Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Top 50 Favorite SNES/SFC Games T1 Part 1

Greetings and salutations, gamers!  =)  My name is StarBoy91, passionate about video games and love playing them.  Well, it's official, the SNES console is one of the best consoles of all time, and my personal favorite console ever, having countless enjoyable games for the system.  So, for this occasion, I've decided to make a personal countless where I count my top 50 favorite games available on the console.  You're probably wondering what the "T1" business is about; well, I'll tell you, I thought that I would publish my countdown at the end of the month, and after that I would make another one at the end of August and the end of December, so I thought why not?  I won't count a remake or rereleased port of a certain game I played if I haven't played it originally on the SNES (for example, if you find that Chrono Trigger is not on the list, it's because I only played the Nintendo DS version), and I'll also include a few games from certain compilations (I think they count).  I'll also share a summary as to why the game is on the list and why it's in a certain position.  These are my personal opinions, so to each their own.  Now, without further ado, it's time to commence my Top 50 Favorite SNES/SFC countdown for the first third of the year.

Part 1

Super Castlevania IV
Year: 1991 | Developer/Publisher: Konami | Played on: Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
I'll admit that while I don't regard Super Castlevania IV as a work of Tolstoy like so many gamers do, I do find it enjoyable in its own right.  It's aesthetically superb (the caverns and treasure room come to mind), and the atmosphere is great, though the plotline is a rehash of the first Castlevania game on the NES (as evidenced by its Japanese nomenclature).  The gameplay is good, for Simon Belmont has the ability to move while in squat position, swing from poles, not to mention use his whip in all eight directions and dangle it.  The boss fights are cool, though to be quite honest, this is an easy game (well, during the first quest anyway).  After you finish the game the first time there is a second quest that gamers rarely acknowledge about which manages to slightly augment the difficulty thanks to more enemies on the screen.  The thing that gets to me most about this game?  Whenver you get hit by an enemy you'll be pushed back, and it's frustrating because until you land on the ground you can't do a damn thing about it!  Otherwise, Super Castlevania IV is pretty good.
Cool Spot
Originally on: MegaDrive, 1993 Virgin Interactive | Year: 1993 | Developer/Publisher: Virgin Interactive | Played on: SNES
Back when the red 7-Up dot used to be the drink's mascot, Spot, as he was called, garnered quite a popularity among audiences.  So as a result, he got to star in four video games, Cool Spot being the most popular of them all.  The control's very great, the soundtrack from acclaimed Tommy Tallerico is very memorable (and in one case, it's pretty hilarious), and the challenge level is commendable, if not a little devilish (Hard mode only).  In this open-ended world with great visuals, fantastic backdrops, and astounding animation, Spot will shoot soda bubbles at unfriendly critters as he peruses through beaches, travels through pipes, passing through toy factories, among other locations in order to rescue his friends.  Here's the catch: in order to release your caged friends at the end of each stage, you have to find the required amount of dots before you do so (and it's not optional, it's totally mandatory; depending on the difficulty setting, you'll have to find pretty much the majority of them), so search thoroughly.  The bonus stages, if you manage to collect a certain amount of dots, are incredible, and they are a good chance of gaining an extra life.  Overall, I find it fun, and Cool Spot was eventually followed by its neat isometric-viewed sequel Spot Goes to Hollywood.
Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday
Year: 1995 | Developer: Phoenix Interactive Entertainment | Publishers: Sunsoft/Warner Bros. Consumer Products | Distributor: Acclaim | Played on: SNES
I know what you're thinking: why is this game on the list?  What could it possibly have that could be worth putting it on here?  Well, a lot, actually.  For starters, it's the only Looney Tunes-licensed game that starred Porky Pig, but that's only the icing on the cake.  The gameplay is good, the atmosphere is great (Atlantis and the abandoned mines, for example), and everything else in this regard has a real surreal, nightmare-like quality to it considering where it takes place (yeah, I'm not really giving anything away here).  It's incredibly easy even on Hard mode, and yet for some reason I'm not bothered by that, even if the game seemingly was incomplete (there's no way that this was all they planned).  I think what I like the most about this game and what keeps me coming back to it is how every time you turn the game on the stages will have different weather effects and/or decor which adds tremendous replay value (in one moment the Western stage might take place at night as opposed to morning, and in another moment it might be foggy in the alps).  It's not a great game by any means, but I enjoy it nonetheless, and I like it for what it is: a guilty pleasure.
Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! [NA/EU] / Tiny Toon Adventures [JP]
Year: 1992, 1993 | Developer/Publisher: Konami | Played on: SNES
"They're tiny, they're toony, they're all a little looney!"  Another licensed title that isn't really great but enjoyable all the same, this game is based on one of the countless shows I watched when I was little starring the cool blue bunny Buster.  Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I love this game, I really do.  The environs are memorable, the backdrops are amazing at times (how about them stained-glass windows in the castle stage?), the characters are charming, and the music really touches the atmosphere.  There is also a stage where Buster must reach the goal line in a football game while at the same time avoiding the opposing team players, not to mention reach it before the timer runs out, and there is even one stage in the end of the game based on George Lucas' Star Wars series (right down to the John Williams-like score).  I love how Buster always seems to say the right thing at just the right time, and the bonus games after each game are sweet!  This game would be much higher on my list had there been more depth to it, for there are only six stages (some shorter than others) and they're not particularly long.  It's sad, because this game is very fun.
Year: 1992 | Developer/Publisher: Konami | Played on: Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
Axelay is yet one of those games that many gamers praise for being magnificent, even though I don't fully agree with that.  Not that I don't enjoy it.  This shmup is half horizontal and half vertical (like Life Force), with pretty spectacular visuals and background music, and I like how you get to choose which weapons to use before starting each stage.  The stages are nicely designed (the water stage, for one, has a great amount of detail), and I find it interesting how you can adjust the game's brightness (this is an SNES game?).  The boss fights are fun and detailed, plus it's got three difficulty settings.  One drawback to the game is that it's a little short, and I looked up that if you manage to beat Hard mode twice, then you'll see a message alluding to Axelay 2, only to never happen.  But, for what it is, this game may not be perfect, but it sure is fun.
ActRaiser 2 [NA/EU] / ActRaiser 2: The Crusade to Silence [JP]
Year: 1993 | Developer: Quintet | Publisher: Enix | Played on: SNES
This game was doomed to not do well the moment it was given the ActRaiser moniker, for it failed to appeal to fans of the original due to the lack of town simulation elements and the fact that it was challenging turned several gamers off.  But for what it is, it's a pretty fascinating take on the "heaven versus hell" plot; it's not as great as the original, and it's got its series of issues, but I never thought it to be bad.  In my opinion, ActRaiser 2 is a very underrated action-platformer, and from Quintet, too, the company best known for making great action-RPGs for the SNES.  The visuals are breathtaking here, for they create a great atmosphere (the underwater temple, the dark dungeon, the golden castle, the Tower of Babel-like stage, the list goes on), and the tone is rather dark this time around, for you get to fight against representations of sins at the end of each stage.  The sword attacks are improved, and the flight controls are decent, too, if not difficult to master right away; plus, there are various magic spells to use depending on how you're positioned.  The three difficulty settings give a lot of replay value, and while it may take awhile to beat all three (it took me a month and several days) given its challenge level, it's by no means impossible.  The battle with Tanzra is intriguing, and the ending on Hard mode is one of the most rewarding endings I've seen (you'll have to see it in order to believe it).  Maybe not as manageable as the first ActRaiser, but this crusade is good as far as I'm concerned.
Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage
Year: 1993 | Developer: Viacom New Media | Publisher: Sunsoft | Played on: SNES
This platformer is quite something.  Inspired by the 1955 Looney Tunes animated short that the subtitle is named after, you take control of Bugs Bunny as he has to escape the wrath of "the Animator" throughout all ten stages.  The thing about this game is that it is pretty challenging, and at times frustrating, but there are several benefit that prevent this game from being unplayable and impossible.  The world of Bugs Bunny is amazing in terms of visual detail and color, the stage designs are terrific, and Bugs Bunny animates smoothly.  Plus, as Bugs finds several items, he can use them on enemies and cycle through them via the shoulder buttons (even when the game is paused, a plus in my book).  It can also get real crazy due to the amount of stuff "the Animator" will throw at you (that penultimate stage is pure hell, for you have to succesfully evade all the "unlucky 13" cliches like black cats, oncoming trains, and even falling horses), and the stage titles themselves are a hint that the developers had a lot of fun naming them (some are insanely hilarious).  There is one thing that rubs me the wrong way, and that's the rank at the end each stage.  Good God!  No matter what I do, now matter how quickly or shortly I manage to beat it, I always get the lowest ranks (like Southern Fried Rabbit), and the music that plays during that sequence is a real insult to injury.  However, despite those annoying tidbits, it's a fun romp that never gets old, and it's like playing an interactive version of the classic cartoon; also, the voice samples are phenomenal ("What's up Doc?").
Year: 1993, 1994 | Developer: Ukiyotei | Publisher: Sony Imagesoft | Played on: SNES
Skyblazer was released to obscurity, which meant that not many gamers managed to experience it, but those that did had a real blast with it, and since then it's gotten quite a cult following.  Having experienced it just a few weeks ago, I thought it was real enjoyable, and the atmosphere is surreal and out of this world.  The soundtrack is incredible (the Lair of Kharyon music, for one) and the visuals are very beautiful.  Sky's also got an arsenal of moves and magic spells.  The boss fights are fun, and the stage designs are interesting.  Only thing that drags it down is that it's short and easy, but it's fun while it lasts.
Brain Lord
Year: 1994 | Developers: Produce/Opus | Publisher: Enix | Played on: SNES
Out of all the games Enix has published during the 16-bit era, this is the one you'll hear about the least.  More obscure, more fair, and much more successful than its strange turn-based cousin The 7th Saga, in my opinion, Brain Lord is an action-oriented RPG unlike any other.  This game also gets my vote for most obscure game available for the console.  The main issues surrounding Brain Lord are that 1) it's horribly translated, 2) it's easy (the enemies and bosses aren't exactly hard, especially when you get more powerful equipment), 3) there's unneeded graphic slowdown during moments when there shouldn't be any, 4) it's ambitious but fails to reach its full potential, 5) the majority of the Jade helpers are useless, so I only use three, 6) some rooms are incredibly annoying (the rock-filled rooms from the Caves of Droog and the black rooms from the Platinum Shrine), 7) it's very short, even for action-RPG standards, and 8) there's no replay value (once I beat it, I wait for a while before I decide to play it again).  But there's a reason this game made it to the list.  Brain Lord has got a variety of puzzles in each dungeon, many of which are ingeniously thought of, and it's an SNES-exclusive game that feels more like a MegaDrive game due to the pull-down menus and great MegaDrive-like soundtrack.  I like how different doors would only open if you got a certain key, which is rather unique, and in one of the cities there is even an arena where you see monsters duke it out.  Even though it's not really challenging, the puzzles do challenge your mind, and I like the designs of each dungeon.  Plus, if you've got a long memory like I do, you'll blow through this game in a breeze.  But it's fun while it lasts.
The Adventures of Kid Kleets [NA] / Soccer Kid [EU/Other Formats]
Originally on: Amiga, 1993 Krisalis Software | Year: 1993, 1994 | Developer: Krisalis Software | Publisher: Ocean | Played on: SNES
This is one of the most exaggerating video games I've ever played.  First of all, the fact that this game is called Soccer Kid in Europe considering what the sport is called there is one of the most ironic things ever.  Secondly, the mere fact that a little boy sets out all over the world to find the separated pieces of the world cup trophy all by himself is absolutely hilarious, and with a magic ball no less.  Anyway, I like it, I think it's a great game (if only barely), and I like the environments selected in each game.  The enemies have dumb AI, the bosses are hysterical (one of them looks just like Pavarotti, which is awesome), and the places look real good.  I find it great how you can change the kid's outfit color scheme by pressing the shoulder buttons on the title screen, and some of the music is catchy.  What bothers me is that whenever the title card for each stage comes up, you'll see a close-up of the main protagonist, which looks very creepy to me (his cheeks are big), and since all five countries take place in the Northern hemisphere of the world, what's the point of showing the entire map if the Southern hemisphere is just wasted space?  Also, the first and third portions of each country have similar foreground and background, which is lazy programming as far as I'm concerned (the Statue of Liberty can only be seen from New York, not Chicago).  But, in the end, it's quite a fun game, and one which could not be competed with, until Domark Group created their own version Marko's Magic Football the following year.  It's cool how you can make different moves with your ball (even using it to bounce yourself up), and to add to the replay value there are two endings depending on whether or not you collected all five pieces of the world cup trophy.

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