Rounding off the Super NES DKC trilogy nicely, Dixie and Kiddie's adventure is still a pleasure today. It arguably can't quite reach the highs of the second chapter in Rare's trio of DK delights, but Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! looks better than ever and gives you some choice with a non-linear map to explore and options should you hit a roadblock on your adventure.
This is less a game and more a smorgasbord of ideas thrown at the SNES which — somewhat unexpectedly — congeals into a satisfying blend of games, sub-games and mini-games. There are nine in total and the titular character is a versatile hero that manages to suck up these experimental bits and pieces and meld them into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. 'Cohesive' might be generous, but Kirby Super Star is thoroughly entertaining and well worth a look.
The game that birthed an entire genre (albeit a genre it dominates to the point you wonder how any other company decides to make their own kart racer), Super Mario Kart got so much just right from the starting line that it's still fun to return to nearly 30 years later. The seven mainline games that followed may have refined the formula to the Nth degree, but controls, track design and item balance are still nigh-on perfect in this first outing, and getting behind the wheel still feels good.
This classic 16-bit platformer from Rare revitalised the character of Donkey Kong and introduced new members of the DK clan in a game that looked unimaginably impressive running on Super NES hardware back in the day. Donkey Kong Country's faux 3D sprites may not have aged too gracefully, but the underlying gameplay is as solid as it was in 1994 — this is still a thoroughly enjoyable romp.
An extremely impressive package featuring the NES Super Mario Bros. games with a 16-bit lick of paint, Super Mario All-Stars was a convenient way to revisit the classics back on Super NES. Ultimately, with the exception of Super Mario Bros. 2 (we'd argue that this collection offers the optimum version of that game), the originals offer the best experience these days. If you're playing this via Nintendo Switch Online, they're all just as easily accessible.
However, for anybody who first experienced the NES games in this package, we understand if this represents peak 2D Mario for you and offers the ultimate nostalgia trip; everyone's a winner now that they're all available via Nintendo Switch Online.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (not Diddy Kong's Quest) is a beautiful secret-filled game with a gorgeous soundtrack that helps create a atmosphere that sticks in the memory. You end up returning to this simply to enjoy your surroundings and have 'that feeling' again. Debate will rage as to which of DKC games is best, but this is up there with the very, very best.
Yoshi's Island is a masterpiece; a work of digital art from Miyamoto and Tezuka that still looks fantastic 25 years on, and one that we'd wager will look just as good a quarter-century from now. Baby Mario may prove divisive to this day, but we're pretty sure there's a law requiring you have this in your collection whether you like it or not.
We dislike overusing the word 'masterpiece', but in this case (and in the case of a chunk of top-tier SNES releases) it's absolutely accurate. Super Metroid is the standard by which all Metroid games are judged, and an impossibly high one, at that. If you're a franchise fan, you'll have played this to death. If, however, you've never dipped your toes into Nintendo's pool of sci-fi action exploration, this is the one you need to play. That's all there is to it.
There is endless debate about whether Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World is the better game. For our money, they are two sides of the same coin — two faces of the same monumental peak in the video game landscape. This remains an incredible achievement of invention and sheer entertainment that the 2D platforming genre has been struggling to live up to ever since. Three decades on, it still doesn't get much better than this. All games have flaws, but if there's an exception to that rule, Super Mario World is it.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the best games of all time, and if you haven't experienced it yourself... you probably have through one of the other Zelda games, such was its influence on the series and the action-adventure genre. There's no shortage of 2D and 3D Zeldas to choose from these days, but this 16-bit entry codified the core elements of a 'Zelda game' for the two decades that followed. It's still got that touch of magic about it nearly 30 years later. Unmissable.
Was there ever any doubt? Let us know your thoughts below, and remember - if you haven't rated your favourite games from the list, you can still do so and influence the overall ranking. New games added to the service will appear here, too - you can check back in the future and rank them as well.
And if you're after a full list of every Nintendo Switch Online NES and SNES game currently available, we're happy to oblige.