The Best Console Exclusive Games of All Time

Best Console Exclusives

With the advent of streaming services, crossplay, and major studio acquisitions, console exclusive games are probably entering their twilight years. Everything is a lot more connected now, and so games that exist only on a single console are becoming increasingly rare. But let’s switch focus. No matter what the future holds, the console exclusive has a rich history, and we’re here to sort through the best of it.

In considering games for this list we will be looking at a mixture of critical and commercial factors. The best way to judge exclusive games is probably on their ability to sell a system, and so that is what this list will (mostly) reflect.

Finally, some of these games may have found their way onto other platforms eventually, but as long as they were first released as an exclusive, they are eligible for this list. I’m also going to keep to just one game per series.

These are the best console-exclusive games of all time.

Halo: Reach

An iconic Xbox console exclusive game
Image Credit: Microsoft

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: Xbox 360

We’re starting off big. Xbox and Microsoft’s flagship franchise has sold more than 81 million games in total and is among the most iconic IP in all of gaming. For many people, Halo is the deciding factor when weighing up potential console purchases. There are a lot of great Halo games, but Halo Reach is our pick for the best of them all.

Bungie’s swansong for the franchise, Reach took the Halo formula and polished it to a mirror shine. The gameplay is characteristically solid, but it’s the story that really sets this Xbox exclusive apart.

Other Halo games tend to be a little convoluted but Reach offers up a straightforward, yet surprisingly hard-hitting narrative that serves as an excellent prequel for Halo: Combat Evolved. The ending in particular, which I won’t spoil, is superb.


Spider-Man is web swinging goodness
Image Credit: Sony

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: PlayStation 4

It was a little mired in the typical open-world excess (base assaults and so on), but the core gameplay loop of Insomniacs Spider-Man is strong enough to carry the game on its own. Spider-Man is all about freedom of movement, and spectacular acrobatic stunts, and that’s where this game really shines.

I can’t count the number of times I was on my way to do a mission but would get distracted by how good the web-swinging felt, and spend the rest of my time with the game soaring over the skyline of New York City. The speed and momentum are just right, and it feels amazing.

The combat is also pretty great, utilizing a full arsenal of web powers and gravity-defying martial arts mayhem. Additionally, the story, even though we’ve seen it all before (mostly) is surprisingly well told. There’s never been a better time to be a Spider-Man fan.

Super Mario 64

Console exclusive royalty
Image Credit: Nintendo

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: Nintendo 64

There are few games quite as synonymous with their home console as Super Mario 64. Perhaps the most iconic and influential game ever created, it was almost singlehandedly responsible for the success of the N64. It is considered by many to be the greatest game of all time.

Do I really need to explain why? It was a seminal 3D title that somehow managed to get almost everything right the first time. Even today, we see games released that don’t control as well or feel as satisfying to play as Super Mario 64.

So many other games from Kingdom Hearts, to Banjo Kazooie, to Spyro the Dragon owe it so much, that it would be impossible to leave it off this list.

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus
Image Credit: Sony

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: PlayStation 2

The Playstation 2 is remembered fondly for its incredible library of console-exclusive games. We can’t include them all here but we’ll try our best to shout out the very best of them. In that spirit, Shadow of the Colossus is an obvious choice. It was arguably the best game of its generation, if not one of the best games of all time.

The battles against the Colossi themselves are exhilarating, but there’s a haunting beauty to the game that elevates it above its peers. As you journey across the vast, barren, Forbidden Lands, you will come to question your actions and your motivation. Are the creatures you pursue truly monsters? Do the ends justify the means?

Shadow of the Colossus gradually and subtly brings these questions to the front of your mind, forcing you to confront the nature of your task. The emotional weight of the story makes this one a must-play.

Uncharted 2

Uncharted 2 is a Console Exclusive Game Classic
Image Credit: Sony

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: PlayStation 3

Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series has been consistently excellent, so picking one of the games for this list was always going to be tricky. This might be a bit of a cop-out, but in the end, we went to Metacritic for a tie-breaker, and Uncharted 2 is still the best of the bunch with a Metascore of 96, and a user score of 8.8. Those are some mighty impressive numbers.

An action-packed romp through the Himalayas, featuring some of the most spectacular set-pieces, Uncharted 2 is an adventure story done right.

Inspired by the likes of Indiana Jones, lovable rogue Nathan Drake’s death-defying exploits are sure to bring a smile to even the most cynical among us. I think we all remember that bit with the train.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

A refined Metroid experience
Image Credit: Nintendo

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: Wii

All the Metroid Prime games are classics in their own right (with the exception of Federation Force), but Metroid Prime 3 is the culmination of all Nintendo’s work. It certainly wasn’t revolutionary when compared to its predecessors, but it is one of the most refined and self-assured games to ever appear on a Nintendo console. There is a good reason we’re all waiting for Metroid Prime 4.

The visuals are great, particularly for a Wii game, the voice acting is superb, and all the first-person Metroid action you could ever want is here at its smoothest and most polished. Unlike many other games, Corruption made excellent use of the Wii motion sensor.

There weren’t many top-quality action games exclusive to the Wii, and Metroid Prim 3 was certainly one of them.

Katamari Damacy

Katamari Damacy - Console Exclusive Game Title
Image Credit: Electronic Arts

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: PlayStation 2

It’s unlikely, given the amount of money floating around the games industry these days, that we will ever see a console-exclusive game quite this quirky ever again. Katamari Damacy is weird to its very core, but that doesn’t stop it from being a hell of a lot of fun.

After the King of All the Cosmos gets drunk and destroys almost the entire universe, he charges his 5cm tall son (the player character) with putting it all back together. You achieve this by rolling a “Katamari” around the Earth, which will pick up anything smaller than it. Once you’ve collected enough random nonsense, the Katamari is turned into a star.

Watching your Katamari grow until it can hoover up entire continents is an oddly cathartic experience, and there’s just enough challenge and variety to keep things fresh. If you like things a little off the wall, Katamari Damacy will suit you down to the ground.

Killzone 3

A venerable console exclusive game
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: PlayStation 3

While the Killzone franchise never quite achieved the breakaway popularity of other console exclusive games like Halo and Call of Duty, the third game in the series, Killzone 3, is a landmark PlayStation title. Graphically, it was a true watershed moment, environments and textures had never looked so good.

But that wasn’t all. Visual spectacle aside, Killzone 3 was at its core, a tense, satisfying, and highly polished shooter. The level design was tight and the gunplay was rock solid. The inclusion of a jetpack also added a level of verticality that gave the combat scenarios a whole new tactical dimension.

The multiplayer was pretty great too, although good luck trying to get into a match today. Overall Killzone 3 is an uncomplicated, but refined shooter that has more than stood the test of time.


An overlooked Wii U exclusive
Image Credit: Ubisoft

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: WiiU

The Wii U appears to have gone down in history as little more than a prototype Nintendo Switch. That’s a bit of a shame, but despite its poor sales performance, it did produce a few console exclusive games that are remembered very fondly. ZombiU is a perfect example.

ZombiU is a smart, innovative, roguelike zombie game that actually made use of the Wii U gamepad. There’s a little bit of Dark Souls in here too for those that like a challenge. It’s an overlooked survival horror gem, and anyone with a Wii U ought to have it in their library.

Dead Rising

The best zombie console exclusive game
Image Credit: Capcom

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: Xbox 360

It’s straight into another Zombie game, this time one that focuses more on over-the-top action than survival horror. It takes a lot for a Zombie game to stand out these days, but Dead Rising did so much differently, that it was always going to attract a cult following.

The entire game takes place in the Willamette Parkview Mall, which you are free to explore at your leisure. There is, however, an important twist. You have to complete the entire story within an in-game 72-hour time limit, after which you are rescued by helicopter.

This made the game almost unbearably tense and meant that every decision you made had real weight behind it. Do you have time to rescue other survivors, explore the mall, craft bigger and better weapons, and save the world? You’d better hope so.

The Last of Us

A Sony swansong
Image Credit: Naughty Dog

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: PlayStation 3

The other Naughty Dog game. It may have been something of a swan song for the PlayStation 3, but what a song it was. Eschewing the bombastic, more lighthearted tone of the Uncharted games, The Last of Us is a harrowing tale of love, guilt, and death, against the backdrop of a broken world.

It’s not necessarily going to blow you away gameplay-wise, but the story’s emotional high points are the real draw. The relationship that develops between Joel and Ellie (the two protagonists) is amazingly well-realized and one of the most intensely human in any game ever.

There are a lot of post-apocalypse stories out there, but this might be the one that most deserves to be played

Final Fantasy Vii

A hugely important game and console exclusive game
Image Credit: Square Enix

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: PlayStation

The game credited with helping the original Playstation to victory over the Sega Saturn, and breaking the Nintendo 64’s dominance in North America had to be on this list. Final Fantasy VII is one of the most important (and best) console exclusive games of all time. Gamespot ranked it as the second most influential game ever made, and Electronic Gaming Monthly called it the 6th most important game since they began publication.

The reason for this was that Final Fantasy VII elevated storytelling in games. It was both a technical and cultural revolution. A complex and deeply affecting narrative, supported by cutting-edge technology and deep role-playing systems.

Final Fantasy VII is the kind of game that comes around once, maybe twice in a generation.

Gears of War

Next gen cover shooter
Image Credit: Microsoft

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: Xbox 360

It may not have aged quite as well as some of the other games on this list, but Gears of War is an iconic Xbox franchise, that made waves when it was first released in 2006. It felt like a truly next-gen experience, looking and playing like a dream. The sound design might also be the best of any game on this list.

The cover-based shooting may not have had much depth to it, but the player feedback was fantastic. It felt great to chainsaw aliens in half, and then blast away all their friends. The inclusion of survival horror elements was an interesting move, one that definitely paid off.

The combat against the nightmarish Locust is breathlessly intense. If you’ve ever wondered why Gears is such a big deal today, go back and try the original.

Resident Evil

Console exclusive survival horror game
Image Credit: Capcom

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: Playstation

It may have some of the goofiest voice acting of all time, but the original Resident Evil is still a thoroughly creepy horror game that will have you on the edge of your seat, even today. Another of the most influential games of all time, it still stands as an exemplar of its genre. It has many imitators, but few equals.

The residence itself (Spencer Mansion) is the star of the show. There are so many secrets, monsters, and surprises lying in wait for those willing to brave the home’s halls.

The mansion is like a giant puzzle box that players must solve bit by bit. The rest of the game is frantically fending off a colorful variety of zombies and mutants, including the now-iconic “Crimson Heads”.]

Just as terrifying as it was in 1996, Resident Evil is a must-play for horror fans.

Fable Ii

Fable II - A Console Exclusive Game
Image Credit: Microsoft

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: Xbox 360

In many ways deeply flawed, Fable II had enough charm about it to earn it a place in the hearts of gamers all over the world. 3.5 million sales placed it firmly among the twenty best-selling Xbox 360 games of all time, and it’s not hard to see why.

A hugely ambitious game, Fable’s appeal has always been its approach to player freedom, and its dynamic, interactive world. PETA also gave it the Proggy Award for the most animal-friendly game of 2008, so it has that going for it too I guess.

If you want a fantasy version of The Sims, with much meatier gameplay and solid RPG elements then you really ought to be playing Fable II. It’s a game you can get lost in.

God of War

God of War - Console Exclusive Game
Image Credit: Sony

(Was/Is) Exclusive to: PlayStation 4

I have to admit, I never pictured God of War’s Kratos as a father figure. Imagine my surprise when the relationship between Kratos and his son Atreus ended up being my favorite part of this game. We expected intense, weighty, monster-slaying goodness, we were not expecting a genuinely well-told story about a man and his BOY.

Norse mythology is a breath of fresh air for the series and Santa Monica Studio wrings every drop of potential they can from the new setting. There are spectacular battles against Valkyries, trolls, Dragons, and of course, Gods.

This is very much a case of a series growing with its audience, and it arrived at a very exciting place.

Forza Horizon 4

One of the best racing console exclusive games
Image Credit: Microsoft

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: Xbox One

This could have been any of the Forza Horizon games really, but I’m a sucker for the British countryside, and guess what Horizon 4 has by the boatload. Racing games can so often be dry, clinical affairs, but the Horizon series is all about pure, unadulterated racing thrills. Bombing around a vast, visually stunning open world in a variety of classic cars is as good as racing games get.

Everything about the Horizon games is designed to make you feel good, to an almost psychotic degree. You are constantly bombarded by new cars, cash prizes, cosmetic unlocks, and more, and everything you do, from plowing through somebody’s back garden to the perfect drift earns you big XP points. It truly is Shangri-la for motorsport enthusiasts.

Xbox has a stellar racing game offering, so how does Playstation stack up? Given the next entry on this list, pretty darn well.

Gran Turismo

Microsoft's racing rival
Image Credit: Sony

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: Playstation

As with all games that exist on the cutting edge, the original Gran Turismo is no longer the technical marvel it once was. Games that have come since may have eclipsed it from a technical perspective, but there’s no denying that Gran Turismo is one of the most influential and important racing titles of all time. This is all the more remarkable considering it’s a console exclusive game.

For 1998, the graphics were nothing short of mind-blowing. It was a genuine graphical quantum leap. There were 11 tracks and 140 on offer, which may not sound like a lot today, but was almost unheard of at the time.

Gran Turismo as a series is very much the Pepsi to Forza’s Coke. There’s an obvious rivalry, but I think there’s room in the world for both series to co-exist. For what it’s worth, Gran Turismo has always leaned more towards the realistic, hardcore side of things. If that’s your thing, this could be the game for you

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

An achingly beautiful Metroidvania
Image Credit: Microsoft

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: Xbox One

Up there with the likes of Hollow Knight and GUACAMELEE! as one of the best Metroidvania games in recent memory. A stunningly gorgeous platformer that pulls no punches when it comes to storytelling. There are some truly heartbreaking moments to be found here.

The platforming is also among the smoothest the genre has ever seen, and the RPG and customization are much deeper than in the previous game, Ori and the Blind Forest. Hauntingly beautiful, and with gameplay to match Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a must-play for anyone with an Xbox.

Pikmin 3

One of my favourite console exclusive games
Image Credit: Nintendo

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: WiiU

I’m aware that despite the quality of games like this, they ultimately failed to sell Wii U’s. Still, it would be a shame not to include them, as they are fantastic in their own right. They didn’t choose the life of a console exclusive game. Pikmin 3 is a lush, vibrant strategy game that hardcore and casual RTS fans

Pikmin is all about commanding a horde of tiny plant creatures and having them slowly but surely conquer an alien world. At your command, they will battle monsters, collect treasures, and solve a variety of puzzles.

It’s all presented wonderfully and flows seamlessly, give them a chance, and the Pikmin will find a way into your heart.

Bloodborne: Our Favorite Souls-Like Console Exclusive Game

The only Souls Like console exclusive game
Image Credit: Sony

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: PlayStation 4

Our pick for the best game FromSoftware has ever made, Bloodborne easily earns a place on this list. It brought the Souls-Like magic to the PlayStation 4 and is one of the most viscerally satisfying hack and slash games of all time. Couple that with a delightfully sinister Lovecraftian aesthetic, and you have one of the best games of all time.

Combat in Bloodborne is fast, violent, and requires an even greater degree of precision than most of FromSoftware’s other games. Shields and heavy armor are out, so you’ll have to rely on speed and your ability to parry incoming attacks. The combat has an almost balletic quality, and it never ceases to thrill.

The story is typically obscure but digging into the lore will reveal a nightmarish tale of a town in the grip of a terrifying curse. What will you do when the line between human and beast begins to blur?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo knock it out of the park
Image Credit: Nintendo

(Was/Is) Exclusive To: Nintendo Switch

Nintendo is probably the king of console exclusive games. They guard their first-party titles with a zeal that few can hope to match. There are pros and cons to this approach, but they do occasionally put out games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, so it must be working at least somewhat well.

Breath of the Wild is the culmination of decades of iterating and revision that began all the way back in 1986 with the original Legend of Zelda. The two games are worlds apart from a technical perspective, but the Zelda DNA is still very much in evidence. Breath of the Wild remains true to Zelda’s principles and successfully modernizes the series.

You must defeat Ganon, how you approach that task is up to you. Unlike most other sandbox games, the story doesn’t get in the way by attempting to force a rigid structure onto the inherent freedom of a sandbox. You are free to carve out your own path, and really have that mean something.

And that concludes our list of the best console exclusive games of all time. What games that we missed do you think deserve a place here? Let us know about them in the comments because we’re always updating our lists based on reader feedback!

Written by Robert Webb


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  1. where is Ocarina of Time. The role model for so many Action Adventure games…. Breath of the Wild is good but OOT is the best Zelda

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