I was a little late to the Super NES party. In fact, the system came out in '91 and I didn't get one until early '94. So I had a little catching up to do. My brother was the one who got it in the first place as a birthday gift so by the time we were playing it, Super Mario World was kinda old news. In the last installment of Formative Games of the NES, I gave a lot of personal anecdotes of my childhood with those games. I will do the same with these, but you may be able to see the evolution from childhood to teenage years from my personal stories of these games. Just as before, some of these games will be well known games, some may be a little off the beaten path. The Super NES was a system that seemed to know what it's strengths were and a lot of developers made games that played right to those strengths. So here we go with Part I of my formative games list, in no particular order, for the Super NES:
What a truly bizarre game. You play as some kind of rodent that is never revealed and your goal is to save the daughter of your favorite restaurant's owner. How do you attack? By getting cans of hair spray and whipping enemies with your hair.
At this point in my life, hanging out with friends at some random person's house on a Friday night became commonplace. But this was where girls began to enter the picture so "hanging out" had to involve at least a few girls that we could awkwardly try to impress. Well one of those girls, we'll call her Amy, had a brother that was really into the Super Nintendo. He rented this game and being the bullies we apparently were, my friends and I decided one night at Amy's house that we would "influence" him to let us play the game. So we spent that night playing this stupid game rather than finding a way to hang out with the girls. They were in the living room doing whatever the hell teenage girls do, and we were playing this game. That all changed real quickly when they decided it was time for the hot tub. They got in their swimsuits and went out in the backyard and into the hot tub. We all then decided we couldn't care less about Rocky Rodent and jumped in too, clothes and all. This game always reminds me of that night.
Well this game is a source of great debate. Some prefer the Genesis version, some prefer the Super NES version. This is the one I grew up with, so it's my favorite, however, I have since played the Genesis version for the first time and it is also fantastic. I really don't think you can go wrong with either one. The premise is simple, you go through the game to save Jasmine and defeat Jafar. Again, it's the pairing of Capcom and Disney that works to perfection. I can't think of two companies that were able to produce so many great games off movies or cartoons.
I love this game. I mean, I really love this game. But, I almost never played it. By the time it came out, I was into my teenage years and I would rather be dead then caught enjoying a "little kid" game like Aladdin...and from Disney no less!! But secretly, Disney products were always a favorite of mine, but my 13 year old self was not about to divulge that deep dark secret to my friends. How the hell would I ever kiss a girl if they knew?!?! Anyway, right before the holidays, my family and I made a trip to Oklahoma City to go Christmas shopping at the mall. We stopped off at a Babbage's to survey the video game landscape and decide what to put on our Christmas list. I had already made my mind up about A Link to the Past (which we will cover in Part II of this retrospective), but my little brother had not decided what he wanted as his video game. See, with 3 video game obsessed brothers, it was an unspoken rule that you ask for a video game for birthdays or Christmas. Especially Christmas because then you essentially great three new games. As we were looking up and down the shelves, this friendly clerk came up to us and asked if we had played Aladdin. We said no and he claimed that it was one of the best Super NES games of the year. This surprised us but we remembered it and rented it that very weekend. Needless to say, we were hooked. Aside from the music and graphics which are top quality for the Super NES, the game was addicting, easy to pick up and play and most of all fun. We played this game enough that my grandparents even saw our obsession and bought it as a Christmas gift for all three of us. I still have the cart to this day and play it at least once a year.
Tuff E Nuff
This game sucks ass. There is no other way to put it. This is when every single video game developer was trying to ape off either Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. This one is trying REALLY hard to be Street Fighter II. The controls are clunky, they characters are forgettable and there really doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the game outside of it just being a fighting game. I will say this, the backdrops for the fighting stages are not too bad so at least it has that going for it.
This was a game that I had rented with a friend of mine one night that he was staying the night at my house. It was one of those rentals that you play it the first time, know almost immediately that it sucks, then spend the rest of the night playing it over and over trying to convince yourself it's good. That's what we did that night. In fact, I recall waking up in the middle of the night and looking over and seeing that my buddy had also woken up and was playing the game. I never said anything, just let him play it. At my local video rental store, you took the clear box with the game inside it up to the counter and from there, the clerk would give you the instruction booklet. Why they wanted to keep the instruction booklet and not the actual cart behind the counter is a total mystery to me. Was there an instruction booklet thief in western Oklahoma who secretly didn't want to play video games but loved the instruction books?? Anyway, the nerdy cashier girl hollered over to her friend as were checking out and asked "Can you get the instructions for Hey Punk Are you Tuff E Nuff?" Nothing quite like that level of comedy when you are 14.
Illusion of Gaia
I. Love. This. Game. So much. The early to mid 90s is really where I started getting into RPGs. Coincidentally, I think the Super NES was really where RPGs began to become something better too. You play as Will a young kid who's father was an explorer and died in pursuit of an archaeological find. You live with your grandparents and through a series of events, you befriend a princess and her pig, an inventor and Gaia herself. Gaia allows you to change into the warrior Freedan and later on, a being called Shadow. You traverse all over the world in order to get to the ruins of Angkor Wat and stop a comet that will destroy the earth.
When this game came out, I remember reading an article in Nintendo Power about it. They really liked the game but complained that it was a little too linear. I always found that an interesting complaint seeing as how the game itself came with an instruction book that also included a Nintendo Power strategy guide in it. This game was also a Christmas gift that took up most of my time over the holiday break from school. Well, to be truthful, it was this game and Donkey Kong Country. As I finally went back to school, I still wanted to play this game nonstop. That's all well and good until you have a test coming up, which I did soon after school let back in. Geography was the class and I wasn't very good at it. I was studying in my room, and kept eyeballing my Super NES, just sitting there, waiting to be played with the Illusion of Gaia cart already loaded. I sure couldn't concentrate any longer on my study material with it just sitting there so I did what any sensible kid would do, shut the book and turned on the Super NES. There is a crucial underwater palace level in this game that I was stuck on and finally broke through in that sitting. So I never picked up the book again, did not do well on the test and later blamed it on a stomach bug to my parents. I had no shame.
I was always a big Spider-Man fan growing up and was an avid reader of the comics. So when the Maximum Carnage storyline came out, I was totally hooked. Venom was my favorite villain so coupled with Spidey I loved it. This game was an adaptation of that series. You play as either Spidey or Venom with help from other characters like Black Cat, Cloak and Dagger, Morbius, Captain America and others. The gameplay was basic, side scrolling beat 'em up using objects around the world or your fists and superpowers. But don't get me wrong...this game was HARD. The cutscenes were stills straight out of the comic book which I loved and the music....well that's where I come in....
Green Jelly did the music for this game. If you don't remember Green Jelly....just think of the rock song Three Little Pigs and you got it. For some odd reason, Three Little Pigs was the greatest song I had ever heard at that point in my life. I was watching MTV one day and they were interviewing Green Jelly and they mentioned doing a tour with some band and they also had just got done doing the music for a Spider-Man video game. I might have made a mess in my pants. GREEN JELLY AND SPIDER-MAN COMBINING FORCES?!?!? I had to play it. Every stop I made at my local video rental store was spent searching for this holy grail. When I finally found it, I brought it home and played it constantly. Even incurring a late fee. Green Jelly will do that to a guy.
The one that started it all. Have to admit, I never imagined Mario Kart would ever turn into such a phenomenon like it has. Mario has been big enough with his own games but his spinoffs such as this and Mario Golf are just fantastic. What is even more amazing is how each Mario Kart game gets better and better. I don't own a WiiU but that Mario Kart version also looks incredible.
By the time I got my hands on this game, I had played it hundreds of times through friends of mine and having our "hang outs" at someone's house. I had decided the Koopa Troopa was my guy. DK Jr. a close second though. By this time, my brother was tiring of video games for some reason. It was his Super Nintendo console but it had somehow migrated into my room. But this game in particular seemed to get him back into video games. He played this game nearly everyday and would beat the ever living hell out of me. He was almost like the Wizard but I was not Fred Savage. We picked this game up again via Virtual Console not too long ago and he still has "it". Beat my butt up and down the track. Lapped me on the infamous Rainbow Road.
Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts
For my money, Capcom hit their stride with the Super NES. They made a TON of great games for the console. This was a reboot of sorts from the classic and classicly difficult game for the NES. this game however, was tough but not near as tough as the NES version. You play as Arthur, out to rescue your girl from Satan. At least in this version, you don't open the game sitting with her in your underwear in a graveyard. Graphically this game was spectacular as was the music. The environments were top notch, the gameplay was much more forgiving than the NES and the power ups with the different suits you could wear were also a very cool addition.
I would give anything to go back in time to the day I bought this game. The Super Nintendo was running on fumes. The N64 was right around the corner and the stores were being told to phase out the Super NES games. That happens today and the prices begin to sky rocket because they are about to be out of print so rather than buy Modern Warfare 3 for 40 bucks, you wait until the PS3 is about to be gone and pay 80 bucks for an out of print game. Since the internet was just something that tied up your phone line at this time, the demand for these games was a bit of an unknown. I had just gotten off at my high school job of being a groundskeeper at a local hotel when I remembered I needed to make a run to Wal Mart. I decided to mosey on over to the electronics section and see what was happening over there. They had a huge rack of Super Nintendo games at a huge discount. In fact, all the games were marked at 15 bucks. Being as I was a high school kid and did not have much money to blow on things like that, I had to carefully decide which game to purchase. I had played this game at a friend of mine's house and decided this was the one. Today, having a big kid job, I would probably spend over 100 bucks just to stock up on as many games as possible.
Yet another in the long line of fighting games for the Super NES. The difference here is this game is great. It stands out, which is something that a lot of fighting games never seemed to grasp in that time period. There were a hundred Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat clones, but what makes you different from them? This game did a great job of being totally out of left field and working on nearly every level. It's funny, the characters are great, the voice overs are funny, the controls are OK and the combos are easy to do. Bad Mr. Frosty and Ickybod Clay were my dudes.
This game forever reminds me of Evil Dead II. For Christmas, the only thing my brother wanted was a copy of Evil Dead II. He had seen it on the Sci Fi channel and fell in love. I had never seen it or heard of it at that point. I guess as my parents were buying all of our Christmas gifts, they didn't want to leave him as the only one of us not getting a video game so they took a flier on this game. We had never played it, never heard of it and wasn't real sure what to make of it. Of course, being the video game fanatic, I wanted to play the game straight away. My brother wanted to watch Evil Dead II. It was his call so we all huddled in his room (minus my parents of course) and watched Evil Dead II. To say I was in total awe of the film from the get go is a big understatement. I now consider it one of the best horror films ever made and have multiple copies of it in various formats. Well after the movie was over and I felt like I needed to take a shower to wash the blood off, we played this game. Even my parents who didn't give a crap about video games played it and thought it was hilarious. We played it well into the night of that Christmas all the while talking about how awesome Evil Dead II was. In fact, we watched it again that night and even played Clay Fighter some more until the events of Christmas made us sleepy and we called it a day.
Well, that's it, Part I of my formative games of the Super NES. I hope you enjoyed it. Part II will be coming up next!