Versus! SNES or N64?

Kyle and Andy debate about two of the most treasured consoles of all time.

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 03/01/2013 10:00 9 Comments     ShareThis

Kyle England

Hello everyone, and welcome to Versus! This is where various Nintendojo writers debate and discuss all manner of gaming issues. Today, Andy and I are talking about a big question. Which is better, Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64? Andy will be pulling for the SNES while I present the case of the N64. I’ve got my work cut out for me! Andy will get the first word, so take it away!


Andy Hoover

Cake walk time!

If you’re like me, you have a plethora of consoles with countless controllers dangling off cables or sitting about, free from wired constraints. Shapes and colors vary from generation to generation and manufacturer to manufacturer, but I bet there’s something all those controllers have in common: four face buttons on the right side, some sort of directional input on the left, “Start” and “Select” buttons in the middle, and a couple shoulder buttons on top.

Think about it. More than twenty years ago, Nintendo effectively set the standard for what the world would expect from the way it interacted with video games. Sure, certain designs have tweaked the formula, adding a button or two here or throwing in a couple of sticks over there, but the basic shape, layout and functionality is effectively unchanged. Heck, even when Nintendo decided to turn the world upside down with the Wii Remote, they still understood that some games simply require that classic design, and thus released Classic Controller – an obvious throwback to the SNES trailblazer we all know and love.

And I already know what you are thinking: “N64 gave us analog sticks!”

Yes, it did… and they are awesome, but it did it in one of the strangest, most obtuse designs the world has ever seen. Had they just stuck a stick on the SNES pad the world would be a much better place today.


Kyle England

You had to bring up the controller first, didn’t you Andy? I’m already in the hole here. Yes, yes, I must concede to you that the Super Nintendo had an all-around better controller than the Nintendo 64. But that does not count the N64 out, no way! Despite how strange the trident controller is typically considered, I believe it is one the most creative controller designs ever. Nintendo wanted to create an all new way to operate in 3D space by giving us this gamepad of endearing awesomeness. Sure, they could have rested on their laurels and gave us a rehash of the SNES controller, but that would have been no fun at all! Instead we got an iconic controller that came in dozens of amazing colors. SNES can’t boast that.

But what really matters are the games we play using those controllers, right? N64 had games in spades. Yeah, so maybe SNES had some of the greatest games ever made. N64 took those and put them in three dimensions. Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Kart 64, Body Harvest, GoldenEye 007… I could do this all day. N64 also rules the land of multiplayer. There is no way you will have as much fun with your friends playing Super Nintendo games. SNES may have the classics, but games on the N64 changed how we play forever, and we haven’t gone back since.

Seriously, play Body Harvest for N64. It’s a criminally underrated game.


Andy Hoover

It would take a fool to deny that N64 had some great games, wrote the book on 3D game design, and introduced the world to the wonder of four person multi-player. But it would take a bigger fool to ignore the fact that SNES simply had more truly amazing games.

Yes, there was Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Kirby Super Star, and all the other Nintendo norms, but those impress with every release, so lets look at what SNES did different. Actually, a lot of those Nintendo norms were born in the 16 bit world: Super Mario Kart was the first mascot kart racer, Donkey Kong Country turned a woman snatching bad guy into banana loving hero, and Star Fox was introduced into the world in all its polygonal glory.

Oh, and I would say that SNES had the better Metroid game, but N64 didn’t have one. I repeat… N64 was completely devoid of Samus Aran.

And let us not forget something that SNES did better than any other Nintendo console – it had third party support! Youngsters might not remember that there was once a time when Final Fantasy was synonymous with Nintendo, and Square even went ahead and released other amazing games, like Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana. Capcom gave us Street Fighter II, Mega Man X, and perhaps my favorite mix of nostalgia and masochism, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. And maybe this is a little too personal, but I maintain that the SNES era NHL games from EA are the best sports games ever!

Only SNES players could be bad enough dudes to fight ghost and goblins.

And one more thing! EARTHBOUND… and N64 had no Metroid.

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9 Responses to “Versus! SNES or N64?”

  • 312 points
    Greg Wampler says...

    I loved Body Harvest!!!! Man tat game was awesome, but never got around to completing it.

    Thumb up 0
  • 36 points
    Chad says...

    You guys missed out on the Super Famicom / PAL SNES design that was created by Kenichiro Ashida. I believe that design holds its own against the N64 (which is also an Ashida design). I’m not a huge fan of the American SNES, but I do like that Lance Barr and the NOA team added the concave/convex face buttons. It’s something I wish modern controllers would adopt.

    Thumb up 1
  • 114 points
    decoupage says...

    I only had a few wow moments with the N64 (i.e. playing Mario 64 to the end, semi-intelligent a.i. and hit detection in Golden Eye, and fighting the Great and Might Poo in Conkers Bad Fur Day); however I had countless wow moments with the SNES (e.g. countless moments in Earthbound, the entirety of Super Mario RPG, being “sick” from school when Donkey Kong Country came out, beating Super Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back for the first time without the thermal detonator cheat, and many more). Perhaps the biggest factor was that the Dreamcast came out three years into the lifespan of the N64 and that system took over my free time. Harsh yes, but Mario RPG over Paper Mario.

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  • 570 points
    ejamer says...

    I never owned a SNES, while N64 is the first home console I purchased on my own. Perhaps that colors my opinion… but to this day I think that SNES is one of the best consoles ever made by Nintendo.

    Why does it win out? SNES represented a high-water mark for 2D gaming. It took everything good from the 8-bit generation and then improved on it. The console offered a huge stable of games from every major third-party developer, covering the widest possible range of gaming genres. Looking back now, there are dozens of absolute classic games along with a huge number of unheralded gems that are worth playing.

    Judging the N64 is tougher. There are moments of brilliance: games that changed how the industry would progress forever afterwards. But those moments were relatively few and far between. The overall library of games is small and even the most memorable titles often had issues that were hard to overlook (at that time, and even more so today) due to limitations of the hardware and the experimental nature of moving into 3D gaming.

    I don’t regret the time spent with either console, but if forced to choose which was “better” I have to stick by SNES.

    Thumb up 1
  • 15 points
    Crit Hit says...

    I’m gonna have to go with the SNES here. Some kick butt software for that wonderment. The only thing that would make me say otherwise are Ocarina and Majora. Those two defined the Zelda franchise and were the first stepping stones in making the mythos what it is today.

    Still the SNES. Super Metroid.

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  • 6 points
    dolphin558 says...

    I never owned a SNES. I had a Sega Genesis at the time (I know, how could I?). I’ve played enough SNES games to appreciate what I ultimately found to be the superior system of that generation. With that said, the amount of hours devoted to Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Smash Bros, Ocarina of Time, Pilotwings, Waverace 64, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Donkey Kong 64,etc, etc are countless. These games either transformed the video game experience or moved the industry forward in some meaningful way. Verdict = Nintendo 64.

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  • 186 points
    Robin Wilde says...

    The Nintendo 64 had two of my most-beloved games – Majora’s Mask and Paper Mario – but the SNES had Earthbound and, moreover, defined how 2D games should be done. Were it not for the SNES the GBA would not have had anywhere near the number of quality 2D games it eventually received.

    So in terms of legacy, the SNES grabs it for me on software, while the N64 was more important for hardware.

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  • 1230 points
    lukas85 says...

    this is hard, the two best consoles of all time, i know that popular oppinion says snes, but for me, the n64 give me the best game of all time and the ones i had the most fun: mario 64, mario kart, banjo kazooie, star fox 64, ocarina of time, majoras mask, perfect dark, turok,conquer bad fur day, super smash bros. glorious!

    Thumb up 1
  • 229 points
    Marc Deschamps says...

    I owned an SNES, but it often seems like the system I missed out on. You see, I also had a Sega Genesis at the time, and having both (and being fairly young at the time) meant that my concentration was too divided. I never owned DKC (though I played it every time I went across the street to my friend’s house), Yoshi’s Island, Zelda or plenty of other true classics. Many of those games I wouldn’t even play until the Game Boy Advance or Virtual Console rereleases.

    Fast forward a few years to the N64 era, and that system kind of defined my middle school and early high school years. Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, Conker’s Bad Fury Day, Smash Bros., Mario Party, Wave Race, South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack, drinking flat pop and eating cold pizza with friends until 2:30 in the morning… the list goes on and on. The SNES might be “better,” but I know which one I’ll always hold near and dear to my heart.

    Thumb up 0

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