Hey, I’m D3rachi. I’m filling in for CCLemon99 today.
He asked me to write up a blog post, and I’ve been wracking my brain for a few weeks to come up with a topic. I’ve started and scrapped 2 or 3 posts already because I just wasn’t going anywhere with them. I could fall back on a video game review, but my screenshot/recording gear isn’t set up right now and probably won’t be for a while. You might ask why I don’t just use an emulator, but I don’t have a real answer for you. Much like a hardcore music fan who only listens to vinyl, I’ll just say “it just isn’t the same” and move on. Some of the other topics I had in mind got pretty heavy. One was about how toku saved me from the crushing angst of my high school teenage years, one was about how being critical of something (specifically tokusatsu) was an important aspect of admiring it, and how it’s okay to want something you love to be the best it can be. All topics that were way too corny and all sounded like they were going no where. So instead of talking about something that requires deep, exhaustive thinking, let’s talk about something totally rad. Let’s talk about something that isn’t even toku related.
Let’s talk about Super Nintendo.
Man, I LOVE the Super Nintendo. Truly one of the best consoles ever released, with an expansive library of awesome titles that are some of the best the medium has ever produced. So I’m gonna do a list of what I think are the best Super Nintendo games of all time. Lemon normally does Top 7 lists, but I don’t think that’s nearly enough to cover the best of the Super Nintendo’s huge library, so I’m gonna slap a 1 in there and make this a Top 17. That's a lot, so I'm going to forego pictures. A quick Google will give you more than enough pictures/videos of any of the games that you want to know more about. Without further ado...
17) Mario Paint
Some might argue this isn’t even a game, but there’s a fly swatting minigame so it totally counts. A full suite of art tools, rudimentary animation, music creation, and as mentioned before, a strangely addictive fly swatting minigame, all wrapped up in a beautiful Mario-themed package. Every aspect of this package is not only fun, but powerful. I’ve seen some pretty great art and music come out of this game. Sure, it doesn’t compare to, say, a computer with a full Adobe suite or anything. But for the early 90’s, at the price it was sold for, it was pretty damn impressive, and even today can do an awful lot. Plus, it came with a mouse.
16) Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Not really much to say on this one. Not my fighting game of choice for the console (we’ll get to that) but definitely still an incredible game and worth owning. A huge roster of memorable characters and a ton of moves and finishers to memorizes make UMK3 a fantastic game from top to bottom.
15) Sim City
PC games and console games are, nowadays, pretty much the same. Back in the 90’s however, it was pretty rare to see popular games from the PC side make the jump to consoles, or vice versa. One of the ones that did was Sim City. As this port was mainly handled by Nintendo themselves, it was built from the ground up for the SNES, meaning it controlled wonderfully, looked and sounded great, and played exactly as you’d want it to.
One of the many things that set the SNES apart from its competitors was it’s “Mode 7” graphics. Mode 7 was a way to allow sprite rotation and scaling, normally very difficult things to do in video games at the time. The first game to really show this off was the futuristic racing game F-Zero. Not only did it look revolutionary at the time, it was a fun game. Most importantly, I would argue, was the music. Some of the best music the SNES had to offer was found in F-Zero, including the iconic Mute City music.
13) Super Mario Kart
Another racing game that took full advantage of Mode 7, Super Mario Kart differed from F-Zero by allowing split-screen multiplayer. While this series would go on to have iterations on every Nintendo console, I still think the original is one of the best in the series. It has a simplicity and an innocence that the other games lost as they got more and more complex. Also: no blue shell.
12) Super Mario Picross
The first Japan only game on this list! Super Mario Picross is a Mario-ification of a crossword-like puzzle game called Picross. A Picross puzzle consists of a grid, with numbers on the left and top indicating which rows/columns have blocks that need to be filled in. Once the logic is sorted and the puzzle is solved, the result will be a blocky picture, with a small bit of animation. I don’t expect everyone to like this kind of game, but as a fan of puzzle games, I couldn’t get enough. Fun fact: it supports the Mario Paint mouse!
11) Final Fantasy 6
This is a bit of an obvious choice, I guess. I’m not normally a big JRPG fan, which is why Chrono Trigger is not on this list. That said, I love Final Fantasy 6. I found the battle system more engaging, the characters and story more interesting, and overall I just enjoyed it more. Also, there’s a point in this game where you suplex a train. I don’t think I need to say anymore.
10) Super Smash TV
A great port of the famous arcade game, Super Smash TV is a great game that’s easy to pick up and play. The D-pad moves you, the face button shoots. B shoots downwards, X shoots upwards, Y shoots left and A shoots right. It’s easy to learn, tough to master, and one of my favourite games of all time. Also it features some “great” digitized voice clips. Multiple pathways and secret rooms galore give plenty of reason to come back to this one time and time again.
9) Star Fox
Star Fox is a great example of why the SNES was awesome: they thought ahead. Instead of saying “this is how powerful our console will be, and that’s it,” they allowed for something called “co-processors” which allowed for the cartridges themselves to include processors. One of the most famous of these was the Super FX chip, found in Star Fox. A fully polygonal space shooter, Star Fox blew minds for it’s (now boringly simple) 3D graphics. Today, Star Fox doesn’t hold up quite as well as one would hope, but it’s still a very important game in the pantheon of SNES titles.
8) Street Fighter 2 Turbo
Now THIS is my fighting game of choice. Street Fighter 2 is known by many as one of the best fighting games of all time, and Turbo is often regarded as the best version. I don’t know if much needs to be said here. If you like fighting games, you probably already own this one. If not, you really ought to.
7) Donkey Kong Country
One of the best looking games on the SNES, Donkey Kong Country broke new ground with it’s pre-rendered 3D graphics. Pair that with a beautiful soundtrack, challenging platforming and the infamous mine-cart levels, and you’ve got one of the best platformers ever made. I would have included the two sequels on this list as well, but I didn’t want too much of the same thing. Definitely worth playing the sequels, but the original is, in my mind, still the best.
6) Yoshi’s Island
Yoshi’s Island, despite not having 3D graphics like Star Fox, also had a Super FX chip. This time, however, it was used to fully push the power of the SNES to deliver a visual style reminiscent of children’s crayon art. The whole game has a sense of innocence to it. There are no time limits on the levels, so you’re encouraged to take your time. The only time limit comes into play if you lose Baby Mario, which reveals the one main complaint I have with this game: the baby crying is the worst.
I often call Earthbound the Paul’s Boutique of video games. It’s weird, it’s wonderful, it’s funny, it’s trippy, it’s sincere, it’s smart, it’s dumb, it’s heartwarming, and most of all, it’s enjoyable. It’s also expensive, with used copies going for several hundred dollars on eBay. It’s also available on Wii U Virtual Console, for about 10 dollars. It turns the JRPG formula on it’s head, by featuring a modern day 90’s American setting, and characters that use baseball bats and yo-yo’s instead of swords and bows. It was almost too weird, as it didn’t sell very well when it was released. However, thanks to a strong cult following, it continues to be very popular even to today. Worth looking into, if for no other reason than the outstanding soundtrack.
4) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
A Link to the Past is one of those games that really doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s one of the best games in the Zelda franchise. It’s got a huge open world to explore, side objectives to complete, and some of the best dungeons and puzzles in any game in the series. Play this.
3) Super Metroid
One of the first games to nail the idea of “atmosphere,” Super Metroid remains popular to this day for it’s incredible capacity to make the player feel isolated. From top to bottom, the game is littered with small details and wonderful design that makes the world feel as real as a 2D 16 bit game world can be.
2) Tetris Battle Gaiden
I bet no one was expecting this one. Tetris Battle Gaiden is a Japan only competitive Tetris game, where two players duke it out as 8 different characters (with two secret boss characters), each with their own special moves and abilities. A surprisingly complex game, it’s incredibly addicting to discover new strategies. When I had this game in college, my roommate and I played this game for dozens upon dozens of hours. Honestly, I wish we still were roommates so we could keep playing. An underrated classic.
1) Super Mario World
If you were to ask me what the best game of all time was, without hesitation I’d tell you it’s Super Mario World. Every single level feels crafted to perfection, polished to a mirror shine. The music is wonderfully catchy. The visuals are vibrant and whimsical. There are secret levels upon secret levels, with a total of 96 total “goals” to get. I do my best to beat this game once a year, because frankly it never gets old. Every time I come back to it, I find something new to love about the game. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and is simply put, a masterpiece.
And that’s my list! It’s hard to say much about many of these games, as they’ve all had everything said before. But it’s still good to let the best games shine amongst the rest. The SNES is almost 25 years old, but still these games stand out (at least to me) as classics that deserve as much attention as they can get.
Thanks for reading!