There’s a lot to like about the SNES Classic Mini, with the compact box offering plenty of plug-and-play 16-bit goodness. Save states and the new rewind feature are good additions, and the inclusion of a second controller (unlike with the NES mini) is welcome. It has an impressive line up of games too, with classics such as Super Metroid, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy III, Contra III, Super Mario World and more available alongside the previously unreleased Star Fox 2. Most would agree that the 20 (+1) games on the Mini are an impressive selection, but most also have a number of titles they would have liked to see included.
So let's suppose that the SNES mini had come loaded with an additional 20 games. Let's also pretend that pesky things like licensing wouldn’t have had an impact. Obviously this still doesn’t include every great SNES game (there were a lot of them), but here are the top 20 games that we personally think would have been great additions. They are arranged in order of release, although dates varied between regions and in some cases regions missed out on a title.
Read on and let us know what classics we missed out in the comments section.
ActRaiser (Square Enix / Quintet, 1990)
An early release for the system (arriving the month after the Super Famicom launch) ActRaiser really shouldn’t work. It mixes together side-scrolling platform action with God-sim moments. Rather than being a jumbled mess of ideas however, the two styles compliment each other well as you jump around slashing at monsters one moment, then turn your attention to building up towns the next. Good visual design in the platforming sections and some cracking music from Streets of Rage’s Yuzo Koshiro compliment the package. Square Enix is in control of publishing and with the company already having a couple of titles on the SNES Mini, this might well have been included, had more spots been available.
U.N. Squadron (Capcom, 1991)
Capcom is another company with titles on the Mini, but sadly U.N. Squadron wasn't included. That’s unfortunate as it provides fantastic shmup action as you battle waves of aircraft and large, memorable bosses. Unlike the 1989 coin-op, this is a single-player affair but Capcom added in a wider range of weapons and let you purchase different aircraft too; optional attacks on supply convoys being a good way to build up your funds. Backed by some brilliant music, U.N. Squadron is hugely enjoyable - be sure to check out the original Area 88 manga / anime on which it is based, too.
Super Tennis (Nintendo / Tokyo Shoseki, 1991)
You could maybe count Super Punch-Out!!, but one thing strange about the SNES Mini lineup is the lack of any sports titles. Super Tennis would have been an excellent addition, featuring simple pick-up-and-play mechanics, but with a wide variety of shots available courtesy of the controller’s face buttons. Three different court surfaces feature and there’s a Circuit mode and exhibition matches for the single player to indulge in. It’s in two-player mode that the game really shines, however. Single or doubles matches (against each other or the CPU) make the game suitable for quick bouts of play, although it soon becomes addictive, meaning it could end up being a much longer gaming session. Published by Nintendo but developed by Tonkin House, it’s possible the latter are the reason the game has not seen a re-release (it hasn’t turned up on the Virtual Console either), with the company these days focussed on textbooks and educational software via its parent firm, Tokyo Shoseki.
Parodius: Non-Sense Fantasy (Konami, 1992)
Beginning against the black of space, Parodius could at a glance pass for a regular shmup. It’s not long before the colour appears however, and a wonderfully bonkers adventure begins. Playing like Gradius, the game offers a similar type of challenge, but with a brighter cartoony style and a wacky array of cute foes (and hypodermic needles) to blast. Larger characters include a dancing girl and a pig, and there are plenty of other weird moments such as the bullhorn you can pick up to unleash bizarre text phrases at your enemies such as “Toaster Overheated!”.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (Konami, 1992)
A hit in the arcades, this port only allows two-player action (as opposed to the coin-op’s four), but it added an extra stage, enemies and an (admittedly basic) one-on-one VS mode. Matching the look of the then current TV show, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time is bright and fun as you smash your way through waves of Foot Soldiers, with the memorable ability to throw them into the screen (which comes into play in an early boss battle). Classic arcade fun, but classic arcade fun that would be unlikely to appear on the SNES Mini due it being a licensed title. Shame.
Axelay (Konami, 1992)
A Konami title that could have been included on the SNES Mini (it has turned up on Virtual Console, at least) is Axelay, a cracking shmup that has a mix of vertical and horizontal levels. Challenging but fair, there’s a number of weapons to unlock and some memorable boss battles. Atmospheric music and impressive visuals (particularly the rolling effect on the vertical stages) help immerse you in the action and makes each playthrough a joy. The best shooter on the SNES? Quite possibly.
Pop'n Twinbee (Konami, 1993)
Konami? Again? Perhaps they should put out a "Konami Box", filled with their classics. Or a maybe a pachinko machine themed around them, who knows. Never released in North America, Pop'n Twinbee is another colourful fun (this time vertical) shmup. Fairly easy by default, a visit to the options menu can make things quite challenging, leading to you weaving about avoiding a variety of attacks. Nod along to the catchy music and generally have a good time shooting away at enemies heading your way, or sending a bomb to those below. The choice is yours.
Shadowrun (Beam Software, 1993)
Based on the tabletop game of the same name, Shadowrun is cyberpunk RPG that puts you in the role of amnesiac Jake Armitage as you wander the streets of 2050’s Seattle, battling (or hiring) orcs, elves and other mercenaries. Gunfights and magic battles occur alongside computer hacking as you assemble a team to see you through the dangers and try and find out what is going on. Again, licensing rights would make the inclusion of this game unlikely, but Shadowrun is an engrossing experience from start to finish.
Super Mario All-Stars (Nintendo, 1993)
Super Mario Bros. 3 is the highlight of this NES re-release compilation, often considered (alongside Mario World) the greatest of the 2D Mario platformers. The package includes the three other Super Mario Bros. titles (including the Japan only “Lost Levels”) and gives them a 16-bit audio-visual makeover. Though offering lots of top-notch platforming action, Nintendo probably consider the inclusion of All-Stars unnecessary, having previously stuck the original versions of Mario 1-3 on the NES mini.
Märchen Adventure Cotton 100% (Success, 1994)
Of all the brightly coloured shooters on this list, Märchen Adventure Cotton 100% would be the least likely to feature on the SNES Mini, had an extra spot been available. The series has appeared on a number of different systems over the years including the PC Engine, Dreamcast and Neo Geo Pocket Color, but only on occasion have games seen a Western release. This was not one of those occasions, though knowledge of Japanese isn't needed to enjoy this fun title. You’re a witch on a broomstick and must fly through wonderfully designed fairytale-like levels blasting away at an assortment of creatures (regular shots, bombs and special attacks are available). Cheery whimsical music works well with the aesthetic and although your adventure starts relaxed, the game can provide a good challenge, particularly on the harder difficulty settings.
The Firemen (Human Entertainment, 1994)
Another little-known gem is The Firemen, although this one did see a Western release, albeit only in the PAL regions. Due to its obscurity, inclusion on an expanded SNES Mini roster would be unlikely, but those who have played it know how enjoyable it is. A huge building is ablaze and you must work your way through, putting out the flames that are either heading towards you or just blocking your path. Out of control robots also cause you trouble and the different ways the fire can move and spread keeps the action interesting. Unfortunately it’s single player only, but you have a CPU-controlled sidekick who has a handy fire axe and will carry any people you find to safety.
Unirally (DMA Design, 1994)
Known as Uniracers in North America, this unique and speedy racing title from DMA Design (later Rockstar North – whatever happened to them?) puts you in control of a unicycle that you throw around a series of tracks that feature a number of jumps, twists, loops and hazards. You can perform tricks which, when landed correctly, will speed you up: a must if you want to be successful. Seemingly simple, the game quickly becomes engrossing as you try to perfect your run. The game also has a two-player VS mode and allows you to setup leagues for up to eight players.
Chrono Trigger (Square, 1995)
Chrono Trigger is perhaps the title with the most “I wish they could have included it” comments with regards to the SNES Mini lineup. It’s easy to understand why, with a gripping tale playing out across different time zones, an improved version of the Final Fantasy Active Time Battle system, detailed graphics and a fantastic (and varied) soundtrack. Maybe it would have featured had Nintendo given Square Enix an extra slot on the Mini, or maybe they would have left it off anyway, considering the DS version a more definitive release.
Super Bomberman 3 (Hudson Soft, 1995)
With careful placement of bombs and tactical use of abilities Bomberman would provide fun multiplayer battles. Super Bomberman 3 is one was the last of the SNES titles to get a western release (two more followed in Japan) and while there is a single player mode, it’s the multiplayer portion of the game that provides constant entertainment. With support for up to five players this would be a great title to boot up when you have a lot of people visiting your house/flat/underwater lair. Of course, if it was on the SNES Mini there would need to be a Mini Multitap and another three controllers to get the full benefit. This would turn your dinky box of retro delights into an unsightly mass of cables that would inevitably strangle at least one of your guests. Perhaps best to leave it off on safety grounds, then.
Killer Instinct (Rare, 1995)
After Donkey Kong Country, Rare turned their attention (and SGI workstations) to Killer Instinct, a one-on-one brawler that hit arcades in 1994 and was intended to give an idea of what the (then named) Ultra 64 would be capable of. This SNES port arrived the following year and despite the obvious visual downgrade captured the feel of the game well. Blood and fatal “danger moves” bring to mind Mortal Kombat, but it handles more like the Street Fighter series. It is its own beast however, with a focus on combos that are satisfying to perform, particularly if you manage a ridiculously over the top Ultra combo. As enjoyable as it is however, Microsoft’s 2002 acquisition of the studio ensured that a SNES Mini inclusion was never on the cards.
International Superstar Soccer Deluxe (Konami, 1995)
The SNES had a number of football games released, but ISS Deluxe is the best of the bunch, with 36 teams to pick from, different weather conditions, different formations and a range of moves available as you attempt to put the ball in the back of the net. It supports four players, but this would of course be limited to two on the SNES Mini. It’s still a lot of fun however, and you can choose to play against each other or co-operate to take on the CPU opposition. Also, the announcer in the game is hilarious: “He Shoots! Past the post”, “It’s a BIG kick!”. Ah, those really were the days.
Seiken Densetsu 3 (Square, 1995)
A much hoped for title in the West, this third entry in the Mana series features six playable characters and a lengthy story to experience. Playing similarly to (the also awesome) Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3 adds a calendar system. This can come into play with magic being more effective on certain days, events occurring at set times and it will also effect the enemies encountered. Of course, were this to be included on the SNES Mini, the Japan-only release would require translating. That’s a lot of effort for something Nintendo is producing in limited quantities. Hopefully Square Enix is saving it for a localised release of the Seiken Densetsu Collection instead.
Terranigma (Quintet, 1995)
Though not a prolific developer, Quintet produced some cracking games in its time (see also: ActRaiser). Terranigma (another title that didn’t make it to North America) is an action RPG that visually looks great. More impressive is the soundtrack, featuring a good mix of mysterious and adventurous tracks often with a haunting element to them. There’s a gripping story that plays out through the game, dealing with light and dark forces and rebirth that kicks off when you open a forbidden door. It’s not on the SNES Mini, but worth tracking down to experience. Go in as blind as possible and you'll discover one of the best RPGs on any console.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong-Quest (Rare, 1995)
Improving a little on the already impressive visuals of the first game, Diddy’s Kong's Quest more importantly provides additional fun monkey platforming action. Donkey Kong is out, replaced by Dixie Kong, who has a useful floating move to avoid dangers. Animal buddies provide additional ways to play and there’s lots of secrets to find and things to collect if looking for full completion. If not, there’s still lots of high quality platforming to enjoy.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! (Rare, 1996)
This time Diddy’s gone as well, so Kiddie Kong joins Dixie for the banana collecting and secret finding. Offering a less linear progression through the game than its predecessors, Donkey Kong Country 3 still provides well-designed levels that feature a number of different hazards and enemies to contend with. Impressive music features throughout the trilogy and makes each of these an aural delight as well as being a lot of fun to play through.
Do you agree with our list? Which classic games do you wish could have been included on the SNES Classic Mini?