SNES classic edition

Which 30 Games Should Be On the SNES Classic Edition?

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While we patiently wait for Nintendo to confirm and announce the SNES Classic Edition retro console we can have a bit of fun speculating on which games it should include.

The Super Nintendo was blessed with arguably the greatest gaming library of any console. While Mario, Zelda, and Metroid didn’t start with the SNES, it was where they became titans of the industry. Super Metroid helped create an entirely new genre. Mario began to dip his toes into numerous succesful spin-off series like Mario Kart, which became a series all its own. And The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the poster child for 16-bit gaming nirvana.

The NES Classic Edition came bundled with 30 games, most of which were published by Nintendo. Let’s decide which 30 SNES games should grace the upcoming SNES Classic.

 

1) Super Mario World

Super Mario World

The obvious choice. Super Mario World was the fourth main Super Mario game, and the first on SNES. It took the same excellent platforming gameplay of the Mario series from NES and expanded it in exciting new ways, from hidden switch blocks to ghost houses to ridable Yoshis. Everyone played it and everyone loved it. It’s a guaranteed lock.

 

2) Super Mario Kart

Super Mario Kart

Arcade-like, top-down racers had existed before Super Mario Kart, but none had so perfectly combined tight controls, hazard-filled maps, and that classic Nintendo art into such a beautiful package. It’s funny to revisit the flat tracks after decades of excellent 3D Mario Kart racers, but Super Mario Kart remains a solid racer. The arena battle mode is just as fun as ever.

 

3) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Zelda A Link to the Past

Nearly every modern game developer will cite A Link to the Past as an inspiration. It was the quintessential action-adventure game, and the prototype for the modern open-world RPG. Link hacked and slashed his way around Hyrule and through dungeons. Dozens of Zelda titles later, A Link to the Past remains a fan-favorite.

 

4) Chrono Trigger

Chrono trigger

You can’t make an SNES retro console without one of the greatest RPGs ever made. Chrono Trigger was the resulting collaboration of a dream-team of Japanese artists and developers, and featured a unique time-spanning storyline with a memorable cast of characters. Arguably includes the best original soundtrack in gaming.

 

5) Super Metroid

Super Metroid

Super Metroid was already the third title in the Metroid series, but the first break-out hit. With a huge planet to explore, secrets to uncover, and bosses to fight Super Metroid was a dauntless but rewarding undertaking. Out of all the first-party franchises on this list, Metroid has been the most ill-served by the big N, leading to many excellent indie developers to pick up the slack.

 

6) Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country

Easily the most graphically impressive game of its time, Donkey Kong Country was the go-to title to show off what the SNES could do. Utilizing full CGI instead of pixels, the levels were gorgeous and fun, and the cheery, head-bobbing music was super groovy. The game was so successful it spawned two sequels and introduced the world to the extended Kong family.

 

7) Street Fighter II Turbo

street figher ii

Fighting games were all the rage at the arcades. When popular fighting game Street Fighter came to consoles, people came in droves. The roster of fighters featured a fun international cast with a variety of powersets, from Blanka and Chun-Li to Dhalsim and Ryu. I was more of a Mortal Kombat man myself, but Street Fighter’s presentation was unmatched.

 

8) Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy VI

One of the first RPGs I ever played is still one of my all-time favorite games. Final Fantasy VI was released in the US as Final Fantasy III. Confusing name change aside, it delivered a stirring, epic fantasy story by focusing on the large cast of characters. It also includes one of gaming’s best villains in Kefka, the Joker-esque clown.

 

9) Earthbound

earthbound

People weren’t sure what to make of this odd modern-day RPG that later became a cult classic thanks to lead character Ness’ inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Earthbound is actually known as Mother 2 in Japan, with the first game arriving on the Wii U virtual console for the first time in 2015. For a localized title Earthbound is shocking well-written and satirical, and holds up incredibly well.

 

10) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Yoshi's Island

As a sequel to Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island was a jarring change of pace. This time you controlled Yoshi as you escorted baby Mario through hazardous levels that featured as many puzzles as platforms. It was a divisive sequel at the time, but taken on its own is a fun game that spawned its own Yoshi-centric series.

 

11) Star Fox

Star Fox

Star Fox looks pretty rough by today’s (or even yesterday’s) standards, and its modern legacy isn’t that great. But the original Star Fox game gave us some solid 3D flight simulation that was previously regulated to high-powered PCs. It also featured that classic Nintendo charm, with a cast of memorable furry companions. Do a barrel roll!

 

12) Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

super mario rpg

Before Sony mucked things up, Square Enix (then Squaresoft) and Nintendo were so chummy back in the 80s and 90s that they produced this magical JRPG starring gaming’s biggest icon. The Mario world was fully represented in a massive turn-based RPG, featuring Bowser, Peach and some new characters as companions. One of my favorite games on the Super Nintendo.

 

13) Secret of Mana

Secret of Mana

Secret of Mana looked like any other JPRG but with one major difference: battles played out in real-time. The action-RPG hybrid emphasized the hacking and slashing aspects of RPG within a colorful fantasy world. It also uniquely featured local co-op, allowing up to two friends to control the other two AI party members.

 

14) Mega Man X

Mega Man X

The Mega Man series exploded on the NES, and the series continued with the new ‘X’ moniker on the SNES. Mega Man X continued the same brutal difficulty and boss fights but added fun new abilities, like wall-climbing, making each level a rewarding adventure.

 

15) NBA Jam

NBA Jam

These days sports games are all about hyper-realism, with accurate team rosters and real-world physics. Back in my day, we had President Bill Clinton as a secret unlockable character in our basketball games! NBA Jam featured only 2-on-2 matches, but did have the NBA license. Most importantly it was fast-paced and fun as hell. Bonus points for the amazing arcade-like announcer, who gave us the infamous phrase: “He’s on fire!”

 

16) Super Mario All-Stars

Super Mario all-stars

Nintendo was milking its older games as early as the SNES era. Super Mario All-Stars included the first three Super Mario games on the NES, as well as The Lost Levels, which could be considered the real Super Mario Bros. 2. Considering how difficult acquiring an NES Classic Edition is, I wouldn’t be remiss if this 4-in-1 pack were one of the 30 included titles.

 

17) Final Fantasy II

final fantasy iv

Also known as Final Fantasy IV, yes JRPGs names were very confusing in the 90s. Compared to the first Final Fantasy on the NES, this sequel was light-years beyond, offering a compelling story starring an ex-bad guy and his new allies. Final Fantasy IV would set the stage for Squaresoft’s seminal series for decades to come.

 

18) Super Castlevania IV

super castlevania iv

Castlevania was already a well-known franchise on the NES before this 16-bit title launched. Super Castlevania IV is a psuedo-remake of the original game, featuring whip-cracking vampire hunter Simon Belmont battling demons and gothic monsters en route to Dracula. Advanced whip controls and new levels outside the castle helped make this the best Castlveania title until the PlayStation era.

 

19) Mortal Kombat II

Mortal Kombat II

Mortal Kombat on a Nintendo console? Yes indeed! Mortal Kombat is sadly known more for its bloody controversy that sparked the violent video game discussions of the 90s. But MKII is a remarkable fighting game, with a fluid range of motion and satisfying move set for each fighter. Finish Him!

 

20) F-Zero

F-zero

Without F-Zero, there is no Super Mario Kart. F-Zero was one of the first games to use the simulated 3D graphics of the SNES, called “Mode 7.” It featured arcade racing action in a cool sci-fi setting with equally awesome music.

 

21) The Lost Vikings

The Lost vikings

Blizzard Entertainment is more synonymous with Warcraft and Overwatch, but in 1993 they developed a unique side-scrolling puzzle-adventure game called The Lost Vikings. You had to use all three viking’s unique abilities to defeat enemies and overcome traps. I prefer the excellent 1997 sequel, but the original is more iconic. Fun Fact: The viking trio are represented in Blizzard’s MOBA, Heroes of the Storm.

 

22) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

Turtles in Time

Beat ’em ups were a dime a dozen during the 16-bit era, and most were mediocre. Turtles in Time continued the excellent legacy from Turtles II and Manhattan Project on the NES and Arcades. Local co-op beat’ em up reached its shell-shocked zenith as you traveled throughout iconic time periods battling the Foot clan.

 

23) Demon’s Crest

Demon's Crest

A criminally underrated game and one of my personal favorites, Demon’s Crest let you play as  one of the demons from Ghosts ‘N Goblins in a dark world of skeletons and death. It was an awesome mix of Metroid and Castlevania, featuring Mode 7 travel between locations, tons of hidden secrets and demon forms, and multiple endings.

 

24) Rock ‘N Roll Racing

Rock 'n roll racing

Another great classic Blizzard title introduced nine-year old me to Black Sabbath. Rock ‘N Roll Racing featured midi-quality classic rock songs, a hilariously over-the-top hard rock announcer, and top-down racing with lasers and spikes. In short: it was an instant classic.

 

25) Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

Lufia II

JRPGs flourished in the 16-bit age, so I’ll understand if you missed the relative late arrival of Lufia II. This turn-based RPG featured a unique dungeon system where enemies moved only when you did, and a memorable generation-spanning story that still haunts me. And don’t worry about seeking out the original inferior game, Lufia 2 is a prequel anyway.

 

26) NHL ’94

NHL '94

NHL ’94 is still considered one of the best sports video games ever made, which is both very sad and a testament to how excellent this game is. The controls were intuitive and fun, and up to four players could join in for fast-paced skating action. If you play only one hockey game, make it this one.

 

27) Sunset Riders

Sunset Riders

How do you make a better Beat ‘Em Up? Give everyone guns! The co-op arcade action was vibrant and exciting as you traversed through classic Wild West scenarios with either pistol or shotgun.

 

28) Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon

The original farm sim arrived late in the SNES life span. It provided a uniquely peaceful gameplay experience compared to the extreme explosions that permeated 90s gaming. With the popularity of Stardew Valley, it seems like a no-brainer to include this classic farming game on the SNES Classic.

 

29) Super Punch-Out!!

super punch-out

Super Punch-Out followed the Nintendo path of “take a solid game from the NES and put Super in front of it.” Super Punch-Out had the same great fighting rhythm of its predecessor but with a fun new cartoon art style and goofy fighters.

 

30) Jungle Strike

Jungle Strike

Part strategy game, part shoot ’em up, the Strike series let you pilot a helicopter as a special forces hero. It was basically a 90s action movie with large top-down maps and fun tasks to accomplish. The first and third games, Desert Strike and Urban Strike are all pretty solid.

 

Nintendo Switch

Opinion: Why Should You Get a Switch If You Own a Wii U?

Posted by | Opinion, Switch, Wii U | One Comment

The dust has begun to settle from the big Nintendo Switch Presentation. We now know the big main talking points. The price ($299), the date (March 3), and the launch titles (not much). There wasn’t anything very shocking, and the conference did a good job focusing on new games. But right now I’m not seeing a very good incentive to purchase a Nintendo Switch at launch, especially if you already own a Wii U.

At launch the Nintendo Switch will have five titles: 1-2 Switch, Skylanders, Just Dance, Zelda, and Bomberman. Skylanders released last year. 1-2 Switch and Just Dance are motion-control mini-games. Bomberman is a top-down party game. Only Zelda represents what we would call a core game – a true system seller.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks absolutely incredible. Nintendo has already shown quite a bit, and claimed it’s the most complete Zelda game they’ve ever produced. It’s been in development for several years, and been pushed back from being a Wii U exclusive into a Nintendo Switch launch title.

Now it represents an awkward transition between the Wii U and Switch, just as Twilight Princess did in the Gamecube/Wii transition. As impressive as it looks, it was developed for the Wii U, and doesn’t necessarily properly show off the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities (though to be fair, no version differences if any have been revealed).

The problem is, if you can already purchase Zelda on Wii U, why should you get a Switch? Ultimately Nintendo will sell more copies of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but they would’ve sold far more Switch consoles if Zelda had been exclusive to the Switch. Sure people would complain about buying a $300 device just to play Zelda, but they still would have done it. These are Nintendo fans, arguably the most feverish fan in all of geekdom.

Launch titles aren’t everything. If we were to judge a console purely on the games that launched on the same day, history would treat most of them unkindly. Many smaller developers don’t even have proper dev kits yet. And to Nintendo’s credit, they did introduce and tease many exciting titles coming later in the year and beyond. Most notably, a grand new 3D Mario title called Super Mario Odyssey, which launches this holiday.

By the time Mario launches, the Nintendo Switch will have a Zelda, a Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, and a few older but popular titles you may have heard of, like Skyrim and Minecraft. Assuming no delays, we may even see a few of the teased JRPGs, such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The Switch will have a healthy, robust library of games that proves Nintendo still knows how to make incredibly solid, family-friendly gaming experiences.

But jaded Nintendo fans that lived through the Wii and Wii U eras are justifiably skeptical. The Wii was marketed and treated more like a motion control kid’s toy than a gaming console. The problem is that the Wii made a lot of money. It sold over 100 million units over a relatively brief lifespan, so Nintendo doubled down.

But their follow-up, the Wii U, was never able to take off, despite some really incredible games. Nintendo had all but lost 3rd party support, relying on a few loyal Japanese 2nd party developers and their own stellar lineup of classic franchises. The Wii U was a complete flop, and Nintendo needs to re-earn that trust with its gaming audience.

nintendo switch

I’ve had a Nintendo console in my home since 1991. Like many folks of my generation, I have been playing Nintendo games since grade school. I remember when the word “Nintendo” was synonymous with “video games” or “gaming.” That is no longer the case for Western audiences. Everyone knows about Nintendo and their properties, but they’re increasingly alienating the core gaming demographic that grew up with them. Instead they continue to chase the gimmicky console and the motion control crowd.

It’s okay that Nintendo doesn’t want to fully compete with Microsoft and Sony when it comes to pure console power and 3rd party support. It’s less okay that a large chunk of the Nintendo Switch Presentation was showing off a silly motion control punching game called ARMS that everyone will play for two seconds and forget about. Mainstream audiences already went through the Wii and see the motion control concept as a faded toy fad. Core gamers and Nintendo geeks are the ones purchasing the console at launch, and all they really have to play is the new Zelda. And they don’t even need a Switch to play it.

families and media project

Children’s Research Group Asks 700 Parents What Games They Play

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Research group Joan Ganz Cooney Center have been studying video games and their effect on children and families. Called the Families and Media Project, they surveyed nearly 700 parents of 4-13-year old children who play video games.

Their latest find explores specific genres and kinds of games that kids (and parents) play.

families and media projectPuzzle and Strategy games are overwhelmingly the majority genre for both parents and kids. After that some disparity occurs. Kids prefer Adventure and Simulation/Building games. Parents would rather tackle Trivia and “Brain Training” exercises. Traditionally action-packed and violent games like Fighting and First Person Shooters are very low in both categories.

Parents were asked to write in their kids’ two favorite games. The survey reflected this in an easy-to-read word cloud. Minecraft remains the most popular title. But Mario and LEGO (both could encompass dozens of games) were also common answers.

Other games range from traditional AAA titles like Halo and Assassin’s Creed (rated from Teen to Mature) to educational games and videos such as Toca Boca and PBS Kids. But Wii Sports, really? C’mon parents.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is an independent research group focusing on children and education. They study the effects emerging technology has on education and children’s learning.

The Families and Media Project seeks to learn about where video games fit in daily family life. They cite the NPD 2011 survey that 91% of children in the US (age 2-17) play video games.

A previous study conducted last month revealed how often kids played games, and for how long. It also looked into boy/girl genre preferences, and which gaming devices kids used most often. Spoiler alert: kids play a lot of video games.