For a while, the Super Nintendo was the only 16 bit console in my household. With the NES and even the Commodore 64 still getting plenty of play time, there was little use in purchasing yet another gaming console (the Sega Genesis.) Before the 32 bit console started hitting the market, by dad eventually did purchase a Sega Genesis for himself, which basically turned into my system. For the most part, I was able to enjoy the best of both worlds, and being able to try out and buy whichever 16 bit game, or any game for that matter, from my previous job at a game store, there’s isn’t much that slipped my radar on any important system. By important I mean Nintendo, Sega, Sony and Microsoft based, no so much Panasonic, Atari, NEC and so on.
Lets take a look at my Top 25 16 Bit Games (#5 – 1.) This list isn’t as one sided as the 8 bit list, though a majority of titles lean towards the Super Nintendo catalog.
If Super Mario RPG was never released, this would be the exact way I would envision the Italian plumber and his friends to be portrayed within the RPG genre, minus the annoying RPG habit of making the main character a mute. There’s a load of content, beautiful graphics and a charming audio score to go along with the journey. The one thing that stood out the most for me was the interaction with the combat. Selecting a standard attack was just one part of the attack, as a properly timed button press added more damage to said attack, which is really the only way you could go with Super Mario RPG. It hooked you in to paying attention to the gameplay as strongly as it hooked you into the story its self. There hasn’t been another experience like it (Paper Mario has nothing on this) and that’s a shame.
Squaresoft popped out successful titles left and right, even if some of these releases had a long wait for them to be localized. Secret of Mana was an action RPG that added the element of multiplayer gameplay to it. Players could go through the game completely solo and set AI traits to the two other characters, or another player can pick up the controller and join in. This was one major reason why Secret of Mana was so satisfying – having a second, dedicated person joining in on the adventure really made for some intense battles. There were plenty of weapons and spells that could be acquired, as well as the fact that each weapon can be upgraded, which would let players charge their attacks to a certain level, unleashing a more devastating blow. Secret of Mana is one of the less talked about Squaresoft releases, and that shouldn’t be, since it’s one of their greatest accomplishments.
Another one of those “pretty much any gamer that is a gamer has played it” and “just about as flawless as a video game can get” titles. Many call this the best Metroid game ever, and I’m more than inclined to agree. From it’s hidden items and areas, to its large scale boss battles, to its rather emotion driven final battle, Super Metroid manages to nail just about every aspect right. It’s that “must have” in your collection, whether you ebay a Super Nintendo and the Super Metroid cartridge, or download it on your Nintendo Wii Virtual Console. Now if only the Nintendo 3DS would allow me to purchase a copy to take on the go….
Another one of those “black sheep” titles with the number two in the title, Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2 is hands down one of, if not the best 2D platformer I have ever played. Those that harp on Baby Mario’s crying when Yoshi gets hit and loses custody of him are short sighted to the fact that it does not break the game whatsoever. The fact that Yoshi’s Island actually challenges players, rather than coddle them with limited challenges. Extra lives are easy to come by, but they are easy to lose as well. The brilliance of the game world is due in part to its cartoon-like style, as well as Mode 7 scaling for boss battles. I still go back to my Super Nintendo cartridge with its 100% completion score on every level, just to relive what epic 2D platforming was all about. Please do not let an audio clip of a Baby Mario crying, or the unorthodox visual style deter you – Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2 is simply one of the best games I have ever played.
One of two RPG’s that I have played through over a dozen times. Back in the days, Squaresoft was more in tune with what a successful RPG consisted of – an engaging yet occasionally off the wall crazy story, a large cast of playable characters who themselves had a deeper character to them, an engrossing game world, beautifully composed music and a wealth of content to experience. Final Fantasy III is arguably Square at its absolute very best. The gameplay, characters, story and everything in-between was so damn fulfilling, that it’s hard not to replay it time and time again throughout the years. After III/VI, IMO at least, the franchise took a huge nose dive, which only seemed to redeem its self for every title with a multiple of three. It’s always a good thing to have such a classic to fall back on when that same company has become a letdown on many levels. It’s a remind not of their current faults, but the possibilities that they can one day rise back into prominence and share an adventure of such magnitude such as Final Fantasy III. In an era of pure magic, this one stands out with a self casting of Life 3 – the game might end, but will always come back to life with as much vigor as before.
Update: This project will likely be delayed/put on hold. It likely won’t proceed in two weeks, and it’s uncertain on just when things will be back on track, but a quick note will be left on the site when things will be back on schedule.