Top 25 SNES games

My top 25 personal favorite SNES games
March 21, 2007

My Top 25 SNES Games

I had such a good time listing off my favorite NES games, that I just couldn't resist making a list of my top games for my favorite system - the Super Nintendo. I know the SNES isn't as "retro" as the NES, but just because it's not as old, doesn't mean it's not as good. As you can see, this list consists of 25 games, rather then 20 like my last one. I decided to make it a little longer so I could fit a few more of my favorites in. And, although I like the N64, Playstation, PS2, etc., I definitely won't be making a top list for those systems (not only because they're not retro, but they just aren't as special to me as the NES and SNES).

#25 - Rock 'N Roll Racing

Rock 'N Roll Racing is a racer that takes place in "the future". Rather then viewing the action from behind your vehicle as with most other racing games, your viewpoint is from a 3D isometric view. There's also more to winning races then simply trying to go faster then your have to try and take them out by firing weapons at them such as lasers and rockets, or dropping obstacles such as land mines and oil spills. Also, true to its name, the soundtrack features instrumental versions of some famous rock 'n roll tunes such as "Bad to the Bone" and "Born to be Wild".

#24 - Earthworm Jim

Earthworm Jim is a "run and gun" platformer that stars Jim, an earthworm who obtains a special robotic suite. It's up to Jim to save Princess What's-Her-Name from the evil Queen Slug-for-a-Butt (who's obviously based off the alien queen from "Aliens"). The game features unique cartoon style graphics and sports some of best animation on the SNES.

#23 - Super Mario All-Stars

Super Mario All-Stars brought the 3 NES Mario Games to the SNES with completely updated 16-bit graphics and sound. Not only were all three NES Mario games included, but also "The Lost Levels"... the "real" Super Mario Bros. 2 that had previously only been available in Japan. Even though I prefer the original NES versions of the games, due to the sense of nostalgia I get from those classic 8-bit graphics and sound...I still enjoy the games on the SNES, and the fact that Nintendo put all three games on one cart, plus the super challenging "Lost Levels", makes this one a winner.

#22 - Zombies Ate My Neighbors

In this wacky "low budget horror movie" inspired's up to you to take back the neighborhood from a bunch of (guess what?) zombies. Of course, there's also killer plants, renegade giant babies, chainsaw wielding serial killers, mummies, even vampires. You choose between a male or female character (or choose 2 player co-op for double the fun) and make your way through each level trying to save as many of your "neighbors" as you can before the zombies can get them. Your weapons include squirt guns, soda cans, weed eaters, bazookas, flamethrowers, and even a potion that will temporarily turn you into a monster with super strength. The action takes place in a top down "Zelda" style view, and the levels are all pretty non-linear, which means you need to do some exploring if you're going to find and rescue all the neighbors in each level.

#21 - Kirby Super Star

Following two Game Boy games, and one NES game...Kirby finally made his way to the Super NES. Gameplay wise, it remained mostly unchanged from previous Kirby games. This time around, if you discarded a power after taking it from an enemy, it would turn back into the enemy who would become "good", and act as a helper to Kirby. Also, the layout of the game was set up quite differently. It was actually split up into 8 "mini" adventures (5 of them were actual adventures, while the other 3 were games). Each adventure contained its own seperate storyline and level layout. One of them, "The Great Cave Offensive" was actually one giant world where you would explore and try to gather hidden treasures.

#20 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

Although the popularity of the Turtles was really starting to die down by 1992, T.M.N.T games kept on coming. The best of them all, in my opinion, is Turtles in Time. The game, which had hit the arcades a year earlier, looked equally as good on the SNES. Although a few frames of animation, and a few lines of spoken dialog were missing, this was easily one of the best arcade home ports of the early 90's. On top of that, a new stage had been added, as well as some new bosses. This time around, Shredder and Krang steal the Statue of Liberty, and to prevent the Turtles from trying to get it back, Shredder casts them into a time warp "from which they will never return". As you might have guessed, many of the levels are set in different time periods, ranging from the dinosaur age, right up to a star base in the distant future.

#19 - Gradius III

The third title in Konami's popular Gradius series (Gradius II still has never seen the light of day here in North America). You control a ship known as the Vic Viper, as you blast your way through an evil alien empire. When you destroy enemies, they leave behind "orbs". If you collect these orbs, you can gain new powers for your ship such as speed ups, missiles, lasers, and even a protective shield. This was one of the first games released on the SNES after it launched in 1991, and like many early SNES games, it has some slowdown issues...but not enough to spoil the game.

#18 - F-Zero

F-Zero took advantage of the Super Nintendo's "Mode 7" graphics capabilities to provide awesome looking 3D tracks. The game is a futuristic racer, where the tracks are suspended in the air, and the cars hover. This game was all about one thing...speed. Thanks to the 3D scaling and rotating effects of the SNES, this game really made you feel like you were blazing through the courses at top speed. F-Zero is not without its flaws, though. First off, there are only 4 cars to choose from...and second, there is no 2 player mode (which is a real shame). Despite those flaws, F-Zero is still one of my favorite racing games of all time.

#17 - Contra III: The Alien Wars

It didn't take long after the SNES' launch for Konami to give their popular sidescrolling "shoot-em-up" series a 16-bit update. Contra III has the same, fast paced, gameplay that made the NES versions (excluding Contra Force) such a joy. New additions to the game are the ability to carry two types of weapons at once, and fire off bombs that destroy (or cause damage) to all enemies on the screen. Like the Contra games on the NES, Contra III isn't just made up of sidescrolling levels. There are also top down view levels that use the SNES' 3D Mode 7 capabilities (which also made the large bosses in the game possible, such as the giant turtle looking alien at the end of stage 1).

#16 - Mega Man 7

After two installments in the Mega Man X series, fans thought they had seen the last of the original series. Guess again. Dr. Wily has escaped from prison, and as usual, Mega Man must save the world from him and his 8 robot creations. This time, a rival for Mega Man is introduced - Bass, and his robotic dog Treble. While the basic structure of the game remains the same as previous Mega Man titles, the game borrows some elements from the Game Boy Mega Man games, such as having a "half-way" level, and being able to collect bolts (power chips in the GB ones) and spend them at a shop to buy new items and upgrades. The game also has an intro stage like in the Mega Man X games. MM7 sports a much different graphic style then any other Mega Man title. It's very cartoony looking, and the character sprites are quite large compared to how they are in other games in the series. It may not be for everyone, but it works for me.

#15 - Super Castlevania IV

Like Contra III, Super Castlevania IV was a 16-bit update in a series that had already made a name for itself on the 8-bit NES. Once again, you play as vampire hunter Simon Belmont, as he takes whip in hand, and ventures out to save Transylvania from Count Dracula. The main addition to the gameplay in this installment was that you could now swing your whip in 8 directions, rather then just left and right. Super Castlevania also showed off the graphics capabilities of the SNES like no other game at the time. Transparent fog effects, rotating rooms, and giant sized bosses were just some of the cool graphical effects that made this game shine. This was also the last Castlevania game to use a more "realistic" graphic style. After this, all other Castlevania titles have been done with an "anime" look and feel to them, starting with "Dracula X" on the NEC Turbo Duo/PC Engine, and "Castlevania: Bloodlines" on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.

#14 - Street Fighter II: Turbo

Street Fighter II was the biggest arcade smash of the early 90's, and when it was ported to the SNES...the tables began to turn in Nintendo's favor during the 16-bit console wars. Although Sega eventually struck a deal with Capcom to get the game ported over to the Genesis, the SNES version was superior, with slightly larger characters, more colors, and much better sound quality. Out of the three versions of Street Fighter II that were released on the SNES, Street Fighter II: Turbo is my favorite...due to the super fast gameplay. Super Street Fighter II may have added 4 additional characters, but you couldn't speed the game up as fast as you could in Turbo...and I prefer lightning fast gameplay over a few extra characters (who weren't all that good anyway, except for Cammy)

#13 - Super Mario Kart

The entire go-kart racing game craze began with a little SNES title from 1992 called, Super Mario Kart. The idea seemed pretty silly at the time - Mario and his pals race against each other in go-karts. But the game was such a blast to play (especially with 2 players), that it quickly became one of the best selling games on the SNES. Like F-Zero, Mode 7 graphics are used for the 3D tracks (with no where near the speed of F-Zero). However, speed is not the issue here. You must get items to throw or launch at opponents like turtle shells, and banana peels. There are also special items like stars which make you invincible for a short time, and lightning bolts which temporarily shrink all the other racers, giving you a chance to run over and flatten them. I'm sure most people familiar with this game, used to waste countless hours playing versus and battle with friends. I know I sure did.

#12 - Super Punch-Out!!

Yet another great 16-bit sequel to a classic 8-bit game. Super Punch-Out!! once again puts you in control of a kid who's out to make a name for himself in the boxing world. The play control is basically the same as the original, with the addition of a "Super Punch" meter that fills up as you successfully land punches on your opponents. Once the meter is filled, you can perform super uppercuts and super jabs. However, the meter goes down every time you take damage. While the gameplay remains basically the same, the view point is now directly behind your boxer, rather then it was in the first game. Your boxer is also transparent during the matches so you can see what's going on. This game doesn't ever get as difficult as the original, but some of the later boxers like Super Macho Man, Hoy Quarlow, Rick Bruiser, and Nick Bruiser will give you a run for your money.

#11 - Super Mario World

Although it was definitively a step up in graphics and sound, Super Mario World is sometimes criticized for not offering nearly as many new elements to the series as Super Mario Bros. 3 did just a year and a half earlier. The main new addition to the game (of course) was Mario's dino pal, well as a magic cape which would allow Mario to fly (similar to the raccoon suite of Mario 3). The map system was back, and this time Mario could backtrack and re-enter levels he had already beaten. Super Mario World also offers the most hidden levels and alternate routes of any Mario date.

#10 - Donkey Kong Country

Released just a short time before systems like the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation began to appear, Donkey Kong Country proved that there was still plenty of life left in the Super Nintendo. The game used advanced 3D graphics (for the time), and although it was a traditional sidescrolling platformer with Mario Bros. style gameplay at its core, the 3D style graphics along with all the extra bonus levels and surprises made Donkey Kong Country as unique as they come. As Donkey Kong, you must get your prized banana horde back from the crocodile like "Kremlings". Donkey Kong is also joined by his little buddy, Diddy Kong.

#9 - Final Fantasy III

The Final Fantasy series has obtained cult status around the world with 12 titles (number 13 is on its way) and countless spin-offs. Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan) was the last FF game before the series moved into the realm of 3D with Final Fantasy VII on the Sony Playstation. It tells the story of an age when magic has been forgotten, and the world is run by industrial machinery...all controlled by an evil empire. The Empire has discovered a young girl named Terra, who has the power to use magic...and wants to use her and her powers for its own gain. That's just skimming the surface of this huge epic adventure's plot. Final Fantasy III is your traditional turn based RPG. You encounter enemies in menu driven battles...where you can select to attack, use magic, items, run away, etc. As you progress through the game, characters will enter, leave your party, and enter again (the max number of characters you can have battling at a time is four in this one). Of course, you also gain experience, find new weapons and armor, and learn powerful spells as you work your way towards the game's grand finale. Those are things you come to expect in any RPG, especially one from SquareSoft. Final Fantasy III also boosts one of the better soundtracks of any game out there.

#8 - Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

It seemed like a crazy idea to put Mario in a Final Fantasy style RPG adventure, but SquareSoft knew what they were doing. Although it's not as deep and complex as other RPGs, Mario RPG is still a very enjoyable experience. The game introduces a new villain named Smithy, who is out to conquer Mario's world. Smithy has even thrown Bowser out of his own castle and taken control. So Mario finds himself teaming up with his old nemesis, as well as Princess Toadstool and some new friends. The game has many Final Fantasy elements, especially in the battle system, but there are still plenty of traditional Mario style elements present (mario can jump, hit blocks, collect coins, etc).

#7 - Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest

Released only a year after the original, Donkey Kong Country raised the bar on the SNES' graphics even further. DKC 2 brought back all the gameplay from the original, only now (rather then being on Donkey Kong Country Island) you were on Krem Island...the home country of the Kong family's arch enemies - the Kremlings. This time, Donkey Kong finds himself kidnapped...and it's up to Diddy Kong (and his girlfriend Dixie) to save him. I enjoyed DKC 2 over the original because it was larger, more challenging, and the level design was more interesting (rather then having your typical jungle, cave, underwater, and snow stages like in the now had pirate ships, volcanoes, mine shafts, swamps, bee hives, haunted forests, and even amusement park levels).

#6 - Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Just as they did with Zelda II and Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo completely re-did the gameplay style with the sequel to Super Mario World. However, in doing so they came up with some of the most unique and addicting gameplay of any sidescrolling platformer ever made. Yoshi's Island is actually a prequel to, not just Mario World, but every Mario game. You control Yoshi as he tries to re-unite baby Mario with his kidnapped brother, baby Luigi. Yoshi can once again eat enemies with his long tongue, only this time, he poops them out (yes, he poops them out) as eggs. He can then aim and fire the eggs at enemies, and other things such as out of reach items. If Yoshi gets touched by an enemy, baby Mario comes off his back and floats around in a bubble, making the most annoying crying sound you've ever heard. If you can't get baby Mario back onto Yoshi before the timer runs out, some little nerdy enemies appear and whisk Mario away to join his brother deep in baby Bowser's dungeon. Although Yoshi's Island doesn't sport the 3D graphics of Donkey Kong Country, its graphical style still stands out from the rest.

#5 - Mega Man X

After six NES titles, Mega Man finally made his way to the SNES. However, this was not your typical Mega Man. The game takes place 100 years after the original series. Mega Man (now named X) faces a new breed of robots, far more advanced then anything Dr. Wily was ever able to cook up. Although the basics from the original series are still here (8 stages, 8 robot masters, defeat them and gain their powers, etc.) there are new elements such as being able to cling to walls and dash (which makes the game much more fast paced then the original series). There are also capsules left by Dr. Light that are hidden in some of the stages. If Mega Man can find them, he can enhance his abilities (this is how he learns the dash, for example). There are three Mega Man X games on the SNES, and I actually like them all equally. I just choose the first Mega Man X to represent them all on my list.

#4 - Secret of Mana

Secret of Mana is an action RPG, much in the style of Zelda. You control a boy who is the destined hero who must stop an evil empire from taking control of the world. Yeah, I can't even begin to count how many fantasy adventures have a story like that...but there is more to it. Along the way, the boy meets a girl and a sprite child (you give them all names). And guess what? It supports up to 3 players (providing you have a multi-tap adapter). The gameplay is more complex then just simply swinging your sword, axe, spear, or whatever weapon you have equipped. You have a meter that quickly fills up to 100% when you're not attacking, and quickly depletes down to 0% when you do attack. If you continually attack before the meter fills, your attacks are weaker. You get the idea. As you gain levels, you can even charge up your weapons and perform some pretty devastating attacks, as well as learning a wide variety of spells. I have probably had more fun playing through Secret of Mana with friends then any other multi-player game. Of course, you have to have a lot of time on your hands to do it...this game consists of a 20+ hour adventure.

#3 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

One of the greatest games Nintendo has ever made. Not only did it return to the style of the original, while updating the graphics and sound to SNES introduced TONS of new items and gameplay elements, as well as giving Link not just one, but two large worlds to explore. This time around, Link must get his hands on the legendary Master Sword so he can destroy an evi wizard bent on taking over Hyrule. However, that's just the beginning. The wizard is actually trying to open a portal between Hyrule, and a land of shadow - The Dark World. It is there, that Link's true adventure awaits him. I won't spoil anything else if you just so happen to have never played this masterpiece (and if you haven't, do yourself a favor and go play it!)

#2 - Super Metroid

Well, I'm sure you were guessing Metroid would once again top my chart. It came close, but there's a game on the SNES I like just a TAD bit better. However, Super Metroid is still one of my all time favorites...and I like it better then the original Metroid which topped my NES chart, so that just shows you how much I love this game. The gameplay is the same style as the original, only greatly improved. In fact, it's been improved on so's actually kind of hard to go back and play the original after you get used to Super Metroid. You can now dash, cling to walls, aim down as well as diagnolly, and even crouch (before you completely roll up into a ball like in the original). As you would expect...there are tons of new items such as super missles, power bombs, the speed boaster (lets you run REALLY fast), and the grappling beam. The game revolves around heavy non-linear exploration just as the first did, only this time you have a map system which makes things easier (I prefer not to use it myself...makes the game more challenging).

The moment you've been waiting for - my favorite SNES game of all time...

#1 - Chrono Trigger

There's some people who think Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest games ever made, and there are others who think it's one of the most over-rated games ever made. I, of course, fall into the first category. SquareSoft brought togethor the producer and composer of the Final Fantasy games, the director of the Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest) games, as well as character designer Akira Toriyama (the creator of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z) to create their biggest and best RPG yet. The game obviously had its Final Fantasy roots, but it still had its own unique style. The story follows a young boy named Crono who discovers the secret of time traveling with his friends. After traveling to the past, where they almost screw up history, they wind up in the future...where everything has been destroyed by a monstrous parasite named Lavos. Now, they must try to prevent the future's destruction by destroying Lavos in the past. It sounds simple at first, but the story gets more and more complex as the game progresses. As you would guess, you go to several time periods in this game, and things you do in the past can have effects on stuff that happens in the future. There are different things you can do along the way which result in different outcomes, and even different game endings. There are actually 14 different endings in this game. I don't know if Chrono Trigger is my absolute favorite game of all time, but it's my favorite SNES game, and the SNES is my favorite that's saying something right there.

Well, once again...there you have it. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article...this is the last "favorites" list I'm going to make, not only because I don't cherish any of the other systems like I do the NES and the SNES, but because they are all too recent for being on a retro site (even the SNES was really pushing it). Also, if there is a game you like that isn't on my list, that doesn't automatically mean I don't like it...that just means I don't like it "as much".

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