Sunday, July 29, 2012
10 Overlooked and Underrated Gems Part 3: The Super Nintendo
How do you follow-up a console that singlehandedly saved the video game industry? Nintendo had some lofty heights to reach when they released the Super Nintendo in 1991. The 8-bit NES was such a smash hit and so prolific that Nintendo kept supporting it even after they released this 16-bit predecessor, which took everything the NES did and did it better. At the time, the Sega Genesis was already out and giving Nintendo a run for their money, but the Super NES managed to trump it in the end thanks to more powerful hardware and a library of first-party titles that remain some of the best video games ever made. “Super Mario World”, “Donkey Kong Country”, “Super Metroid”, “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past”, “Yoshi’s Island”, “Star Fox”, and plenty more besides are flat-out classics. But for every classic Super NES game that came out and sold a shit load of copies, there were a handful of excellent and amazing games that fell through the cracks. Here are 10 underrated and overlooked gems for the Super Nintendo:
10. MARVEL SUPERHEROES: WAR OF THE GEMS (1996)
Released towards the end of the Super NES’ lifecycle in 1996, Capcom’s “Marvel Superheroes: War of the Gems” is an arcade style beat ‘em up featuring a large cast of Marvel heroes and villains. You play as Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America and take on hordes of baddies. The character sprites and moves are based on Capcom’s series of Marvel fighting arcade games, but this game in itself is an original endeavor that only saw release on the Super NES. There’s loads of action, it’s plenty challenging, and features some brilliant animation as well. Track this down if you can, you’ll be glad that you did.
9. JURASSIC PARK 2: THE CHAOS CONTINUES (1994)
Back in the early 90s, “Jurassic Park” was such a massive hit that it spawned numerous toys and video games across the board. Naturally any video game bearing the JP logo was a huge hit, so a year after the film and video game were released, Ocean decided not to wait for another movie to come out to make a video game. “Jurassic Park 2” The Chaos Continues” finds Dr. Grant returning to the island with a whole big arsenal of weapons and laying waste to dinosaurs and rival human hunters in the process. It’s a fast-paced run and gun style game that owes a lot to “Contra”, and is plenty enjoyable in the process…even if this game is fucking harder than shit to play. It’s now regarded as a lost Super NES classic though, so track it down and give it a look.
8. ROCK ‘N ROLL RACING (1993)
Developed by “World of Warcraft” creator Blizzard (before they were known as Blizzard), “Rock ‘N Roll Racing” is a fucking fun time to say it lightly. You race around in monster trucks in futuristic environments to instrumental renditions of classic songs from Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Incredibly fun and addictive to this day, the game was also released on the Genesis, but the Super NES version was by far the superior port. The game became a cult classic, spawning an inferior sequel on the PS1 some years later as well as receiving a port on the Game Boy Advance further down the road. To this very day, the game remains sought-after by collectors, but for some reason isn’t often mentioned in the pantheon of great Super NES games. All that aside, if you dig racing games, check this fucker out.
7. DEMON’S CREST (1994)
A sequel to Capcom’s “Gargoyle’s Quest” games, “Demon’s Crest” is a dark and gothic side-scrolling adventure game where you play as the demonic Firebrand (from the “Ghouls N Ghosts” games) where you collect crests to change your abilities and advance. The platforming elements are wonderful, some of the best to appear on a Nintendo system in a game that wasn’t developed by Nintendo themselves. Combined with some small helpings of RPG elements, and “Demon’s Crest” becomes surprisingly deep, and even kind of complicated as things go on. There’s a whole shitload of replayability to be found as well, as you can revisit previous levels using new abilities to access parts you couldn’t before. It’s fun and features some brilliant level design, and is more than worth your time.
6. PIRATES OF DARK WATER (1994)
Based on the underrated animated series that was around at the time, “Pirates of Dark Water” is a beat’em up in the vein of “Final Fight” that allows you to play as all three main heroes and beat the ever loving shit out of the opposition. It’s mindless as fuck, but satisfying as all hell. The game was also released on the Genesis, but that version was a side-scrolling platformer with RPG elements, instead of being just a pure beat ‘em up like you get here. Sometimes less is more, and that’s what you get here with the Super Nintendo version of “Pirates of Dark Water”.
5. UNIRACERS (1994)
What happens when you race around riderless unicycles in a mix of 2-D and 3-D environments and go to speeds so fast that it rivals “Sonic the Hedgehog”? You get “Uniracers”, a dreadfully underrated and forgotten racing game from Nintendo that suffered a cruel fate thanks to Pixar. Back when the game was originally released, the developer DMA Design was sued by Pixar, claiming that the game’s unicycle designs were blatant rip-offs of the unicycles used in their 1987 short film “Red’s Dream”. As a result, the first batch of “Uniracers” cartridges produced became the only batch of “Uniracers” cartridges produced, making this awesome game quite rare. Though it garnered some great critical praise, “Uniracers” didn’t find its audience thanks to Pixar putting the dick to them, so sadly not many people have played this game. If you can track it down and not break the bank to get it in your hands, do it. Were it not for Pixar, “Uniracers” would have been a smash hit.
4. VORTEX (1994)
A 3-D shooter game with giant fucking robots and spaceships, “Vortex” is an unheralded blast. Taking elements from games like “Star Fox”, “Vortex” was notable for delivering quality 3-D graphics on a 16-bit console (thanks to using the Super NES’ FX chip, which was also used to help render 3-D graphics in other games like “Star Fox”, “Yoshi’s Island”, “Doom”, and “Stunt Race”). There are multiple modes of transformation for your mech, which always fueled speculation from back then to this very day that “Vortex” started out as being an unreleased “Transformers” game. There’s plenty of excellent shooter action and some great boss fights to be had, but sadly for whatever reason, “Vortex” failed to find its audience. Check it out though, it’s plenty enjoyable.
3. WILD GUNS (1995)
A sci-fi/western clusterfuck of a shooting game, “Wild Guns” features more insane elements and gunplay than you can shake your dick at. Using a third person perspective with a targeting feature to gun down all the baddies headed right towards you, “Wild Guns” is insanely fun. It’s also sadly short, but for what it’s worth, this is one game that you should definitely hunt down and enjoy every single minute of. It should also be noted that this game is an early example of the steampunk genre, which will either make you want to play it even more, or make you not want to play it at all.
2. PHALANX (1992)
One thing that “Phalanx” was famous for was having cover art that had nothing to do with the game itself. A bearded hillbilly playing a banjo with a spaceship in the background adorns the cover, while the game itself is a vertical space shooter that is super fucking fun as hell. There are loads of power ups and epic boss fights to be discovered along the way, not to mention the game’s punishing difficulty make “Phalanx” a keeper. Sadly though the game is remembered more for its hilarious box cover artwork than its wonderful gameplay, which is a crying shame. Check it out though, guaranteed you’ll dig it.
1. METAL WARRIORS (1995)
Developed by Lucasarts, “Metal Warriors” allows you to play as a mech taking on hordes of baddies, ya know the usual shit, but it offers up something else that makes it that unique to stand out as being the most underrated and overlooked gem in the Super NES library: two-player deathmatch bitches! Deathmatches have been around in video game lore for so long now that it seems arbitrary at this point, but back in 1995, seeing such a thing in a console video game was such a rarity that it made the game worth checking out on its own. “Metal Warriors” is no different, offering up a two-player split-screen versus mode that was way ahead of its time. The game’s single player mode ain’t too shabby either, with brilliant graphics and the like, but sadly for some reason, failed to catch on and be a big commercial success. That aside though, pick it up, it’s the best damn Super Nintendo game you never played.
Well, that’s it for my 10 underrated and overlooked Super Nintendo gems. Be sure to be here next time as I go over the top 10 underrated and overlooked gems for the original Playstation. See all y’all then folks…