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Defunct Games Vs.
Defunct Games vs. Super NES Launch
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 23, 2011   |   Episode 10 (Show Archive)  

   


This Super NES toaster is still more attractive than what Nintendo came up with!
By 1991 it seems like Nintendo was as big as they could get. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a household name and adults around the world used the company's name as a synonym for "video game." But Nintendo was prepared to take their fans to the next level; a 16-bit wonderland with fancy scaling effects, thousands of colors and an audio chip that has to be heard to be believed. The Super NES was definitely real ... and everybody wanted one.

Nintendo officially released the Super NES on this day in 1991. For $200 gamers were treated to a brand new copy of Super Mario World, a brand new gamepad and an eject button. Initially there were five games on the shelves, including only two third-party titles. The line-up featured two brand new IPs from

Not even professional photography can make this system attractive!
Nintendo, as well as two arcade ports. But more many gamers, the Super NES launch was all about sinking their teeth into the tropical bliss of Super Mario World.

To help celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the Super NES, Defunct Games wants to take you on a journey of the launch line-up. These are the six games that shaped this 16-bit console early on, for better and worse. Find out which of these games is still worth playing and which you can avoid. And who knows, maybe this will be enough to make you sit down and give F-Zero another shot.

Super Mario World
[ Release: 1991 - Company: Nintendo - Genre: 2D Platformer ]
The best game in the line-up wasn't on store shelves, but rather was packaged inside the Super NES box. Super Mario World was Nintendo's pack-in for the Super NES; the way they intended to sell an entire new generation of gamers on the $200 price tag. Not only is Mario's first 16-bit adventure one of the best launch games of the 1990s, but it's also one of the greatest action games ever created. Series mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto is on record saying that Super Mario World is the best game in the franchise, so you know it must be good.

While I disagree that this is the beset Mario game so far (for me Super Mario Bros. 3 reigns supreme), I won't take anything away from the greatness that is Super Mario World. From the colorful graphics to the pinpoint accurate gameplay, this was the Super NES game to own on August 23, 1991. The truth is, it is still a must-own game. The levels are timeless and there are so many extras to find that you'll likely never see them all. Best of all, the game adds extra layers with the addition of new power-ups and Yoshi. It's hard to find fault with this Nintendo classic.

Pilotwings
[ Release: 1991 - Company: Nintendo - Genre: Simulation ]
Contrary to popular rose-colored opinion: Pilotwings is not a great video game. It works as a technical showpiece and not much more. The game skated by at the time because it did things nobody had seen before. The use of Mode 7 technology (which allowed for impressive scaling and rotating effects) was mind-blowing at the time, which might explain why so many people remain impressed by this expensive tech demo. Looking back at it now, Pilotwings can't keep itself airborne.

The game itself only offers a few modes, all of which involve short mini-games. You get to pilot an airplane, hang glide and parachute your way to victory. Each mode has a few different challenges, but nothing you can't bust through in an hour or two. Some of these mini-games are fun, but few will keep your attention for very long. Worse yet, Pilotwings doesn't have any of the usual charm you find in Nintendo-published games. Not even the gee-whiz scaling and rotation can overcome the lack of content found in this full-priced launch game.

F-Zero
[ Release: 1991 - Company: Nintendo - Genre: Racing ]
While Pilotwings certainly showed off the power of the Super NES, it was F-Zero that used Mode 7 to craft an actual video game. This futuristic racer has smooth scaling and a surprising amount of content, making it one of the best games at the system's launch. With its incredible graphics and mind-blowing speed, it was hard to stay interested in any other launch title ... even Super Mario World.

Compared to the 8-bit racing games of old, F-Zero was a revelation. The scaling enabled a more realistic experience, something that eluded even old school classics like OutRun and Rad Racer. Nintendo had painted a world unlike anything we had seen before, one full of courses you could only get away with in a game like F-Zero. This game also led the way for Nintendo's biggest racing franchises, Super Mario Kart.

Unfortunately this Super NES launch title doesn't offer two-player support, but that won't stop competitive gamers from comparing times. Since this game's launch, Nintendo has done everything it can to ignore the origins of this series. F-Zero games on the Nintendo 64 and GameCube looked good and sped along faster than any other game, but they lacked the heart of this 1991 masterpiece.

Final Fight
[ Release: 1991 - Company: Capcom - Genre: Brawler ]
Final Fight is one of Capcom's best two-player arcade games. It's a brawler full of great graphics, memorable characters and fun (albeit rundown) locales. Of all the classic sprite-drivel brawlers of that era, it's Final Fight I come back to more than anything. Unfortunately, this is not the arcade version of Final Fight; this is the horrible Super NES port that you should do everything in your power to avoid.

This 16-bit console version is a train wreck. We should have known something was wrong when Capcom axed the two-player support, a major component of the arcade original. Things got even worse when the company took out the game's very best character, Guy. They also decided to go through and rename enemies and bosses, removing "objectionable" names like Damnd and Sodom. And just when you think things can't get any worse, Capcom yanks a major level right out of the game. Given the countless arcade-perfect ports currently available on every major platform, there's no reason to revisit this Capcom stinker.

SimCity
[ Release: 1991 - Company: Nintendo - Genre: Simulation ]
An odd choice for a launch title, but a great port nonetheless. Nintendo has managed to capture all of the magic that made the PC original such a big hit. The graphics weren't anything to look at, but the depth of gameplay was unlike anything console gamers had seen before. Best of all, the simple gameplay worked well on the Super NES gamepad, though purists would no doubt prefer a mouse and keyboard.

I would like to take this time to address how insanely addictive SimCity is, even to this day. In preparing for this write-up I nearly ran out of time because I put too much time into the Super NES SimCity. Even with better versions around, I had no problem getting sucked back into this micro world. This Super NES port even features exclusive Nintendo-themed prizes and characters, making this more than just another version of SimCity. This is one of the few educational games that doesn't feel like learning. It's a chore that can help teach valuable economic lessons. And in this day and age it seems like we could use a few more people who understand the economy.

Gradius III
[ Release: 1991 - Company: Konami - Genre: 2D Shooter ]
Gradius III isn't a terrible game. The truth is, I still play and enjoy Gradius III. The problem has nothing to do with the game, but rather the piss-poor Super NES port of the arcade classic. Instead of looking forward (like F-Zero and Pilotwings), Gradius III highlights all of the weaknesses associated with the Super NES hardware. This is not the way to demonstrate the power of Nintendo's brand new hardware.

Gradius III is littered with technical problems, but the biggest seems to be the rampant slow-downs and sprite flickers. While 8-bit gamers had gotten used to these maladies, Sega's Genesis had all but eliminated slow-downs in their top tier shooters. Gradius III yet again proved that Sega does what Nintendon't. These days there's no reason to play this Super NES port. Konami has graciously included an arcade-perfect port with the Gradius Collection for the Sony PSP. There's no reason to remember this blemish on the Super Nintendo's otherwise stellar launch.

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