This week Defunct Games marked a very important achievement. After five years of reviewing Virtual Console games, This Week in Defunct Games has hit its 200th episode. Since starting the weekly segment back in 2007, Defunct Games has reviewed a staggering 344 Virtual Console games for the Nintendo Wii. Add in the 3DS Virtual Console, Neo Geo Station and PSone Classics, and we've reviewed well over 400 retro releases.
With the Wii on its final legs and This Week hitting its 200th episode, we thought it would be fun to look back and see how each system stacks up. To do this we counted the review scores, added up the games and figured out each system's averages. Did the Genesis finally get the drop on the Super NES? Who had the lowest scores? And what is the greatest system on the Virtual Console? We get to the bottom of all these questions in this very special episode of On Running Feuds.
Before we dig into the numbers, first let me lay down some of the rules. As you likely already know, This Week in Defunct Games features a simplified scoring system that is split into "GO", "CAUTION" and "STOP". It goes without saying that all of these figures are based on site reviews, which are not facts chiseled into stone. You are free to disagree with our scores and opinions, that's the nature of the beast.
Note: The scores are based ONLY on reviews from the first 200 episodes of This Week in Defunct Games. That means that there are a total of 63 Virtual Console games not factored into our numbers. Over the next year we will do our best to swoop back around and review the missing games, which include 13 games for the TurboDuo, 16 Genesis titles, 3 Nintendo 64 releases, 20 Nintendo Entertainment System products and 10 uploads for the Super NES.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
[ Games: 73 | Rank: #1 | Introduced: Nov. 19, 2006 ]
Not the Super NES!
Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, ActRaiser, Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy III, Contra III: The Alien Wars, Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts, F-Zero and Donkey Kong Country.
Do Re Mi Fantasy, Ghoul Patrol, The Ignition Factor and Uncharted Waters.
The 16-bit war is over and the Super NES won ... on the Virtual Console, at least. When it comes to must-download retro games, the Super NES is in a commanding position. Over the course of 200 episodes of This Week in Defunct Games, I have reviewed a total of 63 Super NES games. Of
By the Numbers: Super NES
those 63 reviews, a whopping 36 of them received positive marks. That's 57%, making the Super NES the one and only game system on the Virtual Console to do better than fifty percent.
The Super NES didn't squeak out a victory, either. With a ten point lead over second place, the S-NES routed the competition. It's hard to argue with the game selection, which includes some of the best platformers, shooters and role-playing games of all time. Even if eight dollars sometimes seems a
Do Re Mi Fantasy!
bit steep for twenty year old cartridge games, there's no denying the greatness of Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, F-Zero and Super Mario RPG.
Not only was the Super NES the undisputed leader in must-own games, but they also scored the fewest "STOP" reviews. Of the 63 Super NES games reviewed, only seven (11%) of them received low scores. A lot of the questionable games got filed under "CAUTION," which certainly helped boost the Super Nintendo's numbers. No matter how you slice it, the Super NES is the clear winner after 200 episodes of This Week in Defunct Games!
The Single Worst Game:Final Fight - Final Fight is far from a terrible game. Even though it's terribly shallow and can be beaten in less than an hour, there's something about Metro City that keeps me coming back every few years. The problem isn't Final Fight, but rather this version of Final Fight. This is one of the most disappointing arcade ports in 16-bit history. Gone are some of the levels. Gone is the two-player mode. Gone are some of the enemies, and the ones that stuck around have gone through makeovers and name changes. Gone is Guy. It's all gone, just so Capcom could get this hotly anticipated game out for the Super Nintendo's launch. There are significantly better ports of the game available for almost the same amount of money, so don't settle on this lazy Super NES port.
Strider, Dynamite Headdy, Phantasy Star II, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja, Shining in the Darkness, Ghouls 'N Ghosts, Earthworm Jim, Streets of Rage 2, Vectorman and Beyond Oasis.
Super Fantasy Zone, Monster World IV, Landstalker: The Treasure of King Nole, M.U.S.H.A. and Alien Soldier.
Though the 16-bit wars may have been a close fought battle two decades ago, these days the Virtual Console race isn't nearly as exciting. Based on reviews found in the first 200 episodes of This Week in Defunct Games, I had no problem recommending 47% of the releases. While that's an incredible number, it has nothing on the Super NES and its otherworldly 57%
By the Numbers: Sega Genesis
recommendation. That doesn't conclusively prove that Nintendo's 16-bitter is a better system, it just means that one company is better at pulling from their back catalog than the other.
The Sega Genesis is not only the second best reviewed system on the Virtual Console; it also has one of the lowest percentages of bad games. Only 11 games (19%) scored a "STOP" rating. The only system with a lower percentage of bad games is the Super NES, which settled in at an incredible 11%. On the other hand, both the Genesis and the Super NES scored twenty "CAUTION" ratings.
What the Genesis line-up tells us is that Sega isn't afraid to embrace both their success stories and their failures. This is in sharp contrast with Nintendo, whose first-party releases have been the tried and true money makers. You don't see many of Nintendo's critical
and financial misses on display, which ultimately skews the numbers in favor of the Super NES. Still, a silver medal is nothing to complain about. The Sega Genesis definitely earns its spot with a strong line-up of both ordinary and unexpected games.
The Single Worst Game:Golden Axe III - While I'm not a huge George Michael fan, I've always had a good time singing along to Faith. When I heard Limp Bizkit's ridiculously awful cover it made me want to bang my head until I lost consciousness. Golden Axe III is like listening to a deaf guy cover Limp Bizkit's version of Faith. This is the video game equivalent of going through the motions. The levels are shorter, but that doesn't keep them from being near carbon copies of older Golden Axe stages. The developers recycle enemies, power-ups, magic spells and anything else they can get their hands on. Even Sega knew releasing Golden Axe III was a terrible idea. Instead of wasting the money to create expensive cartridges, the company opted to make it exclusive to the Sega Channel. Now you can own this dubious piece of history. Just remember, this is the Golden Axe game that killed the franchise.
Nintendo Entertainment System
[ No. of Games: 92 | Rank: #3 | Introduced: Nov. 19, 2006 ]
Not the Nintendo Entertainment System!
Super Mario Bros. 3, Ninja Gaiden, River City Ransom, Mega Man 3, Castlevania III, Blaster Master, Shadow of the Ninja, Ghosts 'N Goblins, Super C and the Adventures of Lolo.
U-four-ia: The Saga, Lunar Pool, Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa, Super Dodge Ball and Faxanadu.
The Nintendo Entertainment System is a deeply conflicted game system. On one hand it plays host to some of the greatest games of all time. I'm talking about titles that continue to influence the way we view interactive entertainment a quarter century later. However, as good as the NES is, it's also where you can find some of the
By the Numbers: NES
absolute worst products imaginable. There's no doubt about it, navigating this section is like walking through a mine field.
First the good news: The Nintendo Entertainment System is the third best reviewed platform on the Virtual Console. Of the 72 games reviewed in 200 episodes, I recommended 33 of them. That's 46%, only one point off of the Sega Genesis. When we just look at the games, the NES can't quite touch the Super Nintendo's 36 recommendations.
But don't get too comfortable, because the other shoe is about to drop. The NES has the highest percentage of "STOP" ratings. 27 of the 72 games reviewed scored poorly, giving the NES a dismal 38%. With only 19% of the games receiving a "CAUTION" score, it's
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
clear that Nintendo's selection falls into the love/hate variety. Sometimes it's because a game is genuinely awful, while other times it's because there isn't enough there to warrant the five dollar asking price. Either way, with nearly just as many good games as bad, you'll need to watch your step while shopping for NES games on the Virtual Console.
The Single Worst Game:Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - I used to think that smart people with a real grasp of computer programming made video games. That illusion was shattered the moment I started playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the brutally tough NES game that almost made me hate Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo. Shredder doesn't need to devise a big nefarious plan, he just needs to make the Turtles platform hop in rooms with low ceilings. Either the designers were inept or they were purposely trying to make me throw the controller through the TV. Either way, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the opposite of a good time. And just to add insult to injury, the powers that be decided to add a dollar surcharge, making this one of the most expensive NES games on the Virtual Console.