As the years pass by, video game consoles keep upping the ante on graphics, gameplay, and user-friendly features and some gimmicks. However, what about those consoles in the past generations?
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES, was one of the most iconic gaming consoles ever. It had a wide array of unique titles that paved the way for others for decades to come. Here are the 100 best SNES games of all time.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
This classic was the fourth in the Ninja Turtles franchise in gaming, and boy is it a barn burner. You take on the role of one of our favorite turtles, (I recommend Leonardo, personally), and go on a quest through time to defeat Shredder himself. It’s one of the best beat ‘em ups ever made, and it’ll take you through the sewers of New York City to prehistoric periods.
A landmark in 3D gameplay and flight sims, Star Fox has you take on the titular role of Star Fox and his fellow pilots: Slippy Toad, Falco Lombardi, and Peppy Hare. The Model 7 chip allowed for normally 2D gameplay into 3D.
Although by today’s standards, the 3D is rough, back in the 1990s it was revolutionary. You’ll fly through the levels, shooting down bogies and eventually face off against a classic foe—Andross.
Donkey Kong Country
We had known about Donkey Kong through his game where he was the villain, but Donkey Kong is given a new side in this game. Alongside DK’s nephew, Diddy, you need to get a golden banana from King K. Rool, the gross king alligator, and main antagonist.
It’s a landmark feat of platforming gameplay, and it’s seriously addictive, even today. Through 40 challenging levels, Donkey Kong Country puts a beautiful art style, creative levels, and the different benefits of both characters on display.
Super Castlevania IV
Castlevania by now has had so many iterations, however, the fourth entry on consoles was the excellent Super Castlevania IV. It’s a difficult romp through Dracula’s Castle, and there’s no guarantee you’ll survive. It added more control to the player, with Simon Belmont being able to control the iconic vampire-slaying whip in all directions.
Super Mario RPG
Released in 1996, Super Mario RPG was the first game in the series to branch out to include RPG aspects. It was a smash-hit, and it eventually led to games like the excellent Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi. In it, Mario and his party of characters have to recover pieces of the Star Road. It’s a great blend of RPGs like those from Squaresoft and Super Mario.
Super Mario Kart
I’m calling it now: the original Mario Kart is STILL fun. It still can cause severe competitiveness, lots of trash talk, and red shells. Throughout several racing tracks, the Mode 7 software is again at use here, and it just works. What character do you play as? I’m a Donkey Kong man myself.
Street Fighter II
Can you count how many times Street Fighter II has been released without looking it up? Neither can I, but it’s a ton. But I believe it’s warranted since Street Fighter II is no doubt one of the best fighting games ever made. Ported in 1992 to the SNES, Street Fighter II has all our favorite characters like Ryu, Blanka, Chun-Li.
Final Fantasy IV
Known as Final Fantasy II in North America, Final Fantasy IV features the quest to prevent the evil wizard Golbez from achieving world domination. Character distinction through classes was introduced, and the game has sold over 4 million copies and has been ported to multiple systems.
Super Mario World
Mario’s debut on the SNES is one for the ages. Getting to ride Yoshi was a revolutionary step in gaming. The game looks great and plays so solidly that it became the gold standard for platformers. With this game, Mario knocked all of the competition off of the shelf.
Having some of the best Final Fantasy developers behind it, Chrono Trigger is a beloved turn-based RPG that has been a staple in any RPG lovers game library. You play as Crono, the silent protagonist, and travel through time with him and his companions through a detailed and satisfying story.
It was a smashing success and paved the way for a sequel, as well as fan-made iterations of the game and more.
Although it didn’t exactly make waves amongst critics at the time of its release, Earthbound has become more popular in recent times, becoming a cult classic. It’s the second game in what’s called the Mother series of games. The game follows a group of kids, led by Ness, as they try to defeat the big bad, Giygas.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
This is considered one of the best Zelda games ever, alongside Ocarina of Time and others. Link to the Past would mark a 7-year gap until Nintendo released the next console Zelda game, Ocarina of Time. Dungeon after dungeon, facing off with Ganon, and immersing yourself in the rich story and world was so satisfying.
Shadowrun is a cyberpunk RPG taking heavy influence from stories like Neuromancer by William Gibson and Blade Runner. It’s an adaptation from the tabletop RPG version. You play as a man with amnesia and your quest to find out who tried to have you killed.
It’s a great mix of genres and spawned newer games in the form of Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Hong Kong.
Samus Aran makes her first appearance on the SNES in this game, released in 1994. Samus is tasked with hunting down space pirate Ridley and retrieve a Metroid infant. It was responsible for creating the subgenre, (along with Castlevania), Metroidvania.
These games emphasized exploration in a large world which can be backtracked and reached using different learning abilities.
Final Fantasy VI
In my opinion, this installment of Final Fantasy may be one of the best, if not the best. It has a great, dark, and gritty futuristic steampunk setting with tons of deep, multifaceted characters that you’ll easily love or hate.
You can play as 14 different characters and includes one of the most iconic video game villains, the Court Mage Kefka Palazzo, and his chilling laugh.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
This game is a sequel to the arcade hit Ghosts ‘n Goblins. In it, the Knight Arthur must rescue a princess from the titular ghouls and ghosts. Arthur traverses through haunted environments, slaying horrifying creatures, and wearing his patented boxer shorts.
It has a punishing difficulty and has features that can only be accessed by playing the game a second time through for those masochistic gamers out there. This game would inspire the following games in the series, as well as the two Maximo games on the PS2 in 2001 and 2003.
The racing game F-Zero introduces us to a wild and fast future populated by fast vehicles, colorful characters, and sweet music. This is where Captain Falcon made his debut, along with some other classic racers. It was the first game that used Mode 7 Scrolling, (even before Star Fox), to give environments a 3D, more realistic feel as you’re whizzing by.
Mortal Kombat II
Mortal Kombat’s second entry upped the ante in an already insane fighting game. It introduced the hilarious ‘babality’ and ‘friendship’ based off of the fatality system. It extended the game universe as well, adding new characters like Jax, Baraka, and Kitana.
This is the fourth game in the Punch-Out!! Series of boxing/fighting games, starting with Punch-Out!! in 1984. it includes a great roster of colorful characters like Gabby Jay, Masked Muscle, and brothers Nick & Rick Bruiser.
The over-the-shoulder perspective became one of Punch-Out’s biggest asset and creative direction, giving the player a new and differing look at how to play strategically.
Instead of action, is the idea of building your farm and everything that goes with it is more your style? Then Harvest Moon is the game for you.
Before the numerous sequels, the original introduced gamers to the surprisingly complex, yet fun aspect of farming in-game. This opened up new avenues like socializing with other characters, owning a pet, and more.
This game spawned many sequels and spin-offs, as well as inspiring the wonderful Stardew Valley, of which it shares many similar game mechanics.
Final Fight is still a killer romp through the streets of Metro City 1980s. You play as one of the few characters, (Mike, Cody, or Guy), and proceed to move to the right of the screen in a side-scrolling fashion, beating up baddies as you go.
It was originally slated to be a Street Fighter sequel but was changed to its iconic beat ‘em up style. It has sold over 3 million copies since its release in 1989.
Super Star Wars
Who doesn’t love Star Wars? It was only a matter of time until the beloved sci-fi series made the jump from movie screens to the SNES.
Super Star Wars generally takes you through the first film, 1977’s Star Wars. You play as Luke as he turns from farmer boy to skilled Jedi.
The difficulty is punishing, but the gameplay is great fun. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it the ‘Best Action/Adventure Game of 1992’.
If I described the premise of this game, I’m not sure you would believe it.
A literal earthworm worm, (named Jim), wears a powerful suit of armor, giving him full-body autonomy, battles against his nemeses, Psy-Crow, Evil the Cat, and Major Mucus. This wild game is a side scroller that includes run and gun elements.
It’s a lot of fun and has made an endearing, lasting mark in the hearts of gamers years later.
Kirby’s Dream Course
Kirby and mini-golf go together as well as…well…Kirby and minigolf. That’s what we’re dealing with here: a Kirby-themed minigolf game, and it’s fun. Instead of a golf ball, you use Kirby, angling and strategically placing your shots. There are 8 courses with 8 holes each.
Kirby is tasked with making it through the levels populated by enemies, culminating with the devious King Dedede.
This was Maxis and Will Wright’s jump to the SNES after creating this wildly popular and trailblazing city simulator. All the assets you know and love are here in one package.
Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Yes, we’re back with more Star Wars. This time, it covers the events of the film Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
In this third installment of the game series, multiple characters are selectable per level, the 3D Model 7 vehicle levels, and great boss battles. Since it adds a little more action than there is in the actual movies, you’ll fight Jabba the Hutt, fight through the Death Star, and more.
Most importantly, you can pilot the Millennium Falcon. Enough said.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble
The third installment of the great Donkey Kong Country games has Dixie and Kiddy Kong on the trail of the kidnapped Donkey and Diddy Kong. It is a direct sequel to Diddy’s Kong Quest, including many of the same great platforming features as the first two games. There’s the classic mix of platforming, on-rails, and underwater levels spanning 48 solid levels.
Illusion of Gaia
This action role-playing game takes place on a lightly fictionalized Earth, where our protagonist, Will, is informed that he has to save the world from an oncoming comet. Alongside Will, the player can have control of two other characters, Freedan, and Shadow, each with their unique abilities that move the story along.
It was praised for its puzzles and role-playing elements.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
This is a total funfest. Straight out of the campy late 1980s and early 1990s, Zombies Ate My Neighbors follows Zeke and Julie as they attempt to rescue their neighbors from movie monsters. It’s a run and gun through suburbs, malls, and more as you attempt to save the day.
It has become somewhat of a cult classic, as it didn’t exactly garner critical praise at the time of its release. However, the humor and great gameplay make it worth checking out.
Earthworm Jim 2
Earthworm Jim is back in this great sequel. His enemies are back as well, and he needs to rescue Princess What’s-Her-Name. This time, many different levels are emphasizing different gameplay elements, building a cohesive, unique complete product which, like its predecessor, made a mark on gaming.
Mega Man X
Not only was Mega Man X the first foray onto the SNES for our favorite blue bomber, but the first in the long-spanning Mega Man X series.
Those familiar with past Mega Man games will experience a lot to love here. The storyline is newer, darker, and more mature. You play as Mega Man X, a team member of the Maverick Hunters. You have great new features like the dash and scaling walls, as well as brand new weapons.
This is a fun title. It allows for your creative juices to flow within the confines of a fun, familiar world of Mario. You can create pictures, songs, and more using the tools of the Super Mario Bros. universe. There are a bunch of different stamps to add new pixels and sprites to your creation.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
We’re back with the DK crew once again in the second entry in the Donkey Kong Country games. In it, Dixie and Diddy are on the trail of King K. Rool after he kidnaps Donkey Kong. All the platforming goodness is here.
For 52 levels, you’ll quickly understand why this is considered the high watermark for many action/adventure platformers.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
This platforming game puts us in the role of Yoshi and Baby Mario as he journeys to reunite the baby versions of Mario and Luigi from the baddies. The hand-drawn aesthetic separated it from the other games by penning its unique style for a more unique Mario game.
All the staples from Mario games are here, and you get to control different Yoshi’s through over 50 levels of platforming.
This is a seriously fun title. Fans of sports games as well as casual gamers will be more than satisfied with NBA Jam. It’s a wild, exaggerated take on basketball: wild slam dunks, huge jumps, and wild basketball. This was a hugely popular comic take on the sport, and it has remained a favorite for gamers everywhere.
Contra 3: The Alien Wars
Contra is a punishingly hard action side scroller putting you in the role of an active soldier, vanquishing encroaching aliens using crazy guns and a lot of bullets.
The third entry in the series, the graphics are great, as the SNES allowed for the developers to build upon the existing graphics from the series. Riding motorcycles, top-down views, and riding on missiles are just some awesome things the player can experience.
Make sure your adrenaline is running, because you’ll need it.
Secret of Mana
Along with Final Fantasy, Square made this gem, Secret of Mana. Unlike Final Fantasy, this game’s combat is in real-time instead of it being turn-based.
The game’s story revolves around ‘mana’ i.e. a powerful force in the world. After an ancient sword is found, our heroes are tasked with venturing to the 8 different Mana temples to energize the sword.
It has beautiful graphics and addictive gameplay, and it’s now available for many different consoles.
Now, this is unique. Actraiser combines both platforming and city building in this simulator. This is a battle of good versus evil here, with The Master and Tanzra facing off for world domination. You alternate between civilization building and side-scrolling in a unique, fun platforming game.
This is where the super popular Bomberman franchise began. Aside from the terrible Bomberman Act Zero, this was the premier title in the series. In it, you move either horizontally or vertically, trying to bomb opponents strategically. This is an extremely popular game for cooperative gameplay.
Kirby Super Star
I’m a huge fan of Kirby’s games on Gameboy, and the SNES version of our favorite, marshmallow type vacuum cleaner is a win. Platforming is the name of the game, and it just works. Those familiar with the Gameboy games will be right at home with the great, colorful visuals and more.
Several games modes make up the game: Dyna Blade, Spring Breeze, Revenge of the Meta Knight, Gourmet Race, Milky Way Wishes, The Great Cave Offensive, and the Arena.
The first installment of the infamously violent fighting series, Mortal Kombat introduced gamers to characters like Johnny Cage and Scorpion. This game caused so much controversy that the game rating system was invented because of it.
Mega Man X2
The dark and more mature storyline of Mega Man X is back in this sequel. In it, X, the Maverick Hunter, is being himself hunted by a trio called the X Hunters who are intent on destroying X.
The solid gameplay from Mega Man X is here, and with another more adult storyline for the Mega Man universe.
Some reviewers didn’t like how the game was too similar to the first one in terms of gameplay, however, I believe that great gameplay should be praised! Why fix something that isn’t broken?