Top 100 SNES Review: #18 – Super Mario Kart (1992)

This Game Makes Me Dizzy.

And other musings from an out-dated racer.

Super Mario Kart SNES TItle ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #18/100
My Rating: Star.jpgStar.jpg

I’m exhausted.

Currently, I just finished off a 50 hour work week, but it doesn’t stop there: I have residency mid-terms in a couple of weeks; a paper that I’m trying to get published; research articles that needs to be read; and notes to be typed.

Needing to hit a restart, I decided to keep Friday night and all of Saturday completely to myself. I’m going to waste away laying around, playing video games, writing, guitaring, and whatever else fits my fancy.

I wanted something easy to kick it off. I preferred to avoid going through the hassle of learning something new, nor did I want to get pulled into a long adventure (here’s looking at you Final Fantasy). Mario Kart seemed to fit the bill. I could drink my Sam’s Club diet soda and do short three-minute races while taking breaks for instagram and self-reflection.

While having more content than F-Zero, Mario Kart SNES still seems pretty bare. The programming for certain situations also became very predictable (Need a star? Eighth place it is! About to pass Luigi? Guess who now has a star!). Not to mention the vertigo-inducing graphics where Donut Plains turns into a pixilated seizure of poop stains.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #92 – Secret of the Stars (1995)

A Ghetto Final Fantasy 2.

A game in 1995 should not look, feel, or play like this.

Secret of the Stars SNESSydlexia’s Ranking: #92/100
My Rating: Star

Secret of the Stars is the throwback game you would never want. Given a North America release of ’95, you would think it would boast some of those late system features. Instead, Secret of the Stars seems more apropos as an NES game.

It’s most readably comparable to Final Fantasy 2/4; it has a similar feel in art direction, gameplay, and horrible mistranslations. It just somehow does everything way worse than a game released four years prior.

I’m not sure there is anything good about this game. It’s massively slow in every facet including walking, battles, conversations, and menus. The music reminds me of Methodist church hymns. The one creative twist, controlling two separate parties, is a complete failure.

It’s actually quite impressive but not in a good kind of way.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #93 – Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (1992)

95% Awful With A Couple Good Midi Tracks.

I didn’t expect much from the backend of this Top 100 list, and it still disappointed. 

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest Title Screen Sydlexia’s Ranking: #93/100
My Rating: Star

I’ve seen Instagram accounts for models that have more depth than this game.

Made to attract North American kids to the new genre of RPGs in the early 90s, Square gutted anything that might have raised the difficulty level a microgram. ANYTHING. Not wanting to risk us getting lost, the locations are named things such as ‘Aquaria’ and ‘Windia’ and ‘Fireburg.’ The world map is more like Super Mario Bro’s 3 forcing you into predetermined sidewalks of adventure. There is an option to allow autobattle where the computer takes over your sole companion’s commands because hitting the A button for two party members would be too much.

The game makes sure we avoid strategy, story, exploration, or anything else that might be kind of like, ya know, the things we enjoy from RPG games.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #14 – Contra III: The Alien Wars (1992)

Friends Forever.

Nothing cements life-long relationships like repeated death in the face of an alien invasion. 
Contra III The Alien Wars Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #14/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Over the past year, I’ve played Contra III multiple times with different people. It’s inclusion on the SNES Classic has made it easy to get into a two-player bug tussle for the fate of humanity. The game is best with multi-player; I can’t imagine it being as fun if you decide to go at it alone.

That’s because this game can be brutal. What would otherwise be a frustrating solo endeavor leading to a probable temper-tantrum becomes a shared experienced: you are both in this ridiculous plight together, and with some judicious tactics and occasional reckless abandon, you can make this happen…

…as long as you get past stage three.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #9 – Earthbound (1995)

Everything is a Struggle.

I’ve never seen a game so intentionally trip itself up.

Earthbound SNES Title Screen.pngSydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: StarStar

We’ve all seen the meme where the person puts a stick in their own bicycle spoke which causes an accident as the person lays on the ground feigning for attention as if the universe is out to get them.

Welcome to Earthbound.

In the world of 1995 gaming, game developers had caught on to a few things:

  • New characters added later in the game shouldn’t be introduced at level 1 to be mercilessly killed by bears.
  • No one ever gives five star ratings to games that make you backtrack out of dungeons.
  • Human psychology proves humans have an affinity for things that are fun.

Everything from inventory, battles, saving, and money (ESPECIALLY MONEY) is made more difficulty than necessary. Shame on whoever made this game: it would be forgivable in the late 80s but inexcusable for something that came out a year before the N64. It’s reason for being so popular? A group of rabid fans that appeared years after its release.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #21 – Breath of Fire II (1995)

I Tried, I Really Did.

Story 👏 Must 👏 Connect 👏 With 👏Quests 👏. 

Breath of Fire II Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I don’t understand what took so long for archaic RPGs to catch on to what worked. Final Fantasy 3/6 came out in 1994  and was successful due to two core ideas: less grinding, more story. J-RPGs aren’t rocket science. A little bit of emotional attachment goes a long way.

Breath of Fire II seems 5 years behind its peers. Its only interesting character is locked away for too long due to plot purposes (a dog named Bow who uses a Bow – Bow w/ dah Bow!) Funny and endearing, Bow is an archetypal screw-up that makes things light and interesting. After that, dull characters join for tacky reasons. People in this world have nothing better to do than become an itinerant band of vagabonds.

It was bearable until it was paired with quests that provided no emotional attachment. Here I am, spending my precious time on Earth, fighting witches for people I do not know and getting into cooking contests to prove the lineage of a frog prince because the main character has the attention span of a bird.

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Top 100 SNES Reviews: #91 – Sunset Riders (1993)

Arcade Vigilante Justice.

Steve, Billy, Bob and Cormano — your western PD. 
Sunset Riders Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #91/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

What a gem.

Few games ever become quotable (Star Fox 64 being the big exception). The game’s first boss Simon Greedwell says in a deep gurgling voice “Bury Me With My Money.” Not only is this the kind of financial planning the ancient Egyptians would endorse, it’s instantly quotable. From then on, I knew this was the game for me.

The subsequent scenes do not disappoint. There is burlesque dancing, a Micheal Jackson impersonation, and a shirtless muscular boss with a pro-BDSM slant.

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The Top 100 SNES Review: #20 – Mortal Kombat II (1993)

The Game My Mom Wouldn’t Let Me Play.

I don’t feel like I missed out on much though.
Mortal Kombat Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #20/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

First, I don’t really care for arcade-style fighting games . Mortal Kombat already had its work cut out to prove to me that it was worth while. On top of that, I never played the game as a child. My mom wasn’t a fan of the gore or the fatalities, so there was no potential nostalgia to buoy me. With Mortal Kombat 11 being such a hit, it was time to fire up the classic and give it a go.

After a few dithering rounds, my friend looked at me and said “Do you remember when this was it? Like, since this was the only entertainment you had, you had to keep coming back?” This nostalgic quip really defines this game. We looked up a couple combos, gave people a few acid baths, and then decided to rewatch all the SNL Celebrity Jeopardy parodies instead.

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Top 100 SNES Games: #72 – NBA Jam (1993)

I Bet Kevin Durant Can’t Dunk From Half Court.

But I can! Where’s my $164 million over four years?
NBA Jam Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #72/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

There must be some abstract equation that correlates creativity with limitation. One would think that boundless space would lead to unfeathered creativity, but I think that’s incorrect: only when we are restricted do we see our true imagination unfold.

You couldn’t actually simulate a basketball game in the 90s — the technology wasn’t powerful enough. So instead, they made a game that looked kind of like basketball by having a court, a ball, and rim. Then they layered on top impossible, acrobatic dunks that were as ridiculous as they were infectious. The end product is unlike the very thing it tries to imitate, but it is more fun and accessible than something realistic — and this game is anything but realistic.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #42- Kirby Super Star (1996)

I Hated It…UNTIL I LOVED IT!

Kirby almost pulled a fast one one me, trying to make me think this game sucked. 

Kirby Super Star Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #42/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

For my fellow friends who have a SNES Classic, none of them understand this game. When you first log in, you are greeted by an office bulletin board with various posters hanging up. Each poster represents one of the “eight” games advertised on the cover. Some of them are extremely short mini-games that are worth maybe 60 seconds of investigation while others are more traditional Kirby but still insanely brief.

Thus, it’s possible to pop into Kirby’s universe, bounce around for a little bit, and then exit unsatisfied having frittered away your Saturday afternoon. I was feeling the same way as all my buddies until everything changed: The Revenge of Meta Knight, a goofy, plot-centric mission to destroy an airship leads to good, wholesome fun. After that, I imbibed everything this game had to offer, just like Kirby → → → <(“<)

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