Video game systems are awesome. There’s nothing like that feeling of picking up a new console or handheld. You get this rush of excitement, imagining all the things you may get to play. The key word is may. The only thing better than a new system is one that also comes with a game for you to enjoy. Pack-in games are the best. Unfortunately, they are also becoming a launch rarity.
Anyone who picked up the Nintendo Switch will realize this unfortunate truth. Or, on that note, many other recent new consoles or handhelds. While pack-ins were practically a given in the past, they’ve become more scarce over the years. That’s such an unfortunate thing.
A pack-in game was practically guaranteed in the “good old days.” Let’s say you bought the Sega Master System in 1986, when it launched in North America. You received a cartridge that had Hang-On and Safari Hunt on it. Picking up a NES? It would have a cartridge that had Super Mario Bros. The Game Boy came with Tetris. Super Mario World was a pack-in with the Super Nintendo, as was Altered Beast for the Genesis. There was something great about knowing you would get a system and a game when you took that plunge into a new fandom.
And, for a while, some companies kept up that launch tradition. Most notably, Nintendo did. When the Wii launched, it came with copies of Wii Sports. People who picked up a Wii U were good too. They were guaranteed a copy of Nintendo Land. But, as time went on, other companies began waiting until after that debut to start packing in a bonus with a system. The Nintendo 64, PlayStation 2, and Xbox all left people wanting at launch, as an example, just like the Switch.
On the plus side, we’re not often left with new consoles that don’t include any game to get you started. In the case pretty much every system, bundles often appear. While some may not be as legendary as those early Nintendo and Sega offerings, there is something to be said for a PlayStation 4 that comes with Uncharted 4, Xbox One with multiple games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Ori and the Blind Forest, a 3DS with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, or a Wii U with both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U. Even the Switch can be considered part of this party, as Japan will get a bundle that includes the console and a copy of Monster Hunter XX. Waiting a bit can result in bundles that include a truly amazing game.
Getting games with our systems is a wonderful thing. It should be a standard event, rather than something we occasionally get and applaud. Whenever a new console launches, we should have some sort of game to go with it. Nintendo broke tradition by giving us nothing with the Switch, but is sort-of redeeming itself with its first bundle later this year. So I suppose we should always at least be seeing bundles as soon as a great game worth one appears, though it would be nice if a killer app is included with every new system from here on out.