I didn’t get a SNES until 1996 around the same time that the N64 was launching. Nonetheless, it’s a system that hangs high in my memory if only because I spent so much time wanting one. Years later, the N64 is jaded by the growing pains of 3D but for many the SNES still represents 2D gaming perfected. Here are my top five SNES games.
5. Star Fox
Probably one of my favorite games of all time is Star Fox 64. Star Fox comparatively is also pretty good. I played the two around the same time and even with the lackluster graphics I was impressed by just how well it played. The N64 version might have been superior in most every way, but that shouldn’t diminish how good the original SNES game was. It at least had one distinct advantage over later iterations. In Star Fox 64 if an ally was shot down they’d just pull out for repairs and show up again a few levels later. The original took a grittier approach. Your allies could actually die, making it possible to shut Slippy up for good.
4. Super Mario World
I am not the biggest Mario fan. I respect the character as a symbol, but for the most part am generally uninterested in most Mario related releases. That said there are two games in the franchise that I adore: Super Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario World. Back in the day I actually preferred Sonic over Super Mario World, but in the years to come I began to recognize that as far as platformers go, Mario World is probably the most picture perfect game ever made. It’s pure nonsensical fun adorned with tight controls, diverse environments, and visuals that are still gorgeous years later. In short, you can’t wrong with Super Mario World.
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Generally, in the contest for which is the greatest Zelda game it’s a tight race between A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. I’m torn on the subject mostly because my nostalgia for both is rooted in very different places. Ocarina of Time is the first Zelda game that was really mine. It wasn’t until years after its release that I was actually able to procure a copy of A Link to the Past and play it in earnest. That said, it was a game I wanted to play very badly, and I remember it fondly just because of how cool it looked. Either way, one thing is undeniable. A Link to the Past represents one of the pinnacles of the franchise, improving on every aspect of the original and creating a world then unparalleled in its detail and depth. Even paired up against modern iterations it often comes out on top. It is easily one of the best games ever made and is no small part in why the SNES is oft counted so highly in the lexicon of gaming.
Back when Civilization: Revolution was launched the developers made a big deal about making a Civilization game tailored for the console experience. It somewhat puzzled me because it wasn’t the first time a Civilization game had graced a console, nor the first time it been done well. Civilization for the SNES for instance, was an admirable game in its own right. I picked up Civilization for ten dollars at a rental store in Montreal and spent a good portion of the following months obsessed with it. I’ve never played the original PC game, but I can tell you that the SNES version is an unsung gem. While the visuals took a definite hit, it managed to maintain almost all of the PC game’s depth. It wasn’t perfect; the AI was pretty random at times, but even for its flaws conquering the world was a joyous experience. And yes, I was a conquering prick every time. Peaceful negotiation is so overrated.
1. Final Fantasy III (VI)
Nowadays we backwards Americans know well enough to call this by its rightful name, but back in the 90s when the internet was still a novelty reserved for the rich and the occasional library kiosk this was, to my knowledge, the third entry in the franchise. Whatever you wanted to call it, Final Fantasy III (VI) was and still is the best entry in the franchise. The story, the visuals, the music, the combat, the large and interesting cast of characters; there is not single aspect of this game I would call flawed. One of the biggest regrets I have about my current backlog of video games (40 and counting) is that I can’t justify playing this again. I cringe every time Square Enix discusses remaking it simply because it is perfect in its current form. Many would put A Link to the Past in this spot, but even that wonderful game doesn’t compare to the sheer epic that is Final Fantasy III(VI). Square has arguably never been as ambitious as they were with this game, and they’ve never pulled it off so well since.