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

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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

  • Pocotron - August 22, 2011 6:44 p.m.

    Last! (going from newest first)
  • meh - August 22, 2011 7:12 p.m.

    What you did there, I see it.
  • D0CCON - August 22, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    And replying to your comment makes you not last.
  • Pocotron - August 23, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    Stop that.
  • db1331 - August 22, 2011 6:54 p.m.

    It really did have some amazing games. When you talk about titles that are as close to perfect as possible, you have to mention Link to the Past and Super Metriod. I don't think I could name one fault in either of those games.
  • InfinityPrimo - August 24, 2011 3:50 a.m.

    those damn speed shoes in Link to the Past!! Naw jus jokin, that is a perfect game. Super Metroid...HA! Nuff said
  • ninjaemperor - August 22, 2011 6:56 p.m.

    I can't wait to hear you guys talk about it on tdar! Brett's ending his GR history on a very high note T.T
  • D0CCON - August 22, 2011 7:11 p.m.

    I'd also say that this was the only time where the older console's graphics looked better than the newer console. I'd take SNES sprites over N64's 3d characters that were only allowed 8 polygons or so any day.
  • Gotxxrock - August 22, 2011 7:11 p.m.

    Forgot one thing Brett, the movie tie-in games were actually fun to play back then too!
  • meh - August 22, 2011 7:12 p.m.

    I was never alive for the SNES, but its still one of the most fun things I've ever done when I finally got my hands on it. Great Article.
  • 8bitBaby - August 22, 2011 7:21 p.m.

    yeah... i remember watching my stepdad play super metroid and going "this is sooooo much more intense than the nes one." it really brought across atmosphere well. 20 years... has it really been twenty years? gosh. time... where does it go?
  • Rubberducky - August 22, 2011 7:30 p.m.

    SNES brings back memories, I remember playing SFII endlessly but the one that made it great for me was Super Mario World
  • Baron164 - August 22, 2011 7:34 p.m.

    Yeah I'd definitely say the SNES was Nintendo's best ever console. I loved the FX games even if they look like garbage now.
  • jasoncarter - August 22, 2011 7:40 p.m.

    As a retro gamer I must say, folks, they really don't make them like this anymore. The nes and the snes made me the gamer I am today. Nintendo, along with all the other developers, thank you!
  • burnsideking24 - August 22, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    the song for Chrono Trigger makes me regret me never playing it fully... gonna play the DS rom for it now! or maybe the SNES rom... hmm...
  • Nintygameplayerperson - August 22, 2011 8:36 p.m.

    Download it on Virtual Console! It's so awesome!
  • Corsair89 - August 22, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    The SNES probably had the best line of RPGs of any console to date.
  • LoganDeckard - August 22, 2011 7:55 p.m.

    Coming from someone who's Super NES was his first console, all these points are pretty spot on. Damn fine article Brett. Sad to know this is your last top 7 but, I couldn't think of more appropriate topic. Gonna miss you man.
  • Skeletortilla - August 22, 2011 8:07 p.m.

    Those "modern RPG hybrids" are some of the closest things to actual RPGs that consoles have had yet. I've never played a JRPG that was any more a role-playing game than Halo. Technically, both have a role for you to play, but almost zero influence on the story. Leveling up and having stats and loot =/= role-playing.
  • shawksta - August 23, 2011 9:58 a.m.

    I completely agree, right now, the DS/3DS is the true RPG games best place to be, it sucks how random genres add a level system, call it RPG and then act as if it revolutionized it.

Showing 1-20 of 82 comments

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