The SNES Classic Mk. II: Intro and Contents

Will the SNES Classic Mk. II have any games as good as the Mk. I's EarthBound or Super Mario World? Probably not, but there's plenty more gold out there to be mined.
Will the SNES Classic Mk. II have any games as good as the Mk. I's EarthBound or Super Mario World? Probably not, but there's plenty more gold out there to be mined.

I had a great deal of fun writing and organizing last year's PlayStation 2-themed The Top Shelf, because it afforded me an opportunity to do three things I loved: write about games, fuss over arbitrary rankings, and give me an excuse to catch up with and finish some really old backlog items. I was looking to do something like that again this year, though perhaps only every other week so I can try out some other ideas, and settled on a feature revisiting the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Two significant events related to the SNES happened in 2017: the release of the SNES Classic in September, which features 21 (or 26, if you also include the exclusives the Japanese Super Famicom Mini received) of the best games for the system, and the completion of my own SNES Wiki Project to ensure that the Giant Bomb wiki features a sufficiently complete page for every non-Satellaview SNES and Super Famicom game ever released. I couldn't help but to compile a mental checklist of SNES/SFC games that piqued my interest as I worked through that catalogue over the years, as well as recalling the fond times I had with the many I'd already played to completion.

Remember categorized game reviews? They're back. In P.O.G.S. form.
Remember categorized game reviews? They're back. In P.O.G.S. form.

With the SNES Classic Mk. II feature, I'm going to be exploring two games every installment: one game that I'd never had the chance to complete, known as "the candidate", and another that counts among my firm favorites for the system, known as "the nominee". These games were not available on the first SNES Classic, but I'm putting forward the case that they should be considered for the second. To properly render verdicts on 90s video games, I'm relying on a method of scientific scrutiny known as the P.O.G.S. system: Preservation, which retrospectively gauges how well the game has held up in the decades since its release, since this thought experiment is predicated on releasing these games in a contemporary video game marketplace; Originality, a wildcard asset that will give a game an edge over its less imaginative peers; Gameplay, which gets to the meat and potatoes of how the game functions and whether or not it does well by its genre, or transcends it entirely; and Style, an elusive quality that combines a game's graphical prowess with its sense of personality, the idea being that good graphics don't mean a thing without some strong artistic direction behind them.

Each category can receive anywhere from one to five stars, and the twenty-five games with the highest scores at the end of this project will become my proposed library for a hypothetical second SNES Classic. It's all for funzies, of course, but if I can play a bunch of SNES games I've had my eye on for years and also put together some cogent arguments and raise some profiles for some of my overlooked favorites, then all the better.

So, to reiterate the rules:

  • Each installment, which will appear every other Tuesday, will review two SNES games: A highly regarded game I have little to no prior experience with, dubbed "the candidate", and one I have plenty of experience with and have completed once already if not several times, dubbed "the nominee".
  • None of the games to be considered appeared on the original SNES Classic. The intent is to create a whole new line-up.
  • Each game will be rated on four categories: Preservation, Originality, Gameplay, and Style. This collectively forms the P.O.G.S. system, because it's the only thing that embodies the 90s as much as the Super Nintendo does. Well, all right, there are probably lots of stuff. The ABC sitcom Dinosaurs, perhaps.
  • With twenty-five anticipated installments (I'm taking Christmas off) we should end up with a list of fifty games, the higher-rated half of which will become the SNES Classic Mk. II line-up. The rest will have to wait until I make a SNES Classic Mk. III feature (don't hold your breath).
  • A few bonus rules: I'm avoiding the temptation to fill the list with JRPGs, if only because I want to spend some of my time doing other things this year. There are still a few on my list, but they're either relatively short or really worthwhile. There'll be a few fan-translated SFC games on here also, since in my perfect SNES Classic Mk. II world Nintendo will have reached out to those translators for a deal that officializes those localizations and compensates them for their hard work.

For a list of games reviewed so far and the blog installments they pertain to, consult the table below:

Blog Title / LinkCandidateNominee
Episode I: Demons & AngelsDemon's Crest (17)ActRaiser (16)
Episode II: Time BombOperation Logic Bomb (16)Chrono Trigger (18)
Episode III: Aeronauts & CrossesMario's Super Picross (14)Pilotwings (13)
Episode IV: Telling TalesThe Twisted Tales of Spike McFang (13)Tales of Phantasia (16)
Episode V: Isometric Exercise, Care To Join Me?Monstania (14)Equinox (14)
Episode VI: Pop'n ZitzMagical Pop'n (13)Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (13)
Episode VII: Hakkun SmashSutte Hakkun (16)Sanrio World Smash Ball! (14)
Episode VIII: Goofs and ParodiesGoof Troop (15)Parodius (15)
Episode IX: Holy Grails and Holy UmbrellasHoly Umbrella: Dondera no Mubo (14)King Arthur's World (15)
Episode X: Birdman of Alca-BlazAlcahest (15)Skyblazer (16)
Episode XI: Cecil B. DeMupShin Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun: Kunio-tachi no Banka (13)Final Fantasy IV (18)
Episode XII: Guns N' RodentsGunple: Gunman's Proof (14)Lemmings (16)
Episode XIII: Plok and MartySuper Back to the Future Part II (9)Plok (14)
Episode XIV: Soul-fégeDoReMi Fantasy: Milon no DokiDoki Adventure (15)Soul Blazer (16)
Episode XV: SinCityMajyuuou (14)SimCity (15)
Episode XVI: Too EasyYs V: Ushinawareta Suna no Miyako Kefin (15)Ys III: Wanderers of Ys (14)
Episode XVII: Dream Bream MachineKirby's Dream Land 3 (16)Umihara Kawase (16)
Episode XVIII: Jelly Boyz 2 Mega MenMega Man 7 (14)Jelly Boy (15)
Episode XIX: Fiddle-FodderHameln no Violin Hiki (16)Cannon Fodder (16)
Episode XX: Sci-Fi B-Movie Double FeatureRobotrek (15)Secret of Evermore (15)
Episode XXI: Writer's BlocksSuper Gussun Oyoyo 2 (14)Tetris Battle Gaiden (16)
Episode XXII: ROM-Zom-KongZombies Ate My Neighbors (15)Donkey Kong Country 2 (17)
Episode XXIII: The Marvelous and MysticalMarvelous (17)Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (14)
Episode XXIV: Quintet-sentialTerranigma (19)Illusion of Gaia (18)
Episode XXV: End of the RainbowPop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures (17)Mario Paint (14)
The Finale