The Nintendo Switch’s launch line-up has come under scrutiny. Not only does it show a lack of faith from publishers, but it’s also far from ideal for consumers – a tiny assortment of games on store shelves sends out a negative image to those thinking of buying a Switch on a whim.
While the line-up is smaller than what both the Wii and Wii U arrived with, the Switch still has more games available on ‘day one’ than many consoles before it. Today, we’re looking at six consoles from the ’90s that either favoured quality over quantity, or simply arrived with only a couple of games due to rushed launches.
As tempting as it may be, don’t read too heavily into this piece. The world of gaming has grown vastly in the past 20 years or so. It’s a far bigger industry with multi-million development budgets, a favouritism towards digital distribution and systems that are created with ease of development in mind. A far cry from the days when systems were tricky to develop for thanks to specialist hardware, or when platform holders were so secretive with new hardware that only first-party games were available at launch.
Mega Drive (Japan) – Two games
SEGA were arcade giants in the ‘80s and ‘90s and as such designed their consoles – from the Mega Drive to the Dreamcast – with ease of converting arcade hits in mind. The SEGA Saturn was the rare exception, falling short of being able to present perfect conversions of even Model 1 arcade games let alone Models 2 and 3. Of course, the system suffered because of this.
Anyway, we digress. The Mega Drive’s Japanese launch in 1988 saw just two titles – arcade conversions of Space Harrier II and Super Thunder Blade. Similar games, both of which featured sprite scrolling.
Space Harrier was the better of the two, and by a long shot – reviews of Super Thunder Blade weren’t kind. Some sources say Altered Beast was a Japanese launch game, but they’re mistaken – it arrived roughly six weeks later.
Eleven months passed between the Japanese and American Mega Drive launches, where it was then rebranded as the Genesis. You’d think almost a year would lead to a far superior line-up, but that’s pushing it somewhat. The system made its mark with the two Japanese launch titles, Last Battle, Thunder Force II, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, plus the pack-in Altered Beast.
The European launch in 1990 meanwhile added Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Columns and Golden Axe into the mix. Sales were sluggish, but a certain hedgehog soon changed that.