Although I have love for all game systems (admittedly to varying degrees, but still, love), I of course have my favorites. The Super NES/Super Famicom is very high on my list, and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. The 16-bit era overall was a magical time to be a gamer, and while I also have great affection for its contemporaries the Genesis, the TurboGrafx, and the Neo-Geo, the SNES was pretty much nirvana in that period of videogame history.
Still, as much joy as Nintendo’s fabled powerhouse brought me, there were some games that I would have loved to see on it that never were; some franchise titles and some “what ifs” that would have made amazing entries in the SNES library and catapulted the console from just “all-time great” status to “untouchably perfect.” So let’s fire up our imaginations and dream up a catalog of Super NES games that could have been…
(NOTE: This article is not to imply that any of these games were ever in development, canceled, announced, unreleased, discussed, or even so much as mentioned in any official capacity whatsoever. They’re all only products of my own imagination running wild.)
Super Kid Icarus
Come on, Nintendo. Why was this not a thing? How gorgeous could a 16-bit Kid Icarus have been, with rich backgrounds and cartoon sprites taking advantage of the SNES’ massive color palette, cool transparent layered cloud effects, and an orchestrated soundtrack ala Actraiser, but composed by Hip Tanaka? It could have kept the Kid Icarus franchise on the same track as Metroid, with the original on the NES, a sequel on Game Boy, and a 16-bit third act, and kept it fresh in gamers’ minds rather than letting it fade into nostalgia. Can’t you just see a shot of Pit flying right at you with some Mode 7 scaling and rotation? Yeah, you can.
Super Metal Gear
I feel like a Metal Gear entry on the SNES would have been some sort of amalgam of the original two MG games on the MSX: perhaps a setting and story similar to the first, but with the more advanced play mechanics of MG2: Solid Snake. Perhaps the L and R shoulder buttons could have been used to cycle through weapons and items, introducing that feature before Metal Gear Solid did. It probably would have boasted lots of great little details in the graphics, as Konami was known for on the SNES with games like Axelay and Castlevania IV. It also probably would have ended up outside the official story canon, much like Ghost Babel, but it still would have been a strong title!
While Sega’s version of Capcom’s arcade classic for the Mega Drive/Genesis was a very close and impressive port (not to mention a major system-seller), I wonder what a SNES version would have been like. Capcom did some pretty great — though not perfect — things with their CPS titles like Final Fight and Area 88/UN Squadron on the SNES. I could see a mostly-accurate port, maybe even with an extra stage or two! Unfortunately for SNES loyalists, Capcom never went that route, and Strider remained a big feather in Sega’s 16-bit cap, and went on to get a PC Engine release, not to mention the 1:1 version on the X68000 computer. But no Strider love for SNES fans.
Instead, SNES owners got a similar, yet somewhat less interesting experience in Atlus’ Run Saber, a game I can only assume was made specifically to appease SNES gamers who wanted Strider and didn’t get it.
Another great option could have been a SNES port of Cannon Dancer, a.k.a. Osman, a.k.a. Strider’s weirder brother from another mother. Although it was released in 1996 in arcades — which would have been very late in the SNES’ lifecycle, as the N64 was already out, and well past the point where the Genesis version of Strider was any sort of relevant competition for the big N — SNES games continued to be released until 1998, so I think it could have been feasible for a company such as Atlus or Natsume to license Osman from Mitchell Corp and put it on the SNES. That would have been the coolest!
Super Rolling Thunder
Although the original Rolling Thunder made it to the Famicom and NES in an admirable 8-bit port, the arcade game was such a favorite of mine that in the months before the Super NES’ release that I used to daydream of an arcade-perfect 16-bit version I could play at home. Unfortunately, that never came to pass, and much like Strider, the franchise wound up on the Genesis, with Rolling Thunder 2 and 3 both landing on Sega’s machine. But I thought the SNES would have done a beautiful job handling the primary-colored super-spy world of Rolling Thunder, not to mention belt out a great version of its swingin’ jazz soundtrack.
And if not Super Rolling Thunder, how ’bout if Capcom would have done Super Code Name: Viper? CNV was literally as good, if not better, than Rolling Thunder, the game it was shamelessly ripping off, and could have made for a great sequel.
Super Metal Storm
CAN. YOU. IMAGINE?
Irem’s 8-bit gravity-shifting anime-mecha sidescrolling platform shooter was technically impressive as hell on the NES as it was, not to mention a tough and fun game. A 16-bit version could have added more bombastic weaponry, and even more detailed graphics and animation, with giant transforming mecha bosses. The gravity-changing mechanic could have been combined with some Mode 7 rotation effects for some really crazy situations!
OR!! What if the Super NES CD-ROM had actually come out, and they could have made Super Metal Storm CD, with actual anime cutscenes and a rockin’ soundtrack! The mind reels!!
What would be on your Super Famicom/Super NES wishlist? Let’s hear your ideas!