C. G. McGinn


Ramblings about Books and Writing

The First Annual Citywide Super NES Draft

If you were following my Twitter feed yesterday afternoon, you would have seen a number of pithy comments involving the SNES game cartridge draft between my two brothers, Broski and J-Money.

For Christmas last year my wife and I got Broski a Supaboy, which is a portable game system about the size of a Sega Game Gear, that plays the old SNES cartridges. Though you can play it as a hand-held, the Supaboy also has the outputs for controllers and the TV. He no longer needed his original SNES, and gave it to J-Money. I know, 1st World problems.

Being the sports guy that he is, Broski couldn't just give J-Money games. So a first of its kind draft was enacted at the McGinn homestead and what follows are the results, along with my take on each game. Read the entire play-by-play on Twitter, #SNESDraft.

Broski won the coin-toss (which your's-truly flipped), and had the honor of picking first.

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Broski)

This one is the natural 1st Round pick. Zelda for the SNES was -from beginning to end- a solid game. It was a 16-bit version of the classic NES title. The story was tight and full of twists, and Link wielded an arsenal of items that were a staple to the franchise like bow, bombs, and boomerang, but also introduced new items like the Hook-Shot, Magic Mirror, and Bug Catching Net. The game set itself apart from its predecessors when the player is literally thrown into the Dark World, where the challenges were increased, the dungeons more difficult, and the entire landscape, -though similar- was dramatically altered. No matter who went first, this game would have been the 1st pick. It's just that kind of game.

2. Chrono Trigger (J-Money)

Chrono Trigger is less of a Number Two Pick and more like Pick 1.5. Nerd-Rage will probably ensue because of the audacity of putting this title in the number 2 slot. I for one love this game. It came off the heels of several kick-ass Squaresoft titles, but was so different from the company that brought us Final Fantasy. Since the game incorporated the use of time-travel, it really broke the RPG genre. Up until then, RPGs were based in a world of swords and magic. Final Fantasy VII hadn't been invented yet, so the idea of traveling into the post-apocalyptic future, or a character wielding guns that shoot real bullets was new, different, edgy. One of the main characters was also a sword swinging knight...who was a frog!

3. Super Mario All Stars/Super Mario World (Broski)

This was a twofer! The 1st Mario game for the SNES had a world map, tons upon tons of levels, secret areas, YOSHI, and Mario in a cape. 

And All-Stars had Mario 1, 2, 3, and the Lost Levels all in 16-Bit awesomeness. My favorite will always be Mario 2.

Having a Mario title of this caliber as Pick 3 was a smart move by Broski. This is like picking the final number in the Royal Rumble or finding the BFG 9000 in Doom. You can't go wrong with Mario. FACT! 

4. Super Mario RPG (J-Money)

The only thing better than Pick 3 has got to be Pick 4. Mario RPG was great for a lot of reasons. It was very self-aware. It lived in a world of serious RPGs. It's game play involved more than simply selecting the melee or magic and watching the results. You had to time moves, you had to solve movement puzzles, you had a character that was a talking cloud. Just when you thought the big baddy of the game was Bowser, WHAM! He becomes a playable character along with Princess Toadstool!

J-Money hit gold with this pick. It belongs in any reputable SNES collection.

5. NBA Live 1996 (Broski)

Gonna be honest, not a fan of the sports games, especially the ones from 1996. In fact, I couldn't tell you a single thing about this game except that it has something to do with basket ball.

But I can see why Broski picked it up. As the draft progresses, he builds a substantial stable of 16-bit sports titles.

6. Yoshi's Island (J-Money)

In the words of my wife, "BEST GAME IN THE WORLD!!!!"

And Mario is a baby! How the hell did that kid make it to adulthood?

7. Secret of Mana (Broski)

Another terrific RPG. Although I can honestly say I haven't played more than 10 minutes of this game. Maybe this will be something I borrow from Broski if I ever find myself in the possession of a SNES or Supaboy, or some other All-in-One console that I can probably find at That's Entertainment.

8. Final Fantasy II (J-Money)

Pick 8 would be in my Top 5 Best NES Games of All-TIme. This was really the 1st game that turned me on to the Final Fantasy series. Yes, I've played FF1 for the NES, but that was a really hard game for a young kid and, even with the official strategy guide, it was not easy. FF2 was a very accessible game with an interesting, though simple story. Though lacking in the graphics of future 16-bit Final Fantasy's, this game set the bar for what is expected in a solid J-RPG.

I'm actually surprised this title wasn't picked up sooner. Both my bro's and I had fond memories of this title and the trend set with early picks like Chrono Triggers and Mario RPG presented the implication that J-Money was in the market of constructing a solid RPG lineup. But I suppose this is what makes J-Money so damn cool. Like a seasoned poker player, he balances the time and risk of loss, and in the end maintains a substantial pick.

9. Super Castlevania IV (Broski)

This was and is, hands down my favorite title in my favorite video game franchise. In the same way that no other movies came out after the Karate Kid II, I don't count any of the 3D bullshit titles that began with the Nintendo 65 and spawned like maggots in later consoles. Castlevania will always be a 2D side-scroller and IV is second only to Symphony of the Night for the PlayStation. As you'll read in the tweets, Stage 4 is pixelated greatness. They took typically boring backgrounds and turned them into dynamic scenes, complimenting the rest of the game. All of IV is like this but it really stands out in Stage 4.

Again, I'm surprised this wasn't Pick 3 or 4. But perhaps that's just a bias on my part. As far as I know neither of the bros have Ben Dunn commissioned Castlevania artwork

10. Super Metroid (J-Money)

If Castlevania IV is the king of awesome, Super Metroid is, hands-down, the queen. The game-play's tight and the overall feel did not deviate too far from the original NES version. Like the hook-shot in Link to the Past, the addition of new items like the Grappling beam (hmm, coincidence), and Super Bombs made the game unique without losing the feel from the original.

J-Money should do himself a favor and play the hell out of this game before Broski comes over to borrow it. For a game with so many elements that give it an RPG feel, it's a very accessible game one can just pick up and play to waste a few minutes.

11. NCAA Basketball (Broski)

Another sports game to help fill out the sports roster on Broski's SNES Sport Empire. Having never attended a Division 1 school, my interest in NCAA B-Ball is somewhere between disinterest and ignorance.

So instead I'll talk to you about a sports game I do like. 

Baseball Stars for the NES was where sports video games begin and end. Not only were you able to play baseball (pitching and fielding, hitting and controlling whether or not your runners will try for a double or triple) but you could also buy players, make trades, boost their stats and fire their asses. We figured out early on that you could game the system by creating a team with the highest prestige, which in-turn gave you the most money per winning game. However our master plan of creating the best baseball team in the world seemed to always blow up in our faces when the game's saving system would mess up and we'd be left with none but the default baseball teams that were hard coded into the game. 

12. Super Street Fighter 2 (J-Money)

Despite the hype of the Street Fighter franchise, and the god awful movie starting my favorite late actor, we only ever owned one version of this game. I'd like to think it was the best version because it had just the right amount of characters, you got to play as all the characters including Bison, Balrog and Sagat, and it was the first game that I can recall which depicted fine female pixel booty.

Booty aside it was the only fighting game we owned and we played the hell out of it. It's the ultimate pickup game and a must-have in any collection. Too bad for Broski for not jumping on that action sooner.

13. Mega Man X (Broski)

Mega Man X is Tim Burton's Batman, as Mega Man's 1 - 8 are the campy 60's Batman starring Adam West. To drive this point home here's something from the Simpsons:


Mega Man X was dark. It took place even further into the future than the futuristic setting of the original games. Mega Man's creator, Doctor Light, along with everyone else he knew and loved are dead. From the original games we knew that there were at least 2 humans, Light and the series antagonist Dr. Wiley, so we can assume there were others. But in the time of the X games, the humans are dead, all of them and robots rule the world. What happened to the humans? Do we know? Was Mega Man responsible for their demise or was his lack of action for anything that is good and right allow for the evil robot rebellion that caused the extinction of the human race? It has The Matrix and Terminator written all over it and they were rated R. Mega Man was a cutesy game for kids.

But darkness aside. Mega Man X was a refreshing change to a series that was growing stale and completely lost me forever with Mega Man 8. The game was much more difficult than the other Mega Man titles. Levels contained secret items, hidden pickup and bosses that required actual strategy, even if you had the right weapon to beat them.

14. Final Fantasy III (J-Money)

J-Money picked up the 2nd and final SNES Final Fantasy title. This game was ground breaking for me simply because half-way through the game the world is destroyed and you get to explore both new areas created in the aftermath, as well as ruined versions of places you had been. It was a surprising change in a series where the world map was the only thing that remained consistent up until the end.

15. NBA Jam (Broski)

This game was a big deal at the same time Mortal Kombat was big. Without knowing very much about SNES sports games it's probably the gem in Broski's lineup based on prestige alone. 

16. WrestleMania the Arcade Game (J-Money)

In a world of 2D fighting games like Street Fighter 2, wrestling games were a strange oddity in that they all included the impression of 3-Dimensional depth. Even wrestling games on the NES had this. You moved your black trunks, overstuffed, pixelated avatar of Andre the Giant up and down, left and right, mashing the buttons until you accidentally managed a body-slam. And God help you if you were ever thrown out of the ring and had to mash buttons again in the hopes of re-entering before the 10-count.

At a time where Pay-Per-View events were the only way of seeing the Hulk Hogan's and Shawn Michael's of the world actually wrestle, WrestleMania the Arcade Game was a great game for poor kids who's parents didn't love them and wouldn't shell out the $60 for a pay-per-view, but would part with the $50 for an SNES cartridge. Shame on you parents, shame.

I'm really surprised that Broski, a contributor at placetobenation didn't scoop this up sooner. Shame Broski, shame!

17. Mega Man X2 (Broski)

Mega Man X2 was a good continuation of the first game with some surprise elements that gave it a fair amount of replay value. It's the last real treasure in the collection and Broski's pickup of it completes the series (Because though there was a 3rd SNES game in the X series, no one ever played it so it doesn't really count for every having been made).

18. Ken Griffy Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (J-Money)

Ok, so this is where I start to phones these in. Ken Griffy Jr played baseball. They made a video game featuring him. He was so cool in the 90's that he starred in an episode of the Simpson where he developed gigantism. Due to the gigantism, his career in baseball went south. I might have made that last part up.

19. SimCity (Broski)

This was the first game I owned. In order to cut down significantly on traffic and pollution, you could successfully build an entire city without roads, replacing them with rails. Somehow the city grew. Don't ask me why or how.

20. SpiderMan/X-Men Arcade's Revenge (J-Money)

This game is shit. I could, and might, write an entire post on how absolutely horrible this game is. Spiderman's 'spidy senses' blew out your television speakers in a continuous droning buzz that sounded like an army of ducks farting morse code. The levels were impossibly hard. Every bad video game gimmick was packed, like blood sausage, into this game, from flooded levels where the whole point was to not drown, and mine carts with electrified rails. Because after all, miners all over the world don't fill the carts with their findings, no, they ride around in them like Indiana fucking Jones! This is how much I hate Arcade's Revenge.

21. NFL Quarterback Club (Broski)

I didn't even know we had this game. I can only imagine that this is a simulation of over-payed athletes flashing their bling at the club while they rock prada, right?

22. Tony Meola's Sidekicks Soccer (J-Money)