Review by xenodolf
"Nintendo's self-destructive censorship policy is one of the few flaws holding back their 16-bit console from reigning in God-Emperor status."
While the Super Nintendo wasn't the first gaming console I experienced (that would be the Atari 2600, followed by the NES), it ended up being the one my parents eventually bought for me when I clamored for a home gaming system sometime in 1991. While it became a cherished object of my childhood and remained plugged into some TV in my household for more than a solid decade.. I am not so delusional in my fanboy-ism that I would hoist it as the perfect gaming system. It did have its flaws (especially here in America), but those errors and oversights were almost nonexistent in the face of its magnificent accomplishments. Instead of using a number-grading system, I'll consolidate all of the Pros and Cons into separate columns to highlight the triumph and tarnish of Nintendo's greatest (to this day) home console.
+ The massive SNES library literally has something for every type of gamer - casuals, frat-boys, jocks, basement-dwelling nerd, competitive junkies, and hardcore beasts such as myself. Just about every genre and sub-genre in existence makes an appearance on the console.. even things that were still swimming the the gaming embryonic fluid (for example, one of the earliest survival-horror games was available in Japan by the name of Clocktower). Nintendo trotted out powerhouses in the vein of platforming (Super Mario World), kart-racing (Mario Kart), and even art and musical games (Mario Paint). Third-party developers created some of the strongest titles ever to exist of their respective genres (Capcom's Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is basically without peer as an action-platformer, Konami dominated the run-n-gun market with Contra III: The Alien Wars, and anything remotely role-playing made by Square/Squaresoft still has legions of fans to this day). The beat 'em up genre (my reason for being here) was especially strong, with solid arcade ports (Knights of the Round, The King of Dragon, The Combatribes, TMNT: Turtles in Time, Undercover Cops) and more than a dozen original properties (The Ninja Warriors, Sonic Blastman II, Legend, Rushing Beat Ran) worth drooling over. The console is probably the easiest in the world to mod for import play (you need a set of pliers and about 20 seconds of effort to remove the cart prongs inside the pak-slot), so even some of the censored or unreleased games could eventually be played on the hardware without any kind of handyman ability. Speaking of hardware, the SNES ruled the graphics department across all systems until the NEO GEO showed up, and its amazing sound rendering allowed for such timeless musical classics as Final Fantasy VI, Secret of Mana, The Return of Double Dragon, and many others to be enjoyed by people even without the use of "nostalgia ear-muffs". While the vast majority of games in those days use traditional 2D graphics, SNES pioneered some impressive tech.. like their FX Chip to produce polygonal graphics (Star Fox), and the Mode 7 ability allowed for psuedo-360 movement in racing games (Mario Kart, Bishin Densetsu Zoku: The Legend of Bishin Zoku, the future race in Chrono Trigger), an Armored Core-like mech shooter (Soukou Kihei Votoms: The Battling Road), the overhead levels in Contra III, and some goofy versus fighters (Ballz 3D, Matsumura Kuni Hiroden: Saikyo no Rekishi o Nurikaero!, and Bastard!). Another great thing about the SNES, is that it is one of the sturdiest consoles I've ever owned.. almost two decades later and my original model still works even after all the abuse I put it through. Plus, there are a bunch of peripherals such as the mouse for Mario Paint, the Super Scope bazooka-style light-gun and a 4-controller adapter (the Super Multi-tap) for the handful of games that allowed you to play with three or four people at once. There's even a bit of cross-console adaptation, like allowing you to play Gameboy games (in color!) with a special cartridge.
- I'm going to do something that most of the reviewers on here can't cope with.. admitting the few but nonetheless existing flaws with the Super Nintendo. For starters, since I'd bet my life on the fact that Nintendo bought and pulled apart dozens of Sega Megadrives to study their specs and hardware abilities - why is it that the processor is slower than Sega's console despite being two years newer? I mean, there aren't too many games where you can see the Sega version running faster, and the games (for the most part, the SNES had its share of dud ports when compared to the Genesis) on Nintendo's console usually look and play better, but the less powerful specs annoy me regardless. The SNES controller, while well designed and a perfect fit for the younger gamer (or petite guys and gals), didn't grow on me well.. and with my large manly hands, I tend to get cramps if playing for 3 or more hours.. whereas I can play using my Xbox 360 controller all night without so much as a numbing sensation. Nintendo is also stubborn when it comes to "souping-up" their console to fit with the expanding mid-generation technology. Sega made the 32x and the Sega (which were both failures, despite having a few good games on each demi-console), but all we got for the SNES was a clunky download service that was only in use in Japan and was only notable for producing enhanced versions of Zelda games. The idea to merge the SNES hardware with the ability to read CD-based games lead to disputes and eventually came to birthing Sony's Playstation model - which drove Nintendo out of a lot of money in the following generations. The worst offense, and the one I primarily vocalize is Nintendo's butchering policy when it came to censorship and applying "family-friendly" atmosphere to the American market. While not as horrific as it was back in the NES day (in which everything that could be construed as religious.. like a cross in a graveyard, was altered or straight up erased), the SNES years featured a lot of content slaughtering in the name of Nintendo's misguided appeal to everyone being able to play their games without getting offended by violence or adult content. Final Fight is a prime example - all the booze items were removed, the female foes converted into sissy men, and names like Damnd and Sodom changed to Thrasher and Katana. Sonic Blastman had its female enemies entirely removed, and Final Fight II had a boss who was supposed to carry a knife come out bare-handed. Everyone remembers how outraged they were to find their SNES version of Mortal Kombat sterilized.. with "sweat" replacing blood and the fatalities turning PG-13. - resulting in people buying up the Genesis version in droves even though it wasn't as impressive graphically or sound-wise. It wasn't just the guts and risque female outfits getting touched up.. mature dialogue was re-translated (like Final Fantasy VI's vague suicide reference and the heavily sanitized mention of sex).
The SNES will be remembered as Nintendo's iconic machine, their defining piece of hardware that generations gamers covet and (judging by the heaps of praise it receives here on GameFAQs) most agree to be their best system in existence. I wish that Nintendo put as much effort into their later devices, as even with a number of great games being assigned to the 64, Gamecube, and Wii.. none of them display the dominance in title libraries and overall gamer appreciation that reigned during the 16-bit era.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/26/10
Game Release: SNES Hardware (US, 08/13/91)
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