So, I made a top ten horror movies list after a couple of posts having to do with movies — and having noticed that I made a couple posts about video games, I figured — hey, why not! I’m really weird about top ten lists in general: I’m not entirely sure how you can gauge how one thing is better than something else for very specific reasons — I just tend to like different things for different reasons, unrelated to one another.
I see a lot of “Top Ten SNES Games” that generally all list the same games, without much variety, usually listing either Super Metroid or Chrono Trigger at #1. I decided to step back and make my own top ten video a while ago when I had an online review show and went under the pseudonym of “Lavender”. My other videos at the time were pretty informative and serious — and so the definite shift in tone in this video actually cost me a lot of viewers.
A clear indication to me that a lot of gamers don’t know how to take a joke.
In any case, if you’re interested in my genuine (and nonspecific) list of favourite SNES games (OF GAMES THAT I ACTUALLY OWN), continue below!
All right, so most of these entries are cliche, but I don’t care. They’re popular games on the Super Nintendo for very good reasons.
What can I say about Super Metroid that hasn’t already been said? The game is visually stunning, the soundtrack is one of the most beautiful (and haunting) on the console, and as far as sequels go, this one takes the cake, building off of the original Metroid and refining it in almost — no, not almost — it DOES — in EVERY single way.
One thing people don’t don’t really ever seem to touch on (or at least that’s what I’ve noticed) when talking about how great Super Metroid is, is the subtle use of a non-textual narrative. Yeah, all right, there’s still that text scroll prologue at the beginning of the game, but outside of that, Super Metroid’s entire narrative is told through things Samus crosses paths with on her journey to the bowels of Planet Zebes.
A great example of the game’s use of non-textual narrative is when you first stumble across Kraid’s Lair. You find yourself face to face with a creature that very much resembles a mid-boss from the first Metroid game, called Kraid. You blow him apart with a couple of super missiles, collect the goods, and head on your way — until you get to the opposite side of the next room, and discover, laying before the door that lead’s to the real boss lair…:
Who is he? There’s no explanation why the corpse is here, or how he died. He could be an astronaut from the downed space ship that Samus later discovers — he could be a space marine bounty hunter, just like Samus. Who knows? — But that’s the greatness of this game: it doesn’t force-feed exposition down the player’s throat, instead allowing a sense of imagination to flow. This was a great implantation, and I think it totally works in this game.
In my mind, he is a bounty hunter, just like Samus. So every time I see him for the “first time” in Kraid’s lair, I always be sure to have Samus kneel in front of him as a sign of respect. Silly, I know, but whatever.
I love this game. A Link to the Past is by far, hands down, the best entry in the Zelda series after the NES original, and before Minish Cap on the Game Boy Advance. I’m not sure what resonates so well with me about A Link to the Past. I suppose it has to do with the grand sense of adventure that I feel every time I pop this cartridge in. And I think the great atmosphere about this game — that I feel, even now as I write this blurb — has a LOT to do with the game’s soundtrack.
Koji Kondo did a great job capturing the feel of his soundtrack on the first Zelda on the NES in this game, and while I do think gameplay takes precedent in what makes a video game good, I’m not sure how much enjoyment I would get out of A Link to the Past if somebody else other than Kondo composed.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many other things that makes A Link to the Past an incredible game, such as the solid gameplay, beautiful graphics, and the masterful dungeon design (except for Turtle Rock. Screw that first area. So much magic WASTED trying to navigate those moving platforms properly. Ugh), but the music plays such a huge part in why I love the game.
Role Playing Games (RPGs) were a huge part of my childhood as a … child. Hurf. And when Square made games on the Super Nintendo, I was consistently lost in a world of magic, magic, swords, and monsters. Final Fantasy II, I remember I got very unexpectedly for Christmas one year, and right from the start, I was drawn in by the tragic story of a conflicted knight torn between his duties for his country and the morale of his heart. A story built around the idea of one man’s repentance wasn’t something I saw much in video games back in the day.
Parasite EVE on the Sony PlayStation (also by Square) was toted around its release to be “THE CINEMATIC RPG”, but I highly disagree. Square had been making “cinematic RPGs” long before that time, and I really think Final Fantasy II on Super Nintendo really holds true to that kind of feeling. This game brought out the importance of great story-telling for me, which has played an integral role in my own fiction writing.
You can also find this game, remade, on the Nintendo DS — and the cinematic aspects are even more prevalent there. When the game first came out, I was incredibly excited to get my hands on it, and I feel it was wise for Square to choose Final Fantasy II over the other classic entries in the series to bring to the DS. Just the trailer alone sent shivers down my spine at the time.
Shadowrun is a best known as a table-top RPG (think Dungeons & Dragons and Marvel Superheroes), and has seen several adaptions, in both novel and video game form. There was a version of Shadowrun on the Sega Genesis which was totally different from the SNES game (and fans tote to be superior). I’ve never played the Genesis version, but even so, Shadowrun on the Super Nintendo has to be one of the best Western RPGs I’ve played.
The atmosphere of Shadowrun is what sticks out the most to me. It’s pretty dark and gritty for a SNES game, and while it is very loosely based on the official Shadowrun lore, the atmosphere of the game keeps me coming back. When I first bought the game about a year ago (although having played it briefly a couple times in my childhood), I got really far — until a glitch happened and my file was deleted. Normally, I’d ragequit all together and refuse to touch the game for six months or so — but Shadowrun drew me right back in, and I didn’t at all mind restarting my game.
Shadowrun is classified as a Cyberpunk RPG, and I think a lot of its inspiration stems from Bladerunner — although I can’t really exactly place any one thing that proves this, but that’s the overall feeling I get. And I guess that’s the most important thing: feeling.
Star Fox was the first game on the Super Nintendo to utilize the Super FX Chip, Nintendo’s basic “Eff You” to other companies who felt the itch to upgrade to more powerful console resources that could harness the power of three-dimensional graphics. You wouldn’t think a sixteen-bit console from 1991 would be able to harness polygons without an add-on, but Nintendo proved otherwise.
There were only a handful of games on the console that utilized the Super FX Chip and its predecessor, the Super FX Chip 2 (Yoshi’s Island being one of them), and I think it’s safe to say that Star Fox is one of the few (if not the only) fully 3D games on the console that has actually aged well over time. It’s fast-paced, intense, and it’s hard to not get sucked in when you’re faced with not only hundreds of baddies firing at you, but with the task of making sure your allies survive the end of the level.
I always find myself in conversation with Slippy, Falco, and Peppy, almost like I’m actually inside the cockpit (especially on those outer-space first person levels), and I think because of that grasp the game has on me (and other people) it’s no wonder why we’ve seen several Star Fox sequels, as oppose to ANY Stunt Race FX sequels.
There are several other games on the console that really resonate with me for one reason or another — but for some reason, I just can’t think of any one specific thing that sticks out as to why I love these games. They’re amazing all in their own right, and for that, I feel that they have a powerful grip over how I view them. I think in general, if you love something so much that you can’t find the words to describe WHY you love it — that says a whole lot more than a few descriptors you can pull out your ear.
So here we go — for the remainder of this list, games I love just because they’re awesome in their own right: