I bet you were wondering about the Top Ten Super NES games of all time, weren’t you? Good, because I can help you! I originally posted this entry as being written by a Jewish Mystic combing the Bible for secret Top Ten video game lists. I must confess that was a hoax and I am exorcizing the mythical Mystic from these posts. In truth, this is a list of MY top ten FAVORITE Super NES games, with an emphasis on variety. It must be said that there are many Super NES games I’ve never played or have had limited time with and I’ll address some of these at the end of the list. As I am a true nerd, this list will probably change as I play more and more gamez.
#10 ACT RAISER (Quintet/Enix): This is one of that wacky mash-up games you hear about. In this case, you have Castlevania-ish sidescrolling action sharing time with Sim City-style civilization-building. You play as a God that travels around the countryside getting cities on their feet and helping the folks out, while occasionally kicking the crap out of some monsters. Making the Sim elements more interesting, you simultaneously control a little angel that flies around and shoots down monsters.
#9 THE LOST VIKINGS (Silicon & Synapse/Interplay) You may know Silicon & Synapse better by their current name, Blizzard. Yes, the same guys that make the inescapable and impossibly nerdy World of Warcraft games. But back before they were lame, they made lots of interesting 16-bit games. This particular game mixes strategy, puzzle, action and platforming into one surprisingly cohesive package. The three vikings have different abilities and the player must constantly change between them to progres.
#8 SUPER GHOULS N’ GHOSTS (Capcom): Pretty much more of the same as the previous games in the series but everything’s improved slightly. Crazier levels, harder enemies, more variety, etc. If you like a good challenge, check it out. If you’re a big baby, then don’t!
#7 SUPER MARIO KART (Nintendo): The first game in the series isn’t perfect but it’s better than its immediate sequel. This game single-handedly created the whole kart-racing genre (Crash Team Racing, South Park Rally, etc.) and maybe even the whole mascot sports genre (Mario Tennis, Mega Man Soccer, etc.) Unlike most of the immitators, SMK has a great cast of characters. It’s commonplace now but this was the first time you could play as Bowser. Donkey Kong Jr. makes his first appearance in nine years! The best innovation this game offers is the ability to assault your rivals with humorous weapons throughout the races.
#6 SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV (Konami): Castlevania 1-3 on NES all used the same gameplay and graphics engines so a shakeup was in order. SCIV definitely delivered with a very different graphical presentation. This game is an improvement in most ways, with slightly faster action and large variety in levels. There are levels that turn upside and sideways, which was enough to make a gamer’s head explode in 1991. The Belmonts’ trusty whip became even more useful than before, with 8-directional attacks and the ability to swing a la Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, most of the later Castlevania games forgot about these abilities . . .
#5 DONKEY KONG COUNTRY (Rare/Nintendo): Yo. When this game came out it was WHOA. And it still pretty much is. It wasn’t just that the graphics were groundbreaking for the time – the music and sound effects were more engaging and immersive than any game previously released. For some reason it’s become popular over the last few years to call this game shallow and/or dated. Rest assured, this is total garbage. Yes, the action is derivative of the Super Mario series but it’s not cloned in any way, and there are many elements complete unique to this game (and its sequels). There is a lot of depth to this game, with a ton of levels and a buttload of variety! And that music!
#4 SUPER STREET FIGHTER II: THE NEW CHALLENGERS (Capcom): SFII was a revolution in the arcades and inspired at least 100 immitators and that’s NOT an exaggeration (Fatal Fury series, King of Fighter series, Samurai Shodown series, Guilty Gear series, so on and so forth). Fighting games were barely even a genre before SFII but afterwards it was one of THE top genres for the next 5-10 years. The large cast of characters was memorable and the controls were perfect. Capcom really milked this game, releasing five different versions in the arcades. THREE of these versions were ported to the SNES. This particular version is the final, definitive release with the largest cast and the most moves.
#3 SUPER METROID (Nintendo): This game is a ridiculous improvement over the aimlessness of the original Metroid. It doesn’t lead the player around by the hand but it also makes sense and doesn’t require the player to shoot at every single square inch of the screen hoping for an invisible secret to emerge. There’s even a map! The bosses are huge and interesting. There are also several, “Wait, what the hell?!?!? Oh, wait, that’s bonkers” moments, especially at the end. Gesundheit!
#2 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST (Nintendo): Like Super Metroid, this game is a huge improvement over its predecessors. The character designs are attractive and expressive. The game makes a great deal of sense compared to Zelda I and II but also avoids patronizing hints. This game also introduced one of Nintendo’s favorite cliches – a world divided into light and dark versions of itself. On top everything else, Link has pink hair.
#1 SUPER MARIO WORLD 2: YOSHI’S ISLAND (Nintendo): This list is all about variety and, as such, there are no repeast listings from any single series. This is unfortunate as Super Mario Worlds 1 & 2 both deserve to be at the top of this list. So what makes SMW2 better? Well, SMW1 is quite similar to Super Mario Bros. 3 in presentation and gameplay. SMW2 introduces completely fresh gameplay ideas and has a look and feel of its very own. It’s also about 3 times as long and has a high replay value with collectible items and secret levels. Yoshi hast a host of abilities in this game; he can jump, butt-stomp, float, eat enemies, and throw eggs. Most impressive of all, he looks manly yet sensitive the whole time.
HONORABLE MENTIONZ: Super Mario World, Super Mario All-Stars, StarFox, Saturday Night Slam Masters, Street Fighter Alpha 2
“HEY. ME AM MAD CUZ ME FAVORITE GAME DIDN’T BE IN THIS LIST.” Yes, there are many, many Super NES supposed-classics that I have yet to play in-depth but intend to someday. Included in this list: Kirby’s Dream Land 3, Kirby Superstar, F-Zero, Mega Man X, Mega Man 7, Demon’s Crest, Contra III, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Soulblazer, Illustion of Gaia, Super Double Dragon, Super Bonk, Samurai Shodown, Rocky & Pocky, S.O.S., and more.