launch. I know I bought Wipeout, but that was about the only launch title that inspired me. See, with the PSP, the system itself was the seller. The idea of having this multimedia device that could play movies and music and browse the web while also playing some really nice-looking games was impossible for me to resist. And while the game library started slow and never really took off for me, I don't regret my purchase because my PSP got a lot of use as a movie player during my lengthy commute to work. (Of course once I got an iPod Touch with its nicer screen, my PSP collected dust in between the rare game release.)
The 3DS system was also the seller for me. As soon as I got my hands on the prototypes at E3, I was champing at the bit to have one for myself. As a total 3D nerd, I didn't even care what the launch titles were because I just wanted to have things in glasses-free 3D, so I happily put down a reservation at the Nintendo World Store. Yes, the launch was a little early, with no system-sellers really to speak of, and some of the promised features not quite ready for release, but I honestly didn't care. It was 3D!
But with the Vita, I have to admit that as far as I'm concerned, the system itself does nothing unique or special aside from play some seriously gorgeous games on the go. I played a few at E3 this year, and was very impressed. And as soon as there's a game released for it that I can't play anywhere else and am unable to resist, I will run right out and buy a Vita. I'm not sure what game that might be, but I'm sure it's coming!