The Official SNES Gaming Thread

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Post by Lord Spencer on Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:39 pm

Among many gamers in this site, as well as gamers in general, the SNES represents gaming’s golden age. Its games regularly feature in the greatest of all time discussions, and the console itself some claim to be to the greatest as well. For me, the SNES would always be the special console of my childhood, and that Nostalgia effect will always be strong with me.

However, I wanted to form an unbiased opinion on the console, I wanted to review it based on its own merits far removed from nostalgia. As with any console, this meant I needed to review its games, and be honest about them, even applying them to modern sensibilities as well.

Which is why I started my SNES Reviews blogs, a series in which I reviewed the top 100 SNES games as chosen by IGN. After completing the list, I feel that I am equipped to fully review the SNES.

In this review, I am going to focus on the both the console’s biggest strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will pick the top three game genres, as well as the top three publishers as well.

Console’s Biggest Strengths:

Variety:

If you just take a cursory glance through that IGN list, you will notice a huge variety in games. Not only in genres, but also regarding publishers and styles as well. Clearly, Nintendo has the highest count in that list, but they only account for a fifth of the games, with many other publishers contributing as well.

For players of all tastes, the SNES’s library will manage to somehow satisfy them.

2D Graphics:

Unlike the early 3D polygonal games of the PS1/N64 era, the 16 bit 2D graphics of the SNES era aged very gracefully. In fact, the style now is finding newfound resurgence in the Indie scene, and that is because it still is capable of high beauty.

Carrying on with the theme of variety, we also get a variety of 2D styles, with each publisher having their unique visual flair. For example, not one Nintendo platformer used the same style once. With great difference between the early 3D rendering of Donkey Kong Country, and the crayon styling of Yoshi’s Island.

Music:

Graduating for the limited chip-tunes of the 8-bit era, the 16 bit SNES was capable of much more than the NES in terms of sound capabilities. However, music was still constrained in terms of range and the quality of the sound itself. Hence, composers had to focus on the melody itself, which paid dividends in terms of creating iconic music.

This is the generation where legends such as Nobue Uematsu, Koji Kondo, and Yoko Shimumura created a lot of their best work. In fact, I think music from the SNES has been remixed the most, and celebrated more than anything else.

Of course, music in the SNES era had a lot of responsibility. In RPGs, it needed to provide the emotional backdrop to the story. In action games, the music needed to be interesting to pump you back into action every time. It was the 3rd dimension in the 2D era.

Console’s Biggest Weaknesses:

Memory:


The console’s biggest weakness is without a doubt the limited memory, which is a constraint every generation deals with. However, later generations managed to circumvent it, whether it is the multiple CDs of the PS1, or the installations in the PS360 era.

In the SNES, memory constraints were responsible for limitations in graphics, resolution, size, and a lot of other different elements. Take Final Fantasy 6 for example: reportedly, Squaresoft stuffed all they can in the cartridge, but were forced to leave stuff that they planned.

Narrative and Translation:


I cannot judge the narration of games based on its original Japanese text (which most games in the SNES are), but based on the translation, which is significantly hampered by memory constraints. Since the game’s text is built for Japanes characters which can say more in a given text box than can be said in Latin alphabet, the original narrative might be something better.

However, the translated narrative of many games is simply sub-par. With the exception of the fun narrative of the Squaresoft games, I found the stories in most SNES games to be lacking in depth, character complexities, and everything else we associate with good storytelling.

Short Games:

Not all games in the SNES abandoned the coin dominated Arcade mentality. In fact, a significant portion of gems feel like they depend on artificial difficulty, lack of checkpoints, and lack of saving to pad out really short games.

Some games like Mega Man X and Castlevania are so good, they are replayable by design. However, a lot of games are short in content, and do not offer the stellar experience to make you want to go through them again.

Top Three Genres:

As I said above, there were a lot of genres represented in the SNES. From 2D shooters, to top-down shmups. Games of every genre were made, yet these three genres stood out by far.

Platformers:

When you remember the days of the SNES, you remember the golden age of Platformers. From basic Platformers such as Super Mario World, to Action-Platformers such as Mega Man X. The Platforming genre made the best out of the SNES’s strengths, with stellar graphics, and excellent sound.

In their essence, Platformers are the most basic game type. They all follow similar side-scrolling rule (with a few flipping the scrolling side for an additional twist), and they all use the 2D plane.

However, this constraint was challenged by different publishers, which is why we got a huge variety of 2D Platformers that included many of the best games of the Genre even today.

RPGs:

Since Platfromers are the most basic type of games, and they lack a narrative punch, RPGs aimed to fill in the more complex void. Companies such as Squaresoft wanted to expand the gaming population by expanding what was the most hardcore genre then,

While previous generations had their RPGs, the SNES RPGs were in an entirely different level. Even though they lacked the narrative we come to expect from games today, they were far beyond anything else in the scene, and the music was frankly enough to provide all the needed emotional cues.

Fighting:

While the Arcade influence hurt some game’s design, the Arcade was without a doubt the scene for fighting games. However, the SNES managed to imitate that scene quite well in the console space.

Obviously, the Arcade was still the “it” scene for fighters, but there were many great fighting games on the SNES as well. From the excellent Street Fighter 2, to the blood-less Mortal Kombat. The success of Fighting games on the SNES was a predictor for the death of Arcades in the US, as their most dominate genre managed to find acceptance in the console space.

Top Three Publishers:

In the IGN list, there were at least 30 Unique publishers, but these three were the ones that were clearly dominating. Two developers that narrowly missed, but deserve an honorable mention are Enix, and Konami.

Nintendo:


Spoiler alert; in every Nintendo released platform, Nintendo will undoubtedly be the top publisher in that system. With both quantity titles, and quality titles, Nintendo manages to make great games.
Yet, Nintendo, despite common opinion, do not simply rest on their successes. In fact, they change genres, styles, and gaming ideas more than any other company on the SNES.

From Nintendo alone, you can fill a decent top 20 list that would do justice to the SNES by itself.

Squaresoft:

This was the beginning of the Squaresoft golden age, and every game they touched was pure critical gold. While they don’t have as many titles as other major publishers, Squaresoft focused on getting quality RPGs on the hands of players.

In fact, the RPG genre is synced with Squaresoft’s name, so much that Nintendo asked for their help in making a Super Mario RPG.

Capcom:

Capcom’s excellence can be attributed to their understanding of the console’s strengths. With a major title in each top genre, Capcom provided something good for every kind of player.

However, Capcom’s greatest success story in the SNES must be Street Fighter II. Even though the console space was not the best for fighters, it can be said that Capcom is the most responsible for digging a huge niche for it to flourish in the coming generations.

In Conclusion:

The SNES will always have a special place in my heart, memories of my first gaming days are intertwined with memories of the gray console itself. To this day, I remember the precautions I and my cousins ha in place to protect the fat Power cube from falling down and breaking up.

Today, its greatest games still hold up really well, and are fun to play. It had a lot of variety, and its games aged really well because they relied on solid mechanics and graphics.

While it had its flaws, the SNES truly is a great console with a lot of great games.

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Post by Guest on Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:35 pm

Great system Review.
:bow: :bow:

I do think stories were more simplistic on the system compared to what came later, and I think many companies were just following the nintendo model. Like, you never got an amazing story from the nintendo type of game even back then. Things were simple enough for kids to pick up and get invested in. Even with Super Mario RPG the story is paper thin, and I could follow along playing it as a kid in Japanese. It wasn't a modern day rpg by any measure.

Surprised EA is not on the top publishers list though. The modern sports game was practically born on this system, and it was amazing finally getting games where tactics, and AI, and Stats all came together to create simulation which felt real even though it was just another For Loop over the likes of tecmo super bowl you had on the nintendo. FIFA,NBA Live, and Madden all became big things under the super nintendo. Wasn't a big fan of NHL, but I remember liking the games on there too. I think NHL 95 was playable online with XBand too. My uncle once had a 230$ phone bill behind that Laughing


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Post by Lord Spencer on Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:55 pm


With my SNES Reviews series finished, and my final review of the SNES done as well, I am ready now to reveal my top 10 SNES games.
Since my SNES reviews series​ only included games that I haven't played before, this top 10 list includes games that I haven't actually reviewed. Since the SNES games I played before my review series were among the more well known titles, it is no surprise that just 4 games from my SNES review series actually feature on this list.


Note that this list is sorted alphabetically, as I don't think I can order them to my satisfaction. So here it goes:

Chrono Trigger:

​Chrono Trigger is simply how a great RPG is made. Full with excellent characters, a unique and exciting world, a killer soundtrack, and awesome graphics, CT elevated the RPG ceiling of Squaresoft. With it being the last SNES release of Squaresot, it makes sense that they put everything they learned from that generation into that game.

While I cannot say that it definitely is Square's strongest SNES game (FFVI is still in this list), I can clearly say it at least shares the throne.

With an excellent use of time travel as a plot device, CT offers a unique story that transcends the limitations of the SNES. You go through an amazing adventure with Chrono, and memorable characters such as Frog, as well as menacing villains like Magus. This story spawns through several eras, in a vast world that looks great even today, and a soundtrack that is among the best work of Yasunori Mitsuda.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest

​The Donkey Kong Country series reportedly gave another wind to the SNES's sails. Their revolutionary graphics many thought were not possible at all, and their excellent soundtrack and gameplay made them excellent Platformer games. In my opinion, DKC2 is heads and shoulders above its bretheren and is among the SNES's top 10.

While all three games were equally excellent in their gameplay, graphics, and sound. However, the levels and atmosphere of the second game was what makes them the best. The varied lands of Crocodile island are among the series's best. To this day, the theme parks stages are a highlight in the genre.

Only the Volcano world and humdrum bosses bring down what is otherwise a perfect package.

Final Fantasy VI:

​If I am reluctant to call Chrono Trigger the best RPG on the SNES, it is because the sixth installment of the storied Final Fantasy series brings a serious challenge to that throne. Everything I said about CT applies to FFVI; it is another RPG that transcends the limitations of the SNES in both narrative and performance.

Reportedly, Squaresoft had to cut a lot of content because of the memory constraints in SNES cartridges. Even though, the game is full with content. At that time, it had the most playable characters in an RPG, the largest Soundtrack, which was a Nobuo Uematsu masterpiece, and it had the largest most extensive story-line.

With the excellent Villain Kefka headlining the show, FFVI was fun from start to finish for me, and I cannot chose between it and Chrono Trigger.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

​Despite being a Zelda and Nintendo fan, I didn't play ALttP before this review series. Now that I played it, I can see what all the hullabaloo is about. It is a great action adventure game with a vast sense of exploration and freedom. I don't know if I can beat all dungeons out of order, but I can do it enough that I feel my progress is not scripted.

While it could have been better if it had more tunes in its excellent soundtrack, it was an addictive game that I didn't want to put down until I finish it. Additionally, I can imagine many people would want to play it again and again to finish it in faster times.

If ALttP only had one overworld, it would be a very good game, not a a great one. Yet, with the Dark World mechanic, it becomes a great game. Once you have the ability to jump between the two world, the game not only becomes twice as big, but the world jumping mechanic makes it one of the SNES's greatest games.

Mega Man X (1, 2, or 3):

​Even though Capcom do not seem to appreciate Mega Man today, fans still appreciate their Mega Man games of the past. Among those games are the excellent three Mega Man X games in the SNES. Each of these three games are considered by some as the best of the three, but all share the excellent formula.

For the uninitiated, the Mega Man X games are the modern revision of the NES Mega Man Action Platfromers. They offer excellent gameplay, that is fast, addictive, and very solid, along with updated graphics and music that is among the top in the SNES. These games are not long, but offer a lot of replay-ability value in how you play the game; try to finish a Mega Man game without any of the boss's weapons.

As a Zero fanboy, I myself prefer X3, but I understand why other people will prefer the other two.

Street Fighter II:

​This is the game that proved fighters can thrive in the console space. A genre previously dominated by the Arcade scene, now we can credit its place in consoles to this great fighting game from Capcom. In my opinion, SFII was simply head and shoulders above other fighting games in the arcades, and it translated really well to the SNES.

Even now, every new Street Fighter game is being compared to this game (or one of its many revisions), as its iconic imagery and characters continue to define the series.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

​It is a fitting that one of the greatest games on the SNES is made through the collaboration of two of the system's top publishers, Nintendo and Squaresoft. Although today Mario RPGs are a respected series of games, the idea of a Mario RPG must have been absurd in the beginning. Noticing a lack of RPG games in their repertoire, Nintendo asked for Squaresoft's help in making a Mario RPG.

The result is nothing but extraordinary.

SMRPG not only manged to wonderfully transform the ridiculous world of Marion into a crazy slapstick adventure (Mario "talks" through silent movie sketches), it also managed to create a battle system that has a significant action component to it. As a result, we now have two excellent Mario RPG sub-series, and many fans demanding a direct sequel as well.

Super Mario World/ Yoshi's Island:

​Here is another case where I cannot decide between two similar games, but these "Super Mario World" games are not even that similar.

If you are looking for the basic, trustworthy, Mario Platformer, then Super Mario World has you covered. With its colorful style, and solid mechanics, SMW is one of the greatest Mario Platformers. It basically carries on with the excellent Super Mario Bros. 3, but adds Yoshi and continues crafting its own personality.

However, if you are looking for something different, then Super Mario World 2 is your better bet. While it shares the same name as SMW, its not a sequel at all. It is a very different Platformer, with a different style. This time, you control Yoshi, and the game is very different as well. With hugely varying levels, even some that are closer to Metroid labyrinthes than SMW level, Yoshi's Island instantly became on of the SNES's best Platformers.

Whether you go with the true and tried Mario Platformer, or the revolutionary Yoshi's adventure, you cannot argue against the dominance of Nintendo platformers over their competition.

Super Metroid:


​Super Metroid is a 2D version of the Legend of Zelda games. It emphasizes on exploring a vast world, and a grand sense of adventure. Except, in the case of Metroid, we are exploring a claustrophobic alien planet. With its sound and visuals, Metroid is one of the most atmospheric games of the SNES.

To traverse this hostile planet, Samus needs to explore and find power-ups, that help her explore even further. It creates a fulfilling cycle of exploration and rewards that keeps the game interesting to the end. It doesn't hurt that the action is top-notch, especially regarding Morphball action and boss battles.

Terranigma:

​This is probably the least known game in this list, and a lot of it is due to the game not being released in NA (although it was released in Europe). Two other games related to Terranigma were released though, Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia. Terranigma is considered the third game in that unofficial "creation trilogy". While SB and IoG were good games, Terranigma takes it into a different level.

In Terranigma, the player is tasked with resurrecting Earth (our Earth), and hence with each advancement in the plot the world changes to reflect their effect. It plays similar to the Legend of Zelda, as it uses a top-down perspective, but is a little faster paced, if more RPG oriented. Enix made a lot of games on the SNES, but this is without a doubt their best looking, and best sounding game.

I know that many readers in this site have probably played most of the games on this list, but I know that very few of them actually played Terranigma (even the great Chris Carter didn't). It is games like this one that I started my reviews series; in the hope of discovering an unknown gem.

*********************************************************************************************************************************

Since many of the games above are ones that I didn't actually review in my SNES Series, I though I would put in the top 10 games that I did review:

Earthbound.
Earthworm Jim 2.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
The Lost Vikings.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.
Secret of Mana.
Super Castlevania IV.
Super Mario RPG.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
Terranigma.


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