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

2 – The controller

Since the N64, Nintendo has made a habit out of designing its controllers around one or two games, forcing all third parties to adapt to whatever layout made the cut. The N64, GameCube and Wii controllers all worked great for certain games, but others, especially multiplatform titles, struggled to function properly on a device tailor made for a handful of games. Not so with the SNES controller, which accommodated any and all types of gameplay; it also set a layout standard that competing companies have copied to this day.


Above: The “four face buttons and shoulder buttons” thing began with the SNES and carries on today

The strange thing is, if everyone else recognized the value of this design, why has Nintendo been the only company to abandon it? Sony’s original PlayStation controller ran with the idea and added comfortable handles and two more shoulder buttons; granted, the N64’s analog stick changed was a truly revolutionary change (and was summarily adopted by Sega and Sony), but said controller was completely based around that one new idea, sacrificing any resemblance to a “normal” input device. Cut to today and even the PS3 and 360 are still refining the genius that was the SNES pad. As far as Nintendo platforms go, this remains the king of control.

1 – The best third party support

At this point in the Top 7, we’ve established the SNES’ notable sound capabilities, excellent list of games and a legendary controller to play ‘em on, but the most important reason the console succeeded (and remained relevant for so long) was its healthy amount of third party support. Nintendo famously paraded its exclusive "dream team"of devs for the N64, then slowly lost support for the GameCube, and well, we know the fate of third party Wii games. The SNES was the polar opposite, featuring franchise-defining entries in every popular series of the day.

The superior port of Street Fighter II remains Capcom’s best-selling game of all time and made the SNES a crazed must-have machine throughout the early ‘90s. Capcom also jumpstarted the popular Mega Man series with Mega Man X, which went on to become an entire sub-series (and one of the best 2D action games of all time). Konami released Contra III and Castlevania IV, both of which were jaw dropping in their day and immensely fun even now.

Without a doubt, the SNES received the best gaming had to offer, and there were no compromises like we’ve seen with the past three Nintendo systems; no “pretty for a Wii game” or “it’s the same game but without cutscenes,” just flat-out amazing content from gaming’s biggest companies. Of course the SNES had its share of crap - that’s unavoidable. But compared to every Nintendo console, it had more remarkable first and third party entries than any other.


Above: Even licensed games – usually the bottom of the barrel – had several standout hits

So what happened? Where did all this support go, and why are we harping on the N64 and Cube so much? Well, that’s quite a long story (more or less summarized here, but also check out Game Over for the full tale), but the gist is that Nintendo has yet to produce a console that ticks all the boxes like the Super NES. We’d argue the DS is the closest equivalent, with its huge stable of support from around the globe and (surprise!) SNES-style button layout.

Is this the best console of all time? Some of us would argue yes, though there’s plenty of room for debate as everyone’s criteria for “best” will vary wildly. But when it comes to Nintendo machines, we can only hope to see another console as well rounded and supported as the Super NES. Happy birthday, old friend!

Aug 22, 2011

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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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