The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U) and Twilight Princess (GameCube)
The next best thing to launching a console with a Legend of Zelda game is releasing one as a system is reaching its last legs.
Both of these games, however, were launch titles (Switch and Wii) and swan songs (Wii U and GameCube) for the consoles on which they released.
These games were both great sendoffs to two Nintendo consoles that unfortunately didn’t live up to expectations.
The internet’s opinion of Twilight Princess has soured a bit over the years, but the people of the internet are fickle. Twilight Princess made GameCube owners happy and Breath of the Wild made the Wii U diehards happy as well.
In the end, that’s all you can ask for when it comes to a final major release for a console. Sure, BotW is viewed as arguably the best title in the franchise and TP is currently on more rocky ground, but both are excellent adventures.
Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 (Dreamcast)
The Dreamcast launched with one of its best titles in Sonic Adventure, but Sonic Team had an incredible trick up their sleeve for the console’s swan song in Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2.
It was similar to the original PSO which had released a couple of years earlier, but with much more content.
Not only could you enjoy a considerably longer game on your own, but the online mode would let you team up with your friends to take on the creatures of Ragol.
The controls are now a bit dated, but they did a fantastic job with what they had on the Dreamcast controller.
Sega’s last system sadly reach the end of its run abruptly in 2002, but Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 was a fantastic title that left a highly positive impression on the people who were able to enjoy the game.
Pokemon Yellow (Game Boy) and Black 2/White 2 (DS)
Now let’s move from a failed console to two of the most successful handhelds of all time, the Nintendo Game Boy and DS. Their swan songs were multimillion-selling titles from the beloved Pokemon franchise.
Yellow Version introduced the feature of a companion Pokemon following you around and Black 2/White 2 introduced the Pokemon World Championship which let you battle gym leaders and champions from past titles.
Yellow was also the first game in the franchise that allowed you to get every starter Pokemon without requiring any trades.
They were both incredibly successful titles that gave the tens of millions of owners of both handhelds endless hours of Pokemon collecting fun.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance (Xbox)
If you take the proven successful formula of X-Men Legends and give players access to even more superheroes, you get Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
This swan song for the original Xbox was one of the best beat em’ up games of the console generation and featured a large roster of well-known — and some lesser-known — heroes of the Marvel universe.
This game came out just a few years before the MCU was launched with the original Iron Man film, but it was still able to gather a large following thanks to its enjoyable style of co-op gameplay.
These swan songs aren’t always massive adventures, sometimes all you need to send off your current console is something like Ultimate Alliance that you can enjoy with your friends.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (N64)
Most fans of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series are solidly in the corner of one of the first three games in the series. However, there’s no doubt that the third title was the ultimate swan song for the N64.
Since the game also came out on the following generation of consoles, some concessions had to be made for the N64 version, but this version also received an exclusive level that you couldn’t get on PS2 or GameCube.
Also, the nature of the THPS games always pushes you to get higher scores and more impressive runs.
This endless feeling of competition against yourself and your friends in the multiplayer modes made this title a fantastic game to send off the N64, a console which was all about local multiplayer.
Even though this version of Frogger is just a port of the arcade classic, this swan song for the Sega Genesis is fantastic for staying to its roots. The game isn’t anything complicated and didn’t need the polish that the SNES version received.
As much as updating graphics to the modern era can help to improve a game, they can also hurt it.
Frogger isn’t the platforming icon that made the Genesis famous, but its gameplay is simple enough for most people to understand, and it’s one of the many games that is recognized the world over by people who don’t even play video games.
Ending the library of a console with a title that had such instant recognition was a genius move.
Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES)
A wise man once spoke of the Kirby franchise as being the death knell — or swan song if you want to be more positive about it — for any Nintendo console.
While that may not necessarily always be the case, Kirby’s Dream Land 3 was one fantastic title that was the harbinger of the end for the SNES.
Dream Land 3 is often overshadowed by the highly popular Kirby Super Star but bringing rideable animals and their unique attacks to the console for the first time helped to add a much-needed feeling of freshness to the gameplay.
Kirby titles are notoriously plodding and lack any semblance of a challenge, but giving the adorable pink puffball access to new skills was a great way to leave Kirby and SNES fans with a fantastic final impression.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox 360)
The plan to reboot the Tomb Raider franchise was incredibly ambitious and paid off wonderfully for publisher Square Enix and developer Crystal Dynamics. Now, the next step was to continue that with Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Following the similar gameplay style of the 2013 reboot, they were able to release another hit Tomb Raider game, but this time it had the responsibility of being a swan song for the Xbox 360.
The game didn’t disappoint. Rise felt incredibly similar to the 2013 title, but loyal 360 owners were rewarded by getting to experience the next chapter in Lara Croft’s story.
In the end, it kept up the high standard of excellent writing for believable characters and sent off the successful second Xbox console into the sunset.
Persona 5 (PS3) and Q2 (3DS)
I could get used to Persona games closing out consoles just as long as it’s not one game per console like we had on the PS3.
Both games are among the best JRPGs on their respective consoles. If you know anything about JRPGs, then you’re likely familiar with how absurdly long they can take to complete.
The length of both of these Persona titles truly lets you soak in every second and fully appreciate all the enjoyment that the 3DS and PS3 brought you over their years of relevance.
Grand Theft Auto V (PS3 and Xbox 360)
Grand Theft Auto V very well may be one of the best titles in the history of gaming.
With seemingly endless single-player content and a bustling online game bundled in, it’s no surprise that Rockstar North’s masterpiece is one of the best-selling video games of all time and continues to top sales charts to this day.
Of course, that’s partially due to its re-release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, but it still speaks to the limitless nature of the game.
You can go anywhere you want and do just about anything you want to do. Like any other GTA game, there are consequences for your actions, but the level of freedom and amount of content in GTA V are unprecedented.
It was the perfect title to show the world how far game design had come to that point and is undoubtedly the ultimate swan song of any console generation.