ByMarlon McDonald, writer at
Umm... are you going to drink that Skooma?
Marlon McDonald

Since its release in Japan in the November of 1990, the iconic Super Famicom, or Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in the west, is still heralded as one of the most important consoles of all time. And for obvious reason, it had some of the most vital and resoundingly awe-inspiring games ever to release.

You're welcome, Peach
You're welcome, Peach

So in honor of this wonderful, curvy bundle of microchips and nostalgic joys, I bring to you what I believe to be the quintessential gaming experiences to come from the console. Games so good, they are still more than important today.

Check them out:

The 15 Best SNES Games

15. Super Mario Kart - 1992

Much imitated yet only outdone by itself, Super Mario Kart holds a personal soft spot in my heart due to it being the first racing game I ever played. Who would've thought taking Mario, Luigi and friends and pitting them against each other in some of the tensest tracks the SNES has seen, would've turned into one of gaming's most seminal franchises.

14. Chrono Trigger - 1995

This won't be the last time you see a Square, now Square Enix, game on this list, for the SNES saw the JRPG heroes go through a veritable heyday of terrific games, and no list would be complete without pulling the Trigger.

Created by the dream team of legendary designer Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy), artist Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) and writer Yuji Horii (Dragon Quest), the time hopping, apocalyptic turn-based RPG changed as you influenced its world and blew young minds across the country back in the mid-90s.

13. Secret of Mana - 1993

What's this? An RPG you can play with your friends?! Finally something that warranted the SNES' multi-tap! Another brainchild of the masterful Square, SoM came across as more of a successor to A Link to the Past than the Final Fantasy sequel that it was originally meant to be.

With its intense real-time combat and massive map, this game was lauded as possibly the best RPG the SNES had to offer.

12. Donkey Kong Country - 1994

Dude, what better can you get than a side-scrolling platformer with groundbreaking graphics, for its time, and a giant ape protagonist that wears a pretty snazzy tie? DKC was amazing, hands down and if it wasn't for the success of this game, we would have never gotten the glories of the N64's Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark and the seminal Conker's Bad Fur Day from a little known British dev named Rareware. Lucky, huh?

11. F-Zero - 1990

How about this for a launch title? Happy birthday F-Zero, the inspiration for future seminal speeders like WipeOut, Extreme-G and Daytona USA helped dividends to get SNES' flying off the shelves back at the turn of the 90s.

What was most revolutionary about F-Zero is the game utilized the SNES' Mode 7 faux 3D effect, that gave the illusion of 3D rendering by rotating the background layer as you took corners, besides being insanely fast and insanely tough!

10. Street Fighter II Turbo - 1994

A fighting game as wholeheartedly exciting as its title suggests, Nintendo secured a proper coup when they managed to get their hands on the arcade behemoth a whole year before Sega!

Whilst Turbo isn't wholly different from its predecessor or Super sequel, the main draw for having this in your collection was the fact that you could play as the likes of M. Bison and Sagat for the first time! 2 of my personal favorites.

And the speed of it! The F-Zero's of brawlers, which meant landing that fireball and sending your younger sibling scuttling off out of the room in tears, that much sweeter.

9. Mortal Kombat II - 1993

Mega Drive, Schmega Drive. Yeah the Sega zealots may have had all the gore they could've shaken a stick at, but did they have a version of the seminal brawler that looked as good as its arcade counterpart?

With all new characters, new move sets and...all new FATALITIES, this was the number one game to freak your grandparents out with.

8. Earthbound - 1994

The game that put Nintendo's late and great CEO and superstar programmer Saturo Iwata on the road to reverence, there aren't many games quite like HAL Laboratory's beautiful, pacesetting JRPG Earthbound. How the game manages to seamlessly mix a super cute aesthetic style with hard as nails gameplay

It's pretty complex and multi-layered storyline may have been enough to confuse younger gamers and damage its sales, but the game has gone on to become a cult classic and its main protagonist Ness even made the leap into Super Smash Bros.!

7. Final Fantasy III - 1994

Better known as Final Fantasy VI, or the one that got forgotten because FFVII ate everyone's attention, this iteration of the classic franchise is, in my honest opinion, the one that really opened the floodgates for its success in the west.

The game was massive, had some of the best characters committed to cartridge and how about that score? Easily one of the best RPGs ever made. Thanks, SNES!

6. Mega Man X - 1993

I still remember the first time I played this game. Fresh from being spoilt by adventures with Mario, Sonic and Samus Aran, here's a cybernetically enhanced human that, for some reason, doesn't have the ability to duck. This game handed my butt to me so many times, like the Dark Souls of the 90s.

With significant upgrades to the gameplay thanks to the SNES' superior hardware, like wall jumping as a bold example, new armor, new abilities and a free roaming incentive, this Mega Man was pretty damn mega, man.

5. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island - 1995

As we should all know by now, Super Mario World is possibly the best side-scrolling platformer ever (forgive me, Rayman Origins), but that's where the beauty of Yoshi's Island comes into view. It flips the fast paced and swear word inducing antics of our favorite plumber on its head

Turning Mario into a helpless baby, and putting you in control of that badass dino Yoshi, the game's puzzles and hand drawn aesthetic still sticks with me today. Truly unique.

4. Star Fox

Who would've thought the line "do a barrel roll" would become immortal? Star Fox, a fully realised 3D space shooter where you command a crack team of anthropomorphic animals in epic battles against the foes of a giant floating head. Sound good? Erm, yes indeed!

Where F-Zero broke ground using Mode 7, Star Fox utilized the SNES' Super FX chip, breaking whole new ground in video game graphics. It was a phenomenon and rightfully so.

3. Super Mario World

Another vital launch title for the SNES. What needs to be said about this, the king of platformers. I don't think a game has made me as angry and as overjoyed as this has. Whilst it retained all of the ingredients that thrust Mario into the limelight, the addition of bonus levels, loads of secrets to uncover and, of course, Yoshi, this is truly, truly...the king of platformers.

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

I don't even know if I can truly do this game justice. The sheer scope of A Link to the Past is staggering at the least. With two massive worlds to explore, some of the most inventive dungeons in Zelda history and challenging bosses, not only did the game introduce what would become staples of the franchise like the spin attack and hookshot, this is one of the stronger entries into Zelda lore and one of the best RPGs ever made.

1. Super Metroid

I saw Alien at far too young an age, sneaking down to the living room when the parental units were asleep and was as captivated as I was terrified by what was in store for me. What Ridley Scott's seminal thriller exceeds at is creating atmosphere and tension, and that's what Super Metroid does in droves.

Everything, everything about this game is perfect, from its musical score (save point fanfare FTW), graphics, inventive weapons, suit modifications, free-roaming capabilities, scary corridors and honestly creepy enemies, this game is as essential now as it was when I first plugged my SNES into my TV as kid. And is still as tough.

(Image Source: Giant Bomb)


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