Stunning launch titles for new video game hardware such as Super Mario 64, Battle Arena Toshinden, Sonic Adventure, and Halo go down in history and become forever associated with the consoles that they helped to usher into the marketplace (the Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, and Microsoft Xbox, respectively). There's less of a fanfare for a console's final release. Who remembers the games that closed out console lifespans? What was the final title released for the Super NES? The Sega Saturn? The Sony PlayStation 2? Game Informer digs into history to find out which games (in North America) turned the lights out when they left.
System: Nintendo 64
Launch Day: September 29, 1996
Last Game Released: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 - August 20, 2002
System Life: 5 years, 10 months, 22 days
Starting in 2001, Nintendo was far more concerned with making the Gamecube compete with Playstation 2 and Xbox than they were with releasing new Nintendo 64 games. The slowed release schedule started before the GameCube's November release, as only a handful of titles saw the light of day in 2001 (including Conker's Bad Fur Day and Mario Party 3). The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series was in its prime at this point, and its third installment served as the final game for Nintendo's last cartridge-based console.
Many of the titles on the list are half-hearted downgrades of annual sports installments. While that makes sense from a business perspective, it seems like such a downer of a way to end a console's life. I want to see a console go out with a big bang of an amazing title that pushes its capabilities to the absolute limit as if the developer is saying "This is the total sum of what can be done with this machine! This far; no farther!" That would be an expensive undertaking for hardware on its final lap though and it's easier for Electronic Arts or 2K Games to kick out a quickie conversion of Football 1998 or Baseball 2007 or what-have-you.
Game Informer only covers the major home consoles in its article, but what about handheld games and historical also-rans? The Atari 2600 hung in until 1990 when it wrapped things up with Klax. The Sega Master System bowed out with Sonic the Hedgehog in late 1991. Pokemon Yellow was the final dedicated release for Nintendo's Game Boy in 1999, while Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sealed up the Game Boy Color story in 2002. Sega called it quits on the Game Gear in 1997 with The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Nintendo's Virtual Boy went out with a whimper in 1996 with 3D Tetris (the same year that Sega's 32X died with Spider-Man: Web of Fire). The Game Boy Advance came to an unspectacular end in 2008 with Samurai Deeper Kyo. Nokia's n-Gage - oh, the n-Gage! - finally sputtered to a stop in 2006 with a port of Civilization. It's mostly a series of lesser ends for some of gaming's most famous and infamous hardware. For more lists of final titles for additional hardware around the world, check out Wikipedia.