Today the much sought after SNES Classic Edition arrives in stores. Like the NES console from last year, it’s a miniaturized version of perhaps the most beloved consoles of all time, pre-loaded with 21 games including Star Fox 2 which is finally getting released after being cancelled close to its completion in the 90’s. The games on the console are all universally loved, from Nintendo first-party classics to third-party hits like Mega Man X and Super Castlevania IV. Unfortunately due to licensing issues, certain games like Turtles in Time can never be released on such a device, much to the disappointment of fans who grew up loving that game and can’t afford to buy it now.
Thinking about games like TMNT IV got me thinking: what would a hypothetical SNES mini look like it it was just licensed comic book games if things like rights weren’t an obstacle? Here’s some of the games I would pick if such a thing as a comic book game only SNES mini could ever happen.
1) THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN
Above all other games, this classic has to make the cut. Given it’s the 25th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series this year, what better way to celebrate the milestone than by rereleasing the best video game based on that license? Using levels in the same way the show used episodes, The Adventures of Batman and Robin plays out like a season of the animated series and includes the best of the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery from the Joker, Harley Quinn, Penguin, Poison Ivy and Two-Face. Playing primarily as an action platformer, every level introduces a new mechanic to keep things from getting stale like having to avoid hostile civilians under the influence of Scarecrow and a stage where your chasing Two-Face in the Batmobile. The game looks great, the music recreates themes from the show and it’s become expensive to collect because it will more than likely never get rereleased, so putting it on this imaginary console would let more people to experience the best Batman game that doesn’t have “Arkham” in the title.
2) BATMAN RETURNS
Before they made The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Konami had done right by Batman in this beat-em-up based on the second Tim Burton Batman film. Unfortunately Batman Returns is a single player only affair, but it’s still today one of the best brawlers to use the Batman license. The action is broken up by levels that take on a more traditional side-scrolling game complete with some light platforming and like The Adventures of Batman and Robin, you get to drive the Batmobile in a few bonus stages as well.
3 SPIDER-MAN/VENOM: MAXIMUM CARNAGE
The comic book only SNES Mini would have no shortage of beat-em-ups, but how could it not include one of the earliest best Spider-Man games? Maximum Carnage showed how fun it could be to play as Spider-Man in a video game and it’s story, made up of panels from the actual Maximum Carnage event series, is arguably a better use of the source material than the source material itself. Maximum Carnage also deserves a spot for its awesome Green Jelly soundtrack alone:
4) X-MEN: MUTANT APOCALYPSE
Mixing the choose whatever stage order you want design from Mega Man, the simple to pull-off moves from the Street Fighter series and the X-Men license made what is still one of the best X-Men games. Light on any meaningful story, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse gives you five diverse X-Men and Women to play with, each with own unique set of moves and powers: Gambit and Cyclops could fight enemies from a distance with projectiles, Beast was agile and could cling onto ceilings and Wolverine could climb up walls with his razor sharp adamantium claws. Once you got through the introductory stages where you had to complete a level with each mutant, levels opened up and allowed you to tackle them with whatever character you preferred and offered replay incentive to go through the game multiple times. Boss fights with villains like Apocalypse, Mageneto, Juggernaut and Omega Red round out the best X-Men game on Nintendo’s 16-bit console.
5) JUDGE DREDD
Who says good things can’t come from bad movies? Judge Dredd is a tough, but fair, action side-scroller based off of the 90’s Stallone film of the same name but don’t let it’s association with that movie stop you from trying this game. Levels are open and ripe for exploration and the titular character has a plethora of weapons as his disposle to take on the scum that has infested Mega City One. Judge Dredd wraps up the story of the film at about its half way point and feels like more of a game based off the 2000 AD comic than the film, even going as far as to include a final boss encounter with Judge Death. Dredd even keeps his helmet on for the entire game.
6) PHANTOM 2040
Based off the futuristic animated spin-off of the Lee Falk pulp hero, Phantom 2040 is a game few people may have ever played and that’s a shame. The title character has two weapons that can be equipped and combined together to form numerous weapon combinations and has a handy grappling hook tool in the form of the inductance rope that feels like something out of Capcom’s Bionic Commando. Choices you make at certain points in Phantom 2040 change your ending, giving you plenty of reason to play through it more than once. The biggest problem with Phantom 2040 is its insanely long password strings that made it really easy to copy down wrong, something that could be eliminated all together with the save state feature built into these consoles.
7) TODD MCFARLANE’S SPAWN: THE VIDEO GAME
Todd McFarlane’s character has had games on multiple consoles, from the Game Boy Color, the Sega Dreamcast and the PS2, but it’s still the SNES game featuring the character that’s the best. Hailing from Japanese developer Ukiyotei, Spawn is a gorgeous looking game with a lot of diversity in its stages and features a gothic soundtrack that perfectly suits the demonic character. A lot of people probably dismissed this back in the day because it was published by Acclaim, known for pushing out a lot of licensed shovelware, but this title is far better than most games published by them and deserves to be remembered.
8) TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES IV: TURTLES IN TIME
If there’s a franchise that ruled the arcades and consoles in the early 90’s, it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and there’s no better example of this than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. What can I say that hasn’t been said about this game by countless others: the levels are great and never overstay their welcome, the music is catchy and memorable, the bosses are challenging and varied and unlike the other beat-em-ups on the list, it can be enjoyed with a friend. This game has gotten releases on other consoles as an unlockable in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare and a full on remake from Ubisoft on the last generation of consoles, but neither can hold a candle to the SNES original. You’re probably distracted already reading this as you hum the theme to “Sewer Surfin'”.
A small list of games for sure compared to the 21 that are on the actual SNES Classic Edition, but considering some of these games are worth more than the asking price of that box alone, I think it’s a respectable list. Think that some games should be removed or feel that others should have made the cut? Feel free to mention them in the comments below.