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From an Outsider's Perspective: The SNES

by J.P. Corbran - August 28, 2011, 11:39 am PDT
Total comments: 19

J.P. isn't fond of Super Mario World and A Link to the Past. Find out why.

It’s no secret to anyone who frequents this site that I don’t like Super Mario World or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. For whatever reason, I’ve never cared for those seemingly universally popular games. I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why that is, but that line of questioning always seems to go back to my lack of experience with the system they were originally released for.

In hindsight, it’s astonishing how I managed to grow up in the mid-‘90s and not really ever play a Super Nintendo, not just of my own but at any of my friends’ houses. Looking back, the system was hugely popular, but the time my friends and I spent playing games never included it, starting with the Genesis and original NES and quickly moving on to the Nintendo 64 once it was released.

Because of that unlikely series of events, Nintendo’s first party Game Boy Advance lineup brought a lot more to the table for me than it did for many longtime Nintendo fans. The Super Nintendo ports that grew tiresome for a lot of people were my first opportunities to play games like Super Mario World, Link to the Past and Yoshi’s Island. I’d heard so many great things about the games before getting that chance, and maybe that build-up in my mind contributed to my later opinions of them.

As it turned out, I absolutely loved Yoshi’s Island. To this day it’s still one of my favorite games, despite very high expectations and a total lack of nostalgia. Mario and Zelda, however, just didn’t click with me. I love the NES Mario games, most especially Mario 3, my favorite game of all time, but World just didn’t feel right. I’m a huge Zelda fan, and even though I prefer the 3D games, Link’s Awakening is my second-favorite game in the series, but despite all the similarities between it and Link to the Past I just couldn’t get into the latter. I go back and play those games again every few years to see if I can figure out what I seem to be missing in them, but so far I haven’t been able to.

A few years later the Wii was released, and through its Virtual Console service I was able to play many more Super Nintendo games I’d never had the chance to try before. One of the first games I downloaded was F-Zero, which seemed to be the only Super Nintendo game worth picking up in the relatively meager Virtual Console launch lineup. Over the years, I bought a lot of Super Nintendo games through the Wii shop, and found some that I really regret missing for so long, along with others that I’d rather have let fade into obscurity.

As the Game Boy Advance brought the greatness of Yoshi’s Island to my attention, the Virtual Console gave me a chance to play a couple more games that would become all-time favorites of mine. Donkey Kong Country 2 proved to be one of the best platformers I’ve played, and right there behind Yoshi’s Island as one of the best examples of the genre on that system, and Kirby’s Dream Course is a quirky little game that I can’t help but love despite its flaws.

Most importantly, though, the Virtual Console allowed me to play Super Metroid. Unlike with Super Mario World and Link to the Past, I went into the game with low expectations, as I hadn’t enjoyed any of the previous games in the series that I’d played, which, looking back, I’d attribute to not being mature enough to appreciate the slower and more cerebral pace of the game. I bought the game because Electronic Gaming Monthly called it the best game ever made in their 150th issue, and after playing through the whole thing in a couple days I could see how they’d come to that conclusion. I absolutely adore that game, and I make sure to point that out whenever anyone accuses me of being biased against the Super Nintendo because of my feelings toward Super Mario World and Link to the Past.

Although I had an unorthodox way of getting acquainted with the hardware, I’ve come to love the Super Nintendo. Even though I’ve never liked two of its most beloved games, there are a lot of other titles that I would argue are great and definitely worth playing now, twenty years later, even without any nostalgia. To me, the system was and is really great, with one of the best and most diverse game libraries ever assembled, and is a testament to all the great things Nintendo is capable of, and also Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

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Talkback

SilverQuilavaAugust 28, 2011

I can understand Link to the Past. I can't tolerate that game for some reason either. I also hate all Metroid games as well. I gave them a fair chance too.

TrueNerdAugust 28, 2011

Interesting. I came to Link To The Past in the same manner that you did, on GBA. This was after already being in love with Link's Awakening and Ocarina of Time. I certainly really like LttP, but I don't consider it to be some perfect game as most people do. I appreciate that it set the template for a lot of Zeldas since, but it's just soooo dungeon heavy. The same could be said of Ocarina, but I played that one first and didn't realize I didn't really care for going from dungeon to dungeon. Link's Awakening strikes a wonderful balance between overworld quests and dungeons. The world it inhabits also feels much more alive than Hyrule in LttP. 

I cannot sympathize with you on Super Mario World as that is my favorite Mario game, other than noting that people seem to either really love SMB3 or SMW and there's not a great deal of overlap between the two.

OblivionAugust 28, 2011

I really only like the SNES because of all the great RPG's.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorAugust 28, 2011

This article doesn't really explain what it is you don't like about SMW or LttP...

I can understand why they might not be your favorites, but not liking them at all?

DasmosAugust 28, 2011

This is the worst blog ever.

First off you once again announced how you don't like Super Mario World, which is wrong in itself, but then you turn around and say that you like Donkey Kong Country 2!? I seriously don't understand you J.P. Corbran, I really don't.

Lettuce Cat agrees. Explain your distaste for SMW and LTTP.

Though you're excused for DKC2. I get why people love it, but I also understand why people don't.

I don't understand it myself. Like I said, Link's Awakening is my second-favorite Zelda game and SMB3 is my favorite game ever, but for some reason I don't care for LTTP or SMW, which are extremely similar to those two respectively. As I also said in the article, I go back to the games every couple years to see if I can figure out what everyone else sees in them.

DiscostewAugust 28, 2011

Quote:

J.P. isn't fond of Super Mario World and A Link to the Past. Find out why.

Quote:

I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why that is...

Not to be blunt, but you kinda ended your blog after starting it by doing this. The rest of the blog from there talks about games you do like, when your subject was about those games you don't like.

There is always a reason behind a like or a dislike. Not debating your feelings on those two games, but maybe you aren't looking in the right places to find out why you don't like them. You mention in your prior comment about trying to figure out why others love them. That right there doesn't help in figuring out why you don't like them. I say the next time you play them, be sure to have a pen and notpad (or something else), and record your feelings as you play through them, pausing every now and then when you get an impression. Something simple like "I don't like the cape item in SMW" is a good start because it focuses on one aspect rather than the entire picture. Thinking about everything at once is just confusing.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterAugust 28, 2011

Quote from: Discostew

Quote:

J.P. isn't fond of Super Mario World and A Link to the Past. Find out why.

Quote:

I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why that is...

Not to be blunt, but you kinda ended your blog after starting it by doing this. The rest of the blog from there talks about games you do like, when your subject was about those games you don't like.

There is always a reason behind a like or a dislike. Not debating your feelings on those two games, but maybe you aren't looking in the right places to find out why you don't like them. You mention in your prior comment about trying to figure out why others love them. That right there doesn't help in figuring out why you don't like them. I say the next time you play them, be sure to have a pen and notpad (or something else), and record your feelings as you play through them, pausing every now and then when you get an impression. Something simple like "I don't like the cape item in SMW" is a good start because it focuses on one aspect rather than the entire picture. Thinking about everything at once is just confusing.

Actually, that's not a bad idea.

I want to use myself as an example of what you are saying..

I don't like Metroid Prime. Like J.P., I don't see the game's appeal. I respect that people like it, but I don't get the appeal. The reason why I don't like it is because I found the gameplay to be boring and repetitive. You move from point A to point B, discover something that opens point C, to do so you have to go back to point A, open the door to point C, and do this for a couple of hours. I wasn't emotionally engrossed, the game was too cold and even stuff like music and graphics, elements that are universally LOVED by people, didn't impress me.

Chozo GhostAugust 29, 2011

Maybe you don't like SMW or ALTTP because they are too easy? The NES games were quite challenging. For some reason on the SNES they seemed to get easier. So maybe that's the reason?

DiscostewAugust 29, 2011

Quote from: Chozo

Maybe you don't like SMW or ALTTP because they are too easy? The NES games were quite challenging. For some reason on the SNES they seemed to get easier. So maybe that's the reason?

Adding to that with an example, I could see someone not liking SMW because many of the levels can basically be completed without actually experiencing them by simply having the cape item, and flying through the entire levels. Warp pipes allow skipping as well, but those skipped levels don't become completed.

TJ SpykeAugust 29, 2011

I wouldn't say many levels, only a handful of levels let you skip all or most of the levels with the cape. Besides, SMB3 was worse in this with the P-Wing since the cape at least took skills to keep gliding while the P-Wing just required you to tap a button to stay in the air.

Quote from: Discostew

Quote:

J.P. isn't fond of Super Mario World and A Link to the Past. Find out why.

Quote:

I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why that is...

Not to be blunt, but you kinda ended your blog after starting it by doing this. The rest of the blog from there talks about games you do like, when your subject was about those games you don't like.

To be fair, I didn't write that abstract. Whoever did must have done so based on what I was saying when I was trolling the hell out of the SNES 20 selection meeting, not the text of the article.

Quote from: Discostew

There is always a reason behind a like or a dislike. Not debating your feelings on those two games, but maybe you aren't looking in the right places to find out why you don't like them. You mention in your prior comment about trying to figure out why others love them. That right there doesn't help in figuring out why you don't like them. I say the next time you play them, be sure to have a pen and notpad (or something else), and record your feelings as you play through them, pausing every now and then when you get an impression. Something simple like "I don't like the cape item in SMW" is a good start because it focuses on one aspect rather than the entire picture. Thinking about everything at once is just confusing.

Thing is, I don't care that much. I play them again and again to see if I've changed my mind, which I did with Metroid when I played Super Metroid after disliking every game in the series I played up to that point, but it feels like too much work to delve deep into exactly why I don't like them. I play games to have fun, and having to take notes while playing is not fun.

Quote from: TJ

I wouldn't say many levels, only a handful of levels let you skip all or most of the levels with the cape. Besides, SMB3 was worse in this with the P-Wing since the cape at least took skills to keep gliding while the P-Wing just required you to tap a button to stay in the air.

And in both cases you only do it that way if you choose to. I can't remember the last time I used a P-Wing in Mario 3.

Ian SaneAugust 29, 2011

I wonder if playing those games for the first time on the GBA had a negative effect.  Nintendo tinkered with the GBA ports.  SMW for example has been dumbed down.  When you get hit as cape or fire Mario you revert to Super Mario like in SMB3.  But that is NOT how it worked in the SNES version.  In that version you always revert to small Mario.  This change greatly affects the difficulty of the game and makes the GBA version less challenging.  The VC version or an original cartridge is the way to go.

A Link to the Past's GBA changes have less of an effect on the gameplay though so it might just be that the game rubs you the wrong way for whatever reason.  Unless you hate it because Link never shuts up in the GBA version.  He is mute (as he fuckin' should be) in the original SNES version.

Chozo GhostAugust 29, 2011

Ian, the GBA versions of SNES games differ by necessity simply because it only has 2/3rds of the buttons of the SNES controller. Two buttons are missing, which means the games have to be messed with in order to shoehorn them in to the diminished control scheme. This is the exact same reason why the 3DS needs a second analog.

OblivionAugust 29, 2011

What do you mean, it's the same reason the 3DS needs a second analog? The only remakes that it's had so far are N64 games, which the last time I checked had only one analog.

Chozo GhostAugust 29, 2011

Quote from: Oblivion

What do you mean, it's the same reason the 3DS needs a second analog? The only remakes that it's had so far are N64 games, which the last time I checked had only one analog.

But the N64 controller had the yellow C (camera) buttons which while they weren't analog, they were used in the same manner to maneuver the camera which is necessary in 3D games like SM64 and so on. The N64 was the first analog stick controller and it was clearly an experimental design. Many things about it were later dropped in the Gamecube controller and were never used again like the 3 prong design and the C buttons. Instead, the Gamecube adopted a 2nd analog stick which served the same purpose. Its a standard feature which all console manufacturers have used since 2002 (except the Wii).

Ian SaneAugust 30, 2011

Quote from: Chozo

Ian, the GBA versions of SNES games differ by necessity simply because it only has 2/3rds of the buttons of the SNES controller. Two buttons are missing, which means the games have to be messed with in order to shoehorn them in to the diminished control scheme. This is the exact same reason why the 3DS needs a second analog.

Why does having two less buttons require SMW to be made easier?  Super Mario World uses three face buttons and barely uses the L&R buttons (as kids few people knew those buttons were used at all).  Lttp only uses the four face buttons.  For those specific titles the GBA button layout is sufficient so the compromises to those titles would be minor.  I think the GBA should have had six buttons to begin with and it was a silly oversight to not have that BUT they made the right decision in keeping the buttons the same throughout the GBA life.  Once you have this stuff set for a handheld you have to keep it.

Mop it upAugust 30, 2011

Quote from: Chozo

But the N64 controller had the yellow C (camera) buttons which while they weren't analog, they were used in the same manner to maneuver the camera which is necessary in 3D games like SM64 and so on.

That kind of function could always be mapped to the D-pad or touch screen. There are practically no games which used the D-pad when the control stick was used, so it would be free to have C-button functionality mapped to it. The L button was often unused as well, making it another choice for switching around the controls.

Quote from: Ian

Lttp only uses the four face buttons.

I believe the L and R buttons were used to switch between the full map and zoomed map, but that could easily be mapped to a different button since most everything else was unused on the map screen.

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