"The Playstation 2 is the greatest system of all time."
"No, the Playstation 3. Did you play The Last of Us?"
"No, you’re both wrong, the Sega Dreamcast is the greatest system of all time."
Well, the correct answer is that none of those consoles is the greatest system of all time (though, the Dreamcast comes pretty close if you’re a fighting game fanatic like myself). The correct answer is, to me at least, will always be, the Super Nintendo.
Even to this day, it still reigns supreme.
Now, that probably sounds like the most trollish and opinionated statement you’ve heard all day, and you’re right. For the most part. But there are some defining factors that make that claim as close to being fact as possible.
If you factor in the breadth of a console’s library, the variety of genres to choose from, and, most importantly, its longevity, then I think it’s pretty clear that the SNES is the greatest system of all time. Not even the PS2 can match it.
Let’s start with the SNES library, because, man, it’s ridiculous. Many of the greatest games of all time--not just for a console generation, but all time--are on the Super Nintendo. Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Final Fantasy III, and the crown gem of them all, Chrono Trigger, were all SNES classics.
And while the NES introduced the classics like Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, the Super Nintendo truly defined them. Super Mario World and, Lord have mercy, A Link to the Past, which is if expanded the universes and possibilities for each franchise. And what’s most astonishing about these two titles is just how early they came out in the system’s lifespan, which lasted from 1991-1999. Super Mario World launched with the system, and A Link to the Past came out a year later in the U.S. Compare that with the Playstation 2, and you would have a difficult time finding the system’s best games until much later in the console’s lifespan.
But who cares, right?
It doesn’t matter if Shadow of the Colossus and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, came out later in their system’s lifespans (I’m only bringing up the PS2 because so many people claim it’s the greatest system ever). The fact is, they eventually came out, right?
Well, that’s true, but the Super Nintendo had classic games coming out pretty much every year throughout its entire lifetime with no lulls in-between. This was mostly because of the 16-bit wars, which is something that Sony never truly had to endure. Sure, the PS2 squared off against the XBox and the Gamecube, but the rivalry wasn’t as pronounced or as heated as it was with Sega and Nintendo in the 90s. The big N and Sega were pretty much at each other’s throats for an entire generation. This helped Nintendo create some of its most everlasting titles, and, more importantly, it did so in pretty much every genre, which brings me to my next point.
The SNES had the best variety of games. Ever.
You wanted fighting games? You got the best in each series--Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Mortal Kombat 2, Killer Instinct, they were all there.
You wanted platformers? Where would you begin? Even the lesser known ones, like Aero the Acrobat, were better than they had to be. Puzzle games? Check. Racing games? Check. Sports games, well, not as good as Sega’s, but still, check. You pretty much had everything there was to offer (even a stellar first-person shooter in Doom), and quality in each genre.
And the SNES was ESPECIALLY kind to you if you loved RPGs, with arguably the greatest JRPG’s ever created appearing on the SNES. Yes, the PS2 had great games in many genres, and yes, it even helped to push newer ones, such as the stealth genre and survival horror, but even so, many of these games are considered recent classics.
There’s a reason why many of these titles are getting HD remakes. Sure, the gameplay is still stellar, but time has not been kind to them, at least, graphically. But look at the SNES. Many indie games are trying to replicate the look and feel of the SNES, simply because it’s timeless, which brings me to my third and final point: These games are still infinitely playable.
Last summer, I replayed Super Metroid for the fourth time.
And every time I play it, I find more and more things to love about it. The summer before that, I replayed the hell out of Actraiser and Chrono Trigger.
And this wasn’t just because I was feeling nostalgic. There’s just something to be said of the amount of quality that went into each game that demands for them to be replayed. And it’s not only the legendary titles, either. There are plenty of games in the SNES library that I missed when I was younger because I was so focused on the heavy-hitters. It’s only recently that I started to find obscure titles like Wild Guns and Run Saber. The Playstation 2, to its credit, also has its hidden gems, as does every great console, but there’s something to be said for a game that’s so many generations old and can still be picked up today and played like it just came out yesterday.
In many ways, the NES feels TOO old, and the N64 has blocky polygons that are distracting and, in some cases ugly, but the SNES is that sweet spot in-between that just seems to work.
In closing, the SNES is the greatest console ever made, and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can topple it from its top spot.