Mega Man X

Mega Man X is the particular kind of game that, at the same time, succeeds because it is too similar to what came before it while also struggling for that same reason. Its levels are finely designed and its bosses are utterly memorable, supporting a gameplay experience that is undeniably enjoyable; however, as the franchise was leaping between generations, it is partially disappointing to see it remained strongly attached to its 8-bit roots. While many major gaming properties took advantage of the arrival of a new era to expand their reach, try out new ideas, or simply mature, Mega Man stood pat. With a decreased level of difficulty when compared to its NES counterparts, the value of the package of eight robot bosses it offered grew shorter; and although it does try some new tricks to give more depth to its content, a couple of them are not fully realized. Regardless of those shortcomings, though, Mega Man X is one of the Super Nintendo’s best combinations of action and platforming. Even if for those who are familiar with what came before it, the game may wind up feeling like it is too safe for its own good.

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Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars

Consequently, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a game that excels in countless areas. In materializing the rather unlikely marriage between the platforming world of Super Mario and the role-playing greatness of the classics produced by Square during the nineties, it ended up creating a sub-genre of its own: a class of games where thick scripts and turn-based battles meet exploration segments that marry the walking usually done in RPGs with external elements such as action and puzzle-solving. With that combination as its basis, the game assembles a quest that – more than any other Mario game before it – gives life to the Mushroom Kingdom while miraculously succeeding in embracing RPG fans and newcomers to the genre that are naturally attracted to games starring the popular plumber. And even if some of the role-playing quests undertaken by the character ever since have presented more alluring scripts and a wider deck of options, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars retains its position not just as a major pioneer, but as a classic due to how nowhere else in the usually fantastic sagas that were heavily inspired by it can one find such a pure balance between RPG traditions and the quirks of Mario’s universe.

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Star Fox

The conclusion is that, like many Super Nintendo classics, there is fun to be had in the original Star Fox. However, differently from other remarkable titles of the era, the first quest of Fox, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy has had a big portion of its glory eroded by the passing of time. Although it inaugurated a gameplay style that has served the franchise relatively well for a big amount of years and translated with grace the excitement of sidescrolling space shooters to the 3-D perspective, the fact it was one of gaming’s first huge endeavors into the world of polygonal graphics has caused its visuals and some of its gameplay components to lose luster. Going through its stages remains a thrill, shooting up as many enemies as humanly possible is still an appealing challenge, and trying hard to beat one’s best score in each of the game’s three routes is certainly alluring. Sadly, the reaching of those awards has to go through being able to look past very aged visuals and a few frustrating gameplay quirks that stem from technological limitations and clumsy implementation.

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Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

That wish to be bigger and to stand out is certainly the hidden theme of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. It is easy to understand why, back in 1996, the game was seen as a drop following two titles that left big marks in the minds of gamers all around the world. Hindsight, however, reveals an adventure that although not as excellent as that of Donkey Kong Country 2, for it boasts a lesser – yet excellent – soundtrack and fails to reach the same level-design excellence, shines pretty brightly in the hall of the best platformers of its generation. By understanding that its prequel did not leave much room for improvement, it spends a big amount of its running time trying to find ways to excel, and it comes out of it with an impressive overworld, a fantastic challenge, and a stunning collection of inventive stages that use all tools the franchise had established in magnificent and original ways. As a result, even if the timing of its release may have harmed it, the years that have passed ever since have allowed Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble to emerge as a giant of the platforming genre.

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Donkey Kong Country

That does not, obviously, mean Donkey Kong Country is a bad game. It is, actually, a major finding; a discovery of a universe of gameplay possibilities that, before it, simply did not exist. It transformed Donkey Kong from a usually mindless villain into a hero of his own vast and rich world, and it constructed an adventure that ranks among the Super Nintendo’s best platformers. The fact it comes out rather bruised from a comparison to all its sequels speaks more about their stunning quality than about Donkey Kong Country itself. Its gameplay has been improved; its visuals have been taken to higher heights; and its soundtrack, of very unique instrumentation and tone, has inspired much better ones. However, its birth paved the way to a historic franchise that is an integral part of the gaming vocabulary, and the resulting adventure is – by all means – still a fantastic and enjoyable gameplay experience, even if other Donkey Kong Country games end up amounting to packages that are more complete, well-balanced, and creative. It is, after all, only natural, because they have all had a pretty spectacular base upon which to build; and it was here that those original pillars were put in place.

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Kirby Super Star

In a chain of games that has spanned some decades, gone through many consoles, and birthed a horde of installments, no effort has captured that jubilant carefree feeling as well as Kirby Super Star, originally released for the Super Nintendo. And it is somewhat easy to see why. While most of the pink puffball’s titles center around one predetermined plot, hence giving them a serious stiff structural form that is similar to that of other platformers, Kirby Super Star is absurdly loose. It feels like a party; a celebration of Kirby’s sheer glory, one that was planned and created as an opportunity for him to display his ridiculously overpowered strength in whatever way he sees fit. Surely, the game is not aimless: it has purpose. There are, actually, quite a few of those and players are bound to be delighted by most, if not all, of them. Yet, amidst saving Dream Land’s produce or trying to punch the ground so hard Planet Popstar – his home – almost cracks in half, the final objective of it all seems to be giving Kirby a chance to show off; and the result is quite beautiful.

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Chrono Trigger

Both in the grand scheme of things and in the little details of its design, Chrono Trigger is an immaculate gaming experience. The quality of its plot and the way through which Square is able to materialize a complex web of alternate timelines, distinct eras with their own interconnected tales, and fate-altering actions into a story that is engaging, funny, emotional, and easy-to-follow is without parallel. And that achievement is coupled with more than thirty hours of content that is stunningly designed on all fronts, from effective visuals and a touching soundtrack, to an exciting battle system, and an effective approach to traveling long distances through space and time. Combined, these parts amount to a quest that exhales so much grandeur that it writes itself into the definition of the word epic, a term that may have been debased by how frequently it is employed, but that is the perfect adjective to define Chrono Trigger. After all, no other expression could describe an adventure that unfolds so perfectly across millions of years, that unites great characters from distinct eras, and that includes five time periods (each with its own mysteries), unforgettable moments, and challenges. Chrono Trigger is the bar against which all other games that strive to be epic should be measured.

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EarthBound

By setting its quest in the modern world and by approaching its universe with the total recklessness of a toddler, the game uncovers an impressive array of uncanny gameplay scenarios of unique tone, outlandish theme, and often unbelievable happenings. It is frequently surrealistic, it is always subversive, it is sometimes incomprehensible, it is occasionally hilarious, it is underlined by a very solid battle system, and it is carried by a story that holds far more feelings than it seems to. EarthBound may not be its generation’s most technically impressive RPG, and it is certainly not the best one there is when dissected into individual parts. However, sometimes heart, soul, humor, creativity, bold intentions, and disregard for expectations outweigh all the rest. And EarthBound has those to spare.

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The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past

In the few areas in which it falls short from sheer excellence, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past may have been improved upon by some of the installments that would follow it. Everywhere else, though, it is extremely hard to find an entry in the saga that is more well-rounded, has a better pace, and presents such a dazzling – and utterly flawless – balance between complete freedom and sensible guidance. A Link to the Past, after two irregular games that did not achieve everything they intended to, was the title that defined the franchise’s gameplay as the world would come to know it and, in turn, transformed it into one of gaming’s greatest properties. Yet, with its strengths in mind, it is easy to see its relevance and quality are not purely related to that fact. On the contrary, it is a game that must be thoroughly experienced by all players, because much of what it does is so utterly remarkable that Nintendo itself has been unable to consistently top it or even replicate it.

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Super Mario Kart

And, in a way, that statement nicely sums up playing Super Mario Kart from a modern perspective. It is clear the franchise has greatly and naturally advanced since its first installment: graphics have become better, songs and scenery have become more varied, races have included more competitors, tracks have grown to outstandingly insane levels of design, and the experience has become more polished. However, Super Mario Kart – as the game of the series that is truest to kart racing itself, thanks to its simplicity – packs an exciting challenge of a kind that cannot be found in any of the other installments. Surely, Super Mario Kart will not blow the minds of those who have gone through more recent entries of the series; yet, the game will likely be able to entertain and make one look rather fondly to the franchise’s very well-designed beginning.

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