Weekend Hot Topic: Best video game/console combos

Readers discuss their favourite pairings of video game and console, from the original Xbox and Halo to Soulcalibur and the Dreamcast.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who asked what game you feel suits its console so well it seems wrong to play it on anything else. So which has the perfect match of hardware and software, and why?

We had plenty of different suggestions, from throughout gaming history, although many tended to be launch titles, especially for Nintendo consoles.

Perfect synergy
Interesting question that, when you think about it, has a lot of possible choices. I think Tetris and the Game Boy is one front runner, especially when you find out the lengths Nintendo went to in order to get the game on their system. The original Xbox is another classic combo, although I’m not sure the OG controller being awful doesn’t bring that down a bit. There’s a lot of early PlayStation 1 games that would never have worked without their CD either, like Final Fantasy 7 and Resident Evil. Although I suppose technically the Saturn had one as well.

Overall, I’d say Nintendo were the masters of this, to the point where you can never tell what came first, the console or the game. And as we know, if it’s a launch title they’re often made in tandem. Wii Sports is perhaps the ultimate example of this but since it’s such a boring game I’m going to instead go with Super Mario 64, where the controller was designed with it in mind and the analogue controls for Mario. Remember, when the PlayStation 1 first came out it didn’t have analogue controllers, that was only because of Nintendo.

Perfecting the formula
It’s got to be the Uncharted games and PlayStation 3. After initially dismissing the first Uncharted as just ‘Tomb Raider with a bloke’ I gave it a go when it was cheaper and had received a lot of positive feedback from people who’d played it.

I loved my first adventure with Nate, Elena, and Sully but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the massive step up Uncharted 2 would be. I also really enjoyed the third game, even if it couldn’t match the brilliance of Among Thieves.

Sony has really established itself with its story driven, third person, single-player adventure games now but for me it was the Uncharted games that really kicked it all into gear and why the PlayStation 3 will always have a special place in my heart.

Hardware combo
Pretty much every Nintendo goes perfectly with whatever Super Mario game is on that generation console, also I think a lot of games just make me think of the N64 because of all the classic four-player games that my mates and I enjoyed for years.

My perfect combo though is Sensible World Of Soccer and an Amiga 1200 with a Zipstick. I still play Sensi on Xbox and I am a member of a Facebook group that runs all sorts of league and cup competitions but nothing beats playing on a real Amiga with a good joystick/Zipstick.

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Eternal partner
This is very easy for me: Soulcalibur and the Dreamcast. That controller is probably not well suited to 2D fighters but playing a tale of soul and swords on anything else has always felt weird these past [REDACTED] number of years.

And while other games have felt weird on other formats, like Sonic Adventure on the GameCube, this is different. Especially as the GameCube version came better stocked. As far as I know, the first Soulcalibur has only ever been re-released once on the Xbox 360, but with the Mission Battle mode removed! Madness! Just why, Bandai Namco? Why would you do that?

I don’t think I need to wax lyrical any further on this game considering my nearly constant cheerleading for it? I could. I love it. It is like the Super Mario 64 of fighting games. The single-player gives you a lot of choice and it’s pretty much perfect. I cannot fault the single-player at all. If a mini Dreamcast were to happen, its inclusion would have to be a no-brainer.

Then again, I thought the same about the Mega Drive version and Rocket Knight Adventures. So what do I know, hey?

Love at first sight
I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict the top three answers to this Hot Topic are going to be Halo on the OG Xbox, Street Fighter 2 on the SNES, and Final Fantasy 7 on the PlayStation. They’re all legendary and iconic games, not to mention bona fide system sellers, but for my sins, I’ve only actually played two of them and only have a significant fondness for one of those. Plus, my favourite SNES memories were all due to The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past and Super Mario Kart anyway, so I can’t really nominate Capcom’s trailblazing fighter myself.

It’s a tough call on what my all-time dream team game and console pairing is. The SNES era really does feel like a golden age to me these days, and whilst Sony have had some pretty powerful hooks in me for at least two generations now (Astrobot or even Moss on the PlayStation VR are close calls for me on this one), I’m going to stick with Nintendo and say: the Wii and Wii Sports. My reason? I’ve never seen a game or console that every single person I’ve ever known and shown it to hasn’t instantly fallen for it. From my Nintendo sceptic girlfriend at the time, to both of my parents, the console and that game was always in use. At the time it was a diabolically perfect synergy of controls and gameplay that no one seemed immune from falling in love with to some extent.

I got to experience it first, thanks to an enthusiastic, early tech adopter friend and I was 100% sold on the bowling alone. The tennis and the golf just tightened the hold on me even more, and by the time I realised it was 1am and I was seven or eight rounds into my boxing career and loving every second, I knew I had to have one. Fast forward a few months and I managed to bag the last one in a store I’d only ducked into with a friend to get out of the rain. I decided to take it to my parents to show them the wonder of this thing I’d been raving about for weeks.

At 3am the next morning I could hear noises coming from the lounge. I went down to check and found my video game hating mum pitching to win a baseball game. Standing on one leg, with her other knee raised like a proper pitcher. When I walked in the room, her slightly alarmed and guilty face turned to me and she said, ‘I just want to finish this game…’ She spooned the pitch and lost the innings, but from that day on, all family gatherings had to involve a Wii Sports session. For about 10 years. And even when both my parents got so good I couldn’t be sure of beating either of them at anything on it, I was still having as much fun with it as them.

And that, to me, is what Nintendo so often do best and games should always be about: enjoyment. Sure, it’s not the most hardcore or coolest choice, but as perfect couplings of games and systems go, it’s got to be up there at the very top.

Right machine for the job
It’s got to be Street Fighter 2 and the SNES for me. Although the Mario and Zelda and other Nintendo games are the obvious killer apps for the console in my experience the one everyone was always interested in was Street Fighter 2.

Me and my mates would play it for hours – days it felt like – and it never got old. It was a good match for the console too because, unlike the Mega Drive, the default controller had the right number of buttons and the machine itself had (just) enough horsepower to do the game justice. Great memories.

Logical selection
The natural reaction to this Hot Topic would probably be driven by either nostalgia or by the marriage of a game with a platform’s high level ‘philosophy’ or at least its main innovation. Obvious ones being things like WipEout on PlayStation, Super Mario 64 on N64, and Halo 2 on Xbox.

For me, though, the fact that all of the above could run on pretty much any follow up (or sometimes peer) platforms because of common developments in functionality meant I was looking for something a bit more practical.

That’s why I settled on a game for the Switch, as I’m thinking something that works better when playing on a portable but also probably couldn’t run on other handhelds.

It’s tricky, though, because games that I think are perfect candidates include Into The Breach, which could probably easily have been on PS Vita, 3DS or mobile; XCOM 2, which struggles a bit too much on Switch and absolutely guzzles its battery; or one of the big first party games like Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 or Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which many would argue are superior experiences on a good TV.

I suppose it would be something that uses fairly modern tech, that isn’t necessarily better on a bigger screen but that has no problems running on the machine, something that’s compelling enough to make me want to play it in bed and shock myself at how many hours I’ve put in, and of course something that’s just a really good game.

I was pretty close to settling on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle but I think a couple of flaws stop me regarding it as an absolute classic. I’d actually say the same about Animal Crossing: New Horizons and while my enthusiasm for that game has completely petered out after hundreds of hours, I do think that wins out if only because of its impact and profile.

In all honesty, I’m a bit surprised at how boring I find my own choice and I’d have easily gone for Zelda: Breath Of The Wild because I did play it 99% in handheld, but I’ve also seen how good that looks on a decent TV.
PS: I’m sad that FTL has never come to Switch. I’ve still never played it and I remember how enthusiastic GC’s original review was, but I don’t have a PC and, as far as I can tell, you can’t even play it on an iPhone (just other iOS devices and Android).

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The small print
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