Following up on my previous blog entry, I decided I would make this concept more than a one-time deal. So this time, instead of NES titles, we'll look at my top 10 casual SNES games. Remember, this isn't about long, drawn-out games that take hours of levelling or days of practice to complete. This is about games you can pick up, play for a little while, and then put down again when you don't have very long to sit in front of your TV.
10 - Super Tennis
As noted in the previous blog, there are lots of people who think that all sports titles are essentially casual games, but this isn't often so. Super Tennis, however, isn't meant to be a 100% accurate simulation of the Wimbledon cup. It's just a couple people getting together and batting a ball across a net for a little while. The selection of players (and genders) means that there's literally someone for everyone to get behind, and sometimes a couple matches of tennis can go a long way towards scratching that gaming itch. Really, almost any of the Super line of sports could go in here as well, including Super Soccer and Super Bowling, or even the likes of Super Tecmo Bowl. Tennis was just the first one to cross my mind.
9 - SimCity
SimCity sold bucketloads of copies simply because it was serious gaming in a casual format, and not much is different for the SNES version. Whether you want to play a preconstructed scenario about recovering from a major disaster, or just take on the construction of your own burgeoning metropolis one block at a time, SimCity makes it easy to sit down, play for a few game-years, and then save and quit. And unlike its cousin Populous, it's essentially a non-competitive game. Just you against the little Sims of your City. Sometimes they must perish in the awful fires, precious...sometimes yes...
8 - Super R-Type
R-Type probably isn't the first thing you think of when someone talks about a "casual" game, and you're probably right. R-Type is hard. Like, Nintendo-hard. But that doesn't change the fact that it's easy enough to pick up and play for a little while, and let's face it: blowing stuff up in outer space never gets old, which is why it's a theme that has survived in video games for three decades. You could probably put any scrolling shooter in this slot (Gradius III, E.V.O., Phalanx, etc...) and you'd be OK. Again, Super R-Type was the first one to cross my mind.
7 - Super Bomberman
With multiple players, this becomes an outright fragfest of explosions and expletives, especially if you've got four people going at it all at once. As a single-player experience, though, it's a lot more Zen. BE the bomb. BE the Bomberman. Blast the bricks. It's all you. And that's something to smile about.
6 - Stunt Race FX
A very nice use of the FX chip that we've also seen in Starfox, this is a casual, pick-up-and-play racer that is perfect for gamers who are pressed for time. Race a few tracks, lap a few cars, and walk away from it a better person. Or at least a happier person for making the AI eat your exhaust. Those who like a bit more combat in their driving experience could put Super Mario Kart or Rock 'n Roll Racing in here instead. Those who don't like the FX chip look but still want their driving experiences "pure" could substitute F-Zero as well.
5 - Street Fighter II (series)
Really, any of the games in this series will do, though Super Street Fighter II is probably the best given the number of options for setting the speed, selecting a difficulty level, and the total number of fighters available to pick from. If you've got a knack for the button presses, nothing says casual entertainment than some one-on-one combat that you can rock for a few rounds without worrying about your online rankings or other statistics. Your co-workers don't even need to know that Zangief got you twice in the last round with that spinning piledriver.
4 - Super Mario All-Stars
This one was sort of a cheat, as it's four games in one, but hey, it's Mario. As long as you ignore The Lost Levels (which is nothing more than a sadistic exercise in frustration), you really can't go wrong with your adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom or Subcon. Plus, all the graphics are pretty 16-bit upgrades of the NES sprites. Double bonus!
3 - TMNT IV: Turtles in Time
Side-scrolling beat 'em ups are the perfect way to waste an hour or so while letting off steam in the process, and just as TMNT II: The Arcade Game got a mention on the NES list, so too does its big brother for the SNES. The variety of moves and ways to dispatch your enemies ensures that nothing gets boring. Plus, let's face it - throwing that Foot Clan robot towards the screen and watching the Mode-7 effect is still awesome even after you've seen it half a million times.
2 - Pilotwings
Flight simulators in general are pretty casual gaming experiences, but Pilotwings on the SNES does it perfectly. It's just you and the craft, whether you're driving a plane, swooping a glider, or even throwing on a jetpack and bouncing around. Pilotwings is one of those games that is so insanely simple and addictive while including so much variety that you can't go wrong with it.
1 - Tetris & Dr. Mario
Let's see...we'll take one of the best-selling, most addictive puzzle games of all time, pair it up with Nintendo's own take on the "throwing bits down the well" genre, pretty up the presentation, and unleash it upon the world. And we will dominate forever. I imagine that's what Nintendo's marketing department must have been thinking when they offered this double-whammy of casual gaming goodness on a single cartridge. Is there any way that this could fail to top the list of casual Super Nintendo games for anybody? Areala thinks not, but of course, you are free to disagree with her in the comments field down below, or heap praise upon her instead if you feel the urge.