These Are The Voyages... II
by Irish

1992
The Year of the All-You-Ken.

Well, here we are. Year II of the SNES's reign. The first year was a good start, Final Fantasy II, Super Mario World, Sim City, Joe & Mac, but what the SNES really needed were games to take hold of the industry and really show it had it all over the Genesis.

Oh, and it certainly did that. Early in the year things got off to a bang, a huge bang. Miyamoto went and dropped a huge cluster bomb on the industry in the form of an all out gaming masterpiece that would leave impressions and memories for years to come. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past hit, and if you didn't have a SNES before, you definitely had one than. It was all about the Dark World/Light World thing baby, sure since then multiple plaines of existance in a gaming world have become a cliche, but Zelda went and started it and the game could not have been more revolutionary. It brought back the top down; overhead perspective from Zelda 1, kept the magic from Zelda II, and just put in secrets and threw in an unprecedented level of stuff to do and find. Before ALTTP, Zelda was just a great game for the NES that had a lukewarm sequel. After ALTTP, it was a full blown phoenomenon that has lasted to this day, many debate the level of quality in following Zelda titles (though I think we can all agree Links Awakening is every bit as fun as ALTTP), everyone seems to agree this is where Zelda really got its wings.

Things calmed down for a bit. We got the overall decent yet utterly overrated Contra III, the industry loved it, gamers raved about it, I agree with Polly that while it may have seemed great at the time, Hard Corps fucking kicked it's arsenal, and in retrospect it's all the more fricken overrated after all these years and the still recent and awesome Contra 4.

Mario Paint hit, and hey, if edutainment was your thing, Mario Paint was a fricken quality title that put most paint software products of the time to shame. Axelay also came out that year. It was a little known yet high quality shooter that has some of the most insane graphical effects ever seen on an SNES title. I don't typically do shooters, but I will say that Axelay was a excellent product all around. Smash TV hit the SNES from the arcade, and did a great job on the console, and fared much better than it's Genesis title. They used the four button control pad setup in a creative way to allow for the eight way firing dynamic the arcade version was noted for. That and the blatant Running Man in Video Game form formula was a winning one, if nothing else due to how big a movie star the Governator still was at the time of it's release.

And then there was the big one. The bomb that shook up the console gaming industry to it's core at the time. The game that probably sold twice as many SNES systems than would have been sold without it. I'm sure we all remember where we were when the news came that this game was coming to consoles and was going to set a new standard for the term "arcade perfect port." Who else could I possibly be speaking of other than...





STREET
FIGHTER
II


Oh Sure, The genesis would laugh just as hearty the following year with their version of Mortal Kombat, but at the time THIS was what the game mags were talking about. I can just imagine Capcom responding to Sega's outraged phone call when the genesis didn't get no Street Fighter Love. "Sorry Genesis, your pathetic three button controller just can't do this game right. Oh, and whats that about only 64 colours on screen at once? You may as well be in black & white in comparison. And whats up with your sound chip? You can't even give the gamers the arcade quality voices. Go home and call in when you can do street fighter right".

Eventually, the genesis would call back in with news about a six button controller, and begged, pleaded, and sent quality "escorts" to capcoms offices begging for some Street Fighter action, Capcom eventually gave it to them, but it didn't feel right. The games timing and combos were well done, but predictably, even with for extra megs of space in the cart, the graphics and sounds just didn't come off as spectacular on the Genny. In retrospect, I don't think the Genny should have even tried, as porting the game to it just highlighted the techical shortcomings of the system, as well as having to shell out for the six button controller just rubbed many more casual gamers the wrong way.

MOVING ON! (bet you thought I was gonna say "but I digress" didn't you? PSYCHE!) More great games would hit.

Out of this World (mentioned it back in too cool for sega genesis week) would hit and create a buzz with it's awesome (for the time) graphics and cinema's as well as its ultra challenging quest. Sure looking back it's hard to see what the fuss was, but it was so different and unique at the time it caused a good stir. Super Mario Kart hit and damn if it wasn't one of the funnest games of all time. To this day me and some friends still boot up this game for some ultra fun multi-player. Wing Commander, a popular Space Shooter franchise from the PC came to the SNES to make some cool things happen thanks to the SNES's Mode 7.

And well just say Cowabunga with me now, cuz the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit with their most awesome side scroller ever, Turtles in Time. look, if you don't like the old school ninja turtles even just a little, you're dead inside. The show was cool, the live action movies started out strong and kinda got lamer but were still fun, the comics rocked (yes, i read the comics. The Eastman and Laird comics AND the comic published by Archie. Shut the hell up, it was cool). So yah, basically the game was the Gravy trains last quality stop before it totally lost it's steam.

Two of the most influential titles would not hit the system until the Fall season. Super Star Wars was released, and while it's one of the hardest games ever, it was still a helluva lot of fun, and looked friggin awesome at the time. Seriously, Super Star Wars made me look at my genesis more than once and ask... "why can't you do something like that for me once in a while?"

And then there was Prince of Persia. A PC hit that made an outstanding port. Personally though, the older PoP titles just never seemed like that big a deal for me. Playing against the clock (finish the game in under a time limit or it's game over) just took away from most of the fun of the title, combat was interesting at first but eventually just felt bland to me, and there were too many damn invincible skeletons. Still, this is just my opinion, I know many who love this game to pieces and it was a huge hit at the time, so it goes on this list.

By todays standards, this is not such a big list. But by the standards of 1992, the SNES was having an awesome year. The games mentioned above were the show stealers, but there there plenty of other games such as Super Adventure island, Simpsons; Barts Nightmare, and Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcades revenge that while being fairly ho-hum still managed to entertain and do quite well. But looking back I think I can safely say the influence of Street Fighter II cannot be undermined. It was THE fighting game in the arcades, and a home edition where the gameplay was perfect and the graphics and sounds nearly spot on were unprecedented. It took a promising console, an arcade phoenomenon, and truly brought the experience home in an unprecedented way that was underscored by Capcoms commenting on the challenges on making the home version of SFII so great and how they felt the same could not be done on the competition. SFII showed the genesis, and gamers, that the 16-bit era in general, and the SNES in particular, had much to offer and perhaps this marked the beginning of the end for the arcades. I mean, why blow all your coin at noisy, overpriced, arcades when the experience can be done just as well in the comfort of your own home. Sure, this is standard logic today, but in the ninties this effect was a serious paradigm shift in the gaming pop culture, and just shifted the console war into a whole new level that would heat up in the following year.

See yah next year.... or next article. What ever comes first.


Voyages... III


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