Feature: 20 Years of the Super NES

Time flies when you’re having 16-bit fun

Below is our list of 10 must-play games for the SNES, all worth hard-earned Nintendo Points or, if necessary, dusting off that old console. We’ve awarded seven perfect scores to Super NES games so, in alphabetical order, they come first.

Chrono Trigger

In many eyes, the definitive RPG experience on the SNES, and one of the finest on any console. You can read our review at the link above, but here’s a taster:

Chrono Trigger is, and will always be, one of the most unforgettable RPG experiences ever to grace a video game console. Even the first time you play it, you'll immediately know that you're experiencing something special that you're not likely to forget.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s on the Wii Virtual Console right now.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

This title takes its deserving place in our club of perfect 10s. Returning to the play-style of the original The Legend of Zelda on NES, this title was a perfect example of the improvements possible on the SNES. Clever puzzles, fiendish dungeons and a huge world to explore are all present and correct, with lovely 16-bit sprites to round off the package.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

The game title says it all: an RPG, with Mario. A delightful mash up of a popular genre and the moustachioed mascot, this title also pushed the limitations of the SNES to its very limits. Terrific music and rendered visuals were incredible at the time, and stand up well today.

Super Mario World

Not only was Super Mario World the first home console 2D Mario platformer since the legendary Super Mario Bros. 3, it was a launch title. In North America it was even bundled with the console, a masterstroke as it showed gamers what the system could do. Fun gameplay and excellent graphics impressed, but one thing above all captured hearts: Yoshi.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

It makes sense that one of the most memorable parts of Super Mario World became the focus for its sequel. This was, however, a very different gameplay experience, full of puzzle-solving and items that transformed Yoshi’s abilities. It's the art design that truly delights, making this a gem that every gamer should enjoy.

Super Metroid

You all knew this would be on the list, right? Bringing together exceptional game design with graphics capable of portraying a varied alien landscape, Super Metroid is a memorable experience. This is an important title in the franchise, with iconic moments that are not easily forgotten.

Terranigma

What do you mean, what’s Terranigma? Part three of a series of games known as the “Gaia Trilogy”, this title was never released in North America; in an uncanny parallel with current events, it did see a release in Europe. An action orientated RPG that should be experienced by all, though sadly it is yet to grace the Wii Virtual Console.

The Best of the Rest

So those are the seven best-rated SNES games on Nintendo Life, but we thought it would be worth highlighting a few more to take us up to ten classics worth re-visiting.

Donkey Kong Country

This title helped to bring Donkey Kong out of the shadows of being a villain being pursued by Mario, and into the spotlight as a loveable platforming hero. Accompanied by Diddy Kong through challenging and enjoyable levels, DK offered his own style of gameplay. Developer Rare also achieved impressive graphics for the time, even if they haven’t aged as gracefully as its sprite-based brethren.

Mega Man X

Mega Man is a classic franchise, with so many entries and spin-offs that only the most dedicated gamers can keep up. While the original Mega Man series dominated the NES era, Mega Man X brought the series blasting into the 16 bit age, with a wealth of new ideas being supported by top notch game-play.

Super Castlevania IV

While Symphony of the Night is regularly touted as the best in the Castlevania series, Super Castlevania IV puts up a good fight. This is pure 2D platforming action, in its most basic form. Run, jump, whip enemies; those are the core elements of what makes this game what it is. Throw in an exceptional soundtrack, and this is a memorable entry in the franchise.

What do you think?

Of course, the SNES library was vast and impressive, and by limiting ourselves to 10 titles we have omitted other games that can certainly be considered as classics. With that in mind, we want know what you think. What were your favourite games on the SNES? What are your memories of the SNES launch, and what is the console’s legacy today? Let us know in the comments below.