Console Wars - SNES vs PlayStation RPGs - Which is Better?
Classic RPG fans, prepare your arguments. We’re about to settle one of the longest-standing console war showdowns of all time: SNES vs PS1 RPGs.
It’s quite a bold claim, we know. Both consoles produced numerous titles that are still considered the best RPGs ever made.
SNES gave us Earthbound, Final Fantasy II and III (IV and VI in Japan), and Chrono Trigger. PS1 gave us Final Fantasy VII-IX, Final Fantasy Tactics, Legend of Dragoon, Parasite Eve, and more.
At this moment, you may find yourself involuntarily screaming at your screen, audibly (and angrily) naming the obvious winner of this showdown. We understand.
Some will tell us that Final Fantasy VII is the game that changed the world of RPG gaming forever. If that’s you, you’re right.
Alternatively, you may argue that Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III changed RPG gaming first. You’re right, too.
But which console truly reigns supreme in the RPG genre? Find out below.
What’s So Great About SNES RPGs?
Before we talk about SNES RPGs, let’s back up and talk about the NES. The NESwas a huge success in every genre (except for video games based on movies). Plus, at that time, RPGs were already one of the most popular game genres in Japan.
So, naturally, there were several great RPGs for the 8-bit system, like Zelda II and the original Final Fantasy. Unfortunately, aside from these two titles, the genre never really caught on with American audiences during the 8-bit era.
RPGs Become Truly Amazing For the First Time
Thus, SNES RPGs caused a radical change in the landscape of American gaming. For starters, these games were enormous compared to 8-bit titles, with beautifully detailed sound and graphics. The lush worlds and sleek visuals grabbed the attention of American gamers and didn’t let go.
Gamers who had never even heard of RPGs were instantly enamored with titles like Chrono Trigger and Earthbound. These games were so entertaining, so enjoyable, and so addicting that we couldn’t get enough. They started our desperate hunger for RPGs that we still experience to this day.
SNES RPGs Push the Known Boundaries of Console Gaming
If anyone in the 8-bit era thought about RPGs, they’d envision plain graphics and very basic settings. Think blue sky, some green trees, and castles made out of that same 8-bit brick pattern you see in every NES game. Based on screenshots, you couldn’t really tell one NES RPG from another.
But, thanks to a more powerful processor, SNES RPGs have far more distinction, detail, and depth. Suddenly, game creators could give each series and each game a unique art style and sound profile. And the cinematic drama/action scenes of games like Final Fantasy II and III were the best we’d ever seen in console games.
Stories That Rival the Best Hollywood Action Fantasy Epics
Aside from the look and sound of these games, they differed in tone as well. Final Fantasy II (IV) is a dramatic, medieval epic that feels like a tale from the legends of King Arthur. In contrast, Final Fantasy III (VI) is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic, operatic love story that blends sci-fi and fantasy in a beautiful steampunk fairy tale.
Furthermore, not all SNES RPGs took themselves so seriously. For instance, Super Mario RPG is no more serious than you’d expect from this familiar franchise.
Earthbound is relentlessly quirky and hilarious from start to finish. Chrono Trigger gives us a mix of lighthearted humor and apocalypse-level tragedy, plus time travel!
These stories were deeper than any that gamers had experienced before. And they still rival some of today’s Hollywood epics like Avatar, Mortal Engines, and other boring crap.
Many SNES RPGs Are Still Considered the All-Time Best
Don’t take our word for it. Go ahead and look it up for yourself.
If you research “best RPGs of all time” you will always see Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and Earthbound. Seriously, these are on every list, every time.
What’s So Great About PS1 RPGs?
That said, there are several PS1 games that always make the “best of” lists, too. In fact, it can definitely be argued that PS1 RPGs are inherently better than those of the SNES.
After all, this was the console that continued the successful Final Fantasy series, among other SNES RPG franchises. And this time, the games are 32-bit with FMV (Full Motion Video) cutscenes and 3D graphics.
3D RPGs Are Born
That’s right. For the first time in console gaming history, RPGs came to life in glorious 3D on the PlayStation. Those that weren’t 3D still had amazing, sprite-based graphics that blew our minds.
Bigger, Longer, More Detailed Epics
Aside from graphics and sound, PS1 games had an even bigger advantage over SNES games. And we mean that literally.
To illustrate, think about how much data you can cram into an SNES gamecartridge. The answer is, “some.”
But, since the PS1 uses discs instead of cartridges, there are virtually no limits on how big or long a game can be. Each disc has more than enough space to contain a huge, playable game world with lots of characters and events.
And if that one disc still isn’t enough, game creators can continue the game on additional discs. Thus, games like Final Fantasy VIII and IX span 4 discs.
The lack of space limitations also allows for video files. Thus, cutscenes can include live action, hand-drawn anime, top-of-the-line CG, or any other recorded video. Unfortunately, though, the video resolution is often quite poor.
PS1: The True Successor to SNES?
One must also consider the matter of succession. For example, when the NES was succeeded by the SNES, a new and massively better era of RPGs began.
However, when the SNES was succeeded by the N64, the era of Nintendo-sponsored RPGs entirely ceased to exist. There are approximately 5 N64 titles that potentially count as RPG games.
Apparently, Nintendo’s choice to use cartridges instead of discs didn’t go over well with third-party game developers. Consequently, most of the companies that made awesome RPGs for the SNES abandoned Nintendo in favor of Sony’s PS1.
Thus, the PlayStation is (unofficially) the true successor of the SNES as far as RPGs are concerned. In fact, some of the most popular SNES RPGs (namely Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV-VI) were re-released on PS1 with FMV cutscenes and other bonus content.
So, one could argue that Playstation RPGs are superior to SNES RPGs just as the SNES is superior to its predecessor. Really, though, this is a matter of opinion, which we’ll get too momentarily.
Many PS1 RPGs Are Still Considered the All-Time Best
Ultimately, this point is where the real showdown between PS1 and SNES RPGs is determined. As with SNES, there are several PS1 RPGs on every RPG “best of” list. These include Suikoden II, Legend of Dragoon, and Final Fantasy VII-IX.
More importantly, the PS1 has literally 4 times as many RPGs as the SNES. So, if you think Final Fantasy VII is way overrated, no problem. Try Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Mega Man Legends, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Breath of Fire III, Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, etc.
SNES vs PS1 RPGs: Which Are Best?
It’s a tie—sort of. Just kidding (kind of).
Okay, yes, we did say that we’d settle this dispute once and for all. So here’s thething.
The PS1 is unarguably superior to the SNES in all respects, period. So yes, PS1 RPGs are better in terms of graphics, sound, game length, and sheer number of titles. If you love RPGs, you will definitely find some of your favorite games ever on the PS1.
But that’s the other thing. You will also definitely find some of your favorite RPGs on the SNES.
SNES hits like Chrono Trigger and Earthbound are unique, unequaled RPG adventures. In fact, these two titles might be the best video games ever made.
Is Final Fantasy VII better than Earthbound? Of course, it isn’t. Nor is Earthbound necessarily better than Final Fantasy VII.
Furthermore, Nintendo’s Earthbound and Super Mario RPG will never be legitimately available on any PlayStation console until Hell freezes over. Nintendo will likely hold onto these bragging rights until the end of the world.
Here’s the bottom line. PS1 is better for those who want to explore literally hundreds of great RPG titles, including some of the best ever made. But the SNES still has many exclusive RPG hits, some of which are arguably better than any PS1 game ever released.
PS1 vs SNES RPGs: Get What You Need Right Here
Obviously, we can’t tell you which games you’ll like better. You’ll have to decide that for yourself. But we can definitely help you with that.
Browse our retro video game store to purchase all the SNES and PS1 RPGs you want. Then, stage your own console war RPG showdown!
Lastly, we’d love to see your opinions about SNES vs PS1 RPGs. Express your thoughts in the Comments section below.