It’s been nearly 25 years since Nintendo launched the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, and since then, the console has carved itself a significant legacy in the world of video gaming. A successful follow-up to the NES, the Super Nintendo is home to countless quality games that cover a wide range of genres.
While there are many SNES games worth playing, we have picked out 10 that are essential, must-play SNES titles for any gamer. These 10 SNES games everyone should play were chosen based on the lasting impact they had on the industry, how their quality holds up today, and how critically-acclaimed they were at the time of release.
Without further ado, this is Game Rant’s 10 Super Nintendo games everyone should play.
One of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, Chrono Trigger is a timeless gaming classic. Featuring an emotionally-charged story populated by well-crafted, memorable characters, there’s a reason why Chrono Trigger is often listed as one of the best JRPGs ever made. The game is possibly the best JRPG available on the Super Nintendo, which is saying a lot, as the system had no shortage of quality titles in the genre. Despite its popularity, however, Square Enix has yet to pull the trigger on a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger, but a spiritual successor called I Am Setsuna is set to launch this summer on multiple platforms.
It’s a testament to the talent at Rare in the 1990’s that Nintendo entrusted one of its most recognizable IPs to the studio. Nintendo’s gamble paid off in a big way, with Donkey Kong Country praised at the time of its release for unique graphics that pushed the Super Nintendo hardware to its limits, and for standing as one of the strongest platformers available on the system. The Donkey Kong Country legacy is still felt today, with Retro Studios taking over for Rare with the latest entries in the franchise.
While fans are still waiting for an official Mother 3 localization, they can always revisit the game that marked the franchise’s debut outside of Japan. EarthBound, as it’s known stateside, is a quirky RPG from Nintendo, and it earned high marks at the time of its release for its emotional storytelling and strong sense of humor. Even today, there are few games like EarthBound, which makes it one of the most remarkable titles developed for the Super Nintendo, and a game worth checking out for both fans of the genre and gamers in general.
Secret of Mana released at a time when JRPGs were a dime a dozen, yet it still managed to stand out from the pack by employing innovative gameplay mechanics. For example, Secret of Mana is an action-RPG that allows up to three players to play through the adventure in co-op, thanks to the Super Multitap accessory for the SNES. This combined with other Secret of Mana innovations – such as its groundbreaking visuals for the time – make it a game worth adding to anyone’s SNES library.
For Nintendo fans, it can be interesting to see where iconic characters began their legacy, and for the mercenary Fox McCloud and his band of anthropomorphic teammates, that legacy began with Star Fox on the Super Nintendo. Notable for being the first Nintendo game to use polygonal graphics, Star Fox was a visual marvel at the time of its release, and that combined with its solid on-rails shooter gameplay makes it an SNES title that’s worth checking out.
With Mario Kart 8 the best-selling Wii U game, it’s clear that the Mario Kart franchise isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. While fans have more modern versions of Mario Kart at their disposal nowadays, it’s still interesting to take a look back at the game that started it all: Super Mario Kart. Super Mario Kart‘s Mode 7 graphics are still impressive, as is its gameplay, which fans will discover hasn’t been changed much in subsequent entries in the series.
What happens when JRPG giant Square teams with Nintendo? The answer is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, a JRPG for the ages that helped spawn two ongoing Super Mario sub-series, in the form of Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi. Super Mario RPG‘s soundtrack, story, and unique gameplay elements helped it become one of the highest rated JRPGs of the era, and that high quality content is why the game is still worth playing today.
While the Metroid franchise has become dormant – outside of an ill-conceived Metroid Prime multiplayer spinoff game – there was once a time when the series was in the business of providing meaningful innovation to the industry. The first Metroid game is notable for putting a female character in the lead role, a rarity for the time, and Super Metroid, the SNES followup, is notable for creating a brand new genre of action-platformer games. Super Metroid really kicked off the “Metroidvania” style of gameplay that has spawned countless copycats over the years, but few can do it as good as the SNES original.
After Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World had a lot to live up to, and few would argue that it failed to meet the lofty expectations set by its predecessor. Super Mario World introduced a slew of new gameplay mechanics to the long-running Super Mario franchise, and also was the first game to feature Yoshi, Mario’s trusty dinosaur friend. Its importance in Nintendo’s history aside, Super Mario World‘s tight level design, fast-paced platforming gameplay, and catchy tunes make it an SNES title everyone should play.
If someone was only going to play one Super Nintendo game, the one that many people would recommend would be The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The game built on the NES original in major ways, and introduced many franchise conventions still seen in the newest entries in the series. A Link to the Past has managed to stay relevant even 25 years after its release, thanks to Nintendo re-releasing it on numerous systems, and developing a sequel for 3DS called A Link Between Worlds. It’s the only main series Zelda game on the SNES, and is still hailed as one of the best video games ever made by various publications. Simply put, A Link to the Past is must-play material.
It’s clear by the games on this list that, even 25 years after its launch, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System remains one of the strongest video game consoles produced to date. The SNES kickstarted a number of gaming franchises that are still active today, and is home to numerous games that are considered by many to be the best games in the history of the medium. Even those that don’t prefer retro gaming should consider spending some time with these 10 classic Super Nintendo games.
What are some Super Nintendo games that you think everyone should play? Tell us your SNES favorites in the comments below.