Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Must-Have Games for the SNES Classic (If/When It Ever Exists)

This past Friday, the NES Classic Edition, a miniature NES with 30 games pre-installed launched in North America. Unsurprisingly, the device is quite hard to find at the moment, but Nintendo promises a steady string of supply throughout the upcoming months. The NES Classic Edition is a brilliant idea to get both nostalgic and new players to the era interested in Nintendo's games.

This made many gamers hope for future releases of past Nintendo systems, bundled with their own supply of games. If such a device existed for the Super Nintendo, and it seems very plausible considering how successful the NES Classic is already, these are just some of the many SNES classics that I think should be in a hypothetical "SNES Classic." After you've taken a peek at my picks, what games would you add to this list?

Super Mario World


One of the quintessential Mario experiences, Super Mario World is often debated among platforming and Mario fans as whether it's the superior experience when compared to Super Mario Bros. 3 or not. Regardless of your or my opinion on the subject. it's no question that Super Mario World is one of the greatest 2D platformers in existence. Taking the Super Mario Bros. series to the 16-bit era, Super Mario World brought with it longer levels, a world map that encouraged exploration with secret exits in many levels, varied obstacles and enemies, and so much more. It's an obvious pick for a game that should be included in a hypothetical SNES Classic, but there's very good reason for that.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


With The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo took the series to a more focused and disciplined approach. What the game ended up being because of this-- and the supremely well designed dungeons, extremely fun to explore overworld, the clever light world and dark world mechanic, memorable characters, tight controls, myriad of useful items, incredible boss battles-- is one of the best Zelda experiences the franchise has ever seen, much more one of the Super Nintendo's greatest classics and one of the best games of all time. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a tour de force adventure that no gamer should be without playing, making it a shoo-in for the SNES Classic.

Super Metroid


While the current state of the Metroid series depresses many-a fan of the franchise, thankfully there are a good deal of past Metroid games to look at and love the franchise for. Super Metroid is generally considered the cream of the Chozo crop. It brought with it the abundantly helpful map and corridors and rooms that could easily be distinguished between, things that the original Metroid lacked, making the NES classic a difficult game to play. Introducing a world that drips with ambiance, a worthwhile assortment of upgrades and abilities to reach and explore new areas, and one of the most memorable endings to a Metroid game, Super Metroid lives and dies by its responsive controls, superb level design, and replayability.

EarthBound


Nowadays we sort of take for granted that EarthBound is now available in digital form on the Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Consoles. It wasn't too long ago, however, that if one wanted to play the game legally, one would have to shell out an immense (see; ridiculous) amount of money just to get a loose (no manual, no box) used copy! Now, EarthBound is readily available in digital form, and it just seems like an easy pick for an SNES Classic release. An atypical RPG to this very day, EarthBound is a bizarre by touching adventure that takes place in a modern setting with charming, if not also bizarre, characters. It's also a very challenging game, but since the characters and world are so fantastic, it's worth roughing it to see everything EarthBound has to offer.

Super Mario Kart


The game that started and popularized a sub-genre-- the mascot kart racer-- Super Mario Kart is one of the go-to games for multiplayer gaming on the Super Nintendo. It's easy to see why, too, as the game features accessible controls, Grand Prix and Battle modes for two players to spend hours upon hours playing through, and lots of fun times to be had. The four Grand Prix cups of Super Mario Kart, each containing five tracks, the multiple difficulties of said Grand Prix cups, the four arenas of the Battle Mode, and the eight characters one can play as all equals one heck of a kart racing game that is hard to put down once it has been picked up.

F-Zero


Like Super Mario Kart popularized the mascot kart racer, or just the kart racer in general, F-Zero popularized the futuristic type of racer. Also like Super Mario Kart, F-Zero sported Mode 7 visuals, showing off 3D-like visuals as racers sped through the twists, turns, and dangerous pathways of the many tracks F-Zero possesses. The game is lightning quick, making you really feel like you're going all those MPH that F-Zero says you are. The Grand Prix mode offers a wide array of races where your rivals will always be ready to pass you if you so much as make a mistake. Sometimes, mistakes are even very costly, resulting in a destroyed vehicle and a step closer to a game over (either due to your vehicle taking too much damage or careening off the course)! While F-Zero has evolved since the original, made better by future games, it's still worth playing the game that started it all on the Super Nintendo.

Donkey Kong Country 1, 2 & 3


Rareware was a developer that already had quite the history to itself before reintroducing the world to Donkey Kong, but it was Donkey Kong Country that the studio really made a name for itself and became the juggernaut with its partnership with Nintendo. The entire trilogy is worth playing, though my personal favorite (as rote a pick as it is) will always be the second game, Diddy's Kong-Quest. Regardless of the game, what you'll get with one of Rare's Donkey Kong Country titles is a game soaked with ambiance, whether because of the environments or the atmospheric yet melodic music; stunning visuals that still impress to this day; superb level design filled with cleverly placed secrets (save for some of the original Donkey Kong Country, which had some "hope you fall in the right hole to find a secret" occasions), and memorable level gimmicks.

Kirby Super Star


Between all of the games that Kirby starred in on the Super Nintendo, the one that is not only the most memorable but also the best value is Kirby Super Star. Containing a variety of platforming adventures, many bite-sized, Kirby Super Star gives players a taste of platforming goodness, whether it's in the exploration-based Great Cave Offensive or the remake of the original Kirby's Dream Land. There is plenty to admire and sink one's teeth into with Kirby Super Star, making it as both as a fun and value proposition and superb pick for the SNES Classic. After all, who can't give enough of Nintendo's pink puffball? There's a reason that Kirby remains one of the Nintendo's active franchises after all of these years.

Mega Man X


The classic Mega Man games on the original NES put the series on the map with great critical and financial success. Mega Man X launched on the Super Nintendo, marking a bold new step for the franchise. Being quite different from the classic Mega Man games in both attitude (don't worry, we're not talking about being try-hard) and gameplay, Mega Man X is a harder game and much more action-packed experience. Since Mega Man was already pretty action-intense, that's quite the achievement! With permanent armor and health upgrades hidden in levels, more exploration to said levels, Robot Masters in the form of animal-based Mavericks, a more sinister villain in the form of Sigma, detailed 2D visuals in both characters and environments, and a rocking 16-bit soundtrack, Mega Man X remains one of my favorite games of all time and a must-have for the SNES Classic.

Super Castlevania IV


Another action platformer, the fourth installment of the Castlevania franchise was a jump from the 8-bit era to the 16-bit one with its release on the Super Nintendo. A much more reasonable in difficulty game, Super Castlevania IV is still a rather challenging platformer. Thankfully, this time around, your whip could be lashed out at foes and objects in a multitude of directions. This was not only great for taking out incoming enemies, but it was also good for latching onto special hooks where you could swing across chasms. You wouldn't figure this for this type of game, but Mode 7 was in play at specific parts of Super Castlevania IV, such a corridor where the background spins like a tube. Why I felt the need to add that into this entry is anyone's guess, but perhaps I just like that trivia aspect!

Super Street Fighter II Turbo


A complete version of Street Fighter II, a tactic of releasing more complete versions of Street Fighter games that would persist up to modern days, Super Street Fighter II Turbo saw all the improvements of past Street Fighter II experiences, like the addition of being able to play as all four bosses from the vanilla Street Fighter II, but it also included new goodies like Super and air combos, the arrival of Akuma, and being able to play as alternate versions of the roster of fighters, offering slight differences in how characters play. There is no wonder, then, why Super Street Fighter II Turbo remains a popular fighter and an important stepping stone in the history of 2D fighters and of course, the Street Fighter series in general.

Contra III: The Alien Wars


The third mainline installment of the Contra series had to run, gun, and blow up its way to impress Super Nintendo gamers, and it did all of that and more with Contra III; The Alien Wars. Offering two-player goodness, tremendous action set pieces, pulse-pounding action, exhilarating boss battles, and impressive visuals, Contra III delivers in both action and excitement. The game also wasn't afraid of trying something new, bringing with it some over-the-head perspective levels. While these weren't executed perfectly, they did offer a fresh take on the series. Even if you don't care for these themselves, you do get some of the best 2D side-scrolling levels in the Contra series if you persevere through them.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time


Popularized in arcades before gaining a home console version, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time brought with it an amazing amount of action, unforgettable levels and boss battles, and multiplayer goodness for two players. Turtles in Time is the type of game that is better enjoyed and appreciated through multiple play-throughs. This is a game where even after playing through it a seemingly endless amount of times, you still find plenty of enjoyment in slashing and striking enemies, chucking foes into the screen, and beating down Krang and the Super Shredder for the umpteenth time. The Super Nintendo is full of fantastic multiplayer games, and it would be a grave mistake if Turtles in Time wasn't included in a Super Nintendo Classic-like device.

Other Mentions:

Final Fantasy IV
Chrono Trigger
Star Fox
Super Punch-Out
Pilotwings

Great Suggestions by Others:

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Secret of Mana
Chrono Trigger
Breath of Fire
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Super Tecmo Bowl

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