The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in Japan in 1991 and ushered in the era of 32-bit gaming, in which developers would begin to experiment with more colorful graphics, 3D capabilities, and true color depth. This era spanned the 1990s and saw the release of some of the greatest video games of all time.
But the SNES era was no different than any other experimental period. For every new innovative work, some very strange attempts at innovation would also be launched. Some of the weirdest games of the SNES era were the products of crude commercialism, some were knockoffs of better games, and some were truly brilliant works.
10 Race drivin’ was a surprisingly boring racer
Racing games were a popular genre in arcades in the ’90s. Many of the most popular cabinets had steering wheels to make players feel like they were actually in control of a vehicle. Some cabinets went as far as giving the player a seat and pedals to complete the experience.
The newness of these games, however, rarely translated to consoles. One of the worst examples of an arcade to console port was driving race for SNES. The slow and choppy frame rate, boring scenery, and over-designed dashboard made players feel like they were in an everyday traffic simulator. At the same time, touching any object on the road would cause the player’s car to explode.
9 Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel was an imitation of Sonic
The incredible success of animal-based pop culture icons like Sonic the Hedgehog and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles created an influx of companies and creatives trying to produce their own imitation anthropomorphic warriors. games like battle toads and cartoons like Biker Mice from Mars exemplified the attempt to bring back what made Sonic and the Turtles so popular.
zero the kamikaze squirrel it may have been the peak of the animal/warrior hybrid trend. Never dying in a self-sacrificing plane crash, Zero leaves his sensei masked as a clown to save his girlfriend from a lumberjack forger. Despite the randomness of it all, the game is a decent side-scroller and earned positive reviews.
8 RapJam: volume one does not include rap
the premise of Rapjam: volume one is decent on paper: is nba Jam, featuring real-life hip-hop artists playing basketball on a public court with no referee. Running, however, rapjam it falls apart completely.
In the most egregious oversight the developers could have done, rapjam It has virtually no soundtrack, except for a boring, repetitive beat on the main menu. Characters are poorly rendered and unrecognizable as their real-life counterparts, and the clunky gameplay often dissolves into a messy pile of pixels. there never was a volume two.
7 Super 3D Noah’s Ark remixed Wolfenstein with the Bible
When given the task of choosing a video game to turn into an adaptation of Noah’s Ark, most SNES developers wouldn’t choose Wolfenstein 3D. Inexplicably, that seems to be what Christian developer Wisdom Tree did, resulting in a game where Noah knocks animals unconscious with a slingshot.
the strangeness of Super Noah’s Ark 3D can be summed up in one fact: the game was born as an adaptation of the movie hellraiser. The developers eventually changed course and instead created a game that would be sold almost exclusively in Christian bookstores, but this in no way made the resulting product feel any less surreal.
6 Shaq Fu is an infamous failure
Currently, the idea of shaq fu it feels absurd on your face. It made a little more sense in 1994, when pretty much any piece of pop culture with even a modicum of visibility would spawn some kind of knockoff video game. Given Shaquille O’Neal’s popularity in 1994, just a year after being named NBA Rookie of the Year, game companies would inevitably try to capitalize on his image.
However, instead of a basketball game, Electronic Arts published shaq fu, a fighting game in which Shaquille O’Neal travels to another dimension to save a boy from an evil mummy. The game is largely acknowledged by critics to be one of the worst SNES games ever made, but it also inspired a cult following that funded a sequel on Kickstarter in 2018.
In the early 1990s, video games were a means for media companies to advertise shows, movies, and products under the guise of an independent game. Properties that had their own games ranged from timeless characters like Bugs Bunny to unknowns like 7-Up’s mascot Spot.
The developers in charge of making a video game for Home improvement They had an impossible job ahead of them. So instead of making a video game that resembled Tim Allen’s sitcom in any way, Imagineering armed Tim Taylor with an arsenal of weapons and pitted him against dinosaurs, giant scorpions, mummies, and ghosts. The result is Search for power toolsone of the few licensed games where familiarity with the original property can make everything even more confusing.
4 Earthbound Proves Weird Can Be Good
Some of the best games ever made seem strange out of context. The concept of a plumber jumping on turtles and shooting fireballs at plants to save a princess is a strange idea that modern culture has inoculated itself against over the years.
Suffice it to say that a game that’s weird doesn’t mean it’s bad. Land it’s an extremely strange game, but it’s also one of the best RPGs of the SNES era. A game about a boy who is told by a bee that she must collect eight songs to defeat a Lovecraftian alien force. Land it’s a collection of weird characters, weirder weapons, and even weirder combat mechanics, and yet it’s an all-time classic.
3 Captain Novolin is the wrong PSA
Unlike most games that run as ads, Captain NovolinThe developers had good intentions. The game, which was made in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, educates children about diet and insulin, usually in the form of inter-level virtual lectures.
But when Captain Novolin enters its gaming phase, it becomes a truly bizarre story about a superhero who will die if he doesn’t control his glucose levels. The titular hero must fight aliens in the form of junk food while eating as many healthy foods as he can find. The message of the game, that diabetes does not prevent you from being a hero, is a positive one. As a superhero game though, playing someone whose Kryptonite is just sugar doesn’t feel empowering in the least.
two Bill Laimbeer’s combat basketball is pure nonsense
No matter how popular basketball was in the 1990s, even the most devoted sports fan is unlikely to clamor for a game dedicated to Bill Laimbeer, a Pistons player known primarily for being incredibly rude to his opponents. And yet, the first basketball game released for the SNES was Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball.
combat basketball However, it was no ordinary basketball game. All the characters wore futuristic armor and used pills like dynamite to hinder the other team. Unlike virtually every basketball game out there, the game was played from a top-down perspective, which is a terrible design decision for a sport that’s mostly about verticality.
1 Hong Kong 97 is the weirdest SNES game
hong kong 97 It’s so weird that it makes sense that the developer, Kowloon Kurosawa, was trying to satire the gaming industry, as he claims. The player takes control of a character named Chin, an unauthorized likeness of Jackie Chan.
Chin’s goal in hong kong 97 is to kill all the communists in China. The player controls Chin on a single map with a background that randomly changes between frames of Maoist propaganda. The soundtrack is a loop of the opening bars of a traditional Chinese nursery rhyme, and the Game Over screen is an actual photo of a bullet-riddled corpse. The song only stops once the player has reached a kill count of 1.2 billion. The game is ridiculed by critics, but it’s also a fascinating curiosity for video game historians.
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