SNES Retrospective

I remember the day my dad came home with the Super Nintendo. He hooked it up while I looked at the box, and we spent the afternoon playing Super Mario World. Now my parents were very invested in the Sega Genesis, and as a result I sort of inherited the NES. For me, having cut my teeth on Mega Man 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3, I knew the SNES was something special from the first second of Super Mario World.

From there, unfortunately, things weren’t too interesting. I played the hell out of SMW, sure, and a few key titles such as Star Fox, Mega Man X, Donkey Kong Country, etc., but I was never really exposed to the meat of what made the console excellent. It wasn’t until I moved to a new town and made some gamer friends that gaming as I’d known it would change forever. One of the kids in our group, Andy, was talking to my best friend at the time about… something about some mountain, and becoming a “paladin”, whatever that was. When I noticed how lost I was, he forced his copy of Final Fantasy II into my hands and told me to bring it back once I’d finished it.

I think I returned it three days later…

I’d never seen a game like Final Fantasy II, but I knew I needed more! Luckily, Andy had the goods. After Final Fantasy II came Final Fantasy III, then Chrono Trigger, then Breath of Fire I and II, Secret of Mana… I was hooked! My love for the genre would only grow from there, but I can say unequivocally that this system, and those friends, are almost entirely responsible for shaping me as the gamer I am today.


Month 1:

Games Played – 5
Games Beat – 2
Best Game – Breath of Fire II (8.7)
Worst Game – Tecmo Super Bowl (6.8)

To say I was excited to jump into the SNES would be an understatement. Sure, I’d have to wait a while before playing some of the real pillars of the console, but in the meantime I could finally get around to some of the games that I never really got a chance with the first time around.

Despite having some excellent memories of Mortal Kombat II, the game fell flat for me, and I kind of knew it would. As much as I love the game, it’s just far too shallow of a fighter for me to properly appreciate these days. Doom was a lousy port, and Tecmo Super Bowl didn’t do enough to improve on its NES predecessor.

The good news is that the two good games of the month were REALLY good games! I’d never played Demon’s Crest before, and I had a great time doing so. It turned out to be very reminiscent of Mega Man X, which is never a bad thing. Likewise, Breath of Fire II proved to be spectacular with the Ryusui translation patch applied. What used to be a more obscure title for me quickly transformed into one of my favorite RPGs of all time!


Month 2:

Games Played – 8
Games Beat – 1
Best Game – The Lost Vikings (7.5)
Worst Game – Ogre Battle (6.4)

This was the month of dashed hopes and crushed dreams…

Kirby’s Avalanche was fine, and Mystical Ninja was fun in spite of its difficulty. Scores aside, Magical Quest was probably the best game of the lot, incidentally being the only one I beat! Lost Vikings and Kirby’s Dreamland 3 started out fine, but quickly became tedious. Plok! and Killer Instinct were painfully generic, but the biggest letdown of all would have to be Ogre Battle. I so badly wanted to enjoy such a well regarded game, but for many reason, it just was not to be…


Month 3:

Games Played – 15
Games Beat – 4
Best Game – Donkey Kong Country (8.9)
Worst Game – Sim City / Star Fox (6.4)

Firstly, that completion percentage is embarrassing. Secondly, lots to go over this month so I’ll stick to the highlights.

The original Harvest Moon is still charming as hell, but a little hard to get into these days. Final Fight 2, Battletoads and, yes, even Ninja Turtles remind me that while they can fun, I’m just not into beat ’em ups. Street Fighter Alpha 2 has some technical issues, but it’s still the second best fighter on the console, nothing beats UMK3! Sim City and Star Fox were bad, Kirby and Pilotwings were not bad, and Super Bomberman was okay… Super Mario All-Stars was good, but I’d honestly rather play these games on the NES, yes, even if that means not saving. Super Ghosts ‘n Goblins was a lot of fun, if not as good as its Genesis counterpart.

This was my first time playing Actraiser and, while it never blew me away, I had a lot of fun with it. It really makes me want to pick up Soul Blazer again, but alas, I do not have Soul Blazer.

Super Mario RPG and Donkey Kong Country indicate we’re moving into the serious end of this list. Both games are fantastic representations of their genres and still great fun today.


Month 4:

Games Played – 7
Games Beat – 2
Best Game – Donkey Kong Country 2 (9.1)
Worst Game – Contra III: The Alien Wars (7.7)

Konami did double-duty this month when it comes to reminding me how bad I am at video games. Still, Contra was pretty good and Super Castlevania IV was fantastic, and that music! Tetris Attack and F-Zero are both games that I played as a kid, and they’re both still fun now. This was my first time playing Super Punch-Out!!, and I had a great time with it.

Donkey Kong Country 2 is obviously excellent, even better than the original, but you all knew that. When it came to FF4 I decided to play it using the j2e re-translation patch. This retained the original difficulty, while modifying the game’s script. While I have mixed feelings about the patch in general, I still think it’s probably the best way to play the SNES version of the game.


Month 5:

Games Played – 2
Games Beat – 1… Twice
Best Game – Mega Man X (9.0)
Worst Game – Secret of Mana (7.6)

Mega Man X is one of my all time favorite games, and I may have been overly critical of the score just to keep myself from screaming out TEN! TEN! I beat the game twice…

I beat Secret of Mana when I was younger, but I just couldn’t find the drive to do it this time around. The story just wasn’t gripping enough, and the gameplay didn’t do enough to compensate. Still good, and I may go back to it, but for now it just didn’t hold up to my memories of it. I also have Secret of Mana 2 on my shelf, which I should really get to.


Month 6:

Games Played – 3
Games Beat – 2
Best Game – Yoshi’s Island (9.0)
Worst Game – Earthbound (7.4)

Super Mario Kart was, surprisingly, more fun that I thought it would be. It’s just one of those games where there’s little reason to play older versions when newer ones are available. Still, it manages to hold up. Yoshi’s Island was also fantastic, and also much better than I remember it being.

Earthbound was… unfortunate. Having skipped it entirely back when it was relevant, it just didn’t have that appeal to me today that it does to veterans. It just didn’t click with me.


Month 7:

Games Played – 4
Games Beat – 4
Best Game – Super Mario World (9.9)
Worst Game – Street Fighter II Turbo (7.8)

Could you ask for a better lineup in one month?

I’m a bit tired of the 16-bit run of Street Fighter II games at this point, so it’s hard for me to get excited about another one, even if it’s as good as Turbo. Super Mario World’s high score comes from the simple fact that it’s Super Freaking Mario World, and I couldn’t bring myself to score it any lower in good conscience.

Final Fantasy 6 is still one of the greatest games of all time, and is my personal winner for the month. I played it using the Wooley Uncensored patch which only acted to subtly refine an already excellent experience.

This was my first time playing Link to the Past, and while it didn’t quite beat out Link’s Awakening I still thought it was fantastic. I’m very glad to have finally beat this classic!


Month 8:

Games Played – 2
Games Beat – 2
Best Game – Chrono Trigger (10.0)
Worst Game – Super Metroid (9.5)

What better way to end the console? Chrono Trigger goes down as the first 10 of the project, and it earned it. The real story is with Super Metroid, however, as only up until about a year ago I very much disliked the series. Metroid and Metroid II really changed my feelings about that, and Super Metroid solidified the series as a staple in my catalog.


Statistics:

Games per Genre

As expected, platformers still hold majority representation with RPGs finally making a presence on the board. In the coming consoles I think we’ll still see a lot of that with a shift towards RPGs and Action Adventure games.

Score per Genre

Completely unsurprising, really. Super Metroid and Link to the Past effectively make up the entire Action Adventure genre for the console, while RPGs have the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy.

Genre per Year

Platformers stay steady over the years, while RPGs start to pick up towards the end. Kind of crazy how long the SNES stayed alive, almost moving into the 2000’s!

Score per Year

Fun fact: 1993 marks the SNES’ worst year at an average score of 7.3. Meanwhile, 1993 was the Genesis’ second best (by 0.1 points) year at… 6.9…

Finally, here’s the Top 10 SNES games!

Top 10 SNES Games


Afterthoughts:

I may be a little bias, sure, but the SNES remains one of my favorite consoles of all time. That top 10 list up there practically defined my childhood, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course that’s not to say the console is immune to mediocrity. Games like Doom and Plok! are, to me, proof of that.

What I’m really happy about is finally forcing myself to sit down and play classics like Link to the Past and Super Metroid. Up until just a couple months ago I couldn’t really say I’d given any real time to either game.

Very glad to have taken the time to revisit this one!


Review:

Super Nintendo

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