Top 10 SNES Games [Best Recommendation]

Despite the advancements in gaming technology, many gamers find themselves full of games from earlier consoles. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is such a memorable console that many of its games grace the upper tier of “all time great games”, ever. A home made up of the greatest games, and with a lifespan exceeding a decade, it's no wonder it continues to be a console loved by many.

With the announcement of Nintendo’s Super Nintendo Classic, what a better time to look at the greatest SNES games of all time. Here are our Top 10 games released on the Super Nintendo.

10. Paperboy 2

  • Publisher: Mindscape
  • Developer: Tengen, Manley & Associates
  • Release Date: November 1991

The Super Nintendo era of gaming is known for its insane difficulty. Even the simplest of games succeeded in providing ample, perhaps even excessive, challenge to its players. A sequel to the original Paperboy, Paperboy 2 brings the same excitement and challenge that made the original a classic.


9. Earthbound (Mother 2: Gyiyg no Gyakushuu)

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Ape, Hal Laboratory
  • Release Date: August 24, 1994 (JP), June 5, 1995 (NA)

An overlooked gem when it was first released, Earthbound suffered from disappointing sales and less than stellar reviews. Since then, public interest in the game has increased, earning the game an almost cult-like following and the praise it deserves. Now, Earthbound is regarded as a classic.

Earthbound is an RPG that followed the conventional RPG blueprint while taking risks and innovating as well. Earthbound's beauty lies in its quirkiness, which parodied traditional RPGs and helped to bring the game's world to life. Earthbound is undoubtedly a bizarre and challenging RPG, but it is this same quirky charm that turned people off in its original release that has come back to earn Earthbound its designation as a classic.


8. Super Punch-Out!!

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo IRD, Locomotive Corporation
  • Release Date: September 14, 1994 (NA), January 26, 198 (EU), March 1, 199

A game that often comes to mind whenever talks about the Super Nintendo come up is Super Punch Out!! Following in the footsteps of the previous Punch-Out!! games, the player uses a combination of boxing moves to knockout the opponent. A simple and successful premise, Super Punch-Out!! is the fourth game in the series.

Super Punch-Out!! proved to be a hit because of its colorful, cartoon-like characters, animation, and fluid controls. Super Punch-Out!!, despite not being a realistic boxing game provides ample challenge, as each opponent faced has their own unique fighting style. Its time attack mode, combined with its satisfying difficulty, gives Super Punch-Out!! the replayability it needs to remain a Super Nintendo great.


7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: July 24, 1992 (JP), August 1992(NA), November 19, 1992 (EU)

In addition to RPGs, the Super Nintendo was known for beat 'em ups, a genre where the player walked around, find enemies, and beat 'em up (hence the name). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time for the Super Nintendo was a port of an arcade game of the same name. The console version of the game was praised for the additional stages and gameplay modes not found in the arcade version.

Turtles in Time was also praised for staying faithful to the source material. This wasn't in regards to the story alone, in fact, one of Turtles in Time's strongest points is graphics, which utilized the same art style as the cartoon. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time succeeded in creating and placing players virtually inside the show with its engaging music, sound effects, and action-packed gameplay.


6. Donkey Kong Country (Super Donkey Kong)

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Rare
  • Release Date: November 21, 1994 (NA), November 26, 1994 (JP), November 24, 1994 (EU)

Despite its place in the middle of the pack, Donkey Kong Country is perhaps the most important game on the console. Many people have credited it with literally saving the console. It's hard to believe, but Nintendo's rivals Sony and Sega were releasing their next generation of home consoles, PlayStation and Sega Saturn, while the Super Nintendo was still at the beginning of its life. The 16-bit console seemed hard-pressed to keep up with the 32-bit consoles.

Donkey Kong Country, though still working the Super Nintendo's 16-bit limitations, was able to create realistic 3D sprites. The graphics weren't the only thing that helped to make Donkey Kong Country such a success. Donkey Kong Country features exciting gameplay as well as secrets that helped to add to the game's difficulty. Donkey Kong Country's right level of difficulty, unique levels, and catchy music helped to make it a success when it originally debuted.

Donkey Kong Country, which saw the birth of Donkey Kong (Jr? III?) as we know him, was packaged with the Super Nintendo in the "Donkey Kong Set," helping to keep the SNES selling and make Donkey Kong Country the second best-selling Super Nintendo game. Despite being the second best-selling game on the console, Donkey Kong Country doesn't even make its way into the top 10, that's how high the quality and legacy of Super Nintendo games is.


5. Mortal Kombat II

  • Publisher: Midway, Acclaim Entertainment
  • Developer: Midway, Sculptured Software
  • Release Date: September 9, 1994 (NA), November 11, 1994 (JP)

Mortal Kombat II beats out the original Mortal Kombat for one reason: censorship. The original was censored, removing a lot of the game's trademark violence. With the ESRB having been established by Mortal Kombat II's release (due in part to Mortal Kombat's controversy), Mortal Kombat II was free to be its bloody and violent self. Mortal Kombat II's violence was seen as being so over the top, that its Fatalities were censored in Japan, is a rare example of a Western game being censored in Japan.

Mortal Kombat II was a significant upgrade from its predecessor, featuring updated sprites, a darker tone, additional characters and fatalities, and improved gameplay. Many things introduced in Mortal Kombat II, like Babalities and Friendships did not make the return in all sequels, but did serve as the building blocks for some of Mortal Kombat's more light-spirited and comedic features in future incarnations. With a roster that nearly doubled that of the first game, as well as an increased female presence, Mortal Kombat II offered more options for the player.

Mortal Kombat II received positive reviews upon release. Praised for its graphics, gameplay, and even violence, it was labeled as a great improvement on the original and a great challenge to the then King of Fighters, Street Fighter II.


4. Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Release Date: December 24, 1994

It is impossible for anyone to think of Nintendo without their mascot, Mario, coming to mind. Since his incarnation as Jumpman, and until Mario and his sworn enemies made up, Mario has received many games chronicling his adventures to save the princess. Mario's earliest adventures and classic were released on Nintendo's original console, the Nintendo Entertainment System.

It is hard to pick which of the classics is the greatest, and fortunately, you don't have to. Long before remasters and collections became the industry, Nintendo released Super Mario All Stars and then Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World, a collection of the NES' Mario games.

Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World added the Super Nintendo's Super Mario World to the already impressive collection that included Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels. All of the games that were originally on the NES received improved visuals and sounds, as well as other features that took advantage of the Super Nintendo's capabilities.

Sure, it's a collection of NES classics, but if you'd be hard pressed to find a more definitive collection of Mario games.


3. Super Metroid

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: March 19, 1994 (JP), April 18, 1994 (NA)

If an entire genre uses a game as part of its namesake, then there are no arguments regarding the impact, importance, and greatness of a game. The "Metroidvania" subgenre of action-adventure games is named after the Castlevania and Metroid series. Seen as an upgrade to both of its predecessors Metroid and Metroid II: Return of Samus in every way, Super Metroid!

Super Metroid upon its release was praised for its atmosphere, innovative gameplay, music, and graphics: essentially, everything that makes up a great action game. The innovations to Super Metroid's gameplay include elements that would go on to define the series and genre. These include an inventory screen, automap, and key to the Metroid series, the ability to fire Samus' weapon in all directions. Super Metroid, though an action game, encouraged exploration, with its power-ups giving new abilities and access to areas previously out of reach.

Everything about Super Metroid comes together as a perfect game that players will play over and over again. Often regarded as a true action game, it helped to define a genre and is one of the greatest games, not only on the Super Nintendo but ever.


2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce)

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Release Date: November 21, 1991 (JP), April 13, 1992 (NA), September 24, 1992 (EU)

A Nintendo list is incomplete without mention of a The Legend of Zelda game; likewise, a Super Nintendo list is without The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

While the previous entries in the franchise, The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link are known to be the spiritual predecessors to the modern RPG, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, is seen as one of the definitive action-adventure games. Riding off the success of the first two The Legend of Zelda games, A Link to the Past received a substantial budget, which helped to create the masterpiece that it is. A Link to the Past is known for its graphics, the quality of which was achieved by compression, as well as the expansive worlds in which Link traveled, which doubled the standard storage space of SNES cartridges.

A Link to the Past is known for being the home to many things that define The Legend of Zelda series, such as the Hookshot, Master Sword, spin attack, and Pegasus Boots. In addition to these things, the standard The Legend of Zelda plots like parallel worlds also saw its inception in A Link to the Past.


1. Chrono Trigger

  • Publisher: Square
  • Developer: Square
  • Release Date: March 11, 1995 (JP), August 11, 1995 (NA)

Chrono Trigger is the ideal game for fans of early Square Enix games. With its development team consisting of Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Dragon Quest series creator, Yuji Horii, and Akira Toriyama, known for Dragon Ball and his work on Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger was sure to be a success. What we got was an innovative time-travel RPG, with a great story and aesthetic.

Chrono Trigger did not stray from standard RPG elements, often finding itself compared to other RPG greats of its time like Zelda: A Link to the Past, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy titles. Chrono Trigger set itself apart from its competitors at the time by surpassing them in just about every aspect possible. Its simple combat, combined with impressive graphics, story, characters, and replayability helped to set it apart as a truly iconic RPG.

For some, it was not only a success but the definitive JRPG which many others found influential. At the time, many declared Chrono Trigger the best RPG and best SNES game, with it receiving several perfect and near perfect ratings. With those ratings upon release and its continued legacy, it's no wonder that Chrono trigger was able to snag the number one spot.


Final Thoughts

For many Millennial games, the Super Nintendo is where the love of games all started. It may be rose tint, or it may be something else, but there's a reason that the Super Nintendo is known as one of the greatest consoles ever made. And that reason is, of course, the games.

What are your favorite games from the Super Nintendo or its Japanese brethren, the Super Famicom? Let us know in the comments below!

Jabulani Blyden

Writer

Author: Jabulani Blyden

This feels like I'm writing a dating profile... Am I pretty enough? In addition to watching anime I like playing video games, mostly RPGs and indies. I lose a lot of Otaku street cred for the games and shows on my backlog (TTGL & FFVII for example #FeelsBadMan). I run a podcast with my friends where we talk about video games and anime. Nice to meet you... or something.

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