Top 5 Most Overrated SNES Games

Frankly (my dear), I’m tired of hearing about certain SNES games. Here are my top five most overrated SNES games, listed in order of how banal it is to hear about their high quality:

 

5. ActRaiser

Want a closer shave? Try ActRaiser.

Want a closer shave? Try ActRaiser.

ActRaiser gets a lot of credit for its combination of action and simulation, but ask yourself two things: is it a good action game? Is it a good simulation game? If you’ve played a good action game like Super Castlevania IV or a good simulation game like SimCity, you know the answer is “Absolutely not.” ActRaiser lacks depth in both areas. It’s merely a nice idea that’s playable for a few hours. Nothing more or less. A good soundtrack alone does not make a good game.

 

4. Super Mario World

He remembers the days when the plant didn't jump out of the damn pipe ...

He remembers the days when the plant didn’t jump out of the damn pipe …

Super Mario World is a fun game, but it’s not great like its predecessor Super Mario Bros. 3 or its sequel Yoshi’s Island.

If you set aside the inclusion of Yoshi, Super Mario World is not terribly exciting or mind-blowing. Super Mario World gives Mario a yellow cape, which typifies the lack of imagination in the game. Why give Mario the mark of an average superhero? On the other hand, becoming a flying raccoon, a frog or a Hammer Brother in Super Mario Bros. 3 was pretty incredible (and in the case of the Hammer Brother, empowering — how cool was it to gain the power of those annoying bastards?).

There’s something very standard about Super Mario World. Its locales and stage design are nowhere near as varied as those in Super Mario Bros. 3, and the game lacks the eccentric charm of Yoshi’s Island, a game that seems willing to try anything (e.g., Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy). Super Mario World’s excellent graphics, sound and control help you forget how redundant its “World” is.

Super Mario World’s weaknesses wouldn’t stick out as much if it were more difficult. A little bit of challenge could’ve gone a long way in making Super Mario World more interesting and satisfying in general.

I would never say Super Mario World is a bad or even mediocre game. It deserves at least one playthrough, if not more. But overall, the game doesn’t have as much personality as a lot of platformers, even lesser ones like Boogerman. Super Mario World sets the bar at a medium height every time. If it hadn’t cleared the bar consistently, it would’ve been a mess.

 

3. Star Fox

Check out the angle on that triangle.

Check out the angle on that triangle.

I remember when everyone thought Star Fox looked cool. You shouldn’t judge games by graphics alone, but if you did, this game would get low marks. Star Fox hasn’t aged well.

In a way, Star Fox is like Super Mario World (though it’s nowhere near as fun): its shortcomings can be forgotten because of the solid music. But next time you play it, notice how shallow the gameplay is compared to good shooters like Life Force and Gate of Thunder. In Star Fox, you can see almost everything coming from a mile away, and the level design is vapid and ugly.

Nintendo played a neat trick in Star Fox; the game made you feel like you were part of a team (you know, like the X-wings in Star Wars). In reality, it doesn’t really matter if your comrades survive, as the game is easy and you fight bosses by yourself anyway. Oh sure, you won’t get as many points with this attitude, but how impressive is a high score in Star Fox compared to a high score in Space Invaders or Asteroids?

And I know, Star Fox has multiple paths for “replay value.” Once I beat it, I had no desire to beat the requisite poorly designed stage to discover new poorly designed stages.

 

2. F-Zero

Check it out, maaaaaaan! Those circles are yellow instead of blue!

Dude! Those circles are yellow with green outlines!

Earlier this year, Nintendo promoted its new (shitty) Virtual Console on the Wii U by making F-Zero a 30-cent deal for a month. That was a great deal, considering that I wouldn’t pay more than $2 for this game. Super Mario Kart exposed F-Zero’s mediocrity a long time ago.

Let’s start with the graphics. Place aside the vehicle design, and you have a visually bland game. The game simply changes the colors of the circles that line the tracks and the surrounding “environments.” I prefer Super Hang-On’s approach to F-Zero’s. At least you know you’re looking at something in Super Hang-On.

I’m in danger of beating up a point, but F-Zero is yet another example of an SNES game that seems better than it is because of a good soundtrack. Is this a conspiracy from Nintendo? To lull us into loving anything? Maybe I like video game music too much. The sound in F-Zero, after all these years, is great.

The gameplay of F-Zero is remarkably limited considering that this game takes place in the future. The most you can do is bump into other vehicles and get a speed boost. Oh, and you might hit a ramp that sends you into the air. That’s about as far as this technologically advanced world will take you in terms of fun. Most of the time you’ll be wondering when the 90 and 180 degree turns will stop, as well as why the tracks are filled with random vehicles that have no stake in the race. That stuff is straight-up weird (and unnecessary) when you sit this game next to Super Mario Kart.

 

1. Chrono Trigger

This cover wasn't flattering for Frog. Wuss.

This cover wasn’t flattering for Frog. Wuss.

This game has to be No. 1, no matter what we’re talking about. I am overrating its overratedness.

Chrono Trigger is a special game. It’s the only game on this list I’ve bothered to beat multiple times – you know, to get those different endings, each one leading you to the next because none of them are satisfying like the ending in Final Fantasy III (or VI, whatever) or Earthbound. Yep, I beat this game mercilessly.

Is it fair to say, then, that Chrono Trigger is wasted potential? It’s hard to determine given that the game hooks you with Dragon Ball Z character designs (Crono in love with Marla = Crono in love with his own face), a fast-paced battle system based on combinations and time manipulation. But I have a list of things that are downright strange in a game that is supposedly better than everything:

No part of the game is as fun as the Millennial Fair and the subsequent trial for your actions. The developers hand you the best thing up their sleeves and coast on the mystique of time traveling the rest of the way.

Overworld traveling has rarely looked this lame. If you’re gonna go that tiny, why not use dots on a map like Super Mario World to save time?

The jet bike race makes F-Zero look like Super Mario Kart. And the fact that you’re required to play it makes it the worst mini-game ever.

Too many lame attacks. You could argue any great RPG has lame attacks, and you’d be right. But whereas Final Fantasy III (or VI, whatever) had so many attacks and spells that a few dumb ones didn’t even register, Chrono Trigger only has eight moves per character. So when you finally get to Frog Squash or Dino Tail and see how ineffective they are unless you’re dying (as well as how stupid they look — Chrono Trigger is visually inconsistent), you’re left wondering why Square even bothered putting them in. The same thing with the combinations. Some of them are worthless. What’s the point of waiting for this stuff? Why should I be thrilled that Ayla can steal after I get the required tech points when I could steal right off the bat with Locke in Final Fantasy III (or VI, whatever)?

Wasted locations. I won’t complain about what you could explore in 12,000 B.C., 600 A.D. and 1000 A.D. In comparison, 65,000,000,000 B.C. is lacking content, and 1999 A.D. is a waste. Why does 1999 A.D. have to be on the day Lavos attacks? The game wastes a brilliant opportunity to have Crono and the gang explore a time close to ours. Games like Final Fantasy II (or IV, whatever), Final Fantasy III (or VI, whatever), Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, Breath of Fire II and Secret of Evermore didn’t waste big opportunities for exploration.

The music is god-awful.

Just kidding.

12 Comments

  1. complaining about the graphics in 20 year old snes games isn’t the same as writing a good article.

  2. Interesting list! I must admit I disagree with some of the entries on this list, but still, this was a nice read. I’ve yet to play Chrono Trigger, so I can’t say anything about that yet, but I should definitely play that game as soon as I can. Keep up the good work!

  3. Definitely have to agree with you, Jed!

    Actraiser caught my attention when it came out because I thought the graphics were amazing… and they were… but the game just didn’t hold up. It wasn’t horrible, but it definitely isn’t as good as people make it out to be (IMO).

    I think Super Mario World was good for what it was, which was a first title to get you to buy the SNES. I was an idiot and traded my NES and 200 games in at a local video store when the SNES came out to get store credit so I could buy the SNES with Super Mario World. Even back then, it didn’t take long to realize SMB3 was a better game. SMW had excellent sound and music though :)

    I agree completely about Chrono Trigger… not sure what it is about the game, but I never got into it at all. My brother bought it when it came out and I didn’t really like anything about it. But people put that damn thing on a pedestal

  4. I imported Actraiser from Japan, and couldn’t understand one fuckin word of it, and I still completed it and had a blast, most epic music ever. Anyone who lists that as one of the top 5 most over rated games needs a slap, seriously though, you just listed 5 of the greatest games of their day, all fuckin epic games that will be remembered for all time for one reason or another.

    You want to know what’s over rated, Assassin’s Creed series, Halo series, Metal Gear Solid 4, Gran Turismo. Starcraft and BAttlefield 3.

    Most games are over rated now, but don’t ever list SNES classics as over rated, because there was no internet full of fuckin fanboys to over rate these games at the time, it was simple word of mouth that made these games classics.

    • Jed Pressgrove

      I definitely agree that Assassin’s Creed, Halo, and many other modern franchise games are overrated. (I did enjoy StarCraft, though.)

      It’s important to keep in mind that while the Internet wasn’t raging back in the early 1990s, there were plenty of gaming magazines. I know this because I bought them all the time. Getting a good score from GamePro or EGM meant something.

      So yes, old games can be overrated. Word of mouth doesn’t make classics. Long-lasting quality makes classics.

  5. Actraiser = Definitely overrated
    Super Mario World = Not overrated (imo) but certainly not as good as Super Mario Bros. 3 or Yoshi’s Island.
    Star Fox = Overrated? Maybe, and it definitely hasn’t aged well.
    F-Zero = I don’t see people overrating this title much, so I disagree here.
    Chrono Trigger = Excellent RPG, best on the SNES imo

  6. Nice article! There are so much ‘underrated’ SNES games which don’t get the attention these 5 games are getting. Please tell me which ones I must check ;)

    • Jed Pressgrove

      Thanks Ruben! Off the top of my head, I think the following five games deserve more praise and attention:

      Wild Guns
      Illusion of Gaia
      Kirby Super Star
      The Lost Vikings
      Mario Paint

      You’ve probably played all of these, and none of them were poorly received, but I would rather play them than the games mentioned in the article.

  7. Not Giving my name to you.

    It’s your opinion and you should stand by it. But, you know what. Who cares! I happen to enjoy 2 of 5 games you’ve shown those being Super Mario World & Chrono Trigger. ActRaiser has epic music which I enjoy too. It all comes down to personal taste in video games. Are they overrated? Yes. Are they fun to play? Yes. Doesn’t mean you should make other people rage about this. In which case you are then you’re no better then anyone else on the internet. I can agree to disagree.

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