When it comes to platformers, its hard not to think of either Super Mario Bros. or Nintendo. The Super Nintendo in particular was arguably defined best by its platformers (if not its JRPGs.) The console opened strong with Super Mario World arguably the greatest launch title of all time and was followed up by one of the strongest libraries in gaming.
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Between the Super Mario All-Stars remakes, Super Mario World, and Yoshis Island, some of the best platformers on the SNES are Mario games. Its not unexpected, but it overshadows other great platformers. While Mario has always been a trendsetter for platforming, some of the best platformers on the SNES are unique games with their own identities.
Demons Crest is worth playing for the atmosphere alone one of the darkest games on the Super Nintendo tonally and thematically. The protagonist, Firebrand, is a Super Ghouls n Ghosts enemy and the setting is jarringly dystopian. Theres little light to the world and the soundtrack brings with it a truly ominous vibe.
While overworld exploration is unfocused, the stages themselves serve as slower paced, action heavy alternatives to the many platformers on the SNES. The difficulty curve also skews higher than the average Super Nintendo game, a nice challenge for genre veterans.
Donkey Kong Country is pure atmosphere from top to bottom. A moody journey through beautiful landscapes grounded in reality. The difficulty curve gradually climbs throughout the game, offering continuous challenge as players progress. The best boss fights and stages demand sharp reflexes & an eye for telegraphs.
Donkey Kong as a franchise has a silly quality to it these days, but the original Donkey Kong Country has an energy other games in the series lacks. Its self aware of its role as a video game and quite funny, but the gameplay itself is downright artistry.
Donkey Kong Country 2 is a beast in and of itself. Where the first Donkey Kong Country has a moody quality grounding the games overall aesthetic, Diddys Kong Quest is far more chaotic indulging in a level of spectacle that was rare for the original. All the same, DKC2 is still grounded in the originals world, yet to veer to Donkey Kong Country 3s extremes.
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On a pure design level, Donkey Kong Country 2 is a step up in every respect. Although a much harder platformer all around, stages are dense with fair challenges and the level design makes clever use of both Diddy & Dixie.
Kirbys Dream Land 3 is a slow platformer by design, but that in itself is its strength. Reducing Kirbys mobility and exchanging the series usual art style in favor of a soft & almost dream-like aesthetic, Dream Land 3 is a one of the most unique games in its franchise. Its as much a puzzle game as it is a platformer, featuring several brain teasers.
Where Kirby is usually easy, Dream Land 3 is hard. Where Kirby is usually about letting you fly wherever & however, Dream Land 3 greatly restricted Kirbys abilities. It all leads to one of the most novel platformers on the SNES, howevera beautiful game thats surprisingly morbid when all is said & done.
Kirby Super Star is the total antithesis to Dream Land 3, a fast-paced Kirby game thats jampacked with action from start to finish. In many respects, Super Star is a love letter to the franchise, adhering as closely to the series history as possible even remaking the original game in the process.
Super Star is a compilation of multiple Kirby games, all short but worth playing. Dyna Blade is a traditional Kirby game, Revenge of Meta-Knight is its narrative driven & atmospheric sequel, The Great Cave Offensive is basically a Metroidvania, and Milky Way Wishes is arguably the best Kirby game period.
Mega Man 7 is one of the more overlooked entries in the Rockman series, but its a great platformer that offers a 16-bit alternative to the Blue Bombers adventures in Mega Man X. Mega Man 7 was compared (perhaps unfairly) to Mega Man X at the time of its release, but it offers a vastly different experience to its sister games.
Mega Man 7 is classic Mega Man through and through. While the level design does feature secrets ala the X sub-series, MM7 feels like the logical next step coming off of Mega Man 6. Its a slower paced game, and harder than X to boot, but Mega Man 7 is nonetheless a great platformer.
One of the best games on the Super Nintendo, Mega Man X is a fast paced experience that masterfully blends action with platforming. Giving X a dash fundamentally alters the gameplay loop for the better, and all the upgrades hidden across the games stages make exploration a rewarding part of the experience.
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Mega Man Xs music, graphics, boss fights, and level design are some of the best in the franchise maybe even Mega Mans peak. Xs attempts at telling a darker story are also as welcome as they are unintrusive, letting the gameplay speak for itself.
Super Castlevania IV is beautiful. Visually, musically, and atmospherically, theres nothing else quite like Super Castlevania IV on the Super Nintendo. Some might argue that Simons omnidirectional whipping makes the game too easy, but SCIV is designed with this mechanic in mind. More importantly, New Game+ is ostensibly a hard mode that showcases the merits of Simons new whip.
Even without playing through hard more, Super Castlevania IV is a fantastic platformer with incredible level design and some of the best bosses in the franchise. The difficulty curve is a step down from the NES games, but virtually everything else is a massive step up for the series.
Super Ghouls N Ghosts is a brutally hard platformer that requires quick reflexes, pattern memorization, and a commitment to suffer anything & everything the game throws at you. Death happens fast, there are traps everywhere, and fully beating the game means making two full playthroughs back to back.
Super Ghouls N Ghosts is a hard game, but its an excellent platformer that offers some of the best challenge on the SNES. It also features a fantastic soundtrack, great 16-bit graphics, and a control scheme thats surprisingly fun to master.
Super Metroid is arguably more of an action-adventure game than it is a platformer, but it does feature fairly involved platforming mechanics and level design thats more Super Castlevania IV than it is Symphony of the Night. Regardless of how one views Super Metroid, its one of the best games on the Super Nintendo.
Beyond an incredible amount of secrets, Super Metroids controls are second to none and its level design masterfully plays off everything Samus can do mechanically. Few games are as brilliantly designed as Super Metroid.
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A writer by day and an actor by night, Renan's interests include Dragon Ball, The Legend of Zelda, and Brazilian music.
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