While the NES’s hardware was growing obsolete and the Sega Genesis was sending shockwaves through the industry, Nintendo’s loyal fans waited anxiously for their next system. Finally released in 1991, the SNES (Super NES) fulfilled its destiny as Nintendo’s defense against Sega. And while the SNES had a slower processor compared to the Genesis, its strongest asset was its game support, both from in-house development teams (first-party) or outside companies (third-party). With developers like Capcom, Konami, Rareware (now known as Rare), and Squaresoft (now known as Square-Enix) primarily backing Nintendo, the SNES was delivered a slew of amazing games that many gamers still consider to be absolute gems.
5. E.V.O.: Search for Eden
Much like “Gunstar Heroes,” this is one of those games that few know of but universally love. An action RPG created by Enix, “E.V.O.: Search for Eden” is the video game equivalent to evolutionism. Skipping over a few of the more awkward and eccentric details to the story, you start out as a tiny fish in the pre-land setting of Earth and go through the various pre-historic ages as you evolve and grow into new forms. The RPG flair comes in through the evolution system – by killing other animals and eating the meat they leave behind, you gain evolution points, which you can ‘spend’ on modifying different parts of your body, increasing attributes like walking speed, jumping height, and attack power. With its addictive gameplay and quirky storyline, “E.V.O.: Search for Eden” is a sleeper hit that deserves more recognition.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
I’m just going to say it: if you haven’t played “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time,” your childhood sucked. Bar none, “Turtles in Time” is one of the most fun games you can play on the SNES with another person. After Shredder’s goons snatch the Statue of Liberty, the Ninja Turtles head down to the Technodrome, only to get hurled back in time. Starting in the prehistoric era and eventually ending in the future, the Ninja Turtles swing, slash and kick their way through some of the comic/show’s most memorable baddies. You’re given the ability to play as any one of the four Ninja Turtles, each with its own unique characteristics. The combination of a great soundtrack, gameplay that never gets dull, subtle humor and references to the series makes “Turtles in Time” a satisfying experience for gamers and fans of the series alike. And for the love of God, play it with someone else.
3. Mega Man X
As if “Mega Man” wasn’t hardcore enough, Capcom decided to make an all-new series with the dawn of the SNES, and so “Mega Man X” was born. Much more fast-paced and with an entirely new cast of characters, “Mega Man X” takes everything about the original “Mega Man” series and makes it so much better. The game features a slightly more intricate story, detailing the battle between human-like robots who have gone crazy with a virus and a group of robots trying to stop them, of which X is a part. The game still retains the standard “pick between 8 levels until you beat them all and gain access to the final boss” format. As for the music, well, it’s just plain awesome. For the X series, Capcom switched out the techno-y sound of the original series and made it much more metal-sounding, a welcome addition to go along with the fast-paced nature of the game. And while there were indeed two sequels on the SNES, the original keeps things simple and fun – plus the story gets way too convoluted afterwards.
2. Tetris Attack
Other than being a puzzle game and its ridiculously addictive nature, “Tetris Attack” doesn’t have anything at all to do with “Tetris.” Sorry, “Tetris” fans. But if you’re still willing to give it a try, “Tetris Attack” offers countless hours of puzzling fun, either by yourself or playing against a friend. The game is simple – you’re given a stack of multi-colored blocks, and you eliminate them by swapping adjacent pieces to make groups of three or more. In a way, it’s like old-school “Bejeweled” with “Yoshi’s Island” characters. But the game would get old if that’s all there was to it, so Nintendo introduced a competitive aspect: by making groups of four or more or chaining groups in succession, you send unmovable blocks to your opponent’s board. The game is simple to pick up yet hard to master, ensuring an insane amount of replayability to try and get your technique just right.
1. The Legend of Zelda:
A Link to the Past
Oh yes! When you take the original “Legend of Zelda” and improve on it in every aspect, this is what you get: an action-packed, head-scratching, tune-humming classic. One of the lengthier if not the lengthiest of the games in the series, “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” makes sure that you get the maximum bang for your buck. The story is standard fare for a “Zelda” game: Zelda gets kidnapped by Ganon, Link must go through dungeons to collect mystical items/save magical entities, free Zelda and kill Ganon. Unlike this game, the next generation of “Zelda” actually has a good storyline, but that’s for another list. “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” is filled with new items, new techniques, a much bigger overworld, more dungeons, more collectibles, more side quests, great music and a few special secrets – what doesn’t this game have? I guess it doesn’t have multiplayer, but I’ll let that slide. The bottom line is that “The Legend of Zelda” is the ultimate SNES experience. If you get the chance, pop it in and see for yourself.
Looking back at this list, I must admit that some tough decisions had to be made. To whittle down the SNES’s enormous list of great games into just five is almost disrespectful, but it had to be done. Honorable mentions include “Zombies Ate My Neighbors,” “Donkey Kong Country,” “Earthbound,” “Super Metroid,” and “Super Mario World.”
Next week, we’ll leap into the 64-bit era with the PlayStation, so be prepared!