Ah, the Super Nintendo. Whether it was one of the first video game consoles of your childhood, the next step for a Nintendo diehard or you just picked one up recently to relive those memories through the Super NES Classic, the console was loaded with heart, soul and tons of great games. At a time when the console wars with SEGA were sky high and gamers chose sides, loyal Nintendo fans stuck by the likes of Link and Mario.
And it paid off. Games like Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana and Super Metroid have gone down as not only some of the best games on the Super Nintendo, but some of the best games ever made. But what if we told you some of the games you loved as a kid really weren’t so great? Don’t worry, none of the aforementioned games are bad. In this list, we take a look at 15 Super Nintendo games that are far worse than you remember them being. Whether their controls just didn’t hold up or their gameplay makes them downright unplayable, memories of these games are best left in the past.
15 EARTHWORM JIM
For many gamers, Earthworm Jim is a staple of classic video games, at a time when platforms grew in prominence and the likes of Mario and Sonic were joined by any number of anthropomorphic animal counterparts. Well, in addition to the fact that game’s creator is embroiled in controversy for inflammatory and homophobic statements and views, the game itself really doesn’t hold up at all.
Bookended by a grimy, claymation art style, the original Earthworm Jim is a relentlessly difficult platformer with a high ceiling and a low payoff. The game, despite its grotesque appearance and riff-worthy main character, was made more playable in remakes and sequels, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Super Nintendo port of the original is pretty darn bad.
14 SUPER STAR WARS
While the presentation of Super Star Wars was great for the time, what with its multiple characters, solid run-and-gun gameplay and vehicle challenges, the game pales in comparison to not only today’s shooters and platforms, but other games of the same genre on the Super Nintendo. The game drops you into the dunes of Tatooine as Luke with nothing but a blaster, aiming to retell the plot of A New Hope.
Instead, the first level has you fighting off continuous hordes of alien monsters, flying creatures and giant scorpions. Not sure about you guys, but we don’t remember that part of the film. We digress, but Super Star Wars is an incredibly grueling shooters that tries its best to tap into nostalgia (which at the time of its release was already 15 years after the theatrical release of A New Hope). Sadly, it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a truly great Star Wars game.
Nintendo’s infamous racing series got off to a fast start on the Super Nintendo, a game that prided itself on quick, responsive gameplay and fast racing. As the series evolved, stronger hardware allowed the concept to shine, and games like F-Zero GX for the Nintendo GameCube are still looked upon fondly to this day. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the original F-Zero.
Playing this game today on the console is incredibly difficult, from frame rate hiccups to distorted pseudo-3D models and environments that completely take you out of the racing experience. Much like Nintendo’s other racing franchises like Mario Kart, playing newer games in the series make entries like this much harder to go back to. It doesn’t help that there’s no multiplayer mode in the game, either.
12 DISNEY’S ALADDIN
Disney’s Aladdin was one of many games on the original Nintendo and Super Nintendo, developed by Capcom, that set the platforming world alight with its intricate level design, beloved characters from Disney and much, much more. And while Aladdin isn’t a textbook example of a bad game, even by today’s standards, it’s extremely difficult to play as it was originally intended.
This was made even more evident by the game’s early 2000s Game Boy Advance port, which allowed plenty of the game’s flaws to shine through, from its controls to the sound. Fortunately, the game is a far cry from its Virgin Games-developed SEGA Genesis counterpart, which was different in more ways than just cosmetic. Hey, at least we’ll always have those fond memories, though.
11 X-MEN: MUTANT APOCALYPSE
This might be a tough sell, but when the golden standard for X-Men games is the wide-scale arcade cabinet, you can see why X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse really isn’t all that great. The game itself plays fine, a mild adaptation on the X-Men comics and cartoons that has you playing as the titular characters in a side-scrolling beat ‘em up game.
But when we look at the other games in the genre, not only in general, but on the platform itself, there’s plenty lacking in Mutant Apocalypse. The first, and possibly most glaring, is that the game lacks a multiplayer element, paling it in comparison to games like TMNT: Turtles in Time. The environments are pretty, but wholly unoriginal, and the game itself ends up falling to tried level design. It’s fun for a few hours, but not much more.
10 KILLER INSTINCT
The original Killer Instinct was incredible at its time: an inventive fighter that took cues from Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter without seeming like a blatant ripoff. Its characters popped like cringey '90s action stars and horror movie villains, but its gameplay was fun, intense and insanely addicting. So, color us surprised to learn that the original game isn’t so great anymore.
Aside from the fact that it was made better by its Nintendo 64 Killer Instinct Gold re-release, the original Killer Instinct feels almost broken to play now, as button-mashing eclipses skill for a bundle of gameplay that’s not exciting or interesting. Thankfully, the series has made it with us to present day, and the themes and characters of the franchise can live on.
9 KIRBY’S DREAM LAND 3
While a change in art style in games like Donkey Kong Country and Yoshi’s Island allowed those two games to shine, the changes in Kirby’s Dream Land 3 felt forced and confusing. While still retaining the classic Kirby gameplay, Dream Land 3 lacked a lot of what fans had come to expect from a solid Kirby game, especially considering it released almost two years out from Kirby Super Star.
Fortunately, the game was followed up and expanded on greatly in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, a miraculous 2.5D platformer that felt like it made good on the proof of concept on Dream Land 3 -- namely the utilization of Kirby’s abilities, a change in art style and the wonderful animal companions that fill up the background.
8 BATMAN RETURNS
Much like the Final Fight series that it bases plenty of its gameplay on, the Super Nintendo version of Batman Returns is a mildly enjoyable side scrolling fighter that is a loose adaptation of the 1992 film of the same name. At the time, it seems like a solid enough movie-to-game adaptation that sat neatly with the other side-scrollers on the Super Nintendo.
Unfortunately, trying to play the game now is a headache that’s not really worth it. Batman Returns’ gameplay is unoriginal, and while its sound felt groundbreaking on the original console, it now feels dated and mildly annoying. Fortunately, there have been better Batman games since 1992, most recently the Batman Arkham series. It might not scratch the same itch, but it holds up a bit better for today’s standards.
7 NBA JAM
Now, before anyone burns it all down for this entry, I have to make it clear that the NBA Jam franchise has its place in gaming history, and the arcade version of the game holds up for the most part. But going back and playing the Super Nintendo version of NBA Jam whether the original release or the Tournament Edition, is sure to garner some groans and sighs.
The game is limited, its gameplay feels harsh and its controls rigid, and while our memories of the original game may be great, they’re probably best left at just that: memories. Similarly, the NBA Street series doesn’t hold up too well either. Thankfully, there are newer entries in both series that maintain that classic nostalgia while still being totally playable.
Much like Star Fox, the original Pilotwings game was an ambitious venture into pseudo-3D gaming. While its beautiful vistas felt just that -- beautiful -- at the time, the game lost a lot in the years since its release. Some of these issues were made clear by the release of Pilotwings Resort on Nintendo 3DS, which proved the substance of the franchise is lacking at its foundation, but others are made evident by how hard the original game is to go back and play.
Its controls are lackluster, the camera is funky and precision is almost impossible in a 3D space on the Super Nintendo’s four-button, no analog stick controller. Of course, that’s no fault to the console or its controller, but more to the goals of the game at its time of release.
5 FINAL FANTASY: MYSTIC QUEST
While many were excited for another Final Fantasy on the Super Nintendo, fans were confused at the release and execution of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. The game was essentially a bonafide spinoff of the role-playing game series, one that ditched a whole lot of features and details that fans loved about the first game (or at least the first released in the United States) in favor of Zelda-like dungeon crawling and a lack of random enemy encounters.
Looking back on the game today reveals a lackluster RPG that tried to be plenty of things it couldn’t be. While the Final Fantasy series is no strangers to spin-offs to this day, Mystic Quest will forever remain an anomaly in Squaresoft’s catalog. Fortunately, the publishers other offerings on the console were nothing to complain about.
We have to hand it to SimCity. The game was an impressive feat and a solid effort in bringing the popular city-building simulator to the Super Nintendo, but trying to play the game now is almost impossible. From the game’s bonkers user interface to its odd controls and confusing structure, it’s just not fun to play SimCity on the Super Nintendo.
Oddly enough, the Super Nintendo version of SimCity did bring a lot of character to the series, including the introduction of Dr. Wright, a green-haired, colorful character based on series creator Will Wright who would go on to become a mascot of the era. Heck, he even showed up as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Now that’s dedication to a brand.
3 STAR FOX
Star Fox, a long-celebrated franchise among Nintendo fans, had fairly humble beginnings. At the time of its launch, the original Star Fox was a groundbreaking game that utilized the latest in 3D gaming technology via Super FX, something games struggled with prior to the Nintendo 64 and Playstation generations. The game would eventually be remade a handful of times over, but playing the game today highlights just how muddy the game really is.
From its stuttering frame rate to almost illegible gameplay, Star Fox feels like a chore to play, one made even more difficult by the lack of an analog stick on the Super Nintendo’s controller. While the foundation was surely there for a bright franchise future, the original game is probably best kept in the past.
2 MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS
The Super Nintendo version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was an action game that was all-too short and all-too easy for fans of the side scrolling genre. Its level design was uninspired, and while fans at the time may have been pumped to play as their favorite characters from the acclaimed television series and films, there wasn’t much more beyond that.
Much like other side-scrolling games on the Super Nintendo, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers suffers from its lack of originality and stale level design. The game had multiplayer, sure, but when half of its content is locked behind passwords, its hard to look back on the game with fond memories. Unfortunately, there really hasn’t been a truly great Power Rangers game. But hey, maybe someday.
1 MORTAL KOMBAT
When you think of the Mortal Kombat series, there are probably a handful of words that come to find. Blood, gore and violence are probably just a small selection. So, it pains us to admit that the Super Nintendo version of the original Mortal Kombat lacked what other versions of the game had, embroiled in a censorship issue that took the games industry by storm.
While your memories of the game might be grand, we’re sorry to admit that not only was the Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat the worst version of the title, but its twisted controls and execution make it even harder to play today. Fortunately, the games in the series to follow-up the original on Super Nintendo ended up much better (We’re looking at you, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3).
Which of these games do you remember fondly? Let us know in the comments!