By the end of 2013 we'll almost certainly be able to purchase new systems from all three of the major console makers. Exciting! That said, you shouldn't ignore current gen systems just because there's some new hotness on the way. More often than not some of a console's best games arrive after most gamers have already moved on.
These are the super polished games that have been in development for ages. The games that push the system right to its breaking point. The quirky games that only come out once the market is less crowded.
Here are 10 games that prove how rewarding sticking to a console a bit beyond its best-before date can be...
Kirby's Adventure (1993)
Released in 1993, over a year and a half after the release of the Super Nintendo, Kirby's Adventure does things with the NES hardware you wouldn't think possible. Really, aside from a limited color palate, Kirby's Adventure could easily pass for an early SNES or Genesis game. Oh, and this is the game where Kirby first got his copying ability and, well, really became Kirby.
Phantasy Star IV (1995)
Sega had already crapped the bed with the Sega CD and 32X, and the overpriced Sega Saturn had just hit the market in a mishandled "surprise" release -- Sega fans were feeling a bit bewildered and betrayed in early 1995. Thankfully Sega had a late treat for loyal Genesis fans. Phantasy Stav IV didn't need a lock-on cartridge, Genesis add-ons or any gimmicks to be played, it was just a good old-fashioned Sega Genesis game and it was freakin' great.
Super Mario RPG (1996)
What can I say Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars that hasn't already been said? It's one of the best genre-mashups ever made and easily ranks amogst the top-5 Mario spin-offs (which is no small feat considering just how many Mario spin-offs there's been). Like all the best console latecomers, this title left gamers wondering why an upgrade was even needed.
Valkyrie Profile (2000)
Released only a couple months before the arrival of the Playstation 2, Valkyrie Profile is one of the best RPGs on a system that was pretty much all about RPGs. Beautiful, challenging and unique, Valkyrie Profile was a fine capper to an era when the JRPG was king.
Paper Mario (2001)
Hey look, another Mario RPG! They seem to pop up late in the life of Nintendo systems fairly regularly. For my money I actually prefer Paper Mario to Super Mario RPG, but that's just me. Don't kill me SMRPG fans.
Conker's Bad Fur Day (2001)
Hey, did you know Nintendo once funded the development of a game where a cute squirrel gets drunk, pisses all over everything and fights a boss made out of s--t? And that they tried to sell the game with an ad in which said squirrel gets a handjob? This is the kind of nutty, "what the hell, let's go for it" kind of thing that only happens in a console's final days when nobody's watching.
Released on the long-dead Gamecube in 2006, Chibi-Robo is one of my favorite oddities Nintendo's ever spat out. Basically you play as a tiny robot tasked with picking-up after a dysfunctional (possibly insane) nuclear family. It's a game about doing chores, and yet somehow it's absolutely engaging.
Drill Dozer (2006)
In a fair world Drill Dozer (created by Pokemon developer Game Freak) would be the new Mega Man -- the go-to series for people who like challenging, old-school 2D action-platformers. Unfortunately Drill Dozer came out on the Gameboy Advance a year-and-a-half after the release of the DS, nobody played it, and it's never received a sequel.
Beautiful, unique and memorable, the failure of Okami is still lamented and held up as evidence that most gamers are shallow, tasteless jerks. Really though, Okami was just terribly timed -- the game hit shelves a scant few days before the release of the PS3 and Wii (the latter of which was launching with it's own wolfy action-adventure title).
Persona 3 (2007) & Persona 4 (2008)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 and Persona 4 were easily the two top reasons for keeping your PS2 connected in 2007 and 2008. A not-exactly-mainstream mashup of a Japanese high school sim and hardcore dungeon hacking the Persona games are a perfect example of something that would have been mostly ignored during the PS2's heyday, but was able to carve out a niche once the field cleared out late in the system's existence.
So there you have it -- appreciate these twilight months and don't ignore interesting looking late-to-the-game titles like The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Pandora's Tower or Remember Me (to name a few). Any great fashionably late games I missed? Hit the comments and let me know.