Top 100 SNES Game: #52 – Gradius III (1991)

Anxiety Attack With a Large Coffee.

How much stimulus can the human mind handle? Exactly enough to juggle and dodge 1300 sprites of doom. 

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A Gradius III and Double Dragon cross over?

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #52/100
Developer: Konami
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

One theory for general anxiety disorder is that it’s due to some lowering of neuron-firing threshold. The entire nervous system is more excitable, and it takes very little stimulus to get widespread action potentials promulgating through your central nervous system.

If you don’t have this problem, Gradius III will surely give it to you: one-hit death, complicated bosses, tricky navigation, a hundred projectiles. While some might view beating the game as an accomplishment, I believe getting through it without increased cortisol levels more of a feat.

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Top 100 NES Review: #31 – Dr. Mario (1990)

The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis.

The rise of drug-resistant staph, pneumonia, and tuberculosis has its roots in this Mario-themed, puzzle game.

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Dr. Mario after completing his residency at Mushroom Kingdom Health Systems.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #31/100
Developer:  Nintendo
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

There is a healthcare crisis in this country right now and as we look at ways to manage costs, it is important to be self-reflective and address instances of abuse and waste.

Look no further than Dr. Mario. His clinical practice guidelines consist of nothing more than the over prescription of antibiotics. Not only does this not make sense (after all, the diagnosis is a viral infection that won’t respond to this type of treatment), he runs the risk of creating new strains of diseases that will be resistant to the very antibiotics he continues to dispense.

While the ethics of Dr. Mario’s decisions come into question, his puzzle adventure game does test the mind and makes one believe they too can practice medicine.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #12 – Secret of Mana (1993)

Reality of Teamwork.

Like a group project in college where two people do all the work and the rest are worthless, Secret of Mana is a reminder that you can still get things done on your own. 

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Louise, Bear and Diego.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #12/100
Developer: Square
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Early games gave you only four letters for the protagonist’s name, and in keeping with the spirit of the role playing genre, I wanted to insert myself into the story as much as possible. Thus began Bear — short for Barrett, but far more intimidating (my Spanish, intimidation name is Oso Peligroso, but I only use that when I’m really in a bind).

Secret of Mana was another chance for me to live out my fantasies of being a youthful adventurer that leaves his small town to end up saving the world, so Bear was naturally the only name that made sense. This time I did not have to go it alone though: I had Diego (played by the really-real human Tanner) and Louise (played by an algorithm of 0s and 1s).  How would the three of us fare?

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Top 100 SNES Review: #60 – Super Double Dragons (1992)

The Knife!

An electric-blue, phallic symbol of power is all that matters in this beat-em up adventure.

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A cyclone of samurai swords is nothing in comparison to the throwing knife.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #60/100
Developer: Technos
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

The Lee brothers are at it again. The last time I got familiar with Billy and Jimmy, they taught me that life is not fair. In this reincarnation, they really don’t teach me much of anything: there is no plot, no story, no instructions. You are just dropped off in a world of baddies, smashing your way without a care in the world…

JUST WATCH OUT FOR THAT KNIFE. 

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Top 100 SNES Review: #25 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time (1992)

Time Travel Made Easy

Ignoring difficult to explain paradoxes, four turtles get thrown into a beat-em-up style adventure that spans 250,000,000 years but only takes an hour or so to complete: I guess time is relative!

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Donatello’s David – a landmark in Western sculpture.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #5/100
Developer: Konami
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Before we had to concentrate on an eight-hour day of physical therapy lectures, I plugged my computer into the big screen and had a romp through NYC at 3am with someone who had never played video games in her life.

She giggled as I was electrocuted. She bubbled over when a wrecking ball flattened me. She rejoiced when we defeated the boss at the end of the level.

Games have just gotten too damn complicated today. There is something fully hedonistic of the classic beat-em up, and TMNT 4: Turtles and Time does it better than anyone else. Not only is it fun, but educational: history, evolution and art history all combined in one.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #5 – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)

The Original Franchise Mashup

Featuring the Mario cast in an RPG format, this game is a throwback to when Nintendo and Square were on good terms and more so when Square was THE company for anything Role playing. 

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Mario, Peach and a new character Geno in classic turn-style RPG fight with HUD showing hit point information to boot.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #5/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Mario was once just pixels on a screen — he moved from side-to-side and displayed a powerful red and blue sartorial combo, but you couldn’t really say you knew anything beyond that. The early Mario games were point A to B side-scrollers, and like how chess pieces have unique moves but no personality, you simply were scooting your square of pixelated art across the screen.

The Final Fantasy franchise made a killing on the Super Nintendo by turning those mundane patches of color into meaning. Final Fantasy 3/6 was the pinnacle point of characterization for the SNES (and maybe video games in general): there were 14 playable characters, each with their own motivations, fears and personalities. At the end of those games, you almost felt like you were saying goodbye to your friends since they had done such a good job at fleshing out those characters.

So who else would Nintendo trust when they wanted to turn their silent movie star into something more?

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Top 100 SNES Review: #19 – Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (1995)

A Platformer That Gives Reason to Replay

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100
Developer: Rare
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This has always been a down low favorite game of mine, and it has a lot to do with all the secrets that are so enticing to find. Diddy Kong’s Quest offered the original Xbox Achievements as each level is scattered with hidden DK coins and tokens. I feel like this was the first time that someone considered replay value beyond a stale rerun through the same levels.

DK2 has the usual quirkiness that the game traditionally brings: a little bit of culture, bizarre animal enemies, and adult Kongs that have their own unique angles. Cranky Kong is probably a favorite as he chastises the player for having it so much easier than earlier gamers (arcade and NES era) and breaks the fourth wall a little bit. This always gave the game a boost of flare and made it more rememberable.

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