Every kid has favorite games. These are the games that you played way past your bedtime, that you insisted on beating over and over, and that you would do anything for in order to keep the controller in your hands. It didn’t matter if they were good or bad; they were the games that defined your childhood. To celebrate these games of the past, we are introducing Flashback, a new column that combines original artwork and retrospectives to look back on some of the titles that defined our years growing up as gamers. We’re starting with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the first console that represented a large part of our youth. Below, both of us picked two games that rarely left our systems’ cartridge slots. Over the coming months, we will shift our focus to other Nintendo platforms and the games that made them equally great. Enjoy!
Jose’s Pick: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest
If I had to pick only one title as my favorite Super NES game of all time, it would be Donkey Kong Country 2 hands down. I love a challenging game, and this one delivered in droves. Everything I liked about the original Donkey Kong Country was here and more. There were crazier bosses, unique environments that I never imagined I would be playing in (riding a Skull roller coaster in a library while being chased by a ghost, for example), and more amazing music. I care as much about the soundtrack of a game as I do the gameplay and DKC2′s is definitely as good as the game is fun. Stikerbush Symphony without a doubt ranks up there with other classic games tracks. This is also the SNES game I remember playing with my brother the most. Since I played only as Donkey Kong in the first game, I played as Diddy and my brother took on the role of Dixie, who ended up being the better character.
When it comes to content and replay value, this game has tons. In addition to the regular levels you have to beat, you now have Kremling coins that you have to collect in order to unlock the final and most difficult levels in the game for the true ending. This alone required you to explore every level since the minigames where you get these coins could be anywhere. On top of that were also DK coins to collect to unlock another little secret of the game. Levels were also nicely varied, sometimes requiring you to play entirely with your animal buddies such as Rambi the rhino and Rattly the snake. Simply put, Donkey Kong Country 2 is an amazing entry in an amazing trilogy of Super NES games.
Jose’s Pick: Goof Troop
Goof Troop for the Super NES was my gateway game into the world of cooperative multiplayer. Until I played Goof Troop, my sister and I were used to games like the Mario series and Donkey Kong Country, in which you had to take turns for multiplayer. Goof Troop, however, let us play at the same time, and that was a huge deal. In addition, the game had challenging puzzles, difficult bosses and a very catchy soundtrack. The game is played from a top-down perspective like a 2D Zelda game. If anything, it is closer in design to the first Zelda game since every area is viewed one screen at a time. This eliminated the possibility of getting ahead of your teammate and made working together easier since you shared the same view.
The game follows Goofy and Max as they try to rescue Pete and P.J. from pirates. As a six year old at the time, that’s all the plot I needed considering it was not that much more complex than the television show it was based on. Goof Troop is also a pretty short game. So short, in fact, that it could be finished in less than four hours. Since it was really fun, I found myself playing it multiple times as a kid. I even got Jason to play it with me to completion after over a decade of not playing the game, and it still held up well. Capcom was the developer, so it comes as no surprise that it was a quality product. Boy, do I miss those days when Capcom made awesome licensed games…
Jason’s Pick: Super Mario World
There was something special about Super Mario World. Maybe it was the interconnected world, the first in Mario history, that let players explore Dinosaur Island any way they chose with secrets and shortcuts aplenty (entire bonus worlds included!). Maybe it was the introduction of Yoshi, a funny-looking rideable dinosaur who had an appetite for baddies and a huge variety of powers. Or maybe it was the graphical leap the game had over its predecessor, Super Mario Bros. 3, giving the Mushroom Kingdom vibrant new details that we never saw before.
You know, it was probably all of those things that made Super Mario World so special. It took the best of the Mario franchise – the running, jumping, enemy bopping, and occasional flying – and combined it with new ideas that felt fresh and innovative for the time. Even to this day, the game holds up surprisingly well. The graphics still look great, the gameplay is as solid as ever, the soundtrack continues to get stuck in my head, and the food names of the game worlds still make me want to grab a snack (I’m looking at you, Donut Plains and Chocolate Island). All of this is why Super Mario World is not just one of my favorite Super NES games, but also one of my favorite games of all time.
Jason’s Pick: Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country came out at an interesting time in the Super NES’s life. With Sony’s PlayStation hitting the market and the Nintendo 64 still on the horizon, Nintendo needed a way to combat the technical wizardry of its new found competitor. The company turned to Rare, who put together a pre-rendered platformer like nothing seen before on the Super NES. As a kid, the look blew me away. The game stood out from the crowd and had the great gameplay needed to make it more than just a pretty tech demo.
Donkey Kong Country continues to stand the test of time because of that very gameplay. It’s a well-crafted platformer with lots of original ideas. Instead of just running and jumping on enemies, you could shoot out of barrels, commandeer animals, swing across vines, and even ride mine carts. There was also the extra challenge of hunting down K-O-N-G in each level, making it less about simply reaching the end and more about exploration. Jose argued above that Donkey Kong Country 2 is the better game by upping the ante over this title. He may be right that the sequel offers more to do, but there’s no denying the impact of the original DKC. It was the game that made my jaw drop when I first saw the graphics, and that feeling simply couldn’t be recreated by either of its SNES sequels. Plus, if it wasn’t for Donkey Kong Country, DK would never have donned his stylish red tie.