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The Top 7… Reasons the Super NES is Nintendo’s best console

5 – The superior Sony sound chip


Above: Final Fantasy VI’s “Searching for Friends” remains one of the greatest pieces of game music ever

Long before Nintendo and Sony became console rivals, the two electronics giants teamed up to create a dedicated sound chip that would set the SNES apart from all its contemporaries. Even better, said chip (which was designed by future PlayStation head Ken Kutaragi) would lead to the creation of truly legendary works of art, songs that have stood the test of time and burrowed their way into millions of gamer minds across the globe. With the means now available, composers cut loose in a medium previously limited to decidedly “video-gamey” noises.


Above: Chrono Trigger’s “To Far Away Times” is one of my favorite songs, period

All those aforementioned JRPGs? Stunning soundtracks across the board. Their already impressive gameplay was bolstered by emotionally moving compositions that soared past chiptunes and MIDI; even with technically superior hardware, the PS1 and N64 didn’t measure up to the SNES when it came to timeless soundtracks, and even today we’d wager most games don’t produce music that will ring on for years after they’re collecting dust in the closet. From RPGs to racers to side scrollers to sports games, there are just too many outstanding soundtracks to name. Sure, there are countless notable game OSTs out there (the Genesis has its fare share too), but pound for pound the SNES wins out - maybe check out our game music of the day entries for more examples, hm?

4 – The gimmicks were put to good use

In the pursuit of new technology, developers can often lose sight of the game that’s buried underneath. In the case of the Super NES, Nintendo used its gimmicky bullet-point features to power several genuinely great games, and in the process created franchises that are still around today. While the tech is less impressive in 2011, the thought process behind it – using programming tricks for gameplay-specific purposes, not duping people into buying your system – is as important today as it ever was. Consider the Wii, which stormed out of the gate with motion control and Wii Sports. Months later, the impact faded and “Wii Waggle” was shunned by the same people who happily stood in cold November lines for Nintendo’s latest console.


Above: Star Fox looks downright primitive today, but the angular Arwing design has persisted since its blocky debut

The SNES, on the other hand, introduced new tech that led to real classics. Out first was “Mode 7,” a scaling and rotation trick that was inseparably woven into F-Zero, Pilotwings and Super Mario Kart; the feature not only made them visually distinct, but also gave them better senses of speed and space. The Super FX chip made the polygonal Star Fox a reality, and the FX2 chip gave Yoshi’s Island its adorable storybook looks and morphing bosses. Rare used computer modeling to give Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct their visual punch as well.

We’re not saying modern developers put graphics ahead of gameplay, or that these SNES tricks failed to produce a bad game (Stunt Race FX comes to mind). But in the grand scheme of things, we love that in each instance of new SNES technology, Nintendo delivered a one-of-a-kind experience that, in most cases, resulted in something special.

3 – Nintendo perfected its formula

The NES era birthed Super Mario, Zelda, Metroid and many other iconic series that live on today, so it goes without saying that it too remains an important piece of gaming history. However, each of those series really came of age during the SNES days. It was a period of time in which Nintendo honed its craft to its sharpest point, fueling not just its own 3D games years later, but an entire generation of future developers who now look at “Nintendo magic” (that almost imperceptible excellence that Miyamoto snuck into his games) as a lofty goal to reach.


Above: Just about every Nintendo franchise that exists today experienced perfection on the SNES, B-listers included

Super Mario World expanded on Mario 3’s already big ideas, and added many of its own to boot. A Link to the Past took pieces of Zelda I and II, mixed them together with a genuine story, doubled the amount of content and poof, one of the greatest games of all time was created. Super Metroid significantly improved upon the already popular original, adding real tension and suspense to Samus’ claustrophobic journeys; Nintendo’s work on Super Metroid would eventually derail the entire Castlevania franchise (beginning with the equally brilliant but shamelessly cribbing Symphony of the Night) and eventually inspire chair to create Shadow Complex.

 Whether everyone acknowledges it or not, all the modern 2D indie games, on some level, must equal or exceed gameplay defined by the SNES. For all Braid’s lofty ideas and Limbo’s stirring imagery, they still must live up to control and layout standards set in the ‘90s; if they don’t handle like a proper 2D side scroller, all that other fluff goes right out the window. Those two indie gems, along with Splosion Man, Super Meat Boy, the newly announced Cobalt and many more XBLA/PSN games happily promoted as “old-school,” all owe (and pay respect to) the glory days of the SNES

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82 comments

  • CanadianBeaverHunter - August 29, 2011 3:43 p.m.

    SNES is a great link to the past.
  • Flashinthepan - August 24, 2011 11:05 p.m.

    Having never owned an SNES, I can't actually judge it against anything else as a console. What I can say is, after playing it and the Gamecube, I prefer the Gamecube controller. I don't play any one genre of games exclusively, and I never had a problem using the GC controller for any game. That being said, I'm so very happy the SNES is receiving such praise to this day. What the hell is Nintendo doing now?It really is a shame that they could fall so far. Carry on, little cartridge player. Carry on. recaptcha: (Ceg asooms Spelling assumes wrong. lol.
  • grayguwapo - August 24, 2011 9:16 p.m.

    I agree with this... (and great article by the way)... I'm a solid Playstation gamer but I have to pay my respects to Nintendo SNES. Truly this console was without a doubt the ONE that put gaming where it is now... This came out before PS, XBox, Wii, etc. and it came out with a bang... I had this console and so did all my friends so game time with anyone was really great! I also had SEGA's megadrive and genesis and these weren't at par with SNES, my friends and I would always resort to playing SNES over other consoles due to it's sheer great game library... great job with this one Nintendo and happy anniversary!
  • Vault101 - August 24, 2011 5:57 p.m.

    Great Article!
  • snothammer - August 24, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    Damnit I thought my comments weren't posting. Wish I could delete my stupidity.
  • snothammer - August 24, 2011 1:44 p.m.

    I actually never owned a SNES when I was a kid. So, a few years ago I bought one and have been loving it ever since. If I could only ever play one console for the rest of my life, I think the SNES would be it.
  • InfinityPrimo - August 24, 2011 3:49 a.m.

    Wow. My favorite game of all time Chrono Trigger has only recently been eclipsed by a game going by the name of Mass Effect. Chrono Trigger is the best damn RPG of ALL TIME and it was on the SNES. Jeez I miss those times. They can't be recreated only revisited, but nothing was like being a kid playing Super Mario RPG, FFVI, Chrono Trigger,Street Fighter II, F-Zero, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, DAMN!!!! Every single classic, which is why PS2 is like the true spiritual successor to the SNES. No other system comes close to the depth of a true video game experience. I'm so glad I grew up with it.
  • soranamineforever - August 23, 2011 8:01 p.m.

    RPGs. The one reason the SNES beat the ever-loving crap out of the N64, Gamecube, and Wii. Seriously, other than Tales of Symphonia, can any of you name me a notable RPG that was released on these consoles (outside of Japan)? Actually, I can. Xenoblade Chronicles. Where the ass is your review of that game?
  • FauxFurry - August 23, 2011 6:50 p.m.

    Either great minds think alike or Brett Elston and Chad Concelmo are the same guy. http://www.destructoid.com/why-the-super-nes-is-the-best-console-ever-created-207604.phtml Whatever the case is,that's cool.
  • lilspooky - August 23, 2011 5:09 p.m.

    I am part of the Nintendo generation, and i couldnt agree more with this article. SNES is still my all time favorite console. Mostly fueled by nostalgia at this point. However sprite based games have a timeless quality to them. PS1, PS2, and N64 didnt age well at all, many of the titles are unplayable at this point. I still play through a few SNES games here and there.
  • birdman1041 - August 23, 2011 4:47 p.m.

    For those who lament the high price of games today (usually $59.99 on launch day) I kid you not - I purchased an old copy of Wave Race 64 yesterday for 5 bucks and in the box was the original receipt from Toys R Us for $64.99. Think I'll be getting a bit more gameplay out of the new Deux Ex for less than that.
  • newgames128 - August 23, 2011 3:37 p.m.

    The glory days of gaming right here.
  • newgames128 - August 23, 2011 3:37 p.m.

    The glory days of gaming.
  • Jrm21 - August 23, 2011 3:36 p.m.

    This makes me extremely sad that i was born in 95 and never got my gaming stride til 2000
  • NightCrawler_358 - August 23, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    The SNES is definitely Nintendo's best console, but I'd say the best overall would be the PS2, but thats just my opinion.
  • Colicub - August 23, 2011 2:47 p.m.

    My personal favourite is the Gamecube, but maybe that's because I am a SEGA child through and through. Not that the SNES doesn't have some utterly incredible games in its library, and it is the superior system for JRPGs (not that the Mega Drive doesn't have some great ones), but for me it's the Mega Drive all the way.
  • IceBlueKirby - August 23, 2011 12:32 p.m.

    I never had a SNES until around 2001, but when I finally got one I realized what I'd been missing. Super Mario World is easily my favorite Mario game, A Link to the Past is my favorite Zelda, Super Metroid is my favorite Metroid...you get the idea. Plus I LOVE Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger, so it's home to my two favorite RPGs of all time as well. The SNES is a triumph of gaming, and it's a shame that today Nintendo fails to live up to the standards it set years ago. Not that I dislike their systems after the SNES, mind, just that none of them quite deliver the same variety and quality when it comes to the library of games available.
  • Pruman - August 23, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    The SNES is my favorite system of all time (although the 360 nearly ties it), and celebrating its 20th birthday definitely makes me feel a little old. I was but a lad of 8 when that heavenly gray box came out, and even though Nintendo Power had accomplished its mission by getting me to beg my parents for one like a madman, my SNES wouldn't come until Christmas Day 1991. When I unwrapped it, along with my copy of F-Zero, I was in nerdy kid heaven. I've got too many SNES memories to list here, but here are my favorite ones: -Thinking LTTP was over after I beat Agahnim, only for the game to surprise me with 8 more dungeons; -Hours upon hours of Battle Mode with my friends in Super Mario Kart; -The first 20 minutes of Super Metroid, from the title screen to exploring bombed-out Zebes from the first game; -Playing Star Fox and being FLOORED by how pretty and cool it was; -Having my 11-year old mind BLOWN by how good-looking Donkey Kong Country was -The entire game of Final Fantasy VI/III, but ESPECIALLY the opera house part; -Playing Donkey Kong on my Super Game Boy. I need to stop, I could go on forever. Happy birthday, SNES!
  • TheTrooper424 - August 23, 2011 11:02 a.m.

    So true!
  • shawksta - August 23, 2011 9:55 a.m.

    Yeah, the SNES is no doubt one of nintendos best and has reasons to be true. Each of their consoles always have something that makes them incredible. I like how nintendos doing what they did in the past. The DS changed the handheld gaming generation which had a big effect outside it and had probably the hugest variety, reminder of Gameboy starting handheld gaming. Now the 3DS is enhancing the DS, with mainstream 3rd party to increase its variety, much like GBA enhancing Gameboy. WiiU is also nintendos second home console with its predessesors name since SNES, WiiU has a HUGE potential that can change gaming, and with heavy 3rd party, its possible were looking at the next SNES!

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