Top 10 favorite SNES games of all time

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“Dude, your only playing with regular power? You gotta get the SUPER power!!!” Sega may have uppercutted Nintendo back to the ropes with their Genesis, but they rallied back with a flurry of haymakers when they introduced the Super Nintendo. In many ways rightfully considered the grand peak of the 16-bit generation, the Super Nintendo was a radical newer version of the regular Nintendo that I was lucky enough to get as a Christmas present during its launch period. Even though I had been jealous of my next door neighbor’s kick ass Genesis, the tables had been turned as now he was relegated to second-fiddle under the relentless surge of this awesome new super power.

Certain genres seemed to work better on the Super Nintendo to me (especially rpg’s and fighting games) which I found very interesting at the time. Also, this was the first example I would remember having of comparing cross-platform games of similar strength to see which ones were better. I mean, it made sense for 16-bit Genesis games to look and sound superior than the 8-bit NES ones but how did it fair to Nintendo’s newest creation of equal bit strength? It was as if the SNES was a witness to the bullying that its little brother had gone through and stepped in promptly to remind Sega to pick on someone its own size. The 16-bit wars had begun!

After tearing through the wrapping paper that adorned the giant box with my name on it (best Christmas present… EVER!!! ), I was beyond excited to hook this hot rod up and dive into a brand new world of gaming goodness. Awesome titles like Mario Kart and Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts had me in love with my new super-powered console right away and more than eager to rub it in the face of Genesis Boy next door! Suddenly, the tides had turned back to Nintendo’s favor and I felt extremely fortunate to be standing at the precipice during this amazing 16-bit gaming revolution that had manifested itself during the ‘tude era. This spirit of competition drove both companies to zenith’s during this generation, sparking a new “golden age” of gaming and higher quality titles across the board in every genre.

The biggest beneficiaries to this “iron sharpening iron” period were us ‘tude babies and the Super Nintendo spearheaded this forward as much (or more) as any other gaming console during this time with excellent titles that had people comparing video games to pieces of art. Role playing games, for example, blew UP on the SNES and catapulted deep storytelling and beautiful aesthetics to new plateaus that had never been achieved before which showcased the maximum power of the Super Nintendo. With grand adventures like Chrono Trigger , EarthBound and Breath of Fire II loaded up in their barrels, the SNES fought back valiantly against Sega’s advances and met their charge head-on with with the best kind of high-quality products that you could expect out of Nintendo.

Other genres looked and played amazing on the system as well most notably fighters. Fighting games felt more tailored to the Super Nintendo right away thanks to the 6-button controller that came standard with the system out of the box. I swear playing Street Fighter II with the original 3-button Genesis controller just feels criminal in comparison (you have to press start to switch buttons from punches to kicks… yuck) and is a good example alone of the excellent foresight of Nintendo’s 16-bit brainstorming sessions. Mortal Kombat looked and played great also and furthered the SNES status as the system for fighters though they did get in hot water from fans (…and ME) for wussin’ out and replacing the blood with “sweat”. No worries though, even Nintendo caught a ride on the ‘tude train after awhile and brought mature material to later editions of Mortal Kombat as well as other titles like Killer Instinct just to ensure the masses that they knew how to push the envelope in this department in addition to all their other great work.

Yeah I love the Super Nintendo and feel extremely fortunate to have grown up with Nintendo’s 16-bit powerhouse! Playing through the multitudes of high-quality titles found here over the years has been nothing short of pure joy and I feel I owe the SNES the justice of my best efforts towards selecting my personal favorite games that this wonderful system had to offer. Thanks to Sega and their all-out assault launched against Nintendo during the 80’s & 90’s, the Super Nintendo pushed itself to pure greatness and rooted the companies feet in the ground with the firmest stance ever seen in video games. One things for sure, regardless of the final outcome of the console wars during this generation, I feel like we’re all winners. Now you’re playing with SUPER power ‘tuders!

The following is a list of The ‘Tude Dude’s 10 favorite SNES games of all time (as well as some honorable mentions).


Honorable Mentions

-Chrono Trigger, Final Fight series, Contra III: The Alien Wars, The Lion King, Madden NFL series, Breath of Fire 1 & 2, Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Super Bomberman 1 & 2, NBA Jam & NBA Jam T.E., Secret of Mana, Tetris Attack, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Killer Instinct, Super Star Wars series, Pilotwings, ActRaiser 1 & 2, Star Fox, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, R-Type III: The Third Lightning, FIFA Soccer series, Maximum Carnage, Saturday Night Slam Masters, Demon’s Crest, Mortal Kombat series, NHL series, E.V.O.: Search For Eden, Bust-A-Move, Wild Guns, Dirt Trax FX, Earthworm Jim 1 & 2, Pebble Beach Golf Links, EarthBound, ESPN Baseball Tonight, Donkey Kong Country 2 & 3, Smash TV, Joe & Mac 1 & 2, NBA Give N’ Go, Prince of Persia, Fatal Fury Special, Sim City, Rock n’ Roll Racing, Super Double Dragon, Ken Griffey Jr’s Winning Run, Shadowrun, Mega Man X2 and X3, Kirby’s Dream Land 3, Tetris & Dr. Mario, NHL Stanley Cup, Pocky and Rocky 1 & 2, The Lost Vikings, The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, The Combatribes, Out of this World, UN Squadron, Disney’s Aladdin, NBA Live series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Mario Paint, Super Mario All-Stars, Mario Kart, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and the generically named but awesomely executed Metal Warriors.

Thanks for reading! Question or comment? Feel free to leave below.

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List items

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -Going back to the wireframe “view through your character” look of the original arcade version, Super Punch-Out!! knocks out the competition with memorable characters, good graphics and immersive rythym/timing gameplay that furthers the tradition of Nintendo’s beloved boxing series.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -The best top-down walk and smack adventure on the system this side of A Link to the Past, Secret of Evermore is a (typical for the SNES) super-deep rpg offering from Squaresoft where you battle monsters, use alchemy and travel to exotic locations all with the help of your trustee dog at your side.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -Still ranking as my favorite Madden entry in the 16-bit era, Madden NFL ’94 has just the right blend of arcade simplicity mixed with in-depth simulation and provides gamers with an addictive and engaging gameplay style that will have you wearing a guzzler-hat and cheering out loud whenever you cross that end zone!

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    –An excellent arcade-port and instant cowboy classic, Sunset Riders will have you tingin’ spittoons in no time with gun blasting beat em’ up gameplay combined with bright graphics and an awesome soundtrack.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -One of the greatest launch titles in the history of video games, Super Mario World provided gamers with boatloads of instant fun and a good showcase of the brand new mode 7 graphical style that would become prevalent throughout the console’s lifespan.

  • #10

    -Now we’re talking! F-Zero is a gnarly fast futuristic racing game that slams your eyes with supersonic mode 7 graphics, pounds your ears with kick ass high tempo music and keeps you coming back for more with great controls that feel perfect when barreling around corners at rapid speeds. Sega loved to talk about its incredible speed advantage over the SNES with its blast processing but games like F-Zero proved to debunk that theory by showcasing rapid frame rates that had never been achieved before (even by Sonic) in the 16-bit era. Choke on Nintendo’s super-powered dust Sega!

  • #9

    -A new spin-off for the Mega Man series after its first jump to a new system, Mega Man X still feels similar to the original in the sense that it has incredible music mixed with a super engaging “run and gun” gameplay style that feels perfectly rythmic from beginning to end. Pushing the Super Nintendo hardware with amazing aesthetics, Mega Man X is without a doubt one of the most satisfying action games on the system and a worthy new leap for the franchise. Mad props to Armored Armadillo for his rad stage of musical bliss and easy item farming. Robot bats- the gift that keeps on giving!

  • #8

    –“We know that we messed up with the first one… but we have blood now!” Even though I owned the first Mortal Kombat on the SNES and loved it despite its lack of splattering gore with every successful hit, I simply could not wait to get my hands on Mortal Kombat II when it arrived and it provided not only all the crimson plasma I could ever dream of but a near arcade-perfect port with outstanding graphics, controls and sound. Despite an early reluctance to allow this game to display its explicit detail, I’m glad that Nintendo saw the error of their ways and cranked up the ‘tude to the max on this one, increasing its authenticity to the source material for the gazillion rabid fatality fans out there (like me). Mortal Kombat II… now with decapitations!

  • #7

    -Featuring the best whip action in any Castlevania game, Super Castlevania IV also includes catchy music, wicked mode 7 visuals and extremely addictive gameplay in a 16-bit upgrade of the original game. The stand out here for me is the mega awesome and fully controllable whip which lets you attack in whatever direction you want Contra style, creating the simplest and most in command combat system in the entire series. The hardest part is disciplining yourself from flailing the darn thing around like a pom-pom girl in a ridiculous fashion which is equal parts addicting and unproductive (just… can’t… help… myself). No matter though, when the vampire killing action is this good you could give me a pool noodle as a weapon for all I care!

  • #6

    -With an outstanding combination of excellent level design, kick ass graphics, deep immersive gameplay, perfect controls and dark and gritty music, Super Metroid ranks as a true masterpiece in the action genre and is without question one of the greatest SNES games of all time. Pioneering a new style of open ended gameplay, Super Metroid tasks players with guiding Samus through the planet Zebes to acquire new items to reach previously inaccessible areas which was a completely liberating and rewarding design that has been duplicated multiple times ever since its inception. Also, you get to shoot at a giant brain with missiles… and then the brain grows legs and fires lasers at you from i giant eye! Quite simply, if you can’t get on board that train then we can’t be friends.

  • #5

    -While the SNES employed a multitude of excellent beat ’em up games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time still ranks as my personal favorite on the system with its outstanding arcade-quality graphics, extremely memorable sound effects & musical tracks and super fun gameplay that is easy to slam in no matter if your playing alone or with friends. Still to date the best TMNT game released on a home console, Turtles In Time is as high-quality a title that you’ll find the Super Nintendo and The Shredder and co. have never been so fun to take down from the comfort of your living room. PIZZA TIME!!!

  • #4

    -One of the greatest and most memorable SNES games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past returns to the top-down formula of the original and succeeds greatly with a vivid graphical design, simple control scheme and addictive dungeon romping gameplay style that presents players with a perfectly fun and accessible challenge that’s not nearly as cryptic as its predecessors (even going so far to include a “top secret” hint book along with a super thick and informative instruction manual). Link’s first adventure in 16-bits is a welcome one as A Link to the Past remains firmly entrenched within the greatest games of all time discussion let alone the Super Nintendo itself by upgrading the original’s recipe in all the right ways. Also… this is the first Zelda game to introduce my favorite item of all time item- the Hook shot… BOING!

  • #3

    -An incredible achievement of complex character design and creative story progression, Final Fantasy VI (known to me and the rest of us naive Americans as Final Fantasy III) ranks as my personal favorite rpg on a system chalked full of great’s. The closest thing to a cinematic experience that can be found on a 16-bit console in my opinion, Final Fantasy VI delivers in every way with a deep battle system, operatic soundtrack, beautiful visual style and engrossing cast of characters all encompassed by a rich and deep story that carries through from start to finish. Setting a new bar of narrative excellence for video games, Final Fantasy VI completely rules and still ranks #1 in the entire long-running series for me with its engaging design and aesthetic quality. All right guys this time we’re being serious… this REALLY is the final one (most inappropriately named franchise ever)!

  • #2

    -Man, this game still surprises me how far up it is on this list considering its humble beginnings. I was expecting absolutely nothing when I first heard about it and was more than blown away the first time I laid eyes on it. Donkey Kong Country is a marvelous platform game blending excellent controls, awesome music and fun gameplay with a cool “tagging in” system that works well playing either single or multiplayer. Beautiful in execution and design, Donkey Kong Country succeeds in every way that a platform title should, offering a perfectly accessible challenge into Donkey Kong’s new world of running, jumping and barrel blasting. No matter if your a falling on your face chimp or a savvy rope-swingin’ ape as far as your video game experience goes, Donkey Kong Country is guaranteed to bring the perfectly-balanced kind of fun that your brain just inexplicably craves sometimes regardless of the situation. I don’t care if you crocodiles are walking upright, I’m gonna chuck a barrel directly into your face unless you give me back my NANA’s!!!

  • #1

    -The world’s best arcade fighting game made a near-perfect transition to the SNES with every one of its entries on the system and there’s simply no way that I could pick just one so it is what it is. My level of excitement was tough to contain during the good ole 2-D fighting game days and no series satisfied the arcade fighter at home necessity better than Street Fighter II. Whether battling against the computer or a room full of friends, no game franchise was more valuable to me on the SNES than this one and it remains fondly remembered for helping cure an overwhelming fever of Street Fighter withdrawals after leaving the arcades as a kid. I can still remember with individual appreciation how happy I was to receive each one of these at different times during my young SNES ownership which finally allowed me to practice at home and train myself better for arcade encounters where I had fallen prey to more prepared opponents. Luckily, these 3 titles truly felt like somehow the corresponding giant cabinet had been “smushed” into the tiny confines of each grey cartridge which was beyond amazing for my little mind to try and comprehend at the time and it only got better with each new release. Before long, I was the pro and those same opponents that felt like predators before fell to my might as I strutted through the arcades like a quick-draw cowboy with a reputation. …Ahhhh, the good ole’ days! TIGER!!!