The 15 Best SNES Games of All Time, Ranked
It just doesn’t get much better than the SNES. The Super Nintendo, or as it was known in Japan, Super Famicon, was one of the most groundbreaking consoles in gaming history. Nintendo’s second home console brought stellar 16-bit graphics, shoulder buttons, and a ton of other breakthroughs to the industry, alongside some seriously legendary titles. Though it’s often overshadowed by the Nintendo 64, the SNES was easily one of the brightest moments for the company. Debuting in 1990, it survived over an entire decade in an industry that is known for being rapidly fast-moving, and though it was discontinued in 2003, many of its games are still enjoyed to this day, almost 30 whole years later.
It’s not easy choosing only 15 SNES video games to rank, but here are our picks for the best titles of all time on the console.
15| Final Fantasy VI (1994)
Square Enix absolutely killed it on the SNES. From Final Fantasy to Secret of Mana (and more titles you may see down on this list), these games’ stories and gameplay were a marvel for the time. Final Fantasy VI, originally released as Final Fantasy III in the States, brought a heartfelt story, awesome turned-based combat, and a huge roster with 14 playable characters. It remains extremely playable to this day, and if you haven't yet, definitely give it a go.
14| Super Mario All-Stars (1993)
This game was Marios 1-3 plus the lost levels in 16 bit, no explanation needed. It came before the age of digitally downloading games and backwards compatibility, so any chance to have re-released versions on newer consoles was extremely rare. Mario All-Stars was a fantastic four-game pack and acted as one of the first of many HD remasters.
13| Star Fox (1993)
The first game in the Star Fox series made the case for a soon-to-be-iconic franchise. Boasting advanced 3D graphics, this adventure from Fox McCloud and the gang set the precedent for the series ahead—and it’s still one of the best in the series by far.
12| F-Zero (1990)
This is the game that gave us Captain Falcon. And for that, we must respect it. With wickedly fast gameplay, F-Zeroturned the dial ahead for the racing genre, and fans of the series are still dying for another F-Zero game today.
11| Batman Returns (1992)
This movie tie-in game epitomized the beat-em-up genre. It elegantly captured that great Tim Burton vibe, and the action made for one of the all-time greatest pick-up-and-play games ever. There have been a lot of good Batman games. This one might take the cake, for me!
10| Super Mario RPG (1996)
RPG is a tragic title in Nintendo history. It gained a massive cult fanbase, it was fantastic and revered, but the series never took off. Nintendo partnered with Square Enix for this one, and it’s a shame we didn’t get any others, because it was a really strange and fresh take on the character.
9| Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995)
This remains one of the prettiest games to this day, with a crafty storybook look in a time when sprites hadn't been experimented with all that much. Yoshi’s Island was a wonderful platform/puzzler that saw players taking control of a Yoshi protecting baby Mario. It was absolutely adorable, and a blast for platforming heads.
8| Super Mario Kart (1992)
Super Mario Kart may not be the best game in the Mario Kart franchise, but it was memorable for sparking yet another iconic franchise, like Star Fox. Gathering together nearly all of the biggest stars in the Mario gang for the first time, SMK was an addictive title with tight controls that really still holds up, 27 years later.
7| Street Figher III: Turbo (1993)
For fighting games, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Turbo. The title is still played in competitions today, and it’s one of the genre’s all-time greatest hits. Hadouken!
6| Earthbound (1994)
Whether you loved RPGs or simply great stories, Earthbound had you covered with tons of content and a goofy, fun plot. The game gave you a survey right at the start and was remarkably rewarding if you answered truthfully and named your party. One of the silliest and most heartfelt series that often gets overlooked, do yourself a favor and go play it, and if you’ve already played it, play it again.
5| Super Metroid (1994)
To this day, this is the absolute definitive title in the metroidvania genre. An impressive number of power-ups, explorations, and intense world-building made Super Metroidinto an experience like no other. It was a nonlinear space opera with a surprisingly deep story and some of the best gameplay we’ll see in our lifetimes.
4| Chrono Trigger (1995)
Chrono Trigger was and still is a crown jewel for Square Enix. A brilliant story that never felt slow, in-depth mechanics that are still accessible, a phenomenal soundtrack, and so much more made this one of the best and brightest RPGs's out there. In fact, many consider it to be the perfect JRPG. While the series hasn't been around for a hot second, Square and Nintendo are off to the races with Switch support, so fingers crossed. Bring the series back, Square; we’ve been without Chrono for way too long.
3| The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)
Zelda fans have a ton of classic games to enjoy. Ocarina of Time was an all-timer, The Legend of Zelda still captivates players, and the recent Breath of the Wild really catapulted the franchise into new territory. But few titles have stood the test of time like A Link to the Past. The game’s music, lore, and complex, light/dark world mechanic redefined storytelling in the medium.
2| Donkey Kong Country (1994)
Shove it, it’s Donkey Kong Country. There have been a lot of gorgeous games on this list, with beautiful stories, meaningful engagements, and more. But none rival the place this big dumb ape has in my heart. Donkey Kong Country shocked everyone with its weird photogenic graphics, and it remains a tougher platforming challenge then the Marioseries and plenty of others on the SNES. The plot may have only been “a big gator stole my bananas,” but hey, we all could relate to that. This game had an epic soundtrack and inventive platforming that kept players engaged through and through.
1| Super Mario World (1990)
For my money, there’s still nothin’ better than Super Mario World. It was silly. It was lighthearted. The music slapped. Everything about this zany new take on the lauded series just worked. There’s a reason most players are using the Super Mario World landscape for their levels in Super Mario Maker 2—something about the world of this game is irresistible. I think it might be time to replay it again.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.