- The PlayStation Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Sega Genesis Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The 3DO Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Nintendo Entertainment System Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Super Nintendo Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Sega Saturn Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Nintendo 64 Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Sega Dreamcast Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Atari VCS (2600) Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Nintendo GameCube Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Playstation 2 Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Neo Geo Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Atari Jaguar Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Sega Master System Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Intellivision Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Xbox Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The TurboGrafx-16 Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The ColecoVision Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
- The Nintendo Wii Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!
Does multiplying your bits by 2 mean you’re getting double the awesome-osity of a video game system? Not always, but the SNES was pretty damned rad. Nintendo was actually still pretty happy with their current system and did not plan to, nor want to, release a newer model as quickly as they did, but the world was moving towards the 16 bit realm. The Turbo-Grafx 16 and the Sega Genesis were selling a better product and game designers had just about reached capacity for what they could pull out of 8 bit graphics. For Nintendo to stay relevant, they had to move on. They had to expand. They had to get…Super.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Released: 1990 (1991 in North America)
Generation of Home Consoles: Fourth
Graphics: 16 Bit
Rating: Elegant and Wonderful.
As stated above, Nintendo was perfectly happy with the original NES. Truthfully, the thing was still selling very well, but A. the 16 bit consoles began to take some ground from them and B. Everyone that was going to buy a Nintendo had bought one. The market for the system was pretty well tapped. Nintendo still made money from the games, but even they were starting to see a bit of a sales drop.
Not to mention, companies like Square and Capcom were looking at the 16 bit systems and thinking they could sell a lot more units if their games were prettier. That wasn’t happening on the NES. Additionally, Nintendo was pretty dickish to the third party developers. They had their reasons to be dickish, mind you. They were single handedly trying to rebuild the market after the video game crash of ’83. Mostly they had done so but part of that was ensuring that the market wasn’t flooded with terrible games. Which meant strictly limiting what third party devs could do. Some of those devs looked towards the greener pastures that Sega and NEC were offering and opted to expand their horizons.
Nintendo is nothing if not adaptive, however, and Masauki Eumura, the designer of the NES was given the task of designing the follow up. It was a relatively short development period but Nintendo delivered the new system one year after the release of the Game Boy and it became an instant success in Japan. One year later it was available in North America and fairly quickly overtook Sega and the Turbo-Grafx 16 as the top console of the 16 bit era.
So another year, another hugely successful system and it seemed that Nintendo was on a role. They were once again kings of the video gaming world with no possibility of falling from the top of the mountain. And what the hell. The SNES was so good, I’ll let them live in their little world for the time being. Dark times were coming down the road for the big N, but then and there, they made a good thing and were rewarded appropriately.
As always, however, a system isn’t worth squat without good games, so let’s look at the games that helped make the system one of the top selling video game consoles of all time. (Also as always, I didn’t pick the order. I aggregated user scores, professional scores, and game sales on a weighted system in excel and the algorithm popped out this list. Enjoy!)
10. Super Metroid. 1993. (Nintendo) Starting off the list, we have the third entry into the Metroid series and a notable upgrade to what was already a considerable game. The game takes place on the planet Zebes and features a large open ended world to explore. You play as the original, bad ass, bounty hunter Samus Aran, who is once again fighting space pirates and a planet full of dangerous creatures in order to contain and kill some jelly fish looking things known as Metroids. As with the original game, you must find upgrades to your weapons system in order to proceed further into the depths of the planet. This version also included a map and save points which marked a considerable upgrade to the first two offerings. If you’ve never played it, I insist that you do so. It’s a remarkably amazing game. (And a real quick shout out to the good folks at my favorite charity, AGDQ. Save the Animals!)
9. F-Zero. 1990. (Nintendo) Travel to the amazing year 2560 and behold the brutal yet popular sport of F-Zero racing! Nintendo wanted a first party series of games which utilized their new “Mode 7” graphics and they delivered in spades. This game set a huge standard for both racing games in general and the concept of what racing would look like in the distant future. The game was widely praised by critics, though the lack of multiplayer racing definitely hurt its legacy. A lot of people took what F-Zero did and added considerable improvements, including Nintendo themselves who took a lot of what worked with F-Zero but swapped out space Ferraris for go karts. Still, it was a wildly important and influential game and everyone loved the hell out of it.
8. Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy 3 in North America). 1994. (Square) Final Fantasy had already been a staple of the RPG genre. It was third release of the series in North America and the sixth in Japan. Every previous release had been reasonably great. Particularly Four (Final Fantasy 2 in the U.S.) and Five. But Six was a god damned masterpiece of balanced storytelling, artwork, and gameplay. You played as a whole slew of misfit characters, with no single true protagonist, who all come together to defeat a power hungry clown god. The game also had a heavy steam punk feel to it, which was far different than the medieval themes which dominated the earlier games, but would be a theme for the majority of FF games which were subsequently released. This was just about as good as RPGs could get at the time.
7. Star Fox. 1993. (Nintendo) One of the great things about the SNES was the ability to expand the power of the system using chips within the game cartridges themselves. A particularly strong chip was developed which could render polygons into something approaching 3D. It was known as the FX chip and while it wasn’t used in very many games, it was a pretty big breakthrough. Star Fox was the first game to use the hardware and to say that it made a splash is underselling it. The graphics were wonderful but the game was equally great. It was essentially a rail shooter with the standard powerups and boss battles one might expect in a space ship shmup, but the 3D made it extremely immersive. Plotwise, you were a fox who hangs out with some other animals and seeks to destroy the armies of a giant flying head while doing the occasional barrel role. What’s not to love?
6. Chrono Trigger. 1995. (Square) If Final Fantasy was a masterpiece, Chrono Trigger was a revolution in the RPG genre. Created by a team of people who worked on both the Final Fantasy series as well as the Dragon Quest series, Square sought to branch out of the more traditional top down world map and random encounter genre and add some more adventure elements. A more active battle system was implemented which replaced the menu heavy systems from previous RPGs and multiple endings were possible depending on what occurred during gameplay. There were also some fun time travel elements included and what you did in one time could affect what occurred 1000 years later and thus affect the puzzle you were trying to solve to move forward in the game. Super fun. Super pretty. Super power.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A link to the Past. 1991. (Nintendo) Another game, another RPG, another time traveling romp. But this time featuring one of the single greatest and iconic video game heroes in the world. The one, the only, Link! Who also appeared on the NES list. And the N64 list…and couple of the Gameboy lists. As per usual, you’re on a quest to save Hyrule and kill the evil pig demon Ganon while also rescuing the Princess Zelda along the way. This was the third game in the series but utilized the play style of the insanely popular first game instead of the underrated but widely despised second. The game itself is still so popular that it’s seen releases on a huge number of consoles as well as a number of reimaginings. I’d personally put it higher on the list, but we are all pawns in the mighty hands of the Excel algorithm, so it retains a very respectable fifth spot on the SNES list.
4. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. 1992. (Capcom) It’s hard to describe in words, just how important this game was to not just the fighting genre but video games in general. This game was so popular and sold so many units that it doesn’t really matter what system I look at, the game manages to land somewhere on a list of any system which had it. For the SNES, it was one of the first cartridges which took advantage of the SNES’ ability to add an additional graphics processors within the cartridge itself, and push the boundaries of what the SNES could do. This allowed the SNES version to be the closest port of the game to be released to date upon release and because of the popularity of the arcade game among a huge crossover of different markets, was a direct cause of a lot of sales of the console itself. It was a pretty perfect arcade port of a pretty great side view fighting game and very few people did not love it.
3. Donkey Kong Country. 1994. (Rare) Fun little game with a fun little back-story. Rare was a British game company who had started out making games for the NES with a lot of support from Nintendo. When the SNES became a thing, Rare looked at the specs and realized that they could actually squeeze some pretty good pre rendered 3D graphics using a program called the Silicon Graphics workstation. When Nintendo came over to see a boxing game they were developing, they were so impressed by the graphics, they bought 49% of the company and handed them the titular ape. Nintendo did not hand out characters to second or third-party developers lightly, so it was a big deal. Rare scrapped the boxing game and set to work on Donkey Kong Country. The game itself was a fairly normal 2D side-scroller featuring apes fighting crocodiles, but many of the objects had a very crisp 3D rendered look which rivaled what some high-end computers were capable of. Nintendo was thrilled, gamers were blown away, and Rare became a huge second party developer for Nintendo.
2. Super Mario World. 1990. (Nintendo) Super Mario World is a blast from the past! In this game, the greatest Italian hero in video games is trying to save a bunch of dinosaur like creatures named Yoshis (At this point, the concept of Yoshi as an individual character hadn’t quite been established.) from Bowser and Co. The game has credited sales of over 20 Million units, although that’s slightly unfair as a large amount were sold with the SNES itself. (Sales are weighted less in the algorithm if the game is a pack in) But that’s still a lot of GD units. It has been re-released four times and has been a critical and commercial success each time. Which is crazy, if you ask me. Crazy! But Nintendo pushes as hard as they can for the first Mario title on a system and no expense was spared on this. The introduction of Yoshi, first-rate graphics, and years of refinement of the Mario concept finally culminated in one of the single greatest side scrolling platform games to ever be released. I thought it would be number 1 in fact.
But it’ll have to settle for the number 2 spot as the algorithm put out a surprising choice for the number 1. Ladies and Gentlemen? I give to you…the top game, and arguably the most important for Nintendo, on the SNES.
1. Super Mario Kart. 1992. (Nintendo)
It’s Mother F’ing Super Mario Kart, Y’all!
The third best-selling SNES game of all time and the start of one of the more unconventional franchises that Nintendo could have possibly conceived. You take control of one of eight classic Nintendo characters and race go karts! Which maybe shouldn’t have worked as well as it did? But here we are. The game has been ranked among the best games of all time and Guinness World Records named it the top console game ever. (I wonder what sort of Algorithm they used? Hrmm.) The game made liberal use of the Mario Universe in the form of characters and a unique weapons system which was largely shell based. In addition to starting the Kart racing sub genre, the game was also largely influential in starting the “Mario and Friends” do other stuff genre. Golf, MMA (Or whatever Smash Brothers is), Baseball, Soccer, Party Games etc. That in turn let Mario become the single largest video game franchise in the world. Without this experiment, Nintendo may not have attempted so many odd little titles. Hell, the very concept of Nintendo being able to do this is almost part of their identity now. And it started here.
The game itself is simple enough for anyone to learn but remains a challenge at higher levels of play. But then it’s also chaotic enough that skill is not the most important thing possible. There’s a hefty dose of luck which comes with it. That and wonderful use of Mode 7 graphics mixed with traditional pixel art makes for an incredibly strong, fun, beautiful, and wacky game. It’s position is well deserved.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading. I’m going to give some shout outs to a few of my favorite games for the system. Secret of Mana which came in at 11, Mega Man X which came in at 16 and Earthbound at 18. As for you, are you upset that Earthbound only crept into the top twenty? Are you raging against the dying of the light that Diddy Kong is nowhere to be found? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @Whentheicebreak! Then download some things from the Wii-U store or crank up the old system and play some games!