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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Best of the Rest Super Nintendo Games

Donkey Kong Country 3

Donkey Kong Country 3 was a failed opportunity. Rare could have gone back to using Donkey Kong, but instead felt the need to create an entirely new character that did exactly the same thing as Donkey Kong, except ten times more annoying. Seriously, what were they thinking?

They also made a conscious decision to make Donkey Kong Country "cuter." After some of the intense and atmospheric stuff in DKC2, like the giant skeleton ghost and hectic castle levels, Rare dialed it back. However, they didn't dial back the difficulty, so you were left with some really hard levels with boring music and too-cute enemies.

And, might we reiterate, no Donkey Kong. Seriously, Rare.

Mega Man X3

While Mega Man X1 & X2 were classics, X3 is merely OK. The tight level design that propped up X1 & X2 is mostly absent here. The bosses are fairly drab and impossible to beat without using their unique special weapon.

Granted, Mega Man X3 is somewhat fun. You're still fighting Sigma, and you get to play as Zero for the first time in a Mega Man game, although only briefly. With all that said, X3 doesn't hold up to multiple replays, but it's still decent.

Mega Man 7

After 6 (6!) Mega Man games on the NES, Capcom finally decided to put out a Mega Man game for the Super Nintendo. The results were moderately successful, but lacking in several key areas.

While Mega Man music is supposed to be rollicking and catchy, Mega Man 7's music was dull and interchangeable. The bosses are OK, but compared to Mega Man X's major changes to the formula, Mega Man 7 was almost instantly dated at the time of its release.

We're not even going to dignify Mega Man Soccer by discussing it here.

F-Zero

VVVVRRRRRRROOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM

NEEEEOOOOWWWWNNNNNN

BOOOOOMMMM

...and I'm spent.

F-Zero was the one of the first Mode 7 games, but playing it now is frustrating. The controls are spongy. The tracks are same-y. It's been eclipsed by other, faster racing games.

And yet, still, F-Zero is a hallmark in gaming history. There really wasn't a fast racing game like it beforehand, and its success helped usher in Wipeout and the newer F-Zero games. The SNES version is just OK, though.

You might be reading this and thinking that I'm out of my mind, remembering F-Zero as a bona-fide amazing classic game. That's OK. Go and replay F-Zero. It should help wipe away your rose-colored memories and show you that I'm right.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct was Nintendo/Rare's attempt to capitalize on the fighting game boom in the late 90's. It was trying to be gritty, but instead ended up being weird and slightly racist.

The graphics were beautiful and the music was cool. It was OK, don't get me wrong, but it was odd that you could queue up a devastating combo and literally walk away from the game while the combo ran. All in all, it's just an average fighting game that got a lot of hype.

Uniracers

Ever heard of this one? No? That's because Pixar sued them after release, and another run was never made. Apparently, Pixar thought that the unicycle that Uniracers used was an infringement on their cartoon about a unicycle. As if Pixar has a monopoly on unicycles. I'm changing the name of this blog to "Monsters, Inc." and seeing if they say anything.

Anyway, The only way I got to play it with a ROM. Otherwise, I wouldn't have even known it existed. It's weird because it's an early Rockstar game (back when they were known as DMA Design) and it's shockingly entertaining. This is the kind of game that's crying out for a re-release or downloadable version. Come on, Rockstar, you know you want to.

Earthworm Jim

Earthworm Jim was a bolt from the blue. Find me another game where an earthworm in a space suit launches cows, then fights a snowman in Hell, then protects an angry (yet adorable) puppy, and fights a boss named Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt.

I'll wait here.

It's not a perfect game, though. The main flaw is the awful, horrible submarine level that appears near the beginning of the game. In it, you have a limited amount of time to traverse narrow passages in a submarine that gets cracked if you bump in to anything and eventually shatters if it takes too much damage. It stops every playthrough of Earthworm Jim dead in its tracks and really makes it hard to fully appreciate.

Earthworm Jim 2

There's some debate as to whether the first game or the second is better. I lean toward the second, for a few reasons. One, the difficulty curve is greatly improved. Two, there's more diversity in the levels. Three, NO SUBMARINE LEVEL. Four, in one level Jim turns into a blind cave salamander and navigates an intestinal tract and at the end of that enters a nonsensical quiz show. More guns, more moves, more fun. And Jim eats a fish.

Earthworm Jim 2 does have one of the worst save systems ever and can be a little buggy, so it's not perfect. That being said, Earthworm Jim 2 is a great game and really the last good game in what should have been a long-running series.

Terranigma

I understand why this game was never released in the United States. Its ruminations on religion, God and the nature of existence were a little too heady at the time, and Nintendo would have had to do some major censorship to remove the references to cannibalism, the Devil, and so on.

However, it needs to be said that Terranigma is one of the best games for the Super Nintendo. I couldn't include it in the list because it wasn't released in the States, but the time is right for Square Enix to release a DS port for us. We've waited long enough, just like we have with...

Seiken Densetsu 3

How much more can I say about this game? Great story, great music, great controls, great everything. Every year that Square doesn't release it in the US is a year that I grow less interested in Square. Do the right thing, Square. Stop churning out Final Fantasy VII sequels or games like "Theatrhythm Final Fantasy," whatever that is. Let one of the great games buried in your vault out to play. I beg you.