These Are The Voyages... I
by Irish

Video Gaming, the nerdy frontier.

These were the voyages of the Super Nintendo. It's five year mission, to seek out and entertain new and strange life forms. To push the edge of gaming entertainment. To boldly shove the Genesis's controller where no controller should ever have gone before.

So yah, while I was sitting there, watching the deadline to SNES week tick down and wondering what the hell to do. I love me some SNES, but as I said before I've been playing it's games for fifteen years now, what is there left to say by this point? While the Genesis lies face down in the gutter Citizen Kane style, forgotten and destitute, the SNES enjoys a lofty retirement atop the Mt Olympous of video games being waited on by scantly clad and ever ready to please servant girls. It's greatness has ever been heralded while other systems have faded into the mists of time.

So what can I say about the SNES? Seeing as how I'm studying to work in the education industry, you may have noted many of my metaphores refer to high school environments, and well if it aint broke I aint gonna be the one to fix it.

I tend to think of the The SNES as the Mr perfect type of system to the Genesis's wild partying yet brilliantly artistic type. Sure the Genny succeeded in it's field, and a little bit outside of it. The Genesis had a faster processor and much more creativity, but the SNES was just damn good at just about everything. Oh sure, it may not have had the shooter field nailed down as well as the Genesis, and I never did find the SNES's platformers were as grand as the Genny's, but most of the time the SNES nailed the Genesis too the wall. More colors = prettier graphics and the superior sound chip meant the music sounded better. Six buttons to the Gennys three AND Mode 7 allowed for different types of gameplay experiences. The Snes had almost all the technical angles nailed, save for that slower processor. But ultimately the advantages it did have over the Genesis were more numerous and influential then the Genesis's advantage of a faster processor (which actually affected many titles more than you would think. Go play Mortal Kombat or Samurai Showdown to see how). The NES catapulted home video game systems into the limelight, the 16-bit era was the beginning of the age when video games would successfully infiltrate the pop culture media and become a socially acceptable past time. It was the intense war between the SNES and the Genesis that began this ascension, and I believe to understand the SNES totally, we should look back at it on a year by year basis to see it's impact. It's successes, and how it changed and entertained. I originally meant to include various games that either sucked utterly (Rise of the Robots anyone?) or have some merit on the pop culture of the time (seaquest DSV and Death and Return of Superman) but this ultimately became too unwieldy so I streamlined these articles.

And without further ado, heres a look at The Voyages of the S.S. SNES Year 1. Otherwise known as: Mushrooms, Dinosaurs, Gods, and Mode fricken 7.


Super Mario World

It's the mario game that gave us Yoshi, the cape (which while having come cool effects, was just a poor replacement for the racoon tail) and other stuff. It's a fun little platformer, better than the 3D installments, and pretty much the Definitive 16-bit mario title, but I've always felt that Nintendo dug itself into a corner and should have ended the mario series at #3, they were never gonna top that and should never have tried. Everything else will always just a poor substitute.

But yah, great game and really worth experiencing.






Actraiser

Play god, build a world, eliminate evil, and accept worship. It's a cool title That I enjoyed, it has some great game play aspects that were absolutely mind blowing for it's time, and maybe If I had played it way back then, I would have a much higher opinion of it then I do. I think It's one of those titles that if you get it, you will really love it, otherwise you'll have a good time and then shelve it, and come back to it again someday.









F-Zero

Nintendo shows off Mode 7, creates average racing game in the process. I want to praise this game more because I have fond memories of the N-64 and Game Cube F-Zero titles, but I can't. It really wasn't that awesome and just worked the Mode 7 angle really well.













Final Fantasy II

Yes, I know it's really IV dumbed down and made easier for us non RPG experienced Gaijin. That said, it was still an awesome experience that has gotten remade WAY too many damn times (PS1, Game Boy Advance, and DS remakes are all available). In a way, I think the appeal of FFII is in the nostalgia. While I tout Phantasy Star as the superior 16-bit rpg series, I won't deny that FFII had a far more epic journey than PSII. Going to the moon, fighting the elements, the giant of Babel, this RPG just would not stop with the epic twists, is was kinda like how most audiences felt seeing the lord of the rings trilogy, without all the hobit-hugging-hobbit action. And much like how Lord of the Rings redefined what we expected from cinematic endeavors, FFII redefined for us at the time what we expect from an RPG.




Pilot Wings

I've always been a flight junkie, be it sim action or more the arcadey titles like Ace Combat, sign me up for any game that takes me onto the highway into the fricken danger zone man, and watch me buzz the control tower. That said, Pilot Wings was the other game Nintendo pimped out to show off it's fancy Mode 7 effects. That said, it was way more fun than F-Zero. I loved it to pieces, but I fully acknowledge that it was far more of a tech demo than a actual game.










Joe and Mac

A lesser remembered platforming franchise from the SNES era. Starring cavemen who are out to rescue their women from smarter than the Average T-rex dinos. The games were derivative, but well made and graphically beautiful for their time. They were a fun diversion, which is really what video gaming should always be about.












Simcity

I can't let this one go. A friend of mine sold me this title and frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of it for a long time, basically it's a game that lets you build the city of your dreams, than manage and watch over it. Protect it from natural disasters like bowser attacks or alien invasions and just make it into the awesomest city ever. Eventually, this would lead into the Sim's, but don't hold it against the title. It was actually very fun and relaxing.









Super Castlevania

This is castlevania before it got all metroid-ish. jump, slash, platform, and work your way through levels, beat up bosses, and proceed to the next. The only power ups you get are switching alt weapons and finding food to recharge your health. Good times, but as polly will tell you, Castlevania Bloodlines absolutely destroyed this one.

Well, there you go. An all star line up of the best and brightest the SNES had to deliver in Year 1 of it's quest to be the best. It really wasn't all that auspiscious looking back. I mean sure, Super Mario World was great, but it wasn't racoon tail great. Actraiser was different and Mode 7 created a huge stir with F-Zero and Pilot Wings, but really there is very little here besides FFII and Super Castlevania that lead the SNES to becoming Legend that it is, and would become. Sure it came out swinging and showed the Genesis that it meant bizniz, but it didn't really claim a difinitive advantage in year one. That would come later. much later than part 2 of this piece will. sit tight and happy gaming readers. I'll be back tomarrow with more, and so will you.

So, from all of us here, to all of you out there, good night. And remember; that light at the end of the tunnel, could be you.






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