The 20th Anniversary of Super Nintendo (Best of SNES)
Everybody’s favorite classic gaming console is the Super Nintendo, originally released in North America on August 23, 1991. The “Super Nintendo Entertainment System” abbreviated “SNES,” had/has the widest assortment of iconic games of any system to date not to mention evolutionary graphics for their time, plus catchier songs than anything on Top 40 radio. It was a lucky thing to own a SNES in the 90’s, they originally went for around $200 but lowered to $99 in their later years.
SNES is the 7th bestselling console of all time (2nd best of the 90’s after Playstation) and that includes all recent consoles, not to mention inflation. I actually remember renting a SN and a few games (usually Donkey Kong) at the video store in the early 90’s. Nowadays, it’s practically unheard of to walk into a video store let alone rent a game AND an entire console. Now we have Redbox…
Many of its titles are the undisputed best video games of all time and SNES is the everyman/everychild/everywoman console. It not only provided a smooth transition from the original Nintendo console from 19985 and also the Game Boy (1989) but it contained plenty of updates to the characters you first fell in love with.
You all remember the Super Nintendo favorites? Your childhood “friends” – Mario, Link, Kirby, Donkey Kong and Chun-Li, to name a few. Here are some of the SNES games/franchises that not only shaped the industry, but shook it…
1. Mario. SNES brought us Super Mario All-Stars (#2 bestselling), which compiled the three previous NES titles into one cartridge not to mention the “Lost Levels” from the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2. The two major releases here were Super Mario World, and Super Mario Kart, which is responsible for the ENTIRE kart racing craze within gaming, not to mention it was the fourth best selling SN game of all time.
Super Mario World (#1 bestselling) received criticism for not bringing anything new to the table, though I beg to differ. SMW was had the most hidden levels of any Mario game plus it brought us those pesky Ghost Houses, a yellow cape and most importantly, our trusty prehistoric steed, Yoshi…
The introduction of Yoshi, brought us two new games for SNES, Yoshi’s Safari and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. Yoshi’s Safari (1993) had you running around trying to rescue a king and his gay son (and friend of Princess Peach) Prince Pine of “Jewelry Land.” The gem was Yoshi’s Island, which is a prequel to every Mario game before it, where you take the role of Yoshi himself and attempt to reunite baby mario with baby bro Luigi.
Another interesting SNES Mario addition was the hated Super Mario RPG (1996) in this game, you teamed up with Bowser in Final Fantasy-style gameplay to defeat a new enemy, Smithy. Alas, they lost the magic on this one and I don’t recommend playing it.
More Mario games for SNES: Mario Paint, Mario Is Missing!, Mario’s Time Machine, Mario and Wario, Mario’s Early Years! Fun With Letters (and Numbers and Preschool)
2. Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong was first introduced to a U.S. audience in 1981 on NES, with it’s ladder-climbing, king-kong inspired adventures that reappeared in a much different and complex way for the SNES in 1994. Donkey Kong Country (#3 bestselling) proved to consumers that the console was not over with and provided a surge in sales. It used advanced 3D graphics for the first time, and to this day the Donkey Kong games for Super Nintendo look and play like a dream, better than ANY Arcade game for the Xbox Live Marketplace or PlayStation Store.
SNES had not one but three Donkey Kong games, Donkey Kong Country, then Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (1995, #6 bestselling) and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! (1996, #10 bestselling) All were created by Rare Ltd. (Rareware) who signed an exclusive publishing deal with Nintendo after the first Donkey Kong game, thus sealing their fate as part of Nintendo’s dream team alongside Capcom and Square Enix.
The Donkey Kong games were once carelessly referenced as being similar to Mario, and some went as far to call it a complete rip-off, replacing Mario and his friends with Monkeys, but we all know that isn’t true…
Rare made a game that had more fluidity than Mario and more understandable humor to an American audience. And of course their level complexity, attention to detail combined with their exploding barrels, mine-kart levels and boss sequences that were all revolutionary. Who wants to ride a teeny tiny dinosaur (Yoshi) when you could ride a snake or a giant tennis-shoe wearing spider? And who could forget the Kong family? Wrinkly, Cranky, Funky, Swanky oh and DK’s nemesis Kaptain K. Rool, with his hoards of weak but irritating Kremlings.
Also, Diddy Kong’s girlfriend Dixie, who can FLY with her hair. Little blonde girls worldwide rejoiced at that, myself included. She was someone we could idolize the way that little boys idolized Superman and Spiderman.
While DK never had the spinoff success (not that they needed spinoffs) of Mario within SN, to this day Donkey Kong is one of the two most obvious and memorable mascots of Nintendo. And who can forget that rap song from Donkey Kong 64 or the frustrating two-player gameplay of 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii?
3. Zelda. At the end of 1992 Zelda: A Link To The Past (#7 bestselling) came out, the third and best so far in the Zelda series. A Link To The Past returned you to the story of the young warrior Link and his battle against an evil wizard trying to gain control of Hyrule. Nintendo capitalized on their chance to improve the game’s 16-bit look and sound with this contribution. This game gave us the pegasus boots (to run with, duh) and hookshot not to mention much more comprehensive dungeons than its predecessors.
While there was only the one Zelda game for Super Nintendo, Zelda’s popularity and greatness in Link To The Past was followed by the two most spectacular Zelda games to not appear on Game Boy (my personal favorite, Link’s Awakening) – Ocarina Of Time and Majora’s Mask.
…Not to mention, Twilight Princess for Gamecube and Wii and the massively anticipated Skyward Sword, which is yet-to-be-released.
4. Street Fighter. Street Fighter started as an in-Arcade only fighting tournament game in 1987 with only ten opponents and you playing as either Ryu or Ken. The game appeared in many forms in Japan before it made its SNES debut with Street Fighter II World Warrior (1992, #5 bestselling) followed by Street Fighter II Champion Edition (also 92) and then Street Fighter II Turbo (1993)
Street Fighter on SNES is known in various forms, Alpha, Hyper Fighting, New Challengers, Turbo, World Warrior… The best (besides the original arcade format) is Street Fighter II Turbo. Sega managed to commandeer the game for their Genesis system during the console wars, but the SNES version won in the end with superior aesthetics and sound. It didn’t include the new characters, but its “turbo” fast gameplay was too enjoyable for anyone to care.
Overall these games brought us a lot of lovable characters and a highly entertaining button-mashing experience.We all remember that fat diaper wearing-sumo dude (E. Honda) who palm-fisted your face and put you between his legs while propelling into the air. Oh and M. Bison, who was originally meant to be the black boxer character, in an obvious Mike Tyson parody, however they switched him with that hat-wearing devil who was portrayed by Raul Julia in that bad Street Fighter movie from 1994.
And who could forget Chun-Li? Or Zangief? With his bright red veins and HUGE red speedo. OR Dhalsim, the possessed Indian version of Stretch Armstrong. That’s another thing, Street Fighter embodied the racial undertones so prevalent in the 80’s and early 90’s. In America, we felt like Rocky when we played Street Fighter, in Asia it was maybe Bruce Lee or Gichin Funikoshi. ORRR you could just feel like an electrified green-skinned ginger-chested monster! (Blanka)
5. Final Fantasy. After Final Fantasy‘s three NES titles, the Super Nintendo greatly propelled FF, much like it had for Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda. The system had four Final Fantasy games – IV, Mystic Quest, V (only in Japan) and VI (as III, 1994)
Final Fantasy IV was released in America as Final Fantasy II, due to conflicts and confusions with the Japanese versions, while FF V was never available in the states. The best one for SNES is Final Fantasy III (aka VI, #11 bestselling) with that witch character Terra and pulsating soundtrack.
These games took the role playing genre to a new level, and while I consider them the less user-friendly version of Zelda, they are vastly iconic, not to mention there’s nearly 15 of them overall. Also, they made a very specific type of gameplay popular – the point and click menu, the spell and item selection and enemy battles in which your party appeared onscreen in a separate environment.
That’s the end, but some other very amazing games for the SNES include:
Kirby Super Star, Killer Instinct, Cool Spot, Chrono Trigger, Aladdin, Star Fox, the Super Star Wars games, Contra III, Secret of Man 2, Mega Man X, Super Metroid, F-Zero, The Death and Return of Superman, Earthbound, Dragon Quest VI, Mortal Kombat 3, Super Punch Out, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Earthworm Jim, Super Castlevania IV, NHL 98 and two of my other personal favorites – Rock n’ Roll Racing and Breath Of Fire.