Year: 1994 | Developer/Publisher: Konami | Played on: SNES
Sparkster started his adventures back in the early '90s on the MegaDrive with games such as Rocket Knight Adventures and Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 (both of which I want to play badly, but sadly I do not as of yet own a MegaDrive console). Sparkster on the SNES is not at all a follow-up to the previous two games, but a spin-off as far as I looked up. Regardless, the opossum rocket knight's one and only venture in Nintendo's 16-bit console is an incredibly fun game. The visuals are gorgeous, the controls are solid, and the music is amazing. Each stage is action-packed, neatly-designed, plus the boss fights are enjoyable. Sparkster is packed with so much charm, the areas are memorable (one takes place on a location adorned with instruments), and there is even one that plays like a shoot'em up. Awesome! There are different endings depending on what difficulty setting you play under, and inputting passwords whenever you wish to continue your progress has never been more fun. The game's challenge levels are great, and I love it; it's a great game!
Super Mario All-Stars [NA/EU] / Super Mario Collection [JP]
Year: 1993 | Developer/Publisher: Nintendo | Played on: SNES
If I'm asked what the first ever SNES game I played was, it'd be the same thing like asking me what the first Mario game I ever played was; it would either have be Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart or Super Mario All-Stars, even. But, this is my earliest memory of experiencing not only a compilation game, but being introduced to Mario's NES adventures as well, except with highly expanded visuals and remixed sound with the gameplay still left intact. Now I just want to point out that I like Super Mario World more than all four of the games in this package, but there's a reason Super Mario All-Stars is held into such a high account by me. Playing four games in one cartridge is nice, and all four of Mario's adventures are timeless and fun. The original Super Mario Bros. is simple and fun, with a variety of stages and secrets galore. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, often referred to as the true sequel to the game, is basically the same, only much more challenging and brimming with incredulous stage design and even includes poison mushrooms to keep you honest (this complilation was also the first time the 1986 Famicom Disk System title was released overseas). Super Mario Bros. 2 (the Mario reimaging of the 1987 Famicom Disk System Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic) is my favorite game out of the four presented here, with a vastly different play control, incredible and imaginitive worlds to explore, the debut of ShyGuys and Snifits, and even the ability to play as one of four main characters (including Princess Toadstool), and the boss fights are fun, too. And then we've got Super Mario Bros. 3, often touted as the best 8-bit Mario game released on the NES, which is very understandable. There are variety of areas and locations, an inventory system used while on the map screen, fun stages, good amount of fun and challenge, marked the debut of the Boo enemies, Koopalings, and especially the leaf power-up. The amount of variety is huge, and there is even one stage where the enemies are huge in comparison, and thorough inspection on the map may even lead to a secret stage, leading to a secret item. I'll even give the game credit for having great stage designs. Overall, Super Mario All-Stars is a great package, and an incredibly fun one at that. It was such a classic, in fact, that Nintendo decided to rerelease it for the Nintendo Wii in 2010 for the current generation to experience it as a 25th Mario anniversary gift, much to a mixed to negative reception from gamers and critics alike for being exactly the same as the SNES original (the port was unaltered--dude, that's rare!), as far as I heard and looked up. Either way, this Mario collection is a timeless classic, and one of those games that will always hold a special place in my heart. Also, you've got to dig that title sequence.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past [NA/EU] / The Legend of Zelda: The Triforce of the Gods [JP]
Year: 1991, 1992 | Developer/Publisher: Nintendo | Played on: SNES and Game Boy Advance [The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past/Four Swords]
I mostly play it on the Game Boy Advance, but I managed to play it on the big screen a few times, so that's why it made the list. The third Zelda reverted back to the top-down perspective after the sidescrolling Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and it was also the first Zelda game I ever played, and years later when I got far in it (after getting unstuck due to a moment that had me confused) and beat it, it quickly became one of my favorites. Hyrule's atmosphere is incredible this time around, and the plot is very great, for Link gets to travel to both the Light World and the Dark World throughout the adventure. The pastel-toned visuals are wonderful, the dungeon designs are superb, and the soundtrack is beautiful. The controls are versatile, there's an abundance of items to find and use, and the open-world exploration is huge! The bosses are fun, and the secret items that are hidden in Hyrule give it a bit of replay value, as well everything else that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past offers. Not only is it the best Zelda game, in my opinion, but it's also the best game in the series. It's charmingly excellent!
Secret of Mana
Year: 1993 | Developer/Publisher: SquareSoft | Played on: Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
The second Mana in the series is one of my top favorite action-RPGs ever, with colorfully gorgeous visuals, one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard, and great gameplay. The plot is great, and it's a shame that it wasn't 100% fully translated, for the adventure has me feel invested and involved. The locations all range from memorable (i.e. Matango, Upper Land, Lofty Mountains) to unforgettable (i.e. the Great Forest adorned with all four seaons, Crystal Forest, Pure Land). Attacking enemies is fun, and using the magic with the Mana spirits is equally fun. Like Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Secret of Mana is critically praised while the gaming public either enjoy it or they don't, though that fact doesn't bother me as much as the aforementioned game. While I love this game to bits, I do attest that it has some flaws; for one, it's a little glitchy, which depending on the situation can be either really minimal or very annoying. Most of the bosses, with some exceptions, look exactly the same, and the four per each item count in the inventory feels a little restricted. The companion AI is not exactly bright, but luckily you can press the Select button whenever you wish to change characters, especially since there are a couple enemies that'll attack one party member with an unfair advantage. What makes Secret of Mana stand out, however, is the innovative ring menu system and the fact that it could be played up to three players. Even though I get lost in the sky whenever I fly with Flammie, viewing the world while soaring up above is breathtaking. The final boss encounter with the Mana Beast is dramatic, and the ending I felt was both emotional and rather poignant. The challenge level is normal, and the overall length is decent. I love it! It's very special.
Year: 1994 | Developers: Nintendo/Intelligent Systems | Publisher: Nintendo | Played on: SNES
Yet another third entry in the series that garners incredible adulation from critics and gamers alike, and for good reason. Samus controls very well this time around, and the areas found in Planet Zebes are so environmentally detailed that it's amazing. There is so much to explore this time around, and by finding certain power-ups and different suits throughout, it will greatly augment your chances of survival. The boss fights are fun (like the one with Crocomire and Ridley), and some of the atmosphere can be very haunting (like the Wrecked Ship and Maridia). Super Metroid has moments where it can get really intense, also there are slightly different endings (depending on whether the animals were saved or not and/or how long it took to beat the game). Trying to find every item scattered throughout the planet can be a fun challenge, adding to the replay value, and it really is a fantastic game. Easily my vote for best Metroid game.
Year: 1993 | Developer/Publisher: Konami | Played on: PlayStation Portable [TwinBee Portable]
Pop'n TwinBee singlehandedly edges out Star Parodier as my favorite cute'em up ever, which says a lot considering I think that game's equally great, too (there's also TwinBee Yahho!, but I digress). The pastel-toned visuals are comforting to the eye, the controls are superb, the enemies and bosses are all around memorable, and the stage locations are magnificently well-crafted (the underwater and China stages come to mind). From the beginning of the game you can choose one of three option variations for whenever you get an option around you, which adds to the replay value, but that's not all. Depending on what color the bells are after you shoot them, you'll get a different power-up, but receive a blue speed bell more than you should, and you may end up slowing down. TwinBee (and WinBee) can also throw punches this time around and even send chibi-sized clones of their ship in order to get rid of all enemies onscreen (it's also potent during boss fights). What makes Pop'n TwinBee different from the rest of the series is that you have a health bar, meaning you have to beat each stage in one life, otherwise you'll have to start over from the beginning of said stage, which gives it a degree of challenge. What gives it major replay value, however, is that there are seven difficulty settings to choose from, from easiest to hardest (me like). The game also proves that it is possible to have a lot of activity happening onscreen without triggering slowdown. Excellent, I love it! Add in a wonderful soundtrack, seven stages of nonstop fun, cute cutscenes, high amount of charm, and some quirkiness here and there (like the avalanche of pandas in the third stage), and you've got what is, in my opinion, one of the best games ever created.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island [NA/EU] / Super Mario: Yoshi's Island [JP]
Year: 1995 | Developer/Publisher: Nintendo | Played on: SNES and Game Boy Advance [Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island]
If I were to pick my favorite retro 2D Mario platformer (at least, as far as the 16-bit console is concerned), it would have to be Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Yeah, it's more of a Yoshi platformer, really, but Mario's in it, so it counts as far as I'm concerned. Actually, Yoshi's Island really acts as a prequel to the Mario series as a whole, for a group of Yoshis have to take the infantile Mario with them after he falls out of the sky after evading Kamek's capture, for in the end they have to save Mario's infantile brother Luigi and help both sibling get to their home. Each stage is elaborately designed with great visual scenery and very unforgettable music. Yoshi has very responsive controls, for he can throw (at any distance) and/or create eggs, ground pound, flutter jump, and from time to time he can even transform into something in order to get across (like a helicopter or a submarine). The ShyGuys from Super Mario Bros. 2 have made a return here and have come back with many variations, and these baddies have been a fan-favorite since then. The bosses utilize a great detail and make great use of the Super FX2 chip, and the final boss with Baby Bowser is fantastic. It's an easy game, but trying to get perfect 100s in each stage will prove to be a challenge, and getting all eight in a world will unleash a secret stage, which adds humongous replay value. Many Yoshi titles have come and gone, but none (not even the portable follow-up Yoshi's Island DS) could reach its brilliance. There's charm galore in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, for I have lots of fun with it every time I play it, and I feel sorry for those who don't.
SoulBlazer [NA/EU] / SoulBlader [JP]
Year: 1992 | Developer: Quintet | Publisher: Enix | Played on: SNES
I know this is a rather unusual choice for best action-oriented RPG, especially considering how fantastic Secret of Mana is, but there you have it. It's not very challenging, true, but there's something about this game that I always found appealing. Maybe it's the effective atmosphere, maybe it's the whole lighthearted feel throughout, maybe it's the great choice of areas to explore in the game (like the Lost Mountain of Souls). Whatever the case, I love it! SoulBlazer implemented some gameplay elements from ActRaiser and has great intuitive gameplay, with lots of charm and heart. In fact, I would even go to say that it really feels like a perfect candidate to introduce to gamers first experiencing an A-RPG (makes me wish it was my first RPG, but I'm off-topic). The dungeon designs are nice, even if simple, and the boss fights certainly are good. There's a lot of character interaction, and it's always amazing to see the safe areas gradually grow the more creatures you save from the monster lairs. Another thing that I find enthralling whenever I play it is when you tap into a creature's dream, giving an atmospheric feeling that you are in a dream. I could say a lot about this game and still have not said it all. Out of the five Quintet titles I played, this one's my number one favorite.
The Lost Vikings
Year: 1992 | Developer: Silicon & Synapse | Publisher: Interplay | Played on: SNES
You may or may not hear a lot of talk about this game, but let me just tell you that as far as I'm concerned, it's one of the best games ever made. For serious, it is! The Lost Vikings is an action-platformer/puzzle hybrid, executed with flying colors. The gameplay is solid, the stage designs are well-done (maybe a little too well-done, if you ask me), and getting three vikings to the end of each stage alive is a big part of the challenge, which makes it more fun. Another thing I find fun is looking thoroughly in each stage in order to find vital items so you can make progress. Erik, Baleog, and Olaf each have different abilities and capabilities which can be used in order to get to certain parts of the area; Erik can run and jump, Baleog shoots arrows and uses his sword, and Olaf can parachute down with his shield and use said shield to defend from projectiles. The I love the banter between the three vikings, and the crude humor is just too great! The dialogue and humor are two of the best parts of the experience, and the music can be pretty damn catchy at times. There are various areas to traverse, various ways to get all three heroes to safety, and various ways to die (yes, die). Despite the fact that The Lost Vikings is designed in such a comical, cartoony way, I can't help but cringe when I see a viking being squished, crumble after having fallen down with your last bit of health, or even punctured if you're not careful; I guess it's rather effective on me because it's a cartoon-like game that emulates reality in a weird way (i.e. fall down from such a high height, and you lose health). Whenever it comes to exploring a different era, I like it when the lost vikings drift off to a Mode 7-induced transporter. Getting through many of the stages will not be easy, for a lot of trial and error will have to be done in order to be successful. Even more exciting, the final stage is a boss confrontation with Tomator, and considering there's puzzling to be involved, it's amazing! It's crude, it's charming, it's animated, it's got a balanced challenge, and I could go on as to why it's so excellent, but that would take all day (if not all week). The Lost Vikings is such a fun time, and a very underrated one.
DoReMi Fantasy: Milon no DokiDoki Daibouken
Year: 1996 | Developer/Publisher: Hudson Soft | Played on: Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
Ladies and gentlemen, my number one favorite SNES/SFC title of all time is DoReMi Fantasy. This charmingly cute 16-bit sequel to the rather okay Milon's Secret Castle on the NES is a perfectly well-crafted platformer, and a marvelous one at that, with great atmosphere that boost imaginitive pastel-toned worlds and versatile play control from the eponymous main character Milon. There's also wacky Japanese quirkiness here and there that I can't help but be enamored with it, and the Japanese text during some moments makes me feel like I'm in an out of this world experience. To read the full reason I love this game so much, read here. In my book, it's that good!
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
Games I Would've Included Had I Played Them on the Big Screen [SNES or Wii Virtual Console]:
- Chrono Trigger
- Breath of Fire
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading what my Top 50 SNES/SFC games were (first third of 2012), and I apologize if the descriptions were "tl;dr"; I just felt the need to explain the reason for my enjoying these games and putting them on my countdown. As time goes on and I play more games, the list will be subject to change. If you like the countdown, great; if a game you like did not turn up on my list, it's because I haven't played it (prior to April 31st) or I did play it but don't really consider it a favorite. I know not everyone will agree with the games put on there, and that's fine, but hey: different strokes for different folks; to each their own. Until next third (August 31st)!