Monday, May 4, 2009

Top Ten Super Nintendo Games

First, to make this list the game must be a game made for the Super Nintendo System; not a rerelease of older games like Super Mario All stars. Also, the game must have been released in North America during the SNES’ run (Sorry Mother and Seiken Densetsu 3).

10. ActRaiser

ActRaiser was brilliant because it was a two part game that managed to make both parts of the game fun and addicting. Neither part felt like an interruption from the other part. Playing as the God with a sword who had to defeat all the enemies in a given level was almost as fun as the overworld part of ActRaiser in which you had to help cities grow and prosper as their God. The gameplay was never slow, never dull, and there was a pretty big power rush about getting to play God for the little people on your television screen. Also, the music was brilliant in this game. This is definitely an under-appreciated classic of the Super Nintendo Era.

9. Donkey Kong Country

Although all of the Donkey Kong Country’s were great during the series’ run on the SNES, the greatest, by far, was the original. Donkey and Diddy worked extremely well together. The gameplay was fun and intuitive. The characters were extremely likable and a lot of fun to interact with (especially Kranky Kong who is always good for a laugh). The bad guys were challenging, and the four animal friends you could find were a lot of fun to ride. Also, in this game you could actually play Donkey Kong, which is enough to earn it a spot as a better overall game than Donkey Kong Country 2 (though I really suggest that you play both games to come to a decision for yourself as both are really excellent games).

8. Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island

Nintendo didn’t throw any punches with this release despite the fact that it came near to the end of the SNES' run. Yoshi’s Island is just straight fun. And even after the first run through of the game you will find yourself entertained for hours trying to get a 100% score on all the levels in the game. Yoshi’s Island failed to seem as deep as Super Mario World for a couple of reasons. The first, is that the worlds you travelled through did not feel like worlds, but rather more like levels lined up one next to the other. Second, was the linear progression of the game. There were no shortcuts in Yoshi’s Island; no way to skip over some of the levels, which made this game feel less extensive than Super Mario World. However, the graphics were considerably better in Yoshi’s Island; there was a great deal more dialogue, and the boss fights throughout the game were far more complicated than jumping on someone’s head three times. These few improvements to the classical Mario formula put Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island firmly on the list of the greatest Super Nintendo games.

7. Super Mario Kart

The Super Nintendo’s Super Mario Kart was Mario’s first venture into racing, and the rest is history. The racing style of Super Mario Kart would have been enough to keep me hooked for hours, but Nintendo gave us so much more than that. Nintendo also gave us time trials, and vs play. Most importantly, though, Nintendo added the Battle Mode to the Vs. section of Super Mario Kart, and gamers like me were hooked. Sure, it was fun to beat your friend (or your sister) in a race, but not half so much fun as pelting her with a red or green shell.

6. EarthBound

A game about a kid who is destined to save the world from a hostile alien with a baseball bat doesn’t seem like it would make sense, does it? Earthbound may be one of the strangest games on the SNES, but that didn’t keep it from being one of the most fun titles available for the Super Nintendo. EarthBound was odd from beginning to end; you got attacked by police officers and town bullies as much, if not more, than you got attacked by monsters. And every time you defeated those bullies or cops you’re Dad would add more money into your bank account. That’s right, you would get paid for fighting. Despite its oddity, or maybe because of it, EarthBound’s story remains interesting while the gameplay keeps you challenged and entertained. If you missed this one the first time around, you really missed out. Good luck trying to find a copy now, though.They can run upwards of $100 on Ebay, and so far, Nintendo has not released the title for Virtual Console download.

5. Super Mario RPG, Legend of the Seven Stars

Mario’s first RPG has never really been outdone by any Mario RPG game since. The characters really serve the story well. But Seven Stars shines best in its gameplay element. Certainly, not a mario game, but an RPG, Seven Stars manages to maintain the Mario charm during elements of the gameplay. You can jump throughout the game, as well as jump as one of Mario’s special attacks. This made the feel of Seven Stars stay consistent with the feel of Mario; but with many of the same rules as the RPG genre. The result was a video game experience that played like no other, and a welcome edition to the SNES library.

4. The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past

Link to the Past took the story of Zelda back to its roots. The side-scrolling days of Zelda II were over, and Link returned to his past roots from the original Legend of Zelda. The result was one of the most critically acclaimed, and well known, game of the SNES era; The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Of course, the excellence of this game cannot simply be attributed to its return to the form that The Legend of Zelda took. Instead, Link to the Past really improved upon the formula in a variety of ways. It added an alternate, scarier dimension known as the dark world. This allowed Hyrulian adventurers to really feel as if they were taking on the darkness themselves. Second, they added the concept of pieces of heart (rather than whole heart containers). This made it a lot more fun to explore the world of Zelda because it became an extra challenge to find and collect all the heart pieces in order to get the maximum health possible. A Link to the Past also boasts a great amount of replay value because you could always make the game more difficult on yourself in the next run through by neglecting to find optional things that made the game easier. For instance, I have beaten the game without getting any pieces of heart or glass jars. This would make the game a lot more difficult, and a lot of fun to play through one more time.

3. Super Mario World

Super Mario World has really stood the test of time for me. Not only do I rank it as one of the best the SNES has to offer, but also as the greatest mario adventure of all time. For more of my reasoning behind that see: Super Mario World was straight fun, and incredibly addicting. There was a lot to do in this title including finding all 96 exits, completing the special world, and finding all of the Yoshi coins. The fact that a game as awesome as Super Mario World comes in as number 3 is a real testament to how great the games were during the Super Nintendo’s run.

2. Chrono Trigger

Generally speaking, I hate games about time travel. Always, it seems, the hero goes back and time to stop some terrible evil. Of course, if he succeeds he would never have been able to go back in time, and therefore he would fail and the whole space time continuum would collapse! Okay, maybe I went a touch too far there, but I’m just saying, the whole scenario has been played out, and had been even at the time of Chrono Trigger’s release. But Chrono changed the formula on me. He didn’t want to stop something from happening in the past; he wanted to stop an apocalypse that occurred in the future. First, what a guy. If I knew about an apocalypse in the future, I would probably just shrug my shoulders and say that it’s the future people’s problem. Not Chrono; he grabbed his Kitana and went to business, and even paid the ultimate sacrifice in one part of the story. The gameplay in Chrono Trigger took the classic RPG formula, and added enough of its own elements to seem fresh. It further added a cast of colorful characters with their own strengths, weaknesses, and history (a trend that was not yet popular in video games) and a twisty-turny plot that would keep any fan interested for the duration of the game, if not longer.

1. Secret of Mana

Way To Go! Perhaps, I’m a nerd, but whenever I accomplish, well anything, this is the first thought that pops into my head... still. Secret of Mana’s congratulations for beating its latest boss. If that isn’t a sign of a game that has stuck with you, I don’t know what is. Secret of Mana was more than just a great game; it was one of those defining games that really showed what its console could do.

The hardest thing I’ve had to do thus far on is decide whether Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana deserved the top spot in this list. It was a very close contest. So close, in fact, that it was Secret of Mana’s Sound that managed to give it the edge it needed to take the top spot on the list. If there is one thing that Secret of Mana should be famous for, it’s the game’s musical score. I have never played a game with such beautiful music, which seemed crafted specifically for the game, and I doubt I ever will again. It seems like such a small thing, but this element really helped Secret of Mana stand out.

Secret of Mana was awesome for a variety of reasons. 1. You got to use a lot of different weapons, as well as a lot of different magics. 2. The story was incredible, the tragedy still sticks with me. When the Sprite tells his friends that he’s not going to kick the bucket, I couldn’t help but to feel for all the characters I had controlled during the course of the game. 3. You could ride a dragon. 4. You could play with two friends if you wanted. My sister even played this game with me a little. 5. The power-up ability of the weapons really made the game one of strategy as well as one of fighting. 6. There was a lot of replay value to the game: once you beat it you could always try to beat it without using magic. 7. The World was huge for its time.

There are so many things to like about Secret of Mana that it would take more than a single blog post to talk about them all. The gameplay, the visuals, the audio were all spot on in this game. Unfortunately, unlike the Zelda series which would continue to improve, Secret of Mana would prove to be the best the Mana series has yet had to offer.

Notable Exemptions:

Super Metroid

Not going to lie to you: I’m not a fan of shooters; especially Sci-fi shooters. This was a good game, but not one of my favorites. In fact, it’s probably not on my top twenty all time favorite SNES games. I know that’s going to make a lot of fanboys mad at me, but I can take it.

Final Fantasy IV

This game was excellent too. I loved it. It’s failure to be included in the list says more about how good the Super Nintendo was as a system, than it says about Final Fantasy IV.

Star Fox

This would have been number eleven on the list, and was just barely edged out by ActRaiser. The gameplay in Starfox was fast and addicting, and it’s a great add to any collection of SNES games.


  1. Great Top 10!!!

    I'd have to agree with many in your top ten. I'm not even going to bust balls regarding Super Metroid.

    Cool blog, I'd love to exchange links if possible with my gaming blog 8-Bit Memoirs and 8-Bit Memoirs 2.0!

    Once again, brilliant!

  2. Super Star Wars (and by extension Empire and Return) was a GREAT gaming series on the SNES.

    Also, Super Castlevania IV, Batman Returns, Alien 3, TMNTIV: Turtles in
    Time, and Out of This World were fantastic action games.

    Sadly, I doubt any of the licensed games will make it to the VC.

  3. Dread,

    The number of great games on SNES makes it so there are tons of games that couldn't make this list.

    Thanks for the Comments, Dread and Dave.

  4. I know I may come off like an oddball, but I've never played Chrono Trigger, Yoshi's Island or Earth Bound. I loved Super Metroid, DKC, and Act Raiser was one of my favorites even though I was disappointed by its sequel. The SNES had too many great games, but very dope list.

  5. Shakespeare man, you really gotta catch Chrono Trigger. The other two are okay you missed, but trust me catch Chrono Trigger.

  6. here You have given Good ranking to top 10 Nintendo games..I like some of these games, and it is looking quite interesting..

  7. I would play the Super Mario Kart and enjoy the Game Arcade all day long ...