I missed out on the NES Mini…and it looks like I’ll miss out on the SNES Mini as well! It was only announced yesterday, but you’ll search far and wide to pre-order one today. I suppose I I can console myself that my SNES is still in working condition. Well, I hope so, haven’t played it for a while. But the SNES Mini contains more than a few games that I haven’t played, such as Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy III. For £80, I’d call it value for money. But it got me to thinking…what are my favourite SNES games? I thought long and hard. Although I played my NES to death, I never really appreciated what a video game was all about until the SNES. I reached a semblance of maturity as the SNES came into my life. It taught me so much! So here is my Top 10 SNES Games!
(Forgive me for not including hallowed RPGs…I never have found a taste for them…)
Super Return of the Jedi
Another platformer? But it’s a Star Wars platformer! I bought this just after watching the Star Wars trilogy for the first time. I couldn’t find the other two, so settled for the third one. And I played it to death! The difficulty was just right, forcing me to think about what I was doing, where I was going. You could play as your favourite characters from ROTJ, plus an Ewok (who was actually fun to play!). You fought Jabba the Hutt, the Rancor, Darth Vader and The Emperor. The 3D vehicle levels may have been terrible, but the core gameplay was fun and addictive. It’s always great to wield a lightsabre, and do a spin jump with it…
Platform games were ten a penny in the 16 bit era. A platformer needed something different to stand out. Earthworm Jim had that X factor. It was wacky, crazy, silly and hilarious. You played an earthworm in a suit, for starters. The first level had enough creativity to spawn a thousand imitators: you launched a cow off the screen, fought a dustbin, bounced around on tyre mountains, fought a man who vomited fish to hurt you…. It only increased in weirdness from there, be it bungee jumping with a pile of snot or racing a human sized crow on a rocket. It may have had clunky controls and a short duration, but it stood out among the rest. It was also pretty difficult. Groovy!
Super Street Fighter II Turbo
I remember asking my dad to buy me this from Boots. Well, in my memory it was Boots. It could have been somewhere else. But I’m glad he did. In my view, this is the finest 2D fighter of the 16 bit era. Mortal Kombat relied on gore to sell copies. Killer Instinct almost laid claim to Street Fighter II’s throne. But Super Street Fighter II in on another level. An extensive roster of characters, simple yet complicated gameplay, and the chance to tour the world and beat people up! The announcer’s pronunciation of country names still rings in my head today (USSR!). It was a test of skill and finger speed that didn’t rely on shortcuts. It relied on predicting your opponent’s next move. We may have had several Street Fighters since then, but all must bow down to Super Street Fighter II Turbo. It also holds the record for how many times I threw my controller at the wall in rage.
I’m not typically a fan of vertical scrolling shoot ‘em ups, but this came into my hands after a neighbour gave away his SNES games on the street. Yes, simply gave them away! I’ve always wondered why he did it…but I got there too late for the dregs. This one stood out, so I picked it up. It took me a few days to get through the first level, but I was entranced by it. Yes, it was difficult, but you never felt cheated by the AI. You played as a fighter ship attempting to stop an alien invasion. You could equip your ship with eight different weapons, one at a time (my favourite was the homing missiles. Destruction ahoy!). You could also level up each weapon to increase its firepower. The bosses were immense, technical behemoths that you had to dissect (not literally). Oh, it’s Japanese name was Space Megaforce.
Super Mario All-Stars
Is it cheating to include this on the list? Yes, it contained four ports of NES games, but technically one was a new release in Europe. Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels was the true sequel to Super Mario Bros, and not the Super Mario Bros 2 that we Westerners were originally sold. If you thought Super Mario Bros was tough, then The Lost Levels will push you over the breaking point. But it’s hard to argue with ports of Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 3, two of the greatest games of all time. Of course, I had already played them to death on the NES, but welcomed the chance to play them to death all over again (this time with save points!). Also, my parents argued that I didn’t need another game as the SNES came packaged with Super Mario All-Stars. So it was all I played on for a while!
Donkey Kong Country
Nintendo are unparalleled makers of platform games, but Rare were the only company close to beating them at their own game. Enter Donkey Kong Country. Rare used Nintendo’s own character to deliver a platformer that almost bettered Super Mario World. Some may prefer Donkey Kong Country 2, but DKC will always be the one for me. The usual platforming levels were picture perfect, but you also rode animals and mine carts. It looked stunning as well, with faux-3D graphics. I stupidly lent my copy to a friend’s brother who never returned it…
“Do a barrel roll!” Playing StarFox today, you’ll notice that the graphics look primitive. This was one of the first games on the SNES to have ‘3D’ graphics. But it still allows for clear and precise on rails shooting. It’s a pleasure to play. Easy to use controls, easy to aim. It offered multiple routes to complete the game, increasing replay value. The introductory level is still mined for memes and quotes today. Plenty of 3D on-rails shooters have come since, but many fail to reach the sheer pleasure that StarFox gives the player.
3. Super Mario World
My SNES came with Super Mario All-Stars, which contained two of the greatest video games of all time in one cartridge (plus two others…). However, it wasn’t until my teens that I went back to the SNES and built up my game library. That’s when I found Super Mario World for a fiver. I thought Super Mario Bros 3 could never be beaten as a 2D platformer, but Super Mario World expanded the 2D platformer in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine. There’s not just the intricate level design to fall in love with, but the huge amount of secrets as well. We were introduced to Yoshi, Mario’s dinosaur (?) friend who ate things and spat them back out. I also reckon it has the best ascending level of difficulty in a game, increasing slowly until it beats you down. But you’ll enjoy being beaten down, as replaying each level is a pleasure. One of the finest 2D platformers around.
Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda is part of Nintendo’s Holy Trinity, along with Metroid and Mario. The first ever Legend of Zelda on the NES gave you an open world to explore. The SNES Legend of Zelda gives you a world you can explore with limitations. But those limitations streamline and benefit the experience. You unlock items and they enable you to progress to certain areas of the maps. Simple, but effective. It’s core gameplay is one that the Zelda games have stuck to up until Breath of the Wild. There’s a brilliant storyline to follow, along with a number of side quests to keep you entertained. Oh, and you have two version of Hyrule to explore as well. You can easily lose a few hours by simply walking around Hyrule.
‘The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace.” It wouldn’t be a Top 10 SNES Games list without Super Metroid. Has a game ever evoked a sense of loneliness and isolation like Super Metroid? I remember first getting my hands on it, complete with a massive instruction booklet. Well, I borrowed it from a friend, more accurately (who found it too difficult). I persevered where he gave up, and was rewarded with one of the best video game experiences of my life. Here was a game where everything was perfect, from the controls to the map layout. You learned about the world as Samus Aran learned about it, taking small steps until you were powerful enough to carry on. The gigantic bosses will test your skills to the limit. It’s a game I’ve played through more times than I can count. Each playthrough increases my love of the game (it’s also began my affection of the Metroid series!). One of my all-time favourite games.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Earthworm Jim 2
Super Mario Kart
Agree or disagree? Any you’d take away or add? What is your Top 10?
Click here for my Top 10 Gamecube Games