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#25 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

The best brawler on the Super Nintendo? It certainly appears thatís the shot Iím calling.

Some people are gonna balk at that. Theyíre gonna point out games like Ninja Warriors, Final Fight, and anything else they fancy. They might try to explain why this Turtles game is ďoverrated,Ē and how those games offer more depth, more challenge, or more... whatever. And I donít blame them. Those games all rule, so I would never fault anyone for preferring any of them. Hell, once upon a time I myself had Turtles in Time a bit lower in these rankings. In fact, I definitely had it below a couple of its peers in the fairly recent pastÖ

But I changed my tune. This is the order I stand by. Because, as I was playing through Turtles IV again, just recently - in the name of refreshing myself on some of its finer details - I had a revelation. See, Iíve been playing this game for over thirty years at this point. Iíve completed it at least thirty times. It has long ceased to hold any surprises for me. And yet, here we are in 2022, and I just played through it two consecutive times earlier tonight. Not only that, I actually had to refrain from doing it a third time. That almost never happens with me. I donít jump back into games I just beat. I move on to something else. I compulsively move on to something else. I have thousands of games on my shelf, and I got shit to get to!

But I did. That just happened, right before I wrote this. Back-to-back playthroughs. And I realize why, too. Itís because this game never gets old. Its charm is completely timeless.

Now, donít get me wrong, I LOVE Battletoads Double Dragon. Itís one of the very first games I ever owned, and itís one of the few games that Iíve played through at least a hundred times. Arguing that particular gameís merits is a hill Iím willing to die on.

I also love Ninja Warriors. Thatís more of a recent love, dating back a mere decade at this point, but itís another game I can endlessly play through without ever getting sick of it. Itís a true gem in the Super Nintendo library.

Oh, and my respect for Knights of the Round? Through the roof. That game kicks my ass, and makes me feel good about it. How often can that be said? A testament to its razor-sharp gameplay.

But when push came to shove, and I had to solidify these rankings, and I had to do one last look back at all of my decadesí worth of gaming memories, and I think about what games Iím going to be playing with my three sons in the near future, Turtles in Time jumps to the top of the list.

This is the game my friends and I played at birthday parties when we were growing up. Without fail.

This is the (arcade) game that I played with my dad at the top of the Space Needle, when we drove out to Seattle to watch Michael Jordan play the Sonics. Think about that, I got to see Michael Jordan play basketball at the height of his career, and yet I still retained a beloved memory of playing an arcade game with my dad for ten minutes.

This is the game I once convinced my wife to play through to completion with me, which is very much a rarity for her. Getting her to stick it out to the end with any kind of game is like pulling teeth. Yet she happily did it this time around.

In other words, this game is always there when happy memories are being formed, and for good reason.

So, I stand by my earlier claim. It is the best brawler on the Super Nintendo. I love everything about it. The controls, the graphics, the music, the levels, the boss fights, all of it. I never get tired of it. And by all accounts, neither do most of you. All hail the king.

Did I beat it?


A billion times.


#24 - Mega Man X2

Iíve played through the entirety of Mega Man X2 three different times over the course of my adult life.

The first time was back in college, when I worked my way through the entire X series with the compilation that was released for the PS2 (and Gamecube, and whatever else). I was knee-deep in ďbetterĒ (newer) stuff at the time, but I was willing to pause all of that for the Blue Bomber.

The second time I played through it was shortly after finally tracking down the expensive-ass cart that had eluded me as a child. I paid a premium for it too, which is not something I usually do. But when I saw that cart in the glass display case, I knew I had to do it. I had to lay claim to the elusive prize. Collectors like to use the term ďwhite whaleĒ when discussing the hunt. Iím not gonna go quite that far, but it had definitely been near the top of my list for many, many years. Playing through it was completing a victory lap of sorts.

Finally, my third (and most recent) playthrough just happened shortly before writing this. Iíve been replaying a lot of the games Iíve been writing about recently, and re-visiting each of the Mega Man games is something of a no-brainer. Iíll happily come up with an excuse to do it. So I said to hell with work, burned the midnight oil a few times - despite it being the middle of the week - and struck down Sigma one last time.

And you know what? It was totally worth it. Because one thing Iíve noticed with this particular game, is that every time Iíve played through it, my love for the franchise has been completely reaffirmed. Playing this game makes me want to dive back into the series and explore all of the games I missed. It makes me want to bust out my copies of X4 and X5. It makes me want to track down a copy of X7, and finally play it, bad reputation be damned.

I donít need to go over the core Mega Man formula. I also donít need to review the Mega Man X-specific version of the formula. If youíre reading this, you no doubt already know what this series is all about. You know what makes these games tick, you know why they are still so feverishly worshipped all these decades later, and you know why people still covet and play them. None of those things would be news to anyone.

So, the only thing I feel I need to speak to, is just what exactly sets X2 apart? What is it that makes this one of the better games in the Blue Bomberís storied history? What makes this better than most (if not all) of the X sequels? Most important of all, what makes it so much better than Mega Man X3 and Mega Man 7, the two games I already covered?

Thereís a lot of answers to those questions. In shortÖ

Better levels. Better bosses. Better secrets. Better music. Better flow. Better challenge. BetterÖ everything, basically. Because everything about it feels tight. Tighter gameplay, a tighter difficulty curve, all of it. You get what Iím saying? Like, the overall design just feels more solid, and less ďrushed,Ē which I think can be a common problem with Mega Man games. Thatís not the case here.

I also love the introduction of the three optional bosses that make off with the remaining pieces of Zero (who was destroyed in the first game, spoiler alert). Youíre free to hunt them down, if youíre up to the challenge, and defeating all of them has several effects on the endgame. Granted, the first time you play through X2, youíll probably unintentionally skip over those boss fights. But thatís okay, because it gives you something new to do in future playthroughs, adding some very nice replay value.

I also love how the hidden suit upgrades actually kinda matter this time around. Or at least they feel better balanced. For as much as I love the original Mega Man X, the head upgrade was pretty lackluster, the arm upgrade was pretty situational, and the body upgrade massively affected the gameís difficulty, and not in the best way in my opinion. Whereas now we have the introduction of a nifty little tracking ability, a new AOE attack thatís useful in a pinch, and the wonderful new air dash, further adding to Xís acrobatic assortment of moves.

Negatives? Thereís not too many, and theyíre pretty mild in general. Really, my main faults are mostly just ways the game slightly falls short of its predecessor. The music is still great, but maybe not quite great as it was in the first game. The levels are all super fun, with lots of great setpieces, but not quite as fun or memorable as they were in the first game. Also, the boss battles in the final levels are tricky, and a blast to finally overcome, but I still prefer the gauntlet in the first game.

Sensing a theme here?

To be fair, that could all just be nostalgia talking, especially since I grew up with Mega Man X, so thereís bound to be some bias at play. But I do honestly feel that this sequel never quite reaches the lofty heights established by the franchiseís inaugural game. Doesnít mean Iím right, or that someone would be wrong for preferring this game. I honestly could see people going either way. But I feel that this is a slight step down from Xís amazing introduction.

That shouldnít be taken as a slight either. Those are some tough shoes to fill. Most games couldnít do it. But Mega Man X2 gets so much right that it doesnít really matter either. Thereís space for both games in the libraryís upper echelons, and both games should be considered mandatory material for all players and/or collectors.

Did I beat it?
Yep, multiple times and counting.


#23 - Uncharted Waters: New Horizons

Over the course of the multiple decades that it took me to play through the Super Nintendo library, a handful of games proved to be extraordinary challenges. Lord of the Rings Vol. 1 was an extraordinary challenge. Dungeon Master was an extraordinary challenge. Might & Magic III (which I still have yet to beat) is an extraordinary challenge. Those are all games that really make you work for a completion, requiring a number of long sleepless nights, copious note taking, and great heaping gobs of patience.

You can go ahead and add Uncharted Waters: New Horizons to that list. In fact, it was the final game I added to said list.

But first let me back up a little bit. Maybe 3-4 years ago I played through the original Uncharted Waters. Itís an excruciatingly slow game that only the most diehard of SNES players are going to appreciate. A game where you have to be excited at the prospect of getting a great return on your cargo hold full of silk or rifles. A game where you spend most of your time watching a ship slowly move across a vast, featureless ocean. But I was addicted to it. Once I started it, I played it every night until I reached the ending, after which I immediately started up a playthrough of the sequel, New Horizons.

But merely playing New Horizons wasnít enough. No, I needed to truly experience it like it was meant to be played. So I did that playthrough completely blind. No guides, no FAQs, no forum posts, nothing. Just the cart, and a digital version of the manual. I was gonna take my own notes, figure out my own maps and ports, my own trading routes, and my own missions. It was an ambitious undertaking. Perhaps too ambitious.

Well, long story short, I had a great time, but I ended up with a (seemingly) unwinnable campaign. I had gone to painstaking lengths to explore the world, discover the various ports and villages, and carefully take note of trade goods and prices. But there were too many things I didnít know. Too many mistakes I unintentionally made. My fame, a numeric value that is very important for completing the game, was horribly handicapped. My fleet was desperately lacking in both size and combat capabilities. And I had angered the king of Portugal, destroying a lot of the progress I had worked hard to achieve. Realizing that I was better off starting from scratch, I made the hard decision to end my attempt, and shelved the game for the future.

Cut to 2022. Iím wrapping up this project, and there is one single game standing in my way. See, at that point I had completed roughly 430 of the games in the US library. Furthermore, I had marked an additional 283 games as being ďretired.Ē As in, I had tried to beat them, but ended up throwing in the towel, with no hope for a completion. I may return to a handful of them in a decade or two, for one last shot at conquering them, but for all intents and purposes, they are done.

And then there was New Horizons. The single outlier. The final game on my ďto doĒ list. I wasnít satisfied with my earlier defeat, and I had vowed to clear the game before I wrote about it. And by 2022, I had run out of time and could no longer put it off; it was now or never.

Well, on August 7, 2022, it finally happened. I cleared the game, and officially closed the books on the Super Nintendo library. My ďto doĒ list is empty. My backlog is cleared. My childhood console, which has now endured thousands of hours of abuse, suffering through a broken power supply prong, and countless trashed controllers, can finally have a long and well-deserved rest.

New Horizons is a great game. One of the deepest experiences on the Super Nintendo. A big improvement upon what was already a great game. Thereís a reason a large community of dedicated fans still celebrate this game to this day: itís a wonderful RPG, a wonderful sim, and one of the best games on the system. It offers six different playable characters who all have their own unique campaigns to play through. The number of types of ships, weapons, and gear that you can acquire is truly massive. There are new ďdiscoveriesĒ that are hidden around the world, offering vast amounts of cash and prestige for tracking them down. You can duel enemy captains. There are more gambling options. The graphics are better. The world feels bigger, and rewards you for exploring. Itís justÖ bigger and better. Simply put.

So, grab this game. It might feel daunting, and the thought of carefully balancing a shipís ratio of cargo to food and water might not sound like the most enthralling gameplay experience youíve ever heard of, but you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot. Itís one of the best RPGs on the system, and certainly one of the more unique games youíll ever encounter.

And for fun, just like last time, Iíve included a bunch of random footnotes from my playthrough:

Ships in my fleet at one point:


Crew members:
Joao Franco - Commodore of the Dirk
Rocco Alemkel - Chief Navigator
Carmine Ragussa - Captain of the Reed
Fritz Ramsey - Navigator
Roberto Almanzan - Navigator
Omar Kashani - Captain of the Todd
Anthony Morgan - Navigator
Patrick Toman - Captain of the Scott
Someone I forget - Bookkeeper

Total voyage time:
1729 days

Skills acquired:
Cartography
Gunnery
Accounting
Negotiation

My dueling gear for the final battle:
Crusader Sword
Crusader Armor

Stuff I bought:
Tax free permits
Letter of Marque
Sphere of Influence

Discoveries:
Too many to name, but among them, a saber-toothed tiger and the dodo bird.

Number of times my fleet was wrecked by storms off the coast of Japan, requiring a complete reload: 27
Number of times I had to re-attempt the final battle against the fleet of pirates on the Amazon: 9

Disasters I encountered:
A flaming bird that set one of my ships on fire
A Ghost ship
Mysterious blue lights...?
Ships mysteriously disappearing in the South Pacific

Did I beat it?
I did. It was the final completion for this project.


#22 - ActRaiser

I sat down recently to play through ActRaiser again and give myself a refreshed view of its gameplay. Not that it was really necessary, itís such a unique experience that itís almost impossible to forget anything about it. But I needed to revisit it. I needed to assure myself that my feelings were right about it. I needed to know that it really was a stone cold classic, and not something I had inflated in my own mind over the years.

See, on paper, this game shouldnít work. At all. Itís one part very basic strategy/simulation game, and one part very basic action platformer. Itís repetitive. Most of the game has zero challenge. Itís got extremely slow-moving text that youíre forced to watch over and over and over again.

And maybe Enix knew all of this. Maybe thatís why they went in such a different direction with ActRaiser 2. Nixing the elements of strategy gameplay in order to focus on the platformer stages. Adding multiple degrees of challenge and depth. Getting rid of the text.

Yet everyone knows ActRaiser is a far superior game to its sequel. Literally everyone. So how is that even possible? It certainly shouldnít be. And I knew that. When I was playing through ActRaiser 2, I knew that on paper it should be the superior game. Everything about it screamed improvement. But it wasnít. It wasnít as good, or as memorable, or as fun. And I couldnít figure out why that was. Nostalgia? Some sort of groupthink-driven bias? Bad alcohol-ravaged memory?

So I sat back down with my cart for one last rodeo, to put all of those concerns to bed.

And it worked like a charm.

ActRaiser works so well, because it does so many things so well.

Find the strategy stages too repetitive or too basic? Doesnít matter, you can pop back out to the world map whenever you want and go find a different area to explore.

Think the action platformer stages are too repetitive or too basic? Doesnít matter, theyíre all fairly short and youíll be at a boss fight before you know it.

Feel the boss fights are either too easy or too frustratingly difficult and cheap? Donít worry, thereís plenty more where that came from, and most of them are great.

Gameís too easy? Donít track down all of the upgrades. Or donít use magic. Find ways to handicap yourself.

Gameís too hard? Find all of the upgrades. Some are extremely hard to track down.

Donít like the soundtrack? Thatís impossible. Itís one of the systemís very best. You should feel bad for thinking that.

Controls? Impossible to complain about. None of the ridiculous convolution and complexity that cursed ActRaiser 2. Instead itís basic, and to the point.

Graphics? Everything looks great, especially for a title that was released relatively early in the Super Nintendo's life. The world maps, the boss sprites, the levels. All of it.

Fun factor? Through the roof. Every time Iíve played this Iíve been addicted until I got to the end. Every single time. Including this recent playthrough, where I had initially tricked myself into having concerns. But they were short lived.

So, get a copy of this game, track it down if you have to, play it, and love it. Donít bother with the sequel unless youíre extremely patient (or skilled), but no such qualms exist here. Because this first game is a joy that everyone needs to experience.

Did I beat it?
A handful of times, including shortly before I wrote this.


#21 - U.N. Squadron

Edging out the mighty trifecta of Axelay, Space Megaforce, and R-Type III, is U.N. Squadron, my pick for the best shoot Ďem up on the Super Nintendo. I have no idea how this pick is going to be received by my readers.

Is it the most technically sound shooter on the system? The fastest? The hardest? The rarest? The craziest?

No, no, no, no, and no. Itís none of those things. But it sure is a hell of a lot of fun.

Originally released in Japan as Area 88 (and presumably adapted from an anime), Capcomís shooter is actually one of the very first games they released for the SNES. As such, it suffers from a few of the problems that tended to plague early titles. First and foremost, slowdown. Itís a thing. It can be pervasive. And certain people are gonna have a problem with it. Thatís just a reality.

Second, thereís no multiplayer. None. Much like what we saw with fellow Capcom game Final Fight, it has been completely omitted, for whatever reason. No doubt another casualty of being one of the early titles on the SNES, released before developers had had a chance to fully figure out the hardware. It is what it is.

But the great news is, even with those blemishes, this game is a rock star. Hell, itís a super star. Even the lack of a two-player mode canít hold it down. Because every level is a thrill to learn, every plane is a blast to master, and the level of challenge is near-perfect throughout the entire runtime.

When you start the game you have a choice of three different unique pilots, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, one of them can quickly gain levels (thatís a thing here), while another has more sub-weapon options, and the last pilot is a die-hard beast who refuses to be shot down. I always choose the latter dude. More on that later.

You also have a choice of 6 different planes, though only the first is initially available. More on that later too.

Finally, you have the option of purchasing 11 different sub-weapons with your hard earned cash, though only certain weapons are available with certain planes. And some of them are expensive as hell and must be saved for the runs where youíre confident in your chances of success.

ďCash? Gaining levels? I thought this was a shmup. What the hell are you talking about?Ē

Yeah, see, the thing is you have to purchase everything you want to use. New planes cost extravagant amounts of cash, and every single stock of ammo for any of the secondary weapons costs you as well. You have to fight for and earn everything in this game.

Luckily, everything you destroy awards you money, there are small bonus stages that will give you a boost if your reserves are exhausted, and you have a huge stockpile of lives and continues to work with. So thereís always an option to play around with new strategies if you hit a snag. Better yet, a new plane is always attainable if you get stuck or need to shift strategies.

And why would you want new planes? So you have access to different main attack types, and different types of sub-weapons. The starting plane only has a forward firing main cannon and access to a few basic missiles and bombs. Whereas the A-10, for example, gives you a vulcan cannon that fires in multiple directions, but also caps out at a low level. The final plane, the F200, gives you access to everything.

The game is also nonlinear, which is great. You earn new levels in batches, and can attempt them in any order that you want. Incoming enemy bombers and warships can also be engaged as they approach your base. There are also some mini-missions where you strafe enemy supply convoys, if you want to earn some extra cash. All in all, itís a great variety of land, sea, and air missions that youíre free to tackle in the order youíre comfortable with, which I love.

If I had to list my biggest complaint, which I think is a minor one, it would have to be the rather stiff climb in difficulty that one of the bosses near the end of the game presents. Itís not a huge deal, and once you know how to handle it, the whole thing becomes trivial. But it is rather annoying that you have to fight this boss in a very specific way to overcome it. Or at least itís the only way Iíve ever managed to overcome it. Either way, it seems like Capcom kinda dropped the ball when they were fine-tuning the gameplay there.

Anyway, the point is that I love this game. Iíve always loved it. Some buddies of mine had it way back in the 1st grade, and I was positively thrilled to learn it was an arcade-style action game (the cover art made me think it was a flight sim). When I got back into playing a lot of Super Nintendo, this is one of the very first games I sought out. I was delighted then to see it hadnít aged a day. And it still hasnít.

Did I beat it?
Yep, I've played through it with every pilot and every plane.


#20 - Super Mario Kart

Iím sitting here at my dining room table, at a loss as to what Iím gonna write about this game. Meanwhile, my wife is working on tiling our kitchen, and is not offering a lot of help eitherÖ or very pleased that Iím doing this while trying to get her input instead of, you know, helping her. Iím also saying all of this out loud as I write it, and sheís now getting super pi-

Just kidding. I worked all day staining the mile-long fence in our backyard, so I earned some down time. Also, Iíd be a dead man if I really did do any of that! Sheís shown more than enough patience with this project to this point!

Actually, I know what to write about, it just came to me. Hereís one long take that comes straight from my brain, stream of consciousness style.

Did I mention that Iíve been drinking?

I remember when Super Mario Kart came out. Everyone does. It was a big deal, because not only did it release relatively early in the SNESís lifespan when there was arguably a dearth of notable games to play, but it was really also the first Mario spin-off that was kind of a big deal. Certainly the first one to cause major waves.

See, racing games were relatively pedestrian offers once upon a time, before this came out. People are gonna balk at that, and I love Rad Racer as much as the next guy, but Iím going to grossly generalize and say that.

I feel that racing games of the era generally fell into one of two buckets: they were either hard-core ďsimulationĒ types, or they were ďarcadeĒ affairs. You either worried about what gear you were in and how close your body was to the ground, or you spent a lot of time skidding around corners at high speeds. Again, Iím grossly generalizing here, but I feel this is at least 99% accurate for racing games at the time.

But when SMK came out, there was nothing on the market that was even remotely like it. Suddenly we had items we could attack our opponents with and a separate battle mode where we tried to pop each other's balloons. But then we also had this hard-core time attack mode where we could produce endlessly improved track times by mastering the surprisingly deep drifting strategies. It was the best of both worlds!

Anyway, my friends and I spent a lot of time with this game. Everyone did. It was the game to play back in 1992, and you couldnít escape it.

And though the series has gone on to produce 8 different mainline games, in addition to the phone game, and whatever Home Circuit is (I have 2 sitting in a closet, waiting for a future Christmas), I think the first game still maintains a very unique identity. The many sequels have added tons of new features, fancy 3D graphics, and billions upon billions of tracks, racers, and karts. But none of them play like this first game. None of them have the same iconic handling, or Mode 7 graphics. I think thatís why it still holds such a special place in so many peopleís hearts, when so many of the follow-ups have been forgotten, lost in the crowd of similar games.

So if you love the Mario Kart series, and are eager to see where it all began, check this bad boy out. It still plays wonderfully today. And if you were an original fan like myself, and perhaps have not had a chance to play this recently, go dig up a copy, and revisit it. Itís just as good as you remember it being. That I can promise.



ÖI also just realized at this very moment that I had already started this write-up previously, and completely forgotten about it. Here are the notes I just (re)discoveredÖ



Did I mention that Iíve been drinking?

Did I beat it?
Indeed.


#19 - Final Fantasy II

Note: Iím going to refer to this game as Final Fantasy II and not Final Fantasy IV, just to simplify things.

I have to be super forthcoming, and admit that Iíve always had Final Fantasy II at something of a disadvantage, through no fault of its own. See, I didnít own a copy of this game back in the Ď90s. I had a chance to own it, but went with Secret of Mana instead. What I did have were copies of most of the other big name RPGs, including Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III, all of which were played to death. So I didnít end up playing FF2 until well after the SNESí heyday, when it was reissued as a part of Final Fantasy Chronicles on the original Playstation. And if you havenít played that version of the game, Iíll spoil it for you in just two words: load times.

Unfortunately that release ended up doing a huge disservice to FF2. See, I was absolutely pumped for Chronicles. Brand new cutscenes and bonus content for critic-and-fan-darling Chrono Trigger? A new fancy translation for a beloved Super Nintendo Final Fantasy game that I had never gotten around to? Yes please. I was frickiní psyched. I read and reread the announcement article in EGM, and even went so far as to pre-order the game from a local retailer, something I almost never do.

On the day of the release, when I finally got my hands on it, I took one look at the FF2 discÖ and promptly replayed through Chrono Trigger again. I couldnít help it. I love that game too much. But as soon as I was done I started up FF2.

Well, as I already said, both games in Final Fantasy Chronicles suffer from some pretty horrific load times. Theyíre bad enough that Iíd go so far as to say it's the absolute worst way to play either one of them. But I did my best to grit my teeth and tough it out for both of them. I got all the way through CT, and got about halfway through FF2.

Then, I lost momentum. Perhaps something else came out and I got distracted. Perhaps I started up another playthrough of Symphony of the Night. Who knows. But whatever the case was, I never went back to that playthrough of FF2. Never opened the case again.

Flash forward to the early 2010s, and I had another chance. I had finally acquired a copy of the original SNES cartridge, and I was ready to close out some unfinished business. Even better however, were the shiny new sealed copies of Final Fantasy IV that I had purchased for the PSP and Nintendo DS. See, I will almost always prefer to play a JRPG on a handheld if I can get away with it. Thatís just a reality for a modern adult life when time in front of a television is a luxury thatís not always available.

Since the PSP version was closer to the original version, thatís what I ended up going with. I finally played through the entire game, and got closure on a chapter of my gaming life that had started decades earlier.

So when I say that Final Fantasy II is an inferior game to stuff like Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger, we all have to take that perspective with a grain of salt. After all, itís coming from a person who didnít get to play through it during his formative years, which means I didnít get a chance to imprint the experience with a ton of nostalgia, like I did with those other games. So there was never any chance I was going to enjoy it as much. Hell, not only that, but in the meantime I had also played through Final Fantasy 7-10, and most of 3 (on DS) and 5. So the formula was practically old hat by the time I got around to FF2.

I guess what Iím getting at is that there is absolutely room to call FF2 possibly the best JRPG on the Super Nintendo. I wonít deny that it was a huge evolutionary step forward for the franchise. Or that it had a bigger impact on the genre than the other games I've mentioned. I completely respect the opinions of people who did grow up with it, and do prefer it over those other games. It truly is a wonderful game full of wonderful things. I think Kain and Cecil are some of the seriesí absolute best characters. The world-building is absolutely top notch, and represents a massive leap over the games that came before it. And the fantastic soundtrack featuring the iconic ďTheme of Love,Ē has seen a million different versions and remixes for very good reason. This is a fantastic game, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Itís just not my absolute favorite. Those will be coming up soon enough.

Did I beat it?
Yeah, though I have to admit that my only complete playthrough was with the PSP version.


#18 - Super Bomberman 2

Iíve written many times about the game nights I like to try and regularly host. There's a good reason for that: those nights mean a lot to me. When youíre a father of three small children, work a 40+ hour a week job, have a house to maintain, a wife to lavish attention on, and a million errands you need to run, opportunities to hang out with friends become more and more scarce. Itís the sort of thing you take for granted when youíre young. When I was in my 20s, I was out doing stuff 5-7 nights a week. House parties, downtown bars, restaurants, sports leagues and events, road trips, you name it. Free time was the name of the game.

Nowadays, things are completely different, and you have to make the most of what little time you have. Or at least I do. So when I get people together at my house, I have definite purposes in mind: barbeque, beer, and some type of game. Occasionally board games, or fantasy football drafts or whatever. But, optimally, itís gonna be video games. Those nights are always the clear winners, and draw the most enthusiasm.

We play a lot of different things. Lots of Switch, where we tackle the usual suspects like Mario Kart 8 or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and some lesser-known stuff such as Duck Game or Niddhogg.

Sometimes I do retro nights, and bust out the NES or N64. Sometimes I even do ďbad gamesĒ night, and host crap like Dark Castle or Superman.

But there is one single game that weíve played more than any other. And by ďmore,Ē I mean by a significant margin. Like, super significant. Weíve played this game at least ten times more than anything else. More than most other games combined.

As youíve probably already guessed, that game is Super Bomberman 2.

Itís not a revolutionary title; Hudson Soft played things safely, and didnít deviate too far from the winning formula of the original Super Bomberman. The core gameplay and mechanics are exactly the same, justÖ tightened up. The multiplayer has a few new wrinkles, some devious new levels, and some other minor changes, but itís otherwise the same game you already know and love.

The single player is significantly improved, with a far lengthier and more challenging campaign. But letís be honest: 95% of your time with SB2 isnít gonna be spent in single player.

And thatís okay. Incremental improvement can work. When the original game is as great as SB1 was, I can accept that. Would it have been awesome to get entirely new modes, or crazy new power-ups, or some really outside-the-box thinking? Sure, Iíd have been game. But Iím not gonna call this a missed opportunity. Itís just too fun to play; when thatís the case it makes it impossible to get hung up on such details.

Now, granted, I will admit that Super Bomberman 2 has partially ceded the throne for my game nights. At one point I brought in the Super Famicom sequels, mostly because they support 5-player play. If I have more than 4 people on hand for game night, it goes without saying that my hand is forced and we play one of those instead. But that shouldnít take anything away from this game, or its spot in the US library. It absolutely deserves a top-20 ranking, and is the runaway choice for best party game on the system. Itís not even close. If you have anyone to play Super Nintendo with, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. If you have three or more people, itís the biggest no-brainer in the world. Go get it, right now, and call them up.

Did I beat it?
Yes, but that's not why you play this game.


#17 - Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Do we really need a history lesson with Yoshiís Island? Probably not. I think most people who are reading this site will have at least some passing familiarity with the game. Perhaps a handful will not. For them, I can probably cover the gist of it pretty quickly:

  • It was released as Super Mario World 2: Yoshiís Island. Not because it looks or plays anything like Super Mario World, but because Nintendo needed to try and give it a boost by referencing a well-known and popular title.
  • You play as Yoshi, tasked with protecting baby Mario from harm. And shooting eggs at collectables. Lots and lots of collectables.
  • Baby Mario cries when he is separated from Yoshi. Some people really do not like this.
  • The game has an extremely distinctive art style, reminiscent of a childís crayon drawings. It works extremely well, with the game often considered to one of the most beautiful on the system.

Got all that? Cool, letís move on.

What I want to talk about is the gameís legacy, and its place in the Super Nintendo library in 2022. Two very important things, I think.

Actually, what I really want to talk about first, is collect-a-thons. Know what Iím talking about? Games like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. Games where you wander around large areas, trying to track down a hundred different key items (stars, moons, puzzle pieces, etc.), and thousands upon thousands of smaller, secondary items (coins, notes, bananas, whatever those things in Jak & Daxter are, and so forth). It was a style of gameplay that was all the rage in the second half of the 1990s.

At some point though, this style of game lost favor, and gamers turned on it. Hard. At least, thatís how I saw it. ďCollect-a-thonĒ became a derogatory term. One used to denigrate or marginalize a game. Having to find things was now bad. Progress being locked behind various items counters was cause for frustration and anger. The genre died out.

But I never felt those negative feelings. I didnít share the publicís sentiment. I like hunting things down. I like thoroughly clearing an area, combing it for every little secret it holds. Super Mario Odyssey, a revival of the style, in a sense (alongside stuff like Yooka-Laylee and A Hat in Time), is one of my absolute favorite games of the last decade. A huge breath of fresh air, and I hope Nintendo continues to release games in that style.

And, as far as Iím concerned, it all started with Yoshiís Island. Thatís the game that more or less invented that style of gameplay. Or, at least, itís the game that brought it to the masses. And Iím thankful for that. Truly I am. Iíve played through Yoshiís Island on three separate occasions, and I always have a blast with it. I love the unique gameplay. It doesnít play anything like any of the previous Mario games. I love the epic boss fights that truly showcase the wonderful sprite and art design. And I actually love hunting down the millions of doodads that are fiendishly hidden in every level. That may not be a popular opinion anymore, but I stand by it.

So, if you have fond memories of playing stuff like Banjo-Kazooie, and you somehow never managed to experience Yoshiís Island, I strongly recommend that you immediately rectify that, as soon as possible. Youíll get a big sizable quest, phenomenal visuals, dozens of great setpieces, and a hell of a lot of replay value. I call that a pretty good deal.

Did I beat it?
Many times, including one completionist run.


#16 - The Legend of the Mystical Ninja

I remember the first time I came across this game. It was at my favorite local haunt, Showcase Video, sometime early in 1992, shortly after the SNES had been released. I did not own the console yet, but for whatever reason on that day my dad had offered to rent me one. To this day, I still have no idea what compelled him to do that. We had no money, and he hated video games, yet he spent the 20-odd bucks to get me the system for a single night, with a pair of games. A fatherís love, no doubt. In any case, I didnít question it, and I didnít look my gift horse in the mouth, instead I made the most of it. I spent the entire trip to the video store studying the entire selection of Super Nintendo games, working hard to ensure I made the absolute best possible choices with my picks.

Game number one? Tom & Jerry... *cough*... I donít have a great explanation for that one. I mean, other than that it was 1992 and I was a little kid. I didnít know any better.

But game number two? The Legend of the Frickiní Mystical Ninja. Can you blame me? Look at that incredible box art, just crawling with crazy characters and fun little details. Did anyone back in the day do cover art better than Konami? Not in my book. I absolutely love the stuff they put out. And then look at the screenshots I posted above. In fact, Iíll do us one better and also include the actual images that are shown on the back of the box, the very ones I would have been looking at back on that day so long ago:



I didn't know what I was looking at, I just knew I loved it. Bright colorful graphics, bizarre-looking enemies, a frickiní yoyoÖ I was immediately sold.

That night I did my best to play both games as much as I could, but I was under strict time limits, so I wasnít able to get very far. With Mystical Ninja, Iím pretty sure I never made it past the first boss fight. Which was about par for the course - again, I just was a little kid, and doing well at video games wasnít really a thing that happened yet.

Fast forward a year or two, and I or someone else I knew rented Mystical Ninja again. Iím assuming it was me, but cannot recall for sure. Whatever the case was, at that point I knew the game was a winner, and I knew I needed to play it again. And with a little more time and (video game) experience under my belt, I was able to make it quite a bit further. In fact, I made it all the way to the boss gauntlet at the end of level four. Unfortunately, still being under those strict time limits, I didnít get a ton of chances to overcome those bosses, and came up short. Still no completion. I had no choice but to bide my time once again.

Fast forward several decades this time, all the way to my adult life where I got my first real job and finally had some disposable income to speak of. One of the first orders of business was to finally get my own personal copy of this game. And, loving the game like I do, I immediately sat down and played through it once I had it in hand. All of it. I didnít stop until it was completed.

Even more amazing, a short time later I played through it with my wife. Kinda. Her participation dipped in and out. But itís still pretty amazing that I got her to engage with it in the first place.

And those playthroughs only reinforced my love for the game. And the series. See, I had actually purchased Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for the Nintendo 64 back during that systemís heyday, and played through it a number of times, loving every second of it. Iím a big fan of Goemon and companyís goofball humor. I also love all of the absurd little touches. I love the seriesí action RPG(ish) gameplay. And with this first SNES game, I love the cooperative play, I love the tough (but fair) boss fights, I love the detailed sprites and overall art design, and I loveÖ well, everything about it.

Make no mistake, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is one of Konamiís finest moments on the Super Nintendo, itís one of the systemís best early titles, and itís one of the absolute best multiplayer experiences youíre likely to ever have. A bold statement, I know. But I cannot rave about it enough, and if you get me going I'll never shut up about it. So letís just end it here with this: grab this game, grab a friend, and plan a game night together. ASAP.

Did I beat it?
Yep, and this is one of the very few games that I've played through with my wife.


#15 - Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen

In case it hasnít become super obvious by now, I adore deep, hardcore games. Stuff like Might and Magic III and Uncharted Waters. The sorta games that the vast majority of Super Nintendo players arenít going to wanna touch with a 10-foot pole. Hell, with a 50-foot pole. These are very niche games, for very niche (and disturbed) people. You probably already know if that applies to you.

If you do happen to be a member of our ďspecialĒ little club, I have good news for you. We're going to talk about one of the absolute best of the niche games on the system. One of the ďcultĒ games I recommend above all others. Iím talking about the one and only Ogre Battle.

I don't know how to explain this game. I also donít know of any other games that are comparable to it. As far as I can tell, itís not like anything else out there. Or at least, itís not like anything Iíve ever played. And Iíve played a lot of games. Iíve played a lot of strategy games. Iíve played a lot of tactical strategy games. Iíve played them on console, and on PCs. I played them in the 90s, and Iíve played them in the last couple weeks. My favorite game of all time is Bungieís tactical masterpiece, Myth: The Fallen Lords. I like to think I know the genre at least somewhat well.

But Iíve never played anything like this.

If you are at all familiar with the spin-off series of Tactics Ogre gamesÖ well, forget it, because that means absolutely nothing here. Other than their shared high-fantasy world, some overlapping character classes, and the same general art style, the two series have no real similarities.

See, while Tactics Ogre is a turn-based tactical affair with gameplay that is extremely similar to its spiritual successor, Final Fantasy Tactics, the original Ogre Battle is more of a real-time strategy game. One that features dozens of armies marching across massive maps, with a unique type of automated turn-based combat. And yes, I said real-time and turn-based. Donít worry about trying to understand that just yet. And even though both series offer completely different flavors of strategy/tactical action, they both showcase exceedingly deep gameplay that can swallow dozens of hours of your life.

Actually, perhaps some visual aids would assist with this explanation. They certainly canít hurt.

When you begin Ogre Battle, you have control of your main character hero type, and the small army he commands. They are free to move across the world map, selecting maps and scenarios, or ďscenesĒ as this game calls them:



These units can also be managed via various menus (and sub menus) that let you edit their layout, change their formation, and even upgrade your charactersí classes:



Once a ďsceneĒ begins, the game switches over to a new map, where you will need to direct your armies and engage in battle:



The general goal in each of these stages is to conquer the enemyís stronghold while defending your own. Usually this means splitting your forces between units that stay back on defense, units that work to expand your territory, conquering nearby towns and forts, and faster units that will intercept any enemy armies that are marching across the map. You may also want to use some of your faster (or flying) armies to further scout the map, hoping to uncover any hidden treasures or secrets.

When an enemy is engaged, the game switches over to the battle mode. Here, the combatants take turns using their abilities, all fully automated, where they will attack, heal, enchant, and enspell, until everyoneís turns are exhausted or someone is destroyed.



And thatís it. Thatís the entire game. Build up your armies, conquer your foes, reap the rewards, rinse and repeat. What you see in the first hour is what you see for the rest of the game.

Granted, there are a million little wrinkles to the formula that I could write about. I could dive further into explaining the millions of different units you can hire or recruit, and the dozens of heroes that will fight either for or against you. I could elaborate on the ďkarmaĒ and ďreputationĒ systems which decide which of the dozens of endings youíll receive. I could lay out the various super units available to you, but only if you discover the secrets to unlocking them. I could speak about the wonderful story, which puts the stake of the world on your shoulders. I could also discuss the tarot cards and how they can be used to shift momentum against the enemy, or permanently buff your soldiers.

But Iím not gonna bother diving too deeply into any of that. Thatís for the player to discover. And itís why I advise that people play this game without any outside help. Trust me on that one: it makes the experience all the richer. Things may feel overwhelming, and in the beginning it will be, but the payoff is worth it.

So there you go. If this sounds like the kind of game you can get into, don't waste any time, go grab a copy and start playing. Youíll love it, and youíll lose yourself for hours.

If it doesnít sound like your sort of game, and you donít like the idea of spending 50 hours fine-tuning the formations of your armies, donít even bother. Donít even begin to consider playing this. Just move on down to the next game on my list. As I said right up front, only the most deranged strategy fanatics such as myself need apply.

Did I beat it?
I have! But just once. This is a very long and demanding game.


#14 - Wild Guns

I love that cover art. I feel like I had to call that out.

Wild Guns is one of the rare games that belongs to the genre Iíve occasionally seen referred to as ďgallery shooter.Ē What does that mean? I donít know. Someone, somewhere, at some point obviously thought it fit though. When I hear those words I picture this ancient PC game I owned as a kid where you had to hit moving targets with a rifle crosshair. Ducks, bottles, stuff like that. Similar to something youíd play at the fairground. I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. We had hundreds of old programs that my grandfather would send us on floppy discs, and many of the names are starting to escape me as the years go by.

Maybe I should google itÖ



Öwell that would make sense.

Anyway, to understand the gameplay of Wild Guns, you have to imagine something of a cross between a light gun shooter, and the bonus stages in the first Contra on NES. If you havenít played that stage (or you donít remember), think of something like Cabal. Also on NES. If you havenít played that, well, Iíll do my best to explain it.

The crux of it is that you kinda have to do two things at once. By that I mean you are controlling your character on the screen, moving them left and right, and executing evasive maneuvers, including jumps, double jumps, and dodge rolls. However, as soon as you start firing your weapon, your movement is locked, and the D-pad changes to control over your targeting reticle, which can be moved anywhere on the screen. Enemies are primarily found in the ďbackgroundĒ, but occasionally charge your character and have to be fought off with a well-timed melee attack. You also have access to an AOE attack to bail you out of tough situations, and a special lasso attack that can be used to stun enemies.

Thatís the gameplay. A mixture of Contra or Metal Slug, and a light gun game. Shoot and move. Move and shoot. It never gets any more complicated than that.

But, like Contra, it doesnít need to be any more complicated. There is no flaw with the gameplay. Thereís nothing that feels like a missing element. When the action is this tight, and the controls are this smooth, and the gameplay is this sublimely exciting, thatís really all you need. Plus, the difficulty is so finely tuned, striking that perfect balance where the game is always challenging, yet every death is also completely your fault. Thatís the dream, right? A tough action game that wants to make you scream when youíre defeated, yet never ever feels cheap or unfair. At least, for me it is.

Oh, and the multiplayer? Just wonderful. One of my favorite cooperative games in the 16-bit generation. The sort of game that I insist on busting out for game night.

But enough gushing, because I think you get the point. This is one of the absolute best action games on the system. Hell, one of my favorite action games for any system. One that everyone will have a fun time with. Granted, I could see mileage varying just a tiny bit. Not everyone will have it in their top 20. I could see people placing this a smidge below other similarly-awesome games such as Sunset Riders or Super Smash TV. But thatís some damn good company to keep.

Also, I heartily recommend the ďremakeĒ that came out a few years ago. Itís basically the same game, with remastered graphics, a higher resolution, and a bunch of new features, including new playable characters. But the core gameplay is exactly the same, and it still shines decades later. Proof positive of the strength of Wild Gunsí design.

Did I beat it?
A million times. Including the remaster.


#13 - Super Punch-Out!!

Iím going to go ahead and get this out in the open right up front. Consider it an admission of sorts.

I have not played through all of Mike Tysonís Punch-Out.

Thatís not to say that I havenít played it quite a bit, or that Iím not familiar with the game. But I havenít ever managed to actually beat it. In fact, Iíve never actually experienced the famed fight with Iron Mike himself, either. Itís one of my gaming secret shames.

So, go ahead and lambast this lofty ranking, and carefully explain why this game is so much worse than its predecessor. Probably because itís not as difficult, or memorable, or whatever you feel the case may be.

And while weíre at it, Iíll mention that Iíve never played the Wii reboot either. What was that one called? Punch-Out? Again? Iím sure itís great, and I know itís considered one of the best games on the system, but I peaced out on Nintendo around that time. The Xbox 360 and PS3 were more my speed. No regrets.

Anyway, the point is, Iím not the worldís foremost expert on the Punch-Out franchise. Far from it. But I do have a long history with this particular game. It was one of the very first cartridges I ever bought with my own money, another one of the cheap games I was able to snag used from my local video rental spot. Which means I owned it back when my collection of video games was rather skimpy, so I had all the time in the world to play and replay it again and again and again. And again. And again and again and again.

Seriously, Iíve probably played through this game at least 100 times. It may just be the one singular game that Iíve completed the most times. It may not even be close. And thatís for a number of reasonsÖ

One, itís awesome. A complete joy to play, with a wonderful roster of grotesque opponents you get to wail on.

Two, the replay value is through the roof. Not only does your profile use a battery save to track your best times against every opponent, it also tracks your best overall ďscoreĒ in each circuit. Besting those times/scores is feverishly addictive. As a kid Iíd stay up late into the night, fighting the same opponent over and over again, trying to cut fractions of seconds off my best times. It got bad enough that I started taking pictures of the screen in order to immortalize them, paranoid that something was going to happen to my save file.

Three, the production value is through the roof. Everything looks and controls and sounds razor sharp. You feel every punch. Revel in every knockdown. And cheer on every victory bell. And the feeling when you perfectly counter an opponent and then slug him in the face with a super move? Oh my god is it gratifying.

But of course, I have a hunch that certain purists may scoff at this game.

ďBut the Ďstarí system is gone!Ē

ďBald Bull and Mr. Sandman are way too easy now!Ē

ďNobody knows or remembers who Nick Bruiser is! Mike Tyson is a video game icon!Ē

Valid points, all of them. I donít care for the original game's star system, but Iím sure others do. And it would be foolish to try and compare the Nick Bruiser fight against the legendary Tyson match.

But thatís okay. The rest of the game does more than enough to carry the weight. I especially love the new expanded moveset, which gives more options for attacking. Not only can you still attack with both your left and right gloves, but you've got a reworked super punch, including a new rapid fire option, which is extremely satisfying to pull off, even if its usage is extremely situational.

The sixteen opponents are also super well designed, and they offer a great variety, requiring different strategies to overcome, and different moves to counter. Theyíre a great bunch. And even better, this time there are no repeats. Every single fight is against a unique opponent.

I also feel that the fights are a lot more ďfairĒ this time around. That probably sounds whiny, and maybe it is. But with MTPO, a lot of the opponents felt rather binary: you either do what the game wants you to do to get the win, or you donít and you lose. That may not be entirely accurate, but thatís the impression Iíve always walked away with. Whereas with Super Punch-Out!, you can fight sloppy and scrap your way to a win, or you can work towards perfection in the ring while chasing new personal bests. Or as I like to say, having your cake and eating it too. And I love that. It feels far more flexible to me.

So, whether you're a fan of the original or brand new to the franchise, I think you owe it to yourself to check this game out. Itís not like most other boxing games (thatís a good thing), often resembling a puzzle game more than a sports title (also a good thing). And you may find it either too easy or too hard, depending on your threshold for memorization and the strength of your reflexes. But either way, I canít imagine anyone not having a great time with Super Punch-Out. Itís such an endearing title, with so much of Nintendoís typical charm, that I was instantly smitten as a child. I think the odds are good that you will be too.

Did I beat it?
Many, many, many, many times.


#12 - Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest

Before I just recently sat down to start a new playthrough of Donkey Kong Country 2, my first in nearly 15 years, I realized that I already decided it was the best entry in the DKC trilogy. It was the clear-cut choice, something I had never once wavered on a single time over the course of this entire project.

This is something most Super Nintendo nerds seem to agree upon.

Now, why is that? What did the sequel bring to the table that the first game - a gaming landmark - didnít? What did it get so right that the third game had trouble replicating? What is the core allure at work here? After all, this is a game many gamers consider to be the single best platformer on the system. Even better than the mighty Super Mario World. Maybe even the greatest platformer, period, of all time.

I donít think thereís a simple answer. Certainly there is no single answer. Instead, DKC2 is the sum of a lot of different parts. Great parts, at that. Itís a game that brings a lot to the table, and does a magnificent job doing it.

Mostly, I want to talk about the atmosphere. The dark, grimy, pirate, swampy, evil-carnival atmosphere. Itís easily the best of the trilogy. While the original game had a tropical island motif, straying a bit from that at times in order to visit some snowy peaks and dank, dark underground areas, and the third game was basically all over the map (maybe with a central theme of ďwoodlandĒ?), the middle entry is the one that holds the most appeal for me. Maybe because I like dark, foreboding things. Maybe because it stands out the most from the other two games. Maybe it just feels more cohesive and coherent. Whatever the case, I dig it. A lot. And the castle at the very top of the world map? With a freakiní airship hovering above that? *chefís kiss*

Second, letís talk about the challenge. This is the hardest game in the trilogy. Not to say itís on the level of something like Super Ghouls n Ghosts or Hagane or anything like that, but itís certainly harder than your average Nintendo first-party game. Certainly harder than most anything Marioís ever been in. Thatís a good thing. And this is absolutely the good kind of difficult. The type that has you pulling your hair out, but always wanting to do better.

Third, letís talk about the levels. The wonderful levels. Again, looking at the whole trilogy, this is the best of the bunch. While the first game offered some nice variations on the basic platforming, including the mine cart and water levels, and the third game offered an insane variety of levels that switched things up constantly, I think DKC2 gets the balance just right. There is a lot of variety (though not as much as DKC3), but thereís no duds in the bunch. No annoying gimmicks like the low-gravity sewer pipe levels in DKC3, or boringly straightforward levels like we'd see in stretches of DKC1. Instead, every one of the level types that we have here works really well.

Fourth, I know people like to bitch about Kiddy Kong, and no one seems to especially love Donkey Kong himself, but I guess I count myself among the legions of fans who like Diddy and Dixie the most. The quick speedsters, instead of the lumbering oafs. They just feel better.

Fifth, the soundtrack. Every DKC soundtrack is phenomenal, but DKC2 has a claim for being the best. Maybe even the best on the system. Iím not sure which one I prefer (itís a pretty close race between the first two games), but even putting it in the conversation is a testament to just how good it is. David Wise is a genius.

So, there you have it. The best trilogy on the system. Maybe the best trilogy from the entire 16-bit era (thatís the closest thing youíll get to Sega trash talking from me in this entire project). Truly one of the best platformers youíll ever have the pleasure of playing. And, not only that, Iím going to boldly claim it to be the Donkey Kong franchiseís proudest moment.

Did I beat it?
A handful of times, including one completionist run, and one run back in the day where I got stuck at like 98%.


#11 - Tetris Attack

My first encounter with Tetris Attack happened all the way back in the summer before the 7th grade. I was invited to a birthday party for a kid in my neighborhood, and though we werenít the closest of friends, we were both big Super Nintendo fans. That shared love of gaming had led to me to be able to play through games like Earthbound and Final Fantasy III, so when it came time to get him a present, I was eager to repay the favor and get him an ďamazingĒ used game from our local game store.

That didnít happen, because their selection that week turned out to be pretty weak, so I ended up grabbing Killer Instinct, even though I wasnít a fan of fighters. Other people were, so I figured it would be a hit with everyone else at least.

The birthday boy barely acknowledged my gift. In fact, Iím not even sure if he thanked me. No, instead all of his attention was lavished on the prize gift from his parents: a shiny, brand new, mint copy of one Tetris Attack. I had never heard of it.

Also, the second most popular gift at that party? The Men in Black soundtrack. Jesus wept.

I didnít play Tetris Attack, but I did watch everyone else play it. And I had to admit I was pretty intrigued. I didnít care about puzzle games, and dropping blocks, or anything like that. I hadnít really bothered with them since playing my copy of Tetris on my dadís old IBM. But I had to admit there was some allure to the big fancy production value that Nintendo had lathered onto the game. And the Yoshiís Island tie-ins didnít hurt.

A couple years later, I finally got around to playing the game, sinking dozens of hours into it with an SNES emulator. Which, in hindsight, is really strange to me. I had the entire SNES library available to me, a bunch of 32-bit consoles and games, fancy new late Ď90s PC games, and yet I was playing a dusty old puzzle game for my ancient Super Nintendo.

I have no idea what prompted that. Maybe something all those years ago had stuck in my brain.

Regardless, I was addicted. The action was so fast-paced, and frantic (in a good way), and the satisfaction of overcoming a challenging level, or devious opponentÖ it was simply unmatched. No doubt the best puzzle game I had ever played. I finished every single-player mode, and somehow convinced my little sister to play hours and hours of competitive multiplayer with me. Both of us hunched around a keyboard. She must have been as addicted as I was.

Later in life, when I visited some friends of mine in Seattle in 2007, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were addicted to Tetris Attack. Their entire household would hold tournaments that went late into the night. We didnít play his PS3. We didnít play his Wii. We didnít play games on Steam. We played Tetris Attack on Super Nintendo. And it wasnít as if I had introduced it to all of these guys, or suggested it to them at any point. Their own love of the same game had developed completely organically, separate from myself.

Finally, in 2011 I met my wife. She is not a gamer, at all. She couldnít tell you what a Playstation is, or what the name of Marioís brother is, or what a Pokeman [sic? - editor] is. But she does on occasion humor me. In rare instances, she gets sucked into a game, and begs me to play it with her. It doesnít happen often, and certainly hasnít happened much at all since we had kids and our free time together evaporated.

But she was absolutely addicted to Tetris Attack. Of all of the games weíve played, and all of the ones that sheís actually enjoyed, this is the one that comes out on top. This is the one we have played the most by far. This is the one that she gets the most competitive about. Itís the only game she asked to play with me on the Nintendo Switch when I showed her the library of old games.

All of those testimonies, they mean something. They speak to this gameís allure. And itís timeless gameplay. Newer puzzle games may have refined or expanded upon this sort of match-three gameplay. And puzzle games are never the sexiest of choices for lists like these. But it is absolutely one of the greatest games to ever grace the console. And itís one that always stands the test of time.

My editors are also debating the accuracy of calling this a ďmatch-threeĒ game. Iím keeping that in there, dammit!

Did I beat it?
Every mode, many times.


#10 - Earthbound

Iím sure I donít have to tell all of you that Earthbound is something of a big deal. But it is. Look across the interwebz, and youíll find millions of references to it. Itís one of the most popular games on the system. One of the most coveted games for collectors and gamers alike. And itís often considered one of the foremost ďcultĒ games across all of gaming history.

It may even be the cult game. As in numero uno. Just think about that. Think about how many tens of thousands of video games that have been released in the last 50 years. So itís no understatement to say thatís a big, big deal.

Itís all for good reason too; this is a very good game. Hell, a great game. A classic game that everyone needs to play through, at least once. And it was a very impactful game for myself as it was literally the first true JRPG I ever played. My friend Adam and I rented it back in grade school, and spent the entire night losing the very first battle. We didnít know that you needed to equip the bat. We didnít even have a concept of ďequippingĒ things. But it didnít matter, because we were enthralled by the rich, mysterious world that lay in front of us. And it didnít hurt that the rental came with the pack-in strategy guide as well, which only further piqued that interest. I read the entire thing, cover to cover.

A year or two later, I was able to borrow the cart from a friend and actually play through the whole thing. I was a bit more wise to the genre by that point, and thus could figure out how to do basic things like defeat the crows in the beginning of the first area. Over the course of several weeks I obsessed over the game, hunting for every secret, seeking out every line of dialogue, and memorizing every square inch of the guide. So much so that I actually played through it twice, back to back. Something I very rarely do with the genre.

Decades later, I dusted off my cartridge for a long overdue revisit. And I have to admit that part of me was a bit anxious about it. I knew Earthbound was a massively popular game with a huge cult of admirers. But I also knew that it had its token detractors who felt it was maybe just a teensy tiny bit overrated. Whatever that means. But, what if I agreed with them? What if the gameplay had aged so poorly that I didnít have the patience to play through all of it again? What if the random combat made it something of a slog to get through? What if the charming dialogue wasnít so funny to a bitter jaded old adult? What if I *gasp* actually got bored playing it?

I acknowledged that they were all very real possibilities, and jumped into it.

The good news is, the game has aged like fine wine. Granted, Iím just about the most accepting, open-minded, easy-to-please guy in the world, so that shouldnít be a great shock. I mean, if I can play through a number of the classic Dragon Quest games in the 2010s, I should have known that Iíd have no problem with Earthbound.

And it truly is a great game. The dialogue is consistently funny. The sound and music are absolutely perfect. Making progress is surprisingly straightforward, even without the guide. I actually have to admit that I was rather afraid that Iíd have a really hard time getting through the game without the guide on hand, since I had leaned on it so heavily with all of those playthroughs back in the day. But that fear was completely without base. I never got stuck for more than a minute or two, and the puzzles, while often hilariously non-sequitur, are never exceedingly obtuse.

When the credits rolled, decades after the first time I witnessed them, I sat back and collected my thoughts. All of those fears that ran through my head before starting? Completely baseless and totally extinguished. My respect for the game? I think it grew, if anything. My overall enjoyment of the entire experience? Through the roof.

So, there you go. Consider me a member of the Earthbound cult. Someone who laughs at the ridiculous humor, revels in the sound of Nessí baseball bat cracking out a critical hit, and feels a slight twinge in his heart when, spoiler alert, Giygas is defeated through the power of friendship. If youíve always been curious about the game, give it a go. If you found it wasnít for you, soften your stance and give it another shot. If you love it and cherish your copy of it, go plug it in for another go-round. Itís always worth it.

Did I beat it?
You know it.


#9 - Contra III: The Alien Wars

I love this game so much. I love this franchise so much. But I really love this installment in particular.

Iím sure Iíve mentioned it at least a handful of times by now, but I am a rather prolific game collector. Iíve got lots of shelves, full of lots of games, for lots of different consoles. Itís something Iíve always enjoyed doing. And see, whenever I add a new console to my collection, the very first game(s) Iím going to seek out for it are going to be whatever Contra titles got released on it. And it doesnít matter if theyíre any good. Contra Legacy of War and The Contra Adventure? Straight to the top of the wishlist. Contra Rogue Corps? I own that damn thing. Itís as annoying as youíve heard.

Iíll tell you why that is, too. Itís because there's something about this franchise that embodies the timeless appeal of retro gaming. It represents an era that many consider to be the greatest in the history of the hobby. Back when Konami ruled the roost, and action platformers ruled the day. I mean, does anyone who owns an NES not own a copy of the original Contra? Does anyone not love that game? No. Because itís a damn cornerstone of the hobby. People will still be talking about it 10 years from now. Hell, 30 years from now.

So to say that Contra III is Contra on steroids, is no mild statement. Thatís a big claim to make, with big shoes to fill.

Luckily for us, it fills those shoes. Obliterates those fíing shoes.

Things start off with a bang, dropping off our heroes Bill Rizer andÖ uh, the other guy... Tyrone?... into a city under siege, with buildings exploding, giant bombers flying overhead and laying waste to everything, and one of the biggest, baddest stage one bosses youíll ever see.

In true Contra fashion, the gameplay then makes an abrupt 180, with stage two switching over to a Mode 7 overhead perspective. No, it is not as good as the traditional levels, but yes, itís still fun, and executed very well. Youíre tasked with hunting down half a dozen targets across an open map, and then youíre dumped into an arena to take on a boss. The boss fight is tough, and pretty frantic on the hardest difficulty, but in a good way.

Stage three is my favorite level in the whole game, escalating the already over-the-top action into the realm of ďridiculous.Ē Ridiculously awesome that is. Featuring no less than five(!) boss fights, you are constantly moving from one perilous situation to another, with barely any room to breathe, capping off with one of my favorite setpieces in the entire Super Nintendo library. See the cover art for a major clue as to what Iím talking about.

Stage four takes place on the back of a hoverbike ripping down the highway, and ends with an insane boss fight against an enemy aircraft that takes place entirely across a series of moving enemy missiles. Intense is one way to put it.

Stage five returns to the overhead perspective. While arguably the weakest stage in the game, itís still executed rather well, and remains fun. The boss is an absolute nightmare on the hardest difficulty, and not for completely satisfactory reasons either. Thatís probably the closest thing to a blemish on this gameís record.

Finally, stage six will look familiar to fans of Contra and Super C, as it remixes the both of them, with a ton of returning faces and sprite designs. It caps off with another intense boss fight against Red Falcon, and, if you are playing on the ďHardĒ difficulty setting, youíre treated to a special extra final, final boss fight at the end. One that will have your palms sweating like crazy. Or at least mine were.

Thatís Contra III. One of the sickest action games youíll ever play, and a top ten title in the Super Nintendo library. It was one of my first loves on the system. Itís also one of the games I return to the most. Iíll never get tired of it. Iíll never retire my cartridge. And the instant my kids are old enough and good enough, theyíre taking the dive with me. Contra III forever.

Did I beat it?
I have, on every difficulty.


#8 - Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

Oh, jeez. Where oh where am I gonna take this write-upÖ I dunno. I guess Iíll just meander for a while, see where it takes us.

Super Mario RPG is the first video game I ever bought. Not the first game I ever owned, but the first one I ever spent my own hard-earned money on. And the magnitude of that fact canít be understated. See, I grew up with divorced parents who didnít have a whole lot of money. One was a forester, one was a nurse. Both lived in homes that were under 1000 square feet. I shared a bedroom with my younger sister until I was 10 or 11, and I only got new video games once or twice a year, for birthdays or Christmas. In fact, I didnít get much in the way of anything outside of those two days. And that was fine, I wasnít entitled, or spoiled. I was grateful to get what I did. My parents did the best they could for their children.

So when I walked into Showcase Video, back in 1996, and saw Super Mario RPG on the wall for $14.95, I practically flipped. That kind of price was unheard of back then. Every game Iíd ever seen for sale had been brand new at Sears or Software Etc. for full retail price. $50 or more. Maybe $40 if it was on clearance. Game prices were crazy compared to what we see nowadays.

I also never had an allowance. We couldnít afford one. I got $1 whenever I mowed our lawn (and raked it up, and scooped it into our garbage bins), and I would always immediately blow it on cheap packs of sports cards. So I donít know how I paid for a $15 game. I donít know if I got a loan from my dad, or if I scrounged up every loose quarter in our house, or what. All I know is I walked home with it, either right then and there, or later that night.

That day completely changed how I prioritized my hobbies. I never bought another pack of cards again. I went from being completely addicted to buying them, to completely done with them forever, overnight. Instead, buying and collecting games became a big part of my life. It started with Super Mario RPG, and it has continued to this day. I love adding a new piece to my collection, and I love the fact that itís not just shelf candy; I can pop it into its system and be enthralled for hours and hours. Itís what makes gaming the greatest hobby in the world.

And I think that passion for the hobby partially comes from getting such a wonderful start. I mean, how many people can brag about having a game like this be their first ever purchase? Not only that, but it was the first RPG I ever owned, and I was lost within its (relatively) massive world for that entire first playthrough. Every character was a joy to meet. Every grotesque foe was a pleasure to trounce. Each new area was crazier than the last. Even the silly, whimsical soundtrack was imprinted on my brain. I would go to bed humming the forest maze tune to myself.

Several months ago, I played through the game again for the first time in over 20 years. Much like my recent experience with Earthbound, a small part of me was afraid to revisit it. Afraid that I might rediscover an experience that had enthralled a young, suggestable child, but would leave a hardened adultÖ wanting. Or worse yet, bored. Afraid that I simply wouldnít have as much fun with it anymore. After all, it was the first RPG I had ever played through, but Iíve played a million others since. Would I be able look past my nostalgia, and *gulp* actually drop it in the rankings?

Well, it did drop. Slightly. Iíll admit it. When that recent playthrough was complete, I did indeed have to move it down...

Dropped all of two whole spots, to be exact. From #6 to #8. For shame, Super Mario RPG!

But seriously, itís a wonderful game. A bright, funnyĖnay, hilarious, game. One with a revolutionary battle system that introduced the completely new idea of making a turn-based battle interactive. With a whacko storyline that still to this day could be called ďexperimentalĒ or bold, in ways few Mario games have dared since. I mean, living dolls with guns for hands? Murderous cakes? Diminutive Power Rangers? Thereís no way those things would fly nowadays.

So, if you like Mario, play this game. If you like JRPGs, play this game. If you like Super Nintendo games, play this game. If you like video games in general, play this game. Decades later, it still represents a very unique experience, with a one-of-a-kind Mario adventure that needs to beÖ well, ďexperienced.Ē By all gamers, new and old.

Did I beat it?
So many times.


#7 - Mega Man X

Iím gonna rustle a few feathers here, and boldly proclaim Mega Man X to be the greatest Mega Man game of all time.

*braces for outrage*

Yeah, you heard me. Not Mega Man 2. Not Mega Man 3. Not Mega Man X4. NotÖ uh, any of the other installments that may or may not have their own legions of adoring fans. Maybe. Are there people out there who love Mega Man 9, 10, or 11 with the same passion as those earlier games? Probably not.

No, itís this bad boy. And thatís a hill Iíll die on. Well, maybe not ďdie.Ē I guess itís a hill I'll gladly ďengage in a good-natured debateĒ on. Assuming the internet has those.

For the dozens of you that may be unaware, Mega Man X is the eXtreme version of regular olí boring Mega Man. Capcom took the dusty 8-bit games of yesteryear, and gave them a massive overdose of Ď90s Super Nintendo Ďtude, complete with a hip new design, an influx of sass and cockiness, a bunch of catchy one-liners, and-

Ok, not really. This is not the Bubsy of Mega Man games. But it is a new start of sorts. The Robot Masters from the original series have been thrown out the window, replaced by the new Mavericks. What is a Maverick? Er, they areÖ Robot Masters, basically. With an animal themeÖ *cough* But it does pave the way for some larger sprite designs that give them a little more variety and verisimilitude. No more fighting 8 variations of yourself. Instead you get mammoths and eagles and whatever a kuwanger is! But seriously, it's a great bunch, with a lot of awesome designs.

Xís moveset has also gotten a massive boost. Not only can he now climb walls, which opens up a whole new plethora of counter-boss tactics and strategies, in addition to tons of hidden secrets that can be found scattered throughout the levels, but the dash (first introduced in Mega Man 3) can now be used to add momentum to your jumps. Those two abilities make X feel infinitely more maneuverable and dexterous than the Mega Mans of years past.

Speaking of those secrets, there are a lot of them, and there is a heavy emphasis on finding them. Each level now holds a hidden health upgrade that permanently increases the size of your life tank. There are also four emergency health tanks that can be found in a few of them. Best of all though, are the four capsules that contain armor upgrades, complete with spiffy new sprites added onto Xís body once you find them.

Now, Iím gonna be completely honest and say that as a kid I completely geeked out over the X seriesí fancy-pants ďpowered-upĒ sprites. A couple of them may not actually change the game a whole lot (especially in this first installment of the franchise), but I love them nonetheless.

I also have to mention the amazing soundtrack. I donít think itís fair to say that the X series introduced a ďmetalĒ sound to Mega Man, because I think thereís a lot of elements of metal in the original games. But the X series absolutely takes it to 11. Thereís a reason this is often considered one of the very best OSTs in the entire library, and some of the tracks will be stuck in your head for days afterwards. Hell, I once went to a concert for a world-renowned progressive metal group, and the opening act actually performed a cover of the Storm Eagle theme.

Thereís lots of other notable changes too. The introduction of Zero, Willy is replaced by Sigma, yadda yadda yadda. You get the picture. The point is, this is classic Mega Man gameplay - an already great thing - with tons of awesome additions that are all executed exceedingly well. The difficulty is right on the money. The sub-weapons are fun. The level designs have never been tighter. Itís just a complete package. And so Iím naming Mega Man X the pinnacle of action platformers on the Super Nintendo. Possibly the genreís overall pinnacle in all of gaming history. Itís that fun.

So it goes without saying that every single SNES enthusiast out there has to have a copy of this cart in their collection. No excuses, and I wonít hear otherwise. If you donít have it, go order it right now. And then start up a game, even if youíve played through it a million times already. Youíll still have a ball.

Did I beat it?
Fifty hundred million times.


#6 - Super Mario All-Stars

Oh man, did I struggle with the placement of this one, let me tell you. Itís one thing to rank a million SNES games. Itís another to rank these damn NES compilations - trying to quantify the quality of three or four games, when 99% of the scope of this project has been for singles!

Anyway, before I make an argument for why this compilation deserves such a lofty ranking, let me briefly pretend that weíre not already all familiar with the included titles. So humor me for a second here:

Super Mario Bros. - The single most influential game of my lifetime, and for me as a person. Unless you were alive back in the Ď80s and early Ď90s, you might have a hard time understanding just how big of a deal this game was. It was a total ďgameĒ changer. There was SMB, and there was everything else. But you probably know all of that. I also got to quickly speak about just how badly I wanted to play this game back then. Whenever my family visited another home, and I spotted a Nintendo Entertainment System, the thought of playing SMB consumed me. Not playing around in the backyard, not playing with Ninja Turtle toys with my fellow kids. No, the only thing that mattered was Mario. Probably because it never happened. I never got to play it - rarely even got to see it in action. In a way, it was the ultimate forbidden fruit of my childhood. Rarely seen, never touched. That deprivation and longing played a big part in fostering a passion for the hobby that endures to this day.

Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels - Also known as the ďrealĒ Super Mario Bros. 2. This is a harder version of the original game, with remixed levels, poisonous mushrooms, tricky platforming, and backwards warps. Itís okay; Iíve played through it half a dozen times thanks to the All-Stars cartís built-in save functionality which acts as a handy crutch. Otherwise I doubt I would have stuck with it. You canít improve upon perfection, so I regard this as more of a fun curiosity piece than anything else.

Super Mario Bros. 2 - The black sheep of the original trilogy. Probably because itís not even a real Mario game. But Iím sure youíre all familiar with the story of ďDoki Doki PanicĒ. And if youíre not, google it. Anyway, palette-swapped imitation or not, the fact that it could be passed off as a Mario title does speak to its inherent quality. And the four different playable characters do give it a ton of replay value. Itís just up against some stiff competition. So, easily the weakest of the original trilogy, but still a damn good game.

Super Mario Bros. 3 - The darling of the bunch, often considered the greatest NES game of all time (if not the greatest game of all time). And it is great. Beyond great, even. Itís amazing that Miyamoto and company were able to squeeze so many ideas, so many levels, and so much GAME into a piddly little NES cart. A testament to Nintendoís development prowess back in the day. Itís also aged wonderfully, playing just as good today as it ever has. And that will never change. Is it a better game than Super Mario World? Thereís certainly an argument to be made either way. The fact that such a comparison even canbe made speaks volumes about this game.

So what do you get when you combine three great titles(and one good one) into a package deal? You get a damn fine Super Nintendo game. One that may just be the greatest value in the history of video games, especially for those of us who got it for free as part of a Nintendo promotion.

When I sat back and thought about the number of hours I sank into this cart, and the number of times I played through the entirety of each of the four games, I realized I had no choice but to put this in the top ten. And to be perfectly honest, I initially had some mixed feelings about that. This is supposed to be a list of the best SNES games. What are these damn NES games doing all up in here? Besides introducing a bit of chaos to my project! Forcing me to try and figure out how to compare four platformers against other singular games! Forcing me to ask myself some tough questions about my rankings methods!

But after years of internal debate, and lots of flip-flopping on placement, Iíve landed here. And I feel good about it. This is absolutely one of the best experiences on the system. Delivering some of the most influential games in history, all of which still play great. It deserves this high ranking. And it deserves to be in every gamerís collection. Of course, I do personally cherish my experiences with Super Mario World a bit more, and for that reason that game is going to appear a smidge higher on this list. Not everyone will feel the same way. But thatís okay, because theyíre all wonderful games.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I have played through all four games many, many times.


#5 - Super Mario World

Iíve played a lot of different Mario games in my life. A lot. Certainly, all of the more notable titles.

Iím talking about the mainline platformers, the sandbox 3D games, the various RPG-types, the Mario Karts, the Luigiís Mansions, the Wario Lands, the Rabbids crossover, you name it. Super Mario Odyssey? Sunk 70 hours into it. Super Mario Sunshine? Played through it twice. The Mario & Luigi games? 4 out of the 5 have fallen to me, and I mean to get through Partners in Time before I die, dammit! I even played the hell out of the old Mario Bros. arcade game on the Atari 2600, and then played the NES version until I could roll the score. And I donít even particularly care for that stupid game!

Granted, that still leaves a million other ďlesserĒ Marios that I have never touched. Stuff like Mario Hoops Basketball (or whatever) for DS, Hotel Mario on CDi, and, uh, Mario Teaches Typing, which I'm fairly sure is a thing. But when weíre talking about any of the big bad critically acclaimed or system selling franchise installments, Iíve probably played through it. So I like to think my experience with the famous Italian plumber puts me at least somewhere on the right side of the gaming knowledge bell curve.

So when I look at the entire history of the franchise, going back to the very beginning, I see four games that were not only greatly influential to the industry in general, but had a massive impact on myself as well. Games that directly inspired me to pursue this hobby as seriously as I do. And thatís not counting Super Mario RPG, which I just discussed, as I consider that experience a bit unique to myself.

The original Super Mario Bros. is one of those four games. In fact, it is the single game that is most responsible for me being an enthusiast of this hobby. Just as it is for millions of other gamers. See my thoughts in the write-up immediately up above this.

Super Mario Bros. 3. is another one. Considered by many to be the greatest video game of all time.

Super Mario 64 is an obvious one. Again, it was a title that completely shook up the industry, dazzling millions of gamers back in the mid-90s, when our brains had trouble comprehending the sheer majesty of its massive 3D worlds. Perhaps you had to be there to understand just how wonderful it was. But if you were, you know exactly what Iím talking about.

As you can no doubt guess, the fourth and final title is the one and only Super Mario World. The original Super Nintendo killer app. The game that was bundled with my SNES console, thus making it the first video game I ever owned (an honor it shares with two other games). In many ways I feel that Super Mario World is often used as the measuring stick for the system, for better or worse. It certainly is the face of the console, and in many ways, the heart of the console. Many will even say itís the single best game on the console.

While I wouldnít go quite that far, I truly do love the game. I love how ďbigĒ it feels, with the interconnected world. I love the introduction of Yoshi, a character popular enough to warrant decades worth of spin-off titles. I love the branching paths and hidden level exits, letting you choose your own way through the game. I love the secret levels. I love the secret worlds. I love the secret worlds within the other secret worlds. Itís amazing that Nintendo managed to fit this much ďgameĒ into a launch title.

And yeah, some people may disagree with holding SMW up in the same light as those other three games.. Especially if you see it as less a ďrevolution" and more an ďevolutionĒ of many of the elements that were first introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3. Which is fair. There are a lot of SMB3 concepts at play here. Thatís a good thing. Add those to the brand new concepts introduced by SMW, and you have an experience that is positively bursting with fun ideas.

SMW seems to be compared to the original Sonic the Hedgehog quite a bit as well. Almost as a bit of a proxy for the entire Sega vs Nintendo console war that we all remember so well. Thatís fair. And again, I see that as a good thing. Both of those comparisons are an honor. People love Super Mario Bros. 3. People love Sonic the Hedgehog. Itís high praise to even be a part of those kinds of conversations.

Now, I was kinda rambling a bit with this write-up (another product of coming up with the entire thing completely on the fly), so Iíll try to focus here, and bring us in with something resembling a coherent landing:

The Super Nintendo is often considered to be the greatest video game console of all time. Whether thatís true or not is probably impossible to settle: I doubt anyone has actually played enough games to accurately render such a verdict. And even if they had, it would still be incredibly subjective. Still, most gamers will probably agree itís in the top five somewhere. And supposing that Super Mario World is the highest profile game on the system, outside of maybe one other titleÖ well, just think about that. The most prominent game on what just might be historyís most beloved consoleÖ

It really says a lot, doesnít it? It sums up why SMW deserves such a lofty ranking, simple as that. Because a game doesnít receive that type of distinction for no good reason. It is earned by being great. And by everyone agreeing itís great. I donít even need to say anything else.

But I do want to talk about one last thing, real fast. I want to share one thing that I absolutely love about Super Mario World, even if it is a bit personal and esoteric.

When I was a little kid, I once made an art project by taping together a bunch of sheets of paper, so that they made a nice 3x3 grid. I wasnít especially artistic (I occasionally drew superheroes with my friends, but that was mostly just to fit in) and wasnít really prone to spending my free time making art. But for whatever reason that day, I felt inspired to create a very specific piece.

I drew, in detail, the entire Super Mario World overworld. And I mean in detail. I kept the game powered on so that I could capture every single pixel, and get the scale exactly right. With painstaking perfection. It took me an entire afternoon. And when I finished, I hung the entire thing on my wall, where it hung proudly for many years.

And that is true love for a video game.

Did I beat it?
I'm sure it was the very first SNES game I ever beat.


#4 - Super Metroid

This is gonna be another long one, I can already tell. So go grab a beer.

I remember my first exposure to the Metroid franchise, long long ago. It was with this television commercial for Metroid II on Game Boy, which ran nonstop on Nickelodeon. I didn't know what the hell I was seeing, but the grid of yellow blocks kinda reminded me of Pac-Man. I also didnít know who or what a ďMetroidĒ was, but assumed it was referring to the main robot guy who was running around blowing shit up. And I didnít own a Game Boy (or anything else), but I sure as hell wanted to play it thanks to that killer-looking boss at the end of the trailer. I was intrigued.

When Super Metroid came out a few years later, I remember looking at the box in the video store, but actually renting it never seemed to cross my mind, for whatever reason. Which is really funny, because it looked like it should have been right up my alley. And I knew what it was. I knew it was the sequel to that Game Boy game from a couple years prior. But for whatever reason it didnít happen. I rented stuff like Wicked 18 and Utopia instead. A few years later I even passed up an opportunity to buy a copy of the game, opting to get Wolfenstein 3D instead. Donít crucify me; I didn't know any better. I mean, I did, I knew the gaming magazines had gushed over it, I knew everyone loved it, but just couldnít seem to pull the trigger on it. I donít have an answer for that.

Finally, sometime around 1997, I relented and got around to playing it. Or, to put it more accurately, I went to another (smaller) video store down the street from my motherís house to rent a game, and found they had a terrible selection that day, with Super Metroid being the only decent-looking game in stock. So I took it home.

Of course I loved it. That shouldnít be a surprise. I hadnít really played anything else like it at that point, as Metroidvanias hadnít really proliferated then like they have nowadays.

I actually got addicted to it badly enough that I stayed up late that night, waited for my mother to go to sleep, and then crept out to the living room so I could try and beat it. I didnít end up going to bed until 3 or 4 AM. And I didnít beat it. No matter how far I got, no matter how much of the map I uncovered, no matter how many bosses I conquered, upgrades I unearthed, and missiles I found, it just kept going.

Well, as luck would have it, I ended up buying that very cart a short time later. Universal Video ended up clearing out old stock, making room for fancy new Nintendo 64 cartridges, and they didnít need moldy old Super Nintendo games anymore. So I scrounged up every quarter in the house and bought out every game they had for sale. Literally, I had a massive stack of quarters. I no longer remember why, or where I got them, just that I had no paper money, and that some part of me was embarrassed to be paying that way. But not embarrassed enough to not use it to buy those games.

As soon as I got home I threw most of the carts into a drawer, and immediately booted up Super Metroid. To my relief, it still had my save file, and I picked up right where I left off. Over the course of that week, I not only beat the game, but I didnít stop playing until I had the full 100%. Without any outside help. I was completely sucked in.

Since then Iíve been much better about keeping up with the franchise. Metroid Fusion was the very first game I bought for my Game Boy Advance. I didnít buy a Gamecube until they started bundling it with Metroid Prime. I pre-ordered Metroid Zero Mission. Iím the only person I know who hammered out a completion of Metroid Pinball. Basically, when a new Metroid comes out, I take notice. And not only that, but I try my damnedest to play through as many of the games that were inspired by the series as possible.

And I really, really love a lot of those games. Hollow Knight is one of my favorite games from the last decade. I have huge, huge, HUGE expectations for Silksong. Once upon a time, Shadow Complex was my pick for the number one killer app on the XBOX 360. And when it got released for the PlayStation 4, I bought a copy, despite not owning a PS4. And Castlevania Symphony of the Night? Just one of my ten favorite games of all time. No big deal.

But despite how much I love many of those games, and despite how many of them I continue to play through, I still donít know if any of them have ever had the impact on me that Super Metroid did. Hell, I don't know if any of them are as good as Super Metroid is, to this day. And Iím not saying that as some tired old grouch who hates new things, or is convinced that games suck nowadays. Because I am absolutely not one of those people, at all. I love the modern gaming scene. I play new games all the time. Just earlier this year I had a blast playing through Metroid Dread, and I eagerly await news on the upcoming Metroid Prime 4.

Öyet I also replayed through Super Metroid again this year, and arguably had just as much fun playing it for the 10th time, as I did playing Dread for the first time. And that is just amazing to me. Outside of nostalgia and old-man bias, such a thing shouldnít be possible. Yet itís the truth.

And I think the main reason for that is because Super Metroid is justÖ well, perfect. I know that term gets thrown around a lot in the online gaming sphere, and people like to use and abuse it, but in this case I think it fits. The Super Nintendo has a handful of games in its library that truly are perfect, which is why they are still revered to this day. Itís why you consistently see them high up on the lists of the greatest games of all time.

Super Metroid is one of those games.

Did I beat it?
100%.


#3 - Final Fantasy III

Note: I will be referring to this game as Final Fantasy III and not as Final Fantasy VI.

If you remember way back in my Breath of Fire write-up (or maybe it was the Lufia entry - who can even tell those two games apart?), I mentioned that one of the major things that sets a great game apart from a good one, is when it includes special moments that stick with you. Moments where you are fully immersed in the gameís world, fully beholden to its story, fully entranced by its characters. Moments where you are so completely absorbed in the experience, that youíre almost under the gameís spell. You know it when it happens, because you find yourself playing for hours at a time, forcing yourself to turn the system off so you can go to bed. You find yourself thinking about it when youíre away, desperately eager to return the first chance you get.

Final Fantasy III had me under its spell literally within the first couple minutes. Just an absolute clinic in how to set the mood. The atmosphere is so amazingly well crafted, that I still get chills as the credits start to appear, decades later.

And it never lets up. That dark, oppressive, bleak atmosphere bleeds through the entire game, in the very best possible way. I donít know if this is the darkest mainline Final Fantasy game that Squareís ever made, but itís certainly in the running. And itís almost certainly the darkest game in the entire Super Nintendo US library. Ogre Battle may come close. Chrono Trigger has its moments. But only FFIII sees one of the main characterís entire family murdered by the antagonist. Only FFIII has one of your main characters try to kill themselves. Only FFIII has the villain actually succeed in their plan to destroy the world. Itís some heavy shit.

And I canít get enough of it. I donít know what it is about me that likes ďdarkĒ stories, but it goes for all media, not just games. Look at any medium, and they completely dominate my personal ďbest ofĒ lists.

When I think about my favorite books of all time, itís a lot of exceedingly bleak and depressing stories. Animal Farm, Pet Sematary, Blood MeridianÖ real feel-good stuff.

With movies, I canít get enough of Fargo, Boogie Nights, and Children of Men.

Ditto for The Wire and Breaking Bad.

And Iíve already mentioned my favorite video game of all time, Myth: The Fallen Lords. Where the entire world has been wiped out by evil, and most everyone left is dead by the end.

Sensing a theme? Because itís all the kind of stuff where nothing works out for anyone, except maybe the bad guys. I donít know what that says about me, I donít know where it comes from. I just know theyíre the kind of stories that resonate with me. And Final Fantasy III resonates with me. A lot.

But even if youíre not the sort who goes for crushingly oppressive misfortune in your stories, youíre in luck. Because, atmosphere and story aside, FFIII has some of the sharpest and most brilliant gameplay youíll ever experience in a JRPG.

Thereís the absolutely wonderful ensemble cast, to start. Each of them bursting with personality and charm. And better yet, unlike most games where your heroes fall into rather pedestrian and stereotypical roles - healer, fighter, mage, and so forth - every single one of them fulfills a much more unique role. So Cyan the knight plays very differently from Sabin the martial artist, or Setzer the gambler.

I also have to mention the magicite and Esper systems, which could be called precursors to some of the ideas that were further explored in Final Fantasy VII. Some people may argue with me on that one, but I feel itís accurate enough. Anyway, I absolutely love them, and feel the concepts presented here were way ahead of their time.

And then thereís the ďmoments.Ē The moments in the game that stick with you. Like the intro that I already talked about. Or the famous opera scene. Or Celes and Cidís poignant time together. Or the showdown on the floating continent. OrÖ well, you get the idea. But FFIII has ďmomentsĒ for days.

Oh, and did I mention that Iíve only imported one album from Japan over the course of my entire life? Or how itís the only game soundtrack that is proudly presented in a place of honor on my gaming shelves? See, I have a nasty habit of getting rid of any game OSTs that happen to land in my hands, mostly because I know theyíll never get the attention from me that they deserve. So I inevitably gift them to someone I know. But there is one mighty exception to this rule. One compact disc that I not only regularly revisit, but an album that I actually take on the occasional road trip, because my wife likes to listen to it as much as I do.

Now, have I fawned over the game enough? Or do I still need to sell it to any doubters? Because all you need to know is that this is a powerhouse game, from a powerhouse franchise, on a powerhouse console. Anyone who is remotely interested in the genre needs to play it, if they havenít already. Everyone else should still try it out, so they can at least have an idea of what the big deal is. You may not have the patience anymore for a big 30+ hour sprawling adventure with lots and lots of random battles and dialogue and exposition and all that jazz. And itís hard for us busy adults to dedicate our precious free time to such things. But I assure you, itís worth it. Trust me on that one. Take the plunge.

Lastly, there are some other factors, and things that were going on in my life long ago, that also contributed to Final Fantasy III being such an important game in my life, and having so much personal meaning to me. Iíll cover those things in the write-up for the #2 spot in this list, very soon.

Did I beat it?
I beat it on the SNES, I beat it on the PS1, I beat it on the GBA, and I'll beat it on any future consoles where it shows up.


#2 - Chrono Trigger

Once upon a time, back in middle school, I had a pretty tough day. I donít feel like I have a ton of those; I guess you could say Iím rather ďblessedĒ in that regard. But this was absolutely one of them. In fact, it was probably one of the hardest days of my life.

On this particular day, my group of friends, who Iíd been tight-knit with since the first grade, decided that I was going to be "kicked outĒ out of the gang. Just like that. We were gonna go our separate ways, ďso longĒ, ďgood luck with your future endeavorsĒ, the whole jazz.

The cause of this sudden rift? My family didnít have enough money to buy me trendy Abercrombie & Fitch outfits, and so my buddies felt I was gonna hold them back in the pursuit of the ladies. Even though I was one of the first of them to get a girlfriend! Well, the middle school version of a girlfriend anyway. But that was the literal reason. Cast aside because of a business decision. Kids can be cruel.

Anyway, in the immediate aftermath I was livid. I even recall saying some pretty horrible things to one of them in the schoolyard the next day. But it didnít take long for that anger to turn to sadness. I mean, assholes or not, those were the guys I had hung out with every day after school for years and years. These are the guys I played pee wee football, basketball, and baseball with. Theyíre the guys I biked and traded cards with. Theyíre the guys Iíd spend all night watching horror movies and playing video games with.

The rest of that year was pretty rough. After being cast aside like that, I was basically starting over, socially. And I suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands. Part of my solution was losing myself in video games. After all, theyíre the perfect form of escapist entertainment, right? You donít have to worry about spending Saturday night at home, by yourself, if youíre saving Hyrule or exploring Zebes.

Saying that out loud, it sounds pretty pathetic.

But pathetic or not, I needed that in that period of my life. Badly. And there were a couple games that were there for me when I needed them.

Oh god, that sounded super pathetic too.

Anyway, one of them was Final Fantasy III. The other one was Chrono Trigger. A game that landed in my lap almost by accident.

See, with all of this free time, I had started exchanging games with one of the kids who lived down the street from me. Iíd loan him my copy of Donkey Kong Country 3, and heíd give me Earthbound. Iíd give him Super Mario RPG, and heíd let me borrow Super Ghouls n Ghosts. Eventually, for whatever reason, he loaned me someone elseís copy of Final Fantasy III. When that other person discovered that I was in possession of his property, he was rather eager to get it back. Rightfully so. But instead, that discussion led to another exchange: me loaning him my Secret of Mana, and him loaning me his Chrono Trigger.

Of course that kid turned out to be a bit of a psychopath, who also tried to keep my copy of Mana, but thatís a whole Ďnother story. Also, he was really bad at math, since I still had his copy of Final Fantasy III in addition to Chrono Trigger, to use as collateral.

Now, I have to admit that I was actually barely even aware of Chrono Triggerís existence at that point in time. Like, I had a passing familiarity with the title of the game, and I knew I had seen it praised in some form or another somewhere (probably in a magazine). But I had never actually laid eyes on the game. Had never seen the cover art before, which, frankly, immediately captured my attention with its awesomeness. And I didnít really know anything about it, other than that it was an RPG. So I took it home, and took it for a spin.

My God was I blown away.

Very early on in the game, the characters Crono and Marle encounter a malfunctioning invention that kicks them back to the past. And when they step out onto the pastís world map, Wind Scene starts up.

You know that feeling when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? When youíre witnessing something so wonderful that your whole body is taking notice? I have never experienced that with a video game, like I did at that moment. In that instant, the game had me. I was completely in its thrall from that point forward. Iím still in its thrall.

From there it only got better. A medieval age where an amphibian knight regains his honor and avenges his lost friend. A prehistoric age where two species fight to inherit the Earth. A future age where the shattered remnants of humanity huddle in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. And an age where technologically-advanced creatures unintentionally set in motion the events that will lead a world-destroying alien monstrosity to ravage the planet.

By the time I reached the end, I didnít hesitate for a second before starting a New Game+, which, by the way, was the first time I ever encountered that feature in a video game. Iím sure it wasnít the first game to offer it, but itís certainly one of the notable early examples.

And the best part of the new game plus? The dozens of alternate endings you can try to earn. Another early example of an idea that was way ahead of its time.

Thereís lots of other gameplay-related stuff I can talk about. Like the amazing art design from Akira Toriyama. Or the fun battle system that mixes the ATB stuff thatís ripped directly from Final Fantasy while also adding a new ďtechĒ system that is dependent on which characters are currently in your party. Or even the trio of goofs that reference 1980s heavy metal. But itís best to just let people discover those things for themselves. Thereís so much game to discover here, and I want to avoid spoiling as much of it as possible. People should go into this experience blind, just like I did all those years ago.

Iíve been blathering for awhile now, so letís just wrap this up, and talk about one last thing, and thatís how this was originally called a project by the Square and Enix ďdream team.Ē A collaboration between the creator of Final Fantasy, the creator of Dragon Quest, and Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball. Thatís an awfully lofty title, and Iím sure it carried some lofty expectations. Really, the ďDREAM TEAM.Ē Obviously it makes you think of the Olympic basketball ďDream Team.Ē Which, in a roundabout way, means they were calling Chrono Trigger the Michael Jordan of video games.

But when you look at the legacy of this game, decades later, where it is commonly referred to as not only one of the greatest Super Nintendo games, but also as one of the overall greatest video games of all time, I think itís safe to say that they met those impossible expectations. No, they shattered them, really. Thereís no other way to put it. Because this is a video game that is so beloved, by me and everyone else, that it will live forever. People will be coveting the cartridge for decades. Theyíll be begging for ports of it on the next fifteen iterations of the Playstation. It will never die. Because itís the greatest RPG of all time.

Oh, and since that was a bit of a downer of a story earlier, I just want to end this thing on a positive note, and mention that I did eventually end up on good terms with all of those guys by the time we were in high school. Played varsity football with them, hung out quite a bit in college, and even went to a few of their weddings. Time heals all wounds and all that. Plus I could tell that they had always felt horrible about how everything went down. So, as far as Iím concerned, it all worked out for the best anyway.

Did I beat it?
You bet.


#1 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Holy shit, I did it. I finally made it to the end of this eternal project. One that started many, many years ago. And if I have to be honest, at times it felt like this would never happen. Every time I took a step back, and looked at what I still had in front of me, it always felt overwhelming. The endless stacks of games I had to play, or replay, again and again. The tough titles I felt I needed to beat before I could feel confident in writing them up. The Koei games I had to spend all night trying to understand. The dungeon crawlers that nearly drove me crazy.

And then the challenge of trying to figure out just what to say. Hundreds and hundreds of times. I cannot tell if it comes across in my writing - it probably does - but with the vast majority of the entries there was absolutely zero planning up front. Zero idea as to what I was gonna talk about. I would simply sit down, open my laptop, and just ďgoĒ with whatever first came to mind. As a matter of fact, Iím doing it right now. I didnít know what my final write-up would look like, and I still donít know where this is gonna go, or where itís gonna end.

I guess my greatest fear was that what I wrote would either a) be so excessively amateurish as to be nigh unreadable, or worse, b) be so excessively boring that most readers wouldnít even bother. Theyíd skip through it, read a bit here and there, and basically skim the list so they could get the gist of it as fast as they could.

Which isnít to say that doesnít happen. Iím sure most people do in fact do those things. I wouldnít blame them either; the entire website would take an eternity to read, and it would be a mistake to set my expectations higher than necessary. But I certainly tried my damnedest to make this project as engaging as possible, and if I succeeded with even just a tiny minority of readers, Iíll call it a success.

I posted my first batch of write-ups on the now-defunct website NintendoAge:



For those of you who are unaware, NintendoAge (or NA, as it was commonly known) was a bastion of knowledge for hardcore game collectors, specifically for the older Nintendo consoles, focusing mainly on the NES, but with a deeply passionate base of SNES fans as well. But it wasnít just for collectors, it was also a lively community for gamers and nerds of every ilk, which is what primarily attracted me to the site. I had a place that could not only assist in my pursuit of a full set of SNES cartridges, but I also had a great place to talk about playing them as well. It was the best of both worlds.

When I posted that first rankings thread, I had no idea what sort of reception to expect. I also had no idea if anyone had any real faith in my ability or dedication to follow through and actually complete the project. After all, there are plenty of people with big ideas, and big ambitions, who never follow through. Every couple months someone on my SNES subreddit makes a post about how theyíre going to ďbeat the entire library.Ē None of them do it. Not because theyíre liars, or lazy. But because most of them are ignorant as to what theyíre getting themselves into.

If there is one thing I wasnít, it was ignorant. I had spent years preparing. Collecting carts, playing the games, keeping notes. I knew what an undertaking it was, because I had already spent all that time, unseen, doing the work.

The initial reception was great. Readers seemed to enjoy my oddball writing, and they loved the idea behind the project. After all, lots of other people play lots of games, or write about lots of games, or even construct lists of top 100 games. But as far as I know, none of them have ever tried to ďrankĒ an entire library like this. Maybe that will change some day. I hope it does.

Anyway, partway through the project, concerns about NAís future began to arise, and my immediate attention was then refocused on what I needed to do to ensure that my work was not only protected, but would also be free to continue in some manner. A new custom site, built from the ground up, seemed like the natural solution. Thatís obviously not the path most people would choose to take, especially in this day and age of WordPress and pre-built software solutions and all that. People donít want some ugly-ass site that was hand-crafted in raw html, where you have to do your own scripting, and your own formatting, and the entire thing falls apart on mobile devices.

But I did. I thought of it not only as a challenge, but as a great way to make the site look exactly like the sort of thing I would want to read. See, I have a past life as a software developer (Iím a project manager now), but I was never a ďfront endĒ type of guy. I canít do ďlook and feelĒ to save my life. Probably because what I want is not what anyone else wants. Plus the ugly aesthetic kind of lends a fun ďthrowbackĒ appearance to everything. Or at least thatís the excuse Iím going to run with!

A lot of people have also asked me if I ever plan on collecting all of this material, and releasing it as a book. Which, in this day and age of Amazon self-publishing, has virtually no barriers to entry.

And I honestly have no idea what to think about that. How many people truly want to own some 30-pound tome on such an exceedingly niche topic? Not only that, but how in the world could I ever be happy enough with my writing to where I would feel confident about having it printed onto a physical page, never to be fixed up again? Because I am never completely satisfied with how any of this reads. My editors do their best, God bless them, but I am hardly Bill Shakespeare. Hell, Iím hardly evenÖ uh, whoever wrote Fifty Shades.

Actually, speaking of, I need to stop here for a moment and thank James, Tony, Alan, and Phil. These guys have been with me for a very long time (especially Alan), doing their best to make everything I write legible and coherent. For the first three years I had this nasty habit of always saying ďshould ofĒ ďcould ofĒ ďwould of ''. It took three years to break that habit, and that was only after they reminded me roughly 10,000 times. And I still occasionally do it by accident. Talk about having the patience of a collective of saints.

Ah, but see, Iíve been rambling forever here, and I have yet to actually talk about the game of honor. Partially because I feel like I don't really need to say anything. Everyone already knows this game. Everyone already loves it. Iím sure at least 10,000 reviews of it already exist across the internet, dissecting itís every element, discussing in detail why every little part of it works so well, and waxing poetic on all of the things it did to forever change the gaming landscape. I donít really want to retread any of that ground. Itís been done. So, instead Iím once again gonna take us for a trip down memory lane.

A few entries ago, I wrote about how Super Mario RPG was the first game I ever bought. How I had walked out of a video store with it in hand, completely shocked that I had been able to acquire a video game on my own, and for cheap to boot. It was a life-changing moment, as Iíve been heavily invested in playing and collecting games ever since. It is hands down my favorite hobby. Even now, Iím rapidly approaching the age of 40, and my enthusiasm for the medium isnít slowing down, not even the slightest.

What I didnít mention in that story, is how I purchased A Link to the Past, from the same place, less than a week later. Making it the second game I ever bought. It was $9.95. Even cheaper. I was familiar with the franchise: I had toyed around with the original NES game on a handful of occasions, always drawn in by the shiny gold cartridge. And some part of me was aware there was a second (shiny gold) game also released on the NES. And I had seen the box for A Link to the Past in the rental place hundreds of times.

But I had never played it. Didnít know anything about it. And I specifically lied about that being the case a handful of times over the course of this project, because I wanted to try and set up a very specific point, that I hope to drive home right now.

See, by 1996, I had played games like Doom, Crash Bandicoot, and Panzer Dragoon. And I could see what was on the horizon. Suddenly, games like Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario World were no longer the biggest, baddest thing on the block. Fancy 3D games were coming to town, and they were about to lay waste to the 16-bit generation. It would be a permanent shift, too. The games we grew up with, and the genres they helped shape, were about to become a thing of theÖ well, past.

So when I booted up A Link to the Past, it was at a severe disadvantage. Here was a game that came out early in the systemís lifespan, starring some sort of dinky elf guy, and it had to compete with my infatuation for Doom, and the screenshots of Super Mario 64 that had just begun to appear in magazines. I had low expectations. No expectations, really. I was still riding the high of Super Mario RPG. Passable would have been acceptable.

A Link to the Past is my favorite game of all time.

Always has been. Since day one. Since that day I bought it. And Iíve played a lot of games. But this remains the champ. I know I previously said Myth: The Fallen Lords was my all-time favorite game, but that was just misdirection so I didnít spoil anything on this list.

And why is that? What makes A Link to the Past so special? How has it not been usurped by Ocarina of Time, or Breath of the Wild, or any of the other thousands of games Iíve completed in the last 22 years? Nostalgia? Old man bias? Too much alcohol? An unhealthy obsession with the Super Nintendo? Something should have dethroned it by now. What is it that continues to keep Link on top?

Honestly, I think that answer truly begins and ends with the strength of its design. Itís really that simple. It is an utterly immaculate and brilliant game. Every single piece of it is bursting with creativity, and is executed flawlessly. The atmosphere, the sprite work, the music, the controls, the hit detection, the sound effects, the dungeons, the enemies, the difficulty curve, the items, the hidden secrets, the puzzles, the bosses, theÖ well, everything. Because every single little thing in it is a master class in how to create a video game. There should be college courses in game design that spend the entire semester looking at just this game. And it still wouldnít be enough time to get to everything.

I mean, hell, Nintendo basically released the same game, again, thirty years later, and called it A Link Between Worlds. And despite being inferior to A Link to the Past, Iíd still say itís one of the best games of the last decade. Not even Nintendo can top themselves, despite their best efforts!

Anyway, Iím gonna wrap this up, because itís already getting excessively long, and god knows we all got shit to do. You probably didnít wake up this morning planning on reading a 10,000 word dissertation on a Super Nintendo game. So Iím gonna end this whole entire thing with one last final note:

Thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your day to listen to some internet stranger fondly reminisce about all of the games from his childhood. Whether youíve been here since the beginning (October 6th, 2017 - five years ago to the day), or you just recently joined us, I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope I didnít annoy or bore you too much. And, hopefully you learned a lot about the Super Nintendo library, and maybe even started putting together a collection of your own.

Because if thatís the case, my work here is done.

Did I beat it?
Every gamer owes it to themselves to complete this game.