Released in 1991, the Super Nintendo is widely considered to be the single greatest Nintendo console of all time. It set the standard for many games to come over the next several decades, even into modern times. If you take a look at a list of the best games of all time, across all consoles, many SNES games will grace its numbers.
Today, many of the best SNES games are readily available to be played on the Nintendo Switch Online service or through emulators. If you’re a collector, it’s still easy to find working copies of these titles from a variety of outlets, although you may have to pay a pretty penny for a few of them.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past introduced several elements that would become staples of the series. The Master Sword. Parallel worlds. The Seven Sages. While all of these elements are familiar to any longtime player of the Legend of Zelda series, they had not made an appearance before A Link to the Past.
The top-down gameplay is reminiscent of the original game for the NES, but with greatly improved graphics and a much larger world to explore. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past can be played on a variety of modern consoles, including Nintendo Switch Online and the SNES Mini.
Another title available through Nintendo Switch Online, Super Metroid is considered by many to be the best Metroid game in the franchise, even better than the much-acclaimed Metroid Prime.
Super Metroid expanded on the best elements of the previous games to give players a larger map to explore, brand-new abilities, and further explained the story of the Metroid race. It also stood as the last entry in the franchise for eight years, leaving fans hungry for more. In modern days, Super Metroid is one of the most popular games for speedrunners to play.
Chrono Trigger is one of the most highly acclaimed JRPGs of all time. The title was developed by an all-star cast that included Akira Toriyama, famed for his work on the Dragon Ball anime and manga. Chrono Trigger takes RPG elements and refines them to an art form.
You take control of a group of adventurers as they travel through time to prevent Lavos, an evil alien creature, from enslaving the planet. Chrono Trigger had great graphics and smooth gameplay, especially compared to other titles of its era.
While the original cart is hard to find, Chrono Trigger has been released in various forms across a wide variety of consoles.
Super Mario World
Super Mario World feels much like earlier entries in the Mario franchise, but introduces new gameplay elements, such as the ability to fly. This title also introduced Yoshi for the first time, allowing players to ride his back and navigate levels in different ways.
Super Mario World uses an overworld map much like Super Mario Bros 3. There are numerous secret routes, shortcuts, and other things to find throughout the game.
Like many games on this list, Super Mario World can be played today through Nintendo Switch Online and through the SNES Classic Edition.
Mega Man X
Early Mega Man titles were known for their brutal difficulty and slower gameplay, but Mega Man X turned that on its head. The game introduced players to a more mature, more gritty storyline with a protagonist to match. Mega Man X gave players the ability to dash and climb, significantly upping the speed of the game without changing the core mechanics by too much.
You can choose which boss to take on first, and like other games in the series, certain bosses are weak to other abilities. Once you defeat all of the sub-bosses, the game proceeds to the final series of battles where you face off against the final antagonist.
Although there are a huge number of sequels, many fans still find Mega Man X to be the best entry in the series.
Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong was originally the protagonist faced by Jumpman (the older name for Mario before he became a character in his own right), but Kong finally stepped into the spotlight as the star of his own title with Donkey Kong Country.
The game stood out from the pack because of the 3D sprites set against a 2D background. The design gave it a unique look that drew quite a bit of attention. The game itself can be punishingly difficult at times, but it is worth a playthrough to experience the beginning of the Donkey Kong franchise.
Kirby Super Star
Kirby Super Star didn’t change the core gameplay of the game by much, but the existing formula performed better on the more powerful hardware of the SNES. Kirby Super Star had seven sub-games within the overall main game, including “The Great Cave Offensive,” a game with Metroidvania elements.
There is a lot of replay value in Kirby Super Star, especially in the multiplayer elements it introduced. However, it isn’t a difficult title. Gamers looking for a challenge will not find it within this title, charming though it may be.
Kirby Super Star is another title available on the SNES Classic.
Where To Play The Best SNES Games
The Super Nintendo is one of the most popular consoles, and while many people are prone to emulation, Nintendo recently cracked down on ROMs across the board. These days, it’s a lot harder to find ROMs for SNES games. The best places to look are either on the 3DS virtual console, through the Nintendo Switch Online SNES library, or through the SNES Classic.
Remember, emulation is a legal grey area. Nintendo’s official stance disapproves of emulators except through certified outlets. While these titles are all fantastic games that deserve your time, make sure to play them through legal means.