Though the Nintendo Entertainment System introduced 80's children to gaming, the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) video game console marks where things really took off. By today's standards, a 16-bit system feels draconian, but it blew minds when it came to America in 1991: 3D games, stunning (for the time) backgrounds, and six buttons that allowed for countless combinations of new moves for us to try. Super Nintendo games led gamers to a whole new level and hours upon hours of gameplay. In no particular order, find here the best SNES games.
Pilotwings offered a first glimpse into what was to become the world of 3D gaming. Overall, it was a fun game with different objectives that needed to be completed within a time frame. Seeing that it ushered in a new world of gaming, it deserves a spot on the list.
2. Breath of Fire I and II
For some reason, RPGs and the SNES just clicked, maybe because of the enhanced graphics, maybe because of the soundtracks. Both of these games were typical JRPG-type turn-based games, but they were both a ton of fun.
3. Star Ocean
Again, RPGs and SNES just clicked. Star Ocean had a different feel to it with graphics similar to a few other games later on this list. This RPG had a sci-fi storyline any kid would love, plus lots of fun characters, weapons, and other features of all the great SNES RPGs.
4. Street Fighter II Turbo
Another genre that came into its own on the SNES: fighting-style games. Street Fighter II introduced fantastic characters with tons of different cool moves to try. Plus, players got to see a different ending when defeating the ultimate bad guy in M. Bison. Oh yeah, and playing two-player mode to beat up friends was pretty great too.
5. Top Gear and Top Gear 2
Nintendo might have called these games “Super Rad Racer” as they had the same fundamental way of playing. Top Gear was the logical step up from NES racing games simply by using the same basic game with better graphics. Top Gear 2 kicked it into high gear, though, giving players the ability to upgrade their racers and other gameplay features.
Unicycles don't usually come to mind while thinking of racing games, but this was an awesome game. Racing through absolutely ridiculous levels, this game seemed to unfold at Mach speed, doing countless flips and spins, further boosting speed. The game was challenging enough that you'd really have to land your tricks perfectly and have a stage memorized, but definitely beatable, and the gameplay is incredibly unique.
7. Final Fight
Final Fight arrived as one of the first “brawling” type games on the SNES. Taking what made the Double Dragon games popular on the NES, Final Fight brought brawling to the SNES with just a good old-fashioned beat 'em up type style.
8. Super Double Dragon
Speaking of Double Dragon, we can't leave the original brawling duo off the list here. As with most SNES additions to a series, this game took what worked on the NES and made it better with the graphics and a few minor tweaks. As with any other brawling type game, it was super fun to go around beating up bad guys with familiar characters with a couple of new moves.
9. Super Star Wars
Take an incredibly popular movie, add shiny new graphics, and you've got yourself a hit game. Reliving the movies anytime via the SNES quickly made these great games. Add on doing crazy Jedi flips with a lightsaber, traveling to different planets, racing on vehicles, and dueling Darth Vader for even more fun. Each of these games lets gamersplay as several other characters, adding another dimension to them.
10. The Death and Return of Superman
It's always fun to pretend to be a superhero, and The Death and Return of Superman brought another superhero to the SNES. The gameplay was of the brawling type, but it's that much more fun when you are playing as Superman with his superpowers. On top of that, because the game follows the comic book storyline pretty closely, you eventually get to place as The Cyborg, The Eradicator, Superboy, and Steel.
11. Killer Instinct
One of the stronger genres' on SNES was the fighting style games. Killer Instinct was another fighting game with an original cast of fighters, all with pretty awesome moves to unleash on an opponent. The graphics were great, and this game added to an already strong genre.
12. Primal Rage
Continuing with the fighting-style games, Primal Rage was another classic. It didn't do anything groundbreaking in the gameplay style, but the fighters set this game apart. As the name might suggest, players dropped into combat as different prehistoric monsters, most of which consisted of dinosaurs or King Kong-like apes and other primates. The game itself didn't change much, but it fits with the time.
13. Mega Man X1, Megaman X2 and Megaman X3
Capcom could have sat back and kept the same old formula for the Mega Man series on SNES, but man, did they deliver on these games. The games followed the same roots: destroying robots by finding their weakness and picking the order of the stages. But these games added so much more. Mega Man, or “X” as he was now called, could jump and slide on walls, upgrade his suit, dash through the air, and even charge up his blaster. Gamers eventually got to play the newly introduced character Zero. Being a Capcom game, keen gamers could even find a super-secret way to allow Mega Man to perform the “Hadouken” move from Street Fighter.
14. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Talk about a layup. Combine the most beloved Nintendo characters and put them into RPG form! All kidding aside, this game could have been done poorly; it was anything but. Fun storylines, the best playable characters (yes, even Bowser), tons of game time, and boatloads of secret and side quests to go on, made this game so much fun. Turned-based RPG with a few twists by being able to time button-pushing for certain moves, etc., and a different kind of 3D angle than atraditional side-scrolling RPGs; Super Mario RPG was an instant classic that belongs on the top of the already robust SNES RPG lineup.
15. All the Donkey Kong Country Games
All the Donkey Kong Country games had stunning visuals and offered incredible fun to play. Each Kong, as in Donkey, Diddy, and Trixie, all bring different abilities to each game. All were super challenging to beat, and finding all the secrets in each stage, special coins or other collectibles, and just a mountain of tricky levels, in general, made all these games mus-have for hours upon hours of gameplay. Add on fun buddies like web-shooting spiders, water-chucking elephants, and others, and you've got yourself a classic series on the SNES.
Puzzle games seemed to take a back seat for the SNES, but Bust-A-Move made its mark on the system. Featuring the dinos from Bubble Bobble, the game took plaeyrs through increasingly challenging levels where they needed to shoot marbles up the screen. Get three together, and the burst drops any other marbles hanging on them. Simple in design but a challenging game, if offered fun in single-player mode or a heads-up against a friend.
17. Super Bomberman
Building off the original Bomberman on NES, Super Bomberman had one thing most SNES games didn't. The ability to have a four-way Battle Royale, blew minds at the time. That, plus new power-ups and game mode, made Super Bomberman more fun to play than the original and definitely hours of fun at a time.
18. Kirby Super Star
If one Kirby game is fun, then 8 Kirby games must be eight times the fun, right? Exactly! Kirby Super Star brought eight different Kirby games in one package. Each game was fun in its own right, so no matter what kind of game players wanted, they could pop this title in, and be happy.
19. Super Mario All-Stars
Basically, just bringing all the NES Mario games into the 16-bit world, this title needs no help becoming one of the best games on the SNES. The graphics seemed to make the old games feel entirely new. There were a couple of new wrinkles with the Lost Levels, but mostly nothing changed except now Mario and his friends were 16-bit.
20. Earthworm Jim
There was no game like Earthworm Jim before it, and there won't be another one like it (except Earthworm Jim 2, of course). Everything about this game was fun. For starters, the main character is a worm in a suit. The stages were all sorts of weird but in a fun way, and the bad guys were more of the same. Weird and fun, fun and weird, Earthworm Jim was just an awesome game.
21. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Not nearly as weird as the previous entry, but Zombie Ate My Neighbors was strange in its own right. Playing spoof to many regular zombie genre characters, gamers played as Zeke or Julie, saving neighbors from the spoofy bad guys. Funny weapons and power-ups to help in the quest. Maybe not the most popular game, but for anyone who came across this hidden gem, it was well worth the playing time.
22. Gradius III
Another classic NES game brought into the 16-bit world that didn't disappoint. Gradius III was much like its predecessor. With super cool graphics, plenty of action, upgrades, and massive enemies to destroy, Gradius III was easily one of the best games for the SNES.
23. Super R-Type
Gradius wasn't the only futuristic shooting game on the block. With very similar gameplay and feel to Gradius III, Super-R Type, and the sequel titles all held their own. Flying around in a spaceship shooting aliens with crazy weapons and power up really never got old, and this is one of the other games to do it right each time.
24. TMNT: Turtles in Time
In the early 90's, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were still at the height of their popularity. Turtles in Time continued with the gameplay of the second two titles on the NES. The game featured all the cool weapons, classic TMNT bad guys, and traveling through time to boot. Some cool moves launch foot soldiers at the screen for extra points!
SimCity on the SNES finally brought the popular PC game to console gaming. Simulation games had yet to make their mark, but this game certainly did. When players got tired of building, it was time to unleash all the natural disasters (including Bowser) onto a simulated city and watch the carnage as it burned to the ground.
Populous resembled SimCity but with different gameplay. With Populous, a player had even more control. He could make huge mountains or deep valleys, make rivers flow, or provide no water at all. The goal was to have the most people worship a player as their god, and it stroked the ego of every adolescent that played.
27. Legend of the Mystical Ninja
Legend of the Mystical Ninja was just a different kind of game. It was kinda silly and cartoony, which just made it fun to play. Plaers could explore towns and fight Japanese stereotypes, learning different moves and skills along the way.
28. Contra III: Alien Wars
When making Contra III, Konami likely thought about the first two Contra games, but on steroids because that's what players got, and it was awesome. Contra II was loaded with everything that made the original games great times ten. Crazy aliens, weapons, power-ups, and gameplay. Contra III was everything gamers could have asked for the next installment of this series and then some.
29. Super Castlevania IV
Castlevania IV remade the original Castlevania with some upgrades. It featured a few additional levels to beat and better control, plus a few other additions. Like other games simply being upgraded from the original NES, gamers already loved the game; having it on the SNES just made it that much better.
30. U.N Squadron
Another side-scrolling shooter game similar to Gradius III, UN Squadron, showed that players didn't need to be based in outer space to be awesome. Gamers got to fly around with different pilots, jet fighters that could power up with ridiculous weapons. Facing enemies in the air, on the ground, and coming from all angles, there was never a dull moment. UN Squadron held its own against classics like Gradius with its own classic craziness.
F-Zero is a futuristic racing game. Racing at blistering speeds in some weird space vehicle, the tracks were crazy fun. Taking a wrong turn could lead to a loss, or a full-on explosion. Challenging and fun, F-Zero set the tone for other racing games on the SNES for years to come.
32. Super Baseball Simulator 1000
A lesser-known SNES title, Baseball Simulator 1000, makes the list of top games. Not only could gamers create their own teams, but they could give players special powers that would result in ridiculous pitches, home runs, and anything in between.
33. NHL 94
NHL 94 was the first hockey game that started to resemble the real deal. The competition included all the real players and teams. Realistic passing, one-timers, penalties, and skating started to put sports games on the map.
34. Madden 94
The Madden Series really started to nail down realistic gameplay. On top of that, Madden used real team and player names. As much as NHL 94 set the bar for hockey games, Madden 94 did the same, including features that would become staples of any NFL-related game.
35. Illusion of Gaia
Illusion of Gaia was another classic RPG in the strong lineup on the SNES. Players could switch from their original form to a knight and eventually an alien-like character. Each had their own abilities to progress through the game.
36. Secret of Mana
A different spin on the typical RPG, Secret of Mana didn't have random battles. Leveling up meant gaining levels with weapons and spells instead of a character. The more a player used each, the better the ability became. Weapon levels meant gamers could charge up and unleash a new, more furious attack on enemies. Even the menu system was fun—overall a classic RPG on the SNES.
37. Secrets of Evermore
Secrets of Evermore resembled Secret of Mana, albeit with real-time battles, weapons, and spell level-ups. Following a boy and his dog that would change forms throughout the story, this was easily another classic game.
38. Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
Battmaniacs brought the Battletoads to the SNES with the same fun and energy the first games had. Another case of “if it ain't broke, don't fix it,” Battlemanaics gave gamers another great installment in the Battletoads series of games.
39. Krusty's Super Fun House
Similar to the NES title, players take control of the loveable Simpson's clown Krusty again needed to exterminate the mice that have taken over hisfunhouse. More levels, puzzles, and cameos by all favorite Simpsons characters make this a great game to play through.
40. The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare
Keeping with the Simpson theme, this SNES game features the star (at the time) Bart Simpson. Playing through his dream world, gamers walk along an endless street in Springfield, avoiding all sorts of weird obstacles in order to “jump” into your homework. Players would play as Indiana Bart, Bartzilla, and others to collect another page from Bart's homework assignment. The more pages a player collects, the better the grade at the end. Easily a classic SNES title.
41. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
This game belongs on the list for nothing but playing as Mario's sidekick Yoshi. Keeping with what made Mario games great, but playing as a floating, bad guy swallowing and spitting Yoshi just made this game lots of fun to play.
42. Aero the Acrobat
Playing as a human-like bat, gamers made their way through tons of challenging levels located at the circus. There was no shortage of circus-themed bad guys, obstacles, and objectives to achieve; overall a super fun and challenging game to play.
43. Act Raiser
Act Raiser mixed a simulation, action, and RPG all into one. Floating around, players would play God for a while, helping villagers grow their city. Gamers would do this by first coming down to the world in a warrior form to defeat a boss in a classic side-screen action level. Follow this by answering their prayers with rain, earthquakes, wind, farming, and other god-like actions. As the game progressed, they would find ancient artifacts making a warrior form stronger or giving them different special abilities to use.
44. Ogre Battle March of the Black Queen
The storyline suited adults, being about rising against a political system. The gameplay was so in-depth as well. The game had a unique formation of several parties that could roam around a map, putting together parties and having different attacks based on the formation. It even tracked player morality throughout the game (a staple of the series), which could result in different endings. Playing this game over and over was a no-brainer.
45. Harvest Moon
On its surface, Harvest Moon doesn't sound like a fun game. Wake up early, grow some crops, take care of animals, basically doing the equivalent of video game work all day. Yet, for some reason, it just worked, and this became an incredibly addictive game that would go on to be the basis for plenty of spin-offs.
46. Super Metroid
Super Metroid was precisely what it sounded like: the original Metroid super-sized in every way. The map, bad guys, weapons, and everything else were all just better incarnations of the original NES versions that were already super awesome.
47. Super Mario Kart
Talk about a game-changer. Most racing games up to this point tried to recreate racing with some degree of realism. Not Mario, though; he had his own style. Wild tracks and the classic weapons system that let refers shoot out Koopa shells, and banana peels, and using star power to plow through opponents made the game much more special.
48. Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run
Another sports game on the SNES that started to bring the real feel of the sport to the video game world. Not to mention, Ken Griffey Jr. was basically the most popular baseball player in the world at the time. Ken Griffey Jr had one of the sweetest swings ever, and the SNES game with his name on it was one of the sweetest sports games to date.
49. Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition
Tecmo didn't change much for their final edition on the SNES, but they did add one key element. In this go-around, gamers could create players. As they played, they would eventually do well enough to earn more points to add to their abilities. The improvement wasn't endless, though, so gamers had to decide how they wanted the player to end up.
Earthbound had plenty of strange characters and quests throughout the game, making it more than a good time for anyone who came across this great RPG.
51. Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III
Easily some of the best RPGs for any system on their own; together, they just show the brilliance that Square had when making RPGs at the time. Incredible storylines, memorable characters, and so much more; both these games still offer fun play today in their original form.
52. Super Punch-Out!
Like Punch-Out! on NES, Super Punch-Out! has gamers play as an underdog character that uses strategy to win fights. As before, beginning fights were merely a warm-up to later fights that require players to memorize their opponent's moves.
53. Lufia and the Fortress of Doom and Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Both games here follow typical party-forming, turn-based RPGs for the SNES. Similar to the Final Fantasy Series, the Lufia games had great storylines and characters players cared about at the end. Both these games were classics.
54. Secret of the Stars
Typically not in the RPG realm, even Tecmo had to take a swing at it on SNES. Though a party, turned-based RPG, the game had a different feel and approach to it. Throughout the storyline, players would play as two different parties, the Aqutallion and the Kustera, each needed to help the other. At one point, they recruit villagers to remake a city when the previous homes of the original inhabitants are destroyed.
55. Chrono Trigger
Simply a great game.
56. Star Fox
Star Fox blew minds. With more polygon-like graphics that would be more prominent in the N64, Star Fox took gamers on a journey through space with the memorable squad of Fox McCloud, Slippy Toad, Falco Lombardi, and Peppy Hare. They battled all sorts of futuristic bosses both on planets and in space, which, of course, culminated with defeating Andross.
57. The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
Another instant classic to what was already a great series on the NES. The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past gave players everything they could have wanted from the SNES version of the game. With all-new weapons and even more challenging dungeons and mysteries to solve, this game had plenty to do. A game so well done and replayable to this day, this might be the best game in the entire SNES collection.