What is a Swan Song Game you ask? A Swan Song game is a game that comes out toward the end of a console’s life-cycle, or more specifically, toward the beginning of a new console’s life-cycle. They are the last few bits of greatness that a console has before everyone gets bored with it and goes on to the next-generation. But Swan Song titles are produced with an intimate knowledge of the hardware and years of game development experience behind them, making them some of the best examples of games on any platform. Meanwhile, launch titles for the next-generation have tended to be far less impressive. These are the 10 Best Swan Song Games.
Right before Nintendo was ready to let the 3DS go live, this awesome little puzzle game came out for the DS. It was up to you to use your spectral powers to save lives and figure out who the heck murdered you. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the 3DS line-up that Nintendo had hyped at E3. It’s a cult classic now, but the 3DS hype likely cost it a chance for a sequel. That’s why it’s on our list of 10 Best Swan Song Games.
Sonic & Knuckles (1994)Genesis
Bet you didn’t remember that this was a Swan Song title, eh? It came out in 1994 for the Genesis, the same year that the Sega Saturn debuted in Japan. Widely regarded as one of the best Sonic titles out there, more Sega fans were going crazy over Lock-On Technology than they were for the Saturn’s release.
Pokemon Red and Blue (1998)Gameboy
Yep! Pokemon Red and Blue both came out at the very end of the original Gameboy’s life-cycle, right before the Gameboy Color took the stage, and quickly became one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises. It helped that the Gameboy Color was backward compatible. If you think about it, Pokemon is pretty well known for its Swan Song performances. Pokemon Black and White 2, for example, came out on the DS after the 3DS had been released.
Paper Mario, one of the spin-off continuations of the Super Mario RPG line, hit American N64s in 2001. Know what else released in 2001? The Gamecube. Despite this, Paper Mario was very well received and spawned sequels on the Gamecube, Wii, and 3DS, though none of these were Swan Song titles.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001)N64
This immature romp through toonland also came out in 2001 for the N64, and was one of the last games for Nintendo that Rare ever did. Come to think of it, that might explain the game’s snarky immature poo joke laden atmosphere and its Monty Python like anti-climatic conclusion. Maybe Rare just wasn't concerned with their image anymore? No matter, it was one of the funniest N64 games in existence.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (2000)PS1
Remember when the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise was still… you know… good? We do. Pro Skater 2 is one of the most loved of the Pro Skater line. It released in 2000 for the PlayStation, only a month before the PlayStation 2 came out! Skaters continued to play this game hardcore until Pro Skater 3 came out for next-generation platforms.
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)NES
Here’s another Great Swan Song Game that you probably didn’t know qualified. Super Mario Bros 3 came out in America in 1990, the same year that the SNES came out in Japan along with Super Mario World. Fast forward to about a year later and the SNES came out here in the States, and soon enough everyone was playing Super Mario World. While SMW was a great game in its own right, it’s still Super Mario Bros. 3 that is considered one of the greatest platformers of all time.
Grant Theft Auto V (2013)PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Yep, we are putting the recently released Grand Theft Auto V on this list. It’s one of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto games of all time, breaking records left and right for pre-orders, sales, online activity, and more… and it came out only a month or so before the next-gen console launch. Not only that, but there are no plans to bring it to next-generation consoles yet. Grand Theft Auto V is a Swan Song title and it knows it.
Super Mario RPG (1996)SNES
Before the SNES started to die, this brilliant little game came out of a unison between Nintendo and Squaresoft. Super Mario RPG was an RPG unlike anything we saw before, with rhythm and timing based attacks, simplified equipment and stats, and tons of Mario references on top of great original characters like Geno. To this day we still haven’t seen a sequel, though game elements from the series have shown up in both the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi RPG series.
Speaking of RPGs, Persona 4 makes it to the top of our list of 10 Best Swan Song Games because it helped keep Sony alive. It came out in 2008 for the PS2 and the PS3 came out in 2006! Persona 4 literally kept the PS2 alive two years after its predecessor hit the scene. Sony was in the midst of their $599 U.S. Dollars debacle at the time, and so every Sony press conference made sure to mention how strong the PS2 was and how Sony continued to support it even though a new console came out. In fact, for a while after the PS3 and Xbox 360 came out, the best-selling console was the PS2, and Persona 4 was one of its best-selling games of the time.