Such a simple device; yet for certain games it is essential. When you look back on some of the greatest games of the 8-bit era, it is astounding how many of them would have been infinitely more fun with the simple technology of the mouse. This is where the SNES really gets a leg up in the constant battle for recognition over its 8-bit brother. NES may have had a primitive Multitap, a joystick controller, and a superior light gun, but it was the SNES that brought Nintendo fans the mouse. Let us honor this little piece of technology by exploring its legacy!
How It Works
The SNES mouse operates as a fully functional mouse for your SNES, with minor revisions such as making it a smaller size. A large area mouse pad was also shipped with this package, enabling the sliding pace required for gameplay. After all you wouldn’t want to try and play these games on a traditional mouse pad!
Like the PC Mouse, the SNES Mouse relies on a ball connected with two rollers to transmit the movements of your hand to the system. The ball rolls in the direction of your hand movements while the rollers detect the movement on the x and y axis. While not optimal for most games, the simplicity and precision of the mouse is an essential experience for many. If you do not believe me ask any PC gamer!
Sales And Legacy
Packaged alongside Mario Paint, the SNES mouse found its way into American homes on May 5th 1992. While it didn’t exactly have stellar sales for a system with an estimated global install base of around 50 million consoles (1), it was considered a success as far as released peripherals go. Still, by some the SNES mouse is sadly seen as yet another missed opportunity for the big N and other developers. Imagine how much more fun a game like SimCity could be with the addition of the SNES Mouse? Yet one can understand why developers often pass on supporting or requiring functionality for peripherals added after the launch of the system hardware. Any business person would much rather try to sell to a market of 50 million instead of a market of 3 million (2), so the SNES mouse never received the treatment that it could have.
I also have to wonder about what a N64 utilizing a mouse might have been like. Goldeneye and Perfect Dark are some of the greatest shooters ever realized. A gaming mouse could have made these games even more legendary. And imagine Star Craft with mouse support!!!
Still, despite never reaching its potential, the SNES mouse is essential as a SNES extra. Like the Super Multitap, it must be judged by how it enhances the experience of the games that utilize it, and there are PLENTY that would not be the same joyous experience without this little mouse. Let’s take a look at a few of these …
The Top 5 Games For The SNES Mouse
(In No Particular order)
Let’s face it: You cannot even begin to speak about the SNES mouse without at least mentioning the game that was packed in with it. Looking back it’s hard to see what the fuss was about, but keep in mind that this game came out prior to the Windows 95 computer boom and the art programs that came along with it. For a kid in the 90’s this was as close as it got! On top of that when you throw in a music and animation program and an endlessly addictive flyswatter game, the end result is a game that perfectly shows off the new peripheral. If you get the mouse, get Mario Paint. There’s no excuse not to!
2.Araknoid: Doh It Again!
One of the last SNES games to release in North America, this was a sequel to the 1986 Breakout Clone. And IT IS GLORIOUS!! Think of it as Breakout with the addition of power-ups, enemies, and a level editor! 99 levels ensures plenty of action, and while it is a good game with the standard SNES controller, it is just perfect with the mouse! This game is all the proof you need that a simple yet tactile experience is worth more than all the canned HD visuals in the world! Give it a spin and see if you don’t agree!
3.Lemmings 2: The Tribes
One of the best of the often overlooked puzzle genre, Lemmings 2: The Tribes is one of those perfect sequels that adds a ton of improvements and content without the addition of bullshit. There are save features for each individual campaign which build on the consequences of your actions. Most importantly, this sequel adds dozens of new abilities. This is my favorite Lemmings game on my favorite system! The SNES mouse is worth having for this game alone, giving you the precision control needed for what otherwise might be a maddening experience. I wouldn’t know, because I have NEVER tried it without the mouse. Call me spoiled. 😉
Hear me out here, purists. I understand that this is not the ideal way to play Doom. I get that levels and textures were removed to make it fit. I can even acknowledge how the lack of a save ability damns this game in some people’s eyes. But it is easy to say that now. When this game came out, there were not many people who had the 1,000-dollar PC rig to play this beast, so this was as close to the experience as most folks could get! And call me crazy, but I have begun to admire this game on its own merits. The single play marathon it requires, the soundtrack that apes its PC big brother… and the ONLY way to play this game with a mouse aside from PC!
5.Wonder Project J
One of the most breathtaking “art” games you will ever witness, Wonder Project J is a sweet story of a puppet whom you help make into a “real boy”. Endlessly re-playable and enhanced with the SNES Mouse, it is not to be missed by fans of Sim gameplay, Studio Ghibli fanatics, or people who enjoy the occasional feel good story. Let this one tug at your heartstrings and it will never let go!