Allow me to start off by saying that I’d like to keep an introduction short so you can get right to the list of the best 17 SNES games ever made. Why 17? I originally wanted to have a top 10 of SNES games, but the list was way too hard to compress any further. I ended up with about 25 games, but I managed to cut it a little bit more. Ofcourse there will be some games that you wish were on the list, but this is my opinion, and since you’re reading my article, I’d like to think you value my opinion on games. So without further adieu, here is the “Best of… SNES”!
17. Lemmings SERIES
One of the best puzzle games of all time, Lemmings 1 and 2 gave the player the mission of protecting the little green-haired, blue-shirted Lemmings from their inevitable deaths. At the start of a level, you would be given a small amount of time to prepare before the Lemmings began to fall from a box in the sky. Following a straight path, they would continue to walk until they fell in water, a hole, or hit a wall, at which point they would turn around and walk back. It was your job to distort the environment, whether it be by explosions, grapple hooks, or one of the other many different effects, to get the Lemmings safely to their castle. This provided to be a very difficult task in some of the later levels, when you must have a certain number of Lemmings make it to the castle before the timer ran out. Lemmings is a very addictive game, and with some levels taking an hour or more to beat, it is sure to consume your time.
16. Zombies Ate My Neighbours
Much like the next game on the list, Zombies was a very comical game. Your mission was to save your entire town from zombies, yet everyone else in the game doesn’t seem to notice the zombies. You’ll have to go around collecting people cooking hamburgers on the barbeque, cheer leaders jumping up and down practicing their routines, and army Generals shouting orders into phones. You have to get to the people before the zombies do, which will reward you with a set number of points. You also have a wide range of weapons, such as a water gun, which somehow kills zombies. Another weapon is the fire extinguisher, which freezes the zombies. It may not be the best looking game, or make the most sense, but it sure is fun.
15. Earthworm Jim SERIES
Earthworm Jim is one of the earlier videogame heroes, along with Sonic and Mario. While he never quite reached the same popularity, he provided a very comical and fun game. Jim was an earthworm that went inside of a spacesuit that fell from the sky, and turned into a super gunslinging, head whipping worm. Jim’s main attack was the ability to pull his head out from the spacesuit and whip people with it, which in reality, makes no sense, but in a game, is just awesome. Features such as launching cows from catapults and hanging from grapples by your head just made the game really funny.
14. Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage
If you take a look at all the recent Spider-Man video game, you’ll notice a trend: they all suck. This game, however, took the Spider-Man franchise to a whole new level, with a traditional comic book style gameplay. When you punch someone, a big “Wham!” comes up on screen in big block letters, when you switch screens, it does it in a comic book swipe away. This simple beat ‘em up was such a fun and eye pleasing game, that it was very hard to put down. Having enemies such as Dopple Ganger, which I don’t believe I’ve seen in any other Spider-Man game, make this one stand out even among the new Xbox360 and PS3 games.
13. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
As if Super Mario wasn’t already an amazing franchise… When Squaresoft, famed developer of the Final Fantasy series, obtained the rights to Mario, one of the most satisfying SNES games came to life. Nobody ever thought that a Mario RPG could possibly work, but it against all odds, it did. The story is simple enough, Peach is kidnapped: the same story we’ve seen every single time. But isn’t that what we’ve grown to love? Ofcourse, that’s only the beginning. We find ourselves teaming up with Bowser along a dark journey . Weaved into Mario RPG was great depth of story (with many twists and turns) and surprisingly fun gameplay, even for someone not accustomed to the RPG style. Any RPG or Mario fan will love this game.
12. Contra III: The Alien Wars
Contra is still considered the best side-scroller shooter by many people because of its addictive gameplay and amazing, epic boss battles. Usually, at the end of every level, there is a boss. Unlike your character, these bosses took up the entire screen and would require real strategy to beat. Boss battles were insanely fun in this game. Another great feature was the ability to play co-op. Taking on bosses is so much fun with a partner: one player distracts while the other shoots like crazy.
11. Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana offered something different to players who have been playing the same turn-based battle system for so many years. This game played much like Zelda, with the ability to swing your sword manually at enemies. But RPG elements were still involved in the game, such as equipment to change your stats, spells, and intense boss battles. A neat feature in Secret of Mana was the ring menu, which acted like any battle menu from a RPG. This allowed players to quickly use a spell or change their weapon, but didn’t force them to use the same old menu.
10. Breath of Fire
Breath of Fire was one of the first games to utilize the night/day aspect properly and well. The sun rises and sets (not in real time, ofcourse) allowing the scenery to be changed every one and a while. But characters actually go into their homes at night and leave the dark streets. It actually makes a lot of sense, people shouldn’t be standing in one place all day. Some parts of the game forced you to wait until a certain to talk t a certain person, so a whole new dimension was added to RPGs. Many games today have adopted this type of day/night aspect. Breath of Fire also has an amazing storyline (it’s an RPG, what do you expect) and very detailed and colourful environments.
9. Super Castlevania IV
Although Super Castlevania was a port of the NES version, the game was so amazing that the updated graphics and gameplay only enhanced the game as a whole. Now in 16-bit, Castlevania pushed the SNES hardware to the limit, with transparent fog and much like Contra, huge boss battles. Another thing Castlevania is known for is the incredible music, and Super Castlevania is no exception. The story is just so dark and strange, it’s absolutely stunning to play through. The gameplay also got improved, with the ability to swing your whip in different directions, making killing enemies a bit easier, but most of all, more fun.
8. Star Fox
Starfox was the first SNES game to use the Super FX chip, which enhanced the graphics to true 3D, and while it really looks odd today, it certainly was amazing when Starfox was first released. The futuristic flight simulator was very addictive, offering funny dialogue between Fox and his buddies, and a huge sense of accomplishment whenever you took down one of the huge end-of-the-level bosses. Star Fox is a satisfying game with undoubtedly the best graphics for the SNES.
7. Super Mario All-Stars
With a compilation of three Super Mario Bros. games, all revamped with 16-bit graphics, where could you go wrong? Super Mario may well be the most fun and addictive game ever made, but I couldn’t put it as number one, it is just a compilation of remakes afterall. Something about the Mario series is just addicting though. I think it has something to do with collecting mushrooms in order to increase your height… or is it jumping over big green pipes with venus fly traps sprouting out? Whatever it was, the Super Mario games are indeed worthy of being called “super”.
6. Super Metroid
Hundreds of games during the time of the SNES put “super” in front of the title to make it seem better. But only a handful of them actually proved to be super, and Metroid was the best one of all. Super Metroid consists of open-ended gameplay, meaning you can explore levels at your own leisure, finding secret areas and new weapons. There’s also a sort of inventory screen, which allows you to change what weapons your using and activate special abilities you’ve gained throughout your adventure. Much like most of the games on this list, Super Metroid also has a great story and music.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Arguably the best Zelda game ever made, A Link to the Past formed the basis of which all Zelda games would follow in year to come. Zelda set the standards for what an action RPG should really be, with its unique art style, involving plot, and great gameplay. A Link to the Past played much like Secret of Mana, with RPG elements but in an action setting. You could go around slicing through enemies, and even kick a few chickens (although they did fight back in this version). Zelda isn’t an intense action RPG, it relies on the fun factor much more than an amazing story, and it does a great job at instilling that fun. Ofcourse, like every other game I chose, there are memorable and fitting music tracks and a good plot.
4. Mortal Kombat SERIES
Maybe the first time in the history of videogames that such large amounts of violence, blood, and gore were put into one cartridge, Mortal Kombat was born. Without Mortal Kombat, we wouldn’t have our Manhunts and GTAs today. Something had to make MK stand out from all the other fighter games out, and by changing one thing, it became a classic: gore. The basic premise of MK is to kill your enemy in the most gruesome way possible, whether it be to rip out his spinal cord by grabbing his head, or simply freezing him into an ice statue and obliterating him. MK still stands today as one of the most violent videogames of all time, and also a must play for every gamer.
3. Chrono Trigger
Once again, we have Squaresoft making an amazing game, this time dealing with time travel. Unlike many of the RPG’s of the SNES era, this game didn’t have “random battles”. Enemies were shown onscreen and you could choose to avoid them if you wanted. Ofcoure, by avoiding every enemy you would be severely underleveled for the upcoming boss battle, but it gave the player the feeling that they were in control, that they didn’t have to fight every single battle. One of the best parts of Chrono Trigger, however, was its storyline. It’s really cool traveling through time to futuristic, robotic cities, and back to prehistoric caves meeting different unique characters. Along with a very wide amount of sidequests, Chrono Trigger took up quite a bit of playtime.
2. Final Fantasy III/VI
I may be a bit biased (just a bit) but there’s one last Squaresoft game to be on the list. Final Fantasy VI (III in North America) revolutionized RPGs of the future. FFVI was different from a turn-based RPG because it wasn’t really turn-based. The “active time battle” system allowed enemies to continue attacking you while you chose your next move. This added the element of speed into the battle strategy, making the game much more difficult than previous instalments. With an amazing story, beautifully composed music from famed composer Nobuo Uematsu, 40+ hours of gameplay, tons of sidequests and optional characters, Final Fantasy VI is still one of my favourite RPGs of all time.
1. Donkey Kong SERIES
If one game could have the strongest influence on gaming history, for me, it would be Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong Country increased the standards of gaming for many years to come with its beautiful graphics and environments, simple yet addictive gameplay, and stunning music. I believe DK was the first videogame I ever played that really brought music to another level. Boss battles were accompanied with great rock music, fitting so well with everything that was happening onscreen. Even today, almost 15 years later, games still don’t get music as good as Donkey Kong’s. The graphics were amazing for the SNES. Character models were beginning to get into the 3D stage, but it was the level design and background that was so ahead of its time. Backgrounds were pre-rendered, making them look smooth and clear, unlike most games of the time. But if one part of Donkey Kong will always be remembered, it was the gameplay. Fast paced action was the basis of the game. Whether you’re sliding through an ice covered level or speeding in a mine cart through a Kremling filled mine, the gameplay is just fun. I can’t think of any other game that I’d rather play if I just wanted to have a really fun time. The Donkey Kong trilogy is by far the best SNES games out there.