The Super NES Classic: 5 Games We Don’t Need and 5 Games We Can Replace Them With
The power of positivity. That’s the key to getting through the end of the year with three months of speculation and three months of fallout surrounding the launch of Nintendo’s newest toy, the Super NES Classic Edition, set to release September 29 this year in limited quantities. How limited? We can’t say for sure, but based on history, it’s understandable that people are skeptical about Nintendo’s promise to ship “significantly more” units than it did for the NES Classic, an item for which I had fielded more phone calls than I could conceivable count, and not one caller was satisfied when they hung up.
Of course, I have no interest in speculating for the remainder of the year about how Nintendo will handle the SNES Classic launch, something which I’m already fairly tired of hearing about. I will, however, field any and all discussions that people want to have about game selections and the Super Nintendo library in general. Otherwise, mum’s the word, and the power of optimistic thinking will prevail on my part, though I suppose it’s a lot easier to maintain a happy-go-lucky attitude about the whole thing when you don’t actually intend to look for one, and your only intent to pick one up is if they ever happen to be $40 on clearance after the fad dies down, and everybody will begin to walk past the display at Best Buy and Target and say to their friends “hey, remember when…?”
So until that fateful day when the SNES launches and the leagues of Nintendo critics arm their “I told you so” cannons (which also happens to be the day an American Nintendo 64 could legally order a drink), let’s discuss an arbitrary list of 21 Super Nintendo games, because while that discussion may never truly end, it’s always a joy to state our opinions about what we did and didn’t get, like we’re walking out of a concert from our favorite band.
Instead of: Kirby’s Dream Course
Now, obviously, nothing about the SNES Classic’s games list is a true miss. I think most people would agree that just about every title included in the 21-game selection is a quality title with more than enough to merit its inclusion. If anything, we should be talking about what we should do to bump that selection up to 30 to match what the NES Classic offered, as the SNES Classic will be $20 more, with another controller this time but fewer games. I think when we all saw the list, Kirby’s Dream Course stuck out more than most as the one pick that felt more like a missed-out-on gem than a must-have staple. Still, an absolutely fantastic game with an original idea and addicting mix of puzzle, strategy, and pure skill, Kirby’s Dream Course is still the easiest game to cut simply because I can’t imagine anybody tearing into the unit for the first time and heading right for Kirby’s Dream Course.
They Could Have Picked: Kirby’s Dream Land 3
Far from being the black sheep of the Kirby series, a franchise often defined by its main character’s versatility in helping sell most anything Nintendo wants to put a familiar face on, Kirby’s Dream Land might still be the black sheep at least of the Kirby main series platformers. Released over a year after the Super Nintendo had been succeeded by the Nintendo 64, Kirby’s Dream Land 3 is the Kirby game that almost nobody played at the time and that mostly everybody would have been likely to pass up, especially coming hot on the heels of the more well-known Kirby Super Star (which is included on the Super NES Classic). As a result, it’s also one of the hardest titles to obtain in its original format, with cartridges rarely going for under $75, and one of those games that makes the Virtual Console (and the Wii’s Kirby Dream Collection) a godsend. Likely passed over specifically because of the more popular Kirby Super Star, Kirby’s Dream Land 3 would have been one of the best ways to increase the bang for your buck, but put up against Super Star, it’ll lose every time.
Instead Of: Super Punch-Out!
I don’t know what it is, but for all the clamor over the original (and especially the 99.9% identical Mike Tyson version of said original), I have rarely ever heard much praise for the Super Nintendo follow-up. Perhaps it was the lack of WWE Hall of Famer Mike Tyson altogether that hurt it, but Super Punch-Out’s inclusion on the Super NES Classic mainly feels like an effort to deliver a close-as-possible replication of the library from the NES Classic, should it end up widely available. Still, a solid game in its own right, this oft-forgotten sequel likely remained the last in the series until its 2009 Wii reboot due to Nintendo not being able to do anything with the franchise, and even now the only Punch-Out that gets any real attention is the NES original.
They Could Have Picked: Tetris Attack
The genius of Punch-Out has always been in its clever design of a fast-paced puzzle game under the guise of a sports title. Equally fast-paced, original, and adept at honing your reflexes and visual processing is the Nintendo’s most creative and addicting first party puzzle title, Panel de Pon, known in the US as Tetris Attack, and adorned with the same pastel cuteness found in the beloved Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. One of the most blatant examples of calling something Tetris that’s not actually Tetris, Tetris Attack is a match-3 puzzle game that moves as fast as you can handle and lends itself to some excellent head-to-head gameplay that other puzzle games often implement in a way that feels forced, something that Nintendo seems to be hammering home as a major strength of the system in early packaging and promotional material.
Instead Of: Street Fighter II Turbo
So I know I just mentioned head-to-head multiplayer as a major selling point for Tetris Attack, but really all it comes down to is that I don’t think Street Fighter II is something that we need to lose our minds over anymore, especially when the version they’re offering us isn’t even the best version of SFII on the Super Nintendo. They could have at least gone with Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers so as not to slim down the roster from where it could be. But even Super SFII is far from being the best way to play Street Fighter II anymore — that title is now bestowed on Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, a game released exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. I understand that the Super Nintendo was a huge landing strip for Street Fighter II, one of the ‘90s’ favorite games, but as I’ve never been a huge fan of the series anyway, I think I can look at it from my vantage point and call its inclusion on the Super NES Classic unnecessary.
They Could Have Picked: Final Fight 2 or 3
Honestly, how many of us have ever had a chance to play a Final Fight game that wasn’t the original? The first title, both in the arcades and on the SNES, is one of the finest that the ‘90s-centric beat-em-up genre has to offer, but the Super Nintendo port has always been plagued by the unfortunate lack of two player co-op, an issue that wouldn’t be rectified until the much less popular and much harder to find second and third installments of the series when they arrived on the Super Nintendo, the third entry, in particular, being developed exclusively for the system rather than for the arcade. Final Fight had a home on the SNES just the same as Street Fighter did, but in a manner that offers the Super NES Classic another viable co-operative option along with Contra III and Secret of Mana.
Instead of: Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts
Okay, so I’ve got some strong opinions on this era of Capcom (realistically I suppose I have strong opinions on all eras of Capcom) but I think it’s fair to say that people often have to psyche themselves up just to get started on a Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins game, setting aside war flashbacks and the like just to put on those iconic heart boxers again. Another game selection that seems to be based on replicating that of the NES Classic’s library, Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts is also a lot like Super Punch-Out in the sense that while it’s still every bit as enjoyable and representative of its series as its NES incarnation, it’s considerably less iconic and rarely brought up by comparison, and resulted in the series lying dormant for a number of years after until it could be reintroduced with a new but justified style with the Maximo games.
They Could Have Picked: Demon’s Crest
Poor Firebrand. Always overshadowed by a goofy, boxer-clad knight despite consistently starring in better, more accessible, and more original games. The Gargoyle’s Quest series that began on the Game Boy as an aside to the Ghost ‘n’ Goblins series takes the clever platforming that Capcom did so well with that series and incorporates story and RPG elements into all-around more ambitious and more interesting titles, capping off with the most successful example, the Super Nintendo’s Demon’s Crest. Another game that would make an excellent inclusion due in no small part to its hefty price tag for an original cartridge, Demon’s Crest is a classic example of what makes a game great in the long run: whereas Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts is merely a good game with ambitions on par with its contemporaries, Demon’s Crest is an entertaining mix of genres that avoids being repetitive, tedious, or simply awkward, more or less making it all the things that make a true hidden gem today, but absolutely at home in a library aiming to encompass what made the SNES great.
Instead of: Contra III: The Alien Wars
Again, I think the point of Contra III’s inclusion was to emulate that of the NES Classic, even if Super C was what we got instead of the original Contra. Contra III still represents everything good about the series, but what’s unusual about the series SNES entry is that like a surprising amount of Konami titles during that time, it’s arguably inferior to its Sega Genesis counterpart, Contra: Hard Corps. This is due, if nothing else, to its inconsistency, with Contra III choosing to incorporate a series of somewhat-disorienting top-down levels that make use of the SNES’s popular Mode-7 style graphics. As good as Contra III: The Alien Wars still is when it’s doing its main thing, I think putting a weaker Contra entry on the Super NES Classic, especially one that highlights a loss for Nintendo in the infamous console war (Super Castlevania IV and Bloodlines are both equally great) might not be the best possible choice.
They Could Have Picked: Sunset Riders
Contrary to what I said about the 16-bit Contra titles, the argument as to which Sunset Riders port is better still rages on to this day, with both the SNES and Genesis having pretty valid arguments. What’s even more important, however, than simply picking a game that was great on the Super Nintendo, is picking a game that is, even more, representative of Konami’s amazing quality during the 16-bit era than a weaker entry in the Contra series. Likely the best run-n-gun on the Super Nintendo, Sunset Riders takes the great co-op play of the Contra series and meshes it with an exciting and different Wild West setting and cast, including exciting boss fights, power ups, and weapons. Everything about Sunset Riders is memorable and addicting, with its co-op play making it especially enticing and a perfect fit on the Super NES Classic.
Other important games:
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest - Not the original, but the best of the trilogy.
Chrono Trigger - Shocking omission, considering its constant presence in “best RPG ever” discussions. Possibly left out due to the high number of ports, including DS and mobile, but what about Final Fantasy III/VI then?
Legend of the Mystical Ninja - Oft-forgotten Konami staple starring spiky blue-haired protagonist Goemon. Likely not included due to not catching on as well in the US, despite several Japan-exclusive sequels.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time - Licensing fees be damned!
Illusion of Gaia - Nintendo-published standalone action-RPG, developed and published in Japan by Enix in line with their Soul Blazer and Actraiser games. Likely too messy and too obscure to justify inclusion.