When summer winds down and fall sets in, most people develop a nostalgia for hot sun, sandy beaches and cool waters. Being a recent graduate, I wistfully think back to my school days. The hours of lecturing and taking notes were all worth the effort once I returned home and my “real” work began. With a bowl of Fruit Loops at my side and a game controller in hand, I was transported to a 16 bit world for the next several hours. Some things have changed since then. I’m no longer a student, I prefer Lucky Charms and I find very little time for gaming. However, this year I sought an opportunity to quench that childhood thirst. For a solid week, I vowed to do absolutely nothing (within the limits of the human body) except revisit games from my console of choice—Super NES. After a couple of sleepless nights and sore thumbs later, I’ve compiled a list of some of my all-time favorites.
5. The Donkey Kong Country series
Okay, so I cheated a little here. The DKC series has three incredible installments: Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. With barrels all over the place, this is some of the most infuriating gameplay you’ll ever experience. Still, the DKC series is undeniably fun, with hundreds of levels, secret worlds and ridiculously odd characters. Your opponents range from bees to armadillos, and your comrades range from rhinos to ostriches. There’s no real logic behind DKC, but who needs it when you have hours of stimulating gameplay before you.
4. Super Mario All-Stars
This is genius at its very best. Take all of your classic Super Mario games, add save options where there were none, recreate them for one console and what do you have? Super Mario All-Stars! Why do I even need to justify its place on my list? In this dynamite compilation you get Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (previously a Japanese-exclusive release)—what more could you want? Every true gamer loves Mario (Luigi’s okay too). Climbing up vines, jumping on shells and chasing Yoshi is what we do best!
3. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Is it enough to say that I have started and completed this game five times? Simply put, I am obsessed. Don’t be fooled by the name of the game; you’re not only playing as Mario. Eventually, Princess Toadstool and even Bowser join your team among others. Travelling through different worlds in search of fallen stars and hidden treasures, you’ll come across bosses with insane amounts of HP, which always makes for a fun encounter. As the final Mario game that was ever released for the SNES console, Square developers truly outdid themselves. With special appearances by known figures from other games such as Link and Culex, it’s the little details that make Super Mario RPG so exquisite.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
If games were a sundae, The Legend of Zelda is the cherry on top—exceptionally sweet! This is one of the best-selling SNES games of all time, and it’s no wonder with graphics that were way ahead of its time and hours of gameplay. As you assume the role of Link, you will use your wide array of weapons (the hookshot is my favorite) to uncover secrets, navigate through castles, defeat challenging bosses and save Princess Zelda. This game is more than enough to quell the real-life adventurer.
Truth be told, I didn’t have a chance to revisit this game. So why is it number one on my list, you ask? Not only do I remember it as being the most creative and heart-warming RPG ever, but it is a cult classic that is nearly impossible to get your hands on these days. To give you an idea of Earthbound’s rarity and value, the least expensive option is to buy it on Amazon and/or Ebay where bids begin at $169.99 and sky rocket to well over $300.00, depending on condition. This is a game that I will only be able to play again in my memories, but its greatness is so mentally-tangible that it will forever be at the top of my list.