Top Ten Must-Play Games to Revisit The SNES
I’m showing my age here, and I know it. But nostalgia is a big kick these days, and what are we gonna do now that summer’s here, the lull is upon us, and all you can afford is to rummage through other people’s precious memories at yard sales? Play outside? In this heat? You gotta be kidding me.
So let me introduce you to the ten games that defined the Super Nintendo generation in hopes you’ll look them up and take them for a spin.
10. Final Fight
Set in the ‘80s ultraviolent Metro City, the evil criminal organization Mad Gear has kidnapped the mayor’s daughter! (I know, but it was different from a kidnapped princess or girlfriend, so it was almost new back in 1989.) That would normally be a problem without a couple of bad dudes around, or if you weren’t living in a heavily militarized police state (hint, hint), but in Metro City the mayor Haggar happens to be an ex-professional wrestler still ripped and ready to take on bears barehanded. Add into that Jessica’s boyfriend (whoops. Spoke too soon. Quest to save the girlfriend it is), Cody, is a mixed martial arts master and you’ve got a beat-em-up sidescroller that helped cement the genre for the SNES that you can play with a friend! The characters are built according to near-human proportions, and the focus is on the nitty-gritty of street life and its hand-in-hand gang culture. Of course you never actually run across anyone with a gun, so it’s not *that* realistic, but at the time it was the closest thing to rated-R you were going to find on a console. It also normalized the concept of eating food off the ground to gain health, which has put many an impressionable lad in the hospital heaving out both ends. But no one died (I think), so it was all in good fun.
9. Legend of the Mystical Ninja
Pure insanity for kids who know nothing about Japanese culture. We certainly didn’t back then. You play as Kid Ying or Dr. Yang in this carefree romp through Reformation Era Japan in an attempt to rescue the captured Princess Yuki (She was the heiress to a samurai clan, so that means she’s not technically a princess in the western definition of the term, making this a gnat’s whisker away from an original premise. Unless you ever watched The Secret Fortress by Akira Kurosawa, in which case nothing here comes as a surprise). 1-2 player action, featuring cooperative play styles in a combination between side-on platform action and RPG adventure. Complete with main and secondary attacks, hilarious boss fights, mini games (plush!), and often an entirely misplaced storyline, Legend of the Mystical Ninja absolutely refuses to take itself seriously, lampooning Japanese stereotypes for the enjoyment of all with sprightly music and combat that is reminiscent of River City Ransom. The baddies might not go “Blaaargh!” when they die, but they do disappear in a puff of logic, so there’s some degree of creativity at work here. (Ever wish a person blinked into non-existence when they died in real life? Solving murders would be waaay harder.)
8. Demon’s Crest
Demon’s Crest followed in the steps of Castlevania in its gothic nuances and environment. Technically it was the third game to feature Firebrand, a badass red gargoyle from the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series. It was dark, eerie, and almost depressive in the slow exploration of a world choked in death and decay. This is the world that time has left by the wayside, and as it languishes its few hardened monstrous denizens fight to maintain their way of life, building new cities from the bones of the old. It is, at heart, a sidescrolling quest. As Firebrand you look for the five elemental gems (fire, earth, water, air, and heaven, which was always a bit confusing) that make up the Crest of Infinity, and you must race the powerful demon Phalanx to be the first to assemble the crest and gain true power. Why you need true power or what you can do with it remains a gaping plothole that’s so funny in its obtrusiveness it’s probably best not knowing. You spit fire, hover with your wings, and headbutt hard enough to crush bone through broken castles, fallen churches, graveyards laden with the dead, and many more relics of a bygone era. And with each elemental gem you gain, you can transform into a new gargoyle with new abilities designed to tackle the challenges ahead. While Castlevania is refined, Demon’s Crest is both ponderous and raw; completing it is not that hard, but it feels like a momentous occasion, and it stays with you long after you turn it off.