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Super Nintendo is home to some of the greatest games in video game history. Today we’re taking a look at the top three and exploring what it is that has made them so enduring.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

What makes The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past so enduring is its mechanics. It just feels good to swing a sword, whether that’s swinging your sword at blades of grass, or battling enormous enemies who test your will. While A Link to the Past owes much in terms of its concepts and mechanics to the first two entries in the series, the game also established what would become the blueprint for many of Link’s adventures to come and introduced a number of recurring items we now take for granted, including the Master Sword.

The battles still test player skill. The puzzles still puzzle. The soundtrack by Koji Kondo is nostalgic yet timeless. The story, one of fate and myth and vengeance, still inspires. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past remains one of the crowning achievements in Nintendo history.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Rare was on a roll coming off the wildly successful Donkey Kong Country. Not content with a mere follow-up, Donkey Kong Country 2 improves upon its predecessor in almost every way. In a bold move, Rare cast the series’ namesake as the kidnaped Kong who must be rescued. It is Diddy Kong who takes the lead role, joined by Dixie Kong, whose special ability empowers the player to glide across the many vistas you’ll encounter throughout the game – from pirate ships and swamps to the insides of hives and amusement parks.

The new Animal Buddies system truly widens the depth and variety of gameplay. In DKC, you rode your companions much like Mario rides Yoshi, which meant that they could be lost. Because of this, developers couldn’t make them essential to completing a level. Conversely, DKC2 has levels that force you to transform into your animal friends, making their special abilities integral to the game’s design. David Wise’s glorious original soundtrack adds another layer to the experience – providing everything from joyous tunes evocative of the game’s pirate setting to a tranquil, meditative piece that helps you keep your cool during one of the most challenging levels in the game.

DKC2 was released on Nintendo Switch Online last month, so if you haven’t revisited this classic in a while, now’s your chance!

Final Fantasy VI

Drawing from its five predecessors, Final Fantasy VI served as a distillation of everything that made the Final Fantasy series a major player in the JRPG genre while bringing forward new ideas from which the series would continue to grow. Where FF6 differs most from its predecessors is immediately apparent from the start of the game. Previous titles drew heavily from a high fantasy, medieval setting. FF6 breaks from this tradition, featuring a much more technologically advanced society, drawing inspiration from the steampunk aesthetic.

Each playable character could be considered a lead character – an impressive feat for such a large and varied cast. The sprites are more expressive than ever, allowing the developers to tell a story more visually. The game’s original soundtrack by legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu really heightens the drama while also helping to establish the personalities of each character. The gameplay mechanics tie into this. While the system allows each character to learn every spell in the game, it isn’t necessarily advantageous to do so. Learning more about the characters’ strengths and weaknesses will reward skilled players who explore their options and find what fits best for their parties.

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