Perhaps one of the most, if not THE MOST, beloved console in Nintendo’s legendary lineup that spans over 4 decades, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System reigns king of the super titles when it comes to games. Released in 1991 amidst a tough competition with Sega’s Genesis console, the SNES soon planted firm it’s roots in gaming history, and was host to probably one of the most diverse and beloved catalogue of exclusive hit titles that a video game system has ever enjoyed.
The Super Nintendo still sits among the pantheon of classic gaming consoles up in my gaming loft, and while tracking down the favorite titles of my adolescence sometimes proves a pain in the ass, the small collection of SNES games I do have is more than enough to keep me coming back to this amazing system time and time again!
Superior in graphical and sound processing capabilities over its enemy, the Sega Genesis, the SNES became known for its dedication to quality games, cool marketing, and devoted fans. Below, we touch on just a handful of the over 780 games released for the system, titles we felt deserved top honors here at AdventureAmigos.net. Enjoy!
Desert Strike: Return To The Gulf (1992)
The first in the “Strike” series, Desert Strike exploded onto the SNES console, being a direct (but slightly upgraded) port from the original Sega Genesis version. With improved sound and slightly bumped up graphics, DS for the SNES is a fun, somewhat strategic action/shoot-em-up that puts you behind the stick of AH-64 Apache helicopter during a fictional conflict with a middle-eastern dictator. Hmm…
What really makes Desert Strike stand out is it’s somewhat free form level design and options it gives to the player on how the various objectives will be completed. Starting a trend that would continue on for the rest of the series, Desert Strike starts of hard and goes to hair-pulling-crazy-hard very quickly, which turned off many gamers, especially since there was no “continue” options while dealing with limited lives, ammo, armor, and fuel supplies. Succeeding in a game like DS, however, is completely rewarding and while the Game Over screen may show its dreaded face a little too often, the persevering gamer will hold their head high upon completion!
Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (1995)
Spectacular and mind numbingly difficult to begin with during their immensely successful NES tenure in the 80’s and early 90’s, Tecmo once again felt the need to torment the dreams of Ninja Gaiden fans around the world by releasing a slightly enhanced SNES cartridge featuring all 3 classic titles. Having three awesome games on one cartridge was killer in and of itself, and the musical improvement was a welcome addition! Hard as hell once again, the entire NG series will have you questioning your sanity roughly an hour in. Seriously folks, these are probably some of the hardest games ever made, yet their enduring game play, spectacular stories, and excellent music will keep you coming back, torturous time after torturous time. Go Ryu!
Super Castlevania IV (1991)
Feeling the need to put the word “Super” in front of most titles for the SNES was Nintendo’s trademark back in the day. While many “Super” titles were indeed awesome, the moniker did get a bit old. After a while, seeing everything labeled as Super started to wear thin. This didn’t stop Nintendo though, and in 1991, the reboot of the uber-successful Castlevania franchise, dubbed Super Castlevania IV, was unleashed onto the SNES console. Combining classic action/platforming with incredible scaling effects and beautifully haunting music, SCIV was a testament to the love affair between Konami and Nintendo.
Wildly frustrating at times, yet not overly difficult, SCIV became an instant classic among SNES gamers, with innovative level design, cool weapons, and challenging bosses. Long live Super Castlevania IV!
Blending a few building elements of Sim City with the action/platforming of a Castlevania game sounds crazy, right? Well, one game tried it, and came out on top. ActRaiser never really got the praise it truely deserved, but if you were lucky enough to get a copy back then, you will surely remember the awesomeness that was ActRaiser. Playing the role of, well, a God for lack of a better term, your goal was to rid your world of evil monsters while building and protecting the towns and people who populate it. Sound heavy yet? While the themes in ActRaiser are indeed weighty, the game play is an absolute blast, with side-scrolling action levels playing wonderfully with beautiful and thoughtful level designs and engaging music. The city building parts, while not crazy technical like Sim City, did offer a brief reprieve from the action sequences, and the two complemented each other perfectly. ActRaiser stands as one of the most creative SNES games on the system, and Square Enix’s courage in making and releasing the game is to be applauded!
Super Mario All-Stars (1993)
Who doesn’t love a good Mario game? How about all 3, plus the more recent Super Mario Land (SNES) all on one cartridge, with enhanced graphics and sound? Completely remade with prettier graphics and awesome music, All-Stars is the quintessential go-to game for any self-respecting SNES owner. While the game of each title is exactly the same as the originals, the graphic and sound upgrades skyrocket All-Stars into the stratosphere. Also included on the cartridge is the little-known “The Lost Levels” game, which was originally intended to be Super Mario Bros. 2, although it looks and plays almost identical to Mario 1.
SM All-Stars is a stellar entry into the SNES library, and excellent fan-service in my opinion. Taking three beloved NES games and not only re-releasing them on one cartridge but completely enhancing them is a major thumbs-up to Nintendo. Now, if they did this all again including Mario64 and released it for the Wii, Nintendo could have another golden moment in video gaming history. Come on Big N!
Donkey Kong Country (1994)
How did this not make it into the Top 3 you ask? The fact that it is in the Top 5 of almost 800 games should suffice, and while there is undoubtedly a notoriously rabid fan base attached to the DKC series, I felt it only fair to the next 4 that DKC made it in at #5.
Essentially a souped-up Super Mario World in terms of game play and basic control, Donkey Kong Country takes the genre a step further with more creative level design, animals and vehicles to ride, and overall faster action. While the pace is more Sonic The Hedgehog than Super Mario Bros., DKC’s older brother shows through as a undenaible influence, and really showed off what the SNES console could do in terms of processing. Donkey Kong Country is a true classic, with challenging levels, spectacular graphics and sound, and timeless game play that is still a blast to tackle!
Super Mario RPG: Legend of The Seven Stars (1996)
Take one of the most successful series in video gaming history, add brilliant RPG elements with fantastic graphics, and voila: Super Mario RPG! More “RPG” than actual Mario, Super Mario RPG basically applies a “Mario” skin over the game play mechanics of something more along the lines of a Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger, and the results are amazingly fun, intuitive, and a perfect use of the Mario franchise and the power of the SNES. While the story is pretty thin and the RPG elements bring nothing particularly new to the table, the fact remains that the classic Mario charm mixed with great RPG strategy and awesome music is really all that is needed to make this an easy shoe-in for the Top 10.
Hovercraft. 500+ mph. Racetracks in the sky. Yep, that’s F-Zero! Blazing fast racing in one of 4 different hovercraft on one of over 15 challenging and unique tracks is only the beginning. Much like Mike Tyson’s punch out, F-Zero’s tracks are all different, with different twists and turns, obstacles, and near death spills and thrills which require a keen mind and snap hand-eye coordination! Simple yet challenging, F-Zero still stands as one of the best racers on the SNES, and clearly earns its way into the Top 3 best SNES games!
Super Metroid (1994)
Metroid has enjoyed a long lifespan, and while Samus Aran doesn’t seem like she’ll be retiring from bounty hunter duties any time soon, it’s safe to say that so far her best adventure took place back in 1994 on the SNES with the classic, Super Metroid! As the sleek, sexy, and formidable bounty hunter, Samus, you are charged with retrieving a stolen Metroid from Space Pirates hiding on the planet Zebes. Along the way, you will encounter multitudes of baddies, including franchise staples Ridley and Mother Brain.
With a long and engaging campaign, smart enemies, tough bosses, and huge open-world game play, Super Metroid is at the top of the pack for action/adventure platformer. This game should NOT be missed, it is a true gem of the 16-bit era and a golden entry into the SNES Top 10.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past (1991)
No one can fight me on this one. Hands down the VERY game that defined the SNES console during it’s reign as 16-bit champion, A Link to The Past was and continues to be an incredible Zelda game, as well as the best action/adventure/rpg on any console of its time. With signature Zelda game play, numerous dungeons, light and dark worlds, and genius inventory items, this game is the caliber of only the finest video games ever made. A dark and twisting story sets the tone for the entire game, while the near-perfect pacing keeps you moving along from place to place, and dungeon to dungeon. A beautiful and pulse pounding soundtrack alongside solid Legend of Zelda top-down gaming continues to ensure that this timeless endeavor will never fade from the memory of true gamers.
Considered an epic of the 16-bit era, and a shining example of the genius that is Shigeru Miyamoto, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past stands firm as the #1 top game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, hands down!