Top 100 SNES Review: #17 – Star Fox (1993)

Geometric Joy

No matter your favorite polygonal structure (dodecahedron anyone?), you will enjoy flying through this math-class review of a rail shooter game. 

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Find the perimeter of the acute, isosceles triangle shown above.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #17/100
Developer: Argonaut Software
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

What a combination: a fox, hawk, toad and hare trapped within recessing parallelograms.

It’s hard for those who weren’t there to understand how interesting the promise of 3D games was. While the SNES was not ready to do it, many developers came up with “tricks’ to make the illusion of depth. Donkey Kong Country used rounded front characters on bubbled backgrounds to create a magic eye of 3D. Doom took advantage of Renaissance-era depth and perspective techniques to make it seem that monsters were moving positions.

Starfox did it through creating actual polygonal shapes, thus an actual precursor to what we would come to know from the psone and n64. While somewhat of an ugly first effort, the charm is still there, and the organic contributions of the four characters softens the hard edges of the environment.

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Top 100 NES Review: #46 – Kirby’s Adventure (1993)

The Archetypal Hero

Kirby shows up fashionable late to the NES party and provides a final jolt to a dying system with this introspective tale of fulfilling the Hero Archetype.

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Kirby destroying the ecology. Mercy, Mercy Me.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #46/100
Developer: Hal Laboratory
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This game has a lot of Japanese flair — I’m not sure how else to put it. Your character is a pink puffball that sucks in monsters and steals their abilities. Mini-games includes eating as many eggs as possible and an old Western dual. The opening sequence is a how-to-tutorial of how to draw kirby (“First you draw a circle…”). Your journey begins in vegetable valley and ends with a battle flight through the stars. This game leaves no ground uncovered, including the collective consciousness.

Along the way, you may become attached to the trials and desires of the pink enveloper, but by the end you realize that Kirby’s playful facade is just a cover for his performance as a Carl Jung archetype: the hero.

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Top 100 NES Review: #60 – Double Dragon II: The Revenge (1989)

LIFE ISN’T FAIR

And other life lessons learned from Billy and Jimmy Lee in this erudite, side-scrolling, beat-em-up adventure.

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Billy Lee pondering his place within the technicolor dreamcoat of his existence.

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

The beat-em-up genre defined an entire generation. Its repetitive-button smashing released personalized-serotonin hits allowing us to feel good while eschewing any actual personal development. I don’t know of any other category of video game that so easily mixes repeated motions with such a sense of accomplishment – complete entertainment with little effort.

Except when the Double Dragons are involved. 

What we have here is a compact set of nine levels, beautifully architected for the pithy purpose of teaching us that life’s lottery doesn’t always come up triple 7s. A perfect compliment to my summer of mismanaged love and unfortunate living arrangements, Double Dragons II helped me cope with the idea that this isn’t all my fault.

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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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