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Comparing the NES and the SNES libraries


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Hypothetical scenario:

You meet a new collector who wants to dedicate all of their time in the hobby to collecting for one console: NES or SNES, but they don’t know which set to go after.

Without trying to sway their opinion one way or the other, how do you describe both sets in order to help them make an informed decision?

What are their similarities and differences?

How would you describe each game library?

Why are each interesting in a way that the other isn't?

What makes each set fun to collect for? What makes them a pain?

(I’ve already got a collection going for both, but I’d love to listen to and just learn something from seasoned Nintendo collectors who have been at this longer than I have been.)

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In very broad strokes, I'd say NES has more history for most collectors, SNES has more timeless gameplay for most players. NES has more way more "firsts" and genre-defining games, whereas many SNES classics are sequels that expanded and bettered existing concepts. On NES you can see certain genres grow up from Kung Fu to Castlevania III, while SNES has technical powerhouses in well defined genres like Castlevania IV and F-Zero out of the gate. I never really see an SNES game and think "Oh that's an old SNES game".

NES just has way more depth and nuance to collecting. It's 2019 and you can still argue about set lists. Why does your unlicensed list have two Impossible Mission IIs but no Sharedata Chiller? Are Sachen games US releases? Does Cheetahmen II even count? Can I call Myriad 6-in-1 a variant? (No, you can't) SNES has fewer unlicensed games, oddballs, and homebrew, so there's a lot less to branch out into beyond plain old licensed games.

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NES Is most nostalgic, but if you could only collect one and care about playing the games, SNES is better value.  With my kids (3 and 5) the early NES stuff doesn't grab them.  They like the bigger / flashier sprites and SNES is king there.

In terms of games, I can't think of any genre NES did better than SNES?  SNES is at least equal in everything and dominates beat-em-ups / RPGs and even adds a genre of fighters that are essentially non-existent on NES.

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8 hours ago, DefaultGen said:

In very broad strokes, I'd say NES has more history for most collectors, SNES has more timeless gameplay for most players. NES has more way more "firsts" and genre-defining games, whereas many SNES classics are sequels that expanded and bettered existing concepts. On NES you can see certain genres grow up from Kung Fu to Castlevania III, while SNES has technical powerhouses in well defined genres like Castlevania IV and F-Zero out of the gate. I never really see an SNES game and think "Oh that's an old SNES game".

NES just has way more depth and nuance to collecting. It's 2019 and you can still argue about set lists. Why does your unlicensed list have two Impossible Mission IIs but no Sharedata Chiller? Are Sachen games US releases? Does Cheetahmen II even count? Can I call Myriad 6-in-1 a variant? (No, you can't) SNES has fewer unlicensed games, oddballs, and homebrew, so there's a lot less to branch out into beyond plain old licensed games.

This is a great answer. Before listening to Collector’s Quest, I had only really explored game collecting on the surface. Without context like this, it’s easy for some to wonder why NES may be king, and simply write it off as nostalgia. But when you really start getting into the weeds of the hobby, you see that NES mimics other pivotal points in other hobbies that collectors gravitate towards. Sort of how there were other comics before Superman and other iconic DC and Marvel heroes, but those icons, like the NES, seemed to be the impetus toward something greater (this coming from a guy that will die on the hill that Atari is fun to collect for despite many people writing it off these days). SNES continues with that momentum and builds upon it, but NES is interesting for the reasons previously mentioned.

One category of games that interests me in the NES library is games that were ported from home computers like the Amiga, Atari computers, and C64. Castlequest, North and South, Ultima, etc. The SNES got computer games too, but the NES ones interest me more just by sheer fact that they attempted it at the time. The PAL-exclusive port of Elite is something I really wish we got over here in North America.

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On 10/24/2019 at 4:14 AM, jonebone said:

NES Is most nostalgic, but if you could only collect one and care about playing the games, SNES is better value.  With my kids (3 and 5) the early NES stuff doesn't grab them.  They like the bigger / flashier sprites and SNES is king there.

In terms of games, I can't think of any genre NES did better than SNES?  SNES is at least equal in everything and dominates beat-em-ups / RPGs and even adds a genre of fighters that are essentially non-existent on NES.

Calling the nes more nostalgic isnt entirely a fair assessment, I feel like the nostalgia factor between them really depends on which you identified more with growing up. Got myself I never owned an nes until 2009. But I picked up the SNES in 1996. With that context I would say SNES is more nostalgic to me.

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On 10/24/2019 at 7:14 AM, jonebone said:

In terms of games, I can't think of any genre NES did better than SNES?  SNES is at least equal in everything and dominates beat-em-ups / RPGs and even adds a genre of fighters that are essentially non-existent on NES.

Puzzle games, probably.  The SNES version of Tetris isn't mechanized correctly, in terms of having a scoring system that lines up with other versions of the game.

Then you have quirky puzzle games like Lolo or Solomon's Key.

 

There is also more "experimental" stuff on the NES -- weird not-quite-genre-specific games like Air Fortress.

And personally I'm a bigger fan of the specific action-adventure games on the NES versus the SNES, but that is just a matter of preference versus one being objectively better at it.  (Star Tropics, specifically, doesn't have any direct analog on the SNES, and Crystalis and Willow both do a lot of things better, IMO, than the action-RPGs on the SNES)

 

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Editorials Team · Posted

To paraphrase what I once said

NES is better for games where you're trying to get through it in a single shot, or going for high scores, or for general arcade experiences.  Contras, Castlevanias, Mega Mans, Ninja Gaidens, Donkey Kongs, Bubble Bobble, etc.

SNES is better for bigger, deeper playthroughs.  The RPGs, Link to the Past, Super Metroid, etc.

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7 hours ago, arch_8ngel said:

There is also more "experimental" stuff on the NES -- weird not-quite-genre-specific games like Air Fortress.

 

This is why I really like the NES. The era starting around Sega Genesis/SNES is when games started getting a little more homogenized. Not that the games were bad, but a lot of the quirky, "What is this?" type of games started disappearing.

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I like 2D platformers way better on NES than SNES as well. 16-bit platformers feel a little looser and sloppier to me, because you frequently have a big floppy cartoon character like Earthworm Jim or Donkey Kong and edges of platforms aren't as well defined because they're all artistically fancy. I'm not saying games like Mario World and Mega Man X aren't the bomb diggity, but on the whole I personally like the feel of the 8-bit Ninja Gaidens, Mega Mans, Marios, and Castlevanias better.

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2 hours ago, DefaultGen said:

I like 2D platformers way better on NES than SNES as well. 16-bit platformers feel a little looser and sloppier to me, because you frequently have a big floppy cartoon character like Earthworm Jim or Donkey Kong and edges of platforms aren't as well defined because they're all artistically fancy. I'm not saying games like Mario World and Mega Man X aren't the bomb diggity, but on the whole I personally like the feel of the 8-bit Ninja Gaidens, Mega Mans, Marios, and Castlevanias better.

I agree that platformers feel tighter, in general on the NES.

Some of that is probably an optical illusion though from sometimes having fewer frames of animation with simpler sprites.

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