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Why the Super NES is the best console ever created

4:00 PM on 08.23.2011 // Chad Concelmo

It's the 20th anniversary of the release of the Super Nintendo! To celebrate, Destructoid is offering a week's worth of SNES-related content. Join us for "Seven days of the Super Nintendo!"

I will never forget the moment. I was a kid. A new issue of Nintendo Power had just come in the mail. Like always, I hurriedly opened it as quickly as possible to see all the exciting content waiting for me inside. With this particular issue, though, my excitement was met with surprise. Instead of the normal game poster that sat folded in the center of the magazine, the inset for this particular month’s issue displayed a preview of something new coming out called the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Not only did the preview talk about this mysterious SNES, it actually featured screenshots of some of its upcoming games! Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (or, as it was referred to in the magazine: Zelda 3), ActRaiser, Pilotwings. They were all there and they all looked gorgeous.

I was blown away and instantly fell in love. My eyes lit up as I looked upon these stunning visuals. The colors! The graphics! I was in heaven. My mind immediately imagined what it would be like to play games that looked that good. I knew right away I would love this new console.

Who knew that, twenty years later, the Super Nintendo would still be my favorite videogame console of all time?

[Header image credit: 1stokes]

Image credit: leafy32

A sexy toy

As much I love the sleek look of the modern consoles sitting in my entertainment center, I miss the days of the old consoles -- consoles that relied less on LED lights and shiny surfaces, and cared more about being durable and looking like they played videogames and videogames only.

I don’t mind a videogame console looking like a toy, and the Super Nintendo fit the bill. But at the same time, the SNES had a certain awkward sexiness that made it feel much more mature than your average toy.

The blocky gray frame screamed “I am a hefty piece of powerful technology!” and the large purple buttons and fun-to-push eject trigger giggled “I am a toy!” It was the perfect marriage.

Image credit: chrisglass

Let’s talk about that controller!

Small, curved, comfortable. The Super Nintendo controller is easily my favorite videogame controller of all time. It just feels right.

First you have the button configuration. Instead of two face buttons like on the NES controller, the SNES added two more, giving players the traditional A & B, but with the magical additions of the fancy X and sassy Y. These two new buttons not only helped add more options in gameplay, they were perfectly placed, with slightly less-rounded edges to give them a different feel than the A & B buttons.

But not only did the SNES controller evolve by adding more face buttons, it revolutionized by adding two more buttons never seen on a controller before: the L & R shoulder buttons. Resting comfortably on the top of the controller, the L & R buttons were easy to push and offered even more control options when playing games.

And then there is the all-powerful D-Pad. My God, that D-Pad ...

Image credit: mariahfr

Best. D-Pad. EVER!

Yup, the D-Pad on the Super Nintendo is so great it deserves its own section!

No console has ever and will ever top the perfection that is the Super NES D-Pad. Never. It is perfect.

Perfect size. Perfect feel. Perfect movement. Playing games with the Super Nintendo D-Pad is just that: perfect.

Image credit: kosmosxipo

The glory days of cartridges

I know, I know: The modern Blu-ray discs hold so much more information and digital distribution is an amazing, clean, and welcome addition to the industry. I am not so stuck in the past that I am going to complain about all the modern trappings of the current state of videogames.

Okay ... maybe I am going to complain a little.

But cartridges were so classic!

First off, they had gorgeous art on their labels. Labels that you could actually see when you played a game, given the fact that the design of the Super Nintendo allowed the cartridges to stick out of the top of the system. I miss cartridge art. The boring art on current Blu-ray discs is not nearly as exciting.

Also, when you clicked a game into the top of the SNES and flipped up the power switch, the game immediately started up. No menu. No load times. No navigating through a home screen. The game just started. It was wonderfully refreshing.

And guess what? With Super Nintendo games, you could actually save directly on the cartridge! If you brought a game to a friend’s house to show it off, your save files went with you! Simple, straight-forward, uncomplicated. Just the way retro videogames should be.

Image credit: lasgafasdelennon

Pack-ins don’t get any better than Super Mario World

Seriously, this mammoth, legendary, incredibly well-designed Mario classic came packed-in with the console. When you bought the SNES, you got Super Mario World in the box. No need for an extra purchase.

As much as I love Wii Sports and was happy Nintendo brought back the pack-in with the release of the Wii, Wii Sports has nothing -- and I mean nothing! -- on Super Mario World. If every newly released console came packed in with a game as deep, challenging, and overwhelmingly entertaining as Super Mario World, the videogame industry would be a better place.

And as much I adore Super Mario World, another, even better, 2D Mario was still on its way for the console ...

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island: The best (2D) Mario game ever made

While we can all agree that Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are the best 3D Mario games of all time (we can agree on this, right?!), the best 2D Mario game was released on the Super Nintendo in the form of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island.

The unexpected sequel to also-classic Super Mario World actually doesn’t even star Mario at all. Well, it does star a baby version of Mario (a character not nearly as annoying as everyone says), as he rides on the top of the game’s actual main character: Yoshi.

Yoshi’s Island is a perfect videogame. It looks great. It plays great. It has a ton of levels, each more creative and jaw-dropping than the last. It has a healthy amount of challenge. It features some great bosses. The list goes on and on.

Final Fantasy VI: The best Final Fantasy game ever made

Sure, Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX are great. They are absolute classics. But let’s be honest, the very best Final Fantasy games that ever were and ever will be were released on the Super Nintendo.

And take your pick! I could make an argument as to why both Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI are the best Final Fantasy games ever created. Personally, I will always choose VI as my favorite -- the game is full of more memorable moments than any other videogame in history -- but both games are fantastic.

To have two incredibly classic Final Fantasy games on one console? That is quite the achievement.

Super Metroid: The best Metroid game ever made

Not only is Super Metroid the best Metroid game ever, it may be one of the very best videogames of all time. It is that good.

I could easily talk about the game’s beautiful visuals, its perfect pacing, its uncanny ability to create a haunting sense of dread and loss, its impeccable design, or its stunning (and secret-filled) boss battles.

But anyone that loves Super Metroid knows all it takes to eternally worship this game is to mention the classic title’s masterful ending. Two words: Baby Metroid. The overwhelming emotions I experienced when I first encountered this silent, tragic, purely visual sequence cannot even be described.

I still get teary-eyed even thinking about it.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: The best Zelda game ever made

Are you sensing a theme here?

While an argument can be made that Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening, or Wind Waker is the best Zelda game ever (an argument I would totally stand behind!), for me, the most classic entry in the Zelda franchise -- the entry that combines the best of everything the Zelda series is known for -- is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Waking up in the rain. Running outside to start your quest for the kidnapped Princess Zelda. Finding the Master Sword hidden in the beautifully confounding Lost Woods. The battle with the wizard Agahnim. The daunting and terrifying Dark World. The quest for the captured sages. The epic final showdown.

Link to the Past is in a neck-and-neck race with Super Metroid for my favorite videogame of all time. The entire experience from start to finish is absolutely perfect.

Image credit: unclefuz

Okay, let’s be honest: Most of the Super Nintendo games are pretty darn great!

Listing every amazing game on the SNES one by one would take all day. Let’s just make this easy.

Here is a list of some of the best games released for the Super Nintendo. Please feel free to gasp in awe as much as you like:

ActRaiser, Donkey Kong Country, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Flashback: The Quest for Identity, Pilotwings, Super Metroid, Contra III: The Alien Wars, Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, Super Castlevania IV, Kirby Super Star, Secret of Mana, Toy Story, Super Mario World, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, E.V.O.: Search for Eden, F-Zero, Star Fox, Super Star Wars, Blackthorne, Pocky & Rocky, Super Mario Kart, Illusion of Gaia, Earthworm Jim, The Lost Vikings, Shadowrun, Final Fantasy IV (II), Final Fantasy VI (III), Out of This World, The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, Gradius III, Mega Man X, Harvest Moon, Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures, Axelay, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, NBA Jam, Breath of Fire, Equinox, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Demon’s Crest, Chrono Trigger, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, EarthBound, Stunt Race FX, Lemmings, Soul Blazer, Lufia & the Fortress of Doom, Goof Troop, Kirby’s Dream Course, Vegas Stakes, Final Fight, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Rock N' Roll Racing, Mario Paint, The Lion King, Tecmo Super Bowl, Secret of Evermore, On the Ball, Super Punch Out!!, Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse, SimCity, R-Type III: The Third Lightning, Super Mario All-Stars, Cool Spot, Killer Instinct, U.N. Squadron, Aladdin, Tetris Attack, Uniracers

And keep in mind this is only a sampling of games released for the console. Has there ever been a better lineup up of games on any other system?

I mean, Uniracers!

This underrated gem deserves an extra special mention. It’s Uniracers! And it’s AWESOME!

Image credit: jamesreal

Um ... Mario Paint came with a mouse peripheral

Yup. When you bought Mario Paint -- which shipped in a giant box, by the way -- the game came with an actual mouse controller you could use to draw images, animate pictures, compose music, and swat flies.

Not only does the mouse look and feel just great, it ended up being compatible with other games as well, including the completely underrated Vegas Stakes.

The SNES mouse was rad. I still have mine!

Even the bad stuff was awesome

Case in point: the SNES’s notorious slowdown. It was amazing. Amazingly bad, maybe, but amazing nonetheless.

Seriously, watch this level in classic SNES shmup Gradius III:

The slowdown is so bad the game is almost unplayable.

But, sometimes, this slowdown would actually help with getting through challenging sections. The slower the game moved, the easier it was to dodge those annoying (and numerous!) bubbles.

So, as terrible as the slowdown will always be, there is always a silver lining when talking about anything related to the Super Nintendo!

Image credit: johnnyvancura

I need to lie down

Seriously. I am getting a little overly excited.

But you get the idea. The Super Nintendo is absolutely amazing. It should be carved into a stone tablet or written into the Constitution or something so that every generation will know it to be true.

Or they could just play the thing. Once you play the SNES you immediately fall in love. All it takes is a flip of that giant purple power switch to know you are about to experience something legendary. Something timeless. Something special.

I love you, Super Nintendo. Happy 20th birthday!



What do you think? Are you as in love with the Super Nintendo as I am? What is your favorite thing about it? What’s your favorite game?

This article concludes our "Seven days of Super Nintendo!", so now is your last chance to gush over the best videogame console of all time.


Chad Concelmo,
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