Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rate With Friends: Top 5 SNES Platformers

For today's Rate With Friends, Andrew from Yes, These Things Matter. returns as my accomplice so that we can sort out our top 5 favorite SNES platformers. It's an immense field of games to narrow to a mere five, and I know both of us put a whole lot of thought into the matter. Let's see how we compare!

===== 5 =====
Andrew -
Kirby Super Star

I've played many Kirby games over the years, but for the most part they've never really made any kind of impact. Kirby him(?)self is one of the more bizarrely compelling creations in gaming. A floating pink puffball who has the ability to eat enemies and steal their powers? Sign me up, please. But for some reason the games have frequently let me down; the only exception is Kirby Super Star. Billed on the box as "8 GAMES IN ONE!", Kirby Super Star was jam-packed with content, offering up several different storylines, each with their own unique hook, as well as several addicting mini-games. Plus, as icing on the cake, you could play co-op with a friend. This game had it all, and still remains enjoyable to this day.

The Ocotillo Kid -
Demon's Crest

Demon's Crest is sort of an oddball of a game when it comes to the elements that make up the whole. It's a spinoff of the Ghosts 'N Goblins series, starring a demon that was actually an enemy in those games. It's a platformer, but with a Mode 7 world map to navigate between levels. There are even towns, where you can use money earned on your quest to buy spells and alternate demon forms. All in all, these seemingly disparate parts add up to one incredible game. It's dark, challenging, and at times humorous.

===== 4 =====
Andrew -
Super Metroid

I included the original Metroid on my Top NES Platformers list, so it wouldn't make any sense if Super Metroid didn't make the cut here. This is a game I somehow missed the first time around; I didn't catch up with it until it was released on the Wii Virtual Console. Boy, was I missing out on something. Take the atmosphere of the original Metroid and multiply it by 10, add better graphics, a more involving storyline, a countless number of secret collectibles, and some of the best platformer/shooter action ever, and you get Super Metroid. There is a reason why this game is frequently listed as one of the top games ever made, not just on the SNES, but ever! There aren't many games out there that rival the experience that it provides.

The Ocotillo Kid -
Super Mario World

For most people who had an SNES, Super Mario World was the first game they played on the console (because the two were generally bundled together). It continues the NES mario tradition of highly responsive, straightforward controls, and adds tons of great new gameplay elements that enhance the strong foundation that is Mario. The iconic Yoshi makes his first appearance in this title, and the board game-style world map is revamped significantly from Super Mario Bros. 3. As much as I love and cherish Super Mario World, the only reason it isn't higher in my list is because there are a small handful of later platformers I think refined the genre even more.

===== 3 =====
Andrew -
Super Star Wars

Nostalgia plays a heavy role in this inclusion on the list. In just about every way, Super Metroid is the better game, but Super Star Wars and its two sequels have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. So many memories. Battling through the Jawa Sandcrawler only to encounter a lava monster who did his best to push you off the platforms, which meant instant death! Fighting through the cantina to the damn boss who was literally impossible to beat without saving up blaster powers! Being able to play as multiple characters, something that was emphasized more in the later games but was still ridiculously cool the first time around! Those damn banthas that charged with with reckless abandon, only to explode when defeated! This game certainly had flaws, but in a strange way none of them seemed to matter. We were too busy playing through our childhood dreams.

The Ocotillo Kid -
Kirby Super Star

As I already noted in our NES platformers list, Kirby is one of my favorite game series. It highlights a very simple but unique game mechanic that is twisted in so many different ways. Just like the wildly successful Portal series was built upon one weapon used in dozens of ways, Kirby takes the idea of eating enemies to absorb their powers and makes it so fun it hurts. Kirby Super Star is actually comprised of multiple smaller chapters, each with a unique plotline. Even with its laid back difficulty, I never get sick of it.

===== 2 =====
Andrew -
Super Mario World

An obvious choice, sure, but also a necessary one. Everything that was great about Super Mario Brothers 3 made the leap over to Super Mario World. We got the large variety of environments, we got the epic platforming action, we got the cool power ups, we got the hidden secrets. With Super Mario World, we got all that and more. We got substantially better graphics. And we got Yoshi. His presence alone boosted the game into instant classic status. Every couple of years I go back and replay through Super Mario World, to relive old times and marvel at how it gets everything just right. It's a perfect game.

The Ocotillo Kid -
Donkey Kong Country 2

Of course i had to pick a Donkey Kong Country game for my list. So why 2, and not 1 or 3? I love all three, but I think it comes down to level design. Donkey Kong Country is an amazing game, and I love it to death, but Donkey Kong Country 2 really hones the game mechanics. The inclusion of Dixie Kong and her helicopter-hair is a great addition, and makes for numerous areas that only she can access. For the completionist, there are special coins hidden in each level. I sure loves me some collectibles. Most important is that this game is markedly more difficult than the first. I think everyone should play the whole trilogy, but this one is the best.

===== 1 =====
Andrew -
Donkey Kong Country

When constructing my list of the top SNES platformers, there was really never any question in my mind as to which game would end up at the top. A late entry into the SNES library, Donkey Kong Country delivered a flawless platforming experience with one of the most striking graphical presentations you had ever seen. It found new ways to challenge even the most battle-tested platforming veterans; I still dread having to navigate those floating, rotating barrels to this day. But the game wouldn't be number one on my list if it were just a great platformer. Like so many games from this era, it gave me some special memories. I played through and loved every game in the series when they were first released, but I'll never forget the times spent with it years later when they were rereleased on the Virtual Console, and I wasn't even the one playing! Instead, I spent many nights just watching as my brother and cousin struggled mightily to work their way through the games, back in a time when people played games together in the same room instead of far apart through online connections. It's tough for me to explain just why this was so memorable, but those are memories I know I'm never going to forget, and it's the main reason Donkey Kong Country is my #1 on this list.

The Ocotillo Kid -
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Yoshi's Island was the very first game I remember that challenged my perceptions of what a video game was "supposed" to look like. It had an art style that, at the time, was completely out of left field. It looked more like a painting than a video game. Though bearing the "Mario" name and characters, this title could not be a farther cry from the original Super Mario World. Throwing different colored eggs and chasing down a crying baby Mario were unlike anything I had seen before. The bosses were gigantic, and amazing, and seemed so far beyond what I thought the Super Nintendo was capable of. There is a mountain of different collectibles for completionist purposes, so even though the game itself is not more than a few hours, backtracking to achieve 100% is where most of the fun lies. I hope to one day nab a CIB copy of this title.

Final Lists:

  • 5) Kirby Super Star
  • 4) Super Metroid
  • 3) Super Star Wars
  • 2) Super Mario World
  • 1) Donkey Kong Country

The Ocotillo Kid
  • 5) Demon's Crest
  • 4) Super Mario World
  • 3) Kirby Super Star
  • 2) Donkey Kong Country 2
  • 1) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

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