We think it's safe to say that the past two generations of Nintendo home consoles — Wii and Wii U — haven't overly concerned themselves with raw graphical power; now its all about concepts and experiences. It wasn't always so, with Nintendo responding the the SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis — which enjoyed a spell mocking the NES and its meagre 8-bit credentials — with the meaty 16-bit Super NES. Retro tech-heads can happily go around the houses comparing the two, but ultimately SNES made a big point of slogans such as "playing with super power; super was the word of the time.
Thankfully, the graphics arms race didn't detract from a fantastic Super NES games library, one so strong that some will happily declare the system to be their favourite of all time. That made this vote for our Nintendo Life staff favourite games, a follow up to our NES list, exceptionally difficult, with an amazingly diverse range of selections.
In total, 19 members of the Nintendo Life team submitted their favourite 10, with 60 games earning at least one point. The results have been so tight that three positions are tied — with one having three games on the same points tally — so this list of a planned 10 favourites actually stretches to 14 separate games. Once again there was no limit on sequels, with the only games ineligible being unlicensed games or mods — opening the door for Japanese imports to be included. This isn't a top 10, but the current favourites of the Nintendo Life team.
It was an incredibly tight vote, and some of the entries may surprise you.
Capcom's alway been confused about numbering its games, opting to iterate Street Fighter II into a series rather than simply move up the numbers. Nevertheless, it often improved on the formula, and this entry on Super NES sneaks into our favourite 10 as, in our view, the finest of the 2D fighters on the system. It was the final entry in this branch of the series to hit the system, so it was a case of the best being saved for last.
Earthbound breaks into the list courtesy of our North American team-mates and import enthusiasts within Europe, expressing their views that this is one of the finest experiences on the system. Part of a proud tradition of exceptional 16-bit RPGs, its long awaited arrival on the Virtual Console will be resolved on the Wii U this year; not a day too soon, either.
This is one for the memory banks, as it hasn't appeared on a Nintendo Virtual Console service. This is classic arcade side-scrolling brawling, delivered with flair and panache. They were known as the Hero Turtles in Europe, but whatever you called them this was a fantastic action game to play with others.
You know a list is highly competitive when the title widely regarded as the best in its series comes in 8th place. An iconic title with intense action, detailed exploration and memorable presentation, this is still a delight to play as well as a significant challenge; it'll soon be available for pennies on the Wii U eShop, too.
Recently available on the Wii U, this fast-paced futuristic racer is still fondly regarded by gamers of all ages. It was particularly visually enticing when released, utilising Mode-7 for a visual effect that was a revelation, while the track design and soundtrack stand up to modern standards.
The first of a trio of games tied for sixth place, Super Castlevania IV is often held up as the shining light of the "Classic" titles in the series, before the days of backtracking and extensive exploration. Tight controls, precise level design and excellent visuals and presentation, this is one of Konami's finest.
A title that put Rare on the map, its visual approach has arguably aged, but that shouldn't detract from the impressive impact they had at the time. The soundtrack is also memorable, while its platforming is tricky enough to test platforming ninjas of any persuasion.
The battle was so close that the original and sequel couldn't be separated, with DK Jr leading the charge this time around. Truly challenging once again, this one broadened the cast of characters and introduced the rather useful Dixie into the mix.
A series making a comeback on 3DS, don't let the Super Mario World branding fool you — this one is all about Yoshi. Encouraging a more interested, thorough approach in platforming and exploration, this is flutter jumping and egg throwing at its best. The visual style was also a showcase of what the Super NES could deliver.
Rather like F-Zero, this was a visual revelation at the time, with the idea of 3D rendering being a rare commodity. It's iconic to this day for its presentation, music and exciting arcade-style music. It hasn't been the most prolific series since, but those that remember this original hope it will be back soon.
Widely regarded as one of the finest RPG titles of all time, this includes polished battle mechanics, time-travelling aspects and terrific design to deliver a perfectly-rounded experience. This is still highly rated and has gone on to have remakes and re-releases on systems such as DS and smartphones.
The original accessible multiplayer party racer — some say the best — this delighted families and friends when released and established one of Nintendo's most lucrative franchises. Some prefer its coin system and drifting mechanics, and its tracks are still reproduced in the latest releases.
Just like in our NES list, Link has to settle for second place; this is one of the best-regarded of the titles starring the hero, commonly considered the best of his 2D adventures. A vast world to explore, a dark-light mechanic and various memorable moments, the status of this title is such that the reference to The Legend of Zelda 3D being set in the same world gets many pulses racing. If any game represented the advance in design possible from the NES to Super NES era, this was arguably a defining example.
A resounding winner that probably surprises no-one. Last year we voted for this as our favourite Super Mario game, and it now seizes the Super NES crown. Still held by many as the pinnacle of 2D Mario platforming, it's defined not just by tight platforming and wonderful level design, but also by its rampant creativity and depth of secrets to discover. A classic.
So there you have it, our favourite Super NES games here on Nintendo Life. You can vote for your own choice from this list in the poll below; be sure to also keep an eye on the site this week as we reveal your community list of top NES games, and you'll have a chance to choose your Super NES favourites soon.
Which of the NL Staff's Super NES list is your favourite? (297 votes)
Super Mario World
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Super Mario Kart
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Donkey Kong Country
Super Castlevania IV
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
Street Fighter II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting
Sorry, I can't vote for any of those...
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